January 2013

PREVIEW: CITY v Staines Town – Blue Square Bet South (31/1/13)

With the postponement of Tuesday’s game against Welling United, City will hope the weather relents sufficiently (and the forecast suggests this should be the case) to allow the meeting with Staines Town to go ahead as planned on Saturday. Remarkably City have played just four home league games in the last three months with the obvious implications for their cash flow and, with a bigger crowd than usual expected due to the #PackthePark campaign, the game will be a vital one both on and off the pitch.

Whilst Staines are one of the group of 16 teams separated by just eleven points, stretching from 6th to 21st place in the Conference South table, they have the disadvantage of having played the more games than all of their rivals. Most teams have played three or four games fewer, with Sutton United having a remarkable seven games in hand. The Swans come into the game with just one win in their last 13 league games. The single victory came at fast-fading Dover Athletic and they followed this up with defeats against Basingstoke Town, Salisbury City and Eastbourne Borough. This run has seen them slip from 2nd place in the table back in October to 20th currently and, understandably, manager Marcus Gayle has been busy trying to strengthen his squad in recent weeks. Will Bor returned to Wheatsheaf Park, having previously spent a loan spell with the club last season, from AFC Wimbledon, central defender Jack Mills was signed from Oxford City, former Swans reserve teamer Ashley Lodge returning to the fold via Chipstead and young striker Adam Francis, son of former England skipper Gerry Francis, joined on loan from QPR. Three Academy players, Erivaldo Felix, Jack Harman and Qaseem Sotonwa also signed Conference forms. To make room for these new arrivals Richard Langley, Matthew Reece and Max Noble were all released before former captain and experienced defender Elliott Godfrey followed them out of Wheatsheaf Park last week.

Former Wimbledon striker Gayle took over the managerial reigns at Staines in May 2012 after long-serving boss Steve Cordey stood down. Coincidently he finished his playing career against Staines, helping AFC Wimbledon to a play-off final victory in 2008, before enjoying success with the Dons reserve side.

Complete record against Staines Town

The Swans only previously trip to Twerton Park came during the closing month of the 2009-10 season with both sides chasing a play-off place, Staines in 5th place and City one point and one place further back. The hosts began the game strongly, Kaid Mohamed having a shot charged down and Sekani Simpson heading Edwards cross narrowly over. The visitors had looked second best in every department but as the half progressed they began to impose themselves on the game and enjoyed considerable possession, although they only looked truly threatening from set-pieces. City withstood this pressure though and finished the half on top once again. Both sides continued to produce attacking play that defied the vital nature of the game and it was City who got the vital breakthrough on 58 minutes when Holland controlled Mohamed’s centre before firing low past Wells. Staines understandably threw men forward after this in search of an equaliser and on several occasions came desperately close to breaching City’s rearguard. Once again though City stood firm and two minutes into stoppage time they secured the win as Edwards was played onside by Risbridger lying prone midway in his half and lobbed Wells from 25 yards out. Staines’ afternoon got worse a moment later when Scarlett was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Bristol clubs encouraged to unite to help City Pack the Park on Saturday (30/1/13)

Fans of both Bristol clubs – City and Rovers – are being encouraged to come to Bath on Saturday for the visit of Staines Town to help ‘Pack the Park’. An online campaign began following Chairman Manda Rigby’s statement last week encouraging Rovers supporters to make a return to the ground that shared for ten years between 1986 and 1996. The club’s plan to a new 20,000-seater stadium at Filton received a major boost the day before when Sainsbury’s were given the green light by councillors to build a supermarket at Rovers’ current Memorial Stadium. With the team in action on Friday night against Barnet, Facebook and Twitter campaigns were set up at #SaveBathCity and #PackThePark. And with Bristol City away to Blackburn Rovers their fans are also being encouraged to unite for the day and help the Romans.

City versus Welling United OFF due to waterlogged pitch (29/1/13)

Tonight’s Blue Square Bet South match against Welling United at Mayday Trust Park has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. An inspectation at 1.55pm found surface water and with further heavy rain forecast for Bath the club had no option but to cancel the game. A new date will be announced in due course. City are next in action on Saturday when Staines Town are the visitors to Mayday Trust Park.

City return to familiar source to restore attacking options (28/1/13)

City have once again turned to Exeter City to boost their attacking options, signing Elliott Chamberlain on loan for a month. The 20-year old Welsh Under-21 international joined the Devon club from Leicester City in August 2012 with his wages funded by a supporters group called the 1931 Club. His arrival comes after fellow Grecian Tom Nichols retured to Exeter following two months on loan at Mayday Trust Park. Elliott will go straight into the squad to face in-form Welling United tomorrow night.

PREVIEW: CITY v Welling United – Blue Square Bet South (28/1/13)

City face as tough a test as the Blue Square Bet South currently has to offer tomorrow evening when red-hot Welling United travel to Mayday Trust Park. The Wings come into the match on the back of a ten league game winning run and if they can overcome Lee Howells’ men they will break the Conference South record for consecutive victories. This run has lifted them clear of the play-off chasing pack and it looks like two-horse title race between themselves and Salisbury City with Welling currently six points behind the Wiltshire side but with two games in hand.

