Tag Archives: Aldershot Town

Aldershot Town 1 AFC Wimbledon 1 10/9/11 – A Match Report

This time last week an exasperated Micky Adams was travelling back up to the Potteries, having advised the press post game that AFC Wimbledon had used a bit of luck up and hopefully that will even itself at some point in the future… And lo and behold, seven days after a bit of Jolley magic turned a point into three in stoppage time, the cruel hand of fate (or Gareth Gwillim’s knee…) was there to snatch those two points back from us…

Actually there was a great deal of similarity between last week and this, in that on both occasions we were quite fortunate to come away with the result we did. Are we going to be that side? One that spends most of the game on the back foot, somehow surviving thanks to solid last-ditch defending, just waiting for that spell in the game where we look half decent – which could be five minutes, forty-five, half an hour… or not at all. Is League Two really the sort of division where such a side can finish comfortably in mid-table?

The lowdown, for those of you who weren’t at the Recreation Ground… After a quiet start only memorable for an Aldershot effort that clipped the bar, the Dons took the lead with their first (and only) chance of note… a deep Sam Hatton cross finding Max Porter lurking at the far post, his brilliantly executed header beat the keepers despairing dive and nestled in the far corner. This was on seventeen minutes, and the Dons gradually sat further and further back as the game progressed.

Faced with being allowed to dominate possession, Aldershot proceeded in one of two ways. The first involved hitting a deep cross six yards beyond the far post, allowing Jamie Stuart to flick the ball out for a corner… subsequently hit deep six yards beyond the far post for Jamie Stuart to flick away. On the rare occasions the Dons prevented a cross from coming in, the shots would play the ball into the centre where one of their midfielders would kick the ball onto the East Terrace roof.

There was balance to the contest in a way only League Two games can be, one sides deficiencies were cancelling out the others, and with the Dons having their noses in front the travelling fans became more and more confident… as the clock ticked into injury time it seemed time might run out for the home side. But the problem with allowing sides to take pot shots from twenty-five yards is they can go anywhere… while that normally means the roof or the corner flag, it also includes the top corner…

Dons fans brave the open terrace

You might have seen the goal credited to Danny Hylton, which probably had more to do with the Press Association guy who originally credited him with it suffering a momentary lapse of concentration – either that or Aldershot might want to check the carbon monoxide detector in their press box… But allowing him to get the effort in gave it a chance of slamming into Gareth Gwillim’s legs, wrong footing Seb Brown who was already committed to shepherding it around the post…

After nearly signing him last season, you would have thought Hylton might have been fired up for this one… and he was, but not in the way you would expect. In fact his performance convinced the Dons fans we’d actually had a MASSIVE escape. His arrival would have been on a contract, which meant we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to bomb him out when we realised what we had (like we could with Broughton…). Subsequently, Mo wouldn’t have come to the club, the playoffs would have ended in failure, and we’ll still be playing Conference football…

Yet its likely the Dons fans would never have noticed Hylton had it not been for one outstanding piece of attempted cheating. After tangling himself up with a Dons defender, Hylton strode on a few steps, then upon realising he wasn’t going to reach the ball hurled himself to the ground. The incident also highlighted another villain of the piece – the referee. Now normally I get frustrated with referees, as there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground in this type of incident. It’s a penalty or yellow card for diving, they don’t seem to factor in players just losing balance and falling over. Yet in this instance it was so clear-cut the referee was neglecting his responsibilities not showing him a card, only flashing yellow when Hylton got up to hurl a stream of abuse at him.

The official had already got the Dons fans backs up after a first half incident where Sammy Moore was laid out in an aerial challenge – we’ll never know how the game would have played out had Moore stayed on the field, and it says a lot about his character that he carried on until half time. But the game would have followed a different course had the referee taken a harder line on challenges like this. plus it’s not often you see such a sarcastic response from a set of football fans to that of the Dons fans when he finally blew for a foul our way a few minutes later…

Throwback view from the East Terrace...

Ultimately though, the Dons have only themselves to blame. As previously mentioned, we sat deeper and deeper as they game went on. Plus our substitutions were strange to say the least, Jolley for Djilali was pretty much like for like but the newcomer didn’t see much of the ball… earlier Luke Moore was withdrawn for Ryan Jackson, and I think the idea was we’d hit Aldershot on the break. This might have worked if Sammy Moore had been replaced with Lee Minshull, which would have added a little steel in the heart of the field, but instead he brought on Yussuff.

