Aldershot Face Towering Task

After reaching the FA Cup third round for the first time since the club was reborn, 15 years ago, the Shots had been dreaming of a tie laced with a little more glamour.

Supporters deserved a boost after watching their team go bankrupt then and slowly negotiate the lower slopes of football's pyramid.

Chelsea away would have been a nice treat but Terry Brown's side from the Hampshire army town train alongside squaddies destined for Iraq, so they won't complain too loudly about the task in hand.

Instead, they will head to Bloomfield Road in search of an upset against Simon Grayson's League One outfit.

Brown, 54, said: “As a non-league manager, one of your prime objectives is to get into the FA Cup third round and only two of us made it this year.

“Now we want to beat a pro-club, which we haven't done since we reformed. I'd love to secure a little bit of glory and the finances that go with it.

“If we beat Blackpool and draw a big one we can make some money. It's about TV money now. It's not about the gates unless you're going to Manchester United.

“Going to Blackpooland playing in front of 6,000 is not a massive earner for us.”

Aldershot Town were formed by fans out of the remnants of Aldershot FC who went bust in March 1992, unable to complete their League fixtures for the season.

The Shots made it the Conference in 2003 and are now full-time with familiar names in the team, like Darren Barnard, Marcus Gayle and Ricky Newman.

Brown said: “I think the demise of the club and it's rebirth has given the supporters a stronger identity. They are a proud and passionate bunch.

“But it's always difficult for the players, some of them from good clubs like Brentford and getting them to relate to how important it is for us to beat Wokingis quite difficult.

“Everybody pays lip-service to kissing the badge and wearing the red-and-blue or whatever, but I do think there's something special when you've lost your club.”

Welsh international Barnard was one player who did not need a history lesson when he joined Aldershot from Grimsby in 2004. He watched the original Shots play at the Recreation Ground when he was a boy.

Barnard, 35, said: “My dad used to run a garage in Aldershot and knew a few of the players in the team, so I'd play for the district team in the morning and go straight off to Aldershot in the afternoon.

“I remember players like Martin Foyle and Steve Claridge there and a famous player in Aldershot called Murray Brodie, who played left-wing where I used to play.

“I was a young pro at Chelsea when they wound-up in '92 and a bit distant from it all. It's sad when your local club closes but it wasn't something where I was shedding a tear.

“They've come back well, hence the phoenix from the flames on the club badge, and the ultimate goal is now to get back into the Football League.”

Shots captain Barnard played in an FA Cup semi-final for Chelseaagainst Luton at Wembley in 1994, coming on as a sub and is still a little prickly on the subject of the final, when he was ousted to make way for player-boss Glenn Hoddle.

Barnard said: “Glenn Hoddle was the player-manager and he'd been injured and came back in the last game of the season and then put himself on the bench. He came on at 2-0 and we lost 4-0.

“I was one of the frustrated ones sitting behind him in a really bad purple jacket.

“I was disappointed to be left out, disappointed for the players because it's not nice to get beat 4-0 in a final and then disappointed again because I didn't get a medal. It's one of those bugbears that stick in my mind.”

Gayle, 36, who joined Aldershot from Brentford in the summer, also reached the last four of the competition - with Watford in 2003.

There is plenty of FA Cup experience in the ranks and a determination to keep the run going despite the tricky draw, away to a team in good form.

Barnard said: “At first I was a bit disappointed – obviously I wanted Chelsea away. But, the more you look at it, the more you think Blackpool are not unbeatable.

“They've been on a good run and it will be tough but all the pressure is on them. We won't go up there in a party atmosphere because we know if we play well we can beat them.

“This is the first time this club has been in the third round since they reformed in 1992. It's been a goal of Terry's and the Football Club. We've managed to achieve it this year.

“We haven't got the big draw but we're not down and out. There's still an opportunity to get one of those big teams if we can win against Blackpool.”

With thanks to The Daily Mail
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/sport/football.html?in_article_id=426545&in_page_id=1779