Striker Graham Colbourne has turned down a new contract at City after confirming that he no longer feels he can devote the time to playing Dr Martens Premier Division football. It is a similar statement to fellow front-man Martin Paul, although unlike Paul who looks set to contine playing at the same standard for Newport County, Colbourne seems to be heading for either former club Paulton Rovers or Welton Rovers in the Western League. The 28-year old, who scored 63 goals in his 185 appearances for City having joined the club in February 1997, overcame a serious knee injury sustained in December 1999 which for a time threatened his career. The move now leaves new manager Alan Pridham with just one recognised striker at the club, Sam Allison, and his attentions will clearly focus on finding players whose goals can help City to a successful new season.
That forthcoming season could see City meet Bristol City in the 2nd round of the Somerset Premier Cup. The draw, which sees City given a first round bye, has paired them with the winners of the Bristol City versus Bristol Manor Farm tie.
Despite citing increasing work commitments as one of reasons for wanting to leave City Martin Paul look set to continue playing at Dr Martens Premier Division level next season with Newport County. The Welsh side have had a £3000 bid for Paul accepted by the City board and its look certain that he will join up with former teammate Stuart James over the Severn Bridge when he returns from holiday shortly.
New boss Alan Pridham has confirmed that his first signing for City is club captain Colin Towler. The influential 30-year old defender has agreed to a new contract, teaming up with the man who was instrumental in bringing him to Twerton Park back in 1997. Two other possible targets for Pridham may see familiar faces returning to City in the form of a certain (occasional) blonde goalkeeper and a German tennis player lookalike. More details to follow.
Bath City are very pleased to announce the appointment of Alan Pridham as the new first team manager. The Board met some very strong candidates, who all had different strengths, but have decided that Alan is the man for the job. Chairman Steve Hall said “He has unrivalled knowledge of the local football scene and we feel that the way forward for the club is to develop our own younger players who have a real hunger and desire to play for Bath City. We are, after all the biggest non-league club in the area and it’s a great honour for a player to be chosen for a club like ours. Alan has just taken Paulton Rovers to their highest ever position (3rd behind Taunton and Chippenham); he is a great motivator who commands respect from the players and we are very excited about the future with him in charge. Andy Eisentrager, who was Alan’s assistant manager/coach at Paulton, and who also coaches Bristol Rovers youth side, will be Alan’s assistant at Bath City.” Pridham’s immediate task is to speak to the current players who have been provisionally offered terms and also to complete a good quality first-team squad from his many other contacts in local non-league football. He is understood to have spoken already to captain Colin Towler and has his agreement that he will remain as captain for next season. (It was Pridham who first introduced Towler to the City). He is well aware of the financial constraints under which he must work but told this web page, “It is very important to get players who want to play for Bath City and for me. There is not going to be a huge influx of Screwfix players. At this level, you need good players of course, but they also need to be willing to grind out a result on a cold, wet Tuesday evening away to King’s Lynn. Getting the balance right is very important.”
After a series of interviews with possible candidates Frank Gregan has emerged as the favourite to succeed Paul Bodin as City’s manager. The ex-Forest Green Rovers boss meet City chairman Steve Hall last week and expressed his interest in the post, even though the current financial difficulties means he will be faced with building a team on a very small budget. Gregan, who was sacked by the FA Trophy losing finalists in November and has since worked as a scout for Manchester City, replaced early front runner Tom Saunders, who pledged his commitment to his current club Chippenham Town following an interview with City. Other possible candidates are Paulton Rovers boss Alan Pridham, former City assistant manager Steve White and ex-Salisbury City manager Geoff Butler. A announcement was expected by the end of this week but a number of further, unamed, applications have delayed the final choice, although City’s board will hope to have made a decision within the next few days.
Despite the vacancy in the managers chair eleven City players have been offered contracts for next season. The lucky eleven are Jimmy Fraser, Mark Harrington, Graham Colbourne, Scott Walker, Colin Towler, Peter Tisdale, Lee Vickerman, Jamie Gosling, James Hughes, Sam Allison and Gary Powell. Definitely on their way out of Twerton Park are Jon Holloway (Worcester City), Sal Bibbo, Mark Clode, Kevin Lloyd (injury) and Paul Bodin (obviously), plus Mike Davis and Martin Paul, who are both on the transfer list.
In next seasons Dr Martens League City will reacquaint themselves with two former Conference opponents. Both Kettering Town and Hednesford Town have been relegated into the Southern League, which means runners up Burton Albion will make the switch to the Unibond League. These changes should be confirmed at the Southern League meeting in June.
