Posted by sean on March 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm in Bath City, Ventures Outside Of Bath with 2 Comments


Stockport County 4-0 Bath City
Conference National
Saturday 24th March 2012 – 15:00

This week’s blog is probably the most difficult I have had to do since I started writing about Bath City. Throughout a very disappointing season, I have remained upbeat; defending players and management after witnessing more defeats and goals conceded than I care to remember.

Admittedly, a lot of the games have been bad. However, I have always managed to find some positive to take from a match. Even after a 6-0 drubbing away at Grimsby Town, I saw some silver lining. However, yesterday’s display at Stockport County left me dumfounded. It was quite simply appalling and it hurt – very badly.

The day began so well. It was the start of the weekend, a three day one for me. As I left my flat at 8am to make the short walk to Twerton Park, the sun was already fully out. It looked set to be a beautiful spring day, and the first away game of 2012 where the coat would be left at home.

Upon boarding the coach to Stockport, we learnt of a terrible accident on the M5, involving a collision between a lorry and a coach. As a result, our own journey had to be diverted. Since then, it has been revealed that two people have died as a result of the incident, with many still critically ill. We drove past the two vehicles involved on our way up the motorway. A very nasty sight. My thoughts go to all those involved, including their family and friends. It really puts the football events into perspective.

Midway through the journey, we stopped for a break at Stafford Services. As service station enthusiasts and travelling football fans will know, this is one of the more interesting motorway stops. Not only does it have the usual Marks & Spencer’s, Burger King and WH Smith, but also boasts its very own duck pond. We were joined by hundreds of Liverpool supporters, travelling up from the south for their side’s game against Wigan (clearly, their day was as fun as ours). I chickened out of telling them my interesting stat that Bath City have more league wins in 2012 than them.

I became a little star struck when I spotted Andy Carroll by the Krispy Kreme stand

We arrived at Stockport in enough time to explore the town and visit a nearby pub for a pre-match drink and meal. As is commonplace with most away trips outside of Somerset, the only cider on offer was Strongbow. However, on a hot afternoon, it was still enjoyed along with a decent pub lunch. As kick off approached, the pub began to fill up, with many fans gathering around the TV to watch what looked to be a dire game involving Chelsea and Tottenham.

You could cut the pre-match atmosphere with a knife

Stockport County play at Edgeley Park. Although now an all-seater stadium, it is a traditional football ground, which retains a lot of its charm and character from the past. County ground share with rugby union side, Sale Sharks. Apparently the ground was used for rugby the night before. While the turf was in a reasonable state, the lines on the pitch from the previous day’s game still remained. I was reliably informed that The Sharks’ next home game is, coincidentally, against Bath Rugby.

Those readers who have been following my blog for a while will remember Stockport’s visit to Twerton Park, where I excitably met their manager at the time, Dietmar Hamann. Didi has now left and has been replaced by a new boss – Jim Gannon. Gannon’s playing career may not be as illustrious as his predecessor (He was unable to help Dundalk FC to European Cup glory), but his managerial CV is a lot more noteworthy, having won promotion with County to League One in 2008, during his previous spell at the club. My favourite fact about Jim Gannon is that following Stockport’s play-off final win over Rochdale, he refused to give an interview to Sky Sports, because Sky had not fixed his broken satellite box.

Have a good look. We could be at Borehamwood next season.

The 40-50ish travelling fans were stuck in the away end, behind the goal. There was no roof, so the fact it was a glorious sunny day was much appreciated. Had it been raining, what was about to turn into a bad afternoon would have been an awful one.

Rain Ponchos - one size fits all

Prior to the match, Bath City fans had received warnings from both Grimsby and Barrow supporters about the Stockport stewards and the club’s zero-standing policy. Predictably, these warnings were ignored, and rightly so. The standing supporters were not causing any problems, were not a hazard or restricting the view of anybody else. Despite this, the stewards issued their usual requests to sit down, conform or be shot. A tannoy announcement alerted all those in the ground that “Edgeley Park is an all seater stadium”, to which the Bath City responded with a rendition of “Non-league and you know you are”. This charade continued for the majority of the first half. By half time, the stewards left the fans alone. Either out of boredom or just the fact they felt sorry for us.