The winning streak began at the start of November thanks to a single goal victory at Havant & Waterlooville before the Wings showed their title credentials, beating Salisbury by the same scoreline. They then scored at least three goals in each of their next seven outings although the run almost came to an end when they found themselves 3-1 down at half-time against bottom side Truro City. The game turned just past the hour mark when Truro player-manager Hodges was sent off for a professional foul, Healy netting the resultant penalty, and from then on Welling threw everything they could at the White Tigers. With seven minutes left Lafayette levelled the scores before, after a number of close calls, Acheampong completed the turnaround with a stoppage time header. The Wings then turned their attention to the FA Trophy, with a quarter-final place at stake against Conference Premier title-chasers Grimsby Town. Having already dumped Newport County and Woking out of the competition their hopes would have been high when Healy put them in front from the penalty spot on 25 minutes. This lead only lasted five minutes as Grimsby levelled in the same manner and six minutes into the second half Marshall netted what turned out to be the winning goal. The Wings bounced back from this disappointment on Saturday to beat Basingstoke Town 1-0, although it took a last minute penalty miss by the Dragons to secure successive league win number ten.

The Basingstoke game also appears to have cost striker Kurtis Guthrie the chance to return to City in a Welling shirt. The Jersey born 19-year old scored six goals in 13 games for the Romans earlier this season but when his contract was not renewed he joined Welling – having initially played for the club in a pre-season trial. Although he has not yet scored for the Wings in 13 games, City would have been fully aware of the threat he possessed. However he suffered a gashed knee after just 14 minutes of the 1-0 win which looks set to sideline him for a few weeks. If City are to end Welling’s run they will have to beat highly-rated goalkeeper Sam Mott. Although the 24-year old was at fault for City’s goal when the sides met on the opening day of the 2012-13 season, his performances since earned him a call-up to the England C squad for the game versus Turkey next month.

Complete record against Welling United

The game with be the 40th meeting between the two clubs, with honours so far even by way of 15 wins each. The last clash at Twerton Park took place on the second Saturday of the 2009-10 season. Welling came into the game having lost their opening two games and City soon took the lead, Gethin Jones heading home a 17th minute Adam Connolly free-kick. Chances came and went for both sides before City keeper Will Puddy gifted the visitors an equaliser on 77 minutes when his indecision allowed Hobbs to charge down a clearance and slide the loose ball into the net. However, City came back strongly and with five minutes to go a looping Chris Holland header ensured the Wings would head back to Kent pointless.

Supporters are reminded that anyone who buys a ticket for the Welling match will be able to purchase a half-price ticket for the Staines Town home game on Saturday 2 February at the same time. If you are a full price ticket purchaser that equates to £18 for the 2 tickets, and tickets at every level are discounted by the same percentage.

Late equaliser denies City win in battling Hayes performance (26/1/13)

City earned a hard-fought point at Hayes & Yeading United this afternoon but will feel frustrated that a late equaliser denied them a win their overall performance probably deserved. After the Kingsfield Stadium pitch survived a late inspection both sides looked to pass the ball on the difficult surface but it was always City who possessed the greater attacking intent. Fit-again Chris Allen fired narrowly wide before Josh Low’s snap shot was well claimed by keeper Hall. On the half-hour though City went ahead when Mark Preece rose highest to head Marc Canham’s corner into the roof of the net. Jason Mellor had to be alert to deny N’Diaye shortly afterwards but another Low shot which struck the angle of post and bar saw City end the half on top. The home side started the second half in improved fashion and just before the hour mark a neat build-up ended with N’Diaye sliding the ball past Mellor for an equaliser. City twice had the ball in the net only for borderline offside decisions to go against them but on 68 minutes Canham’s pass sent Low clear on goal to restore their lead with a low shot past Hall. The hosts increasingly committed men forward in search of a second equaliser and with just three minutes left Mellor misjudged a high free-kick allowing Bygrave to turn the ball home.

Striker Nichols Mayday Trust Park spell ends with Grecians recall (25/1/13)

Striker Tom Nichols has been recalled by League Two Exeter City following two months on loan at Mayday Trust Park. The 19-year old made seven appearances for City, netting a single goal in the 4-1 win at Weston Super Mare, and goes back to St James Park with thanks and best wishes from City. His departure leaves City with just one experienced striker in Charlie Griffin on their books and they will keen to boost their attacking options sooner rather than later.

City’s U18 game against Forest Green Rovers at Mayday Trust Park tomorrow has been cancelled.

PREVIEW: Hayes & Yeading United v CITY – Blue Square Bet South (24/1/13)

Already facing two games every week between now and the beginning of March, City will be hopeful that the predicted thaw arrives in time to allow Saturday’s match against Hayes & Yeading United to go ahead. Woking’s Kingsfield Stadium – the current temporary home of the Middlesex club – came within an hour of defying the big freeze during the week when a valiant effort by the Cards staff and supporters cleared the pitch ahead of the visit of Newport County. However, another sudden snowstorm at around 6.50pm rendered all the work meaningless as the referee was left with no option but to cancel the game.

Hayes are usefully placed in 8th place, just a point off the play-off positions, as the 2012-13 Blue Square Bet South season moves slowly into its second half, and come into the game unbeaten in four matches. Their most recent outing was a hard-fought 2-1 win over Weston Super Mare, despite missing five first team players. To compensate for this manager Nas Bashir has been busy strengthening his squad, including two controversial returnees to the club. Centre-back Adam Bygrave switched to Farnborough in the summer of 2011 but was sacked a year later following comments posted on social networking sites. He was banned from playing by the FA until the end of 2012 but was back on the pitch on January 1 in United’s 2-0 win at Maidenhead United. The game also saw the return of Jamie Hand, on loan from Mansfield Town, despite saying he would never play for the club again after quitting in May over a fine he received for being sent-off. Danny Braithwaite arrived from City’s FA Trophy conquerors Chesham United along with two youngsters from Barnet, Jamal Lowe and George McCluskey. Another familiar face back with the club is striker Micheal Thalassitis after returning on loan from Stevenage last week.

