HOW BIG CLUBS CAN HELP THE SMALL
I WENT along to watch Aldershot play Woking on Tuesday night in front of a packed house at The Recreation Ground. It was a terrific atmosphere in a big Conference local derby.
Aldershot are fighting to bounce back into the League while Woking are seeking promotion for the first time.
It took a spectacular setpiece strike from nearly 30 yards for Woking to win a tight game.
Aldershot have had to rise from the ashes. I played in the Enfield team that drove the final nail into the original club’s coffin when we knocked them out of the FA Cup immediately before their demise.
One thing stood out to me on Tuesday. The game was played on a Desso pitch that was dug up and transported from Stamford Bridge to The Rec. Chelsea made that investment to ensure their U21 players are able to play on the finest surface when they are down at Aldershot.
I remember Altrincham hosting Manchester United and Boreham Wood’s arrangement with Arsenal has seen Wood’s ground grow and improve.
Rather than think about B teams, perhaps Premier League teams should be encouraged, even required, to share a regional ‘mentorship’ with a lower League partner. That would involve sharing playing opportunities for younger players and investing in their facilities.
Partnerships could be created every two or three years and the basis of the arrangements could be similar to the American NFL draft where the Premier League clubs select a partner on a bottom up/regional basis.
How good would it be to see Manchester United forced to make, say, Bury a better football club by gifting younger players and investing in better facilities. The game would come closer together after years of drifting apart.
Greg Dyke would achieve his goal of competitive opportunities for youngsters and lower clubs would receive vital help.
The football at Aldershot was good to watch. I have no doubt the playing surface aided that immensely. That is what big clubs can do for smaller club’s fans with a little thought.
RAISING THE FLAG: Aldershot’s Recreation Ground on Tuesday night