City complete their 2009 pre-season campaign on Monday with a trip to Zamaretto League side Yate Town. The Bluebells are managed by City’s all-time record appearance holder Dave Mogg. He took over the Lodge Road hot-seat in a caretaker capacity following the sacking of Richard Thompson back in February. Despite his failure to keep the club in the Southern League Premier Division he was appointed permanently in May and at the start of this month announced another former City player as his assistant for the new season, Grantley Dicks, forming a duo that can boast 745 games for City between them.
The Bluebells relegation last season ended a four year spell at the highest level the club has enjoyed, which included a very creditable 6th place finish during their first season in 2005-06. They consolidated their position at that level with 14th and 10th placings the next two seasons but a run of just two wins in twenty league matches last campaign left them near the foot of the table and despite Mogg’s best efforts they couldn’t avoid finishing second from bottom. They had previously spent eleven seasons in the second tier of Southern League football having won promotion from the Hellenic League in 1989 following back to back Premier Division titles.
Complete record against Yate Town
Lodge Road will hold many a happy memory for City fans as it was the venue where they secured the 2006-07 Southern League championship. Second half goals from Craig Davidge and Steve Jones overturned a 1-0 half-time deficit and sparked joyous scenes on the pitch at the final whistle. This was the first time that City had managed to beat the Bluebells in a league encounter, with two draws and a defeat in the previous three meetings. The clubs had also met twice before in two-legged Southern League Cup ties toward the end of the 1980s and 1990s, City finishing victorious in all four of these games. There have been three pre-season matches, all at Lodge Road. The first took place in 1987 where a Paul Bodin brace and a Graham Withey strike gave City a 3-0 win. They matched this scoreline in their most recent clash two years ago thanks to goals from Lewis Hogg, Dave Gilroy and an Adie Harris penalty. In-between Yate recorded a 1-0 win in a physical encounter prior to the 2004-05 season.
Ironically, given that City’s main concern during the summer has been the (so far) fruitless search for a new striker, if they score at Yate it will be the first time since 1998 that they have found the net in every pre-season match. And this will particularly contrast with the summer of 2004 when they failed to find the net in seven of their eight outings, including the aforementioned match at Yate.
Richard Evans and Darren Edwards were on target for City this evening as they came from a goal down to beat Blue Square North newcomers Gloucester City by two goals to one. Jack Pitcher had put the Tigers ahead before Evans drew City level prior to the interval. And in a week where Edwards was left as City’s only experienced fit centre-forward it was fitting that he netted his second of pre-season to secure the victory in the second half. The game also saw loan goalkeeper Will Puddy make his first appearance in a City shirt. City’s final pre-season match takes place next Monday at Yate Town (ko 7.45pm).
City striker woes took a further turn for the worse today when Stuart Douglas was told he needs an operation on a neck problem that will sideline him for at least six weeks. The 31-year old picked up the injury in the friendly at Swindon Supermarine last week and it leaves City with one experienced forward in Darren Edwards plus teenager Jamie Taylor with just ten days to go before the start of the 2009-10 Blue Square South season. The news makes City’s drawn-out search for a new forward to replace last season’s top scorer Dave Gilroy, who joined Newport County in May, even more urgent.
City have signed Cheltenham Town goalkeeper Will Puddy on a three month loan deal to provide cover for Ryan Robinson and Steve Perrin. Robinson, who only joined City from Forest Green Rovers in June, will be unavailable until late September following a back operation and usual cover Perrin is also struggling with a back problem. 21-year old Puddy is a former City youth team keeper who made three non-playing substitute outings for the first team during the 2004-05 season. He joined Cheltenham’s academy set-up in January 2005 and has since progressed through their ranks, making his first-team debut in the final match of last season.
City’s penultimate pre-season match takes them back to where they started their friendly campaign – Cirencester Town’s Corinium Stadium – this time to face tenants Gloucester City. The Tigers are preparing for a first season of Conference football after their surprise play-off victory back in May which brought an end to 68 successive seasons in the Southern League. Somewhat incongruously Gloucester were placed in the Blue Square North (Blue Square South club Worcester City lie 30 miles to the North) meaning the clubs will not renew a rivalry that has seen them face each other on 64 occasions since they originally met in the first season following World War II.