Now Toks did what Toks does, floated around picking up loose balls and looking to build attacks, but never looking like he wanted to put a challenge in. To be fair Ricky Wellard stepped up to the plate, but Ricky isn’t exactly a midfield enforcer, and his eagerness to put a tackle in only lead to his unfortunate dismissal, but his willingness at least earned him a standing ovation from Dons fans… rare for Ricky, and under the circumstances slightly surreal…

Overall, you can’t find yourself leading going into injury time and not consider this two points lost, regardless of what went on for the ninety minutes before. Going forward, those midfield problems don’t look like resolving themselves any time soon, but at least defensively we looked a bit more solid. The new loanee McNaughton performed well considering he’d only joined the squad the day before, but Jamie Stuart was my Dons man of the match. Ending the game bandaged up, he was willing to put his head in where others fear to put a boot.

Two home games in seven days give the Dons a chance to properly entrench themselves in upper midtable, with a tough looking October coming up you get the impression we’ll do well to get points on the board while we can…

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Aldershot Preview

Six games in, we’re finally set for our first League Two game meaningful for reasons other than simply being a League Two game. So meaningful I was planning on updating the League Two File (an occasional series focussing on our divisional rivals) I wrote on Aldershot. But then, earlier this week, a couple of hundred Aldershot fans found the original (or rather one found it, the others followed their link…), so I didn’t bother. But you can still read it here, I’m going to be referring to it now and then in this here preview…

Firstly, is this game a derby? In the …File I suggested neither side consider it a derby, which I’ve since decided was quite frankly bollocks, not only is it Aldershot’s closest fixture, it’s probably ours too – and I’ve seen supporters of both sides describe it as such. Plus derby games are about a lot more than simple geography… the historical experiences and personnel shared between the two clubs give this game meaning above and beyond merely a fixture between two reasonably local sides.

Of course, if this is going to be a real ongoing derby, it’s going to have to have a name… all ‘proper’ derby games have a nickname (how could the media be expected to take it seriously otherwise???) – The North London Derby, the Steel City Derby… so what do we call this one? The North Hampshire/Surrey Derby isn’t that snappy (and may not even be geographically accurate), The A3 doesn’t quite stretch as far as Aldershot before veering off in the direction of Portsmouth, and the A3 Derby sounds like a cab firm anyway…

How about naming the game after the real reason this fixture is getting such a degree of attention from home and visiting fans alike… Mr Terry Brown. I’m not entirely sure the Brown Derby will catch on but in the unlikely event it does, you heard it here first (which would make a change…). Perhaps his good name lends itself better to a trophy, much like the one Derby and Forest play for. In fact… I’m calling it. Tomorrows game marks the inaugural Terry Brown Trophy tie, the winner will become the first holder, and every subsequent fixture, be it league, cup or friendly will decide future winners.

This is the Anonymous Don, not the WUP, so I don’t exactly have the resources to fund an actual, physical trophy that the winning captain can lift after a hard-fought victory. So, for now, this will be a metaphysical trophy, a trophy of the heart…

Whatever your feeling towards the fixture – and its fair to say not all of us are overly excited judging by the way the club has spent the last couple of days hawking round the final eighty tickets of what initially seemed a pretty measly 1300 allocation. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been slightly disappointed with our travelling support this season… Fair enough, we took over a thousand to Crawley for the League Cup on a Friday night, but we should have sold out that stand at Dagenham, £19 a ticket or not. And this game should have sold out from season ticket holders alone, it’s not exactly a long trip, right?

The fact we are struggling to rustle up travelling support is strange when you consider we are selling out Kingsmeadow on a frequent basis… even the Tuesday night game with Northampton looking as though its going to be hard to obtain tickets on the night. Could this be down to the more competitive nature of the division we are in? Even last season you would have expected us to win as many as we lost away from home, and watching your team lose at home is one thing, making the effort to travel is another.

This game was always going to be a tough one, taking into account our pre-existing defensive problems. Now on the eve of matchday we find not only might our top scorer be ruled out with injury, one of our only fit centre halves might have to sit out as well. Bret Johnson struggling with a hamstring injury could see a last-minute loanee pair up with Jamie Stuart, although a few cynics out there might see this as a good thing – not having trained with us he might not know that on winning the ball the done thing is to play a hospital ball to a tightly marked midfielder, and instead slam the ball sixty yards down field.

