We rebuilt our football club. Here's what Bury FC must do
Twenty-seventh of August 2019, a day that will always be etched in the minds of Bury FC supporters.
The day that their club reached the end of the road and was wound up, a day that no football supporter should ever have to endure.
Aldershot Town supporters too have a date like that which we will never forget. 25 March 1992, the day that our club, Aldershot FC, also ended its life both as a viable business and as a Football League club.
Wound up in the High Court over unpaid taxes on 18 March, the official announcement came seven days later and like Bury, after protests by supporters, promises of potential takeovers and whispers of mysterious new owners, all of which came to nothing.
There are many voices coming out of Bury of supporters explaining just how devastated they are and it’s something you don’t want to be able to empathise with.
If you can, it means that you too have stared down the barrel of empty Saturdays, with nothing to define yourself as, and felt the numbness that accompanies losing not only your football club, but all of the friends, experiences and emotions that accompany supporting a lower league team.
It was to be 16 years before our club was to appear in the list of FL clubs once again, 16 years of non-league football and 16 years of experiences that every Aldershot Town supporter was proud to be a part of. Five promotions, four as champions, five permanent managers, over 350 different players, it was a journey none of us will ever forget.
But how did the name of Aldershot Town come to return itself back into the top four divisions of English football and what does our journey mean for the fans of Bury?
First and foremost, any club which finds itself in this position needs men and women of vision, people who can see through the dust and chaos of devastation, people who can plan and who have been doing so, even before most realised there was even a need.
As the lights metaphorically went out at Aldershot Town, two men, Graham Brookland and Terry Owens, immediately stepped up their plans for the future of football in Aldershot. Owens had been working on this for a few weeks before 25 March, Brookland preferring to put all of his efforts into saving the existing club and fighting hard for its staff and players, but the two men joined forces immediately after the demise of AFC and along with the Supporters Club Committee, began to bring hope back to the devastated supporters of my club.
Owens made contact with the Conference, Southern and Isthmian Leagues about accepting a club from Aldershot and a petition was organised on whether people wanted football in the town to continue; over 5,000 signatures were gained in support.
Finally, a meeting was held just one month after the club had been wound-up and over 600 supporters attended. It was the green light that Owens and Brookland needed, whatever had gone before, there was a passionate desire for football to remain in Aldershot, regardless of what level it might be.
The new club was not fan-owned – that was a concept which lay just a little bit ahead, but the directors chosen to run Aldershot Town FC were selected for their interest and care of football and more specifically, local football in Aldershot, and hand-picked by Owens and Brookland.
However, the biggest consideration in all of these matters was us, the supporters – what we could do, be it helping ready the stadium for the new season, acting as stewards, programme sellers, tea-bar staff, turnstile operators. Because in the end, it was the unity that set Aldershot Town back onto the road to recovery, the working together of supporters, led by two determined men who had the very best for the Shots and its supporters at the heart of everything they did.
Bury fans, what lies ahead may seem impossible, insurmountable at the moment, but find the people of the same calibre that we were blessed with here at Aldershot Town, find that unity among supporters, and your name will once again be seen in the EFL – I wish you the very best of luck in your journey.
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