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Social Club developments make strides

The development of the Aldershot Town Social Club has been earmarked as a major foundation for the club's long-term future.
JON COUCH went to find out why

BRICK by brick, the future of Aldershot Town Football Club is taking shape.

Six weeks ago, that sad-looking square foundation represented a dream, now, with the building towering proudly over North Stand, it's very much a reality.

Shots chiefs don't mind admitting that the development of the brand new social club has been a nightmare from day one.

Problem after problem has thwarted all attempts of a swift construction and actually had people questioning whether the project would ever get off the ground.

Now, however, the builders are ahead of schedule and the unveiling of the plush new member's facility could be as early as Christmas.

Chairman Karl Prentice said: "We have a new team, new manager, new pitch, new social club for a new era. Now we want a new division come May because the fans deserve it and I think we do also.

"This Social Club is the biggest development at the club since it was formed and the perfect way to mark our 10th anniversary with a facility to secure its future.

"It's been six weeks now since the builders went in and developed off the foundation and they have made amazing progress. We have big plans for this club and it's great to see these plans and thousands of hours hard work, finally start to take shape."

The problems started for Shots chiefs at the very start when they were told after the foundations were laid down, that the current building was not strong enough to support an extension of that size.

This then required the whole building to be re-pinned, and it was only the completion of the Chelsea reserve deal, which enabled the self-funding project to re-commence.

Since then, thanks to the work of club president Bob Potter OBE and his team of men from BJ Champion Scaffolding Ltd, the place has undergone a huge re-development.

Both dressing rooms, the referee's room and physio room have all been completely stripped, secured, re-wired and renovated to rival that of the best in non-League football.

The Ambassador's Club upstairs has also been stripped and will be completely re-designed and up-graded to create a more welcoming environment for guests and visitors.

The Social Club itself is a two-tier facility, ideal for a relaxing drink before the game. Downstairs there is a bar and meeting place for supporters, while upstairs boasts a much larger area, ideal for functions, conferences and pre-match get-togethers.

And to top it all off, a new three-year deal worth a substantial five-figure fee, has also been signed with a major brewery to assist financially with the developments.

Fans will be able to use the facility for a £20 membership fee (£5 discount for Supporters Club members). This entitles them to enter a free monthly raffle and receive discounts to various events throughout the season.

The Ambassador's Club is also taking applications for the coming season. Use of the new facilities are accompanied by a seat in the director's box, free on-site car parking, programme and complimentary drink in a package priced at £595.

The old Social Club underneath the South Stand will remain open for overspill and away supporters.

In a bid to complete the works and launch the new club lay-out as soon as possible, the club are appealing for any plasterers, painters, tilers or general handymen with a couple of hours to spare to help out. Please contact the club on 0870 112 6112 to volunteer your services if you can.

Offers of help in any department, ie: stewards, catering or bar staff throughout the season, will also be appreciated by the club.

The club are also holding a working day on Sunday July 21 where drinks and refreshments will be laid on for any workers who turn up to volunteer their services.

l Elsewhere, an application for ground improvements is still with the Football Association with a decision expected next month. The club has plans to replace all turnstiles, improve perimeter fencing, lengthen the dug-outs and refurbish outdoor toilet blocks.

l Meanwhile, Mr Prentice has assured fans that the eagerly-awaited pre-season friendly with the full Chelsea first team, will go ahead as planned.

It had been thought that due to the social club developments and Chelsea's hectic pre-season schedule that the game would not be played after all. But Mr Prentice has been in constant touch with Chelsea chiefs and is hopeful that something will be arranged in the midweek before the start of the season, after the Blues have returned from a tour of China.

The Shots have announced that the game WILL be an all-ticket affair and these will be available from the club as soon as a date is set.

l Elsewhere, Shots coach Simon Pullen has announced that the club has pulled its youth team out of the Southern Youth League to join the parallel division in the South-West.

There, the Shots will play the likes of Yeovil Town, Forest Green Rovers, Bath City and Newport County to name but a few.

Pullen said: "We just felt that with the progression of the youth team in recent years, we needed to push ourselves further and test ourselves against more established sides.

"With the plans we have in mind for youth development, we needed to be more competitive, which is also the reason we pulled our reserve team out of the Suburban League and into the Capital League."

l The club has also announced that it has purchased a set of floodlights from Bristol Rovers FC in order to enhance the development of the Youth Academy.

The lights are the very same ones used to shine on the FA Cup first round replay at the Memorial Ground last season and arrived at the club on Friday.

It is unknown yet, however, what the immediate plans are for the erection of the lights.

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