Now for the bit I have been trying to put off for a while. The summary for the match. It was bad. Shockingly bad. Prior to this weekend, I would class Lincoln away as our worst performance of the season. That was surpassed yesterday. Bath City were awful. Stockport County are having a dire season themselves. They are shipping goals for fun, while struggling to score. They lost 5-0 at Southport last week. Yet somehow, Bath City managed to make one of the worst teams in the division look like Barcelona.

Can I have a match shot of the game? Certainly, sir

The warning signs were there within the first few minutes, when sloppy mistakes were made by the Bath City defenders. Chance after chance was missed by the Stockport strikers – you could tell why they too were fighting relegation.

City did in fact have a chance to take the lead. Scott Murray won the ball and started a run down the pitch. However, instead of squaring the ball to a teammate who would have put the travelling team 1-0 up, he greedily shot himself. And missed. You may be wondering why I am singling Murray out for such criticism. The reason being is that in the morning prior to the game, he, in my opinion, disrespected the club, players, management and supporters on Twitter. I’m not going to bother posting his Tweets on here. If you’re interested, you can see for yourself. However, to wish for the end of the season in March and state you are not looking forward to a game, is unacceptable. I hope the club fine him. If he doesn’t want to play for Bath City, he can leave now.

Edgeley Park prepares itself for the visit of Bath's secondary sports team

Stockport continued their onslaught of the Bath City goal and eventually, and predictably, scored. Another defensive mistake. 1-0 became 2-0 and a couple more goals followed to complete the rout. The game was played in near silence. The only sounds being the shouts from the players on the pitch, aeroplanes coming into land at Manchester Airport and the occasional yelp from a fan at one corner of the ground.

Ouch

Full time. Lost 4-0. A shambolic performance. An entire day given up. £60 spent. Did I clap the team off the pitch? Of course I did!

A number of fans stormed out the ground, jeered the players or refused to applaud their team. That is their choice and after yesterday, I can see why they would decide to do that. Do I agree with their actions? Not at all. I think they were wrong to do so, in the same way that they will think I was wrong to clap and show my appreciation at the fulltime whistle.

The players know all too well that the fans are unhappy and suffering. They are also aware that they themselves have been rubbish and let everyone down that afternoon. However, in my own opinion, you should support the team through the good times, the bad times and the very bad times.

All football fans hold different views. The only thing they really share is a love for their club and a desire to see success. Hopefully success will return to Bath City soon. In the meantime, through this disappointing period, I will continue to support my local club, home and away, and show my gratitude for the players and managerial staff who have brought me so much joy over the years. We can’t win promotion every year, but maybe in a couple of seasons we will again. When that happens, I’ll be applauding the players, just like I was at Stockport yesterday.

2 Responses to Where Do I Start?

  1. Stuart Goodier

    March 25, 2012 - 8:58 pm
    1

    nice one . . . i missed the game yesterday, sadly, however your blog about the day is the epitomy of REAL football . . . following your home town club, come what may . . . As a Stockport County fanatic, I too follow my home town club, sadly, 270,000 others don’t . . . the majority of those who do follow football from our town sadly follow the pale blue arabs down the road in MANCHESTER . . . amazingly, their marketing department once disclosed they have more SK postcode Season Ticket Holders than M postcodes!!!! That i can’t understand, ever . . . so keep up the goodwork mate and hopefully Bath will give you something to cheer about in the future . . . we too know bad times, too bl**dy many of them, but we’re still here supporting OUR TEAM . . .

    stuscfc

  2. Dave Marchbank

    March 25, 2012 - 9:02 pm
    2

    If you wanted Cider you should have gone to the old wool pack near the pyramid, they serve at least 8 hand pulled ciders there, it won the cider pub of the year.(Stockport and district CAMRA)

    wouldnt have changed the score mind you, may just have helped it feel not to bad about it.

    Best of luck for the rest of the season and the future, after the season you have had i take my hat of to you and the other fans who travelled to support your team

    Best Regards
    Dave

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