The Tigers 1-0 play-off win at big spending Farnborough was all the more remarkable given that the club has been required to play their home games 21 miles from their home city in Cirencester. They were forced from their impressive Meadow Park home in July 2007 when the ground was flooded for the third time in less than ten years. A combination of a lack of insurance due to the previous flooding and contamination by sewage water meant the club had no choice but to abandon the ground. After a season spent playing at Forest Green Rovers they switched to the Corinium Stadium last summer. Hopes of an early return to Gloucester have been blocked at each turn, with a groundshare with local county league side Quedgeley Wanderers, who play around 4 miles outside of the city boundaries, rejected in November 2007 after the Wanderers’ board and the local parish rejected the proposal. Hopes of a groundshare with Gloucester rugby club’s Kingsholm stadium was also rejected by their multi millionaire owner Tom Walkinshaw. Gloucester Rugby Club also rejected plans to move to a new purpose built 20,000 seater stadium in a derelict area of the city nicknamed “The Triangle” near to the railway station. Both the rugby and football club were earmarked to use the facility.
Two names familiar to City fans were instrumental in Gloucester’s promotion last season, manager David Mehew and midfielder Alex Sykes. Former Bristol Rovers striker ‘Boris’ had three spells with City. A brief loan period during the 1987-88 season was his first taste of the club before he returned for the closing months of the 1996-97 campaign where his impressive performances almost helped City retain their Conference place. By contrast his third spell, after being released by Forest Green, in early 2000, was to help the club maintain their, ultimately unsuccessful, promotion push. Following this he played for a number of non-league sides in the Bristol area before joining the Tigers as assistant to Tim Harris in July 2006. After two seasons in this role he was promoted to manager when Harris ‘moved upstairs’. Despite missing a play-off place by just a point in the 2007-08 season few would have predicted their success last year and it was the goals from midfield by Sykes that proved so vital to this achievement. After a long career with Forest Green Rovers he joined City in September 2004 and spent two seasons at Twerton Park, where his seemed to equally impress and frustrate City fans with his inconsistent performances. After a loan spell with Gloucester he joined them permanently in May 2006 and while a regular scorer in his first two seasons at the club it was his outstanding goalscoring record – he netted 27 times in just 42 games – that played such a large part in their triumph.
In common with City for their first season at this level, Mehew has largely kept faith with the players who earned the promotion, although there has been a protracted saga over the identity of a new goalkeeper after previous no.1 Kevin Sawyer joined Weston Super Mare. Mehew appears to have targeted a new shot-stopper from very early on but has consistently refused to name him, although he his talked him up on numerous occasions. This has understandably led to much speculation amongst Tigers fans over his identity (but any close guesses have been deleted from the club’s message board) and it’s almost reached the point that unless the new keeper is Gianluigi Buffon or Iker Casillas it could all be an anti-climax. The latest news is that the keeper will play against City, although given the proceeding build-up it wouldn’t be a surprise if he came out wearing a Kendo Nagasaki style mask.
Complete record against Gloucester City
In addition to the 64 competitive clashes between the sides they have also met on three occasions in pre-season. The most recent of these came just five days after Meadow Park was submerged under eight feet of water in July 2007. The match was switched to Twerton Park – with all gate receipts going to Gloucester – where a Craig Davidge double gave City a 2-0 win. The previous meeting four years earlier also had an element of philanthropy about it as City agreed to play a friendly against the then Southern League Midland Division side as a thank you to their chairman Colin Gardener for his £3000 donation that allowed the Supporters Society to complete the club buy back from Corporate Equity in January 2003. City were equally generous in the game, going down 3-1 with Paul Milsom – who had played for both clubs – on target for the visitors. The other game took place before the 1981-82 season where another ex-Roman and Tiger – Graham Withey – scored the only goal of the game.
Marcus Browning has agreed to join City and is due to put pen to paper this week, but the search for a new striker continues with the new season less than two weeks away. The 38-year old ex-Bristol Rovers midfielder – who recently came to an agreement with former club Weymouth to pay off his contract – will fill the utility role so ably performed by Steve Jones in previous seasons. However, the new striker City desperately require has proved more elusive. There could be light at the end of this tunnel though, with manager Adie Britton hopeful that a budget boost could finally give him the necessary pulling power to attract one of several remaining targets. City fans can help in this area by contributing to the ‘Hire a Hitman’ scheme being organised by supporter Sebastian ‘The Bear’ Buckley. For further details click here.