Complete record against Hayes/Yeading/Hayes & Yeading United

United’s 3-2 win at Mayday Trust Park earlier this season continued their good record against City – they have suffered just one defeat since their formation in 2007. City’s last trip to face United came during the opening month of last season. Having picked up a point in the first match of the season at Mansfield Town, City had then suffered two successive home defeats against Wrexham and Barrow, and looked to be heading for another loss as the game reached stoppage time with the home side leading thanks to Pacquette’s strike late in the first half. However, three minutes past the ninety Scott Murray’s perfectly placed low shot rescued a point for City. Come the end of the season, of course, both sides’ adventure with the non-league elite came to an end, and they will both hope Saturday’s game gets the go-ahead so they can secure a win that will keep them firmly in touch of a return to that level.

City offer ticket deal for upcoming Welling and Staines matches (23/1/13)

We know times are tough, and we want your support next week for our two home games, so anyone who buys a ticket for the Welling home game KO 7.45 Tuesday Jan 29th, will be able to purchase a half price ticket for the Staines home game at the same time, the #packthepark match, KO 3pm Feb 2nd. If you are a full price ticket purchaser, that equates to £18 for the 2 tickets, and tickets at every level are discounted by the same percentage.

City have confirmed new dates for their two recently postponed Blue Square Bet South games. They will travel to Farnborough on Tuesday 5 February before making a third attempt to play Havant & Waterlooville at Westleigh Park exctly four weeks later. Both games kick off at 7.45pm.

Snow surprise as Farnborough trip falls victim to weather (18/1/13)

City’s Blue Square Bet South game at Farnborough tomorrow has been postponed due to snow. The Hampshire club arranged a 4pm pitch inspectation following the heavy snowfall that has affected most of the country today and with no likelihood of a thaw overnight an early decision to cancel the game was made. A new date will be announced in due course.

City’s U18 game against Dorchester Town at Mayday Trust Park tomorrow has also been cancelled due to the snow.

City U18s setting the South West Counties Youth League pace (17/1/13)

City’s table-topping Under-18 side are due to play their next two South West Counties Youth League fixtures at Mayday Trust Park. The side, managed by Billy Clark, have won their last eight games to lead second placed Forest Green Rovers by three points, albeit having played one game more. Their last outing was a 5-2 win over Cirencester Academy, coming back from two goals down through strikes from Eliot Gibbens (2), Nathan Legge (2) and Jordan Ricketts. The Mayday Trust Park games are against Dorchester Town on Saturday 19 January and Forest Green Rovers on Saturday 26 January, both kicking off at 10.30am.

PREVIEW: Farnborough v CITY – Blue Square Bet South (17/1/13)

With the snow that is expected to sweep across the whole of the UK tomorrow a weather warning might be more appropriate than a match preview but if (hopefully) the predicted heavy snowfall does not materialise City will head down to Cherrywood Road on Saturday to face play-off chasing Farnborough. It is clear the Hampshire club will do all they can to get the game on after manager Spencer Day admitted a postponement could force him to release two more of his first-team squad given the precarious financial position the club is currently in.

Despite these off the field problems Day’s side come into the game in fifth place on the back of an impressive 5-2 win over third placed Dover Athletic. Although the Whites had suffered three successive defeats before the match they still boasted the best away record in the Blue Square Bet South this season. However, in a remarkable first half Farnborough netted five times leaving the visitors stunned. The second half did see Dover pull two goals back but that was as close as they got to an unlikely comeback. The result was in complete contrast to Farnborough’s previous outing when they were on the wrong end of a an even more extraordinary hammering, Basingstoke Town scoring six times in just 15 second half minutes to overturn a one-goal half-time deficit. With five wins and four defeats in their last nine league games, Boro will hope the win over Dover signals a more consistent run of form to keep them amongst the play-off chasing pack.

Day also revealed that the club had to ‘beg, borrow and steal” to pay the Inland Revenue an overdue debt last week and, in turn, lift another transfer embargo imposed on the club. This allowed him to bring in loanee Dean Inman and playmaker Scott Donnelly on a short-term deal, but it is clear that he faces a real struggle to keep his talented squad intact. A recent fans forum meeting revealed that two possible takeover bids for the club had fallen through and that another £30,000 is needed to open the redeveloped Prospect Road End of their ground. With the club in just their sixth season since the liquidation of Farnborough Town the club is clearly doing everything to avoid a repeat scenario.

Complete record against Farnborough/Farnborough Town

City have enjoyed mixed fortunes on their visits to Cherrywood Road. After winning their first three visits, including a 4-0 FA Cup 1st Round win in 1985, the last seven trips have ended in four draws and three wins for the home side. The most recent meeting was in the 2006-07 FA Trophy 1st Round with Farnborough a division above then Southern League City. The Romans started the game brightly but fell behind on nine minutes when a slip by Jim Rollo let in Garness to lift the ball past Paul Evans. Despite the dreadful pitch City continued to take the game to their higher league opponents, Scott Partridge, Matt Coupe and Arek Zarczynski all going close, although Farnborough did occasionally look dangerous on the break. Eight minutes into the second half City were level after a handball in the box gave them a penalty which Zarczynski confidently stroked home. City’s best period of the match followed but Partridge was twice denied by keeper Scriven and the closing stages saw the home side on top, the closest they came to stealing the victory seeing Coupe clear off his own goalline.

