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Family Affair: The Rissers

13 September 2012

It's April 17th, 7.44pm, and there is an air of expectation at Aldershot Town's Recreation Ground.

The away end is packed with Swindon Town fans hoping to secure promotion with a draw or better - the Robins nine points clear of Torquay United in fourth place with just four games, including this one, remaining.

Elsewhere, around the ground, there's a palpable feeling that the home side can call the shots, protect a proud home record and make their visitors wait a little longer to start their party.

In the players' tunnel, there is more than just three points at stake. As the two teams line-up and prepare to go to work, two brothers are preparing to go head-to-head in a competitive match for the first time in their lives. It goes without saying both are desperate for bragging rights.

For Aldershot, striker Wilko Risser is looking to score the goals that will earn his side a famous victory. For older brother Oliver, playing in front of the back four for Paolo Di Canio's men, he's hoping to give his team-mates a solid base from which they can go and secure promotion to npower League 1 at the first attempt.

"It was a little bit awkward," laughs Namibian international Oliver, who recalls the encounter against his brother clearly. "That was the first time we had played against each other in a competitive match. Before the game we had obviously been in contact with each other and both of us were saying we were going to win.

"But it was actually more of an important game for Swindon because we were hoping to seal promotion that night. Going up was a very real possibility for us."

The opening exchanges were fiercely competitive. Aldershot clearly weren't there to make up the numbers. Oliver was in for a busy evening, the Namibian harried and hussled at every opportunity.

Up top for the Shots, Wilko was in fine form, causing the visiting back four problems with his size and guile. Aldershot were keen to play their role as party-poopers and Wilko played a hand in one of the goals as Dean Holdsworth's men eventually won the game 2-1.

"Wilko was buzzing about it and of course I was very disappointed," remembers Oliver. "I wasn't too happy about it at all. He set up a goal and played pretty well, so he obviously enjoyed it a lot more than I did."

Swindon would, of course, secure promotion days later at Gillingham, but both Oliver and Wilko could look back on their first season in English football with a degree of pride and satisfaction.

Oliver arrived at Swindon on trial in the summer after spells in Germany, Norway, Finland and Iceland. Invited to train in England by Paolo Di Canio, he was given a contract after impressing in a three-day trial. He was soon made club captain and even scored on his debut.

Soon after, Wilko was reunited by his brother and trained with the Robins. Wilko's career had seen play at various levels in Germany before heading to Malta. Both players arrived in England with a point to prove.

"At the time last summer, I had been playing for a club in Finland for a short spell and had returned to Germany without a club. I then met my current agent through a friend and he asked me if I wanted to give it a go at Swindon.

"In the end we had a great season and succeeded in what we set out to do, which was to win promotion. At the beginning it was tough for me personally, it took me time to adjust to the football. I'd say I really started to enjoy it from November. I really felt welcome and it was a wonderful experience.

"Wilko came to Swindon more to keep himself fit than an actual trial. Paolo took a look at him while he was with us, of course, but it was great to see him get a contract at Aldershot."

When Wilko joined Aldershot, in February, manager Dean Holdsworth announced he was delighted with his new acquisition.

The 30-year-old went on to score three goals in 16 appearances but was released at the end of the campaign.

"I wish he could have stayed over here this season," says Oliver. "I'm not too sure why he wasn't given the chance to stay, but he loved his time at Aldershot.

"I think if he was given the chance to go back to that club or come back to England he would take it."

With the 2012/13 season underway, Wilko is still looking for a club.

Oliver knows how frustrating that can be and, as the elder brother by two years, he keeps a watchful eye on his younger sibling.

"My brother is now in Germany [looking for a club]. It's very difficult in football to get looked at. At the end of the day you're just trying to make enough money to support your family. He's hopeful of finding a new challenge.

"We always wanted to be footballers and my brother is as passionate about it as me. For both of us to be able to live a life in football, I think we feel pretty lucky. We both just want to keep playing for as long as possible.

"We were very close growing up. If there was a problem we tried to support each other and that hasn't changed. I think I was definitely blessed with more of a will to succeed and perhaps as the bigger brother he came to me more for advice. I always tried to lead by example. Football is such a wonderful thing and we're very lucky to have played professionally. I certainly feel very privileged."

While Wilko continues his search for football in Germany, Oliver has embarked on his own different challenge this year.

After moving down the pecking order at the Wiltshire club, he has joined promotion-chasing Stevenage on loan.

"The gaffer [Di Canio] bought in a lot of new faces who had already played at League 1 level. In pre-season I was just hoping to impress but an opportunity came along from Stevenage, which I considered a very good possibility for me to establish myself in this division. I'm really grateful for that chance.

"We are third in the league but we are still very fresh into the new season. We have a long way to go, but it's always helpful to have a good foundation. The club has been very positive in the last three years and has achieved a great deal, so I'm honoured to be here and be a part of it.

"For the moment I want to give my gratitude to the manager at Stevenage, prove myself at this level and try and be a part of some success at Stevenage. You never know what's going to happen in football."

The journey for both Rissers continues, but you can be sure where ever they continue to play the beautiful game, they'll be doing so with pride. Maybe they'll even end up on the same team one day...

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