Friday, 14 April 2017

Aldershot Town F.C. - The Recreation Ground

Aldershot Town F.C.
Aldershot Town F.C.
The Recreation Ground Stadium
High Street
GU11 1TW

Ground Number: 40
Date: Saturday 18th March 2017
Score: Aldershot Town F.C. 2-0 Sutton United F.C.
Competition: Vanarama National League
Attendance: 2,197

Aldershot Town, a team that I have wanted to visit for around 4 years now and I started to want to go and groundhop to Aldershot Town when they were promoted to the football league around 9 years ago and at that time, I always used to play as Aldershot on FIFA as they were one of the more local teams to me on FIFA and this made me want to visit the club. When Aldershot were relegated back down to the National League, I lost pretty much all interest in the club as this was the time when I started to become a proper Sutton supporter and started to follow Sutton away as well as home and this meant that Sutton were my main priority and I had lost interest in trying to go to Aldershot.
I started to gain some interest in Aldershot again during the summer holidays of 2016 when I decided to take on the challenge of managing Aldershot on Football Manager 2015 and I was managing Aldershot for around 3 seasons on Football Manager and got them promoted twice (up to League One) and this meant I had played Football Manager for around a month as Aldershot manager in real time and I decided to buy an Aldershot scarf online for £12 as I kind of started to like the club again.
My kind of love for Aldershot Town has kind of been there for the past 9 or so years from me playing as them on FIFA and me managing them on Football Manager but when my dad announced to me that he had the day off for Aldershot away a week before the game, I was so happy and it felt like Sutton had just won a game in the last minute because I was really excited that after around 5 or so years, I will finally be visiting Aldershot Town F.C.
The week before the game went very slowly mainly due to me being at college on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday but was more likely to be because I was very excited that I am going to be visiting Aldershot Town on Saturday. My four days at college were not too stressful which was quite rare because college is normally stressful for me but this week seemed to be a lot more relaxed for some reason. Friday finally arrived and I had to go through one more day of college before the big day at Aldershot Town and the day was quite relaxed, the work was not very hard and we wasn't given too much and this meant I was able to come home in a good mood and I was staying round my dads tonight which meant I had to get all my stuff together for the weekend ready for when he comes round. Once I got home, I got all of my things together and I had a spare 15 minutes so I decided to look into the history of Aldershot Town F.C.
Aldershot Town F.C. were founded in 1992 and were the re-formation of the previously club Aldershot F.C. who folded in 1992. The club play in red and blue and their nicknames are `The Shots` and `The Rising Phoenix`. They currently play at The Recreation Ground which has a capacity of 7,100 and there are 2,136 seats. When the newly formed Aldershot Town F.C. were formed, they entered the Isthmian League Division Three in 1992 and their attendance for the clubs first competitive fixture had a higher attendance then the old Aldershot F.C. last ever game. Aldershot won the Isthmian League Division Three in their first season by 18 points and the club was promoted to the Isthmian League Division Two. After finishing in 3rd in their first year in the Isthmian League Division Two, the club were then promoted again and now they were competing in the Isthmian League Division One. The club remained in the Isthmian League First Division until the 1997/98 season when they were promoted to the Isthmian Premier Division and they played for the first time in the Premier Division in the 1998/99 season.
Then in the 2002/03 season, Aldershot won the Isthmian League Premier Division and they were promoted to the Conference and they entered the Conference for the 2003/04 season. The club competed well in the Conference for four long seasons and the club was finally promoted to the Football League in the 2007/08 season when they were the champions of the Conference. The newly formed Aldershot Town made it back to the Football League in 16 years and they entered the Football League in the 2008/09 season. The club competed in League Two for 5 season before finally getting relegated back down to the Conference in the 2012/13 season and since that year, the club have been battling it out in the Conference Premier.
