Bath City 1-1 Mansfield Town
Saturday 26th November 2011 – 15:00
When Bath City announced that the match against Mansfield Town would be “Kids Day”, I was worried that the club’s mascot, Bladud the Pig, had flown (get it? pig… flown..) off to Swineford with the playing budget; therefore leaving Bath City with no option but to field a youth team (a la Weymouth/Rushden).
Thankfully, this was not the case. The Bath City Kids Day simply meant that children would gain free entry to the ground. I am strongly against age discrimination. I will therefore be charging any child under the age of 12 for reading my blog. The cost will be £4.00 – the amount they would have saved getting in free yesterday. I will accept payments in installments.
Upon arrival at Twerton Park, the children were presented with a ‘Pig Bug’ * . Mothers of children at the game were also given a bouquet of flowers, although I think the mum-to-flower-ratio was not correctly envisaged, as embarrassed players were seen handing out excess bouquets to anyone they believed to be of the opposite sex and not necessarily of child-bearing age.
* no novelty gifts will be awarded to those reading my blog
I was excited to hear that goalkeeper Jason Matthews was in the starting lineup. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against our regular shotstopper, Glyn Garner, but ‘Jase’ is a non-league legend and I strongly believed that he deserved a chance to prove himself at Twerton Park. After failing to find a place in the first team (apart from one appearance in the Somerset Cup), Jason almost left for Salisbury City last week, but the deal collapsed and the legend remains at Bath City.
Mansfield brought an impressive number of away supporters; almost 150 Stags made the journey from Nottinghamshire. Much credit and respect goes their way. There is no credit however to the away fan with the drum; although I do suspect he simply found the instrument in the away end, left behind by a careless Dagenham fan on Wednesday. The drum is now in the Bath City FC Lost Property Bin, along with various pairs of referee spectacles, underpants (used by players who forget their kit) and Luke Prince –who arrived on loan from Salisbury City in 2008 and went missing in the Bath City midfield.
The game started well and was certainly no boar (back with the pig puns). Bath City soon took the lead, but in typical fashion of a team bottom of the table, conceded shortly after. Mansfield’s goal was somewhat bizarre, a misplaced cross finding its way into the net. The wind will claim the goal, with the dubious goals panel deciding who to award it to on Monday. Of course, non-league legend Jason Matthews had no chance of saving the strike from Mother Nature and was not to blame.
We had “that woman” back reffin’ the game -the same one who took charge of the match against Stockport last month. Cue witty and very original shouts of “get back in the kitchen” from a Bernard Manning tribute act. Amy Fearn was not as bad as some of the officials we have had in recent times, but did make some cost-worthy decisions in Mansfield’s favour – including disallowing a late Bath City goal, which I believe should have stood. I think Mrs (or Ms) Fearn was just upset that she wasn’t presented with a bouquet of flowers before the game and had a vendetta against Bath City from kick off.
The second half was one of the most one-sided games of football I have seen in a long time. Bath City battered Mansfield’s goal, but were sadly unable to score. Well, they did score, but the referee disallowed it.
At fulltime, I congratulated Jason Matthews on his ‘world class’ performance (if Alan Shearer can use that term on Match of the Day every week, so can I). We had a chat about the game, his future at the club and the season ahead – great bloke on and off the pitch.
Jason then joined his team mates for the usual post match meal, served in school dinner trays at the corner of the club house. This week’s offering appeared to be curry and chips, lovingly cooked by the female referee
Bath City 1-3 Dagenham & Redbridge (AET)
FA Cup – Round 1 Replay
Wednesday 24th November 2011 – 19:15
Last Monday, while shopping in town, I received a text message from Simon “great news about City!” As I was not near a computer and my iPhone had decided to lose its internet connection, I was unaware of any good fortune coming the way of the mighty Romans.
Thoughts started rushing through my head about what could have happened. Perhaps Scrooge McDuck (of Duck Tales fame) had decided invest his swimming pool of golden coins in Bath City.
Sadly, Scrooge McDuck is a twat and would sooner bankroll Duckburg United than us.
Despite the disappointing news that an animated duck would not be buying Bath City, I was lightened to hear that the club’s replay against Dagenham and Redbridge would be televised on ESPN, with over £33k going to the club.