A personal message from chairman Manda Rigby (16/1/13)

Can I firstly wish you, and all those you care about, whatever you wish for yourselves in 2013. I am going to take this opportunity to look back over 2012, maybe even touching on the end of 2011 and forward to 2013.

When I joined the club, Bath City had had the most “successful” season in a long time, arguably ever, if success is measured solely by league finishing position against predominantly full time and ex-league teams. However, this had been achieved at the cost of making the largest loss in the club’s history, and an unsustainable level of expenditure. It is one of the great Catch 22s about football; you have to set a budget at the beginning of the year with a substantial amount of unknowns in it. If you over-egg it, you make a loss, and if you under-egg it, it can be self-fulfilling, as a smaller player budget could lead to poorer results, fewer paying fans and an even smaller player budget.

This was recognised by the Board, and although the budget had already been set and contractually committed to before I arrived, I’m not being slippy shouldered; under the circumstances, I am not certain I would have done any differently. But we still lost about the same amount of money in our second season, and, given the money we were paying out on players wages, were not giving the footballing management side the tools to be competitive at that level. It was very frustrating to have got to a point where Bath City was so well respected, but players whom we couldn’t have previously attracted liked what they saw us trying to do, wanted to join, but we couldn’t afford them, and they went on to be successes elsewhere.

2011/12 season ended in relegation, and was not a happy season at all. The team we had were amazing in their efforts, but no-one could say they enjoyed it, although a lot was learned. I do not know what, if anything, I, or anyone else, could have done differently, given all the commitments in place, other than pump in even more unsustainable money, creating a larger future problem. So at the start of this season, we cut the budget quite dramatically. We tried to strike the balance between expenditure and being competitive.

Let me dispel a myth, and replace it with a fact. Twerton Park is a net drain on our resources, and will remain so as long as we are here. Despite the best efforts of Directors, staff and volunteers, by cutting expenditure to the bone and beyond, and investing in any scheme which stacks up financially, at best we can mitigate the losses, but not make it sustainable. Sorry to be blunt, but if that weren’t the case, surely someone over the last 50 loss making years would have cracked it? There is not some magical way that we can make income be greater than expenditure whilst we are at the ground, whatever level we play at. It is a lovely ground, full of history, but it is a drain on our resources and is not a good business proposition for any kind of outside investment for renovation. It is my view that we have to move. This is doubly urgent, as, at the time I joined the Board, they had done an incredibly good job in retaining assets where possible, and buying the time necessary to get a repayment plan for all the loans which were coming due, but there hadn’t been a plan put forward to meet the club’s liabilities, and drive it forward. Again, I can see no way of doing this other than by land-swapping, or selling Twerton Park, having exhausted all other avenues. To paraphrase a comment favoured by a fellow director “if you keep on doing what you have always done, you keep on getting what you always got” and Bath City can’t survive further loss making years. So a change in approach, however painful, had to be attempted throughout the club. The trick will be in getting the best deal, one which will secure the future of Bath City for the foreseeable future.

Be in no doubt, this is the plan, and the clock is ticking. If anyone has an alternative financeable plan, now is absolutely the right time to come up with it. At a big joint meeting in late 2011, we asked the Supporters groups to see if they could meet their aspirations of becoming a supporters owned club…it would be an amazing achievement for them if they can do it, and would have my backing, but in the absence of it currently happening, I have no alternative but to try to secure the future of the club in the only way I can see. We will shortly be talking with all the major shareholders, and will make it clear that we need either a) support on the ground move, and/or b) an alternative investor found, most likely requiring sale of all shareholdings. Otherwise we do not see how the club will be able to pay its debts.

This is a nettle which has to be grasped, and I appreciate that from the outside, it is quite easy to say that since I joined “everything has gone wrong”, and of course you are free to believe that. What has happened is that both money and time were running out, and this would have been the case whoever was here. In some ways, we were at our weakest as a club when it looked like we were at our most successful. I don’t think there was any queue at all to take on the complexities and difficulties of being Chairman at this stage in the club’s history. Through my experience and connections, I stand as good a chance as anyone in locating and securing the best place to build the Bath City of the future.

I could leave it there, but I want to make a couple of personal comments. Some people, and they know who they are, give so much and so generously to the club in time, money, expertise. Thank you, as without you we wouldn’t exist. The vast majority of fans are amazing in their willingness to be patient, and understand that what I am trying to do, whilst not what they wanted, is motivated by wanting to keep the club alive. Others, I am afraid to say, criticise constantly without ever coming up with an alternative plan to keep the club running and to pay back its historical debt, or a buy out proposal, or putting in the many hours of work necessary just to keep the club functioning. The agendas they pursue are their own, and not for the benefit of the club. It can get very wearing to hear that someone who “absolutely knows” the truth about a club issue is spreading lies, when I am not in a position to correct them without showing the club in the wrong light; I hate it. There are times when I look at some stuff that has been said and mutter “you couldn’t make it up” but in fact, someone has. It’s also quite wearing for wilful misinterpretation to be made of every action or decision, especially by people who don’t attend matches or the monthly joint meetings, so are really not in any position to know the facts. I can only reiterate, I have the club’s best interests at heart, the Board do, and we are completely driven by protecting Bath City. Quite frankly, if it wasn’t for the Board, the club would not exist, and our continued existence has been achieved by some incredible personal sacrifice over the years. If it wasn’t for the fans, the club wouldn’t exist, and I don’t tar all with the same brush. It’s a real shame that a vocal very small minority, either out of naivety or motivated by malice, are gambling with the future of the club they purport to love. The 3 previous Chairmen received the same kind of poisonous negativity, accompanied by same lack of action, from largely the same people.

