|The Official website of Dover Athletic Football Club | Team Guide - Information about Bath City
Telephone Number: (01225) 423087 /
E-mail Address: email@example.com
Official Website: www.bathcityfc.com
Bath City AFC began life not at their current home of Twerton Park, but in the compact Belvoir ground situated at East Twerton and now the former premises of Stothert and Pitt. The first manager was a Bristolian, Charlie Pinker, who possessed wide connections in Bristol amateur football circles and was able to introduce many players to the club, including the likes of Harry Grubb and Wally Osbourne, along with local favourite, Charlie Slade, who subsequently joined Aston Villa and Huddersfield Town. The advent of World War I saw the appearance of many service teams, together with their military bands who entertained the crowds gathered on the railway bank which flanked the ground. When the war ended a move was made to the Lambridge ground, tenancy being arranged with the Horse Show Committee and Bath City FC. The rental of £100 a year for the ground was considered exorbitant at the time, especially when the football club was debarred from playing on the pitch on the occasions of the Horse Show, which made use of a 'water jump' usually dug in the centre of the pitch. Flooding from the river Avon was also a liability, affecting many matchdays. The set-up at the ground included an ornate wooden stand which stretched almost the length of the pitch. Admission to the ground was 9d (3½p) and 6d (2½p) for the unemployed.
It cost just under £2000 to set in motion one of the most significant changes in City's history - the move to Twerton Park. That is what vice-chairman Arthur Mortimer and Sergeant Purnell of Bath Police bid at an auction to secure a plot of land available between Innox Park and Twerton village High Street. A mortgage was obtained from the Football Association at an interest rate of three per cent. The extensive area stretched from Freeview Road to the High Street at an angle of some 45 degrees, which offered the appalling task of the movement of 33,000 tons of soil to construct the playing surface, and the felling of some small trees. The property was surrounded by a public footpath on the south and west sides, and near the present newsagents was the old lock-up jail where the weekend revelers were kept. A ground committee was formed under Arthur Mortimer, a start being made with many amateur helpers and unemployed players. The grounds name was chosen from three possibilities, Twerton Park, Mortimer Park and Innox Park, and excavation took nearly three years and was completed in time for City to begin the 1932-33 season in their new ground.
On the pitch City celebrated their first season at Twerton Park by again winning the Western Section of the Southern League. However, they were unable to clinch the overall title, losing 2-1 to Norwich City Reserves in the Championship play-offs. The next season saw City only finish third but further success came in the FA Cup as 3rd Division Charlton Athletic were drawn at the Park and survived a 0-0 draw to win 3-1 at The Valley. Outstanding in this match were Bath's Ernie Coombes and Charlton's Welsh internationals Turner and Pearce. The latter who went on to play for City during the period of the Second World War. Ted Davis eventually left City to manage Colchester United, and he was replaced by Alex Raisbeck from Bristol City, a former Scottish international centre-half who in his playing days appeared for Liverpool. Raisbeck was unfortunate that his short association with the club soon terminated with the outbreak of the war and the ultimate cancellation of all fixtures.
With the cessation of hostilities City returned to the Southern League, and the old routine of league fixtures, under various managers, including Vic Woodley and, former England captain, Eddie Hapgood. City made little impression in the league and it was once again the cup competitions in which they excelled. In 1949-50 City reached the final of the Southern League Cup for the first time. Their opponents, Colchester United, were firm favourites after missing out on the League title on goal difference to Merthyr Tydfil, and after winning the first leg at Twerton Park 3-0 this tag seemed justified. However, in a great second leg at Layer Road goals from Snook, Kelly, Mills and, in the last minute, Hawkins gave City a 4-1 lead and took the game into extra time, where United hit back with two goals to win 6-4 on aggregate. The FA Cup saw City gain further success as they beat third division Southend United 3-1 in 1952-53 and Exeter City 2-1 in 1957-58. Also during this period City won the Somerset Premier Cup (1951/52, 1952/53 and 1957/58).
Towards the end of the 1950's financial problems began to plague City once more and with the club in serious danger of folding the board turned to the supporters club for financial and administrative assistance. It was decided that the way to bring the crowds back to Twerton Park was to invest in some 'name' players and, with the maximum wage rule not covering non-league football, the persuasive powers of Mortimer and manager Bob Hewison went to work. The new arrivals included the famous Charlie 'Cannonball' Fleming, signed for a fee of £10,000 from 1st division Sunderland. The Scotland international was joined by Ian Black (Scotland and Fulham), Ian McFarlane (Chelsea), Paddy Hale (Bristol Rovers), Peter Thomas (Cardiff City) and Joe O'Neill (Leicester City). And joining this group was the returning Stanley Mortenson as captain of the team.
After the unqualified successes of the Charlie Fleming era the late Sixties and early Seventies saw a major downturn in the clubs fortunes. Three times City found themselves in the Southern League 1st Division and the usual fallback of FA Cup adventure was also missing as they failed to reach the first round proper a single time between 1968 and 1974. During this period managers also came and went at an alarming rate but until the guidance of Bert Head City returned to the Premier Division in 1974 and with the majority of the squad on full-time contracts they were serious contenders for the title the following season. A win at leaders Wimbledon kept alive these hopes until the closing weeks of the season but City couldn't maintain this momentum and finished in 6th place behind the Dons. A 4th Qualifying Round victory over local rivals Yeovil Town also signalled the return of FA Cup success before Wimbledon were again their nemesis in the 1st Round. The following season began with rumours of unrest between the players and manager Head and when City were dumped out of the Cup by Hampshire League side Fareham Town he was replaced by his assistant Jack Smith. Little changed on the pitch though as City finished the season in 16th place just five points off the relegation places.
