Bath = 3 points by Chairman Mao from issue 30

It's my favourite trip of the season, the one you look for when the fixtures start in August. And that's the best way to describe going to Bath usually, a good trip. For the Dial M for Merthyr boys, Bath means the train taking the strain.

So the omens weren't good this season when the numbers going began to drop almost as quickly as the Martyrs down the table. It was Wingnut's birthday but the thought of Twerpton Park wasn't exactly adding to the party spirit. Let's be honest Bath has never been a great hunting ground for the Martyrs, I can only recall winning once there in the last decade or so (perhaps 1'm wrong but it feels like that). Although the 0-6 defeat there against Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup must go down as the most enjoyable hammering ever. Peter Jones whacking their goalscorer up the arse as their player was wheeling away to celebrate is surely the best way to get sent off in the history of football. Chris Williams's penalty save sparked the type of celebrations worthy of Cup Finals. But Bath is well worth a trip, down on the train, great pubs in the city centre, taxi to the ground and the rain soaked away terrace.

This year, all the best laid plans were coming to nothing. The train mob pretty soon became the car mob, the Supporters Club were continuing their successful football tour so the bus was out. It was the usual start, Anthea at the Bro Dawel Brassiere dishing a full monty breakfast to all and sundry before we all climbed in the Griff-mobile for the trip over the border. It's never the most exciting of road journeys, A470 and M4 and some more winding roads and you're there, Park the car, then booze, a great plan especially as the afternoon was to be spent watching our heroes in black & white. Now when I travelled with my Dad all those years ago to Bath, I somehow have this memory of a really awful Bath City clubhouse that for some reason always seemed to close down about a hour before kick-off. So 1 hadn't been into the Roman Lounge or whatever it's called (who cares?) for years, so why did 1 insist on us popping in there for a pint ?

There goes my credibility. This is the worst clubhouse in the league, the pint of lager I had was dead. No amount of banging, swirling or shaking was going to liven up this little beauty. It's funny that no matter how bad a pint you still have to finish it, it must be peer pressure. Down the road to the usual watering hole near the ground, I can't remember the name; for a couple of jars before the match. I expected the pub to be full of Merthyr fans like in previous years but we were met by only a few friendly faces. Luckily Wingnut had brought a portable iron lung as the nicotine cloud was beginning to affect my vision, Hulby's voice was like a fog horn through the smoke haze as he regaled the whole pub with his stories of Australia. We lost Little Dai for a while as he had sat with four strangers for almost fifteen minutes before a brief break in the smoke smog brought him to his senses. Thankfully it was time to leave for the ground, just before my lungs left in a taxi.

The away support was the lowest for many a year, about 100 of us either on the terrace or in the adjacent stand. We seemed to have more flags than supporters. The support though was a credit to the club. The Supporters Club crew, having won another match, were on top form giving it big style. I'm sure Bath hire their supporters from an "extras" company as they seem to do the same things very season. A few chants of City, then a couple of Ingerland, then silence. To be fair, they'd come expecting three more points on their promotion push but the Martyrs today were a revelation. The confidence seemed to pass from the supporters to the players, a corner half cleared, Craig Evans (I thought it was Logger to be honest) knocks one in to set off great scenes on the terrace. Hulby stopped talking that's how good a moment it was. Harris and Chenoweth were adding some steel to Carter's artistry, Bath were struggling to come to terms with our passing game. Meanwhile I had to provide food for my family, now I have to report that the burgers at Bath were basically inedible. Two pounds for a charcoal frisbee. The tea was piss, the only thing you could taste was the onions because they were raw. In today's new shiny world of football, you should expect a basic level of catering to be on hand to every customer at a match. Home or away supporter, no exclusions. Clubs must be able to offer affordable and tasty food & drink to us all as a matter of course. I'll look for that improvement next season.

Half-time spoiled our rhythm and the second half started with Bath on top, the midfield battled away with a few scuffles escaping the referee's attention. Eventually Harris was sent off. This should have sparked a collapse but the lads kept going with Neil Thomas playing a blinder. Four great saves keeping us in the match. Chris Sloan came on towards the end and missed a great chance to secure the points. The referee managed to play about ten minutes of injury time before ending the game and starting some serious celebrations on the away end. It was a sweet victory for all the fans that had travelled and endured the rain and hail on that windswept terrace. Good to see Spud stripping to his pants. We seemed to stay for ages just singing whilst the players went into their usual post-match huddle, eventually the players re-emerged to take the plaudits. It's not been the best season but days like these make it worthwhile being a Martyr. The flags were packed away, singing in the car park and the journey home to Wales. A great day.

Chairman Mao


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