A real personal low came last year when I personally sponsored the FGR match for my 50th Birthday and was criticised for looking jolly when we lost (badly) and there were questions put on the forum over whether I paid my bar bill as Donna had served me, and not taken cash. I was trying to be nice to potential sponsors, hence smiling, and had put £300 behind the bar, didn’t use anywhere near that amount, so donated the rest. I was also just about to write a £75k cheque to the club, having contributed to players’ wages, in conjunction with a couple of other directors, for the previous months, and been putting many hours per week unpaid for the previous 6 months without a single day off. And what this does is get people to a position where they are no longer willing, or able, to put more money into the club, until you walk around the poplar side and someone comes up who you don’t really know well, but you know is a long time supporter, and gives an envelope with a cheque inside, and says ‘thanks for all you are doing, I wanted to donate this to the club’, and you are hooked again.

I believe in Bath City, I want to make it successful and sustainable. In order to do that, there may be some painful decisions made. If you can come up with a way to settle long-standing debts and give a future to the club, propose it; if not, I’m sorry for the angst caused, but moving, and building an income generating replacement with partners, and/or getting new investment, whilst protecting football interests via covenant, is the only way I can see to do this. I’d prefer to tell you it how it is, I might prefer facts to be different, and know I’m not courting popularity, but reality has to be faced, and faced now.

There will be a meet the chairman/footballing management team meeting sometime very soon, date to be confirmed (rearranged matches need agreeing first), at which I will be happy to explain more, and answer questions and hope to get your support. Any group which wants to put forward a sustainable plan at the same time, please be encouraged to do so. There will also be an update from the footballing side about how investment in the academy and development squad is paying real dividends, and the other plans for progression on the pitch.

The aforementioned meet the manager/chair evening will be held on Thursday 31 January in the TR Hayes Lounge beginning at 7.30pm.

City slip to disappointing defeat at freezing Mayday Trust Park (15/1/13)

City’s first home game of 2013 ended in disappointment this evening as they lost 2-0 to Bromley in sub-zero temperatures at Mayday Trust Park. Both sides initially took a while to adapt to the tricky conditions but it was the visitors who began to look the more threatening as the half progressed. They were rewarded for this seven minutes before the interval when Joseph-Dubois’ pass allowed Theophanous the space to slide the ball under Jason Mellor. City began the second half with more purpose but on 56 minutes fell further behind, Joseph-Dubois bundling the ball home from close range despite Mellor’s desperate attempt to prevent the ball crossing the line. The introduction of Kerry Morgan and Aaron Brown finally breathed some life into City and for a 20 minute spell they finally began to create some openings. Charlie Griffin, Tom Nichols, Adam Connolly, Mark Preece and Morgan all had efforts on goal but Bromley withstood the pressure and when Griffin managed to stay on his feet despite Swaibu’s lunging challenge only to shoot into the side-netting City’s last chance was gone.

City boost defensive options with signing of Seasider Jordan Walker (15/1/13)

City have signed former Bristol City defender Jordan Walker. The 6’2 23-year old worked his way up through the junior ranks at Ashton Gate before signing a professional contract in 2007. However, several serious knee injuries halted his progress with the Robins and he was released in 2010. Since then he has played for Paulton Rovers and, this season, Clevedon Town. He goes straight into squad for this evening’s match with Bromley at Mayday Trust Park.

PREVIEW: CITY v Bromley – Blue Square Bet South (14/1/13)

City’s stop-start 2013 continued on Saturday with the postponement of their trip to Havant & Waterlooville but they will hope to make a first Mayday Trust Park appearance of the year with Bromley due to make the journey from Kent tomorrow evening. Despite their inactivity City retained the 12th position they climbed to following the 4-1 win at Weston Super Mare and, with Bromley just one place above them, both sides will be looking for a win that would move them back amongst the play-off chasing pack.

Bromley’s season thus far has been characterised by excellent runs in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy. Victories over fellow Conference South sides Sutton United and Dover Athletic were followed by a late win against Conference North Worcester City that saw the Lilywhites reach the 1st Round of the FA Cup for the second season running. There they were handed a long and not particularly glamorous trip to Football League newcomers Fleetwood Town. Unfortunately three goals for the home side in the opening 34 minutes – two from the penalty spot – meant the game was never really a contest and despite a spirited second half showing from Bromley that was how the match finished. In the FA Trophy Bromley again dispatched two league rivals – Staines Town and Boreham Wood – to earn a 2nd Round tie at home to Conference Premier Kidderminster Harriers. The visitors came into the game in great form but it was Bromley who went into the break ahead, thanks to a Waldren penalty on 44 minutes. Harriers pressed the hosts back in the second half but it wasn’t until stoppage time that they looked to have rescued a draw when they were awarded a penalty. However, Bromley keeper Welch saved Maldron’s spot-kick to take his side into the last 16 of the competition for the first time in their history. An away trip to Kent rivals Dartford was the reward but they couldn’t repeat the heroics of the previous round, losing 4-2 to miss out on a quarter-final place.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, against this background of cup distractions, Bromley’s league form has been inconsistent. Three successive wins in September without conceding a goal – including a 1-0 victory over City – lifted Mark Goldberg’s side into the top half of the table after they had failed to win any of their opening five league games. However, they then failed to record back-to-back Conference South victories in the rest of 2012 which saw them slip back toward the relegation zone. After beginning 2013 with a disappointing 2-0 home reversal against Sutton United they bounced back to beat Eastleigh by three goals to one then followed this up with an impressive 4-0 win on the road at Dorchester Town. Back in the top half of the table, and without the diversion of the major cup competitions, Bromley will now hope the second half of the campaign sees a genuine play-off challenge.

