Club History - Part 4 - 2004-to-2007

Looking to consolidate on an outstanding season that had exceeded all expectations, the board of directors met with Terry Brown on May 24th 2004. The meeting, stewarded by chairman Karl Prentice, saw the club officers take the historic decision to convert Aldershot Town to full-time professional status from July 1st that year. The decision was taken with the realisation that the majority of the clubs in the Conference were full time outfits. For the first time since March 1992, the town of Aldershot once again had a professional football team.

Shots Go Full Time

Aldershot's second season in the Conference did not start quite as well as the first, but even so, it was solid enough for relative newcomers to non-league's elite. The Shots once again equalled their best-ever run in the FA Cup as they reached the 2nd round proper. However, there was to be no overcoming an in-form Hartlepool United and a 5-1 defeat ended the romantic dreams of a tie with one of the big boys. There were to be no FA Trophy exploits either, as Thurrock surprised Brown's side with a 1-0 win.The season would once again be about the league, but with Barnet soaring away back to League Two, it was a play-off place that was coveted. There were some indifferent results along the way, but the turning point in Aldershot's fortunes came in March after a 3-1 win at Burton Albion. There then followed a superb 4-0 demolition of Woking in front of Sky Sports cameras. Three games later, a dramatic and nail-biting 3-3 draw at Accrington ensured Stanley had no chance of reaching the last four and that Aldershot would reach the play-offs on the last day of the season if they could beat Scarborough at The Rec. In front of nearly 4,500 fans, Tim Sills was the hero as his brace ensured Exeter City and Morecambe with their superior goal differences could not qualify.

The Shots faced Carlisle United, but there was no repeat of the 5-0 home Conference humiliation at the hands of the Cumbrians as Nick Crittenden's ball from the right drifted inside the far post to see Aldershot take a 1-0 first leg advantage to Brunton Park. Before half-time, though and roared on by 10,000 home fans, Carlisle had overturned Aldershot's lead to hold the advantage 2-1 on aggregate. Five minutes of stoppage time were signalled and with 15 seconds of those remaining, Dave Lee's cross was met by the head of Jamie Slabber and the net bulged to level the tie on aggregate. Extra time could not separate the tiring sides and it was the lottery of penalties that would once again bring heartbreak. 3-1 up on spot kicks, the Shots had two chances to book their place at the Britannia Stadium, but both opportunities were wasted. It was in sudden death that Jon Challinor missed his kick, leaving Danny Livesey to send Carlisle into the final amidst chaotic scenes.

The 2005-06 season will go down as the most disappointing in Aldershot Town's history. A devastating catalogue of injuries added to the newly-implemented transfer window ensured that manager Brown was unable to sign players on a permanent basis until January. In total, 47 players represented the first team including 14 loan signings and the balance was never right. Any thoughts of promotion were realistically shelved by the end of September after seven defeats had already been recorded.

There were few highlights, although an FA Cup second round appearance at home to Scunthorpe United was recorded; the Iron narrowly won 1-0. The thirteenth position was the first time a lower half of the table position had been experienced and many lessons were learnt off the field from the management staff as well as revised expectations from the supporters. The end of the campaign saw manager Brown retain just seven players including two teenagers (Dave Winfield and Ryan Scott), whilst also adding twelve new players to the squad in preparation for the 2006-07 season.

The new season began with huge optimism as Terry Brown rebuilt his squad with the additions of senior players including Marcus Gayle and Ricky Newman.
A successful pre-season campaign saw the side unbeaten against a host of Football League sides. After an impressive start to the campaign with only one defeat in the opening eight matches, hopes continued to be high. This included a 4-0 success against Stevenage Borough, one of the most accomplished performances seen at the Rec for many a year. Unfortunately, inconsistencies crept in and the club hovered just outside a play-off position for the majority of the season.

The FA Cup third round was reached for the first time since the club’s inception in 1992 but, despite putting on an excellent showing on the day, Blackpool ended the cup dream with a 4-2 success at Bloomfield Road with over 1,000 Shots supporters travelling to Lancashire.

Manager Terry Brown ended a five-year reign amid emotional scenes in late March. The popular Londoner brought down the curtain by announcing his departure to look after his ill wife Susan before looking for a new football challenge. He left to a standing ovation from the Recreation Ground faithful who appreciated his integrity and honesty during his time at the club. After an improvement in his wife's condition, he joined AFC Wimbledon during the summer of 2007 and brought in Stuart Cash as his assistant. The Wombles gained two successive promotions to reach the Conference for season 2009-10. Martin Kuhl stepped in as caretaker manager and led the club to four successive home victories and a Hampshire Senior Cup final triumph at the end of the campaign.

Picture Gallery

Watching the play-off semi-final penalties at Carlisle in 2005
Carlisle play-off semi-final action
Jamie Slabber levels deep into injury time at Carlisle
More drama from Carlisle
Chris McPhee at Halifax Town in 2005-06
Matt Somner celebrates his goal against Exeter City in 2005-06 with Gary Holloway
Louie Soares in the FA Trophy v AFC Wimbledon in 2006-07
Over 1000 fans at Blackpool in FA Cup third round tie at Bloomfield Road
Marcus Gayle in FA Cup third round tie at Blackpool in 2007
A 44 page programme was slightly smaller in size in A5 format. A Two page player profile and a regular article from BBC Southern Counties Radio were included. Individual player pictures of the opposition were included for the first time. Commercial Manager Chris Richardson's Life's A Pitch covered matchday sponsorships whilst The Shots Detective was a behind the scenes view. Who was The Shots Detective? There were also articles called Shotsline Calling and Aldershot Connections from Graham Brookland which provided information on past players who had worn the red and blue. The price was increased to £2.50
Season 2005/06 programme was called Talk of the Town. A 52 page edition cost £2.50 was arguable the most informative since the club was formed. New articles included a full blown match report including quotes from manager Terry Brown. There was also a two page spread introducing personnel from behind the scenes including Directors and staff. This season included the best statistical coverage on the oppostition since the club started too. Supporter Tim Graveney introduced the Red and Blue which was an excellent feature on former Aldershot players. In addition the new Fanfare article was a questions and answers session with a Shots supporter who also named their best ever Shots line up. Pete Stanford intorduced the They've Worn The Shirt article with an excellent detailed biography of former players.The Red Directory was a commercial business directory that proved popular.
Season 2006/07 programme was named Kick Off. Back to A5 it consisted of 52 pages costing £2.50. A more structured design saw many of the previous seasons articles remain with the addition of a Shots Diary and a Match stats head to head article on the two teams. Chairman John McGinty also had a column. There was also a regular article from Andy Liddicott on the womens team.Historian Leigh Edwards provided editorial on the opposition's Dream Team.
Martin Kuhl in discussion with former midfielder Nick Roddis during the 2006/07 season visit of St Albans to the Rec
John Grant during the 2006/07 season
Jonny Dixon in action in 2007
Rhys Day was a popular club captain
Nikki Bull commanding in 2006
Fans are acknowledged after the match at Hereford United in 2006