Aldermaston Recreational Society and AFC Aldermaston logo

Aldermaston Recreational Society, Aldermaston

AFC Aldermaston vs. Woodley United FC
The Hellenic Football League Division 1 East

Shock and awe is a military tactic based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyse the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy their will to fight. Basically bomb the shit out of them and the enemy will definitely give up. For example, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings at the end of World War II are said to fall within some of the concepts of shock and awe.

The dugout at the Aldermaston Recreational Society
Dugout or nuclear weapon testing viewing bunker? You decide.

So with that in mind, what better place is there on the planet to watch a sporting contest than a place that has the capabilities to wipe out all life on said planet?

The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Aldermaston is not just home to an organisation maintaining the warheads for the Trident nuclear deterrent. Nor does it just maintain a capability to design new weapons, should they ever be required. No, the former RAF airbase also doubles up as a kind of Wembley for Berkshire based youth footballers.

AFC Aldermaston and Woodley United players shake hands before the game
Both sides prepare for war.

It was the scene of one of the finest moments of my footballing career, an unused substitute in an under-12 cup final. But not just any cup final, this was the Football World Cup final. Bet you've never played in a World Cup final, have you? Well, neither have I.

When it's not hosting all the cup finals for whatever the South Chiltern Minor League is these days, the AWE is home to the Aldermaston Recreational Society (because people who build weapons of war for a living need time to relax too), and Hellenic League Division 1 East and one time worst football team in Britain, AFC Aldermaston.

A Woodley United player takes a shot at Aldermaston Recreational Society
A Woodley United player prepares to rocket a shot into the top corner...of those trees.

It's not often you approach a ground (does this count as a ground?) and be greeted with the sight of thousands of feet of high, barbed wire fences, evoking memories of prisons, concentration camps, and Vale Park. You know you're heading towards a place that they really don't want you getting into, although that seems like a slightly flawed concept when they just leave the gates wide open on football night.

Fans of sitting down are in for a disappointing night's entertainment, with facilities bordering the fine line between very little and non-existent. But at least you get to see a football team that's on the up.

A view of the changing room area at the Aldermaston Recreational Society
With no stand, this is THE place to watch all the action from.

AFC Aldermaston have come a long way since that record losing streak. They're just off the back of the highest finish in the club's history, and they have a squad littered with non-league journeymen and those Reading players you'd try to sell immediately on Football Manager 2007.

The location made this the perfect setting for what turned out to be a fiery clash, and nothing says fiery clash like controversy. There were two joyful controversial moments caused by the referee correctly interpreting the laws, even though a referee can definitely never be right, apparently. This is what non-league football is all about.

View of the fencing at AWE Aldermaston
There appears to be some kind of demilitarised zone behind the goal.

The first incident led to Woodley United's opener. It started with a non league trope, a crunching tackle in the centre circle, a throwback to the 1960s when tackles flew in so late they were just finishing up when the next week's game started.

The referee, spotting the ball breaking towards a Woodley United player sprinting down the right, correctly waited to play advantage. So of course as soon as he got there, the referee blew his whistle. Or did he? Narrator: "he did". The Aldermaston players all stopped, the referee signalled advantage and obviously Woodley scored. Aldermaston went nuclear.

Floodlights on at the AWE Aldermaston
The AWE lights up the night's sky, in a good way.

Despite equalising with a long range bouncing bomb of an effort, Aldermaston spent much of the game teetering on the verge of a meltdown. And that meltdown happened, because they don't read these shiny infographics The Football Association makes.

When an Aldermaston player gobbed off a little too much to the man in black, it was time to use the new law for Step 9 and below. The sin bin!

AFC Aldermaston player takes a corner kick against Woodley United
A corner whipped in with the accuracy of a North Korean nuke.

But wait! The Aldermaston bench were so convinced that you cannot sin bin a player if it's in the last ten minutes of a game, which is a ludicrous suggestion and definitely not true. But of course this kick started everyone's favourite football past-time, abusing the referee.

Predictably he was subjected to the usual cries of being called a twat and doesn't know the rules. Which is a little odd, since they literally have to know the laws of the game. Still, he made one mistake. He should have sin binned the lot of them.

Useless information about Aldermaston Recreational Society

Address: AWE, Aldermaston, Berkshire, RG7 4PR
Capacity: 2,000
Pitch Type: Grass
Ticket Price: £5
Programme: Free, 20 pages

AFC Aldermaston 2019/20 season programme