Following the announcement, Bath City was thrown into mass hysteria. The club’s official Facebook and Twitter pages exploded with photos of ugly, sweaty, middle-aged men putting up scaffolding which would later be used by the camera crew. It was the biggest news to hit the club since they started selling doughnuts in the tea bar.
So there it was, my chance to be shown on TV watching football. The first opportunity since… well, April, when Leeds played Reading. This was different though. This was at Twerton Park – Fortress Twerton, where unfortunately the drawbridge has been left down for most of the season. Plus it was The Magic of the FA Cup – sponsored by Budd Wise Urrrggghhh…
Match day arrived. I arrived at the Twerton Park earlier than normal. Due to TV scheduling, ESPN had moved the kick off time to from 7.45pm to 7.15pm. Typical television companies – they never think about the true fans who attend the games. If we’re on telly again, I wouldn’t be surprised to have kick off moved to 2am, just to satisfy the Australian TV market.
Twerton Park had certainly been transformed by the camera crew. There was more electrical equipment in the car park than a Dixons megastore. ESPN were very brave or stupid – apparently a lot of expensive gadgets were left inside the ground the day before. This was no doubt all stolen overnight by the chavs and sold in the local pub.
After staring in awe at the cameras and a man smoking outside a broadcasting van, I went into the clubhouse for a pre-match pint of Thatchers Gold. ESPN was being piped out onto the screens on the wall. Then the picture went fuzzy and cut out. How stupid was that? Feet away from where the channel was being broadcast and you can’t get it on the Sky box.
The first half was a very scrappy affair, involving two poor sides. Despite the rather negative display, Bath City supporters created an excellent atmosphere within the stadium, no doubt entertaining all the ESPN viewers with world-renowned and much loved football chants including “Hello! Hello! We are the City boys”, “Drink up thy zyder” and everyone’s favourite, “We hate Dagenham”. Seriously, the fans, especially ‘The Legion’ were superb. More about them later.
Unfortunately, Brian Woodall of Dagenham and Redbridge did not read the metaphorical script which would see Bath City win the tie and eventually end up playing Manchester United at Old Trafford in the FA Cup Third Round. He scored. Tosser. Despite the goal, which I saw little of thanks to scaffolding obstructing my view, the fans kept up their support.
Half time was spent eating a doughnut from the tea bar (I love those doughnuts so much), while calling ex-England international, Chris Waddle, a wanker. Waddle was commentating for ESPN and according to a fellow fan, had been slagging City off throughout the game. Shut up, Waddle and look at this.
The second half was a lot better and saw City take control of the match. The noise levels increased from the singers, making Twerton Park feel electric (metaphor fans must surely be loving this blog tonight). I was stood next to a very loud and vocal Simon, who was asked to quieten down by a steward. Unbelievable. Simon politely pointed out that we were watching a football match. The steward was about five foot tall and looked about 12. Had things kicked off, he would have been about as much use as sea anemone in a fight with a great white shark. Simon continued his support of his local side, while the steward stood, dreaming of a transfer to Stamford Bridge where he could watch a football match in a nice, tranquil surrounding.
Then Bath City scored – Adam Connolly with an excellent strike from just outside the box. It was amazing. The crowd went crazy. One fan got a little too carried away – when Connolly’s strike hit the net, a young supporter in front of us shat himself – or at least that’s what it smelt like. This was no fart, it was a case of “Mummy, I’ve made chocolate pudding in my Huggies Pull-ups”. If you saw me on ESPN and I looked tearful, it wasn’t due to the emotion of the match, but the stench of fresh faeces in the air, making my eyes water. The shit had gone down and this time, it wasn’t a metaphor.
The game went to extra time with the score at 1-1. The excitement had died down a bit at this point. Spirits were lifted however, when a morbidly obese Dagenham fan exited the ground past the vocal home supporters. Chants of “You fat bastard” and “Get your tits out” rang throughout across Twerton Park. The rotund fan tried to act like he didn’t care, by offering to fight every single Bath City supporter, but I bet he went to bed crying… with a Mars bar.
With the first half of extra time drawing to a close and the thought of penalties entering the minds of fans and players alike, the referee suddenly contracted brain damage, or “shit referee syndrome”. Dagenham forward, Jon Nurse, a country mile offside (so much so he was in France) found the ball at his feet and scored. 2-1 to The Daggers. 2-1 soon became 3-1 as City threw men forward. Game over. Cup over. Season over.
