Aldershot Town
The Recreation Ground




Ground No. 162
Visited - Saturday 6th September 2008
Result - Aldershot Town 2-1 Darlington
Competition - Coca-Cola League 2
Attendance - 3460

Their promotion to League 2 in April 2008 proved an amazing achievement for Aldershot and only went to justify ‘the rising phoenix’ motto on their badge, after they successfully returned to the Football League in style having been kicked out 16 years previously following the clubs bankruptcy and subsequent restart by the fans. After reforming all the way down in the Isthmian League Division 3, they’d managed to carry on playing at the Recreation Ground (now officially named the EBB Stadium), so I was looking forward to seeing what is quite a traditional ground, having changed little since their troubles in 1992.
The journey down to Hampshire went well, not having to start too early, and changing trains in Reading before arriving just after 11am. Conveniently, the ground is located only 5 minutes from the station, and right on the edge of the town centre, so there wasn’t a long walk there, with time to have a quick look round before heading back to spend some time in the town and grabbing a drink before it was eventually time to go back.

Sitting on the High Street, then from the outside there isn’t a lot to see, just the turnstiles and gates which leads through to a nice park type area which the ground sits beyond. There is no stand behind the near end, just hard standing that is currently out of bounds because of the Football League’s rules, but a path leads up behind the North Stand where the club offices, club shop and general facilities are all located. The North Stand itself is an odd structure, running the full length of the pitch, with terracing at both ends, but seats in the middle. The far (north-east) terracing runs around the corner into the East Bank, which is a fair sized terrace, covered to the rear by a classic barrel roof, with an extension to the front, presumably having been added at a later date. This stand is split with away fans having the southern side of the terracing, which wraps around the corner to an uncovered section that runs up to the South Stand, which is the oldest structure at the ground, dating back to 1929. This is a small, all seated stand that sits in the centre of the touchline and has an attractive design in the clubs colours of one row of blue seats followed by one of red (except for one all-red block in the middle, which ruins the picture!). Finally, adjacent to the South Stand is another uncovered section of terracing which runs up to the corner with the High Street End. With trees all around it, then the ground feels quite hemmed in, but it’s an attractive setting, probably one of the best in the league.

Having taken a few pictures, it was eventually time for the game to get underway. Darlington were on a high, having beaten Macclesfield 6-0 the week before, but from the start it was the hosts who looked the most dangerous, forcing a couple of saves before they took the lead in the 7th minute. From a corner, Marvin Morgan rose highest, and his header found the net beyond the dive of Darlo ‘keeper Simon Brown to make it 1-0. In a deluge of rain, the visitors just couldn’t get going, and Aldershot made it 2-0 in the 26th minute, this time through Lewis Chalmers who ran on to a through ball and beat Brown with an effort low into the corner. They were pegged back though, deep into stoppage time and against the run of play, when the visitors scored through Robin Hulbert from close range.

The second half was a more equal affair, with Darlington starting to dominate towards the end, but try as they might, they couldn’t find a way through the home defence, and despite a nervy last few minutes, Aldershot managed to hang on for all three points.

Throughout the game, then home fans had kept up a good atmosphere. I’d been present at the Aldershot-Shrewsbury 2004 Conference play-off final and the Shots fans had been impressive all day then, keeping up a barrage of noise, and today was no different, helped particularly by the barrel roof under which the main section of singers congregated in the middle.

After leaving, then I didn’t hang around, getting back in fairly good time with no troubles, glad to have made the trip.

Overall, whilst the ground is only 3 sided, it doesn’t particularly seem to affect it all that much. It’s a classic old place, with more character in any one stand than all of the modern bowl grounds put together, and for that reason, a welcome return to the league.





Outside the ground on the High Street


The Ticket Office


Inside the Turnstiles


Rear of the North Stand


The Club Shop


Rear of the North Stand


Rear of the East Bank


Rear of the East Bank


The High Street End


The South Stand


The East Bank


The North Stand


The East Bank


The South Stand


The North Stand


The North Stand



The Recreation Ground Panoramic 1


The Recreation Ground Panoramic 2




 



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