An early goal by Richard Evans was enough to give City a 1-0 Coronation Cup win over Chippenham Town at a damp Twerton Park this afternoon but the game will be mainly remembered for the six bookings and one red card. Bluebirds’ Kye Holly was dismissed for his part in a harmless looking shoving match on 67 minutes and he was joined in the referee’s notebook by four teammates plus City’s Mark Badman and Lewis Hogg. While the game was slightly more competitive than a usual pre-season encounter – with former City striker Sam Allison’s late tackle on Jim Rollo particularly unpleasant – offical Mr Simon Knapp did nothing to dispell the feeling that he would be out of his depth refereeing a blow football match by failing to apply any common sense to his decisions. The only goal of the match came after just four minutes when Stuart Douglas squared the ball to give Evans a simple tap-in. City should have won the game much more comfortably than this as they denied the Zamaretto League side a clear opening on goal but once again their lack of firepower was painfully obvious. Gethin Jones and Darren Edwards forced good stops out of Bluebirds keeper Snoddy in the first half and the latter fired a shot narrowly wide shortly after the break. Adam Connolly then had a shot charged down and Douglas appeared to be pulled back in the area as he set himself to shoot, before Snoddy produced a great double save and substitute Mike Perrott headed a Sekani Simpson cross against the bar. Chippenham did earn an injury-time corner but fittingly this came to nothing and City could celebrate lifting the Coronation Cup sponsored by Bizarre Bath Comedy Walk.
Over 50 City fans took to the streets of Bath today to raise the profile of the club and vital funds ahead of the 2009-10 Blue Square South season. Oganisers Keith Leakey and Daz hope the sponsored walk will raise around £3000 for the club, as they were joined by players Jim Rollo and Darren Edwards plus manager Adie Britton in covering the 10km route. The walkers took a well-deserved at the City Centre Bath City stall before returning to Twerton Park, with most walkers covering the route in around 2 1/2 hours.
City and Chippenham Town resurrect the Coronation Cup (sponsored by Bizarre Bath Comedy Walk) on Sunday at Twerton Park as they look to add an extra competitive edge to their pre-season meeting. The Trophy was first played for in 1937 between Arsenal and Portsmouth, but has not been competed for since 1992 when City met Trowbridge Town in a match that had two legs a remarkable four years apart.
The Trophy – called the Coronation Cup after the crowning of King George VI in December 1936 – was presented to the club in 1937 by Mr AE Rickards, president of the Bloomfield Bowling Club, after Arsenal agreed to play a friendly match at Twerton Park as part of the deal that took goalkeeper Frank Boulton to Highbury. Rather than facing City themselves manager Ted Davis persuaded the Gunners to take on fellow 1st Division side Portsmouth, who were then City’s foster club. The players of both clubs were treated to VIP treatment in Bath before Arsenal ran out winners in front of over 11,000 fans at Twerton Park. The Cup was next played for at the end of the first season after World War II when City lost 2-1 to Bristol City. It was then competed for intermittently over the next 20 years against clubs including the Scots Guards, Bristol Rovers and Leyton Orient, although there was a common theme as City lost every match.
It wasn’t until the 1966-67 season that the competition became a more permanent fixture with a regular opponent in Trowbridge Town. The clubs faced each other in five of the next six seasons for the trophy – in either a one-off match or a two-legged encounter. City came out on top four times and they were the holders when the contest again disappeared in 1972. The three-foot high trophy seemed to be forgotten in the following years before being dusted down in 1988 and contested again between City and Trowbridge. The first leg took place at Frome Road in August and an 8th minute goal by Andy Rowland gave the home side a 1-0 win. The plan had been to play the 2nd leg early in the New Year but instead it didn’t take place for four years as the clubs finally met again in August 1992, once again at Frome Road. In a meeting that belied its friendly status a fiery encounter saw two players sent off – Adie Mings for City and Mike Kilgour for Trowbridge – while John Freegard (who was playing for City in the first leg) cancelled out Graham Withey’s first-half strike to give the Bees a 2-1 aggregate victory.
So, after another gap of 17 years the trophy will be played for between City and Zamaretto League Premier Division side Chippenham Town. This will be the first clash between the local rivals since City completed the double over the Bluebirds on the way to the 2006-07 Southern League title. That season the Wiltshire side finished in 7th place which ended a run of two successive play-off placings. They returned to the play-offs at the end of the 2007-08 campaign but in common with their previous two attempts they failed to secure a place in the Blue Square South, losing to Halesowen Town at the semi-final stage. Last season they had to settle for 8th place, although their cause was not helped by the deduction of three points for playing an ineligible player against Yate Town.
Complete record against Chippenham Town
Chippenham have enjoyed a great start to their pre-season campaign with wins over Hellenic League Highworth Town, Blue Square Premier club Salisbury City and a young Swindon Town side. On target against both Highworth and Swindon was former City striker Sam Allison and another player who has impressed is previous City target and ex-Larkhall Athletic striker Ben Highmore. The game will go to penalties if the scores are level after 90 minutes and gate receipts will be shared between the two clubs.