So how will the Dons line up? With Charlie Ademeno definitely ruled out, if Jack Midson still has two legs its highly likely he’ll at least start… we need someone up top who can hold the ball up, if not its a game of giving the ball to Jolley and seeing what he can do with it (which worked last week…).

Having strung this out long enough to get some team news from the O/S, along with the revelation that our new loan centre half is Callum McNaughton from West Ham, it looks like the new boy will start will Jamie Stuart. With Fraser Franks playing for the reserves for the first time tomorrow and Mat Mitchel-King nowhere near, McNaughton’s arrival for a month will cover us over nicely until we have our full complement of defenders back. How we’ll go in midfield is anyones guess, which is one of the reasons I’ve wimped out on selecting my predicted XI…

One final thought, harking back to whether this game is a derby or not… if there are any doubters out there pondering the importance of the fixture – the scoreline come 5PM tomorrow evening might go a long way towards how you view it in future. After all, I can’t remember too many people getting excited about trips to places like Hampton or Staines until one day we played them and they beat us…

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The League Two Files – Aldershot Town

I’m looking forward to our games against Aldershot next season. Close enough away for a decent regional rivalry to flourish with decent numbers of travelling support ensuring a great atmosphere at both the Rec and Kingsmeadow, but far enough away that neither club really considers it a derby – therefore a defeat either way shouldn’t dampen the mutual respect that has built up over the last few years. As Dons fans we have been walking in Aldershots footsteps over the last few years, and only caught up as quickly as we did thanks to the Shots allowing our future manager to learn important lessons about the Conference and turning a club full-time.

While the Shots fans reaction to TB will be warm and welcoming, the current Aldershot manager doesn’t quite get the same treatment from the Dons fans… But even employing Deano hasn’t generated any bad will from the Dons faithful towards the Shots, we’ll have to manufacture some kind of beef with them for fear the two encounters will evolve into full on love-fests. Six all important league points should be enough, as we take on Aldershot as equals for the first time in our current incarnations…

The fact that, like Accrington, I’ve had to dig the word ‘incarnation’ out of the thesaurus suggests what bonds us as supporters is a shared traumatic experience…

HISTORY

On 20th March 1992 Aldershot FC played their final game, a 0-2 defeat at Cardiff. Five days later the club went out of business, the first time a member of the Football League had resigned mid-season since Accrington Stanley. Unlike the Dons two-day revolution, the people of Aldershot must have endured the longest summer imaginable waiting for reformed Aldershot Town to take the field in what then would have been known as the Diadora Football League Division Three.

Unlike the Dons Aldershot won their division at first attempt, securing promotion from Division Two a year later, before hitting the buffers… While Dons fans might look back and wonder how we kept our sanity during the four years we spent in the Isthmian, spare a thought for Shots fans who spent in total eleven years trying to escape.

The man who achieved promotion was our very own Terry Brown. TB took over on March 20th 2002, and set about building a squad to escape the division, which they did at Browns first attempt. Its worth remembering that Aldershot’s five years in the Ryman Premier were in an era when only the champions were promoted, no playoff second chances. The flip side was promotion meant elevation to the Conference, a year ahead of regionalisation.

The experience Brown picked up in his Conference years undoubtedly served him well while steering the Dons to the Football League, but its worth remembering how different history might have been had he guided Aldershot to promotion, his near misses including coming within a penalty shootout of a place in the League in their first season, losing 0-3 to Shrewsbury. After the club stepped up to fully professional status, Brown’s Shots came within second of a place in another playoff final in 2005, eventually conceding and losing their shootout once more, this time at the hands of Carlisle (I’m now starting to understand why TB felt he was owed a penalty win!…).

Yet Brown couldn’t finish the job, and a couple of seasons in mid-table saw him depart, and Gary Waddock eventually replaced him. Waddock achieved the title at first attempt, and during the summer of 2008 the town of Aldershot had a League team once more. Waddock guided the Shots to a comfortable mid-table finish in their first season in League Two, following his departure to Wycombe in October ’09 his replacement Kevin Dillon almost went one step further steering the club to the League Two playoffs,l defeated 0-3 by Rotherham over two legs.

LAST SEASON

Building on the previous seasons excellent finish eventually proved too much for the Shots, who eventually finished 14th. The Shots midtable form took a nosedive from October onwards sending them plunging down the table, which also saw them crash out of the FA Cup at the hands of Dover. Pressure on Dillon and his management team grew to the point a home defeat to Oxford on 8th January proved to be the final straw.

