Bath City Football Club is based at the Twerton Park Stadium, situated between the High Street and Freeview Road in Twerton, Bath. Matches draw an average crowd of 400 to 800 spectators, although the stadium can hold as many as 8,800 people. When playing at home the team wear black and white striped shirts, with black shorts and socks. When playing away they wear light blue shirts with white trim, light blue shorts and white socks. Bath City are nicknamed “The Romans” and have Adie Britton as their manager.
The club was born in 1889, after a meeting attended by local footballers and other individuals concluded that Bath should have an Association Football Club, just as other prominent towns and cities were able to boast of having their own football teams. Originally called Bath AFC, the first games were played at the East Twerton Belvoir Ground – later to become the premises of the engineering firm Stothert and Pitt. The railway banks flanking this narrow section of land doubled as terraces when large crowds of enthusiasts came to watch the matches.
In 1919 the Lambridge Ground near Batheaston was chosen to be the new football pitch, although conditions were far from ideal – with the pitch also used as the venue for the Horse Show. The present football ground at Twerton was purchased at auction for £2,000 by vice-chairman Arthur Mortimer and Sergeant Purnell of the Bath police force. But it would take another three years of hard effort and the movement of 33,000 tons of soil before a playing surface was available for Bath City to begin its 1932-33 season at Twerton Park.
The football club has seen many peaks and troughs in its performance over the years. One of the more exciting phases occurred during the Second World War, when famous players from around the country served in army camps near Bath and were drafted into the team. Bath City were invited to play in the Football League’s Second Division North in 1944, which they won, thanks to players such as Bill Shankley who went on to become the Liverpool manager.
The Southern League Shield in the Bath City lounge, after they won it again in 2007
Another successful period came in the late 1950s, when financial difficulties prompted the club to buy several prestigious players to raise attendances. One such player was Charlie “Cannonball” Fleming, who rewarded his fans with 49 goals in his first season for Bath in 1958. The following year, Bath City won the Southern League Championship Shield for the first time.
The 1976-77 season under Brian Godfrey, saw the club come the closest it has been to promotion to the Football League, after reaching the final of the Anglo-Italian Cup. But despite such an impressive performance, the Football League opted to raise Wigan Athletic to professional status instead.
In 1986, Bristol Rovers signed a lease to share Twerton Park with Bath City as their home ground, much to the concern of local residents who feared the consequences of several thousand Rovers fans arriving in Twerton to watch the games. The only major incident occurred in 1990 when some Bristol City fans set fire to the Main Stand. Bristol Rovers stayed at Twerton Park for some 10 years, taking on Liverpool and Manchester City among other opponents, before moving on to the Memorial Stadium at Bristol.
In recent years, Bath City FC has swung back and forth from being promoted up from the Southern League, to being relegated back down to it. Their victory in the 2010 Blue Square South play-offs secured promotion to the Blue Square Premier League. But unfortunately, relegation in 2012 saw them drop back to the Southern League.
Bath City FC win the 2010 Blue Square South play-offs
One of the club’s more noteworthy players has been Jason Dodd, who was born in Bath and attended Beechen Cliff School. Dodd began his football career as a YTS trainee for Bath City in 1986, and started playing for the main team in 1988. A year later he transferred to Southampton, and went on to captain the side and appear in nearly 400 matches for them.
Bath City FC runs numerous football training clubs for under sevens to under fifteens, and a recent development has been the introduction of training sessions for girls aged nine to thirteen. The Bath City Youth website is at: www.bcyfc.co.uk, while the official Bath City FC website can be found at: www.bathcityfc.com.