At fulltime, the singers stayed behind supporting their team for 20 minutes until they were eventually kicked out by the stewards. The chairman asked the fans to leave too – we had just lost £18,000 of FA Cup prize money, no way did she want to pay the stewards overtime to supervise The Legion Carol Service – although it would have been worth every penny.
I felt so proud I could have cried. The player’s performance in the second half was one of the best efforts I have seen all season. The supporters did themselves and the club proud. Bath City are in a shit position in the league and probably will be relegated. I know the league table doesn’t lie and we are bottom because we have lost the most amount of games, but I can’t help but feel, we are not the crappiest side in the league.
I left the ground, still emotional. Went to bed. Didn’t sleep. Went to work on Thursday tired.
For those of you who read my blog and actually care about football, highlights of the match can be found here. Warning: contains footage of a referee being a twat.
Southport 2-1 Bath City
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Christmas shopping in town. One of the most stressful situations known to man.
The trouble with Christmas shopping is that it has to be done, yet the longer you leave it, the more traumatic it becomes. Shopping in November is upsetting; early December, terrifying; while leaving it until Christmas Eve is enough to drive a man to murder.
That is why I decided to do all mine this week. Most of which took place on a cold, Monday afternoon in Bath.
Every single person in town that day found a way to piss me off. Every single person. First of all the shop assistants. I must have a look about me which says “Shop lifter”, because upon entering a shop and examining an item, someone working within the store would appear, as if by magic, asking if they could help me. What they were really saying was “Get your hands off that DVD! I know what you’re up to!” I half expected Tubbs from The League of Gentlemen to jump out from behind a cupboard shouting “Don’t touch the precious things!”
Then there are the charity muggers or chuggers as some people call them. I have heard other C-words used in their direction too. I make it perfectly clear I don’t wish to engage in conversation with these people, by politely walking a safe distance from them. Why is it then that they proceed to chase me up the high street, past WHSmith, to have a “quick two minute chat” They don’t want a chat. They want my bank account details so they can send five pounds a month to help blind cats. Seriously, how can my money help a cat which can’t see? They’re not exactly going to buy it a guide dog. I have nothing against charity, in fact I made a donation to one that same day. It was for breast cancer – a much more worthy cause than one which helps short-sighted felines get a pair of contact lenses.
The other set of people to ‘grind my gears’, are the shoppers themselves – arrogant, selfish people who live in their own little world where only they exist. Herds of mothers who walk side-by-side, four pushchairs taking up the entire pavement, causing me to walk into the road and nearly get run over by a Morrisson’s lorry. Has nobody taught them such etiquette as single-file walking? We were always told to do that in school when using the corridors. No running either. Or bubble gum.
People who walk out of shops, straight onto the street, oblivious to whoever they may crash into also annoy me. I hope one day both they and the pushchair wielding mothers collide. It’ll be a messy scene with lots of blood.
Luckily I got most of the Christmas shopping done. The rest online, courtesy of Play.com and Amazon. This should be on its way in the next day or two, unless the postman nicks it.
Bath City 1-1 Dagenham & Redbridge
FA Cup – Round 1
Saturday 12th November 2011 – 15:00
The world’s greatest cup competition returned on Saturday. Two weeks earlier, the FA Cup draw sent The Romans on a trip to Dagenham & Redbridge – a place I had never been to before. I knew it was in Essex and Stacey Solomon came from there, so expected a cross between this and this.
As it was the FA Cup, there was huge interest. Two coaches were filled with die-hard City fans. Even more travelled independently. Away support has been poor in the league this season and less that 30 fans have booked to go to the less-glamorous Southport in the league next week. Don’t get me started on those fans who only show up on the big occasion, or I’ll swear.
The coach made the trip along the M4. A familiar route during Bath City’s days in the Conference South and one we’ll probably be making about 20 times next season (see the league table). The coach was ‘buzzing’. You could feel the anticipation in the air. Even the surrounding wildlife was unable to contain its excitement, with a bird flying head first into the coach, smearing brain down the side of the window. I guess that’s what they call ‘The magic of the FA Cup’
On route we stopped at Clacket Lane services. I like this service station. It sounds like if should be a name of a character in the TV sitcom Father Ted. “Now Dougal, make sure you don’t act like an egit when Father Paddy Clacket comes round for tea”.
