The first set of Blue Square Bet odds for the 2010-11 season have City at 100/1 to lift the Premier division title. Gateshead, Histon and Tamworth are also listed at that price with just Hayes & Yeading United (125/1) and Eastbourne Borough (150/1) at longer odds. Luton Town are favourites to secure a return to the Football League at 9/4, followed by Grimsby Town (6/1), Darlington (8/1) and Rushden & Diamonds (9/1). The full list is:
Danny Webb has become City’s first summer signing after moving to Twerton Park from Salisbury City. The versatile 26-year old, who can play at centre-back or up-front, is the son of former Chelsea player David Webb. He began his career as a trainee with Southampton and has since played for a number of clubs including Hull City, Yeovil Town and AFC Wimbledon. Having spent the majority of his career as a striker he switched to defence when he joined the Whites in October 2008. Last season he made 32 league appearances for the Wiltshire club.
City have lost one of the major players in their rise up the non-league pyramid after Chris Holland turned down a new contract with the club. The 29-year old centre-back is moving to Southampton and feels he cannot commit to the travelling involved with City back in a national league. ‘Dutch’ joined City from Team Bath in March 2005 and after a stop-start career with the club, including loan spells with Weston Super Mare and Gloucester City, he became a first team regular in the 2006-07 season. His outstanding performances, including eleven goals, played a major part in City’s Southern League title win and he was named player of the season the following May. He has since gone on to make over 200 appearances, scoring an incredible 36 goals from centre-back, and added a second player of the year award in 2008-09.
Geoff Todd has announced his intention to step down as City chairman as the club looks for investment that will allow it to build on the promotion to the Blue Square Bet Premier. Todd’s five years in control of City has seen it climb from the Southern League back to the pinnacle of non-league football after a 13-year absence. However, he has admitted a new man at the top is needed if City are establish themselves at this new level and then make the next step up to the Football League. “It is the right time for me to stand down,” said Todd, who joined the board 12 years ago and succeeded Steve Hall as chairman in May 2005. “By announcing my retirement now, with the platform we have to build on, there’s a good chance that, through the summer, we might be able to find somebody who really does have an interest in taking the club forward and who has some investment. A new chairman coming in can breathe new energy, new fire and new ideas into the club, which I think are appropriate. It is very important that that person understands investment would be necessary and understands the potential of the club. Look at what has been done already with relatively small resources. Potentially, it can be a Football League club – if Cheltenham and Yeovil can do it, then we can do it. They say Bath is a rugby city but there is room here for a football side playing in the league too. It is a city with nearly 100,000 people within a short radius of the centre, it is a rich city with lots of millionaires, it is an interesting city and a place – if you looked at it from a business perspective – where people would want to come and watch football because there are lots of other things to make the package enjoyable. It would be great if, in five years time, Bath could have a Football League side to go along with its very fine rugby side and it’s not impossible.” Todd, who has invested more then £300,000 of his own money into the club, is hoping to remain on the board once his successor is found and intends to continue as chairman until a suitable candidate comes forward.
Goalkeeper Ryan Robinson, long-serving defender Matt Coupe and midfielder Hector Mackie are the latest players to commit themselves to the club for the 2010-11 season. Robinson has signed a new one-year contract whilst the other two have agreed non-contract deals.
Richard Evans and Marcus Browning, along with the previously announced Stuart Douglas, have been released as manager Adie Britton looks to build a squad capable of surviving the club’s first season in the Blue Square Bet Premier. The rest of the squad that won promotion via the Blue Square South play-offs have been offered new deals, although six are on non-contract terms to prove they are capable of making the step up to the top flight of non-league football. Mark Badman, Sido Jombati, Adam Connolly, Sekani Simpson and Scott Bartlett have already agreed deals and the remaining players have been told they must decide whether they are staying on by this weekend. Britton will then look to construct a squad of 19 players after confirming his budget with the City board.
Adie Britton has been named Blue Square South manager of the month for April/May in a fitting honour after leading his side to the Blue Square Bet Premier. City won eight games and drew once during this period, conceding just three goals, including play-off victories over Chelmsford City and Woking to secure a return to the pinnacle of non-league football after a 13-year absence. This run was timed perfectly to lift City from 8th to a finishing place of 4th, which they followed up with a 1-0 play-off final win over Woking in front of nearly 5000 fans at Twerton Park.
