Posted by sean on October 16, 2011 at 5:34 pm in Bath City with No Comments

Braintree Town 3-3 Bath City
Conference National
Saturday 15th October 2011 – 15:00 

Braintree. Officially the second best football team in the country to be named after an internal body organ and a natural object. The first being Liverpool. Before any smartarses comment, Hartlepool doesn’t count. Having learnt that fascinating fact on Twitter last week, I simply had to attend Bath City’s trip to the Essex town.

Bath City played Braintree a few seasons ago. Back then, many friends of mine didn’t believe such a place actually existed. They thought it was a football club I simply made up, like Chickenton City or Fisher Athletic. I wasn’t able to convince them Braintree was a real town back in 2008, so I didn’t try again this time.

The turn out of Bath City fans for the trip to Braintree was low. Probably because we have had an awful start to the season, but mainly due to the fact we were playing a club most people didn’t believe was real.

Twenty dedicated insane City fans made the coach trip – the average age on board being 82 years and 3 months. I sat at the rear of the bus. It was freezing cold and I had to wear my coat for almost the entire trip. Funnily enough, the front of the coach was like a sauna. I’m sure the bus has its own atmosphere and varying climate. Had I ventured towards the front, no doubt I would encounter bikini-wearing pensioners enjoying cocktails, whilst sitting under a palm tree.

Katie Price's official magazine. Read during our stay at the service station. The greatest piece of literature since Wayne Rooney's autobiography

One thing I remember about past trips to Braintree is that the ground is almost impossible to find. I know I may sometimes stretch the truth from time to time on this blog, but there is little exaggeration when I say that Cressing Road is better hidden than Area 51. Apparently it cannot be found on Google Maps.

Cue a large coach driving around a small housing estate, narrowly avoiding driveways, with parked caravans which looked like they hadn’t been occupied since 1972. A battered England flag flew from a decaying shed. The flag bared the logo ‘NEWS OF THE WORLD’ – obviously a free gift during England’s 1986 World Cup campaign.

Upon arrival I headed for the clubhouse. It was a warm day and after the long coach journey, I would have killed for a Thatchers Gold. I was disappointed, however not surprised, when I saw the cider on offer – Strongbow or Magners. In my best attempt at an Irish accent I asked for a Magners. Expecting a small man named Paddy to appear, wearing a beard of bees and reminding everyone “there’s method in the Magners”, I was most upset when some middle aged woman handed me the luke-warm bottle and asked “Do you want ice with that?” Ice with cider? How dare you… OK, technically Magners isn’t cider.

I didn’t think their players were that funny

While supping my warm Apple-based beverage, I watched the second half of the Liverpool/Manchester United game. An overweight, middle-aged man stood nearby wearing a ManUtd shirt under an open Braintree FC coat. Braintree is prime ManU country. There are more Manchester United fans in the county of Essex than Lancashire. Then Steven Gerrard scored a goal. A loud cheer erupted. Essex is well-known for its large scouse-community. Seeing the score line, the tubby ManU fan soon realised his true allegiance and did up the zip on his coat, hiding his red football shirt. Then ManU scored. This must have made the fan hot as he took his coat off. I left the clubhouse and headed for the terrace.

Braintree Town appear to not only be a football club but a hardware store, selling everything from bricks and tarmac...

... to scrap metal

The game started well. Very well. Ever-dependant Gethin Jones opened the scoring for The Romans in the first 3 minutes. We were pinching ourselves. Could we have turned the corner? Could we be heading for the dizzy heights of 23rd place? Then a Braintree strike struck the post. Minutes later reality struck the City fans. Braintree scored a goal… and another. That losing feeling returned.

The Braintree faithful. Kept singing "red army". Strange as the players wore orange.

Half time came. I bought a can of coke. Again served at room temperature. Why can’t they just stick their drinks in a fridge? I know they have such technology in Braintree. There was one dumped in a driveway outside the ground.

I walked round to the other side of the ground behind a goal. Despite all my negativity about the trip, being able to mix with the home supporters and swap ends at half time is always a welcome novelty of non-league and something I have missed from most trips since our promotion.

Cressing Road is full of portacabins. I haven't seen that many since I was at junior school.

The fans were downbeat. Could we spark a comeback. I’m always optimistic and replied “maybe”. Within minutes of the second half, Braintree scored again. Awful defending. It was going to be another one of those afternoons. Then, as the autumn sun was setting, Marley Watkins, Bath City’s answer to Lionel Messi, scored. I could have kissed him. Thank you Marley! You’re amazing! No wonder Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson named their pet dog after you.

