The recent home game against Oxford United marked a momentous day in Aldershot’s history when the EBBB Stadium / Recreation Ground finally became a four sided ground (well 3 and a half really!)
The Supporters Trust were delighted to become a key stakeholder in the Stand, a first of its kind in the Football League.
The Stand has been in the planning for over a year and initially came about due to the Football League requirement for all member clubs to have 2000 covered seats. Rather than use up terrace space and displace supporters from their regular viewing areas a project developed, masterminded by lifelong supporter and CEO at 96.4 Eagle Radio, Paul Marcus, to create a Community Stand for which no tickets would be for purchase by supporters but instead the seats being made available to local Community groups who have made a financial donation to the project. This donation will enable each group to give free tickets to members of the community for every home league match for the next two seasons.
There was no denying the sense of excitement around the ground as supporters watched the seats slowly but surely fill up in the half hour prior to the opening ceremony. Since returning to the Football league the area behind the High street goal has been a no-go zone and for Aldershot Town to finally become a four-sided ground made it a very special and unique day. The stand was filled with people from many of the community groups who had made donations including Parkside Mencap, Junior Shots, The Abbey School from Farnham, Step by Step and Beaumont School. Other stakeholders include The ATFC Supporters Trust, The ATFC Football in the Community Scheme, the Aldershot Garrison of the British Army, U-Support, Shotsweb Forum members, Charters of Aldershot, MacDonalds of Aldershot, Dave Davies of Safe Storage, Sophia’s Make a Child Smile Foundation, Debbie Field from Field Services and EBB Lounge Corporate members. Funding was also provided by the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.
The pitchside party also included players from AFC and ATFC -Joe Jopling representing AFC, Darren Barnard representing ATFC and Paul Shrubb who played and coached for both eras of the club. During the opening Richard Petty Associate Director at Aldershot Town who also played a major part in steering the project through the many difficult stages of planning through to completion, thanked the local Garrison who stored the stand prior to installation and also played tribute to the role that Paul Marcus had played in driving the whole project. Terry Owens then spoke about how the club had been reformed 21 years ago with a mixture of pride, pain and passion and how he and indeed all supporters would never want to see their club disappear again prior to cutting the ribbon which was held across the front of the stand by two of the Hotshots dance troupe and declaring the stand open.
The celebrations carried on at half-time with a penalty shoot out in front of the new stand. Children and young people from Parkside Mencap took turns to take penalties against the FITC mascot, the Community Kid, something which was enjoyed by all who took part and made a fitting end to the day that Aldershot Town finally became a four-sided ground!