City have announced attractive matchday and season ticket prices for their first season back in the Conference National, when they will be playing the likes of Luton Town, Grimsby Town, Mansfield Town and York City, as well as local rivals Newport County, who have also been promoted as champions. Director Phil Weaver said “We have enjoyed our time in the Blue Square South, but it is much easier to attract fans to watch Luton Town and Grimsby than Thurrock or Braintree. We are expecting substantially increased crowds and an even better atmosphere at matches next season. The play-off matches showed that people in Bath will support a higher standard of football, and we are all very excited at being back at this level after 13 years. We have seen a big growth in the number of younger supporters and we want to encourage families. Our new family tickets reflect this, where a parent and child can attend for under £11 per match. The Junior Stripes at £40 are also exceptional value, as is the matchday admission of £2 for all under-16’s.”
The prices have not risen for the past 2 years, and very modest increases mean that there are some great bargains to be had, including the new family tickets. The new prices will be held for 2 years, and no increase will be applied even if, as expected, the rate of VAT goes up. All prices include 23 league games (as opposed to 21 in the Blue Square South) but not the pre-season friendlies. Early Bird tickets, purchased before 30 June are the best value.
Tickets can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org stating your season ticket requirements and telephone number, or by phoning 01225 423087 (option 3) and leaving a message. You will then be phoned back and can pay over the phone with a card.
City are to hold a Promotion Party at Twerton Park on Sunday 23 May to celebrate their Blue Square South play-off victory over Woking last weekend. The event will include action from the campaign, a chance to have your photo taken with the play-off trophy, the opportunity to purchase a 2010-11 season ticket and an auction for the players shirts. The bar will be open and the evening starts at 7.30pm. If you cannot attend the party but wish to bid on a shirt visit here for details.
The fourth volume of City’s Archive DVD collection is now available to buy for just £9.99. This volume covers the period from the 1996-97 season, when City were relegated from the Vauxhall Conference, to 2001-02 and the last day win at Worcester City that saw the club avoid dropping further down the non-league pyramid. Including 51 goals it will be on sale at next Sunday’s Promotion Party (further details to follow). All money raised will go to the playing budget for next season.
City now know the 23 teams they will compete alongside in the 2010-11 Blue Square Bet Premier following today’s play-off final that saw Oxford United defeat York City 3-1 at Wembley. The result, that lifts the U’s back into the Football League after a four-year absence, adds another long trip North for City as they prepare to return to a national league after 13 seasons in the Southern League and Conference South. The line-up is as follows:
However, as is common place for the Football Conference this could still change before the AGM ratifies the leagues next month with Salisbury City’s participation still somewhat in doubt due to their financial position.
THE Football Conference has confirmed that the 2010-11 season will start on Saturday, August 14 and finish on Saturday, April 30.
Adan Connolly, City’s joint player of the year, and Sido Jombati, man of the match in the play-off final win over Woking, have both committed themselves to the club for the 2010-11 season. They join Mark Badman and Sekani Simpson in agreeing terms for City’s return to the return to the highest level of non-league football. Manager Adie Britton has already had talks with the board over his budget for the task of competing in a league containing a majority of full-time teams, including a large number of ex-Football League clubs.
One player who won’t be pulling on a City shirt next season is goalkeeper Steve Perrin, after the 39-year old have announced his retirement from football. He made 42 appearances for the club in several spells, providing cover for Paul Evans and Ryan Robinson during the last three years.
A record Blue Square South play-off crowd of 4865 squeezed into Twerton Park yesterday to witness City’s return to the non-league elite. Problems with the counters on several turnstiles delayed confirmation of the official attendance figure until today but the total is the biggest crowd for a City game at Twerton Park since they faced then tenants Bristol Rovers in an 1994 FA Cup clash. The kick-off of the meeting with Woking had to be delayed for 20 minutes to get everybody into the ground, with queues snaking along Twerton High Street from both ends of the ground as the scheduled 2pm start time approached. City and Woking will both bank 25% of the gate receipts with the remaining half going to the Football Conference.
