Book Review: To Make a Dream Survive by Graham Brookland

If your single source of information about football in England was SKY you’d be left with the impression that the only competition that existed was the Premier League.

However, the reality is that there is a myriad of other professional clubs playing within the Championship as well as League 1 and 2. Indeed, the football family is further supported through the Conference and the pyramid that is the non-league structure.

All these clubs have a past and a story to tell, yet the majority of these tales of football highs and lows are not known beyond the confines of their respective villages, towns or cities.

Therefore it is left to individuals such as Graham Brookland to record and recount the stories of those teams from outside England’s top flight league.

In To Make a Dream Survive, Brookland treats the reader to the story of his footballing love, the team based in the military town of Aldershot. He started supporting the club back in 1974 when he attended a game on 13 April against Cambridge United, and his support over the forty years since is documented within this book.

However, this book is not simply a season by season account of the games he attended over the years at the Recreation Ground. During Brookland’s time watching The Shots, he has been the Supporters Club Chairman, a Director, the Club Secretary and Head of Media. This is a story of a man who has lived and breathed the club and a unique story at that.

The 383 pages are divided into over ninety short chapters, with the first 74 pages detailing the period up to March 1992 and the subsequent liquidation of Aldershot FC. The remaining (and majority) part of the book focuses on the formation of Aldershot Town FC and its existence up to December 2014. This divide between the old and the new is also visually highlighted with the use of the change in club badge on the chapter headers. In a further nice little touch each chapter features a song title from the period which links to the content of the chapter, and will have readers racking their brains in an attempt to recall the name of the bands who recorded the songs!

This is a very personal story in that the journey is as much about the author as the club. So at the start of the book, the reader is introduced to the young boisterous and vociferous Brookland who is not afraid to express his opinions about those in charge of his beloved club and follows him through numerous roles of responsibility at Aldershot, including that of co-founder of Aldershot Town FC. Brookland’s passion for the club is evident in every page and even in the periods when he holds official positions at the club he continues to be forthright in his views. Nevertheless, he is able to reflect on the times of turmoil at the club and for the most part ensures that past grievances are resolved.

Yes this is one man’s unique and passionate story about his connection to his club, yes it is story of Aldershot FC’s demise and the rise of the phoenix from the ashes as Aldershot Town FC, but it is also an acknowledgment and tribute to all those that have contributed to the club being in existence today.

If there is a minor criticism, and it is one that can often befall self-published books, it is in relation to proof-reading. However, it is not a cheap business getting a book published and therefore the extra cost of proof-reading is not always an option that can be taken up.

However, this really doesn’t detract from a book which openly and honestly tells the reality of life for clubs in the lower leagues and gives hope that however far a club might fall, there are people willing to keep it alive so that future generations can have a footballing dream.


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