Monday 13th July 2021 ko 19.30
FLEET SPURS DEVELOPMENT 0
THATCHAM TOWN YOUTH 5 (30 33 61 75 78)
Att c25 at Polo Fields, Queen’s Avenue, Aldershot
Being from Oxford I’m used to the idea that there are two sides to the city- the Town and the Gown. While there is a geographical element to it the divide is largely psychological- I can drink in the students’ pub, but I usually choose not to. But in Aldershot the divide is between military and civilian, and the divide is far more physically demarcated than in my home town.
If you’re a football fan you’ll see Aldershot as where Aldershot Town play but the Recreation Ground is to the south of the town, to the north is the garrison, often referred to as the Aldershot Camp or Military Town. It is a virtually separate to the “Other Aldershot” with its own military related sports facilities too. As a groundhopper it is far too easy to forget the fact that the Army FA has the same status as any County FA with the only proviso being to check entry requirements before setting out.
For the military in Aldershot that will lead you inevitably to Queen’s Avenue. Its named after Queen Victoria under whose reign much of what you see here was built. There are three grounds, adjacent to each other. There’s the Army 3G pitch- a caged affair, sometimes referred as the Wavell Ground, then the Army Rugby Stadium then finally the Military Stadium. I’d go as far as to say the Military Stadium ought to be on any groundhopper’s bucket list.
So I was intrigued when I was made aware of a game at Queens Avenue. Given it was a fairly low-key youth team friendly the most logical place for it to be was the Wavell Ground, but the Man Vs Food training class quickly scotched that theory. In the end I ended up calling in at the Garrison Sports Centre, correctly guessing that the booking had been made there.
It worked, and I was pointed to the huge open space the other side of Queen’s Avenue from the 3 stadia. It’s called the Polo Fields, and is a huge expanse of grass that separates Queen’s Avenue from the parallel Farnborough Road. These days it’s a kind of military Hackney Marshes albeit with sets of foodlights and rugby pitches, to supplement my game o on a pitch marked out at the southern end. Back in late 19th Century the place went by, and still does today in some media the name of Queen’s Parade as Queen Victoria used to carry out her annual inspection of the troops here. The area has also seen service as a horse racing track and is used today for the Aldershot Garrison Show.
What Robyn and I saw was a typical pre-season friendly involving sides that both featured quite a few triallists on a pitch that have clearly suffered from the deluge we’d just driven through. Thatcham won convincingly in a entertaining game but the interest here was as much how we got to the game, and the area’s history.