Posted by sean on April 25, 2012 at 9:28 pm in Bath City with No Comments

Bath City 4-2 Gateshead
Conference National
Saturday 21st April 2012 – 15:00

Saturday saw the final home game of what has been a disappointing season at Twerton Park. The visitors were Gateshead, who had made the very long trip to Somerset from the north east – even longer than my previous week’s journey to Darlington.

Pre-match, I visited the old club shop. The old club shop is a blue shipping container, which up until a couple of years ago supplied supporters with metal badges, mugs and best of all, fridge magnets. Since getting promoted to the ‘big boys league’, Bath City have upgraded their shopping experience to a dog food marquee. The shipping container remains in its original location and is used by the Supporters Club as a base on match days. The purpose of my visit was to hand in my voting form for the player, supporter and young supporter of the season. This was all done with the highest security, to prevent any vote-rigging or foul play. While I won’t post on here which supporters I voted for (they may read my blog!), my player of the season was an easy decision – Marc Canham. A great player, who can even be forgiven for playing for Team Bath all those years ago.

City’s opponents, Gateshead, were having an excellent season and sat just outside the play offs. A remarkable feat for a club who, and with the up-most respect, would not be considered one of the league giants like Luton or rolling in money á la Fleetwood. They did however need a win to keep their play off dreams alive. Surely a trip to the side bottom of the league would be a guaranteed 3 points? In fact, they should just give the first team the weekend off in preparation for their upcoming midweek fixture. Send the youth team to Bath? Football isn’t like that, as we all know.

Bath City’s first season in the Conference South, back in 2007, was a huge success. The majority of the campaign was spent in the top five and talk of back-to-back promotions was rife. That fairy tale ended in April 2008, during the final home game of the season, when Sutton United, who were cemented to the foot of the table and already relegated, beat City 3-2 in a result that shocked world football (probably). The defeat cost us a play off spot and coincidentally almost four years to the day, Bath City, bottom of the league and already down, ruined Gateshead’s party. I guess that’s why we love (and at times hate) football.

After casting my vote, I walked round to the terrace behind the dugouts to watch the magic unfold. Bladud the Pig got into an altercation with Gateshead’s keeper during the warm up. Very strange. Clear red card for the pig. A dangerous two-trotted challenge.

Gateshead started the game well and gave little indication as to what would unfold across the 90 minutes. They even forced City into clearing a ball off the line. Then Bath turned on the style in a performance no doubt the best of the season. Adam Connolly, the goal hero against Dagenham and villain who messed up my bet against Fleetwood, scored what a Twerton Park moaner would call a “pretty good goal”. In comparison, I would call it a “fucking fantastic strike”.

It would appear that God is a Geordie. As following City taking the lead, what was a warm sunny afternoon, turned wet with rain. God was clearly crying as Gateshead’s play off dream started to die.

As God’s tears fell to the Twerton Park turf, Bath City continued their attack. Minutes later winning a penalty, awarded by referee Stephen Bratt who was still overcome with guilt following his last trip to Bath (I hope he got my letter). The spot kick was converted by the player of the season, Marc Canham and City were 2-0 up. Just so you’re aware, folks; the clock at this point reads just 8 minutes!

The singing started, with The Legion entertaining the ground with a rendition of “We’re all going on a trip to Boreham Wood” Excellent. You can stick your Luton and your Wrexham up your arse. I’m looking forward to away days at Staines, Tonbridge Angels and Weston Super Mare… OK, maybe not that last one!

Match shot

Either somebody had put something in the players’ pre-match cup of tea, or I have been looking at the league table upside down all season, as Bath City were playing fantastic football and in just the 13th minute, yes 13, it was 3-0. Was I dreaming? Had I in fact had the hallucinogenic cup of tea? I checked my iPhone for confirmation. We were winning 3-0! At this point there were just three sets of people upset in the ground. Gateshead players, Gateshead supporters and the negative Bath City fans. They were upset because there was absolutely nothing to moan about! You could argue the referee, Stephen Bratt was saddened by our winning margin, given his previous treatment of us, but even he seemed happy.

By the way, for anyone reading my blog who also happened to visit Twerton for the first time on Saturday, I must tell you something. Despite our league position, we play like that EVERY week. I promise. So, if you’re a billionaire who wants to find a sleeping giant of a football club that plays such attractive football they make Barcelona look like Stoke, you know where to chuck your spare coppers.

It was only at half time I realised than Gateshead’s star striker, Jon Shaw was playing. The way some fans, newspapers and websites raved about him, you would have thought they had bloody Pele playing for them. I guess the stats don’t lie. 28 league goals. But Bath City managed to make him look ordinary. Is there still time to win the league, as I think we may give Fleetwood a run for their money? No? Bollocks.

The ever-impressive City continued their dominance and Sean Canham – no relation to Marc Canham (player of the season) – scored a header to make it 4-0.

Gateshead did manage to get a couple of goals back, just to give me a few nerves. After all, what’s a football match if you’re not given a minor heart scare during the course of the 90 minutes. If nothing else, it gave the moaning old men something to whinge about “Roll-o again” they complained. I hate it when people call him that. It’s “Jim Rollo”, not “Roll-o” He isn’t the name of a chocolate sweet. The only person who is allowed to mispronounce his name, and does so only a frequent basis, is the manager Adie Britton.

We were happy. Very happy. The Legion sang how we would stay up and Adie even raised a rare smile from the dugout. A nice sight as he always looks so stressed. It is clear how much the football club means to him. He even managed to share a joke with the referee, reminding him of his performance in the Alfreton game. At least I think he was joking.

Gateshead tried for the third goal, which lead to repeated groans of “Come on, City. Keep ‘em out!” from a nearby fan I have now named Mr. Grumble, however City did a professional job and kept the scoreline at 4-2. An excellent performance and 3 rare points.

Scott Murray won man of the match. He did well, but given the fact it was his last home game of his long career, it was inevitable he would win the honour this week. In fact, had he scored an own goal, broken Marc Canham’s leg, mispronounced “Roll-o” and got sent off, he would still have got the champagne at full time.

The club house at full time was packed. All it takes is a win and the place fills up. Fans, hearing rumours that fellow strugglers Kettering had dropped points, gathered around the projector, waiting for Jeff Stelling to bring good news about our league position. A cheer erupted when our thoughts were confirmed. After 8 months in 24th place, Bath City had moved up to the dizzy heights of 23rd! Cue scenes of unprecedented joy and songs of “We’re not bottom anymore!” I love non-league.

Take a good look at the sign. You won't see it again. *sniff sniff*

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