|City Havant a hope for Blue Square South title according to initial odds (31/5/07)
Havant & Waterlooville have been installed as pre-season favourites for the 2007-08 Blue Square South title with City back in 13th place. The south coast side, who lost in the play-off semi-finals last season, are listed at 13/2 with St Albans City, relegated from the Conference last year, second favourites at 15/2. City are at 20/1, strangely longer odds than Maidenhead United who also came up from the Southern League but via the play-offs. The favourites for relegation are Weston-Super-Mare, assuming as expected they are reprieved from the drop due to the merger of Yeading and Hayes, Basingstoke United and the newly formed Hayes & Yeading FC. The full list is:
Havant & Waterlooville 13/2; St Albans City 15/2; Bromley 8/1; Braintree Town 9/1; Lewes 10/1; Bishop’s Stortford 11/1; Eastleigh 12/1; Welling United 12/1; Newport County 12/1; Dorchester Town 12/1; Maidenhead United 14/1; Eastbourne Borough 16/1; Bath City 20/1; Fisher Athletic 25/1; Cambridge City 25/1; Thurrock 28/1; Bognor Regis Town 28/1; Hampton & Richmond Borough 28/1; Sutton United 33/1; Hayes & Yeading 33/1; Basingstoke Town 40/1; Weston-Super-Mare 66/1.
Chris Holland has become the final City star to re-sign for the 2007-08 season after putting his signature on a new one-year deal. The player of the year had initially turned down a two-year contract and had spoken to several other clubs who were interested in the centre-back. However, despite receiving at least one better of than City’s he decided to remain at Twerton Park for the club’s return to the second level of non-league football. Holland’s capature means every player offered a new deal at the end of last season has signed, with just midfielder Dean Clarke allowed to leave the title winning squad.
The draw for next season’s Somerset Premier Cup has given City an ‘away’ tie at holders and Twerton Park tenants Team Bath. The first round clash will take place in the week beginning October 1 with the winners facing a trip to either Clevedon United or Keynsham Town six weeks later in the second round.
Midfield duo Tyrone Toppar and Ben Davies have been offered pre-season trials with City. 20-year old Toppar was released by fellow Blue Square South side Newport County having previously been part of the Bristol Rovers and Cardiff City youth set-ups plus a Welsh under-17 international. A year younger is Davies who has impressed City boss John Relish playing for Welsh League Division 1 side Caerleon.
City player of the season Chris Holland should decide whether to remain at Twerton Park this week. The former Team Bath defender has attracted interest for a number of unnamed clubs, including one he was due to have talks with over the weekend, but despite several offering him better deals than City he is poised to snub these offers to sign a new one-year contract with the Blue Square South newcomers.
City will face league opposition three times at Twerton Park in their pre-season build-up to the 2007-08 Blue Square South season. As already announced they meet Cheltenham Town on Tuesday 10 July before newly promoted Bristol Rovers return their former home ten days later. A Cardiff City XI complete the trio on July 24. In between these games City make trips to Melksham Town (12/7 – tbc), Bitton (17/7), Gloucester City (27/7) and Yate Town (30/7). They complete their pre-season campaign with the Southern League Championship match against Tiverton Town, who won the League Cup, at Twerton Park on Saturday 4 August before the Blue Square South season starts a week later.
City duo Gethin Jones and Adie Harris couldn’t help Wales defend their Four Nations crown as they lost 3-0 to England this afternoon at Grant Street Park, Inverness. Having taken four points from their first two games against Scotland and Ireland a win for the Welsh would have secured their third success in four years but an own goal from Harris completed the scoring in the defeat.
As widely expected former Magotsfield United manager Lee Howells has been named as City’s new coach. Howells, who played under City manager John Relish at Merthyr Tydfil, had left the Bristol-based side at the end of last season but only spoke to City last week. He was part of the Cheltenham Town side that rose from the Southern League to the Coca-Cola League 1, a path he will hope to repeat at Twerton Park.
Gethin Jones and Adie Harris, City’s Welsh non-league contingent, helped the side get off to a winning start in their defence of the Four Nations tournament on Tuesday. Lllaneli forward Rhys Griffiths scored the single goal from the penalty spot in the 1-0 win over Scotland.
City could face a Blue Square Southern local derby next season after all following the merger of Hayes and Yeading. Just a few days after the league set-up was announced the two Middlesex based sides confirmed that they would be merging to become Hayes & Yeading FC with immediate effect. If this move is ratified by the FA this will mean Weston Super Mare – now managed by former City boss Tony Ricketts – being reinstated in Blue Square Southern despite finishing second bottom last season.
Scott Partridge and Paul Evans have been named GX Soccer Player of the Year and Just4Keepers Goalkeeper of the Year respectively in the Non-League Paper awards. Partridge, who was City’s top scorer with 18 goals despite missing the final two and a half months of the season with a neck injury, collected the award last week at a celebration lunch held at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. He also picked up Evans’ award as the keeper was unable to make the event after the South African shot-stopper recorded 27 clean sheets during the 2006-07 season which was the highest tally of any club in the top 8 divisions of non-league football.
City’s player of the season Chris Holland has delayed signing a new contract due to concerns over the length of any deal. The 26-year old has been offered a new two-year deal but may look for a shorter agreement so not to affect his career as a sports science lecturer. The centre-back, who scored 11 goals last season, remains the only player offered a deal not to put pen to paper but is due to meet with manager John Relish next week.
Yate Town left-sided player Jason Wood will join up with City’s squad when they return for pre-season training on July 3 in an attempt to earn a contract with the Blue Square Southern side. The 23-year old missed the second half of last season due to a knee injury and will be expected to prove he has fully recovered from this before being offered any deal. Another potential target in City’s attempt to strengthen their left side is Chippenham Town’s Kevin Halliday. Like former teammate Dave Gilroy, who completed his switch last week, the Bluebird’s player of the season has expressed an interest in heading up the M4 and may begin talks with City shortly.
