An era at Bath City Football Club ended today after long-serving club captain Jim Rollo joined Southern League Premier Division side Chippenham Town. The immensely popular 36-year old made his debut for the club nearly 15 years ago during the first of two short loan spells in the 1990s. He joined the club permanently in May 2002 and almost immediately became a firm fans favourite. He was named player of the season in 2004-05 and became just the sixth player to reach 400 appearances for City during the Blue Square South play-offs semi-final 1st leg against Chelmsford City in April 2010. His 476th and final game was against Billericay Town earlier this month. Although he only scored nine goals during this time, it seems fitting that his last strike, a stunning 30-yard swerving volley against Eastleigh in August 2007, was named as goal of the season that year. If ever a player earned the title ‘Mr Bath City’ it is Jim Rollo and whilst it will seem very strange seeing him play for another club there will not be anyone connected with club who will not wish him further success at Hardenhuish Park.
Chairman, Manda Rigby, said. “Jim, the consummate professional, wants to concentrate on preparing for the football tomorrow, but after then, he will be talking with the official website about his time at Bath. There will also be more news about what we are going to do for him, to celebrate his wonderful acheivements and time with the club. Good Bye Jim, and best of luck from the bottom of our hearts, the place will never be the same without you, and I am proud to call you a friend.”
Striker Sean Canham has played his last game for City ahead of his move to Australia later this week. The 28-year old spent three spells with City, all on loan from Hereford United, playing 42 games in total and scoring 19 times. This marked a return to Twerton Park having previously played for Team Bath where his scoring record secured him a Football League opportunity with Notts County before joining Hereford. All connected to the club wish Sean all the best on his move Down Under.
Goalkeeper Glyn Garner is also leaving the club following tomorrow’s match against Weston Super Mare. The former Welsh International joined City from Newport County in the summer of 2011 having previously enjoyed a successful league career with Buty, Leyton Orient and Shrewsbury Town. He made a total of 57 appearances for City and again goes with the good wishes of all at the club.
The postponement of Saturday’s Mayday Trust game against Dorchester Town due to a waterlogged pitch means City’s 2012 ended in disappointing fashion with the Boxing Day defeat against Weston Super Mare. However, their opening Blue Square Bet South match of 2013 gives them a quick chance to avenge this result as they travel to Woodspring Park on New Year’s Day for the return meeting with the Seagulls.
Weston’s Boxing Day win – their first ever against City in Bath – left Craig Laird’s side only out of the play-off places on goal difference, albeit having played at least one game more than the two sides also on 30 points. By contrast the result left City six points adrift of the top five and, after Bromley’s win on Saturday, in one of just four games which beat the weather, now just two points ahead of 20th place Dorchester Town. With City facing five away trips in January against just one home game (and that could be cancelled if Bromley draw in the next round of the FA Trophy) the tough month could go a long way to determining how the campaign will pan out for the club.
Complete record against Weston Super Mare
Prior to Kane Ingram’s double inspired win Weston had only beaten City once in the last 100 years and that came at Woodspring Park in January 2004. City travelled to North Somerset one place off the bottom of the Southern League Premier Division and without an away win all season, though buoyed by four points from their last two outings, a 2-0 home win over Hednesford Town and a goalless draw at Cambridge City, most notable for the debut of one Scott Partridge. However, the future City legend was still a couple of games away from opening his account for the club, instead it was another name that would become synonymous with the Romans in recent years, Lewis Hogg, who netted the only goal of the game after 33 minutes. This strike was against the run of play as City dominated possession but too often their final pass or shot was poor. The second half continued in a similar vein with Partridge, Bobby Ford and Frankie Bennett all spurning good chances. Even when Weston were reduced to ten men in the closing stages by then City had run out of ideas and the Seasiders could enjoy a memorable win.
This afternoon’s match at Mayday Trust Park between City and Dorchester Town has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. With heavy rain forecast between now and the scheduled 3.00pm kick-off on the already saturated pitch the club arranged an early inspectation and match referee Simon Knapp had no option than to call the game off. City will now hope the weather relents over the next few days ahead of their New Years Day trip to Weston Super Mare. A new date for the Dorchester game will be confirmed in due course.
Dorchester Town’s visit to Mayday Trust Park on Saturday will bring the curtain down on a difficult 2012 for City and all connected with the club will hope that 2013 turns out to be a more enjoyable and successful year and, even more importantly, one where there are further moves to securing the Romans long term future. Although 2012 began on a high, with a 3-2 win over Newport County, a run of eight successive league defeats quickly followed which virtually ended even the slimmest hopes of avoiding relegation from the Blue Square Bet Premier. Back in the Conference South, inconsistent league form plus disappointing defeats to lower division opponents in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy have extended the gloom felt in some quarters. However, even after the Boxing Day defeat to Weston Super Mare, City are still only six points off the play-off position and, as they showed during the second half of their 2009-10 promotion season, a good run of results can rapidly transform a campaign.
