Bath City 1 Yeovil Town 1 – Sunday 27th October 2002

For many people, Yeovil’s historical rivalry with Bath City may be something of a distant memory, or may even not be felt at all as we have only met once in the last 20 years, in this FA Cup Qualifier in October 2002. Even though the two teams have played each other over 250 times (thanks Ciderspace), mainly in the Southern League and early years of the Conference, we have not met in a league fixture since 1995 when Yeovil were relegated from the Conference. Bath were then relegated in 1997, the same year Yeovil won the Isthmian League under Graham Roberts, and we have not played each other in the league since. We occasionally meet in the FA Cup or Trophy, and played each other an incredible nine times in the Somerset Premier Cup alone between 1985 and 1987, in a time when the final was two-legged and SPC matches could apparently go to replays and second replays (thanks again, Ciderspace).

Personally, I don’t remember a time when Bath were good and we lost to them on Boxing Day fixtures as it was a bit before my time. They only narrowly missed out on promotion to the Football League in 1985 after coming second when winners Wealdstone were not eligible for promotion – however, the Football League was still something of a closed shop then, there was no automatic promotion and they missed out in one of the last years that clubs were put forward for ‘election’ rather than promotion.

For my part, Bath were the annoying cousins up the road who occasionally provided us with players like Rob Cousins and whose few fans tried to come onto the Ciderspace forum and taunt us despite not being good enough to play against us, but they weren’t real rivals as they were always in divisions below us.

In October 2002, Yeovil were top of the Conference under Gary Johnson and were drawn against the Romans in the Fourth Qualifying Round. Although the FA Cup was very much not the priority in that season, defeat to our annoying cousins would have been too much to stomach, so the best case scenario would have been to comfortably despatch Bath and then play out a noble defeat to a higher league club in the First Round, in order to focus on promotion.

It did not quite go according to plan and Bath fans must have wondered how on earth we had got to the top of the Conference because it was without doubt the worst performance I saw that season and overall just a terrible game which we probably deserved to have lost. It was played in difficult conditions as that weekend the country had been battered by severe storms which put the game in doubt. It was also, presumably on police instruction, played at 12.00 on a Sunday lunchtime. I was living in Chesterfield at the time, so it was a long and treacherous journey south, driving slowly and carefully so as not to be blown over by the wind to avoid all the fallen trees.

And for all that, the game was not worth it, it was a pretty miserable day from start to finish. Visiting Twerton Park was like stepping back into the 1980’s. It is the only time I can remember being herded into a metal cage like livestock waiting to be taken for slaughter and honestly, if fans were treated like that all the time I would probably never go. Around 1400 Yeovil fans made the trip, but though it was a decent sized terrace, being surrounded by bars on all sides just made it impossible to have an unimpeded view of anything, it really was like a relic of a bygone era.

The game did not make things any better, as the Bath players were more fired up and Yeovil did not even resemble a team at the top of the Conference despite putting out a full strength team. Only Colin Miles was missing through suspension (not an uncommon occurrence) and was replaced by Roy O’Brien. Even though they were in the middle of a very difficult run of fixtures against Doncaster, Dagenham and Chester that would see them put in very strong performances and emerge unbeaten, Yeovil were not at the races against Bath and probably deserved to lose, until Adam Lockwood was able to capitalise on a comically sliced clearance to salvage an equaliser after the home side took the lead in the first half. Bath did have a player sent off late on, but Yeovil didn’t come any closer to scoring a winner so the tie went to a replay.

Fortunately lightning did not strike twice and in the replay despite being 0-0 at half time, Yeovil scored three times in the second half to win 3-1, sealing the win with a superb curling shot from Michael McIndoe in front of, 4,393. Former Glover Adrian Foster got the consolation goal for Bath. Yeovil went on to lose 2-0 to Cheltenham (then in League One) in the First Round, a very disappointing performance but in the grand scheme of things probably for the best, especially as it happened to coincide with the suspensions of Gavin Williams, Lee Johnson and Adam Lockwood, allowing them to return more quickly to the league campaign.

First Match: Weale, Lockwood, Skiverton, O’Brien, Way, Johnson (sub. Giles), Crittenden, McIndoe, Williams, Demba (sub. Alford), Grant (sub. Forinton). Subs not used: Sheffield, Lindegaard

Replay: Weale, Lockwood, Skiverton, O’Brien, Way, Johnson, Crittenden, McIndoe, Williams, Demba (sub. Alford), Forinton (sub. Lindegaard). Subs not used: Sheffield, Grant, Giles




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