The third annual Blue Square South Guide website end of season awards have seen City feature in four of the six categories. Twerton Park was voted the second best ground, behind Dorchester Town’s Avenue Stadium, and this website finished in third place with just Newport County and Eastleigh’s efforts considered better. And the polls for match programme and food at the ground saw City finish in 7th and joint 6th place respectively.
City have confirmed their first four pre-season matches in preparation for the 2008-09 Blue Square South season. They will meet two Blue Square Premier sides at Twerton Park, Oxford United (Tuesday 22 July ko 7.45pm) and Salisbury City (Saturday 2 August ko 3pm). In addition to these games they will travel to Western League side Melksham Town on Friday 25 July (ko 7.45pm) and Southern League Cinderford Town on Saturday 19 July, although this date has yet to be confirmed definitely. Further games will be announced shortly, including any meetings with league sides.
Midfielder Scott Rogers has become the latest player to sign a new contract for the 2008-09 season. The 29-year old had attracted interest from a number of other clubs, including Blue Square South rivals Newport County, but decided to remain at Twerton Park. Fellow midfielder Steve Jones also looks set to stay with City, but he will be allowed to move on if he finds his 1st XI opportunities limited.
Two players whose future remains unclear are Adie Harris and Phil Walsh. Midfielder Harris is the target of a number of clubs, including Havant & Waterlooville and Weston-super-Mare, and he has also now attracted the attention of Blue Square Premier newcomers Wrexham. Reports that striker Walsh had already signed from Truro City appear premature, but he looks certain to be leaving City for either Salisbury City, Tiverton Town or the big-spending Cornwall club.
City have missed out on two potential new arrivals in the shape of ex-Forest Green Rovers player Chris Giles, who has signed from Crawley Town, and Martin Slocombe, who was released by Bristol City last week. However, they hope to announce the first of their summer signings very soon.
For the second successive season Weston Super Mare have been saved from relegation after Cambridge City’s failed appeal today to the FA over being demoted due to failing to meet ground regulations. The FA decision means the Lilywhites are relegated to the Southern League with Weston, who finished the 2007-08 season in 20th place, remaining in the Blue Square South. The previous season the Seagulls finished one place lower only to be saved by the merger of Hayes and Yeading, and Farnborough Town’s demotion due to financial problems. The only small positive aspect to this decision is the reduction in travelling for City, with the average away trip distance reduced from 110.6 to 104.0 miles.
City fans are being offered the chance to join in a sponsored walk from Bath to Bristol to raise money for Meningitis UK. The walk is being organised by Paul Hobbs and will take place on Saturday 28 June from Twerton Park to Bristol City’s Ashton Gate. Last year the event raised £17,000 to support the charity’s aim to see a vaccine to protect against all forms of bacterial meningitis and they hope to do even better this year. Please find attached details of the walk route for the day, a Stroll poster, a Walker’s Confirmation Form and an Additional Walkers’ form in case walkers’ friends or family would also like to take part. If you would like to take part please fill in the Walker’s Confirmation Form and Additional Walkers’ Form (if applicable) with details of where you would like to join the walkers and return it/them to Meningitis UK, 25 Cleeve Wood Road, Downend, Bristol, BS16 2SF, so they can register your participation and send you the relevant sponsor forms. If you have any queries about the day please don’t hesitate to contact Emily Knight at Meningitis UK by phoning 0117 373 73 73 or by e-mailing emilyknight@meningitisUK.org.
City duo Gethin Jones and Adie Harris failed to help Wales to success in this season’s Four Nations Tournament held in North Wales during the last week. The Welsh side began the competition with a 1-1 draw against Scotland, Jones and Harris both playing the full 90 minutes, before hammering newcomers Gibraltar 6-2, thanks to a hat-trick from Rhyls’s Craig Jones. The Twerton Park pairing were on the bench for this win – Harris coming on midway through the second half – but both were back in the starting XI for the tournament decider against England. However, they had no answer to a side largely selected from the Blue Square Premier and had to settle for the runners-up spot following a 3-0 defeat.
City’s defence of the Somerset Premier Cup will begin with an away tie against Toolstation Western League Premier Division side Street. The winners of this 1st round tie will then face a trip to either Frome Town or Odd Down in the second round of the 2008-09 competition. The 1st round game will take place during the week commencing October 6, with the 2nd round scheduled for six weeks later.
Jim Rollo has won the 2007-08 goal of the season award for his strike against Eastleigh at Twerton Park in August. The stunning 20-yard shot was the only goal the City captain scored during the season, and was just his ninth in over 300 appearances for the club. In second place was Mark McKeever’s free-kick against Newport County in the October FA Cup clash and third came Scott Partridge for his first goal against Welling United in February. To view the winning goal click here.
