Posted by sean on December 14, 2014 at 10:01 pm in Bath City with No Comments

Since getting relegated from the Conference Premier, being a Bath City fan has been pretty shit. We’ve endured cup exits at the hands of Gosport, Chesham and East Thurrock (the latter beating us 7-1!). Gone are the trips to Luton Town, Wrexham and York City; being replaced by the likes of Boreham Wood, Concord Rangers and Billericay. Sitting at the wrong end of the league table, it doesn’t look like we’ll be going back to the big time any time soon, either. Let’s face – as supporters, we are due some fun.

The fat cats and suits at The Football Association Headquarters must have noticed our plight, and kindly drew us together with Bristol Rovers in the first round of the FA Trophy. Yes, we had to overcome Gloucester, which was far from easy, although if you have read my blog recently, you’ll see that The Romans managed it. Just.

50-something fans piled onto the coach, which took us on the short journey to BS7. It is an area I know rather well. I spent some of my early childhood years in that area of Bristol. At the time of my residence, Rovers played their football at Twerton Park. They returned to Brizzle a few years after I moved to Bath. I didn’t take it personally.

I went into the game not expecting anything. I was pleased to be attending the Memorial Stadium. I am a ground-hopper and while I have visited all the other major local football grounds, The Mem is the one that, until yesterday, had eluded me. I have told Rovers fans in the past of my desire to go to their ground. This is generally met with bemusement and the question “It’s a shithole. Why would you want to go there?”

While their ground is hardly the Bernabeu, it wasn’t too bad for lower division ground at all – although during their League One days, the likes of Leeds United and Southampton supporters would no doubt have cried about how far they themselves had fallen.

Pre-match, I enjoyed a pasty. I had heard good things about their food and I wasn’t disappointed. The only problem was what to choose from the superbly named “Irene’s Kitchen”. After eating, I made my way round to the freezing terrace, where I waited for the game to start. I arrived a little early and there must have only been around 20 fans in the away enclosure with me. Come 3 O’clock, however, the place was packed to the rafters, as they say. Over 400 away fans were in attendance – that’s more than we get at home for some league games!

The first half started well. We matched Rovers, although they did pose a threat early on. As the game progressed, I started to think that if we could see this out and get to half time, keeping the score goalless, we might be in with a chance of getting a draw.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I don’t cope very well with the cold, so I won’t go over old ground and tell you how freezing I felt during the half time interval. Needless to say, if penguins were present in the away end, they would be huddled together to keep warm.

The second half was probably the best I had seen Bath City play in years – maybe ever. We won almost every ball and tackle. Granted, by their own admission, Rovers were poor, but we more than rose to the occasion. In the past, they have referred to themselves as the Barcelona of the league. Yesterday, they made us look like Barca.

City’s first goal was scored and madness started midway through the second half – their keeper dropping the ball, allowing Chas Hemmings to open the scoring. Cue mayhem in the away end. Minutes later, we scored again. Andy Watkins, who had been causing Rovers problems all afternoon, linked up with David Pratt, before Frankie Artus somehow scored a second goal, leading to crazy batshit scenes all over the stadium. Fans were jumping on fans, outfield players jumping on substitutes. I overheard a few boos from the home end, but oh well. I did feel a bit sorry for their poor ball boy, who was unfortunate enough to be sat right in front of some 400+ away fans, with his head down and hands over his ears, presumably in a vain attempt to block out the noise of jubilant supporters.

There was still a while to go before full time, so despite winning by two goals, I wasn’t ready to celebrate victory just yet. Besides an injury to our goalkeeper, which he recovered from, I didn’t have too much to worry about. In all honesty, we could still be playing now and Rovers wouldn’t have scored.

When we eventually reached injury time, an entire five minutes (why isn’t it ever one when you’re winning) was announced, I began to believe that ‘bloody hell – we might actually win this’. The referee seemed to be kind, didn’t piss about, like so many have in the past. He blew his whistle and the celebrations could begin…

Jingle bells,
Jingle bells,
Jingle all the way,
All what fun it is to see City win away

This was just one of many songs sung from the away end, as the City fans applauded their players. To their credit, the Rovers supporters who had not left in disgust also clapped the victorious Bath City team off the field. Rovers do have a good bunch of fans. While I laughed in jest at their teams relegation last May, I don’t wish them any ill harm and would happily see them promoted back to The Football League this season. If not, maybe we’ll meet again next season – how about at Twerton Park though?


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