Posted by sean on November 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm in Bath City with No Comments

Southport 2-1 Bath City
Conference National
Saturday 19th November 2011 – 15:00 

There has been a lot of activity at Bath City this week. Despite having a dog shit season, there is nothing like an FA Cup run and the news of Chris Waddle coming to Twerton Park with his ESPN chums to install mass excitement.

I arrived at Twerton Park for the trip to Southport early on Saturday morning. The weather was cold and wet, but the atmosphere electric, as half a dozen pensioners tried to climb the gates and fences around the ground in an attempt to catch a glimpse at the scaffolding erected by the cable TV station ahead of next Wednesday’s broadcast game.

More excitement was in store when the bus arrived. Berkeley, the company who provide the club with away travel, had made an addition to their fleet of coaches. If the sight of a set of scaffolding wasn’t enough to send the City faithful into delirium, the prospect of travelling on a new coach did the job.

This week’s service station stop was Stafford, located on the M6. Did you know that despite its name, the M6 is England’s first ever motorway? That fascinating fact comes courtesy of Karl Pilkington.

Stafford Services always seems to contain at least one set of rival football fans. This week it was Manchester City and Everton. “Who have you got today?” one of our fans asked a Man City supporter “Home to Newcastle, what about you?” to which our fan replied “Southport”. The Premiership fan’s response was one we hear a lot “Southport? Who are they?” I long for the day we play Accrington Stanley.

After spending almost £500 on a baguette at a serviced station last week, I avoided purchasing any food, but instead bought a coffee from Burger King. I politely turned down the offer of onion rings with my beverage. Maybe it’s a Midlands thing, but I tend to dip biscuits in my coffee and keep battered vegetables separate. The drink was foul. Next time, I think I’ll stick to Costa or every football fan’s favourite, Coffee Nation.

We got to the ground and received a warm welcome from the officials at Southport. They really are one of the nicest clubs in a league where it is not uncommon to receive a harsh reception from match day stewards, who seem to have been informed that Bath City are The Conference’s answer to Galatasaray. Well done and thank you to all at Haig Avenue!

Pre-match was spent in the clubhouse watching Leeds get battered by Burnley on the telly. At half time, the bar had begun to fill up and the channel was changed to the Norwich/Arsenal game, no doubt to please the Merseyside branch of the Norwich City supporters club.

Who said there's too much money in The Premier League?

A toilet wall. Not the best place to learn your test results.

Haig Avenue is a lovely, traditional non-league ground. Apart from a single large stand, it is all-standing. The terracing is falling apart, the toilets are a health hazard and the away end is uncovered and open to the elements. It’s just like being at Twerton Park really.

We played Southport away last November. It was bitterly cold then and just as freezing yesterday. The ground had an eerie feel about it – mainly as the home support was so quiet. Last season, more of the vocal away fans made the trip. The fact these fans stayed in Bath this time made even the away end deadly quiet.

Woodern terracing. I like.

Two stewards were placed with the travelling supporters to ensure no pensioner started a riot. Amusement was caused by the fact these stewards were twins. They too were disappointed by the lack of noise created by supporters, declaring “There’s more atmosphere on the moon”, before trying to drum up noise by starting songs themselves. It didn’t help matters much to be honest, but well done for trying.

The Chuckle Brothers make a comeback

"Can you hear the Southport sing? I can't hear a ....."

The game began, with the crowd still just as quiet. I must have fallen asleep, because midway through the first half, I was suddenly awoken by the sound of the ground erupting. A Southport player had dived for a penalty, which the referee turned down. Things were getting exciting.

My God it was cold at Southport. So very cold. At half time, I braved the tea bar. I had already paid a visit before kick off, where I had asked for a soup, but was given a cup tea. This time I fancied a coffee, so waited in anticipation while a plastic cup was filled with hot water and something else. I stood on a terrace, drinking what I believed to be coffee, while listening to speakers blasting out The Liquidator by Harry J All-Stars. It was just like being at Chelsea.


The second half was a bit more exciting. Well, just a bit. More chances were created on the pitch and some supporters even braved an attempt at a song. Then the game came alive. Lewis Hogg, one of the few remaining players from Bath City’s days of The Southern League, curled in an excellent cross for on-loan Sean Canham to head into Southport’s net. City players launched themselves into the terraces, while fans jumped towards the pitch. Somebody was no doubt lost in the melee and will now spend the rest of their life in the fourth dimension.

The Southport players woke up and began bombarding the City goal. Being at the opposite end of the pitch, it was awful to watch. Every time a cross was swung into the box, I waited for an explosion of noise from the Southport fans, confirming a goal. It was like sitting in a dentist’s waiting room. You know you’re going to feel pain, it’s just when it’ll take place.

Then the inevitable happen. In the 89th pissing minute of all times. Tony Gray’s volley breaking City hearts. Gutting. I couldn’t give a shit at this point. We had thrown away 2 points. The chance to climb to the dizzy heights of 23rd in the league was gone. The Southport winner a few minutes later did little to change the mood. For the first time all season I began to fear relegation.

This way to the Conference South?

The coach journey back was a depressing one, but not unexpected. Bottom of the league. 3 points snatched away. Even the most optimistic of fans, dismissing any chances of ‘the great escape’. If a Hollywood director was to make a movie about our season, it would no doubt star Nicholas Cage, because it would be abysmal. I’m sure I’ll feel more positive in days to come, but right now it’s gutting.

I arrived back at my flat just before 10pm. Went to bed. Too tired for Match of the Day, yet alone The Football League Show.

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