City are back in the top flight of non-league football after a 13-year absence following their 1-0 win over Woking at Twerton Park this afternoon in the Blue Square South play-off final. The winning goal came nine minutes after the interval from a Kaid Mohamed penalty after Darren Edwards had been brought down by Cards keeper Worner. He was lucky to escape a red card but could do nothing to stop Mohamed’s cooly taken spot-kick. The kick-off was delayed for 20 minutes to allow the crowds into the ground and despite the huge reward for the winners of the game they witnessed an entertaining clash between the teams who finished fourth and fifth during the regualr season. Both sides struck the woodwork in the first-half – Ademola’s fierce drive crashing against the inside of the post on 11 minutes before Adie Harris’ header glanced of the outside of the upright as half-time approached. City started the second half brightly and grabbed what turned out to be the winning goal after 56 minutes. Moments later Ryan Robinson bravely saved at the feet of Sole but City were looking solid at the back with Woking dangerman Faulconbridge getting little joy in his tussle with Chris Holland. However, City couldn’t find a second goal and understandably found themselves under increasing pressure as the game reached it’s closing stages. Ademola somehow dragged his shot wide with just Robinson to beat with nine minutes left and Faulconbridge blazed over when the ball dropped to him eight yards out. Inbetween the Cards had the ball in the net but an offside flag halted Faulconbridge’s celebrations and that was as close as they came to denying City. Then after four minutes of stoppage time the final whistle sparked a pitch invasion and joyous scenes on the Twerton Park pitch.
City captain Jim Rollo has received a good luck message from Eric Cantona ahead of tomorrow’s Blue Square South play-off final against Woking. The footballing legend got the surprise text from the former France and Manchester United star turned actor a couple of days ago. The pair met last summer when Cantona visited Twerton Park for a Meeting Eric fundraising event arranged by City fan Ken Loach, who directed Cantona in the film Looking for Eric.
City face Woking at Twerton Park on Sunday with the prize of a place at the pinnacle of non-league football on offer as the clubs contest the Blue Square South play-off final. Should City triumph over the Cards to end a 13-year absence from level 5 football, it will be a very different world to which they return. When severe budget cuts ended their seven year stay in the Vauxhall Conference at the end of the 1996-97 season opponents then included Slough Town, Bromsgrove Rovers, Hednesford Town and Stalybridge Celtic. Now they could be on the verge of facing a number of former Football League sides including Luton Town, Wrexham, Mansfield Town and Cambridge United. However, before they can begin to contemplate such adventures they need to overcome a Woking side who have hit form at just the right time of the season.
When Graham Baker’s side suffered a run of eight games without a win between late January and early March they slipped from 2nd place – and appearing certainties for a play-off place – to 13th leaving any hopes of a quick return to the Blue Square Premier looking in tatters. Home wins over Basingstoke Town and Hampton & Richmond Borough then rekindled their campaign. Although a single goal defeat to champions Newport County followed they then embarked on a run of five successive wins which took them into the final game of the campaign in 6th place. This meant they needed either City or Braintree Town to slip up on the last Saturday of the regular season to climb back into the top five, assuming they could overcome rock-bottom Weymouth. That was a task they comfortably managed by four goals to nil and, although City got the single point they needed against St Albans City, Braintree’s 2-1 defeat at home to Newport ensured the Cards would grab the final play-off spot.
There they faced runners-up Dover Athletic in the two-legged semi-final. They got off to the worst possible start, Schulz heading the Whites in front after just four minutes of the first leg at Kingfield. However, a spell of pressure from the Cards ended with Ademola firing them level on 17 minutes. And they went into the interval in front as Wright headed home from a narrow angle five minutes before half-time. Neither side could add to the scoring in the second period which left the tie delicately balanced going into the second leg in Kent four days later. Almost from the first whistle Woking were forced on the defensive but with a combination of the woodwork, goalline clearances and resilient defending they managed to withstand everything the home side could throw at them to earn the right to face City in the play-off final.
This turnaround in their form and fortune is largely down to the arrival of striker Craig Faulconbridge, who joined the club from Carshalton Athletic in early March 2010. Aside from one or two blips the Cards defence had been a match for any in the Blue Square South (except perhaps Newport) but a lack of threat up front had looked to be the main factor in undermining any promotion hopes. This all changed though when the experienced front-man made the switch to Kingfield. He netted on his debut against Thurrock and has now scored six times in Woking’s run to the play-offs. His arrival was funded by manager Baker who has been paying the wages of the 31-year old.