So the day of the game finally arrived and the moment I woke up, I got straight out of bed and saw that I woke up quite late because I woke up at 8:15am which is very late for a Saturday as I normally find myself waking up at around 7am on a Saturday so I had a lye in as well which didn't hurt as we wasn't planning on leaving until 11ish. So after I woke up, I had a nice refreshing warm shower which really woke up and I had a nice breakfast which consisted of toasted muffins with butter which is one of my favourite breakfast options.
So after I finished filming my match day vlog intro which took around 5 minutes, I got all of my things together that I was taking to the game, I put my jumper on and then we went out to the car and put everything in the boot and then we finally left my dads house at 10:50am. We then had to drive up to my Uncle Ben`s house as we were taking him to the ground as well and we drove up to Banstead to pick him up and we got to his house at 11:12am and he had to get his things ready but he only took a minute and we left his house at 11:15am. We then had to drove up the A3 which would take us near to Aldershot and the A3 was pretty quiet which was really good because it meant we was able to drive there quickly and we turned off the A3 around 5 miles from Aldershot and then we had to drive down some small roads and we finally arrived in Aldershot at 12:15pm and we passed thre ground on the way and the town wasn't very busy and we headed for a car park which was around a 5/10 minute walk from the stadium.
We arrived at the car park at 12:22pm and we parked the car and had a quick walk to see what kind of places there were to eat in Aldershot and us being us headed straight for the Burger King and me being me had a bacon double cheese XL meal with coke, my dad had the chicken royale meal and my uncle Ben had like four small burgers and a coffee for £7. Once we started to eat, I started to really get in the mood for football because I just wanted to go to the stadium but next up on the list was to visit a local pub for a drink so we finished our Burger King at 12:50pm and we headed for the Crimea pub which is heavily suggested for away fans and we got to the pub at 12:57pm and the pub was very traditional and had a few of our close Sutton United friends inside and I got a pint of coke and the pub also had a dart board so me and a few of the other Sutton fans had a couple of games of darts.
We spent nearly an hour in the Crimea but after a few games of darts against my uncle and my mate Luke, I finished my pint of coke and we started to head off to the ground at 1:49pm and the ground was just a few minutes away so we slowly walked down to the ground and we got to the Recreation Ground at 2pm. Before I went through the turnstiles, I went in the club shop and I purchased a Aldershot Town pin badge for £4 to add to my collection of ground hopping pin badges. Once we got in the ground, we headed round to the where the away fans are normally segregated but the game today was not segregated but most of the Sutton fans stood/sat together. When we got to the area we was going in, we found out we only had a small seated section of around 150 seats and the open terrace we was hoping to go on was closed so I decided to put my flags up but around 20 minutes before kick off, they opened the terrace, so I took my flags down and put them up on the terrace. I then had a good chance to look at the ground.
The Recreation Ground is a lovely stadium and is one of my favourites that I have visited so far. I like how the ground is situated next to the high street but is covered by trees which gives the ground a rural feel to it. On one side is the North Stand. This was built by the supporters club in 1932, in preparation for the old Aldershot FC joining the league. It was built on top of some much older stone terracing, and is raised slightly above pitch level where the stone base of the terracing can still be seen. It originally had bench seating only in the front, central sections, but this was replaced with individual seats when new dressing rooms and offices and the Directors box were added in 1980. Further seating was also added in 2008 on Aldershot town’s promotion to the League to bring the total seats in the ground close to 2,000. However both ends and a small section behind the seats are still standing. The stand has two quirks, due to the way it was first built: the roof does not quite cover the first row or two of the seats; also, it was not built level, so when seen from across the pitch it is visibly higher towards its east end. 
