From Clapton to Manchester United
Within five minutes of Aldershot Town being drawn against Manchester United in the fourth round of the Carling Cup, the League Two club's website crashed and did not recover for days.
Graham Brookland, lifelong supporter and the club's communications and website manager, had to sort out the problem, but not before noticing the expression on 13-year-old son Oliver's face.
"The look of pure joy on his face took me back to when I was a kid," said Brookland. "Oliver goes to school and gets ribbed for supporting the Shots but now he can saying that his team is playing Man United."
In a way it was a moment that completed a circle started when Brookland co-founded Aldershot Town after Aldershot FC were wound up on 25 March 1992, becoming the first club to go the wall mid-season since Accrington Stanley in 1962.
The game against Manchester United has caught the imagination of supporters. Photo: PA
Brookland was chairman of the supporters club back then and had been in love with the Shots ever since he saw them demolish Cambridge United 6-0 in 1974. He was at the Recreation Ground when he heard the news that the club were no more.
"It is not possible to describe a moment like that," added Brookland. "There is an emptiness and an anger, the why, what and how?"
The following day Brookland met another devastated supporter, Terry Owens, at the Crimea pub opposite the Recreation Ground, which had already been padlocked by Rushmoor Borough Council, and resolved to form a new club.
"Terry and I did a lot of work," added Brookland. "We started a new company with two £1 shares, he has number one and I have number two. Mine sits in a cabinet."
They roped in as many people to help as they could. Owens, a local businessman who eventually spent six years as the club's chairman, acted as the frontman, while Brookland's brother David, a chartered accountant, helped with the finances. Brookland himself had been made redundant from his role in the City and had plenty of time to devote to the club.
They had no idea where they would play or what league they would be in. The Conference turned them down, as did the Southern League, but they were eventually allowed to enter Isthmian League Division Three. They looked into playing at the Aldershot military ground but eventually persuaded the council to grant them a licence to use the Rec.
The only player that remained was Chris Tomlinson, the groundsman's son, but Steve Wignall, who had made more than 150 appearances for the previous club, was put in charge of the newly formed Aldershot Town and cobbled a team together.
Their first fixture was against Clapton and Brookland can still instantly recall the attendance that day even though it was more than 19 years ago. They had budgeted for 700 but 1,493 turned up. It proved to be the lowest gate of the season.
The Shots went on to climb through five levels of the football pyramid before returning to the Football League with promotion to League Two in 2008. It was a remarkable journey but after several seasons of establishing themselves in the fourth tier, the draw against United has given the club new impetus.
"It is massive for us," added Brookland. "This has set our profile again, I think we needed it, it has given us a new incentive."
Aldershot FC played United twice, firstly in a League Cup tie in 1970 and then a friendly in 1982 organised after the Falklands War to raise money for the South Atlantic Fund. The Shots lost 3-1 at home back in 1970, with George Best, Denis Law and Brian Kidd on the scoresheet in front of a crowd of 18,500.
The capacity these days is a little under 7,500, but the tie has required a lot of organisation, with Brookland wryly noting that he seems to be spending more time on his part-time role with the club than his job as assistant secretary of the Army Football Association.
It hasn't done much for the club's form, with the Shots losing five straight League Two fixtures after their victory over Rochdale in the previous round.
They returned to form at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday with a 5-2 win.
Manager Dean Holdsworth, who played against Manchester United as a member of Wimbledon's Crazy Gang, rested Darren Jones, Ben Herd and Danny Hylton for the match at Victoria Road.
"We couldn't have allowed them to be booked or they would have missed the game on Tuesday and I would have opened myself up to some criticism with the gamble, but the gamble's paid off," said Holdsworth.
Current chairman Kris Machala said shortly after the draw that it was "the best thing to happen to the club in 40 years".
But in many ways the significance of the draw is much more personal than the revenue the club will generate and the raised profile it has given them.
Brookland, now 45, reckons that he wanted to form a new club back in 1992 so that there was a team for the people of Aldershot to support. Success was one thing, but secondary to the identity that having a local side gives to a town and its people.
It was a desire perfectly encapsulated on the look of joy on his son's face when the draw was made.
It would be something of a miracle if the Shots inflicted on their opponents the sort of hammering Sir Alex Ferguson's team had at the hands of rivals City on Sunday.
Indeed, the Shots may well get hammered by their illustrious opponents, but that is to miss the point. This tale is about the refusal to let a club die and the heights that determination can reach.