Aldershot FC 1926-1992 (Liquidated)

Aldershot Football Club was formed in December 1926 through the initiatives of Councillor Jack White (Chairman of the Hampshire FA), Norman Clinton, D Llewellyn Griffiths together with local businessmen Sidney Salter and Mr H Ainger. The Recreation Ground, a public park, was leased from the local council and the club entered the Southern League defeating Grays Thurrock 4-0 in its first ever match on 27th August 1927 in front of 3500 spectators. Aldershot joined the Football League in 1932 replacing Thames FC and competed in the competition for 60 years and reached the 5th round of the FA Cup in the first season before losing to Derby County at the Baseball Ground.

In 1936-37 Aldershot finished bottom of the Football League Division 3 South and had to apply for re-election in order to avoid slipping back into the Southern League. The highest position they reached in the regional division was 10th in 1939. In 1958 they finished 18th in the table to ensure that they would compete in the newly formed Football League Division 4. Their first match in the new division was away at Carlisle United in August 1958.

The club spent 15 years in the Fourth division but enjoyed some epic cup occasion including defeating Aston Villa at the Recreation Ground in the FA Cup third round replay in 1964 in front of over 13,500 spectators. In 1967 a then Rec attendance record of 16,801 saw local rivals Reading defeated 1-0 courtesy of a Jack Howarth goal, also in the FA Cup .In 1969/70 under the leadership of Jimmy Melia a ground record of 19,138 saw the FA Cup fourth round replay versus Carlisle United whilst the following season saw a League Cup tie at home to Manchester United with messrs Best, Law and Charlton featuring for the visitors as Aldershot took the lead before losing 3-1. They also travelled to Anfield that season in an FA Cup 3rd round tie losing 1-0 in front of 45,500 spectators.

The club finally achieved promotion for the first time in its history requiring a draw in its final match at Stockport County on 4th May 1972. A Roger Joslyn goal ensured the celebrations could begin on an epic night as Aldershot drew 1-1. They went up in fourth place after finishing ahead of Newport County on goal average. Tommy McAnearney was the manager.

The following season brought Aldershot's highest-ever finish as they finished eighth in the Third Division. However in 1976 they were relegated back to the Fourth Division.

The late 70's saw some of the most enjoyable football ever witnessed at the Rec as the club missed out narrowly on promotion twice pre play off days including acquiring an unbeaten home record in 1977/78. The following season saw an FA Cup run that is still talked about to this day as the club reached the fifth round and were only seconds from reaching the quarter finals and a match versus Wolverhampton Wanderers before Shrewsbury Town levelled deep into injury time seconds after John Dungworth had netted his seventh goal in the competition that season. Dungworth scored again in the replay but Shots went down 3-1 after extra time.

Len Walker replaced McAnearney in 1981 and took the club to sixth position in his first season. A boardroom takeover saw the departure of Walker and appointment of Ron Harris in 1984 but Walker was back at the helm for the start of the 1985/86 season as former Chairman Reg Driver returned with Lakeside Country Club owner Bob Potter. In 1986/87 Walker led the club to a superb promotion as his side finished sixth on 70 points to occupy a place in the first season of the Football League play-offs. Although it was pre Wembley days Walker led his team to defeat Bolton Wanderers (four times winners of the FA Cup) and Wolverhampton Wanderers, three times league champions and four times FA Cup winners who had only been relegated from the top flight in 1984. In a season of 64 matches Aldershot also reached the FA Cup fourth round and the Associate Members (Freight Rover) Trophy southern area final.

Despite a tremendous opening to the 1987/88 season Aldershot avoided relegation on the last day of the season at Grimsby Town before finishing bottom of the table the next season. By this stage, a financial crisis was dawning upon the club as debts were mounting and as the 1989-90 season began, the task at Aldershot was to avoid being relegated or expelled from the Football League, rather than mount a promotion challenge. Aldershot finished 22nd in the Fourth Division that season, and were in danger of a second successive relegation right up to the end of April. However, the financial crisis was worsening and it seemed highly doubtful that Aldershot would be able to start the 1990-91 season.