At one end is the East Bank covered terrace. This stand has a classic looking barrel shaped roof and has a number of supporting pillars running across the front of it. Opposite is the High Street End. Until 2013 this area was unused for spectators having just a narrow path and some advertising hoardings. However to help the Club comply with League rules stipulating the number of seats that a ground must have, then a small prefabricated covered area was erected on one side of this end (towards the Main Stand). Called the Community Stand it comprises just four rows of seats and only runs from the corner flag to the goal area. It has a total seating capacity of 250. On the other side of this end is a two storey green portakabin that serves as a Police Control Box, otherwise this end is unused for spectators. The ground benefits from an impressive set of floodlights which I really like. (Description of The Recreation Ground is sourced from Football Ground Guide).
I love the Recreation Ground because it has a true non-league feeling to it and I like the way how the ground has a very traditional feeling to it and the changes that the club has done such as adding the small seated stand behind the goal all fits in with the stadium and it doesn't ruin the grounds tradition. After I put my flags up on the open terrace, I had some time to go and get some chips from the tea hut and the chips were really nice, they were not burnt or crusty, they were cooked perfectly and tasted amazing. I would really recommend getting a portion of chips when you go to Aldershot Town F.C.
So kick off was nearing and the Sutton fans were starting pour in and there were around 200 (216 announced) loyal Sutton fans who had made the 35 mile trip to Aldershot and for a small club like ourselves, a 216 loyal away support is really good. The teams came out and there was a huge roar from all around the stadium as both sets of fans clapped and cheered as their teams entered the pitch. The game kicked off and the Sutton loyal started to sing our normal songs and there were a decent amount of us singing as there was about a good 30 of us chanting and even when we got a corner or throw in, all of the Sutton fans clapped and it was quite loud. The Aldershot fans had a drummer and the drummer was okay, the rhythm wasn't always perfect but it seemed to work and there were around a good 200 Aldershot fans chanting but they kept on repeating the same 4/5 chants which was a bit disappointing because we have around 10/12 chants and we have a wider range of chants.
Sutton were dominating and we scored but unfortunately our player was offside, this meant the goal didn't count. Sutton continued to attack and had many good chances but Aldershot managed to catch us on the counter attack just before half time and Will Puddy deflected the shot into his own net and Aldershot found themselves 1-0 up at half time and was much not deserved as Sutton should have been at least 3-1 up at half time. My half time snack was chocolate coated rice crispy cakes and cookies and I had a chat with the other Sutton fans and we all still believed that we should be winning and we can still get something out of the game.
The second half started and Aldershot seem to be a bit better and Sutton just seemed to become less confident and we was giving away chances. Sutton had a few chances to get back into the game but we just didn't take our chances and Aldershot continued to attack and Sutton were punished in the 90th minute as Aldershot scored to seal the game and make the three points safe. The full time whistle went and we clapped the players off and I thought to myself that only losing 2-0 to a team that are around 8 places above us is not the worst result but we definitely deserved a point at the least.
I took my flags down and we headed back for the car and when we was walking out of the ground, a couple of elderly Aldershot fans said that we deserved to win the game and they wished us luck for the rest of the season. We left the ground at 5pm and headed back to the car park. The roads and paths were very busy which meant it took us a bit longer to get back to the car park but we finally got back to the car at 5:13pm. We were all disappointed that we didn't get anything from the game because we deserved a point at the absolute minimum.
We drove out of Aldershot and within a few minutes of driving, we were back in Surrey which was a shock because we thought that Aldershot was much further from Surrey but we drove up towards the A3 and there was a bit of traffic as there was a road accident but the traffic cleared after around 5 minutes and once we got on the A3, the journey was a piece of cake as there was no traffic and the roads were not too busy. We dropped my uncle Ben at his house at 6:20pm and we dropped our mate Tony off at his house at 6:42pm and we finally got home at 6:50pm. We got home and had a little bite to eat and then I had a quick shower before going to bed. I would definitely recommend going to Aldershot Town because it is quite friendly and the stadium is really unique.

Stadium: 8/10
Bar: 8/10
Food and Drink: 8/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Friendliness: 8/10
Value For Money: 9/10
Overall Rating: 8.3/10

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