December 17, 2014
Mark Stillman provides his take on a memorable week in Bath City’s 125-year history.
(Article adapted from the Bath Chronicle story written from a FANS VIEW with thanks.)
I love football sometimes.
It’s fair to say the FA Trophy has not been a kind competition for City. A Simpson’s character could probably count on one hand the number of happy memories we’ve had in it, whilst you’d need all your fingers and toes to add up the number of embarrassing exits, usually against lower league opposition.
For once on Saturday, we were enjoying the ecstasy of seeing a bigger club suffer. A club we have enjoyed many close links with too.
(Not only did Bath City win 2-0 their Chairman won the top prize in the 50/50 Half-Time Raffle.)
Bristol Rovers and Bath City will always have a bond between them, with them playing 10 largely successful seasons at Twerton Park between 1986 and 1996. Several players have represented each club. The drop from Rovers into non-league is staggering, you cannot deny that they are still a big club. Although the attendance was one of their lowest in recent seasons, 3,505 is still about 3,000 more than what we’re used to playing in front of this season. City contributed 404 to that total, and they made themselves heard throughout. The away support was terrific.
My aim for the day was to just enjoy it, and Lee Howells admitted that was one of his instructions to the players before the game. It’s fair to say we did. Rovers’ total lack of goals this season (28 in 25 games, bottom club Telford have scored the same number) came back to haunt them, and Nathan Blissett limping off, unable to play in the second half, must have given our already confident defence an extra lift.
I couldn’t have been much better placed for our first goal. In photography terms that is, I didn’t run across the keeper or anything. I didn’t actually have a clue who had scored it until the Monday, but capturing the joy on Phil Walsh and Chas Hemming’ s faces in particular as the ball hit the net is one of my better shots. My attempted photo of Frankie Artus’ brave header three minutes later was somewhat blurred, as I expect his vision was temporarily as he was unceremoniously flattened connecting with Dave Pratt’s cross. We were in dreamland, for Rovers it was a nightmare.
As we saw out the final 20 minutes or so without many problems, the final whistle brought scenes of sheer jubilation for our players and supporters. 49 days on from the East Thurrock debacle, our inconsistent season couldn’t have been more summed up by this moment, which will be up there as a favourite for many supporters.
We were brilliant.
The reaction of the Bristol Rovers fans instantly was, naturally, a chorus of boos, but a number stayed behind and applauded our players off, which was a great gesture. Their attitude on the day was first class, far more welcoming than other clubs we’ve come across at that level, and I personally hope they’re back in the League where they belong before long.
This has set up a tie in the next round away to Wealdstone, who co-incidentally are our visitors this Saturday. I didn’t realise until afterwards that the draw was still regionalised, so in that sense it could have been a lot worse.
We’ve already beaten them this season so there’s no reason why we can’t progress to the last 16. They are well supported too, so it should be a decent crowd at Grosvenor Vale.
Saturday was a great early Christmas present, more money made in the Trophy will be our Christmases, Birthdays, Easters and Halloweens all in one