Most people who know me will testify, i'm a groundhopper. Most people who know me may testify i'm slightly mad. Either way, I travel around various football grounds of this island and, sometimes, beyond to watch the beautiful game.
Most of my travels encompass the non-league game and, with my inane ramblings, I will attempt to show you where my travels take me and, also, try to show you that there is footballing life beyond the so-called "best league in Europe"
I hope you enjoy reading!
The F.A. cup reaches the third qualifying round and I faced a dilemma this morning of which tie would I opt for. The only certainty it that it would be in Somerset and it would be one of the Bath teams. Option one was Bath City v Aylesbury United. Option two was Frome Town v Team Bath. Decisions, decisions! After much deliberation, and a flip of the coin, I plumped for a visit to the AlderSmith Stadium, or Badgers Hill, the home of Frome Town and hopefully the chance of an upset.
Frome Town ply their trade in the Western League and currently sit in a mid table position. Team Bath however are in the conference south, three leagues above, and are currently joint top of the table (only goal difference is actually preventing them being top). This would be a tough test for Frome.
I arrived at the ground in plenty of time, parked up, purchased my programme (£1) and sauntered off to the nearest pub for a spot of lunch. This gave me a chance to peruse the programme and not a bad effort in all honesty. This was a nice starter and it was now time for the main course!
There was a queue at the turnstile when I arrived and you could feel the anticipation in the home crowd. This was a big day, a big game and the locals were turning out in their numbers. I paid my £5 and entered the ground and it was absolutely buzzing. There was a fair amount of people already inside and this was 45 minutes before kick off.
The ground is your classic lower level stadium, consisting of a basic stand and three sides of hard standing. Here though you could see signs of the small improvements that have been taking place, as the new stand appeared to have been built around the existing old stand to create a larger stand. The roof off the old stand looked like it may have been moved to cover the entrance from the turnstile. The only other covered area was the overhang from the clubhouse, which was packed with people enjoying a couple of beers.
The game itself was a cracking cup tie which was your classic "game of two halves". It looked like an upset on the cards as Frome were 2-0 up at Half Time and they thoroughly deserved their lead. The first goal came after 3 minutes when the Team Bath keeper sliced a clearance into the Frome striker and it fell kindly to Mark Salter who rolled into the empty net from 20 yards. After that Frome were well up for it and dominated play, as Team Bath looked out of sorts and anything but a team sitting near the top of their league. The second goal came just before half time from the penalty spot when Salter was fouled in the area and he picked himself up to slot home.
Team Bath came out in the second half, made a quick double substitution and turned the game on its head. Aside from a couple of Frome counter attacks (one of which was well saved by their keeper) they virtually had all the possession in the second half. They had a few chances before Steve Abbott bundled in a corner on 75 minutes and in the 85th minute the inevitable equaliser came when Mike Perrot fired home to send the 20 or so Bath fans into raptures. Bath had a couple more chances late on but Frome managed to hold on for a replay. A draw was a fair result in the end, but as the case with cup ties, the “smaller” team normally only gets one shot at an upset and you suspect that Frome may have blew their chance.
The expectant home fans enter the arena
The penalty is slotted home to put Frome 2-0 up
The sun beats down on Badgers Hill
Saturday 11th October 2008
FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round
Frome Town 2-2 Team Bath
FOOTNOTE: Team Bath won the replay 4-0 and will play Salisbury City in the next round.