Club History - Part 1 - 1992-to-1997

Aldershot Town Football Club was born on Wednesday April 22nd 1992 at a public meeting held at the Royal Aldershot Officers Club, which was attended by over 600 faithful Shots supporters still coming to terms with the loss of Football League status. In the current day and age, it seems incredulous that the club were actually wound-up for a sum less than £100,000 (although the overall debt was higher). The meeting was arranged by local businessman and lifelong supporter Terry Owens, a former chairman of the “Save Our Shots" campaign. It was organised in conjunction with Graham Brookland (chairman of the Supporters' Club), Peter Bridgeman (honorary secretary), David Brookland (honorary accountant) and Nick Fryer (secretary of the supporters' club). The packed floor were informed that the club had made enquiries to various football leagues after seeking senior status from both the Hampshire and Aldershot FAs. It was also informed that a limited company had been formed as Aldershot Town Football Club (1992) Ltd with two initial shares belonging to Terry Owens and Graham Brookland.

The Phoenix Has Risen

At a second public meeting on June 16th 1992, another packed audience were given the news they were all waiting for: Aldershot Town had been accepted into the Diadora Isthmian League Division 3. They were also informed that negotiations had been confirmed with Rushmoor Borough Council to play at the Recreation Ground; the home of Aldershot FC for 66 years. It was "all systems go" despite the fact that Chris Tomlinson, son of head groundsman Dave, was the only player on the books ! A board of directors was formed. Joining the initial pairing of Owens and Brookland were Peter Bloomfield, John McGinty, Malcolm Grant, Karl Prentice whilst Kevin Donegan was appointed prior to the start of the season.

On Saturday August 22nd 1992, the club played its first-ever match and, despite going two goals down early on, came back to defeat Clapton 4-2 at the Rec with Mark Butler and Steve Stairs scoring a brace apiece. The attendance of 1,493 was the lowest of the season and higher than the final crowd in the Football League days.
In an outstanding season, they won the championship by 18 points, remaining unbeaten at home throughout and winning the first ten matches. The average attendance at the Rec was 2090 with attendances at away matches often into the four figures in a league where the average attendance the previous season had been 90.
A Hampshire Senior Cup tie at home to Conference neighbours Farnborough Town attracted just under 6,000 fans to the Rec and the passion from the supporters was unflappable, despite the fact that the standard of play was five divisions below the Football League. The players of the opening season became cult heroes with the majority local and who could identify with what was trying to be achieved.

A further promotion and an FA Vase quarter-final placing was achieved in the 1993-94 season and it was only a matter of time before manager Steve Wignall, a former defender with the Football League side, was snapped up by a club of higher standing. That club was Colchester United (for whom Steve played) and the move was testament to the progress that had been made in such a short space of time.

Steve went on to achieve considerable success at Layer Road, too, after joining midway through the 1994-95 season. He built a firm foundation at Aldershot from juniors through to the senior ranks and should take great credit for his input into the future success at the club.

The Wigley Way

After a caretaker role with the popular Paul Shrubb in charge, former Portsmouth and Birmingham City player Steve Wigley was appointed Manager in February 1995 (his first post as a manager). In a tremendous finale to the season, Steve steered his side to six successive victories and only a win for Chertsey Town versus Basingstoke Town on the final day of the season denied Aldershot a third successive promotion. Ironically, Chertsey's winner was scored by Stuart Cash, who would go on to make his own positive contribution to Aldershot's history in future years.

In 1995/96 the club reached the final of the Guardian Insurance Cup, losing 4-1 to Kingstonian in a match played at the Recreation Ground but after twice narrowly missing out on promotion Wigley left to become youth development officer at Nottingham Forest in July 1997. He subsequently went on to become an England Under-21 coach, director of youth and first team manager at Southampton before being appointed first team coach at Manchester City in the summer of 2006. He became the coach responsible for England under-17 through to under-21's in 2007. He later combined the role as head coach at Premiership Bolton Wanderers.

