Posted by sean on April 20, 2020 at 4:45 pm in Life In Bath with No Comments


Twelve years ago yesterday, Bath City took on Sutton United in their penultimate game of the football season.

Sutton were rock bottom of the league and had already been relegated. City knew that by beating the sorry team from Surrey, they would go a long way into securing a place in the playoffs.

It was supposed to be so easy for the Bath players. Just do what they had done most Saturday afternoons since August. Play well and Sutton will be dead and buried by half time. Heck, they’ll be able to take it easy during the second half – saving their energy for those playoffs. After all, we’ll be beating Sutton at least 8-0 by that point.

Oh, if only football was that simple…

I’m sure you can guess what happened. Correct. Bath City lost to Sutton.

There is a purpose behind today’s blog post, and it isn’t just to recall one of the many frustrations I have experienced as a football fan over the years.

Returning back to 2008… on an evening where depressed Bath City supporters returned home to watch Skins, play Gears of War on the XBox 360 and listen to Rihanna, I had a date! A date with a young lady. A date with a young lady who was not made up!

Like me, this young lady had spent the afternoon watching her club, Bath City, do the most predictable thing a football club can do… be unpredictable – especially when it matters most.

I had been casually meeting this girl over the last five or six weeks; the two of us becoming more and more acquainted. Our meeting points would primarily be Bath City games. On a couple of occasions, we would visit The Dolphin pub and enjoy a drink, before crossing the river into BA2.

I was growing increasingly fond of this girl and suspected that she may like me too – not that I can claim to have ever understood women, especially in 2008. For all I knew, this unusual female attention could have all been one cruel joke – something I even asked this girl, when she first rang me to introduce herself some weeks earlier.

In fact, I half expected Jeremy Beadle to appear from the bushes, as soon as the call had ended. Luckily for me this wasn’t a wind-up, and the girl on the phone did not take offence to my disbelief that she was real.

I must have suffered from such low self-esteem! Imagine me thinking that I stood a greater chance of meeting Jeremy Beadle, than a nice girl actually liking me. This is especially depressing when you consider that Jezza had died three months earlier!

I wanted to ask this girl to be my girlfriend. The problem was, that as well as being more than aware that I was not Mr. Universe, I was also a scardy cat – a chicken – a bowl of cowardly custard. If I was going to pop the question, I was going to have to be poked very hard, with an exceptionally large, pointy stick.

Thankfully for me, the football calendar was more than adequate in taking on the role of a metaphorical piece of wood. With the match against Sutton being the final home game of the season, it would potentially be my last encounter with this girl for months.

Sometimes in life, fate can be a cruel beast. In this instance, it was anything but. Had the girl and I began socialising in November (still relatively early into the football season), I would have almost certainly put off any move (remember, I was a wimp). As this was April, I would have to pull my finger out of my arse – thankfully another metaphor.

A romantic date was therefore arranged by yours truly – a meal at a nearby riverside pub, The Boathouse.

We were taken from Bath City’s football ground to the romantic gastropub by horse-drawn carriage. OK, that last bit was a lie – I organised a pre-booked taxi.

It may not have been The Ritz and we certainly hadn’t arrived by chariot, but I must have done something right…

I cannot remember what we ate, but odds-on I would have ordered a chicken dish and a glass of cider. Whatever my date picked would almost certainly have contained goats cheese and been washed down with refreshing Diet Coke.

My proposal to this girl was more fumbled than flamboyant. “You know how I like you”, I nervously began. “… now you don’t have to, if you don’t want” goodness knows what she must have thought I was about to ask, or why she didn’t run all the way home. “how do you feel about being my girlfriend?”.

“WILL YOU DO ME THE HONOUR OF CHANGING YOUR FACEBOOK RELATIONSHIP STATUS FROM ‘SINGLE’?”

The girl said “yes”! No zombified Jeremy Beadle appeared from behind the bar. What’s more, is the girl even looked happy that I had asked.

To say that I was also happy would have been somewhat of an understatement. My new lady-friend and I walked back to my flat hand-in-hand.

I had made the same walk from the pub back to my then home many times before. On previous occasions, I had been with Simon, we didn’t hold hands and I would moan to myself at the length of the walk. Returning to my flat with my new girlfriend, went far too quickly. I knew that once we had reached Mr. Gill’s corner shop, we would be forced to bid each other farewell, for this was the spot where my girlfriend’s mum would pick her up.

My new girlfriend and I kissed. Probably badly and awkwardly – we were rather inexperienced. If you would like a better idea of our first kiss, or the date as a whole, watch any episode of The Undateables. The cringeworthy moments shown in the excellent television series, were prevalent throughout our evening.

RAY. THE MYTH, THE MAN, THE LEGEND.

So, did the relationship between the young woman and I last? Well, she is no longer my girlfriend. We would hold daily phone calls, many lasting for hours – these are now a thing of the past.

There is a good reason for this. The girlfriend in this story is called Claire. The reason why we are no longer girlfriend and boyfriend, is because we are now husband and wife, and we no longer have lengthy telephone conversations, as we live together in a home of our very own.

Proof that a lot can change over twelve years.

Bath City appear to be the exception to the rule, and continue to reside in the same league, where they were humiliated by Sutton all those years ago…

NOW MARRIED.
STILL BATH CITY FANS.
STILL VERY IN LOVE.

While Claire and I are very happy to have been in a relationship for twelve years, our official anniversary is now 20th June – the original date being superseded by our wedding. Therefore, while we always welcome gifts of money, holidays and the latest technology, it is probably best to wait until June.

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