City manager Adie Britton has turned his attention to transfer-listed Bristol Rovers duo Sean Rigg and Lewis Haldane in the ongoing attempts to strengthen the clubs attacking options ahead of the 2009-10 Blue Square South season. The pair impressed Britton in last night’s 2-1 friendly defeat, Rigg netting both goals with Haldane the provider, that he is now considering a loan move for one or other of the players. Rigg spent time last season on loan with Blue Square Premier side Grays Athletic, whilst Haldane had a season long loan spell with Oxford United.
Two players who look set to put pen to paper on contracts for the 2009-10 season are youngsters Jamie Taylor and Ashley Caldwell. The teenagers have impressed sufficiently in pre-season to be offered deals, although both are likely to be loaned out to other clubs to gain experience.
City hope to find out this week when new goalkeeper Ryan Robinson will be fit to return to action following his back operation, with the ex-Forest Green Rovers player due to meet a specialist today. With back-up keeper Steve Perrin also suffering from a back problem – former Weston Super Mare shot stopper Ryan Northmore has played in their last two friendlies – City have been linked with Cheltenham Town no.2 (and former City youth player) Will Puddy, and a decision is likely to be made next week on whether to bring him in on a loan deal.
A first half brace from striker Sean Rigg gave Bristol Rovers a 2-1 victory as they returned to Twerton Park this evening, with Darren Edwards netting City’s consolation late in the game. Against a young Pirates side City were given another excellent work out and but for some wasteful finishing could have easily won the game. City started the game positively but fell behind on 14 minutes when a swift Rovers break ended with Rigg latching on to a neat back heel from Lewis Haldane to fire past Ryan Northmore. He struck again on 31 minutes with a composed finish after racing onto a through ball, again Haldane the provider. Despite trailing by two goals City continued to pass the ball well and Aaraon Cornwall had a good chance charged down before Edwards twice missed good openings. After the interval City continued to press but found Rovers keeper Green in fine form. However, they finally got the goal their play deserved with a couple of minutes remaining when Edwards seized on a long ball forward to lift his shot over Green from a narrow angle.
City’s preparations for the new season continue at Twerton Park on Wednesday evening as Bristol Rovers send a side back to their former home, although with a game against Cheltenham Town the previous night it is likely that a young team will represent the Pirates. However, as City reach the midway stage of their pre-season campaign it will be their line-up they are more concerned with. After registering a first win of the summer at Swindon Supermarine last Friday they will look to build up some momentum ahead of their opening Blue Square South match at Chelmsford City on 8 August.
Unsurprisingly give their time spent at Twerton Park, Rovers have been regular pre-season opponents in recent years. The last meeting took place two years ago when a Rovers side featuring ten of the eleven players who has won the play-off final at Wembley two months earlier raced into a 4-0 half-time lead, with Igoe (2), Lescott and Walker all on target for the Gas. The second half saw them field a completely different XI and goals from Darren Edwards and Jason Wood gave the minority of City fans in the 1233 crowd something to cheer, although in-between Rigg scored to make the final scoreline 5-2. At least City managed to score in that game, having drawn a blank the previous three years when the sides met. City have to go back to 2002 to recall a victory over Rovers when goals from Jason Eaton and Jamie Gosling gave them a 2-0 win. During the ten years Rovers shared Twerton Park the sides met on six occasions during pre-season, although City failed to register a win during those games.
Complete record against Bristol Rovers
Prior to the Second World War City regularly met Bristol Rovers reserve side in the Southern League, Western League and Bristol Charity League, however they have only met the first team in competitive matches on six occasions. The first of these was a Coronation Cup match in 1961 when despite two Charlie Fleming goals Rovers ran out 5-2 winners. The next four meetings all took place in the Somerset Premier Cup during the 1990s (before Rovers withdrew from the competition toward the end of that decade) including the 1994 final which City won 5-4 on aggregate, with both legs being played at Twerton Park. However, the most memorable clash took place the following season when the sides were drawn together in the FA Cup 1st Round. City’s run to the 3rd Round proper the previous season meant both they and Rovers entered the competition at this 1st Round stage. At the time Rovers were in the 2nd Division and they would finish that season with a Wembley appearance in the play-off final, only to lose 2-1 to Huddersfield Town. There was some disappointment, given the landlord versus tenant angle, that the game was not selected for Sky coverage but the one-sided outcome of the match meant City were probably relieved it wasn’t shown to a nationwide audience. In front of over 6700 supporters (with no segregation between the two sets of fans) City fell behind after just 19 minutes when Marcus Stewart headed home a rebound from the crossbar. Despite this early setback they managed to frustrate Rovers until half-time. However, within seven minutes of the restart if all went wrong for City when Grantley Dicks received a straight red card for a tackle on David Pritchard. From then on it was one-way traffic and Paul Miller netted four times in 23 minutes and it was only a series of fine saves by Dave Mogg that kept the final score to ‘just’ 5-0.
