Posted by sean on August 19, 2009 at 6:41 pm in Bath City with No Comments

On a hot Monday afternoon, I made my way with Claire to Twerton Park, where we would wait for the supporters’ coach to take us to Hampshire to watch Bath City’s evening game against Havant & Waterlooville.

This is my second trip to Havant’s West Leigh Park ground, but my first visit since the clubs famous FA Cup run in 2008, which involved victory over Swansea City and a trip to Anfield, where they were defeated by Liverpool. The cup success brought Havant considerable wealth, which appears to have been invested in stadium developments as opposed to improving the squad – which is probably why they’re still in the Blue Square South!

The journey south, which involved a spell on the motorway, had drama in itself, when we narrowly avoided an accident on the M27. A car moving alongside the coach appeared to spin out of control, and had it not been for fast maneuvering by our driver, could have resulted in a nasty accident. We later learnt the car involved had spun out of control due to a burst tyre. Luckily, the woman behind the wheel managed to prevent any injuries to herself or fellow motorists.

Upon arriving at the ground, the fans piled into the clubhouse. Not the best watering hole in the league – the term ‘adequate’ comes to mind. While enjoying a pre-match pint, we discussed the incident on the motorway, as well as sharing our predictions on the impending match.

With kick off just minutes away, the clubhouse emptied and fans from both sides queued to enter the ground through the small number of turnstiles that the club had decided to open. There were a surprisingly large number of fans in the stadium; the warm summers evening no doubt attracting the City and Havant faithful.

The game started badly, with Havant dominating possession, creating chances and, in under 10 minutes, scoring. The travelling army of 50 City supporters getting a little nervous about the prospect of another Chelmsford horror show. Thankfully, City weathered the storm and started to create chances themselves.

As has been the case in recent games (and will be for future matches), I had to pay extra attention to the action, as I was updating the City Updates website, via my iPhone, for the fans back home. Luckily there weren’t too many incidents to report, so I was able to give my fingers a rest and enjoy the game.

The match continued, with both sides creating chances. Then, with the end in sight and the home crowd starting to disperse, Bath City scored, drawing the game level; the goal sending the travelling fans into euphoric celebration. To add to the jubilant scenes, a penalty was awarded to City just a few minutes later. The spot kick was converted, giving City the lead and sending shock throughout both sets of supporters.

With little over 5 minutes to go, things were extremely nervous for the visiting fans. Could City hang on, or would Havant come back to salvage a point? Unfortunately, it was the latter, as Havant’s Manny Williams, who could have been sent off earlier in the game, broke through the defence and scored a deserved equaliser. It was a disappointing end to the game, but most fans would surely have taken a point pre-kick off.

The trip back on the coach was a lot less eventful than the inward journey. The 50/50 draw took place (for those not in the know, this is like a raffle where 50% of the money goes to the club, whereas the other 50% is shared between 3 fans). I have only won this once in the last three years. I was asked to make the draw for the 2nd prize, and ironically picked out my own ticket – and yes, I did take the money – all £8.00 of it!

As the coach made its way north to Somerset and the clock ticked closer and closer to midnight, the evening taking its toll on both Claire and me, who became very tired. I made her promise she would force me NOT to attend any long evening trips in future – as we have potential midweek visits to Braintree and Lewes later in the season. I hope I have the willpower to stay at home and Claire has the ability to make me!

We eventually got back home and were tucked up in bed and asleep by 1am. The game, or recent late nights, must have taken their toll, as I didn’t awake until 12noon the next day – I haven’t slept that long for years.

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