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West Ham United v Aldershot Town (Take Two)

Filed: Tuesday, 23rd August 2011
By: Preview Percy

When we popped in to pick up Preview Percy's latest offering we were greeted by a young lady who told us he was busy having treatment for his rheumatism. The funny thing is we're pretty sure that he doesn't have rheumatism. We're also pretty sure that wasn't a proper nurse's uniform either. Anyway he did leave the following scribbled on the back of an old betting slip....

Ok I'll admit it. What follows is basically a rehash of what I wrote a while back for when this match was originally supposed to have been played. I would have written a new one but it's cauliflower cheese night here at the Harry Redknapp Home For The Confused and Bewildered and you wouldn't want an oldun like me to miss one of his few pleasures in life would you.

The Shots currently play in Division 4 (or whatever they call it) of the league and are the successor club to the former Aldershot FC which went into liquidation in 1992. On foundation in 1992 the new club entered the pyramid structure at Isthmian League level and it has been a steady (rather than meteoric) rise through the various levels over the years. They gained promotion to the Conference in 2002/03 and the following season came close to gaining league membership, losing out to Shrewsbury on penalties in the play-off final. This brush with success prompted the adopting of full-time professional status shortly after, though it took them until the end of the 2006/07 season to finally make it into the Football League. However, when they did finally take the place relinquished by their predecessor club 15 years earlier, they did it in some style, picking up 101 points en route.

Last season, after a dodgy start that prompted a number of changes on the coaching staff, most notably at managerial level where Kevin Dillon was replaced by Dean Holdsworth, they ended up in 14th place. Holdsworth has an interesting past to say the least, including an extra-marital affair with a pneumatically-endowed 17 year old page 3 girl, the details of which were played out all over the tabloids all those years ago. I have to admit it’s not a story I followed at the time but no doubt a certain now defunct Sunday paper will release the voicemail tapes on one of these new-fangled compact disc things in due course. More amusingly, it was said that, during Holdsworth's playing days, Wimbledon FC owner Sam Hamman had promised to buy the player either a camel or a Ferrari if he managed to score 20 or more in a season. Thankfully for Holdsworth, he was spared the tricky selection dilemma this would have posed him by his inability to score more than 16 goals in a season in either of his two spells with the club.

They've had a mixed start to the season thus far. They picked up three points at Bradford, winning 2-1. However they've struggled since then going down 1-0 at home to both Northampton and Torquay and, most recently 2-0 up at Morecambe. This has left them in 20th place

Amongst Aldershot's playing staff is the familiar name of Anthony Pulis. Pulis is the son of anti-football guru Tony and has a few Welsh U21 caps. He was on his Dad’s playing staff at Stoke for a while but the bulk of his football at the time was played elsewhere on loan at places such as Torquay, Grimsby, Plymouth and Bristol Rovers. Having made only two first team appearances for the Potters in the four years he was there, he left on a free for Southampton where, again, he spent his time being farmed out elsewhere, Lincoln, Stockport and Barnet all enjoying the use of the player’s services. Southampton released the player at the end of last season without him ever having bothered the bloke who prints the names on the back of the first team kit and he made the trip up the M3 to Aldershot during the close season.

Last season’s supporters' Player Of The Year was 29 year-old Luke Gutteridge. Gutteridge has been about a bit and his CV includes spells with Leyton Orient, Colchester and Southend. The midfielder’s 6 goals in 37 league matches last term made him the club’s top scorer.

Also worthy of note in midfield is the splendidly-monikered Manny Panther. Panther started his pro career in Scotland with St Johnstone and is seemingly on a mission to play for clubs in all parts of the realm, having made it down as far as Exeter from whom he joined Aldershot last year. Older readers with a penchant for the noble art may remember the player’s father – the even-better-named Cyril Panther – for his boxing exploits in the 1960’s and early 70’s.

Between the sticks their first choice ‘keeper is Aussie-born but (England qualified) ‘keeper Jaimie Young. Young had a spell on Reading’s books though first-team appearances were limited and he’s been on a tour of the Home Counties ever since, spending four years at Wycombe before alighting at Aldershot in 2010. The ‘keeper, who has been capped at England U20 level, signed a one year contract extension this summer.

A new boy on the scene this season is striker Bradley Bubb who has come in from local rivals Farnborough. Bubb is actually a full international, having picked up caps for Grenada, the tv station better known for producing Coronation Street. Also in the arrivals lounge is Reading youngster Jake Taylor who has come in for an initial month on loan from the Biscuitmen, Holdsworth hinting that the player might be seen as cover for Guttridge.

In on a full time deal is Graham Montgomery, who will be familiar to those of you who keep an eye on Dagenham & Redbridge who released the player during the summer. Bubb has been joined in the striking department by Michael Rankine who has come in from York City. Rankine is hardly what you’d call the most prolific of strikers – 63 goals in 360 plus first team appearances isn’t going to have drained the stattos calculator batteries too much over the years.