Rovers are currently in Coca-Cola League 1 having won promotion to that level via the 2006-07 play-offs at the new Wembley Stadium (having already played at the Millennium Stadium that season in the Football League Trophy) with a 3-1 win over Shrewsbury Town. In their first season at that level they finished 16th but enjoyed a remarkable run in the FA Cup, reaching the quarter finals where they were knocked out by West Bromwich Albion. Last season they improved on their final placing to 11th. Unlike in recent years City only have one current player who has played for the Pirates, with Lewis Hogg captaining the side and making nearly 100 appearances between 1999 and 2003. Trialist Marcus Browning did spend seven years with them though, playing over 200 games (including the aforementioned FA Cup tie).
City recorded their first 2009 pre-season success with a 2-0 win at Zamaretto League side Swindon Supermarine this evening. Having gone close several times in the first half they finally went ahead four minutes after the restart thanks to trialist Jack Allward. With around 15 minutes left City doubled their lead when a Stuart Douglas’ shot from a Richard Evans cross was deflected into the net by former City defender Leigh Henry. The closest Marine came to scoring was just prior to this goal, when a header by Matt Coupe almost ended up in his own net only for keeper Ryan Northmore to produce a great save.
City boss Adie Britton is hoping to persuade former Bristol Rovers and Bournemouth midfielder Marcus Browning to take a pay cut and sign for the 2009-10 season. The versatile 38-year old has featured in both of City’s pre-season matches so far, but any potential deal will have to fit within City’s limited budget. Browning spent the last couple of seasons as player-coach at Blue Square South newcomers Weymouth, after making nearly 500 league appearances plus five caps for Wales, but had the final year of his contract paid up by the financially struggling south coast club.
City go into their third 2009 pre-season outing on Friday still searching for a first win, but more importantly looking to decide which of the trialists is worth a contract and preparing for the opening Blue Square South game at Chelmsford City in just over three weeks time. Facing them is Zamaretto League Premier Division side Swindon Supermarine at their neat Hunts Copse ground.
Marine only formed in 1992 when existing Hellenic League clubs Supermarine and Swindon Athletic (formally known as Penhill) merged, taking the latter’s place in the Premier Division of that competition. The new club enjoyed five successive top ten finishes following the amalgamation which then culminated in lifting the title in 1997-98 (winning their final two games 8-0 and 6-0 on consecutive days to secure the championship). They repeated this feat three seasons later which earned them a place in the Southern League. However, they struggled to adapt to the higher level and continually flirted with relegation back to the Hellenic League for their first four Southern League seasons. A situation not helped by a high managerial turnover, including a two-month spell by former Chippenham Town boss Tommy Saunders during the 2002-03 season. They finally found their feet in the 2005-06 season under the leadership of Saunders’ former assistant Mark Collier. A 5th place finish earned Marine a play-off place but they were comfortably beaten by Hemel Hempstead Town in the semi-final. The following season they improved their league position by one place and this time wins over Burham and Taunton Town ensured they would play in the Southern League Premier Division for the first time in their existence. A solid 12th place finish in 2007-08 was built on last season when for a long time they were play-off contenders, only to fall away in the final months of the campaign. They also enjoyed a remarkable FA Trophy run, beating Conference clubs Bromley and Eastbourne Borough before going out to holders Ebbsfleet in the last 16.
Marine’s Hunts Copse home was built in 1990 as a new sports complex incorporating sections for Football, Rugby, Cricket, Archery and Bowls. Prior to this the Supermarine Football Club was just one of the sporting sections of the engineering company, Vickers Armstrong (hence the name). The Vickers Sports complex was sited just down the road from its present location on what is now the South Marston Industrial Estate. In 1995 the football club purchased the 9.5 acre site and has steadily improved the ground, with planning permission for a new stand, new clubhouse and changing facilities and a new ground entrance car park already in place.
Several former City players are likely to line up against them in the friendly meeting, including Gary Horgan, Leigh Henry, Kyle Lapham and Justyn McKay. Manager Collier – now in his sixth season in charge – has made several new signings as he attempts to continue the club’s upward progress, including Hitchin Town’s top scorer Mark Barnes and experienced defender Matt Robinson, who made around 350 league appearances for Portsmouth, Reading and Oxford United.
