The Morning After: Shots FA Cup Exit

To start this analysis I want to REWIND forty years. I was a mere slip of a thing and had been taken to a few Aldershot away games with my now late uncle. It was 1980 and the start of a new season in Division Four and it was Wigan away. One of the first few fixtures too, back end of August and we’d been there just months before to lose 1-2. One thing I learned from an early age was that the Shots were brilliant at losing away by a slender margin and had a speciality of conceding late goals and evidence suggests that we’ve never lost that tendency.

So we lost 0-1 that time but thinking back to it four decades on there are still sketchy memories, like supping some of my uncle’s beer when he went off to the loo in the Swan And Railway. It was Tetley’s and that thick you could probably stand a spoon upright in it! The pictures below show Springfield Park as it was then, with that grassy knoll and the pub we were in, which was near to the Central station. Think our away support that day mustered around a couple of hundred out of the 4,278 crowd.

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Bottom right is one of my favourite football photos because it’s like an artists impression; more a painting than a photograph.

In reaearching this I’m also pleased to say that number one in ‘the charts’ that week was David Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes” which is one of only a few Bowie songs I like!

Anyhow, nostalgia being just a thing of the past, what has all this to do with our FA Cup demise yesterday? A fair bit if you read on because the public opinion aftermath across social media platforms from our fans was quite bitter towards the team’s lack of passion and, ultimately, pride.

It was certainly brought into question when, at the end, a few of our players started to demonstrate the fiery passion expected and required in a significant local derby. Some like me consider Woking not so significant as on the way to being a dinosaur, our bitterest rivals have always been the biscuitmen who unfortunately now sit at the top of the second tier.

So when someone tweeted Kappadeano’s video “What It Takes To Be An Aldershot Fan” it struck a chord and I thought to venture into this and quantify just what that means. Because like many other fans, when I travel away now on trains up and down the country and meet fans of other clubs, everybody knows Aldershot where in the same vein by contrast, hardly anyone’s heard of Maidenhead or Boreham Wood.

That underpins the fact that we are a respected club; a face, you might say. One of the elite 92 and I’m one person forever banging on about it. It highlights that pride and passion which is wonderfully reflected in Deano’s documentary.

One suggestion was that the management team ought to watch this film prior to every game in future to demonstrate said passion and instil it in our players mindsets. After all, what was the point in demonstrating it after the final whistle when very little of it was seen during the game.

And while we are all in this weird and unwanted situation of not being there, not being allowed access to stadiums, Matt Wigman wrote that football with fans is nothing. It made me think, well yes, but football without passion and pride is also nothing.

Danny last evening cited Mitch slipping over as an integral factor in our defeat. 

True enough and our goalie has dropped a few clangers of late but Danny also says that we were nothing like we were in the past two games – “no potency” and while we can all have a bad day at the office, the reality is (and I said the same after the Sutton game), it just seems that despite several promising new signings, we are going to be served the exact same football and tactics which were the reason we are only just keeping our heads above water last term and beyond.

Namely:

Conceding needless set-pieces ☑️

Switching off in the final moments in games ☑️

Not using subs or bringing them on far too late ☑️

I consider these the bulk of our current problems, not withstanding the long hoof game; when we get it down on the carpet, we look a decent side and it does beg the question why that can’t be our remit all the time. 

As someone else said, thrashing a poor Dover side is just papering over the cracks. If there is little in the way of Plan A and no Plan B, how are we to expect any progress this term? 

I put my head on the line in saying Danny is out of his depth but it might well be true. The passion is in there somewhere and he is trying his best but I feel we need someone from the ALDERSHOT inside; someone who understand our club and has that inside knowledge and KNOWS just what it means to the fans, which is the essence of this post.

Because our fans are among the most loyal, certainly in the National League we are one of the bst supported sides away and likely among the most vocal too.

Last season in that “pay what you want” game on Non League Day where we almost scraped an attendance of 3000 for me it was a hark back to the old days. Aa a kid the home gate in the seventies was around 5000 even if we were home to Rochdale.

And I love the fact that I can still park my backside on the same barrier at the back of the East Bank (where being small was where we stood) today as I did then, I love the Rec and am proud of it even though the place is quite antiquated these days.

Which reminds me, any news of that lease yet? Or the proposed ground redevelopment?

On the field issues are more prominent though and time will tell over these two months whether the team management will come up with anything different. Because something has to change. A fully fit Ross McCormack alongside the magnificent “don’t you know” Mohamed Bettamer could well be an effective force. Alfy Whittingham starting games and gaining experience is, in my opinion, a plus. Rees looks useful, I think Kandi, if started, could give us more dimension.

But it’s all exhausted writing if we continue said hoofball and don’t revert to football which most will agree is playing on the grass, using the flanks, movement outsIde the box and the ultimate penetration of opponents.

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One final gripe is Aldershot Town’s match reports which still lack pictorial content. It’s hard enough reading the match details when we’ve lost a game but it would not take too much effort for our photographers to take and publish some pictures from the game? The one above was all there was yesterday.

Another side-salad but just a thought – in the unlikely event that Shadrach Ogie becomes a star or firm fans’ favourite, how about this for the Eastbankers – A Taste Of Honeys’ disco hit Boogie Oogie Oogie’s chorus line converted to Shadrach Ogie Ogie Ogie? You try it!

So in closing, exiting the FA Cup so early is frustrating because we cannot now financially gain anything which hand in hand might have helped our season-long fortunes.

And if I am in the minority in saying that losing to Woking isn’t that big a deal, then so be it. We are honest to admit that they wanted it more. After they levelled they bossed the game. But by Berkshire comparison, they’re fairly ‘meh’ – just a team from up the road with delusions of grandeur that I think are a poor replacement for a local rival.

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Bring back that pride! Kappadeano, Graham Brookland,  Mark Butler, Scotty L, Martin, the lady above and all our loyal followers know just what it takes to be an Aldershot fan. I know I do.

UP THE SHOTS!

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