Picture Gallery

The first ever Aldershot Town squad picture in 1992/93
A penalty at the East Bank end in the 1992/93 season
Manager Steve Wignall in the dugout in 1992
Steve Stairs and Mark Butler- the deadly strike duo who netted a brace each in the opening 4-2 victory v Clapton in August 1992
Dave Osgood celebrates a Diadora Division 3 goal with Mark Butler watching on.
Inaugural 1992/93 season programme. This was designed and printed by the Adline Group, the company owned by Director and future Chairman Karl Prentice. It cost £1 for a 40 page publication. Included in the programme were Wignall's Word (Steve Wignall), Straight From The Top (Terry Owens), Press Page (Nick Fryer), What's Occurring (Peter Bridgeman) plus articles from Graham Brookland and Jack Rollin. There were also comprehensive match reports and profiles on players and off the pitch staff too.
Steve Stairs in action at Tooting and Mitcham United in 1994/95 viewed the the Shots fans behind the goal in South London
Andy Nunn made 118 appearances for the club before serving in a variety of positions before being appointed Head Groundsman in 2006. In action here in 1994/95.
Roy Young battling for the ball in 1997. Roy netted 75 goals in 176 appearances
Celebrations in April 1993 as the Diadora Isthmian Division 3 championship is secured by 18 points
A picture taken from the public meeting at the Royal Aldershot Officers Club in April 1992 where over 600 supporters packed in to learn if there was to be a future for football in Aldershot.
More fan celebrations in 1992/93
Team Talk Part 2 in 1992 introducing the new Aldershot Town
Brian Lucas versus Clapton in Aldershot Town's opening match. Brian sadly passed away in 2009 aged 48. He was a loyal servant of both clubs after progressing through the youth ranks
Steve Stairs in action in the opening match versus Clapton where he and Mark Butler netted a brace
The 1993/94 programme was a 36 page edition costing £1. The front and back covers were in colour with articles including Terry Owens' The Direct View. There were new articles including Diadora Dealings covering the Isthmian League whilst David Pugh provided comprehensive coverage of the youth and reserve teams
The 1994/95 programme was a 36 page edition costing £1 for the third successive season. Peter Bridgeman's article was called Bridgeman's Banter whilst Terry Owens reverted to Talk of the Town in his capacity as Chairman. The Phoenix Club was a new edition to the publication as was new Commercial Manager Ian Crossley with his Crossley's Chat. There was a more comprehensive inclusion of statistics whilst the Supporters Club had a full page from Chairman Barry Underwood.There was also a page covering the Shotsline.
The 1995/96 programme saw the first ever price increase as the 36 page publication cost £1.20. It was a new style edition with an A5 rectangular product. A portrait of Roy Young in action at the Rec provided the cover with manager Steve Wigley covering The Wigley Way. A page on The Telefonix Shotsline provided player quotes from match interviews. There was a regular piece on non league football called The Pyramid whilst Jack Rollin's Read continued. Underwood Unscripted provided the Supporters Club point of view and there was a comprehenisve Division One Factfile. The regular Boardroom Blurb kept fans abreast of key issues around the club whilst the Snippets section gave all the news from around the club
The 1996/97 programme reverted back to the traditional size with the price remaining at £1.20 for 36 pages. There was more coverage on player profiles with more photographs on show in addition to Caption Corners. First Dimension covered the news in the Isthmian Division One whilst a full page was devoted to each match report. A letters section was introduced called The Town Mail Box. Bob Green provided the Talking Football article.
The Aldershot Town Supporters Club Committee made a monumental effort in setting up the football club during the summer of 1992. Pictured here are members of the Committee during a special period.
Minutes of the first ever Board meeting that formed Aldershot Town FC (1992) Ltd
Record goal scorer Mark Butler received an award or two in his six years at the club
Neil Webb in action during the 1996/97 season at Abingdon Town
Jason Tucker scores at Walton and Hersham in 1996
There was no doubting the popularity of Jimmy Sugrue at the Rec
Striker Darren Adams made an early impact at the Rec after signing in the summer of 1996
Danny Holmes gave Shots the lead in the 1995/96 Guardian Insurance Cup Final (Isthmian League). The match ws played at the Rec v Kingstonian in front of 3,511 spectators. K's eventually won 4-1 in a match seeped with controversy officiated by future Premier League referee Steve Bennett
Referee Mark Halsey pictured here in the middle of an Isthmian League Division One match. He was back at the Rec 13 years later in charge of an Aldershot Town Football League encounter versus Stevenage
Captain Paul Chambers is not a happy man during the 1995/96 season
Jeff Wood netted 13 league goals in 1995/96. Pictured here against his former club Barking who had to wear the Aldershot Town third kit after forgetting to pack their own kit. Shots won this match 5-1
Andy Russell joined the club in 1994 as one of Steve Wignall's latter signings
Youth team success with manager Andy Nunn, James Hatwell, Jimmy Reffold and Dave Barrett
Ivan Muir was reserve team coach in the early days whilst Eddie Larkham (right) was Chief Scout for over 10 years at the club from its inception in 1992
Midfielder Tony Calvert made a lasting impression during his two and a half years at the club
Keith Baker was a steady influence in the first two and a half seasons at the club doubling up playing duties alongside his Assistant Manager role
The club became actively involved with the Chernobyl Childrens Lifeline in 1996. A tremendous cause the we were proud to support