City have never met Marine in a competitive match – as they were winning a place in the Southern League Premier Division, City were heading to the Blue Square South – but the clubs have faced each other twice in pre-season encounters. The first came in August 2001 as Marine prepared for their first season in the Southern League. City went ahead after 15 minutes when Jamie Mills headed a Sam Allison cross home but the hosts levelled just before the interval. The second half was still an even affair with City edging ahead 16 minutes from time thanks to a Jamie Crandon effort from the edge of the box. With heavy rain and thunderstorms sweeping across the ground City’s superior fitness appeared to tell as they struck twice more in the last ten minutes, Graham MacLean netting both, to finish 4-1 winners. A year later City were back in Wiltshire to begin their 2002 pre-season campaign. French trialist Bertrand Cozic opened the scoring in the first half before a second half brace from Jamie Gosling saw City home 3-0. Coincidently, one other new face in City’s line-up that evening was current Marine player, the aforementioned Gary Horgan.
Photographs of the recent appearance by Eric Cantona (pictured) at Twerton Park taken by professional photographer Joss Barratt are now available to buy here. The excellent collection covers before, during and after the event which attracted well over 350 football fans to the club, having been arranged through City supporter and film director Ken Loach after the former Manchester United and France player starred in his film, ‘Looking for Eric’. The event raised around £12,000 for the club and half the money generated from these photos will also go to Bath City FC.
City suffered their second pre-season defeat as Hayes & Yeading United won by two goals to one tonight at Twerton Park. All the goals came in the second period with Sido Jombarti netting City’s effort in-between strikes from Marwa and Fitzgerald for the Blue Square Premier newcomers. It was a trimmed down squad for City from the 20 players they fielded against Cirencester last week, with just five second half substitutions. Recent signing Mike Perrett and goalkeeper Steve Perrin made their first outings of the summer, although the latter picked up a back injury and was replaced at the interval by Owen Dunn. He appeared to suffer the problem midway through the first half when he produced a stunning save from a deflected free-kick. This was the closest either side came to scoring before the break but within twleve minutes of the restart Marwa was given the freedom of the City area to roll United ahead. An equaliser had not looked likely until keeper Preddie spilled a cross by Aaron Cornwall and Jombarti stabbed the loose ball home with 16 minutes remaining. The deciding goal came ten minutes later when Fitzgerald rounded Dunn before slotting home. City had a great chance to equaliser in the final minute when Jombarti raced clear only for a defender to pull him back and the same player could only blast the free-kick over the bar.
City take to the field for their second pre-season outing on Monday as Blue Square Premier newcomers Hayes & Yeading United make the trip down the M4 to Twerton Park. The Middlesex side were the surprise Blue Square South play-off winners last year in only their second season in existence, having formed with the merger of Hayes FC and Yeading FC in May 2007. The former of these clubs spent six seasons at the pinnacle of non-league football between 1996 and 2002, but 2009-10 will see United’s first at that level. If a club that struggles to get more than 200-250 fans reaching this national stage is not remarkable enough the manner of their play-off success almost tops it. A deserved fourth place finish earned them a semi-final meeting with Eastleigh but after just 50 minutes of the first leg at their Church Road home they found themselves 4-0 down and facing another season in the Blue Square South. Even though they pulled two goals back in the last twenty minutes it still looked a forlorn task to deny Eastleigh a place in the final. However, a goal on the stroke of half-time then a penalty nine from the end took the match into extra-time and the turnaround was completed thanks to two further goals, the tie finishing 6-4 to Hayes & Yeading. The final against Hampton & Richmond Borough had a lot to live up to but almost managed it as United saw a 1-0 interval lead evaporate thanks to strikes in the 49th and 69th minutes. Once again, though, they produced a stunning comeback with two goals in as many minutes to secure a famous victory.
Not surprisingly there have a number of comings and goings (mostly goings) at Church Road as manager Garry Haylock (who predicted promotion within two seasons when the new club was formed!) looks to build a side capable of completing with the likes of Luton Town, Oxford United and Wrexham in the Blue Square Premier. On their way out are Steven Gregory, who netted the two second half goals in the play-off final, to fellow promoted side AFC Wimbledon, left-back Gary MacDonald to Havant & Waterlooville, top scorer Josh Scott, who has joined League 2 side Dagenham & Redbridge, and fellow striker Staforde Palmer, who has moved to Maidenhead United on a three-month loan deal. In common with many teams at this level Haylock appears to be biding his time in bringing in new players with just a single fresh face in the shape of former Team Bath midfielder Marc Canham. This has meant the club has fielded a number of trialists in their two pre-season outings so far. They opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Walton & Hersham at Hayes Lane before losing by the same scoreline the following evening to Hendon.