he two most notable features of City's first season back in the Southern League, now named the Beazer Homes League, was the number of managers used and the arrival of a striker who would become the clubs greatest goalscorer since Charlie Fleming. Harold Jarman was initially handed the task of getting City back into the Conference but he only lasted until October. Following a short caretaker spell under Colin Tavener larger than life ex-Trowbridge Town boss Les Alderman took over. Despite a number of big wins City never looked like challenging for the title and as they began nervously looking over their shoulders at the relegation places Alderman was replaced by Geoff Evans. Going into the final week of the season City were still in relegation danger before two victories secured a ninth place finish. A scorer in both these games was Paul Randall. The former Bristol Rovers and Stoke City forward arrived in April and would go on to score 112 goals in just 210 appearances during the next five seasons. In the FA Cup City reached the 2nd Round before surrendering a 2-0 lead to exit 3-2 against Welling United and miss out on a meeting with Blackburn Rovers.
Under another new manager, George Rooney, the 1989-90 season began in less than auspicious circumstances with a 2-1 defeat at Cambridge City but just two further defeats up to the end of the year left City at the heart of a three-way battle, with Dartford and Dover Athletic, for the title. City started 1990 with an incredible 14 successive league wins as Randall (51 goals), John Freegard (36) and Gary Smart (25) formed an attacking force that was proving unstoppable. This run saw off the challenge of Dartford but City could still not shake off Dover. A defeat at Worcester handed the initative to the Kent side and despite four wins and a draw in the remaining five games, which left City with 98 points, they had to settle for second place. However, with Dover's Crabble Athletic ground failing to meet Conference standard City were handed a lifeline. After an unsuccessful appeal to the FA the White's were denied promotion and City were back into the Conference. Incredibly success in knockout competitions saw City play 27 cup games that season. Second Division Fulham came within twenty minutes of becoming City's first league scalp since 1965 when they trailed 2-0 at Twerton Park in a 1st Round meeting. However, two goals from Clive Walker saved their blushes and despite City taking the lead in the replay the Cottagers won 2-1.
Back in the Southern League, the 1997-98 season saw mixed fortunes on the pitch – a promising start fading during the middle of the campaign to a sixth place finish – but major changes off the pitch. The independent supporters club took over the running of the club in December 1997 following an agreement with the major shareholder Corporate Equity, who had provided several cash injections to keep the club afloat. Steve Hall was installed as chairman and they celebrated this with a re-launch week in March, which included a new club badge and a series of events, a HTV-screened documentary by world famous film director, and new City director, Ken Loach the highlight. One of the new board’s first actions was to sack manager Steve Millard – in hospital at the time – and install former City star Paul Bodin as the new boss. The background to all these events was a familiar tale though, of £1000 a week losses and the search for a site for a new ground.
With a place in the new formed Conference South on offer for the top 13 finishers the 2003-04 season was a vital one for the newly supporter-owned City. Just three wins in their opening nine league games was not a great start and when an embarrassing 7-0 defeat at Worcester City in September heralded a run of eleven matches without a win, along with a shocking, and costly, FA Cup exit at the hands of lower league Thame United, City found themselves rock-bottom of the table. This run cost Alan Pridham his job in November and two weeks later vastly experienced former Bristol City and Sunderland player Gary Owers was named as his replacement in a player/manager role. He got off to a perfect start at Twerton Park, scoring after just 11 minutes into his debut to help City to a 2-1 FA Trophy win over Gloucester City. There wasn’t an immediate upturn in their league hopes though, as only at the fourth time of asking did Owers celebrate a league victory, Tiverton Town beaten 2-1 at Twerton Park on Boxing Day. However, the arrival of two players, who would both go on to become modern day City legends, in January 2004 began the recovery. Goalkeeper Paul Evans was signed following his release from Rusden & Diamonds the previous month and striker Scott Partridge arrived from fellow Southern League side Weymouth. It took Partridge five games to get off the mark but he was then unstoppable, scoring 18 times in the next 20 games, including three hat-tricks. The real turning point took place in Kent on February 7 when City overcame a 3-0 half-time deficit to draw 3-3 against Dover Athletic. Two weeks later a 3-0 win at Moor Green signalled a first away win for over a year and four wins in their final four matches of the season was enough to lift City from the foot of the table to 16th place, which earned them a spot in the end of season play-offs for a place in the Conference South. When Partridge put them in front against Dorchester Town in the semi-final at Twerton Park it looked as if this recovery would continue, but the Magpies had other ideas and bounced back to run out 4-2 winners and condemn City to relegation in all but name.
Just as it appeared City had found some stability both on and off the pitch – although debts were still increasing as the future of Twerton Park remained unclear – they were to receive a shock when Owers quit the club to take over the managerial reigns at Forest Green Rovers. This meant new chairman Geoff Todd’s first task as was to appoint a new manager and this turned out to be former Merthyr Tydfil boss John Relish. After opening the 2005-06 season with three wins, results were mixed and City were just on the fringes of the play-off positions midway through the season. An unbeaten run of 15 matches from the start of 2006 carried them to the top of the table and, even though they couldn’t quite hold off Salisbury City, a final day win at King’s Lynn ensured the runners-up spot and, more importantly, a play-off place. Disappointment was to follow again as Bedford beat them 1-0 at Twerton Park but this was forgotten the following season as City secured their first Southern League championship for 29 years. After an up and down first half to the season a 5-0 win over Cheshunt in January 2007 lifted them to the top of the table, from which they would never slip. The title was secured in the penultimate match of the season at Yate Town to spark joyous celebrations and, finally, a place in the Conference South.