On 31 July 1990, Aldershot were wound up in the High Court as the Official Receiver condemned them as "financially insolvent" with debts of £495,000. However, the winding-up order was lifted on 7 August 1990 when 19-year-old property developer Spencer Trethewy paid £200,000 to save the club and allow them to start the new Fourth Division campaign. However, the board of directors soon realised that he didn't have the funds to keep the club running, and he was dismissed on 1 November 1990. Trethewy's shady dealings finally caught up with him in 1994 when he was convicted of fraud and received a two-year prison sentence.

Despite falling attendances towards the latter years, Aldershot were always a decently supported side in the Football League years (despite often being the smallest town in the competition) and regularly averaged 4,000+ in the 60s and 70s and, indeed over 7000 in the 1950's.

Aldershot's problems continued as they finished the 1990-91 season second from bottom in the league. There was no relegation this season due to an expansion in the league's size to 93 clubs from the previous total of 92. Walker had stepped up the role of general manager in March 1991, with Brian Talbot taking over as player-manager. However, Aldershot's debts were mounting and although they were able to begin the 1991-92 Fourth Division campaign, as the season wore on it looked more and more likely that the club would go under. As well as that, the problems were showing on the field as Aldershot struggled near the foot of the league. Manager Brian Talbot resigned in November 1991 to be succeeded by Ian McDonald.

Despite superlative efforts from the supporters and playing staff, the fate of Aldershot FC was finally sealed in the early part of 1992. The players, superbly marshalled by player/manager McDonald, were unpaid, but the fans rallied round in a desperate attempt to save the club. However, on March 20th 1992, the Shots travelled to Cardiff City and, in front of over 6,000 people, played their final Football League match. Despite notable gestures for ground sharing from Cardiff and Swindon Town, the club were wound-up in the High Court just five days later. Aldershot FC was no more.
On 25 March 1992 Aldershot F.C. finally went out of business and were obliged to resign from the Football League.

The Aldershot Town story, though, was just beginning as a new club was formed out from the ashes of Aldershot FC.

Aldershot FC Facts

  • Year Formed: 1926. Folder: 1992
  • Named as Aldershot Town FC until 1937. Therafter as Aldershot FC
  • Record League Victory: 8-1 v Gateshead in Division 4 on 13 September 1958
  • Record Cup Victory: 11-1 v Kingstonian in the FA Cup Fourth qualifying round on 16 November 1929
  • Record Defeat: 1-10 v Southend United in the Leyland Daf Trophy on 6 November 1990
  • Most League Points: 57 (Division 4 1978/79) and 75 (Division 4 1983/84 as 3 points for a win
  • Most League Goals: 83 (1963/64)
  • Highest League Scorer: John Dungworth (26) in 1978/79
  • Most League Goals: Jack Howarth (171) between 1965/71 and 1973/77
  • Most League Appearances: Murray Brodie (461) between 1970/83
  • Record Transfer Fee Received: Tony Lange (£150,000) from Wolverhampton Wanderers in July 1989
  • Record Fee Paid: Colin Garwood (£54,000) to Portsmouth in February 1980
  • Football League Record: 1932 Elected to Division 3 South; 1958/73 Division 4; 1973/76 Division 3;1976/87 Division 4;1987/89 Division 3; 1989/92 Division 4; March 1992 (Liquidated and results from Football League expunged.
  • Record Home Attendance: 19,138 v Carlisle United in FA Cup 4th Round Replay on 28 January 1970
  • Record League Attendance:15,611 v Reading (Division 3S on 22nd October 1938
  • Highest Average Attendance: 7493 in 1951/52
  • Sequences: League Wins: 5 (1961/62); League Defeats: 9 (1965/66); League Draws: 6 (1962/63); Unbeaten League Matches: 13 (1966/67 to 1967/68); Without A League Win: 17 (1936/37); Successive Scoring Runs: 29 (1961/62 to 1962/63); WIthout A League Goal: 6 (1987/88)