Despite the euphoria, we were still losing and needed a goal. Step up another hero of mine, Lee Phillips. A football war horse and man I would happily change my sexuality for if he came out and asked to come back to my flat for coffee. Deep into ‘Fergie time’, Mr. Phillips scored, sending me, a group of fans with a flag and 19 pensioners into mass hysteria.

A distraught Matt Paine getting a pat on the head from a steward

We may not have won. We may still be bottom. It may be very cliché, but yesterday Bath City won a MASSIVE point. Bring on Stockport.

Posted by sean on October 9, 2011 at 10:03 pm in Fish with 1 Comment

It is a sad day in Château de Sean. I lost one of my pet fish. When I say I lost it, I didn’t lose it like a friend of mine did to his fish when we were in school. That fish jumped out the bowl, fell behind the cabinet and was missing for days. No, I lost my fish in the same sense that the music world lost Michael Jackson. OK, bad example, the fish didn’t die of an overdose. What I am trying to say, through much sadness, is my fish is dead. He will no longer be sleeping with the fishes.

What’s more, I think it was one of the original fish I bought back in 2006 and not one of the replacements which followed in more recent years. This fish was purchased during the 2006 World Cup. I seem to remember I originally bought five and named them all after members of the England squad. One died on the first day. Probably crocked all along. Serves me right for calling him Michael Owen.

In all fairness, today’s death came as no surprise. This fish had been ill for sometime. It’s was lying on its back for weeks. The fact it kept going for so long, lead me to believe it was just being lazy, which is strange as I don’t remember naming any of the fish after Dimitar Berbatov. Anyway, turns out it must have been dying, which is sad. Still, I did all I could for it and gave it a proper burial *flush*

I should probably stop blogging now and go to bed. A full week of work lies in wait for me tomorrow and I am tired. I always seem to get more tired during the autumn. Sometimes I wish I was a bear or a squirrel – that way I could hibernate. I’ve seen the nature shows, I know how it’s done. All I would need to do is live off McDonalds throughout the whole of the summer, gaining 10 stone and enough fat to see me through the harsh winter. Then just go to bed and sleep until April, awaking to the news that Bath City have won The Conference. I think that may be something to try next year. I’ll ask my boss if I can be given the time off work.

Posted by sean on October 9, 2011 at 7:16 pm in Bath City, Video Games with No Comments

Bath City 2-0 Darlington
Conference National
Saturday 8th October 2011 – 15:00 

I rarely write a blog about Bath City home games. This is because short of doing a match report, which I would be rubbish at, there wouldn’t be much to write about. I’m being serious. A typical home game would involve the following… Get out of bed. Walk over the bridge to the Twerton. Go into ground. Say a little prayer. Watch game. Eat a doughnut at half time. Cry about our loss at full time. Go into clubhouse. Drink cider. Walk home.

Yesterday was different though and deserves a blog. For the first time since April, we won a game. Yes, you read it right – Bath City won a game of football! “You’re taking the piss” I hear you all shout – “Who were you playing? Blind Wanderers FC?” Admittedly, we may as well have been. Our opponents were Darlington.

The north east has generally been a hot bed of football. You have Newcastle and Sunderland, while further south there’s Middlesbrough and Leeds. OK, hardly Milan, but more than respectable in their own right. In the middle of all those clubs is poor Darlington. When I was a teenager, I was lead to believe that they were as good as Barcelona. This was because my English teacher was a massive fan. He not only taught me the works of William Shakespeare, but that The Quakers were the best football team ever and always will be. Based on yesterday’s performance, he lied.

Despite 13 games without a win, there was a large turnout of support yesterday, mainly because the club dished out a few hundred free tickets at local universities. As a result, Twerton Park turned into a Freshers’ Fair. I’m certainly not complaining about the student invasion, it was nice to get a decent crowd. A couple of students did take up residence in my usual spot on the terrace, which caused me slight irritation. They were soon moved on, without the need for me to find a prodding stick. I just hope that some of those students return and pay for future games. It was great to have a well-attended game and the money generated will help the club.

If the players were set a mission to sell the club to the students, they did the perfect job. Like I said earlier, I’m crap at writing a match report. Let’s just say we ticked every single box in the ‘How to Play Football’ book. Scored a goal. CHECK. Kept a clean sheet. CHECK. Won the game. CHECK. I’m not going to be like my former English teacher and say we played like Barca, I’m no liar. If I was to compare our performance to a Spanish club, I would say Real Madrid. Except without the cheating. And that idiot of a manager. And that idiot Ronaldo. So yes, Bath City are better than Real Madrid.

