Wednesday, 24 August 2011

An Aldershot Giant-Killing

Aldershot Town have been a familiar league opponent for Oxford over recent years. Since the two clubs first met in the 2006-07 season, they have played each other eight times in four different competitions. The original Aldershot FC were perhaps a less familiar opponent, but it is to them – and a particular FA Cup tie – that I now turn my attention to, ahead of the visit of the reformed Shots on Saturday.

Aldershot FC had been in the Football League since the 1930s, but spent most of that time in the basement division. Aldershot were among Oxford's first opponents upon election to the Football League, but after Oxford's promotion from the Fourth Division in 1965 Aldershot would never catch up. Despite this, Oxford and Aldershot met in a flurry of cup matches in the early 80s: in the first round of the FA Cup in 1980; the Football League Group Cup, and another FA Cup tie which went to a replay, in 1981; the fifth match in two years was in the Football League Trophy in 1982.

Oxford were to meet Aldershot for the final time in a 1987 FA Cup tie, as First Division Oxford were drawn away to Fourth Division Aldershot, who had beaten Torquay and Colchester to reach the third round. A paltry crowd of just over 2000 showed up for the match, as Aldershot trebled prices for the visit of a First Division side, but they witnessed an upset as Oxford crumbled to a 3-0 defeat. John Aldridge was surprisingly substituted after a poor game and it wasn't long before the unsettled striker was sold to Liverpool for £750,000.

Aldershot lost out to Barnsley in the fourth round, after taking them to a replay. Just five years after their last match against Oxford the club was dead, crushed under the weight of a £100,000 debt (a measly sum, especially compared to the fee Oxford received for John Aldridge).


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