Complete record against Bromley

The game will be Bromley’s fourth trip to Bath to face City and they have yet to head back to Kent without at least a point for their efforts. The most recent encounter was an entertaining goalless draw in October 2009. Both teams got the ball down and played neat football on an excellent Twerton Park surface but could not find the finish to secure a victory. In the first half Ryan Robinson twice saved well from McBean while Darren Edwards and Mike Perrott went close for City on several occasions. After the interval City increasingly dominated the game but failed to turn this into clear cut chances and were almost made to pay for this was Bromley broke out and Cassius had a clear run on goal only for a poor touch allowing Robinson to clear the danger. For a brief spell after this the visitors looked more threatening but City finished the match well on top with Williams producing stunning saves from Stuart Douglas and Chris Holland headers to ensure the spoils were shared.

Grab yourself a New Year bargain with half-price Bath City calendar (13/1/13)

You can grab yourself an early year bargain with the 2013 Bath City Calendar now available for just £5. The calendar was produced in a partnership between the club and Sirona Care & Health with the aim of encouraging fans to take on board the health messages from giving up smoking to looking after their heart. With a number of match postponements in December the selling opportunities were reduced so the club has a number of the calendars available. 20 per cent of profits are still being donated to UK.Movember.com which is raising awareness of prostate and testicular cancer. It is available from the club and online at http://boca-uk.com/pages/home. So, to help the club raise much needed funds, support charity and grab yourself a bargain, buy a calendar or two and encourage all your friends to do the same.

City game with Havant & Waterlooville OFF due to waterlogged pitch (12/1/13)

City’s Blue Square Bet South match against Havant & Waterlooville today has been cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch. Heavy overnight rain and more forecast today on the south coast has left the Westleigh Park surface unplayable. A new date will be annouced in due course.

City have rearranged their home match with Welling United for Tuesday 29 January (ko.7.45pm).

Supporters are also advised that the Mayday Trust car park is not available for midweek games apart for those who have reserved numbered spaces. This is due to it being used by the Bridge Club, who are valuable longstanding tenants in Randall’s 3 nights a week.

PREVIEW: Havant & Waterlooville v CITY – Blue Square Bet South (10/1/13)

Following the much needed win over Weston Super Mare earlier this week City will travel to Havant & Waterlooville on Saturday looking to record back to back away league victories for the first time in over two years. The 4-1 success at the Woodspring Stadium – City’s biggest away win since they put five past Bishop’s Stortford in September 2009 – lifted Lee Howells’ men up five places and another three points could repeat this climb and, hopefully, put the recent premature talk of a relegation battle from a small group of supporters to bed.

Since the game at Westleigh Park was postponed on the Saturday before Christmas, Havant have played four games, winning two and losing two. A first half penalty was enough to beat Eastbourne Borough on Boxing Day but the Sussex club gained revenge on New Year’s Day, racing into a three-goal lead by the hour mark before two late Havant goals made the final score 3-2. In their next outing against AFC Hornchurch it was the Hawks who took control with three goals before half-time. Both sides then struck twice in the closing ten minutes, the game finishing 5-2 to Havant. This win lifted the Hawks to the dizzy heights of 12th place but a single goal defeat at Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday saw them slip back to 15th position.

Complete record against Havant & Waterlooville/Waterlooville

Off the pitch the Hawks have also been busy, recalling Harvey Whyte and Sam Pearce from loan spells at Bognor Regis Town and Gosport Borough, respectively. Heading out of Westleigh Park are Tony Taggart – who was part of the Hawks side that faced Liverpool in the FA Cup 4th Round in 2008 – due to work commitments and Dan Butler who was recalled by Portsmouth. The latter was a particular blow as the left-back had impressed during his loan spell with the club and the recall came just days after he had extended the deal until the end of the season. Unfortunately for Havant the struggling League 1 side were forced to release a number of players by administrators PKF leading to Butler’s return to Fratton Park. And today Havant signed Wycombe Wanderers midfielder Jesse Kewley-Graham on loan for the next five weeks.

Stephenson signals City arrival with Weston rocket (9/1/13)

City’s latest signing Michael Stephenson made a perfect start for the club last night when he netted the final goal in the 4-1 win at Weston Super Mare. The former Bristol Rovers and City youth player has signed dual registration forms with City and Southern League Division 1 South & West side Clevedon Town, where he has been playing since returning from a spell in America in October.

Seaside stroll just the ticket for City as they end poor run in style (8/1/13)

City halted their poor run of form in a most emphatic style this evening with a 4-1 win over Weston Super Mare at Woodspring Stadium. It took them just eight minutes to go in front when a great run and cross from Josh Low was converted by Tom Nichols to open his account for the club. And four minutes later it got even better for City as Charlie Griffin headed home a Low corner to make it 2-0. The home side got back into the game after 26 minutes when Gethin Jones tripped Price in the box and Stearn fired the penalty past Jason Mellor. The second half saw the Seasiders press in the early stages but it was City who grabbed the vital next goal, Low heading a 70th minute cross from Noah Keats into the net. And the convincing victory was sealed in stoppage time when substitute Mike Stephenson shot home following good work from Nichols and Kerry Morgan.

City have arranged their home match against Dorchester Town for Tuesday 12 February (ko 7.45pm).

