Posted by sean on May 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm in Bath City, Ventures Outside Of Bath with No Comments


* until next season, or maybe even next weekend if I go to Hereford/Torquay.

Alfreton Town 2-1 Bath City
Conference National
Saturday 28th April 2012 – 13:00

So that’s that over with. After 92 games of Conference National football; 8,280 minutes against (usually) decent opposition; 107 goals scored, 157 conceded; Bath City’s two year stay in the top tier of non-league football is over; ending pretty much as we started it – a disappointing 2-1 away defeat to a team with a ground more suited to the division below. Back in August 2010 it was Hayes and Yeading United who beat us. Last weekend, the victors were Alfreton Town.

Everyone is more than aware of the contrast between our first season in the Blue Square Bet Premier and our second. During the first season miracles were performed by players and management alike. This season, Bath City found their level – second from bottom in a very competitive league, involving clubs with fan bases larger than many League One teams, with owners richer than some in the Premier League. On hindsight, barring a second miracle, relegation was inevitable, although still very much disappointing.

Despite being some 160-miles from Bath, compared to a lot of our away games, Alfreton is one of the more “local” trips. However, we had to leave Twerton Park at the very unwelcome time of 7.30am for a 1pm kick off. Why? Thanks to the satellite TV station, Premier Sports, wishing to broadcast another game in the same division and those loveable guys at the Football Conference insisting every club kicks off at the same time on the final day. So Premier Sports, who have given Bath City Football Club a grand total of £0.00 this season, moved our game to 1pm. Bastards.

Man, those turnstiles have style!

The final trip of the season on the supporters coach, also known as First Pink Bus, was an eventful one. By that I mean not a lot happened. The 50/50 draw was held. I didn’t win. I haven’t won it all year. Sums up our season. Excitement broke out when a puddle of liquid was spotted on the coach floor. Either one of the many elderly travellers had lost control of their bladder, or a Thermos flask had exploded. I was told it was the latter. As my shoes were within the puddle of fluid, I really hope it was the latter.

The coach dropped us in Alfreton town centre, where we were greeted by three chickens walking down the street and across the road. That’s right, chickens walking across the road. There’s a joke there somewhere, but I’m not funny enough to work it out.

The town is a 15 minute walk from the football ground and I was feeling a little lazy, but the attraction of a Weatherspoons was too much to take – a pub renowned for selling Thatcher’s Gold cider, instead of Magners and Strongbox. Sadly, there was no Thatcher’s. Stowford Press was however sufficient and was enjoyed with a cheese and tomato toastie, with chips. I know how to dine.

The ground, like Twerton Park, is traditional. There is no segregation, you can switch ends at half time, and if you’re tight-fisted, you can even watch the match for free on an embankment outside the ground. I paid the more than reasonable £13 at the turnstile.

The cheapskate stand

Just like the good old days of Southern League (and what we will be doing next season), we stood behind the goal which we were attacking. Presumably unaware of this tradition, we were surrounded by home supporters, one of whom asked their partner “Are we sure we’re in the Alfreton side?” as a travelling army of 20(ish) vocal fans sung “Come on City!”

All respect for Alfreton’s non-league traditions was soon lost after they scored. The awful sound, which has become all too familiar in this league, was boomed across the terraces – the sound of The Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger, as was played six pissing times at Grimsby where we lost 6-0.

I’m not really sure how the goal occurred. If you’re expecting a match report on this blog, you should know better by now. I know 1-0 soon became 2-0 after Gethin Jones generously gifted an Alfreton forward the ball for their second goal.

Alfreton's furry mascot and a man dressed up as a bear

Bath City were awarded a penalty shortly afterwards. Scott Murray, making his final appearance for the club and indeed in football, wrestled the ball from regular spot-kick taker (and my player of the year), Marc Canham. Something I was not too happy about. Canham has a 100% success rate from the penalty spot this season and while Muray has had an exciting career, the vast majority of it has been at Bristol City. Why should Bath City risk a result because he wants to go out on a high? Luckily, Murray scored. The keeper did dive the right way, but there was too much power in the shot. Had it been saved, I would have been angry. Very angry.

Bath City fans, delighted that they had actually seen a goal – somewhat of a rarity this season – broke out in song “We’re going to win 3-2”, before the ever-pessimistic, yet legendary supporter, Mike York, told his brother, Brain,”I bet we don’t” A few kicks were thrown – between the players, not Mike and Brian – and the classic anti-P.C. chant of “You dirty northern bastards” was sung by the travelling faithful. Sung, while surrounded by hundreds of home fans. A home supporter did ask them to refrain from swearing as there were children present – a fair, but pointless request, as there was more chance of Bath City winning promotion to League Two next season than the fans laying off the naughty words.

Hardcore support

At the end of the first half, we switched ends, walking the length of the ground to stand behind the opposite goal. A warning message was read out on the tannoy to all those in the stadium “Please do not encroach onto the pitch” the club clearly shitting themselves at the prospect of Alfreton fans celebrating surviving relation and Bath City supporters celebrating going down, by all running onto the pitch and causing mayhem. No sooner had the request been made, a large group of City fans began singing “On the pitch, on the pitch, on the pitch!”. There was no pitch invasion that day, but the threat of one certainly scared the stewards.

City were excellent in the second half and did everything but score. The best chance came late in the second half when Alex Russell only had to tap the ball into the net, but failed miserably. Russell has scored some fantastic and memorable goals for us, but it is clear that he is one of these players who only scores wonder-strikes.

As the remaining minutes were slugged out and Bath City’s time in the Conference drew to a close, Mike York eagerly informed all supporters than Alfreton Town would be turning fulltime next season. Something which is yet to be confirmed. He added that they will also win the league. Something which will never happen. Good old Mike, we’ll miss him in the summer months.

Final ever match shot from the Blue Square Bet Pre... whatever that stupid league is called

After City totally dominated the entire second half, Alfreton nearly scored a third goal. They didn’t score. We only lost 2-1, however it would have been very fitting of our season if, deep into injury time, we had let in a third. In fact the City players probably should have let one in, just for a laugh.

The referee blew for full time on the game, the season and our time in the horribly named Blue Square Bet Premier. Next season it’s the equally annoyingly titled Blue Square Bet South. Hopefully with a few more wins to enjoy. It’s been a fun couple of seasons in the big boys league. I’ll probably write a deep and meaningful season review in the upcoming weeks. I’m also hoping to catch a couple more non-City games this season, so Sean’s Stories shouldn’t be put back onto the bookshelf (or into the bin) quite yet.

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