Complete record against Hayes/Yeading/Hayes & Yeading United
City’s four meetings with United in their two seasons have ended in two draws and two defeats. The most recent of these came at Church Road in January with both sides sitting just outside the Blue Square South play-off positions. City got off to a perfect start on five minutes when Darren Edwards reached a long ball forward ahead of keeper Howe before rolling it into the unguarded net. However, a close range Scott header and an own goal by Steve Jones meant the home side led at the break. Both sides wasted chances to add to the scoring in the second half and with a couple of minutes remaining it looked as if United would hang on to their slender lead. This hope disappeared when an Ali Gibb cross was headed back by Edwards for Stuart Douglas to flick it toward goal where Dave Gilroy applied the vital final touch.
After fielding 20 players in their opening friendly at Cirencester Town, City manager Adie Britton has said he is likely to trim this down to around 16-17 players this time. Two players who missed the 2-1 defeat in Gloucestershire are likely to feature this time though, goalkeeper Steve Perrin and ex-Team Bath midfielder Mike Perrott. Another two who did play at Cirencester and are set to get another run out are former Chippenham Town and Halesown Town player Aaron Cornwall, who netted City’s goal, and experienced 38-year old Marcus Browning.
City’s new goalkeeper Ryan Robinson could miss the start of the 2009-10 season following a back operation he underwent a couple of weeks ago. The former Forest Green Rovers 26-year old is due to meet a specialist next week to determine whether he will be fit in time for the trip to Chelmsford City on 8 August. If not City will once again turn to the ever reliable Steve Perrin to don the goalkeeping gloves. This could be the third successive season that the Melksham Town shot-stopper has stepped in to cover for an injured no.1 choice early in the season, with previous keeper Paul Evans missing the first two games in 2007-08 after picking up a neck injury in pre-season and then three games early in the 2008-09 campaign with a knee problem that required surgery later in the year.
City began their preparations for the 2009-10 Blue Square South season with a 2-1 defeat against Zamaretto League side Cirencester Town this evening. City fielded twenty different players, with just goalkeeper Owen Dunn and Lewis Hogg playing the whole 90 minutes. Amongst the trialists were former Chippenham Town duo Aaron Cornwall and Kevin Halliday, experienced midfielder Marcus Browning, who spent the last couple of seasons with Weymouth, ex-Halesowen Town full-back Jack Allward, Jonjo O’Hara, a former Bradford City youth centre-back, plus local striker Jamie Taylor and Taunton Town’s Luke Cole. The game itself saw the home side go ahead on 13 minutes when Dunn – playing as new keeper Ryan Robinson is likely to miss the start of the season following his back operation and normal cover Steve Perrin was unavailable – failed to hold a cross allowing a simple close range header. City were soon level thanks to a similar goalkeeping mistake, Cornwall hooking the ball home despite a defender’s effort on the line. With new signing Sido Jombarti and Sekani Simpson impressing down the right City looked the stronger side and the former should have put City ahead just before the interval but headed wide from close range. The break saw City make their nine changes and the Centurions took advantage of this disruption to regain the lead five minutes into the second half. City’s best chance to equalise came seven minutes from time when Taylor charged down a clearance only to see his shot blocked by the fast retreating goalkeeper.
Former Team Bath midfielder Mike Perrott has become City’s third signing of the summer after putting pen to paper on a one-year deal. The 20-year old was a former target of City’s back in March 2007 but instead choose the University based side where he went onto make around 70 appearances in the last two seasons. However, following their demise the ex-Melksham Town youngster has remained at Twerton Park.
City’s 2009 pre-season campaign begins on Thursday evening when they make the first of two trips to Corinium Stadium in Cirencester. They will face tenants and Blue Square North newcomers Gloucester City in three weeks but first up are the local side and owners, Cirencester Town. The Centurions currently ply their trade in the South & West Division of the Southern League which underwent a name change during the summer following the end of the sponsorship agreement with British Gas. It now goes by the somewhat novel name of The Zamaretto League. The deal with InterContinental Brands (ICB) Ltd is responsible for the new title, with Zamaretto a brand of Amaretto for connoisseurs (apparently the Amaretto connoisseur must look for colour first in their drink of choice as it comes in eight garish hues).
Cirencester’s 14th place 2008-09 finish in the Southern League South & West Division represented a season of consolidation following their relegation the previous campaign. A second from bottom finish ended their four year spell in the Premier Division, although they had finished in the same position the previous campaign only for movements further up the non-league pyramid to delay demotion for 12 months. The club spent one season in the Gloucestershire County League in 1968 before joining the Hellenic League Premier Division. They were relegated to the 1st Division in 1972 but two years later were promoted back as champions. Four seasons of bottom half finishes eventually saw them slip down again and it wasn’t until the early 1990’s that they began to climb back, culminating in promotion to the Southern League in 1996. Six years later the club moved into their £2 million new home at the Corinium Stadium.