Paul Bodin has confirmed that the reason he resigned as City manager yesterday was the cut in his playing budget for next season. Whilst no exact figure has been put on the cut (contrary to many reports) it is expected that the reduction would be somewhere in the region of 30-50%, leaving City with one of the lowest playing budgets in the Dr Martens Premier Division. Bodin, who denied that a reduction in his role to part-time influenced his decision, said, “After many hours deliberating over the last few months, with next season’s playing budget being my prime concern, it is with sadness that I am resigning. After five-plus years at the club (including as a player in the 1980s) there are also many emotional ties not only for myself, but also my wife and children, but after much thought my decision to resign is purely a professional one. It was the budget for the players that affected me, rather than my own cut of it. The move to make me part-time wasn’t a problem. As far as I was concerned, it was a pretty fair deal.” City’s board are holding an emergency meeting tonight as they begin the search for Bodin’s successor.
In a completely expected move City midfielder Jon Holloway has left the club to join up with Dr Martens Premier Division rivals Worcester City. The 24-year old, who was named as both supporters and web page player of the season, made the switch to Worcester, who had a £1500 offer for the player turned down back in March, following the budget cuts that will also see further players heading away from Twerton Park in the coming weeks.
Paul Bodin’s tenure as City manager ended today when the former Welsh international resigned from the club. The 34-year old joined City in April 1998 as player manager but after two 4th place finishes in the Dr Martens Premier Division this season saw the club end up in 15th spot, its worst finish for over 25 years. Bodin also faced a reduction in his role to a part-time post and a cut in his playing budget for next season, and these factors will have almost certainly played a part in his decision. Further details to follow.
With half the team (it seems) wanting to leave Twerton Park, City have received another blow with the news that Kevin Lloyd will require another operation on his back problem. The ex-Cardiff City defender, who was voted the 1999-00 web page player of the season, last played for City against King’s Lynn in March before a recurrance of the back problem that also saw him miss the final four months of the previous season. The latest operation will see Lloyd out of action for up to 6 months after which he will decide whether to attempt to resurrect his City career that has seen him make 60 appearance and score 4 goals.
With Halesowen Town, Clevedon Town, Fisher Athletic and Dorchester Town heading out of the Dr Martens Premier Division the final Saturday of the season confirmed the final team of the four who will replace them. With Newport IOW and Chelmsford City already assured of promotion from the Eastern Division and Hinckley United crowned champions of the Western Division, it was left to Tiverton Town to claim the final place at the expense of Bilston Town.
City’s season stumbled to a end this afternoon as they lost 2-0 to already relegated Halesown Town. The goals came midway through the first half and three minutes from time, both scored by ex-Bristol Rovers striker Dennis Bailey, but it was the manner of defeat that was so disappointing as the majority of the City team looked disinterested (which is probably being kind), failing to trouble a team who are facing Western Division football next season. This attitude was summed up perfectly at the final whistle as only seven City players made the effort of acknowledging the 70 or so City fans who had made the trip to the Midlands. For the record the seven were Scott Walker, Peter Tisdale, Colin Towler, Mark Harrington, Jamie Gosling, Jon Holloway and Jimmy Fraser, and I hope the remainder are proud of themselves.
The defeat means City finished the season in 15th place, their worst finish since 1975-76. With all the promotion and relegations issues already sorted before this final series of games, Margate’s defeat at Burton was incidental as the Kent side head for the Conference. At the other end of the table Dorchester Town, Clevedon Town and Fisher Athletic join Halesowen in dropping out of the Premier Division.
Leading scorer Martin Paul has become the third player to announce that he does not expect to remain at City next season, joining Sal Bibbo and Mike Davis in looking for a move away from Twerton Park. Birdy, who has scored 19 goals this season, has cited ‘work commitments’ as playing a large part in his request for a transfer but also expressed concern over the future of the club and abuse he received from supporters in recent games as a further influence on his decision. As the 26-year is in the middle of a two year contract City will almost certainly look for a transfer fee for the striker who has scored 79 goals in the last three seasons.
Following over 100 votes Jon Holloway has been crowned as the web page player of the season. The City midfielder, who was also named the supporters top player on Saturday, beat Scott Walker into second place, with captain Colin Towler in thrird. In the most improved category Peter Tisale claimed the prize (not that there are any prizes, other than the honour, of course). Click here for full details of the results.