Opponents Dorchester are a good example of how a season can quickly change, as after a great start to 2012-13 they have lost six of their last eight league outings to drop from 2nd position to just one place above the relegation zone. This slide down the table has been exacerbated by a FA Cup run plus several postponements but, for the time being at least, the Magpies concerns are with avoiding getting dragged into another relegation scrap rather than dreaming about promotion to the top tier of non-league football. Six wins out of nine in the opening two months of the season, including victories over pre-season title favourites Eastleigh and promotion hopefuls Chelmsford City and Welling United, set them up perfectly for a first versus second clash with Salisbury City at the start of October. However, they were swept aside by four goals to nil to start a run of four losses which was only halted by a 2-1 win over struggling Basingstoke in mid-November. Since then Dorchester have only made one further league outing, a 1-0 loss at home to Sutton United, as they embarked on their best FA Cup run in 31 years. Qualifying round wins over Wootten Bassett Town, Basingstoke Town and Bury Town set them up with a 1st Round tie against League 2 side Plymouth Argyle. And in front of the ESPN live cameras a Gosling goal just after half-time earned them a famous win. The 2nd Round draw was not kind, pairing them with fallen giants Luton Town, not least as they were already due to meet in the FA Trophy. A 2-2 draw in that competition set up the tie perfectly but the Magpies couldn’t repeat their efforts of the previous round, going down valiantly by two goals to one.
Complete record against Dorchester Town
Dorchester’s 2-1 victory at The Avenue Stadium earlier this season ended a six-match winless run against City, their previous success coming at Twerton Park in the 2003-04 Conference South play-offs semi-final. City’s biggest win over the Magpie’s came during their Southern League promotion season of 1989-90 during the early stages of a 14 match winning run between January and March. The highlight of the game was a rare strike from winger Chris Smith, as he netted the fourth of six goals hammered past hapless Dorchester. A more familiar name on the scoresheet was Paul Randall as he opened the scoring on 15 minutes with a close range header then Rob Cousins raced on to a Gary Smart through ball to make it 2-0 in the 35th minute. Randall struck his second and City’s third 13 minutes after the break before Smith’s moment of glory after 74 minutes. Randall completed his hat-trick, and 37th goal of the season, ten minutes later and Smart concluded the rout with a toe-poked sixth five minutes from time.
City suffered a desperately disappointing return to action this afternoon as Weston Super Mare recorded their first ever win in Bath at the 25th attempt, thanks to two goals from former Roman striker Kane Ingram. After two and a half weeks of inactivity City were caught cold on just four minutes. Aaron Brown’s slip allowed Stern to fire in a cross which Ingram turned in from close range, although not without more than a hint of handball. With increasingly heavy rain sweeping across Mayday Trust Park conditions were becoming increasingly difficult to play football and this suited the Seagulls perfectly as they looked to slow the game down as much as possible. City struggled to overcome both these obstacles, although loan striker Tom Nichols twice spurned good openings and Charlie Griffin was denied by keeper Irish. Just when it looked as if Weston would reach the interval ahead Irish spilled Kerry Morgan’s cross-shot and in his attempt to recover upended Griffin. Once the visitors prolonged protests had died down Griffin confidently netted his 10th goal of the season from the penalty spot. After an extended half-time break whilst a replacement linesman was found City enjoyed their best spell of the game but Noah Keats, Chris Allen and Griffin all failed to beat Irish when well-placed. Then from their first real chance of the second half Weston regained the lead. Another piece of poor defending down the left allowed a cross to come in that Jason Mellor couldn’t hold giving Ingram his second simple finish. The Seagulls never looked like relinguishing this advantage again to end 21 successive away defeats against City and head back to North Somerset with the three points.
Paul Williams is retiring from his role as Managing director at Bath City. Paul has been associated with the club for eleven years, other than six months, as a Board member, seven of those years as a full time employee. Paul said “I remember when my predecessor left I thought I’d be doing this role for a couple of years, having retired from my job as an accountant. I can’t believe how long I have been here, and look forward very much to be able to spend a bit more time to myself. I certainly intend to stay connected to the club, and will offer my services where possible on a voluntary basis, but think it is time I enjoyed my retirement. I’ve met some wonderful people and will have some very fond memories to take with me.”
