Mark Hervin has become the latest former City player to make the short journey up the A4 to Dr Martens Premier Division rivals Chippenham Town. The 30-year keeper made just one appearance for City last season in their 4-3 FA Trophy exit at Halesowen Town and spent almost the entire campaign on loan to Western Division Cirencester Town. He almost joined the Bluebirds last September but City turned down a £1500 offer as it would have left them without cover for first choice keeper Mark Bryant.
The draw for next seasons Somerset Premier Cup has given City a 1st Round home match against Paulton Rovers. If they overcome manager Alan Pridham’s former side they will face another home tie versus either Welton Rovers or Bishop Sutton in the 2nd Round.
City will join six other local non-league teams plus Nationwide League Third Division side Swansea City in the newly formed Severnside League next season. Gloucester City, Cirencester Town, Weston Super Mare, Newport County, Salisbury City and Forest Green Rovers will line up alongside City and the Swans. Each side will face the other home and away meaning they will play 14 games through out the season.
Following a two season gap the name of The Bath Chronicle will once again grace the front of City’s shirts after they won the draw during the Sponsors Reception held this evening at Twerton Park. The event was attended by over 100 people including BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER star Anthony Head and Mayor of Bath, Loraine Morgan-Brinkhurst. Nearly sixty businesses and individuals entered the draw but it was the local newspaper, who previously sponsored City for four seasons between 1996 and 2000, who won the prize to be the main sponsor for the 2003-04 season.
Frankie Bennett has become the latest player to sign a new one-year deal. The ex-Southampton winger has agreed to a take a reduced basic wage but will join the new bonus scheme that will reward success on the pitch. Keeper Mark Bryant and former youth team star Josh Jefferies are also expected to sign new contracts in the coming week.
The proposed consitution for the 2003-04 Dr Martens Premier Division season will see reduced travelling for City as two of their longest trips are replaced with much closer journeys. Coming up from the Western and Eastern Division are Merthyr Tydfil, Dorchester Town, Weston Super Mare and Eastbourne Borough, with Nuneaton Borough arriving from the other direction following relegation from the Conference. Kettering Town, who it was assumed would also return to the Dr Martens League after their one season loan to the Conference, have choosen the less challenging option of the Ryman League. The moves should be rubber-stamped at the forthcoming AGM where local side Team Bath will also see their promotion to the Western Division confirmed.
City have offered contracts to five of last seasons youth and reserve team players following their withdrawal from the Western League. Josh Jefferies, Steve Bridges, Simon Gilbert and Robin Spring look set to sign the deals, however striker James Billing, who scored a total of 35 goals for the youth and reserves, seems likely to leave the club. One player who definitely won’t return to Twerton Park is Andy Minturn. The midfielder made 12 starts for City last season before joining Cirencester Town on loan for the rest of the season.
Saturday night saw City fans reliving a more successful era as they celebrated the 25th anniversary of their Southern League championship winning season. The evening saw a number of the players from that 1977-78 season return to Twerton Park, including Martin Wheeler, Peter Higgins, Glyn Broom, Colin Tavener, Peter Rogers, Paul Gover, Jimmy Jenkins and George Gibbs plus manager Brian Godfrey and physio Vic Brown. Courtesy of Chris Stillman below are a few pictures from the evening (to see who’s in each picture hover over the thumbnail):
In a move almost as unsurprising as Andy Williams player of the season success Gary Thorne has made his loan deal with Merthyr Tydfil permanent. The defender joined the Dr Martens Western League winners back in February on a month deal but remained at Penydarren Park for the rest of the season. Even though the 26-yeard old publicly stated his wish to come back to City after he was linked with a move to Chippenham Town it was increasingly clear that those at the club responsible for such decisions did not share his enthusiasm for a reconcilliation. This was confirmed when he was not offered a new contract and signed a permanent deal with the Martyrs.
The players who are still wanted by City look set to be lining up slightly differently next season. Having abandoned his usual 3-5-2 formation for the more widely used 4-4-2 for the first time against Tamworth on Saturday City boss Alan Pridham’s has confirmed he will stick with this line-up next season. It will see Andy Williams and Frankie Bennett playing as orthodox wingers and mean top of Pridham’s summer shopping list is two new full-backs.
Unsurprisingly given how much City have missed him in the last few games Andy Williams is the clear winner of the web page player of the season vote. The former Welsh international wing-back polled nearly two-thirds of the first place votes and adds this award to the supporters prize he won yesterday. Second place was much closer with goalkeeper Mark Bryant just pipping Frankie Bennett. Gary Kemp came fourth with top scorer Jason Eaton in fifth place. Most improved player went to Dan Cleverley.
To clear up the confusion from yesterday’s end of season awards it appears that the York’s won lifetime supporter awards and Bas and Mike York won joint supporter of the season.
Defender Chris Honor looks to have played his last game for City after the injury he received at Stafford Rangers last week was diagnosed as cruciate ligament damage in his right knee. The 35-year is set for six months on the sidelines but has vowed that it will not be the end of his football career. I would just like to wish Chris all the best for the future and it means that there is one less players’ car to get to away games!
City’s season came to an end in an all too predictable fashion at a damp Twerton Park this afternoon as they lost 2-0 against Dr Martens Premier Division champions Tamworth. Even in this low key end of season game City were always second best to the Conference bound Lambs and second half goals from Grocutt and Turner were enough to see them comfortably home. Results elsewhere mean City end up 14th, which is their best finish for three seasons!
After the match, in a ceremony that fitted in perfectly with the end to the season on the pitch, Andy Williams was named supporters player of the season. The reserve team player of the season was awarded to Josh Jefferies. Joint winners of supporter of the season were Brian and Michael York, with Mark Stillman picking up the young supporter award. York Snr and Bas also won further awards but I couldn’t work out what they were for.
With the clock reaching nearly three minutes over the ninety City’s teenage substitute Josh Jefferies was suddenly running clear of a static Havant & Waterlooville back line and bearing down on Calvin Sparshatt’s goal. He had timed his run onto Simon Gilbert’s pass almost perfectly and was no more than two yards offside. Showing a calmness that belied his years and the pressure of the situation he carried the ball forward across the excellent Westleigh Park surface before rolling it beyond the despairing keeper into the corner of the net. Cue wild scene of celebrations from the massed ranks of City supporters behind the goal, who had once again sung non-stop during the whole second half to lift their team to this late late strike. Moments later and the final whistle blew, the players to a man came and applauded their loyal fans and even as they finally left the pitch the strains of ‘We love you City’ still echoed around the ground.*
*Oh, and by the way, the 90 minutes that preceeded this saw Havant score three times through Haughton (11), Fennemore (45) and Blake (86) so City lost the game 3-1.