Complete record against Cirencester Town
City’s first ever meeting with the Centurions took place during the 1996-97 season when they were drawn together in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup at Twerton Park. With City struggling near the foot of the Vauxhall Conference a giant-killing act was on the cards, and the early exchanges backed this up with the visitors on top. However, they failed to capitalise on this and on the half hour poor defending allowed Mike Davis to round ex-City goalkeeper Alan Churchward and roll the ball home. And City ensured they would progress midway through the second half when Shaun Penny took full advantage of another defensive error to lob Churchward. The sides were paired in the same competition again two years later, just one round earlier, this time goals from Paul Bodin (pen), Graham Colbourne and Martin Paul seeing them home 3-1. After a meeting in the Southern League Cup in December 2003 the sides became league rivals for the first time during the 2004-05 season and in August City suffered their first (and currently only) competitive defeat against the Gloucestershire side. The game had been fairly even until the 40th minute when Mike Trought flicked a free-kick into his own net. It got worse for the former Bristol Rovers defender just after the hour mark when he conceded a penalty, ironically tripping the aforementioned Mike Davis, now with the Centurions, allowing Robison to complete the scoring. Since then City have recorded five successive wins, the last in March 2007 thanks to a Chris Holland goal that moved them a step nearer the Southern League title.
The clubs have also met three times in pre-season, the first coming between the two FA Cup ties. Jerry Gill, Mark Harrington and Stuart James were all on target in the 3-1 win at the Corinium Stadium. A year later at Twerton Park City ran out 4-0 winners, with Graham Colbourne registering a hat-trick and Jimmy Fraser also on the score sheet. The most recent encounter took place in 2003 close season in match marred by an ankle break suffered by midfielder Iain Harvey. It was in an innocuous challenge near the centre-circle that caused the injury midway through the first half. City had led at that point thanks to a stunning volley by Steve Bridges only to concede four times after the break to cap a poor night for the team.
The game will hopefully give City fans the first chance to see the clubs two summer signings, goalkeeper Ryan Robinson and midfielder Sido Jombarti, although the former may be missing following his recent minor back operation. A number of trialists are likely to be on view, including former Cardiff City and Under-19 Welsh international Sam Wade, son of ex-City midfielder Bryan, and Melksham Town youngster Luke Cole plus local teenage striker Jamie Taylor.
City have reverted to a red away kit for the first time since the 2005-06 season, after three seasons in which they wore sky blue when their black and white shirts clashed with the opposition. The kit, which will also feature red shorts and socks, is once again produced by Joma and features main club sponsor SN Scaffolds. City’s home shirt will remain unchanged from last season and the sky blue kit will become a third option. Full details of when the new replica shirt will be available will on the website shortly.
City will once again be holding their successful Summer Football Schools in August, with central-defender Chris Holland coaching the sessions. They will take place on 4-6 August and 25-27 August at Culverhay School and Twerton Park, with all children aged between 5 and 16 welcome. To download an application form click here. You can also download a poster advertising the sessions here. For further details contact the club on 01225 423087.
City will begin their 2009-10 Blue Square South campaign with a trip to face last season’s play-off semi-finalists Chelmsford City on Saturday 8 August. Three days later the first visitors to Twerton Park are Maidenhead United, followed by Welling United the next Saturday. This season’s Christmas/New Year double-header opponents are Weston Super Mare and City complete their regular fixtures with a home match against St Albans City on Saturday 24 April. For the full fixture list click here.
Bath City’s Under-18 side – now based in the new acamdemy at Writhlington School – have been drawn away to either Weston Super Mare or Tiverton Town in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Youth Cup. The game will take place during the week commencing Monday 21 September. The winners of the tie will face either Wootton Bassett Town, Chard Town or Bitton in the following round.
City defender Martin Slocombe looks set to switch to Blue Square South rivals Weymouth. The 20-year old had verbally agreed a new contract at Twerton Park before spending the summer in Spain but failed to return for pre-season training and today was revealed as having agreed to join the financially troubled Terra’s. Although under the Bosman ruling City would normally be entitled to a transfer fee for the player the lack of a written offer would appear to leave the player available to depart the club for free. If Slocombe completes his move it will be the second player new Weymouth boss – and former City player – Matt Hale has signed in controversial circumstances, having captured Yate Town defender Scott Brice after he had agreed to join Tiverton Town but only signed on headed notepaper rather than official forms.
Another player who looks unlikely to be playing for City next season is Ali Gibb after he began training with Newport County. The midfielder missed most of last season after breaking his ankle at Melksham Town in July but was offered the opportunity to prove his fitness in pre-season and earn a new contract. Instead he has followed Dave Gilroy and Scott Rogers over the Severn Bridge to the ambitious Welsh club.