PREVIEW: Weston Super Mare v CITY – Blue Square Bet South (7/1/13)

City will look to arrest an alarming slide down the table tomorrow evening when they face Weston Super Mare in the rearranged Blue Square Bet South match. Having come into December on the fringes of the play-off places, Saturday’s defeat at Basingstoke Town saw City slip to 17th place, with only goal difference separating them from the relegation zone. If City are looking for a good omen the last time they lost by a single goal at Basingstoke (which was also a third defeat in a row) they then went on a five-game winning run which lifted them into the play-offs. Given how tight the Conference South remains a similar spell would probably repeat this trick.

Complete record against Weston Super Mare

Whilst City have been heading in the wrong direction opponent’s Weston continued their ascent up the table, with Saturday’s 2-0 win over inconsistent Tonbridge Angels lifting them up to fifth place. Top scorer Ross Stearn was the two-goal star against the Kent side, netting after 38 and 68 minutes, to stretch the Seasiders unbeaten run to five games. They could even afford to drop ex-City striker Kane Ingram, who scored both goals in the Boxing Day win over the Romans, to the bench for the Tonbridge game.

Ken Loach hosts ‘Political Incorrectness’ night at Mayday Trust Park (6/1/13)

Ken Loach presents an evening of three of his banned films at the Mayday Trust Park on Friday 1st February 2013. Clips from The Save The Children Fund, Which Side are you on? and Questions of Leadership will be shown with discussions on the three pieces to follow. This unique opportunity will bring a chance to see these previously banned films and discuss them in the comfortable surrounds of one of England’s most famous non-league football clubs. The Save The Children Fund Film was commissioned by the Charity with funding from the Charity itself and from London Weekend Television. However with the outcome of the film portraying class prejudice in the way aid and funding was administered in Kenya it was banned at the time and the Charity was determined to destroy the film. The film has finally, after over forty years, been given one or two screenings. It has never been shown on television. ‘Which Side Are You On?’ portrays the miners’ strike in 1984, through the songs and poems of the time. Originally due to be shown on The South Bank Show, it was banned by London Weekend Television for being ‘political’ rather than ‘artistic’. At the time, Ken Loach said: “”It is clear that only approved people can make comments about a struggle as decisive as the miners.” It was finally shown on Channel 4 in 1985, but with a counter view aired shortly afterwards. Questions of Leadership was a four part documentary series about the failure of Trades Union leaders to organise against the attacks by Thatcher. It was due to be shown on Channel 4 in 1982 but was withdrawn after pressure by union leaders. A year later it was announced they were never to be shown. That remains the situation. All these documentaries will spark great debate on a number of topics from political, social and the practice of the television documentary; how do television executives interpret the notion of ‘objectivity’. Doors open at 7pm, with full bar available throughout with car parking on site. The films will start at 7.30pm. Tickets: £10 Adults, £8 concessions – via Bath City Football Club on 01225 313247 or from bathcityfcsociety@gmail.com.

Dream start to no avail as Dragons fight back to overcome struggling City (5/1/13)

City slipped uncomfortably close to the relegation zone as they surrended a one goal lead to lose 2-1 against Basingstoke Town at The Camrose this afternoon. The game was just 36 seconds old when a weaving run by Dan Ball saw him square the ball to Josh Low to stroke a shot past Bayes from ten yards. The Dragon’s keeper denied Tom Nichol’s shortly afterwards as City looked to build on this dream start. Low saw another chance turned away by Bayes but on 24 minutes a slip by Mark Preece allowed the red-hot Sam-Yorke a sight of goal and he made it five goals in two games with a shot that had just enough power to beat Jason Mellor. Low then raced clear from a Noah Keats pass on 34 minutes but his shot clipped the outside of the post. If City could feel slightly aggrieved not to be in front at the interval the second half was largely controlled by the hosts. Keats did get a shot on target just before the hour mark which Bayes comfortably saved but the home pressure finally paid off on 76 minutes, Sam-Yorke blasting the ball into the roof of the net from close range. City never looked like finding an equaliser after this, only Mellor denying Sam-Yorke a hat-trick late on, and the run of five league matches without a win leaves them above the bottom three on just goal difference.

Cummings is the latest goings as he heads back to Wales (4/1/13)

Luke Cummings has left City and looks set to return to his native Wales with an unnamed League of Wales club. The 21-year old joined City in the summer from Neath but struggled to earn a regular first team place, making four starts and ten substitute appearances, and goes with the good wishes of all at the club. With Luke becoming the fourth player to leave Mayday Trust Park since the turn of the year City are actively pursuing a number of options to strengthen their squad.

PREVIEW: Basingstoke Town v CITY – Blue Square Bet South (3/1/13)

After City’s surprise abortive start to 2013 when their match at Weston Super Mare was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, having passed an earlier inspection, they will hope for more luck as they head to Hampshire to face Basingstoke Town on Saturday. With all other ten New Year’s Day Blue Square Bet South matches beating the weather City’s inactivity saw them slip to 14th place, just two points above the relegation zone, and with five of their next six matches away from home a win over the Dragons would be the perfect start to a potentially tough month.

