New City boss John Relish has turned to his former club Merthyr Tydfil for the third time to sign versatile defender Gethin Jones. The 23-year old former Cardiff City player made several pre-season friendly appearances for City in 2003 but choose to join the Martyrs. He spent two seasons at Penydarren Park, mainly in a centre-back role although he was pushed forward in the closing month of last season to score five goals in seven games.
City have received another huge close season boost with the news that goalkeeper Paul Evans has turned down a move to Forest Green Rovers and signed a new one-year contract. The former South African international was approached by ex-City boss Gary Owers with an offer to go full-time with the Conference side. However, it was partly the 31-year old’s desire to remain part-time, which suits his domestic arrangements perfectly, that helped make up his mind to remain at Twerton Park. With Evans widely considered amongst supporters as one of the best keepers to ever play for City this is great news for new manager John Relish and keeps the defence intact that ended last season with six successive clean sheets.
City’s new main sponsor is The Bath Chronicle after the local newspaper won the bidding following Ken Loach’s decision to turn down the honour he won in the annual sponsors draw. The paper was one of a number of local companies that entered sealed bids after former City director Loach decided to donate the prize back to the club to raise even more cash. Their name will adorn the front of City’s home and away shirts next season and marks a return to this position after they were main sponsors for five seasons from 1996 to 2001.
New manager John Relish has completed his second signing with the acquisition of vastly experienced defender Andrew York from Merthyr Tydfil. The 36-year old was part of the Barry Town side that dominated Welsh football during the late 1990’s, playing in a number of high profile European ties. He also played for Exeter City and Chesham United before joining the Martyrs in the summer of 2004 and will also join the coaching staff at Twerton Park.
Almost before the ink was dry on his contract new City manager John Relish has made his first signing, bringing former City midfielder Jon Holloway back to the club. The 28-year old played under Relish at Merthyr Tydfil last season and had been widely tipped to be rejoining City even before he took over from Gary Owers. Holloway spent 2 seasons with City between 1999 and 2001, winning the 2000-01 player of the season award, before moving on to Worcester City. He played three seasons at St Georges Lane then had a short spell with Forest Green Rovers before joining Merthyr in November 2004.
City have announced that former Merthyr Tydfil, Weston Super Mare and Newport County boss John Relish is their new manager. Chester born Relish had a long playing career with Newport before becoming the first manager of the reformed side during the early 1990’s. He then spent several seasons with Weston before becoming assistant manager with Merthyr, helping them to the Dr Martens Western Division title in 2002-03. Took over as manager at the start of last season and led the Welsh side to the Southern League play-offs but quit when they lost to eventual winners Hednesford Town. He is joined at Twerton Park by assistant Adrian Britton.
Two of the main targets in the search for a new manager have given their answer to City’s overtures. Weston Super Mare manager Frank Gregan has choosen to remain loyal to the Conference South club but Steve White will meet with City’s board on Monday to discuss a possible switch from Southern League rivals Chippenham Town. Both men were on a shortlist of eight candidates and with several interviews having already taken place the successful applicant could be in place by the early part of next week.
Former director Ken Loach has turned down the chance to have his film production company, Sixteen Films, emblazoned across the front of City’s shirts next season. Mr Loach won the draw to become the club’s main sponsor but has decided to auction the prize to the highest bidder to raise more money for the cash-strapped club.
Two more players have committed themselves to City for the 2005-06 season. Former Team Bath defender Chris Holland has signed a new one-year deal and Steve Jones has confirmed that he will be putting pen to paper in the next week. 24-year old Holland arrived on loan from City’s tenants in March, playing eight games in which City conceded just three goals. Jones joined City in October 2003 from Forest Green Rovers and was one of City’s most improved players last season.
Sixteen Films, the film production company run by ex-City director Ken Loach, is the club’s new main sponsor following the annual draw that took place at Twerton Park last night. The event, now in it’s fourth year, saw 60 entries each pay £295 for the chance to see their name adorn City shirts for the 2005-06 season. And it was the world renowned film director who won that honour when his number was picked out by Mayor of Bath Cllr Peter Metcalfe. The evening, attended by over 120 City backers, also saw new chairman Geoff Todd discuss his hopes for the club and pay tribute to his predecessor Steve Hall.
Former boss Alan Pridham has made a surprise return to Twerton Park but not in the vacant managerial hot-seat but as a member of the board of directors. The Paulton based businessman spent nearly two and a half years in charge at City before being sacked in November 2003. He then had a spell as Director of Football at Brislington and looked to be heading to Mangotsfield United in a similar capacity at the end of last season. However, that move did not happen and he has returned to City with the aim of boosting the club’s commercial profile. Whilst he will not be involved directly in footballing matters one of his first tasks will ironically be to help appoint the new manager.
New City chairman Geoff Todd has confirmed that City have a shortlist of eight candidates to take over from Gary Owers. They will carry out interviews over the next two weeks.
While the search a new manager continues City received a boost as left-back Graeme Power committed himself to another season at Twerton Park. The 28-year old former QPR and Exeter City player admitted he was surprised at Gary Owers departure and did consider waiting until his replacement had been named, but choose to sign the one-year deal as proof of his confidence that any new boss will inherit a squad capable of sustaining a real title challenge next season. Power’s signature leaves just Paul Evans, Steve Jones, Chris Holland and Yan Klukowski to sign new deals, although the latter is still considering a move to the USA on a football scholarship.
City’s search for a new manager stepped up a gear after they revealed they have been given permission to talk to two of the regions more successful managers by their current clubs. Chippenham Town boss Steve White (pictured) and Weston Super Mare’s manager Frank Gregan are the possible targets having both previously applied for the City job. It would be a remarkable return to City if White were to switch from Hardenhuish to Twerton Park. The former Swindon Town striker spent over two and a half years with City as a player and assistant manager to Paul Bodin before leaving in February 2001. He guided Chippenham to a play-off final defeat last season but given his continual comments over the Bluebirds low budget it is possible he will jump at the chance to take over at City with their (alledgely) greater funds. Gregan also has proven experience at managing a club with a relatively low budget, having take Weston into the Conference South and comfortably maintained that position last season. Both men are currently on holiday but City hope to speak them on their return in the next week or so.
City have requested for volunteers to turn up at Twerton Park on Saturday 18 June to help paint the ground. The hope is to completely repaint the perimeter wall and, with enthusiasm more important than skill, the ‘fun’ will begin at 9.30am. Everyone who does their bit will receive a free drink!