LET’S LOOK AT:
ALDERSHOT (PT 1)
The original club called Aldershot were formed in 1926 as Aldershot Town. Aldershot Town joined the Eastern Section of the Southern League in 1927, finishing 7th in their first season. In 1930, they won the Eastern Section title and then beat Western Section champions, Bath City 3-2 in a play-off to become Southern League champions. The following season, they just missed winning the Eastern section, just missing out on goal average to Dartford. In 1931, the club reached the 3rd round of the FA Cup for the first time before losing 1-0 to Bradford Park Avenue.
In 1932, they dropped the ‘Town’ and in that the same year they were admitted to the Third Division (South) of the Football League. In their first season in the league, the club finished 17th. The club also reached the 5th round of the FA Cup before going down 2-0 to Derby County. In 1934, they reached the 3rd round before losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace and reached the 3rd round again the following season before losing 3-1 to Reading after a replay.
They did not come close to promotion in those early years, their highest position being 11th and in 1936/37, they finished bottom of the league. In 1937/38, they did, though, reach the 3rd round of the FA Cup again before going out, 3-1 to Notts County. However, by the outbreak of the Second World War, their performances had improved and in 1938/39, the club achieved their highest position, finishing 10th.
When football resumed after the end of the war, the Shots reached the 4th round of the FA Cup before losing 7-1, over two legs, to Brighton. In the league, Aldershot struggled to get out of the bottom half of the table and had to seek re-election to the league, due to finishing in the bottom four, in the first four seasons after WW2. The club had two FA Cup runs, reaching the 3rd round in 1949, losing 3-1 to Gateshead and in 1951, losing 5-1 to Bristol Rovers.
In 1951/52, they achieved their only post war, top half finish in this division, finishing 12th. In the FA Cup, the Shots reached the 3rd round again in 1956 before losing 2-1 to Barnsley, and again in 1958, losing 5-1 to Portsmouth, but that same year, when the 3rd and 4th divisions were formed, Aldershot had to settle for a place in the bottom tier after finishing 18th in the Third Division (South).
Worse was to follow, as the club had to seek re-election the following year after finishing 22nd in the new, 4th Division. In the FA Cup, Aldershot reached the 4th round in 1961, taking Stoke City to two replays before losing 3-0 and in 1964, reached the same stage, going out 2-1 to Swindon Town. However, the club’s fortunes improved and in 1962, the club achieved their best placing so far, finishing 7th.
In 1970, the club finished 6th, but went a little bit better three seasons later, finishing 4th to champions, Southport and gaining promotion to the 3rd Division, their first ever promotion in league football. That season, they reached the 4th round of the FA Cup again, losing 4-1 to Carlisle United after a replay.
Their first season in the 3rd Division was a good one, with the club achieving a very respectable finish of 8th, but the following season, the Shots only escaped relegation on goal difference and, in 1976, they finished 21st and were relegated back to the 4th Division.
In their first season back in the bottom tier, the Shots struggled finishing 17th, but in the following two seasons, they just missed out on promotion finishing 5th each time, an achievement they replicated in 1984. In the FA Cup, they reached the 5th round in 1979 for only the second time in their history, taking Shrewsbury Town to a replay before going down 3-1. The Shots had been only seconds from reaching the quarter finals for the first time in their history in the original match against Shrewsbury at the Recreation Ground, Shrewsbury equalising in injury time. In 1985, the club had their most successful season in the League Cup reaching the 3rd round before losing 4-0 to Norwich City after a replay.
In 1987, the club finished 6th, under manager Len Walker and reached the play-offs. In the play-offs that season, the teams finishing 4th, 5th and 6th in the 4th division were joined by the team finishing 21st in the 3rd division, the winner of the play-offs either getting promotion or staying up.
Aldershot met the 3rd division side in the semi-final, who were Bolton Wanderers (how times have changed!!) and Aldershot won 3-2 on aggregate to reach the final where they met Wolves (another current Premiership club). Aldershot won 3-0 on aggregate over two legs to gain promotion for the second time in their history. The club also reached the 4th round of the FA Cup, losing 3-0 to Barnsley after a replay.
The Shots struggled in the higher division and finished 20th in their first season, escaping relegation by just a point, but, in 1989, the club finished bottom and were relegated back to the 4th division. The club fell into decline after relegation, finishing in 22nd and 23rd place in the next two seasons and had serious financial troubles and soon the writing was on the wall. In 1992, the club had to resign from the league having failed to meet the bills of their creditors and the club folded. Their last match was away at Cardiff City on the 20th March 1992.
In the second part of this article, we will look at the resurrection of Aldershot as a new club with their old name of Aldershot Town.