Holdsworth was appointed two days later, following an encouraging start to the season at Newport, and immediately stopped the losing rot. Aldershot became hard to beat under their new manager losing only four more league games, including two in April by which point a midtable position had been achieved, and Holdsworth will go into his first full season in charge looking for similar form to challenge for a playoff place.

Aldershot now find themselves more or less where they were just before financial problems hit in the early nineties, a fourth level club with occasional forays into the Third tier. Most Shots fans would be hoping that’s where Holdsworth is going to take them, and it’ll be interesting to see what effect a succesful campaign and promotion would have on crowds that averaged around the 2,500 mark last season.

THE GROUND

A classic old ground with a twist. Aldershot’s East Bank dominates the ground, a real throwback to the days when every ground had a big popular terrace. The barrel roof on this terrace, coupled with the close proximity of supporters, allows a fantastic atmosphere to be created. The East Bank is segregated, with visiting supporters taking the southern corner giving a visiting capacity of 1,100, including 200 seats in the adjacent South Stand.

At the opposite end of the ground there is no accommodation for supporters, just a path. I remember a visit to the ground in their non-League days when fans used to stand in this area, presumably now the ground hosts Football League games and is a designated stadium this is no longer possible. The netting behind the goal now hosts advertising banners but beyond that the view is of trees in the park behind, which makes the ground look more endearing.

The South stand, flanked by areas of terrace in the corner, is propped up against the railway line. Its only when you walk under you realise how little space there is on this side of the ground. Opposite stands the Main Stand, much larger but the flanks aren’t seated, instead there are small areas of terracing.

ADMISSION

Aldershot do not appear to offer concessionary pricing to the unemployed, but understandably do offer to Military personnel.

(Dons price in brackets for comparison)

Terrace – Adult £17 (£15), Concession £13 (£9), U16 £6 (£2)

Seats – Adult £19 (£19/17), Concession £15 (£11.£10), U16 £8 (£7/£6)

Aldershot also offer a variety of family tickets, available in advance, that cut the cost for buying and adult and up to two child seats. Although Wimbledon do not regularly offer such an incentive it’s worth remembering the Dons U16 prices are already set to encourage younger fans.

These prices appear to have been frozen from last season, although their website isn’t entirely clear… as the idea is this post will be republished and updated closer to the date of our fixtures with Aldershot, this will be

PREVIOUS

AFCW/Aldershot Town

The only meeting between the two clubs in our current respective guises was the FA Trophy 1st Round tie on 16th December 2006, which the Dons won 2-1.

All Time Wimbledon/Aldershot Meetings –

 

The Dons and Aldershot met during the early years of WFC league membership, as well as three successive League Cup meetings in 79, 80 and 81, the Dons winning the first two with Aldershot taking the final two-legged tie.

LINKS

Official website

Shotsweb and Message Board

Football Ground Guide

 

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Dons Icons #3 – Marcus Gayle My Lord

When I was at school there used to be this kid, Marcus, who was always good for a laugh – not always intentionally either. For example one day he managed to bang his head on the floor while still sitting on a chair (you needed to be there), much to our delight (don’t worry, he didn’t get hurt, we weren’t evil…). Anyway somewhere down the line he picked up the nickname Mungo (I think it was originally Mongo, but as I said he was a good guy so we toned it down a bit).

Around this time Wimbledon signed a strong young forward from Brentford called Marcus Gayle. He made his debut a day after he signed, so naturally one of my friends christened him ‘Mungo’ too, shouting ‘Go On Mungo’ as he roared around the field much to the bemusement of the Dons fans around us. Eventually it stuck, as far as we were concerned anyway, and I continued to refer to him as Mungo until his £1m move to Rangers in 2001.

Marcus started his career at the Bees in 1989, making 158 appearances, as well as 22 while on loan to Finnish outfit KuPS while learning his trade in 1990. Its fair to say Gayle is as much an icon to Brentford fans as he is to us, and fortunately he got to bookend his career with a spell at both clubs, making 30 appearances for them in 05/06. They apparently had a song based on him that went along the lines of ‘Marcus Gayle, has a fucking huge cock…’. Not sure how they knew this for sure, it sounds a bit like lazy racial stereotyping to me, but I could be doing the great man a disservice!

gaylerMarcus song at Wimbledon was as per the title of this article, perhaps due to his religious convictions, perhaps his name just lent itself better to this tune (Wimbledon fans aren’t that clever, or they weren’t in those days. I remember when we stole a Cantona chant from Man United to use for John Fashanu- complete with French national anthem. I mean we could have been clever like we are these days and fitted it to ‘God Save The Queen’ in reference to Fash’s England caps, or even found out how the Nigerian anthem went…).