Complete record against Woking
The two league meetings between the clubs this season ended emphatically in favour of City, coming in the space of 18 days in December. The first meeting took place at Twerton Park just three days after City’s had suffered the disappointment of missing out on a 3rd Round FA Cup place but they put the defeat to Forest Green Rovers firmly behind them by racing into a 3-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Kaid Mohamed, Darren Edwards and Chris Holland. The visitors improved considerably after the break before further strikes from Andrejs Stolcers and a second for Edwards completed the rout. Woking were handed a quick opportunity for revenge when the sides met again at Kingfield two and a half weeks later and after dominating the opening 20 minutes it looked as if they would take this chance. However, against the run of play City won a 28th minute penalty which Mohamed converted and then Edwards scrambled the ball home on the stroke of half-time to put City in control of the game. A mistake by Ryan Robinson gave Woking a glimmer of hope on 67 minutes when he let a free-kick slip through his grasp into the net but within seven minutes Lewis Hogg’s 25-yard free-kick restored City’s two goal advantage which they defended with little further scares.
After a long hard season City will go into the game with several players carrying knocks, including Sekani Simpson, Gethin Jones, Chris Holland and Adam Connolly, but all four are expected to start the game with just Mark Badman definitely out after his red card in the first leg of the semi-final win over Chelmsford City. The players took a welcome break from their usual training session on Tuesday as they enjoyed a relaxing evening at Thermae Bath Spa thanks to chairman Geoff Todd and local MP Don Foster.
City have released further matchday information for the Blue Square South play-off final at Twerton Park on Sunday. In addition to the (now correct) admission prices below there are a limited number of hospitality packages on sale at £25 each to give access to the sponsors lounge, a stand seat and a pre-match buffet, call the club for more details. Charlie’s and Randall’s will be open from 11.30 am, with food on sale inside. Additionally extra catering facilities will be provided inside the ground. A special souvenir programme is being produced by the Football Conference, and will be on sale around the ground. With a crowd in excess of 3500 expected turnstiles will be open from 12 noon, and people are asked to arrive early to ensure easy access. Woking supporters will be segregated in the Bristol End of the ground with seating in the family stand.
Stuart Douglas has played his last game for City after it was confirmed he will not be offered a new contract in the summer. The 32-year old front-man has only started three games for the club this season due to a number of injuries, spending time on loan with Newport County, and is unavailable for the play-off final on Sunday. During his two years at Twerton Park he made 31 starts and 29 substitute appearances, scoring eleven times. He will be best remembered for his hat-trick in the 4-0 win at Newport in March 2009 – the last time the Welsh side suffered a home league defeat.
In consultation with the Football Conference, City and Woking have agreed entry prices for Sunday’s Blue Square South play-off final at Twerton Park. Terrace admission will cost £12 (adults), £8 (concessions) and £4 (under-16s) and for sitting £14/£9/£5. Both sets of supporters will pay on the day but City fans can book a main stand seat in advance by e-mailing their name, address and contact number to email@example.com. The club will then contact you and payment can be made using a card over the phone.
Lewis Hogg and Adam Connolly were the main winners during City’s player of the season award evening at Twerton Park last night. After sharing the Supporters award, Connolly was named players’ player and Hogg managers player of the season. Other winners during the event, that was attended by around 150 players and supporters, were Darren Edwards (Golden Boot), Connolly (goal of the season for his strike against Bishop’s Stortford) and Jim Rollo, who received the Chairmans special award for reaching 400 games for the club. Several of the shirts the team wore during the FA Cup victory at Grimsby Town were auctioned off at the end of the evening, raising nearly £1000.
A Kaid Mohamed goal early in the second half gave City a 1-0 win over Chelmsford City this afternoon to secure a 3-0 aggregate victory and a place in the Blue Square South play-off final. There they will meet Woking at Twerton Park for promotion to the Blue Square Premier on Sunday 9 May (ko 2pm). Mohamed stabbed the ball home from close range on 53 minutes after Darren Edwards’ header had been pushed onto the bar by Clarets keeper Harrison. As in the first leg Chelmsford dominated possession, particularly during the first half, but unlike the match at Twerton Park, where City rode their luck at times, they rarely looked like finding the vital goal that would have put them right back in the tie. The closest they came was when Ryan Robinson had to push away Cook’s well struck cross-shot. And when Mohamed struck their confidence visibly disappeared, leaving City comfortably in control of the game. With six minutes remaining any slim hopes of a late comeback vanished when Harrison brought down Edwards as he raced clear to receive a straight red card. City couldn’t beat stand-in keeper Cook but that mattered not at the final whistle as they moved to within 90 minutes of a return to the pinnacle of non-league football after a 13 year absence.