Yes, we won. I couldn’t believe it. At full time I stood motionless on the terrace, staring at the Sky Sports Score Centre App my iPhone, which displayed the fulltime score BATH CITY 2-0 DARLIGNTON. Then I went and drank Thatchers in the clubhouse. After waiting 161 days for a win, I was tempted to drink myself into a cider-induced coma. I didn’t. However, if we beat Cambridge United on Tuesday, I cannot guarantee the excitement of back-to-back victories will not force me to intravenously hook myself up to a cider barrel.

Today I celebrated the victory by downloading the Bath City team on Fifa 12. I then played Manchester United, albeit on the very easy setting. I beat them 7-0. If we meet in the FA Cup next January, I am sure the outcome will be the same. Just like if World War 3 ever breaks out, I will be able to take on the enemy single-handedly – just like I did on Call of Duty. Video games are real.

Posted by sean on October 4, 2011 at 7:10 pm in Bath City with No Comments

Taunton Town 2-1 Bath City
Somerset Premier Cup – Round 1
Monday 3rd October 2011 – 19:45

Just because something puts the word ‘premier’ in it’s name, it doesn’t necessarily make it any good. Take Premier Inn (despite how much Lenny Henry likes it), Carling Premier (fizzy rats piss, only with extra alcohol) and the Premier League (rubbish since Leeds were relegated).

Unlike those three examples, the Somerset Premier Cup is not crap – far from it. There are only a few things that get the good old folk of the West Country together – Wurzels concerts, tractor racing and The Somerset Premier Cup – a highly prestige competition, where the finest football talent Zummerzet all compete to win £100,000,000. I lie. The prize is an old battered trophy and probably a glass of cider.

Despite being able to compete against the superpowers of Welton Rovers and Bishop Sutton, for some unknown reason Bath City never seem to take the competition that seriously, which is a shame. This year however, there was more interest amongst City fans; mainly because we haven’t won a competitive fixture since April and were hoping to change this with victory over Taunton Town.

So keen were the City faithful to witness a win that 3 full coaches were run to the game. I’m a liar. 1 coach. I still lie. A minibus. Half empty. Still, that is more than the usual turnout for this tournament.

After work, I made the mad dash for Fortress Twerton, via my flat to shower and change, before boarding our transport to Taunton. I am all too familiar with this minibus. Last season I went to Darlington and back on it – twice. Someone yesterday pointed out the rather depressing fact that I have spent 24 hours of my life on it. Make that 27 after last night.

I don’t drive. I’m learning to. However I know a little bit about directions. I know there are such things as motorways. I know there is one called the M5. I was therefore puzzled why the minibus driver refrained from using this route, instead opting to give us a tour of the entire county of Somerset during the trip to Taunton. All very pretty, but I would rather get to the game.

After taking in the sights of Radstock, Wells, Street, Glastonbury and Blackpool (we took a wrong turn), we eventually arrived at the home of Taunton Town, Wordsworth Drive. It atmosphere was electric – like a Champions League evening at Anfield. It always is for Somerset Cup games. What’s more, it was a Monday, which meant Monday Night Football. I tried to look for the Sky cameras, but couldn’t see any. Shame.

The Sky TV cameras missing fromthe gantry

Having visited Lincoln City’s Sincil Bank Stadium at the weekend, Wordsworth Drive brought me down to earth a little and gave the harsh reality that we could be visiting places like this a lot more should we be relegated.

Sincil Bank – tinpot…

… unlike Wordsworth Drive

One really nice thing about the ground though was the outside bar. The clubhouse had burnt down in the summer – I don’t know why, maybe as a result of hooligan violence between Taunton and Tiverton fans. That rivalry is nasty and makes The Old Firm look like a playground scrap. The temporary bar did allow me to enjoy an ice cold pint of Thatcher’s Gold cider while watching the game. You would never get this in the Blue Square Bet Premier… perhaps going down is a good thing?

As it was the evening, I had to eat. Football grounds are not the best of places for catering and Taunton’s catering department is in much need of a visit from Gordon Ramsey and his Kitchen Nightmares crew. On the menu last night was sausage bap, bacon roll or burger. I went for the burger. I am very hygienic, probably too much. Therefore I wasn’t happy to see them reheating the pre-cooked burgers, ready to feed to me. I had a decision to make. Risk dying of E.coli or risk death by starvation. I ate the burger. I’m still alive and didn’t get ill – the burger even tasted quite nice.