I vaguely remember an early Gayle game against Manchester United where his strong run down the left wing left whoever was playing right back for United that day for dead, delivering a perfect cross for Fashanu. Fash seemed to be preoccupied by his physical tussle with Pallister, and if he got a touch at all it was probably an arm – but a goal it was. Of course Marcus carved his name into Wimbledon legend for a rather more important goal against the same opponents a few years later…

Gayle was the first of the new wave of players that came through in the mid to late 90’s, big, strong and quick, but withgreat ability to go withit. Combined they played fast counter attacking football combined with an unbeatable spirit. There’s no coincidence that Gayle’s ‘career season’ was probably the greatest in terms of football played we ever saw from a Wimbledon side in the Premier League, 1996/97.

Plus he scored in that memorable 4-2 win at Stamford Bridge. Yes we had taken great pleasure in battering the Blues 4-0 and 5-2 there in the old Division One days, but this was New Chelsea. Gayle put the icing on the cake, the result only tarnished by the dodgiest of dodgy penalties given in the last minute for a non existent foul outside the area. But the pace and movement of Wimbledon’s performance, especially Gayle and fellow front-man Efan Ekoku, meant Wimbledon had earned a place at the top of the Premier League, even if league form was to slip away after that.

But the Dons were to prove their worth in the cups as well, reaching both semi-finals. In the League Cup Marcus made a habit of beating dozy keepers at their near post from a tight angle, smashing the winner against Aston Villa in the 4th round, before repeating the trick in the semi-final second leg against Leicester. Heartbreak was to follow as the Dons crashed out on away goals (just rubbing salt in the wound – we didn’t actually play a ‘home’ game for nearly fifteen years during that period). The season petered out after a 0-3 surrender to Chelsea at Highbury in the FA Cup Semi-Final leaving us only with memories. But what memories they were.

Plus lets not forget Marcus, along with Robbie Earle, was one of the first Dons players to see action at a World Cup. Although Robbie gets a lot of attention for his goal (and Robbie will get the ‘icon’ treatment himself one day…), lets not forget Marcus did more than just make up the numbers in 1998.

My personal favourite Marcus moment was set against the backdrop of unpleasantness. I found myself close to the front of what must have been C block in the HolmesdaleEnd, only to my horror to find myself sitting next to a Liverpool fan who not only felt he had the right to be there, he had the right to loudly support his team as well. Naturally, I was slightly annoyed, and this lead to several arguments with the plastic scouser, an argument witha steward, and worse still an argument withmy dad, for taking my argument with the previous two too far.

Just as I was about to snap, Wimbledon won a free kick shortly after, and Gayle floated it into the top corner, bouncing off the inside of the post and into the net after travelling across the goal line and off the opposite post. An absolutely brilliant free kick, and our joyous celebrations persuaded our illegally positioned Liverpool friend to find a different seat for the second half!

If anyone deserved a move to a big club it was Marcus. Sadly Wimbledon were desperate for money by the time he left, post relegation in 2001 to Rangers, and its probably fair to say they were the wrong club at the wrong time. He moved back to England with Watford, and it was here he made the transformation to centre half, a move that effectively extended his career by several seasons.

Normally a pace merchant will leave the game the moment their legs go, but Marcus was always too good a player for that to happen. His footballing brain was put to use at the heart of the defence of not only Watford, but Brentford, Aldershot (where he finally managed to score his first hat trick after coming on as a substitute against Kidderminster), before finally returning home to Wimbledon last season.

He didn’t have the pace that made him a Premier League star, but it all seemed a bit too easy for Gayle at times. To have him with us just for one season was a dream come true for most Wimbledon fans, one last link to the glory days. Our playoff win must have been a brilliant way to finish a career, walking off the pitch, knowing your job was done.

Except Marcus Gayle wasn’t finished with Wimbledon just yet. He took over the running of the reserves midway through last season, placing an emphasis on youth and guiding the side to a Suburban League Cup win over Bedfont, a game they dominated despite facing a stronger and more experienced side in the final. In future it will be his job to bring promising young players from a successful youth programme, and turn them into footballers. What does the future hold for Marcus Gayle? He has mentioned previously it is his ambition to become a manager, and there is no reason why he can’t move through the ranks at Wimbledon, as first team coach, assistant manager and perhaps even as Wimbledon manager himself one day?

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