Posted by sean on August 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm in Bath City, Ventures Outside Of Bath with No Comments

* these blog titles are not going to get any better. This is the standard, sorry.

Welling United 1-1 Bath City
Conference South
Saturday 18th August 2012 – 15:00

What is the best way to start the new football season? Bearing in mind this is a football season following relegation the previous year. Answer: NOT stuck on a coach, gridlocked on the M25 in temperatures hotter than Africa. That was the price the loyal supporters still following Bath City paid to watch their team at Welling United this weekend. That and £22 coach fare, £10 Supporters Club Membership and £12 admittance to the ground. The spiralling cost of modern day football.

Will miss the photoshoot. Gutted. That’s my season ruined.

When the coach eventually pulled up and parked on the main road outside Welling’s Park View Road ground, there was no time to go hunting for a pub. It was a case of head towards the clubhouse, pray that they selling decent cider and are showing the Leeds game.

Turnstile shot

Alas, there was no Sky Sports or good cider. Just Bulmers. Even Mansfield Town sold Thatcher’s Gold. I reluctantly agreed to have a pint and my mood was slightly raised when I found out it was only £2 a bottle. I supped my lukewarm fake-cider, while sharing a table with a Welling old-boy, who told me of his side’s successful preseason campaign and disappointing play off final defeat to their bitter rivals, Dartford (scum, scum, scum).

No Sky Sports. Cheapskates.

A single team sheet arrived at the bar, to which dozens of supporters crowded around, as if it was the holy-grail, all trying to get their grubby hands on it. There was excitement when Bath City’s new signing, Kurtis Guthrie was listed on the bench. Apparently Guthrie spent some time at Park View Road. When I asked a Welling fan about his performance, the home supporter replied “He moved on”. Yup, we’ve had lots of those at Bath City. Most of those are at Paulton Rovers these days.

City showed off their new yellow and blue kit, while Welling wore their fancy new red shirt. This caused minor confusion amongst many Bath City fans, well me, as Welling’s home shirt looked almost identical to our away strip from last season.

Last season’s condiments, anyone?

The game kicked off and the fans from each side swapped ends, walking past the main stand to get behind the opposition goal and wind up the goalkeeper. Unsegregated grounds. One of the few perks of relegation.

Match shot

Welling started well and forced our goalkeeper, Glyn Garner, to make a save on the line. Luckily for us Bath City fans, Welling’s goalie was not quite as good, as  new City signing, Aaron Brown, beat what seemed like every single outfield player, before lobbing the hapless keeper who tipped the ball into his own net. If you doubt my somewhat hazy recollection, the highlights are here.

As the goal was scored, the keeper slumped to the floor and City fans ran from the terraces to console mock the butter-fingered player, who would, for the remainder of the match, be referred to as “dodgy keeper” whenever he went anywhere near the ball.

Bath City defender, Gethin Jones, watches from the sidelines

Towards the end of the first half, a Welling player fell to the ground. Either he had been shot by a nearby sniper, or he wanted a rest. Some fans, clearly very concerned for the player’s wellbeing, sang the Casualty theme tune as a physio ran onto the pitch to treat the stricken patient.

During half time, word got around that Liverpool were losing at West Brom and even more breaking news, Frome Town were beating AFC Totton. Unbelievable, Jeff.

Bath City’s leading goalscorer

The second half was mostly spent watching Welling attack the Bath City goal at the other end of the pitch. It was somewhat reminiscent of last season at times, although admittedly City did appear a lot more organised. Unlike last season, manager Adie Britton made a tactical substitution, in the process changing the formation to “four-four-f**king-two”. Even more incredible was when veteran striker, Charlie Griffin, was substituted for youth team player, Noah Keats. “Impressive, is that” would no doubt be the words of Yoda if he were a Bath City fan.

Not so impressive was our defending when Welling managed to equalise. A scramble in the box after some good attacking play from the home side. Déjà vu, anyone?

The remainder of the game was an onslaught on the City goal. I watched in fear, not really knowing what was going on (due to standing at the opposite end of the pitch), dreading the cheer of the home crowd as the jumped to celebrate a winner.

A Welling reserve player. Not a fans’ favourite. Runs about like a headless chicken.

City did manage to push for a second goal themselves, Guthrie causing his former club a few problems and creating chances that unfortunately no Bath City striker was able to get on the end of.

The game ended 1-1. A fair result, although slightly disappointing considering we were leading at one point.

Heading back to the coach, I was incredibly thirsty. No doubt a combination of standing in the hot sun and drinking fake-cider. A can of ice cold Coca Cola was ordered from the burger van. A woman, dripping with sweat and scrubbing a deep fat fryer looked at me slightly annoyed for having the cheek to buy a drink after the match had finished. She took a pound from me and handed over a tin of Pepsi which felt hotter than a cup of tea. Eugh…

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