Lovely food. Not what was on offer last night.

I was quite happy at this point. I had received a guided tour of The West Country, drank some cider and eaten a burger. My joy couldn’t last could it? Nope. The game started.

City fielded a very strong side. Whether the players out there took it as seriously as a league game, who knows; but these were no academy players from the youth team. The first half ended 0-0. City had been evenly matched by a team three divisions below them. Summer signing, Jamie Cook, who in February played against the likes of Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford for Crawley Town must have had a reality check.

Glamour Tie

I was a tad worried and went to find a toilet. Presumably all the original toilets were in the old burnt down club house. Therefore Taunton had installed temporary facilities – the kind you see at Glastonbury festival. I did my business in there, making sure I was quick. One miss kicked ball into the platstic WC and the whole thing would have fallen over, with me inside, covering me in faeces. I would have been in more dog doo than the football club.

The second half was much of the same. Then something happened. Something which has not happened since last season. Bath City scored a goal AND took the lead. I was so amazed, I didn’t know whether to faint or invade the pitch in a mad celebration of glory. I did neither. Instead I just clapped and cheered a little – woop woop.

As the game progressed it looked like Bath City were going to get their first win of the season. That evil witch who put the curse on the club back in the summer must have had the night off. Or so I thought. The witch obviously had fallen asleep, but was soon awoken. Seeing Bath City had taken the lead, she demanded normal service be resumed. The referee swiftly awarded Taunton a penalty, which their GOALKEEPER scored. Taunton then snatched a second, minutes later, to condemn us to another defeat.

It was depressing. Very depressing. The team left to chants of “Sacked in the morning” directed at Bath City’s manager. Luckily these came from the Taunton fans. Had any City supporter dared react in that manner, I would not be writing this blog right now, instead standing trial for murder.

Even the flag felt flat after that defeat

If the fulltime whistle and reaction of the home fans was depressing, the minibus trip back really made me want to O.D. on Calpol. The older fans on the minibus, began the inquest into what happened, most of whom demanded the City manager be sacked. Some of the comments were laughable “The board are scared of him” came one outburst, followed by “He’s unsackable”. For the second time in one evening, I was tempted to commit mass murder.

I made it back to Bath without killing a pensioner, was offered a lift back home by the Bath City chairman, but had already agreed to share someone’s taxi. I arrived at my flat shortly before midnight, went to bed and was up a few hours later to go to work. What a wonderful world.

Posted by sean on October 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm in Bath City with No Comments

Bath City lost again. 13 games played. Won 0. Drew 3. Lost 10. 5 goals scored. 22 conceded.

Last year, City were so good and took their new league by storm. This season, opposition teams cannot wait to play us. It’s depressing. What the hell’s gone wrong? I have absolutely no idea. The same management team who did so well in previous years remains. The core of the team from last season is still here. We simply cannot win games – or score.

I have watched football for many years. I have seen teams struggle badly (remember, my other club is Leeds). However in those instances, those clubs appeared to have other problems – off the field financial issues, change of management or players. This has not happened at Bath City.

When a club fails on the pitch, the fans form their own inquest into the problems, more often than not casting blame upon management or players. Sadly, this is happening at Bath City. The internet message board where City supporters go to air their joy and frustrations, and there have been a lot of frustrations this season, is awash with critical comments aimed at the management and team.

Have I joined in with the witch-hunt? No. Why? Because it would be unfair. As a football fan, one of my greatest annoyances is players who do not try or make the effort. It makes me mad. I will be extremely critical of any individuals I believe are not pulling their weight or appear lazy. This season at Bath City, I simply cannot fault the team for effort and desire. Every game we play, we lose (OK, apart from the 3 draws). Every time we lose, the players appear so dejected and depressed, it really is quite upsetting.

Bath City fans have been spoilt in recent years with title-winning campaigns and play off success. Now things are going wrong, it has come as a real shock. However, my view is that football fans should stick with their side through the good times and the bad; and assuming the players appear to be trying and making the effort, should receive the full backing of the supporters. After all, the dictionary definition of ‘supporter’ is “A person who approves of and encourages someone or something”

We may lose every remaining game this season. We may never score again this year. One thing is for sure, as long as those players are wearing the black and white Bath City shirt, I will be doing my job as a “supporter” and supporting my team.

The good times will return to Twerton Park, as will the crowds and positive comments from fans. However, I am like an elephant. I never forget and those individuals who turned on the club during one of its darkest days will not be forgotten or forgiven.

I love Bath City. Come on you stripes.

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