Basingstoke come into the game second bottom in the table but, given how remarkably tight the Blue Square Bet South is so far this season, just eleven points off fifth place and on the back of an extraordinary 6-2 win over Farnborough Town. The Dragons enjoyed their most successful Conference South season last year, finishing in fifth place to secure a first play-off appearance. This ended in disappointment with a 3-1 aggregate defeat against Dartford but when they began the 2012-13 campaign unbeaten in their opening five games another promotion challenge looked on the cards. However, they then won just once in their next eleven league outings, alongside early exits in three cup competitions. This run was halted thanks to a 1-0 win over Tonbridge Angels but back to back losses at AFC Hornchurch and Farnborough meant only Truro City’s points deduction was keeping them off the bottom of the table. It looked as if these struggles would continue when they trailed Farnborough 1-0 at half-time on New Year’s Day but Jason Bristow’s side scored an astonishing six goals in just fifteen second half minutes, with striker Delano Sam-Yorke finding the net four times in twelve minutes. Although the visitors pulled a goal back to make the final score 6-2, City will undoubtedly face a much more confident Basingstoke team at the weekend.

Off the pitch, December saw the Dragons announce progress on their ambitious plans to build a new £10 million stadium. The club had spent much of 2012 negotiating with Basingstoke and Deane Council, who own the area earmarked for the new stadium, as well as some land at the Camrose. Chairman Rafi Razzak admitted these discussions had taken longer than expected but says that the two parties came to an agreement last month. The building of the new stadium would be funded from the development of the club’s current Camrose ground. Razzak has been able to obtain a legal option to buy the land, most of which is currently leased from the Camrose Estate, and it would be turned into a retail park, with the potential to create 300 jobs.

Complete record against Basingstoke Town

City and Basingstoke most recently met in the FA Trophy last season at Twerton Park, with now Down Under Sean Canham netting the only goal of the game. Their last trip to the Camrose in March 2010 was less successful as they slumped to a single goal defeat that left their play-off hopes hanging by a thread. City had looked the stronger side for the majority of the game but in the end this counted for nothing. In the first half Kaid Mohamed went close on several occasions and after the interval it was only the inside of the post that denied him a stunning individual goal. The home side had also forced Ryan Robinson into a number of good saves but he was powerless to stop Webb’s 86th minute looping header just when the game looked destined to finish goalless.

‘Mr Bath City’ speaks to the club about his Chippenham Town move (2/1/13)

Following move to Chippenham Town after over ten years and 450 appearances for City, Jim Rollo spoke to the club to discuss his time at Twerton Park, his family’s reaction, the reason for his switch to the Bluebirds, how if felt to make his debut at Hardenhuish Park and how he could one day return to the club as kitman (in the unlikely event even longer servant John ‘Fozzie’ Forster ever retires).

BC: What are your best memories about your time with City?

JR: I either haven’t got one, or there are too many of them! Bath City is a very special club, the people there are amazing, the board, the staff, the players, the management … and of course the fans. Over the next couple of weeks when it all starts to calm down a bit, I am sure I will be able to think of some stand out moments, but for now, the ten years there, that’s my best memory. We could talk all day …

BC: You obviously love the club, why did you leave?

JR: I do absolutely love Bath City, and it was a very hard decision for me to make, we all got emotional. I had a long chat with both Arch and Adie, and they were very honest with me about the fact I may be a squad player as they rebuild the team for the future and where possible bring in youngsters … I totally see where they are coming from, but I don’t feel ready to hang up my playing boots yet, I hope I’ve got another playing season at least in me. The only reason I left is because I want to play football, and think I have a better chance of doing that at Chippenham. I’m looking to take some coaching badges, maybe at the end of this season, but the thing about the profession is, its very demanding, you have to be able to give it your all, and the moment I dont want to train hard and keep motivated is the moment I will call a day on my playing career.

BC: It must have felt strange turning out for Chippenham?

JR: It did a bit, and I am very stiff today after a full 90 minutes of football. I do know a lot of players there, probably about 50% of them, and that made it a bit easier. As the Bath game was called off, some fans came to see the match, and I was really honoured they did so, I knew most of them, not only because of their Bath strip, but also by name because we had formed friendships over the last 10 years.

BC: What did your family think?

JR: My boy was gutted, he’s never known me play for anyone other than Bath, and didn’t realise that this is what its like in football, you have to go where the opportunities are, and I have been very lucky to be able to spend 10 years of my career at one very special club. My daughter saw me in a blue training kit and asked if I had joined Keynsham.

BC: The fans didn’t get a chance to give you a send off.

JR: No, the way the timing worked out, and given postponements, I didn’t have the chance to say goodbye. I had been talking with Manda for a while about a testimonial, and we are going to arrange something, maybe in the Summer. Anyway, its not goodbye. I am sure if fixtures allow I will pop back to the ground to watch a game, and who knows what the future may bring, if Fozzie ever retires, I could do a Scottie and become kit man!

BC: Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans now?

JR: I’ve enjoyed my ten years immensely, Bath City is a very special club, and I have been priviledged to be involved in some of the great times, especially the promotions seasons. It is in transition now, there are some great players there, and some great players coming through, and it is in the nature of football that all clubs have good and bad times … stick with it, the team, the management, the Board. Sure I will be able to think of some other gems of wisdom in the coming weeks.

BC: Anything else?

JR: Yes, before I go, thank you for all you have done for me.

BC: No, Jim, thank you.

Yesterday’s postponed match against Weston Super Mare at Woodspring Stadium has been rearranged for Tuesday 8 January (ko 7.45pm).

Weston match postponed despite being given earlier go ahead (1/1/13)

Despite passing a morning inspection today’s Blue Square Bet South match at Weston Super Mare has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Weston reported that the game would go ahead at 10.30am but when the match referee inspected the Woodsrping Stadium playing surface he immediately declared it unplayable. A new date for the game will be announced in due course. City are now due to be next in action at Basingstoke Town on Saturday 5 January.