Posted by sean on October 7, 2012 at 8:36 pm in Bath City, Ventures Outside Of Bath with No Comments

Buckland Athletic 1-2 Bath City
FA Cup – 2nd Qualifying Round
Saturday 22nd September 2012 – 15:00

Let’s not beat around the bush here, after a very encouraging start to the season, which saw Bath City top of the league in August, things have gone downhill somewhat. After a very poor performance at Bromley, a home game against Dover Athletic followed. We lost, and although the injury-plagued team came in for some harsh criticism from many supporters, I don’t think the performance was nearly as bad at the previous week in Kent, or the second half against Dorchester weeks earlier. The mid-table position is, however, disappointing.

Spot the dog

What can be done to lighten the mood of the club and reignite the season? The return of everyone’s favourite cup competition, of course. Nope, not the Somerset Premier Cup (that’s in November), the FA Cup. Bath City are renowned for being famous in the FA Cup. Generally famously good or famously bad. The likes of Cardiff City, Hereford United and Grimsby Town have all been victims of ‘giant killing’; whereas Bath City themselves have been slain by smaller teams, most notably, in recent years Aylesbury United and Swindon Supermarine.

Trophy cabinet avec trophies. Clearly not the property of Tottenham Hotspur

The draw for the second qualifying round was kind. Or so we thought. An away tie at Western Premier Division side, Buckland Athletic – three divisions below the Conference South. The draw was greeted with optimism, with many supporters convinced that we had been effectively handed a bye. Buckland’s FA Cup replay against potential opponents, Plymouth Parkway saw them win 5-1. A 7-1 victory days later in the FA Vase started to get the nerves going. We may have never heard of Buckland, but they could certainly score goals and didn’t look like they were prepared to roll over and have their bellies ticked by Adie Britton.

The coach journey down was like many other this season, expect we didn’t stop at Reading services (somewhat of a diversion to Devon). There was a 50/50 draw, which I didn’t win (I never do), Brian York entertained us all, while his brother, Mike (ever the optimist), said the match would be the hardest FA Cup tie we have ever played in the club’s history. He’s right; Stoke City are dog shit compared to Buckland Athletic!

The coach arrived at the ground at what was apparently the car park. It was so close to the pitch, you could have watched the entire match from your seat, while munching on prawn sandwiches. As we left the coach, we were asked to cough up our entrance fee, no turnstiles here. A more than reasonable £6 to get in plus £1.50 for a programme, which was quite simply superb. Not only is it better than any programme in our league, but also the Conference National, where you generally expect to pay £3 for a magazine of adverts and a few pen pics.

Entrance fee paid and programme in hand, I went to the clubhouse. A recent build and much like the programme, excellently presented and better than most club bars at far higher levels. I was impressed. My only disappointment was the selection of ciders on offer, as I had to resort to drinking Olde English. After collecting my pint, I was annoyed to see a fine selection of real ales, which I would have certainly gone for had I noticed them about 30 seconds earlier! I complimented my drink with sausage and chips – freshly prepared and at a bargain £2. Again, compared to nearly all the places in Bath City’s current league and the Conference National, the food is far better quality and value. Clubs like Luton Town with their awful franchised catering should be ashamed.

The clubhouse. NOT a photo from Brian York’s wedding.

After leaving the club house, I had my now usual pre-match chat with assistant manager, Lee Howells. We discussed the forthcoming game, journey down and when Ken Bates would step down as Leeds chairman. Sadly, as I write this, three days two weeks later, he’s still there.

The game kicked off with Bath City creating an excellent chance inside the first 40 seconds, Charlie Griffin chipping the goalkeeper, only to see his effort go over the bar. Another chance was created later on in the half, where he hit the post. Mike York reminded us of the strength of Buckland’s shot-stopper “he’s the best keeper in the league”. They always are.

The best place to dine in Devon

Most worrying was not the fact Bath City were not scoring, but the fact Buckland were creating many chances themselves, including forcing Glyn Garner to make an excellent save, before missing an open goal themselves. Indeed, I felt relieved when the referee blew for half time with the scoreline at 0-0.

Match shot

An honourable mention to one group of Buckland fans who provided the best comeback chant ever. It was so poor it was excellent. With the City fans singing “We are the Bath, we are the Bath”, the home supporters replied with the ingenious “You aren’t the Bath, you aren’t the Bath”. Such wit. Almost as funny as the remark about us being Jeremy Guscott loving rugby fans. We’ve never heard that one before… naaaaat!

The second half kicked off much like the first ended, with City looking nervous and Buckland pressing for a goal… which they then got! An excellent strike which keeper, Glyn Garner, could do nothing about. Some of our fans complained and demanded a free kick for a foul on our Garner. There was no foul. Buckland had scored fair and square.

The die-hards

The goal must have acted as a wake-up call as City started playing. They bloody had to. They were less than 40 minutes away from being knocked out of the cup and effectively ending their season. No win means no cup run, and no cup run means no money for the club, and no money for the club means no money for players, and no money for players means a rubbish league season. Make sense? Good.

Bath City made it 1-1 with a great strike from Aaron Brown. Relief all round. The relief became joy-cum-get-out-of-jail minutes later when Luke Cummings’ cross met Kurtis Guthrie’s afro who made it 2-1. Let’s go crazy! We’re going to Wembley!

Buckland did not give up, despite having thrown away the lead and pressed for an equaliser, which they nearly got. Meanwhile, young Kurtis had a row with the linesman for failing to award a throw in his way “Fuckin’ hell!” he yelled at the official “Grow a pair!”

While I am unable to comment on the number of testicles attached to the linesman, I can agree with Guthrie in that he was a bit of a plonker (to put it in gentleman’s terms). I even had a “red mist” moment of my own when he flagged a Bath City player offside when he was blatantly level. Hooligan.

“Oi, Lino!!!”

Bath City went on to win the game 2-1. If you have been clever enough to notice the unacceptable lateness of my blog being posted (over 2 weeks old), you’ll also be aware Bath City are still in the cup (just), having drawn against Gosport Borough at home yesterday (6th October). Therefore, it’s all ‘daannn saaarrrfff’ for the replay on Tuesday night. Annoyingly, it looks like there will be insufficient support to run a coach (announcement due tomorrow; so check the forum, folks). Especially enraging for me as some Gosport club official promised me a free drink from their clubhouse.

Where my next blog will be from, who knows. Hopefully not Tonbridge Angels in the league, as it’ll mean we lost to Gosport. Is it too soon to dream of Sheffield United away in the 1st Round? Yes it most certainly is.

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