Promotion to the Blue Square Southern will see City’s travelling increase by 38% next season as they become very familiar with the M4 corridor. Although ironically their longest journey (176 miles to Braintree Town) is shorter than last season’s (187 to King’s Lynn) the complete lack of any local opposition means the total travelling distance increase from 1788.7 miles to 2469.2 miles. City’s closest trip now takes them out of the country as it is Newport County in South Wales. See below for the full details of next season’s opposition:
City have confirmed their first pre-season friendly. They will take on Coca-Cola League 1 side Cheltenham Town at Twerton Park on Tuesday 10 July (ko tbc).
City have completed the signature of Chippenham Town striker Dave Gilroy on a two-year contract. As expected the 24-year old, who scored 22 goals for the Bluebirds last season, made the switch from the Wiltshire side to end City manager John Relish’s two-year chase for his services. Relish had tried to sign him whilst manager at Merthyr Tydfil and also had two bids for £4000 and £5000 turned down by Chippenham last summer. With Gilroy out of contract City secured his signature on a free. His arrival means City are looking for a couple more additions to their squad in the shape of a left-sided midfielder/defender and a central midfielder.
City have almost completed re-signing all of last season’s title winning squad who were offered new deals. Gethin Jones and Scott Rogers have agreed terms and Steve Jones and Chris Holland are expected to begin talks in the very near future.
Chippenham Town striker, and long-term City target, Dave Gilroy has issued a plea for John Relish to take him from Hardenhuish Park to Twerton Park. City had a £5000 bid for the 24-year old turned down last summer but he will be out of contract shortly which will mean the Bluebird’s board cannot block any potential transfer again. Gilroy has been a regular scorer for Chippenham since joining them from Weston Super Mare during the 2004-05 season, having previously spent a loan spell will City in February 2002 where he scored twice in four outings.
Scott Partridge looks set to be fit for the 2007-08 season after being offered an alternative solution to his serious neck injury. City’s top scorer was sidelined in February with prolasped discs in his neck and initial diagnostics recommended surgery that would have left the 32-year old in a neck brace for 3 months with no guarantee of success. This had led the self-employed plumber to consider quitting the game, however a futher opinion from a specialist in Bristol suggested a different operation that involved an artificial disc being inserted into his neck. He now hopes to have this procedure carried out next month and should be fully recovered within a week.
Maidenhead United joined City in the promised land of the Blue Square Southern after beating Team Bath in the play-off final at Twerton Park yesterday. A single goal 40 seconds into the second half was enough to earn Maidenhead a quick return to the second level of non-league football after being relegated to the Southern League in 2006.
City fans have been offered the chance to experience the bizarre side of Bath and raise funds for the club. City supporter JJ (pictured, with his pink pillar at Twerton Park), of the Bath Bizzare Walk, is doing his comedy walk for City fans (plus anyone else interested) on Tuesday 15 May (8pm) at the Huntsman, Terrace Walk, with all proceeds going to Bath City FC. The normal price is £7 but this time any donations are welcome.
City defender Gethin Jones and midfielder Adie Harris have been choosen for the Wales squad to compete in this year’s Four Nation tournament, but Matt Coupe has missed out on selection. The Welsh team won the title last year, when City boss John Relish was assistant manager, with victories over Scotland and Ireland and a draw with England. This year’s competition takes place in the Scottish Highlands from 22 to 27 May 2007.
Just one player from City’s Southern League winning squad has not been offered a new contract for the 2007-08 season. Midfielder Dean Clarke is the player heading out of Twerton Park. The former Merthyr Tydfil player, who scored his first goal for the club in the 6-0 rout of Rugby Town last Saturday, made 60 appearances for City after joining from the Welsh club in October 2005, although he spent the majority of the 2006-07 season on the substitutes bench. The majority of the squad have already signed for City’s maiden Blue Square Southern campaign with Gethin Jones, Scott Rogers, Steve Jones and Chris Holland holding talks with manager John Relish this week.
City have announced the cost of season tickets and admission prices for their 2007-08 Blue Square Southern season. A season ticket will cost £165.00 (£105.00 OAP/Student) for the terrace or £190.00 (£130.00 OAP/Student) for the Grandstand when bought before June 1. An U16 Junior Stripes season ticket will cost just £30. Terrace matchday admission will rise from £8 to £9.50 (Grandstand £9.50 to £11) which is in line with the average in this seasons Conference South. The full prices are:
Tonight saw the BGB Southern League play-off semi-finals as four teams battled to join City in the Blue Square Southern. At Twerton Park City’s tenants Team Bath beat Hemel Hempstead Town by three goals to one and they will face Maidenhead United in the final on Saturday, after they won 1-0 at King’s Lynn.
City centre-back Chris Holland was a double player of the season after topping the website and supporters vote. The 26-year old was not only a vital component of the City defence that conceded just 29 goals, he also scored 11 times to become the first City defender to reach double figures since Richard Crowley was the club’s top scorer in the 1992-93 season, forming a lethal partnership with Mark McKeever at corners and free-kicks. Holland recieved the award during the end of season presentation evening after Saturday’s 6-0 win over Rugby Town. Further awards were handed out to Paul Evans (players’ player of the season), Steve Jones (Chairmans player of the season), Pete McCormack (Dennis Hibberd Memorial supporter of the season), Jake Moxham (young supporter of the season), Andrew Pierce and Phil Weaver (special achievement award), Scott Partridge (Golden Boot) and Darren Edwards (website goal of the season).