League Two Analysis – Aldershot Town reflect on 20 years since the original club’s demise

It’s been an emotional couple of weeks for all at Aldershot Town. 25 March, 2012 was the day that marked 20 years since the original club, then known solely as Aldershot FC, folded after 60 years of existence at the Recreation Ground. Two days later the club dedicated its home fixture against Bristol Rovers at the EBB Stadium to the sad anniversary, with 27 of its former players, who between them had racked up 5,852 appearances, attending as guests.

“You don’t understand what it’s like unless you experience it,” wrote Graham Brookland, former Chairman of Aldershot FC’s Supporter’s Club, in an emotional piece on Aldershot Town’s Official Website.

“It was a harrowing time – a desperate period and, despite the inevitability of the demise, when the final curtain fell, it created an air of disbelief, shock and anger! For years, the threat of extinction surrounded many clubs up and down the country. There was always going to be that knight in shining armour wasn’t there? Not in this part of Hampshire, unfortunately. The first club in 30 years to be kicked out of the Football League mid-season and, remarkably, the last club to suffer that fate, too. An unfortunate statistic that will, sadly, eventually change,” he continued.

It’s difficult to disagree with that last sentence, especially considering Portsmouth, Glasgow Rangers and Port Vale have all suffered administration this season alone. Pompey remain perilously close to extinction.

On the pitch there’s room for optimism at Aldershot Town, however. The club is on a run of just two defeats in 14 matches, including five straight wins between 14 February and 3 March, and Saturday’s 1-1 draw at high-flying Shrewsbury Town left the Shots in 10th place. Should Dean Holdsworth’s side win their game in hand, they will be five points off a play-off place. At this stage of the season a top seven finish is highly unlikely, but Holdsworth is moulding together a strong and well-organised outfit that could be promotion contenders next season – incidentally when the club’s second incarnation celebrates 20 years in existence.

As fate would have it, the Shots face troubled Port Vale at the EBB on Good Friday. Unlike Portsmouth in the Championship, Vale bagged enough points in the first half of the season to lie safe from relegation despite their ten-point penalty. In the past couple of days there has been a breakthrough off the pitch with the club’s administrators Begbies Traynor identifying a preferred bidder.

“The preferred bidder is Keith Ryder, who is seeking to acquire the club through a new company – Port Vale FC Limited. The Joint Administrators are currently negotiating with the preferred bidder, a non-refundable deposit, which will grant them exclusivity to continue with the purchase. It is likely to be received some time this week,” a press release on the club’s Offical Website announced on Wednesday.

In League Two’s most recent fixture, leaders Swindon Town beat Barnet 2-0 at Underhill. Paolo Di Canio’s side are five points clear of second-placed Torquay United with a game in hand. Barnet lie in 22nd spot, three points clear of the drop zone. Easter’s double header sees Hereford take on Plymouth in a key relegation clash, while Oxford United host Torquay in the stand-out fixture at the top end of the table.

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