I bought a baguette in the service station. £4.10. I’m sure there are places in Mayfair and Park Lane where I can get a 3-course meal for that price. According to the label, the baguette was freshly made by Nicole. Pity Nicole had used a week-old loaf and processed cheese. I ate it anyway. You don’t know what food these football grounds serve up, so have to make do with overpriced service station rubbish.
We got to the game after the traditional tour of the town (basically, the coach driver got lost again). There was then mass confusion on arrival, when fans who ordered tickets in advance found themselves in the same queue as supporters buying tickets on the day. Mayhem. Somehow everything got sorted out and we made our way into the bar. It was one of these clubhouses where you had to pay to get in. 50 pence. This naturally caused various grumbles amongst the travelling supporters “If we get a replay, we should charge them £500 to get into our bar” I seem to recall one fan muttering.
I was disappointed but not surprised at the lack of ciders on offer. Strongbow or Bulmers. So basically, no ciders on offer. I decided to avoid both and go with Doom Bar – a lovely Cornish real ale and a more than an adequate substitute for an alcopop which brands itself as a cider. I enjoyed my drink, alongside my fellow City supporters and fans of Dagenham & Redbridge, who I found to be very pleasant and nothing like the cartoon characters in the above link I posted. They were a credit to their club. The Newport County FA Cup game against Shrewsbury was on the big screen. Since our visit to Newport in January, The Exiles have erected a new away stand, which we were able to witness in all its glory on the TV. I must admit, it looks good. I just hope it doesn’t rain as its uncovered. It probably will rain and I’ll get a cold.
After the drinks had been consumed, we made our way into the ground. Dagenham somewhat underestimated our away support for cup matches, so did not allocate us the normal large stand behind the goal. Instead, we were crammed into the 200-seater family enclosure. To be honest, that was good. We had a far better view of the game and were able to generate a fantastic atmosphere. At one point, every single fan joined in with the singing – although I think a couple wearing Bath Rugby tops refrained from participating with the “We hate rugby” song.
The match was preceded with a wonderful ceremony and moments silence to remember those soldiers who had lost their lives fighting for their country. It was perfectly observed by both sets of supporters.
When things did kick off, it wasn’t long until Bath City took the lead. Sean Canham taking advantage of a defensive mistake and following Marley Watkins’ pass, before cooly slotting the ball past the keeper…
Look at me, I’m almost writing a match report! I don’t think ‘cooly’ is a word though, or at least Bill Gates doesn’t as Microsoft Word is underlining it in red. I’m waiting for that annoying paper clip to appear asking “It looks like you are illiterate. Would you like me to help you with your spelling?”
The match carried on. Dagenham equalised. They could have scored again. Then it was half time. (See, back to my normal standard of match reporting)
There was controversy in the second half, when Marley Watkins was hauled to the ground by Dagenham’s goalkeeper. I naturally assumed it was a red card, but the referee only produced a yellow. Like 199 other Bath City fans, I was truly amazed. I hadn’t seen a decision that poor since Howard Webb last officiated a Manchester United game. By the end of the match, I had ran out of expletives to use at the referee. Shameful. Don’t worry, I washed by mouth out with Carex hand soap afterwards.
The result? Bath City drew. What does this mean? All back to Twerton Park a week today for the replay, although it is now not a week today as ESPN have decided to televise the match. Therefore it will be shown a week Wednesday. The money from the televised game will come in very handy, no doubt paying for many new goldfish in the boardroom. Oh joy.
One final word on the so-called ‘Channel of the Year’ – ITV. If you want to show highlights of the greatest cup competition in the world, please show them during the traditional Saturday night slot. Do not show a total lack of respect to the competition, the fans and clubs involved by confiding it to Sunday morning. As the Leeds fans once said, ITV is fucking shit.
On this website, you’ll find me blogging (almost) daily about everyday life, living in Bath, working with computers, and the occasional bit of football stuff thrown in.
If you're expecting The Man Booker Prize, you've come to the wrong place. If you want to read a collection of sometimes eccentric, often disturbing and rarely amusing ramblings, gorge your eyes on this.