Managers

Angus Seed (1927/37); Bill McCracken (1937/49);Gordon Clark (1950/55); Harry Evans (1955/59); Dave Smith (1959/71 (General Manager frpm 1967); Tommy McAnearney (1967/68); Jimmy Melia (1968/72); Tommy McAnearney (1972/81); Len Walker (1981/84); Ron Harris (1984/85); Len Walker (1985/91); Brian Talbot (1991/92); Ian McDonald (1992)

For more information on Aldershot FC (1926-1992) please visit the excellent www.shots2692.co.uk
With thanks to Eric Marsh for permission for use of some photographs in this section.

Picture Gallery

The Rec in 1927
Team Photo in 1950 as Shots competed in Division 3 South
Dave Smith- Manager between July 1959 and March 1967
FA Cup action v Brentford at the Rec in 1961 in front of 12,846 spectators
Team Photo from 1969/70. Player-Manager Jimmy Melia is front row central in the season Carlisle United attracted the record 19,138 attendance to the Rec
Party Time in Stockport as Aldershot gain promotion for the first time in their history in May 1973
Big Jack Howarth nets a familiar header in 1974 and a hat-trick v Cambridge United
John Dungworth scores form the spot as Aldershot defeat Sheffield United and eventually reach the Fifth Round of the FA Cup in an epic run
Dale Banton netted twice as Len Walker's side won an FA Cup derby at Portsmouth 3-1 in 1982
Top flight Oxford United were defeated 3-0 at the Rec in the FA Cup third round in 1987. Unfortunately due to a 300% hike in the admission prices less than 2000 supporters were there to witness one of the most impressive performances in the clubs history
West Ham United needed a replay to finally defeat Len Walker's side in the FA Cup in 1990 as a goal less draw was achieved in front of over 23,000 spectators at Upton Park
The programme cover from the last ever home match versus Lincoln City in March 1992
The 1991/92 squad with Brian Talbot starting the season as the boss before he resigned in November after a home FA Cup defeat to non league Enfield
Jack Howarth- the club record scorer who netted 196 goals for the club in all competitions. Jack has been one of the many former AFC players who have been invited back as Guests of Aldershot Town matches; a policy the club operates at most home matches
Murray Brodie is the record appearance holder for the club and actually figured in 515 appearances netting 90 goals between 1970 and 1983
Len Walker- captain of the 1972/73 promotion winning team and manager in the only other Aldershot promotion squad of 1986/87. Involved in approaching 1000 matches for the club as a player of manager
Former defender Joe Jopling remains in the town as the landlord of the Golden Lion pub in the High Street. Joe (left), who made 426 appearances, is pictured with fellow centre half Tommy Youlden. Both have been guests of the club in recent times in appreciation of their services
Alex McGregor is one of the most popular players to wear the Shots shirt during his six years at the club from 1976
Glen Johnson featured 472 times for the club between 1973 and 1983 made more appearances than any other goalkeeper in the 66 year history
Goalkeeper Tony Lange is the record sale of the club when he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers for a £150,000 fee. Tony featured in 63 of the 64 matches in the epic promotion and cup success season of 1986/87. Pictured here as a welcome guest of the club in September 2009
Ian McDonald captained the 1986/87 promotion winning team and was a hugely popular figure making 423 appearances scoring 62 goals before managing the club in the latter days under almost impossible conditions
Tommy McAnearney was the manager when Aldershot gained promotion in 1972/73 and was in charge for a decade in two spells in addition to making 116 appearances for the club
Steve Wignall made 199 appearances for the club including the promtion team of 1986/87 before working on the Coaching staff. Steve became the first manager of the newly formed Aldershot Town in 1992 and led the club to two successive promotions before becoming a successful boss of Colchester United. He wrote an autobiography in 2009 with a lengthy section covering his times at Aldershot
The last ever goal in the Football League for Aldershot FC. Scored by Tony Joyce on 7th March 1992 in a 4-1 home defeat versus Northampton Town