City directors have reviewed the season just finished and congratulated management duo John Relish, Adie Britton and all the players on a fine first season in the Blue Square South. “It was a tremendous achievement to finish as high as we did,” said chairman Geoff Todd. “If anyone had told me at the start of the season that we would go into the last game still with a chance of the play-offs, I probably would not have believed them. Now that the management have a year’s experience of this league, and the players have adapted very well, obviously we want to push on to the next stage. John and Adie are targeting various new players. While they have already re-signed the very successful backbone of the team, including the outstanding defence, they have assured the Board that the 3 or 4 new players they sign will be better than the ones who have gone.” Managing director Paul Williams said, “Obviously we shall have to find more money to meet their requests and our own aspirations. Our off-field activities like the market, function room hire and City Sweep continue to provide a good income, along with substantial contributions from the Supporters Club and Supporters Society. Money raised from events like last week’s “Twerton 75” celebration match are also a great help, and we thank Phil Tanner and Pete McCormack for all their work in arranging it and contacting all the players. We shall also be looking at putting on more events like music and film nights. Last year our season ticket income was up by 70% on the previous year and we hope to maintain that. Our early bird season ticket sales are going well and fans have until 1 June to claim the discount. We also invite football fans in Bath to come along and see what a good team we have.” Director Phil Weaver added, “there are some exciting teams coming into the league, including Wimbledon, Chelmsford and possibly Kings Lynn and/or Worcester; these are all teams that we used to meet regularly during the old Southern League days, and we shall be expecting large crowds for those games, plus the Newport game, of course. All the teams being relegated from the Blue Square Premier are going into the Conference North.”
Any supporters who wish to help with close-season maintenance at Twerton are invited to contact the club. Supporters Club chairman Martin Brush said, “We are hoping to remove the old club shop and replace it with a new building, and there are various other small painting jobs etc to help prepare Twerton for the next season.”
Unofficial reports coming out of the Leagues Committee meeting that took place on May 14 have placed Worcester City and Redditch United in the Blue Square South for the 2008-09 season. The Midlands pair both played in the Blue Square North last year, finishing 12th and 13th respectively, but with three Northern based sides being relegated from the Blue Square Premier (which would have been four but for Halifax Town’s demise saving Altrincham) and King’s Lynn’s promotion from the Southern League – they have been placed in the Blue Square North – a reorganisation was required. City have faced Worcester on over 100 occasions, the last being a 1-1 draw in February 2004 that saw Scott Partridge register his first goal for the club. They have also faced Redditch a dozen times, although mainly during the 1970’s and 80’s. The Blue Square South set-up also included Cambridge City, despite the Liliywhites failing the ground regulations back in March. This decision is subject to an FA appeal, meaning things could change again before the final line-ups are confirmed in early June.
Assuming no further changes City will face a slight reduction in their travelling for the 2008-09 season, although this is mainly down the arrival of Team Bath which effectively gives them a 22nd home game. The longest trip remains the 176 miles to Braintree Town and their local derby – Team Bath aside – is now over the Welsh border in Newport County, following Weston Super Mare’s relegation.
Truro City have revived their interest in in-demand City striker Phil Walsh. The 24-year old looked set to be joining the big-spending Cornwall side a couple of weeks ago, before their ambitious plans to turn full-time in their first Southern League season fell through. However, they have returned with a new offer, which the son of Bristol City coach Alan Walsh can consider alongside deals from Salisbury City and Tiverton Town, plus a potential new contract at City.
At a hot and sunny Twerton Park yesterday, Bath City XI and Bristol Rovers XI sides met to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the ground. Over 30 former players (plus one current one) from both clubs took part in the match, watched by a crowd of nearly 300. With the varying levels of fitness of the stars on show the game was played over three 20 minute periods, and it was the Bristol side who came out on top by two goals to one. Jon Holloway gave City the lead after just nine minutes from the penalty spot before Carl Saunders headed Rovers level 15 minutes into the second period. The winning goal was another penalty kick, converted by David Mehew with five minutes remaining, after Gary Smart (who played for both sides) had been bundled over by Martin Paul (the current player) and Ian Hedges. After the match both players and supporters retired to the bar for a evening of memories from both clubs time at the ground. The full list of players involved:
Bath City XI: Dave Mogg, Rob Cousins, Grantley Dicks, Jon Holloway, Colin Towler, Nicky Brooks, Gary Smart, George Gibbs, John Freegard, Martin Paul, Dave Payne, Chris Smith, Adie Mings, Ian Hedges, Dave Palmer, Tony Ricketts, Chris Banks, Brian Wade, Peter Rogers.
Bristol Rovers XI: Brian Parkin, Wayne Noble, Andy Tillson, Billy Clark, David Mehew, Andy Gurney, Carl Saunders, Jeff Meacham, Keith Brown, Tony Pounder, Lee Archer, Geoff Twentyman.
