TT Match Preview: Bath City FC by Ben Hatton

“I’d have taken being 7th or 8th at this stage of the year but we’re 3rd, and we are there on merit”

Bath City supporter Ben Hatton gives us the lowdown on ‘The Romans’ and their season so far:

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Hi Ben thanks for speaking to TorquayTalk. Before we discuss ‘The Romans’ tell us a bit about yourself and how long have you supported Bath City?

My first game was in 1998 and have been going regularly ever since! It’s an expensive hobby that has taken me to places most people wouldn’t want to go to – i.e. Eastbourne, Hull, Torquay etc. but I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world!

Cheeky! When the two teams met in August, City were unlucky to lose 1-0 – how’s your season gone since then and has it lived up to pre-season expectations?

I agree – we were unlucky to not get a point out of our game earlier this season – it was a very open entertaining game and we should have scored, but hit the bar and spooned one over from a yard out. The season has gone very well since then (barring getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Weston) – I’d have taken being 7th or 8th at this stage of the year but we’re 3rd, and we are there on merit!

What’s been your highlights of 2018-19 so far and how’s your recent form been leading up to the United game?

Highlight was smashing Chippenham 5-0 at home – it’s always nice to do over your rivals! Form wise, we’ve kept 6 clean sheets in the last 7 games, and picked up 17 points from the last 21 so we’re one of the better teams in the division at the moment.

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Which Bath players should we look out for this Saturday and why?

There’s an argument that you should watch out for all of them based on our recent form, but the three I’d suggest keeping an eye on are #5 Jack Batten, #14 Adam Mann  and #16 Joe Raynes. Batten is one of the best CB’s I’ve seen at Twerton Park and could easily be playing in a better league. Adam Mann was signed from Evesham in the summer (2 leagues below) and has exceeded expectations. He can change the game and will play out wide, or just behind the front man. Raynes is a local lad who came through our academy before playing for a few other local teams – he signed in the summer as well. He can play anywhere – and when I say that I mean he has played RB/LB/CM/RW/CAM so far. He’s a really technical player with good strength and pace – he’ll cause your back line a lot of problems when he goes forward.

Have you got the right man in charge and what sort of tactics does he employ?

We do – Jerry Gill has installed a sense of belief in the squad and they seem like they really want to play and win. We’ve not had that in years and they are a close knit lot. We tend to play a hybrid 4-1-3-1/4-3-3/4-2-3-1 type thing (you could call it any one of those to be honest), though recently we have adopted a 3 at the back. It’s worked well so far!

Tell us a bit about Bath City’s community ownership – when did it happen, how was it organised and how well is it working?

It happened a few years ago – the Supporters Society launched the Bath City Bid in an attempt to make the club community owned and give fans control of the thing they love most in life! Shares started at £250 and went up from there giving you extra benefits etc. – we raised over £300,000 and people from all around the world got involved, even Eric Cantona! The community ownership hasn’t really hit full swing yet, we’ve got a new board though and we are on our way to starting life as a fan owned club – case in point the fans with shares voting for 3G!

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What’s Twerton Park like for visiting fans, I believe there are plans to redevelop the ground?

We tend to get a lot of groundhoppers and fans telling us how much they love it. It’s a traditional ground with crumbly terracing and cracking floodlights. We’re going to stick 3G in and redevelop the main stand to be more community orientated and to become more sustainable though.

Word of warning though, if it rains you’ll need a waterproof as you’re segregated in an open end. I’d like to say this is in retaliation of not allowing us in the away end behind the goal when we came to Plainmoor!

There will be a massive Yellow Army following for ‘the Gulls’ on Saturday, which nearby pubs are best for pre-match refreshments?

The boozers I’d suggest are in town (Brew House, Raven, the Bell and The Star), but if you are going to drink near the ground, you’ll want to go to the Golden Fleece, The Crown or the White Horse. All of which are 7 minutes max walk! (See Ben’s Ground Guide at the bottom of this article)

Gary Johnson has revitalised United since arriving, were you surprised to see how badly things went wrong under ex-City boss Gary Owers?

I must confess I was surprised he didn’t get sacked when you go relegated last season. Johnson is a massive steal for you, he’s a League 1/2 Manager! Owers was an odd one though, we were doing so well when he left us. We’d have probably got to the playoffs, but his route one hoof ball players didn’t suit the sort of style Jerry Gill wanted to play in so we didn’t do as well as we should have. Don’t hate me but we didn’t sing songs about Owers getting you lot relegated!

And finally, with a big crowd in attendance there should be a cracking atmosphere. Are you optimistic for Saturday afternoon and what’s your match prediction ?

I’m incredibly excited for the match – I’m hoping there will be over 3,000 which will be a record for us, and possibly in the league? It’ll be a good advert for the league between two very good sides. My heart says City will win it, but my head says a 2-2 draw! – I’m thinking they must be a bump in the road for us at some point – but saying that I am still confident of 3 points returning to Plainmoor. Thanks for answering our qs Ben – Dom

Ben’s Away Day Guide

Boozing: “I’d probably recommend boozing in town, a good place to go to is the Bath Brew House for self-brewed contemporary ales – and it takes CAMRA discount and does good food. Other good spots to drink are the Raven (great pies), the Crystal Palace, the Star and the Bell. If you’re looking to drink near the ground, the Crown is right next to the ground and is fairly cheap. The Golden Fleece is a short walk (5 mins), and the White Horse is also a good shout after being under new management. If you want to drink at the ground, expect long queues – we have an app called Ordoo which allows you to purchase drinks from your phone for a certain time – here’s a link to sign up (https://app.ordoo.co.uk/signup?referrer_code=SSNTJ …) as it’ll be useful after the game as there is always a rush”.

“The club bar is open pre/post game but not HT. Just to let you know, we have interviews with the MOTM and manager after the game – you’ll probably get told to shut up by the person interviewing if you sing over the top of him, for which I apologise in advance”.

Travel: “By train, Oldfield Park is the closest station to the ground and is 7 minutes from the Golden Fleece, but going to town is probably a nicer prospect. If you’re in town, the Number 5 Bus takes you directly from Twerton – you can catch if from the Bus Station or from outside the Bath Brew House. Parking wise, it’s going to be a nightmare – you’re going to struggle to find anywhere to park at the ground or the surrounding streets. It might be worth looking into Newbridge Park and Ride which is about 10-15 minutes walk from the ground”.

Game: “As you’re aware, you’ve got the best fans in the whole universe so we’ve had to segregate you. Rumour has it we’re taking away all the bins in the away end to stop a repeat of Weston. It’s an open end so you’ll want to bring a waterproof if it’s due to rain. Police are going to be there (they wanted to be) so if you are in the home end, don’t let yourselves be seen as they’ll boot you out. Have a safe trip up chaps, I hope you have an utterly miserable day out”.

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