Manda Rigby, Chairman, commented, “Paul has talked to me about his wish to retire for a while, and he totally deserves a rest after the hours and commitment he has put into the club. He is literally irreplaceable, so we aren’t even going to try, instead have been looking for people to take on various parts of his role, with Paul’s support. Where possible, we want these roles to be voluntary in order to cut back expenditure further. On behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank Paul profusely for all his work, wish him well in his retirement, and hope he can enjoy his football at Bath City, free from the responsibilities he has taken on for so long.” Paul will be still full time until the end of January, then some part time hours during early February, retiring from his managing director role thereafter, whilst volunteering where he can on an ongoing basis.
City are very confident that City’s game against Weston Super Mare at Mayday Trust Park will be on this afternoon given the current weather forecast for Bath.
After the postponement of Saturday’s trip to Havant & Waterlooville it will be two and a half weeks since City were last in competitive action when they face Weston Super Mare at Mayday Trust Park on Boxing Day. However, with four games now scheduled for the next eleven days the break should see a fresh and largely injury-free squad ahead of a typically hectic Christmas and New Year schedule.
The Seasiders make the trip from North Somerset having enjoyed an excellent start to the 2012-13 season, currently lying one place and three points above City right in the heart of the play-off battle. After four successive seasons fighting relegation between 2006 and 2010 (including three where they finished in the drop zone only to be saved by clubs merging, being demoted due to ground regulations or going into liquidation) the club has enjoyed a mid-table finish the past two years. This change of fortune coincided with the appointment of Craig Laird as manager in May 2010. After a slow start to the 2010-11 season the Seasiders never dropped below 13th place after November, finishing in 12th position, their best placing since the inaugural Conference South season. Last season showed this improvement was no fluke as six wins in their opening ten games established them as genuine play-off contenders. Just as expectation was on the rise amongst the Seasiders fan base their team suffered seven successive league defeats and in the end they could fashion just one win in their last 17 games of the season to finish in 13th place. They have also enjoyed cup success under Laird, lifting the Somerset Premier Cup in the last two years.
After picking up just two points from their opening five league games of the current campaign a win over Staines Town kick-started their season. Since then they have only suffered defeats against Boreham Wood, Chelmsford City and Dover Athletic and will hope to have learnt from their collapse last year to mount a genuine challenge for a Conference Premier place. The Weston squad contains a number of ex-City players including defender Martin Slocombe, who played 31 games during the 2008-09 season, former youth team star striker Kane Ingram and Josh Egan, who made a surprise switch from Southern League Chippenham Town last month.
Complete record against Weston Super Mare
City’s record against Weston Super Mare is about as one-sided as possible with 34 wins from the 39 meetings, including 32 of the last 34 games. The most recent encounter was a feisty affair at Twerton Park in February 2009. With the visitors rock bottom of the table and City looking to keep in touch with the play off places the game was a contrast of styles. The Romans stuck to their task well though and after going close on several occasions took the lead on 34 minutes, Kaid Mohamed heading home a Sekani Simpson cross. They couldn’t find a second goal despite considerable pressure and the game boiled over with 20 minutes remaining. Ex-City striker Josh Klein-Davies caught Lewis Hogg with a late tackle then, as the two players squared up, went to the ground holding his face. The referee brandished a red card to Klein-Davies before also dismissing Hogg. The incensed City midfielder had to be dragged away from confronting Klein-Davies and it was over five minutes before the match could be restarted, but when it did City comfortably saw the game out.
City’s Blue Square Bet South match against Havant & Waterlooville today has been cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch. With heavy overnight rain and more forecast today on the south coast the Hawks arranged a 10am pitch inspection which found the Westleigh Park surface unplayable. The game has been rearranged for Saturday 12 January 2013 (ko 3pm). City’s attention will now turn to their Boxing Day meeting with Weston Super Mare at Mayday Trust Park (ko 3pm).
The south coast is the location for City’s return to action on Saturday when they travel to face struggling Havant & Waterlooville in their final Blue Square Bet South outing before Christmas. Although it will be two weeks since their last game a number of first team players enjoyed a run out in the U21 game against Bristol City on Monday, including Sekani Simpson, Marc Canham and Joe Burnell, all returning from injury problems of varying severity, which should give head coach Lee Howells nearly a full squad from which to select as the games come thick and fast over the Christmas and New Year period.
