In the last week I have ventured down to Twerton Park, the home of Bath City FC, to watch and support my local team in their quest for promotion to the Blue Square Premier (formerly the Conference). One regret I have had this season is that I have not been able to get to games and support the City more; shamefully the match at home against St. Albans on the 24th was the first fixture I could attend. However, my lack of attendance has not quelled my support for the team, and I made sure I would be there for their final game of the season. City only needed a point to secure a playoff position and that’s exactly what they got. Truth be told it was a rather uneventful game and had that typical end of season feeling to it. The players were obviously tired, and the long struggle of the season looked as if it had taken its toll. However Adie Britton’s side, fatigued as they were, never gave up the fight and secured the point that was necessary with the game finishing 0-0. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon to watch football, and it was a nice touch by the players to applaud the fans after the final whistle.
With City securing their place in the Conference South Playoff Semi-Final, the 1st leg was scheduled for the following Tuesday evening, the 27th. I thought it was a bit bizarre to have the game arranged so quickly after the season had just finished (giving the players very little time to rest), but thankfully it gave me another chance to get down to Twerton Park and support the mighty City once more, as they went into battle against Essex side Chelmsford City.
Earlier that day, I was in the city centre with my girlfriend and we were just having a browse around town. We popped into Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe, which I had previously never been into, and the missus pestered me for some sweets. We soon made our exit from the store, with her getting her way. I had decided to go for an old classic, a quid’s worth of strawberry bon-bons; I figured I would snack on them throughout the match later that evening... little did I know the magnitude of my decision.
Armed with my bag of bon-bons, my friends and I made our way to the stadium. It was another beautiful evening for football, with the sun shining on Twerton Park’s exquisite playing surface. The atmosphere was electric, with over 1,400 fans turning up in full voice, including a good number of Chelmsford supporters who were very vocal and did especially well to make the long journey from Essex on a Tuesday night. The first half was dominated by the away side, who looked dangerous every time they surged forward. Twice the ball had to be cleared off the line by the City defence, with captain Jim Rollo and Sido Jombarti making stunning efforts to keep the score level. In goal, Ryan Robinson was also tested often and early, producing multiple saves from Chelmsford’s attackers. City’s defence stayed strong and continued to keep the visitors at bay, but struggled to manufacture a real period of dominance going forward. Kaid Mohamed went close for the home team with an effort just wide of the post, but that was all City could really muster during the first 45 minutes.
The second half started with more of the same, with Chelmsford having most of the possession and desperately trying to return to Essex with a lead. However, events turned around for Bath when my Football Manager hero Darren Edwards had his shirt pulled in the Claret’s box. Mohamed stepped up to take the spot kick and confidently sent it into the back of the net, sending the City faithful into a state of euphoria. Bath got themselves more into game from then on, and with 10 minutes to go a bust-up in front of the dugouts resulted in a red card for each team. With 10 men each, the home side looked to increase the score-line as Chelmsford began to look stretched. With only minutes left in the tie, Mohamed chased down a long pass and somehow managed to cross it into the box. Young substitute Hector Mackie got on the end of this and guided the ball into the far corner, which from where I was stood appeared to travel in slow motion. It eventually hit the net and the two goal lead sent us into a frenzy - Twerton Park was in seventh heaven and the celebrations really began. When the referee blew the final whistle minutes later, the victorious Bath team were greeted with an enormous roar from us all. It was a great night and a brilliant result for City. As the players moved over towards us, every single man, woman and child applauded them for their heroic performance; it was thoroughly deserved.
And this is where my magic bon-bons come in. I don’t consider myself the superstitious type, but after the game I had a magical feeling about my bag of sweets. Without them, City laboured to a goalless draw on Saturday; but with my supernatural snacks in possession, Bath managed to withstand Chelmsford’s onslaught and score two goals of their own, taking a solid lead with them into the second leg. Nothing is certain though, Bath still need to produce a quality performance in Essex if they are to advance to the Playoff Final.
Nevertheless a ritual practice may have been born on the terraces that Tuesday night; one I hope shall bring eternal luck to the almighty Bath City football club. Expect to see me again at Twerton Park in the near future, with my bag of enchanted bon-bons in hand.
Thanks for reading.