City midfielder Stuart James will miss the opening month of the forthcoming season due to a work placement as part of his university course. The 27-year old is in the final year of a multi-media journalism course at Bournemouth University and will spend five weeks with The Observer newspaper in London. Despite this meaning he is unavailable for the opening fixtures of the 2003-04 campaign City have given their blessing on the move.
City have confirmed the dates of a further three pre-season friendlies. They will travel to Western League Paulton Rovers on Monday 28 July (ko 7.30pm) and the trip to Cirencester Town will take place on Tuesday 5 August (ko 7.30pm). And the opening pre-season match will be against Brislington at Twerton Park on Tuesday 15 July (ko 7.45pm).The full list of friendlies can be found here.
City’s pre-season campign is beginning to take shape with confirmation of their Belgium opponents plus a number closer to home. The trip into Europe on Saturday 9 August will see City face SK Torhout, who play in the 2nd Provincial Division which seems to equate to the Dr Martens Premier Division. One other definite match is against League of Wales side Carmarthen Town at Twerton Park on Saturday 2 August. Dates for matches against Cirencester Town, Brislington and Paulton Rovers will be confirmed shortly.
The draw for the first round of next seasons Dr Martens Cup took place last week but did not feature City following a change in the format. They will not enter the competition under the third round stage along with all but two of the Premier Division sides. Third round matches will take place w/c 8 December.
To guarantee themselves a place in the newly formed second level of non-league football for the 2004-05 season City will need a top 15 finish in the Dr Martens Premier Division next season. The new two feeder league system will replace the current three division set-up and is expected to be called the Alliance North and Alliance South. The change has to be confirmed at the FA meeting on 21 June but the following details have already been released.
Nationwide Division 3 teams Yeovil Town and Swansea City have both been linked with City midfielder Jamie Gosling. Both sides are looking to take the talented 20-year on trial before the start of next season and the Conference champions have invited him to join them on their pre-season tour of Belgium. Gosling, who spent a week with Cheltenham Town last season, is under contract at City but manager Alan Pridham has said that they would not said in the players way if an offer is made.
One player who will remain at Twerton Park next season is goalkeeper Mark Bryant after the former Weston Super Mare stopper signed a new one-year deal.
In a welcome change to the familiar opposition this year City will face Nationwide League sides Torquay United and Swansea City in pre-season friendlies. The Gulls travel to Twerton Park on Saturday 19 July (ko 3pm) before the Swansea face City two days later on Monday 21 July (ko 7.45pm). One further confirmed friendly is a trip to Dr Martens Western Division side Gloucester City on Saturday 26 July (ko 3pm). Further matches will be confirmed next week including details on the trip to Belgium organised through a contact of head coach Tim Harris.
To prepare for their 2003-04 Dr Martens Premier Division campaign City will travel to Belgium for a three-day tour where they face a Belgian League club in a friendly. The exact opponents have yet to be confirmed but the game will take place on Saturday 9 August, one week before the start of the new season. And the Supporters Club are planning to arrange a trip to follow the club into Europe. The cost of the trip should be approximately £45 plus hotel and if you are interested in going please contact Martin Powell (details on the Away Travel page).
One other pre-season fixture that has been confirmed will see Torquay United visit Twerton Park on Saturday 19 July.
Anyone who is interested in carrying out maintenance work at the ground during the summer should get in contact with Phil Weaver who is coordinating the jobs. To offer your services e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
City have confirmed that former Newport County boss Tim Harris has been appointed head coach ending rumours that he was to take over the manager’s hot-seat from Alan Pridham. The vastly experienced UEFA A graded coach, who spent the final month of last season in an observing role, will work alongside Pridham and his assistant Gary Smart. And in common with the manager, Harris, who will organise training sessions in tandem with Smart, has agreed to work for free at Twerton Park.
City’s matchday programme, edited by Chris Stillman, has been named the best in the Dr Martens League in the annual Wirral Programme Club awards. The publication was also voted the best in the Premier Division for the third successive season and came 4th nationally out of over 1000 entered non-league programmes. The success is well deserved for all the hard work Chris and his team of contributors do in producing such a consistently excellent programme.