Having only avoided dropping into the Southern League in the closing seconds of the final game of the 2011-12 season the Hawks are already facing another campaign with the spectre of relegation haunting every game. Just one win in their opening eleven league matches plus an FA Cup exit at the hands of Southern League South & West side North Leigh saw manager Stuart Ritchie and assistant Barry Blankley relieved of their posts. Ex-Hawks player Ritchie was only appointed in May but his short time in charge had already been tainted by controversy when original assistant Sean New was replaced after just one month by Blankley over a “failure to disclose particular information” scandal. Havant turned to widely travelled former Football League striker Lee Bradbury as their new manager at the beginning of October. Bradbury’s playing career included spells with Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Portsmouth, before he spent 14 months as manager with AFC Bournemouth. His tenure got off to a perfect start with a hard-fought 2-1 win at Basingstoke Town but three successive defeats showed the size of the task facing him. However, since then the Hawks has lost just three times in eight league and cup outings and come into the game against City one point and one place above the relegation zone.
Off the pitch it has also been a difficult first half of the 2012-13 season. Vice chairman Jim Fallon stepped down in October following on from his company Beaumont Water Heaters Ltd entering into liquidation. Reports of a shortfall in the promised sponsorship Fallon had promised to bring to the club, along with empty claims in the media of big name signings to more worrying accusations of illegal approaches to potential players that left him under investigation by the FA, meant his short spell at Westleigh Park was not without controversy. Just when it looked like both parties had moved on Fallon resurfaced in the Non-League Paper claiming the club owe him in the region of £84,000. The Hawks board moved quickly to counter his allegation, stating, “The Board of Directors totally refute the allegations made by Jim Fallon in the Non-League Paper … The club regret ever appointing Mr Fallon to the Board as he has caused us nothing but problems since his arrival and still has the FA investigation hanging over him. We are not frightened by his actions and will be taking legal advice to deal with them.”
Complete record against Havant & Waterlooville/Waterlooville
City have only suffered one defeat in their previous five visits to Westleigh Park. This came in October 2007 when a 7th minute Pacquette goal separated the sides although City were denied a chance to equalise in the final minute when Darren Edwards was tripped in the area by keeper Scriven only for the referee to view the incident as a dive and book the astonished striker. Their last visit came during the opening weeks of the 2009-10 season. The home side went ahead during the first half through Williams’ early strike but two goals in as many minutes from Mark Badman and a Edwards penalty in the last quarter of the game looked to have secured a win for City. However, shortly after Chris Holland had struck the post for City, Williams netted his and Havant’s second to ensure the points were shared.
City’s current player of the season Sekani Simpson returned to action on Monday following three months out with a knee injury. The versatile defender, who suffered a medial knee ligament tear during September’s defeat at Blue Square Bet South leaders Salisbury City, played for an hour in the meeting with Bristol City U21’s and if there is no reaction should be available for City’s busy Christmas and New Year schedule. The game itself finished 1-1, with City fielding a mixture of first team and U21 players. City’s goal was scored by Kerry Morgan although he picked up a knock which could make him doubtful for City’s trip to Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday.
Once again the FA Trophy has forced City’s to postpone a home match. Welling United’s win over Woking to reach the last 16 of the competition means the scheduled Blue Square Bet South meeting at Mayday Trust Park scheduled for Saturday 12 January will now have to be rearranged. No new date has yet been confirmed.
City’s U21 side will meet Bristol City U21s at Mayday Trust Park on Monday 17 December. The game kicks off at 7.30pm and entry is free. City have also rearranged their Blue Square Bet South home match against Bromley. The game, which was originally scheduled for tomorrow but postponed due to Bromley’s continued involvement in the FA Trophy, will now take place on Tuesday 15 January (ko 7.45pm).
After a very successful year for the bars and function rooms, Bath City Football Club are holding a New Years Eve Party in Randall’s including a free buffet and featuring top local DJ, Dick Stroker. Tickets are priced at £10, free to under 16’s accompanied with a paying adult (18+), which are now available from the Club Office. Call 01225 313 247 for more information.
Tonight’s friendly against Forest Green Rovers at Mayday Trust Park has been cancelled due to a frozen pitch. With temperatures not due to rise above 1 or 2 degrees today and several Rovers players travelling from the London area City have made an early decision to cancel the game. With a blank Saturday this weekend due to Bromley’s involvement in the FA Trophy City are next in action at Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday 22 December (ko 3pm). The next Mayday Trust Park match is the Boxing Day meeting with Weston Super Mare (ko 3pm).