The other striking option is Danny Hylton who has been with the club since he was a kid. He nearly upped sticks for AFC Wimbledon in the January window before being persuaded to sign a one year extension to his contract. He is the one Aldershot player to have found the net thus far this season, the other goal in the 2-1 win up at Bradford having been an o.g.

It’s up front that has caused something of a problem area for the Shots over the past season or two. The 2009/10 top scorer Marvin Morgan left under something of a cloud at the end of the season. Having been booed off after a match in January, he used the medium of Twitter to give the following delightful message to Aldershot fans: “I hope you all die”. Morgan was shipped off to Dagenham and Redbridge on loan for the rest of the season and went to Shrewsbury in the summer. All of which does beg the question: has any professional footballer, ever, posted something intelligent on twitter? Meanwhile, Gutteridge’s top position in the goalscoring charts, the fact that only two clubs in the division scored fewer goals last season and the relative inexperience of Bubb and Rankine at League level all point to a possible lack of firepower for the visitors.

One player we won’t be seeing is Anthony Charles. Charles did his cruciate knee ligaments towards the end of last season and, with his contract having expired during the break he is currently without a club, a situation that is due at least in part to Aldershot not being in the financial position to afford to pay a player with a long term injury. This is something that should act as a salutory reminder that the professional game is not all multi-millionaires, Ferraris and camels. There may be a happy outcome for the player in sight, however, as he is being linked with former Shots boss Gary Waddock at Wycombe Wanderers.

The departure of Charles originally left the team without a captain. Full back Ben Herd (wasn’t that a film that had Charlton Heston in that chariot race?) had the armband during pre-season but Holdsworth proved that clichéd football-twaddle-speak is not merely the preserve of the higher levels of the game by delaying his announcement, commenting that he “wanted eleven captains out there on the pitch” . In the end they settled on just the two skippers, Herd getting the title of first team captain and central defender Darren Jones getting the “Club Captain” role. In a way it’s a bit like us last year I suppose, with Upson getting the armband and Parker doing the actual work.

And so to us. Well despite the disappointment of conceding yet another stoppage time goal, I remain a bit more optimistic about this one that I did at the time it was originally due to be played. We've actually won a couple and, for all the hand-wringing, sackcloth and ashes over Sunday's match, in the cold light of day a draw was probably the right result from what, overall, wasn't a bad match to watch.

One thing that hasn't changed since the time this match was originally due to be played is the fact that we're likely to see a much-changed team on show. I’d expect to see anyone with an England cap given the night off. Look out, therefore, for the likes of Boffin, Stanislas, Barrera, Sears and Faubert to feature. Carew may continue his journey towards match fitness with a start and it may be time for Linda to take a bow as well. Look out on the bench for a few youngsters as well – especially since the League Cup is exempt from the ludicrous reduction to five subs that has been enforced in the League itself. Hall and or Moncur maybe?

Even allowing for the selection of a team that might have been considered a second XI back in the days when we actually used to have such a thing, we ought to have enough to win this one though we’ve said that before haven’t we? They have absolutely nothing to lose so are in the position of being able to give it a go whilst we, as usual, are on a hiding to nothing. Win – we ought to, lose and it’s an upset. Prediction? Well originally I went for a for a 3-1 win, but given their recent shyness in front of goal I'm going to revise that to 3-0 in the hope that our traditional frailty against lower league opposition is too scared to raise its head in the presence of Big Sam.

Enjoy the game!

Last Season: N/A

(Since technically Aldershot Town is a completely different club from the similarly-named Aldershot that previously competed in the league, this will be our first match ever against these opponents).

Player To Watch: Luke Gutteridge – last season’s top scorer he has a habit of coming through from midfield to chip in with much-needed goals.

Referee: Graham Scott – a new one to us. He sent off two Ipswich players at the weekend in their 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Peterborough, awarding in the process a penalty for a foul that had occurred so far outside the box it was in a different postcode.

Daft Fact Of The Week: Late comedian Arthur English (that’s Mr Harman in “Are You Being Served” to you) was a big Aldershot fan and actually designed the club’s “Phoenix From The Ashes” club crest. English used regularly to take the other members of the “Grace Brothers” sitcom to matches at the Recreation Ground – with the exception of John Inman, who on Saturdays was usually occupied in his other role as prop forward for Hull Kingston Rovers.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by Redkipper
07:30PM 23rd Aug 2011
''As usual great write up, keep going.
You may like to know I wrote to the two Davids at the end of last season including attaching one of your works. Result? Not even an acknowledgement let alone a reply; well what do you expect having been a Hammers supporter for over 30 years!

Recently wrote to Big Sam welcoming him to UP and attached copy of my letter to 2 Ds. Result? A pleasant reply.
Good for him. I wish him well as the main job is to break the weak mindset of many of our players who are still not getting the fact that they are to blame for some truly pathetic performances last season. I would be surprised if even he can get through their thick brains during the next months that they are well overpaid to just work their socks off for just over 1.5 hours each game.

Oh for Brooking, Parkes, Devonshire, Bonds & Lampard (Snr) types! Still fingers crossed.''

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