City’s second highest all-time goalscorer Martin Paul is likely to remain with the club for the 2008-09 season. When Birdy headed home City’s final goal of the 2007-08 campaign he moved ahead of Paul Randall in the scoring charts with 113 goals, leaving only Charlie Fleming above him with 216 goals. The 32-year old scored on his debut for City against Woking in November 1996 and became the first City player since Fleming* to record back-to-back 30 goal seasons in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. Spells with Newport County and Chippenham Town followed before he returned to City in February 2005, notching his 100th goal for the club two months later at Solihull Borough. Looked like he would have to declare on 104 goals when he left again for Mangotsfield United in December 2005, however after another spell with Chippenham he joined City for a third time late in 2006 to provide cover up front, a position he has maintained since. And he is set to hold talks with manager John Relish to continue this ad-hoc role into City’s second season the Blue Square South.
*For the record Fleming scored 48, 47 and 40 goals in the 1958-59, 1959-60 and 1960-61 seasons.
Phil Walsh could be set for a move to Blue Square Premier side Salisbury City. The 24-year old striker has been offered a new contract with City but is currently in talks with the Wiltshire club over a possible full-time deal. Walsh, who has scored 25 times in 106 appearances for City, had looked set to make a switch to Truro City, only for the move to fall through when the big-spending Cornwall side’s plans to go full-time were shelved.
Four other players are currently in talks over contracts for the 2008-09 season, midfielders Adie Harris, Steve Jones, Scott Rogers and Justyn McKay. Harris is a target for a number of other clubs, including Havant & Waterlooville, Bromley, Eastleigh and Weston-super-Mare, but City manager John Relish hopes that he my decide to stay at Twerton Park. Rogers and Jones are expected to put pen to paper shortly, however McKay is on an extended six-week holiday so a decision will not be made until his return.
Following his release by Cheltenham Town, City are hopeful midfielder Sam Foley will return to Twerton Park. The 21-year old had an impressive loan spell with City at the end of the season, scoring twice in seven outings, but he has understandably expressed a wish to remain in full-time football.
The Blue Square South play-off final saw Eastbourne Borough defeat Hampton & Richmond Borough by two goals to nil this evening at Stevenage Borough’s Broadhall Way to secure a place in the Blue Square Premier.
Gethin Jones and Adie Harris have been selected for the Wales squad to take part in the 2008 Four Nations Tournament. This is the third successive season the pair have been choosen, with this year’s competition being held in their home country between May 20 and 24. They will face sides from England and Scotland, plus newcomers Gibraltar who replace Ireland. One further name familiar to City fans in the squad is Paul Keddle, who made 31 appearances for the club during the first half of last season before joining Welsh League side Carmarthen Town.
John Relish has pledged his future to City despite being linked to the vacant managerial job at his former club Newport County. Press reports coming out of Wales gave the impression that Relish, who played over 300 games for Newport, had ‘thrown his hat into the ring’ but he angrily denied this and committed himself to City, saying, “I’ve got a job to do at Bath City and I’d rather stay where I am – there’s no doubt about that in my mind.”
City have been joined in the Blue Square South by tenants Team Bath after the University-based side beat Halesowen Town 2-1 in the Southern League play-off final at Twerton Park this afternoon. Also coming up to this level is Ryman League play-off winners AFC Wimbledon. The final compostition of the division is unlikely to decided until later this month when Cambridge City’s appeal against demotion for failing to meet the required ground grading is heard by the FA. There is further uncertainty over whether Southern League winners King’s Lynn will be placed in the Blue Square South or North and if any clubs will be switched between the leagues, with Worcester City and Redditch United the most likely.
The Blue Square South play-off final will be between Eastbourne Borough and Hampton & Richmond Borough. Eastbourne completed a comfortable 5-0 aggregate win over Braintree Town with a 3-0 victory this afternoon, whereas Hampton had to rely on a penalty shoot-out to get past Fisher Athletic. And in another startling piece of administration the final has been switched from Stevenage Borough’s Broadhall Way to Ebbsfleet United’s ground, Stonebridge Road.
City ended their 2007-08 season on a high last night by claiming the Somerset Premier Cup for the first time in 13 years with a 3-0 win over Paulton Rovers at Twerton Park, and in the process Martin Paul became the club’s all-time second top scorer. Birdy struck his 113th goal for City with a stoppage time header to overtake Paul Randall in the top scorer list and complete an excellent evening as the side bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on a Blue Square South play-off place at the weekend. After the game was abandoned due to floodlight failure last week the second attempt got off to a similar start with Dave Gilroy putting City ahead within ten minutes, stabbing the ball home from the edge of the area despite lying on the ground. City wasted several chances to extend their lead but any worries that the game would follow the pattern of the previous match, where Paulton got stronger as the game progressed, were dispelled on 53 minutes when Gilroy struck his 26th goal of the season to make it 2-0. And the season was rounded off in memorable style when Paul rose above former City player Rob Cousins to head home Scott Rogers’ cross in the 90th minute.