City suffered a disappointing 2-0 reversal at Billericay Town this afternoon as the home side adapted much better to the difficult conditions. Although City always the looked the technically superior side the heavy uneven playing surface was a great leveller and in the end the Blues ran out deserved winners. Neither City’s attempts to play a passing game or Billericay’s more direct approach paid dividends in the opening exchanges although as the half progressed the hosts began to look the more threatening. Twice headers failed to trouble Jason Mellor before a shot into the side-netting briefly excited the home fans but just when it looked like the half would end goalless an unmarked May rose highest to head past Mellor. The second half saw Billericay look to sit on their one goal advantage – Luke was booked for time-wasting just past the hour-mark – which saw City dominate possession. With 15 minutes left a perfect pass from Kerry Morgan gave Sean Canham a clear sight of goal but the pitch proved his undoing as by the time he got the ball under control home keeper McDonald had closed him down to block his shot. Moments later Chris Allen fired a shot against the foot of the post and this turned out to as close as City would come to an equaliser. And with three minutes to go Billericay secured the three points as the other faultless Mellor came for a high ball into the box but Swaine got to it first to loop a header into the unguarded net.
City travel east on Saturday in search of their first double of the season against Blue Square Bet South newcomers Billericay Town. The Charlie Griffin inspired win over the Blues back at the start of September lifted City to the top of the table before a winless run of six games saw them plummet down the league. Since then though 13 points from a possible 18 has lifted Lee Howells’ side back amongst the play-off contenders and a win in Essex could lift them as high as fourth place, behind the trio of sides who look like battling it out for the title, Salisbury City, Welling United and Dover Athletic.
Billericay have endured a mixed start to their first ever season at this level and come into the game in 13th place, albeit only three points behind City, on a four match losing streak. However, the three league defeats in this run have come against the aforementioned Dover (twice) and Welling, plus an FA Trophy reversal against Conference National side Cambridge United, so City will expect a tough match against Craig Edwards’ team. The Blues could be without four players for game though due to injury. Junior Luke (hamstring), Glen Poole (concussion) and Craig Edwards (foot) are all rated as doubtful for the game. In addition, Alton Thelwell picked up a hamstring injury at training on Wednesday evening. Despite this midfielder Nathan Green has been allowed to go out on loan to Kingstonian and boss Edwards is reported to be looking to bring in two or three new players ahead of the game.
Complete record against Billericay Town
Although this will be the first time City have faced Billericay at New Lodge they played three times at the ground during the early 2000s when Essex rivals Chelmsford City were tenants. After winning the first game 3-1 in January 2002 thanks to goals from Jamie Gosling, Lee Collier and Andy Williams, the following two trips saw City draw a blank, losing 2-0 in March 2003 before a goalless encounter to open the 2003-04 season. The meeting at Mayday Trust Park back in September witnessed one of City’s better performances this season as they took control of the game from the off. They only had Griffin’s 39th minute strike to show for this dominance though and when Charles-Smith went down under a challenge from keeper Glyn Garner the visitors levelled from the penalty spot through former City player Glenn Poole. City were not to be denied though and Griffin’s 20-yard shot on 70 minutes was deserving of winning any game.
City’s first team will be playing next Tuesday, 11th December, KO 7.30 pm, Mayday Trust Park. As the match against Bromley has been postponed, this will give the first team a game in what otherwise would be a 2 week break, and it is the intention that the full first team squad will get some game time. The opponents will be Forest Green Rovers, and they are going to bring a very strong team, including some first team players. In order to cover costs, there will be a small charge for those attending, £5 adults, £2.50 students and concessions, children under 16 accompanied by an adult will get free entry. Not often you get to see the first team for prices like this!
A last minute goal from captain Gethin Jones earned City a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw at a cold Mayday Trust Park this afternoon. This had looked unlikely when the visitors went into the interval two goals ahead but with 14 minutes left Dan Ball’s deflected shot reduced the arrears before Jones completed the turnaround. The opening exchanges saw City enjoy the greater possession but Eastbourne looked the more threatening, as Jason Mellor was called into action three times. He could do nothing on 25 minutes though when a long ball forward was flicked on to Ibe who coolly lobbed the stranded keeper. It looked like this would be the scoreline at the break but with seconds remaining an unmarked Charles headed home a free-kick to make it 2-0. Mellor produced another excellent stop early in the second half but City continued to press, Sean Canham and Adam Connolly both testing Sports keeper Ross before Nichol’s 67th minute header was cleared off the line. The pressure finally paid off on 76 minutes as Nichol was challenged in the box, the referee appeared to be about to point to the spot but he allowed play to continue long enough for Ball’s 25-yard shot to delect of Row into the corner of the net. Charlie Griffin then crashed a header against the bar and Mark Preece fired over an inviting goal after Ross could only parry Chris Allen’s low cross. However, justice was done when Eastbourne failed to clear Kerry Morgan’s free-kick and Jones slid the ball into the roof of the net from a narrow angle.