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Latest News and Gossip from the Gloucester City terraces



fan protests 1999
The bad old days - we mustn't go back...

12 November 2007
Chris Hill Steps Down as City Exec Chairman

City chairman Chris Hill has confirmed his resignation from the position after discussions with the club’s executive committee members and club owner Eamonn McGurk. Hill had previously told club officials he intended to step down at the end of the season, but that process has now been accelerated due to his increasing work commitments.

In a club statement Chris Hill explained: “I am currently very busy with my business, which is entailing a lot of travel, and time is of a premium. This, and the need to provide significant extra focus on the work needed for a successful return to a new stadium in the City mean that I don’t believe I can give the time that this club needs and deserves. It is therefore with regret that I have had to inform the club of my decision.

“It’s been a roller-coaster ride as Chairman, but one that I have enjoyed immensely. Obviously the floods of July have been a real low point, but I believe we have moved forward significantly in the way we run the club, and I hope that will reap benefits as the club moves forward. I would like to thank all of those who have contributed to the running of this club, but especially to the Supporters Trust, who have been magnificent in their financial and physical help for Gloucester City AFC.”

Dave Phillips has agreed to take over as acting chairman until the Executive Committee formally appoint a replacement. Phillips said “I am proud to take on this job for the short term, and hope to continue work to draw the elements of the club together and towards a successful return to the City".

The position of club chairman is in some ways an ornamental title as the only meaningful power within the club remains with owner Eamonn McGurk, who prefers to largely stay out of the public spotlight. However exec chairman is none the less an important role, providing a public figurehead for the club and this can become an onerous and demanding job. Given the club’s current perilous homeless situation the need for leadership and strength has never been greater.

It’s unfortunate that there is such a thin field competing for the honour of heading up City, and the incoming acting chairman Dave Phillips remains a controversial and potentially divisive figure within the club. He is still tainted by his threats to issue winding-up proceedings against the club over an unpaid loan in the late Nineties, and is associated by many supporters with some of the darkest times in City history when fans and board members were at each other’s throats. His return to City’s Executive Committee this autumn after a spell as football secretary at Slimbridge concerned those fans with long memories, and their worries will only be exacerbated by his recent elevation. Hopefully Phillips will have had time to develop personally, and will realise not only how Gloucester City has changed for the better since his previous association with the club, but also why. Our club is not in a position where we can afford to indulge again in internal wrangling, and those who care for it are too few to start being split apart again.

Links: Gloucester City FC Official Site, City Info, Commercial News.

Something to say about this story? Have your say on the City Open Forum...



Price goes bendy at Bedford

31 October 2007
Price Rise as Jamie Leaves for Worcester

City have announced that Welsh youth midfielder Jamie Price has been allowed to leave the club and has signed for Blue Square North side Worcester City.

The lank-haired left sided player arrived at City at the end of August having spent a frustrating summer trying to find a new club since being released by Birmingham City. Price showed an immediate touch of class and obviously has great talent, but after a bright start he soon seemed to lose his way and struggled to make his mark on matches. The 19 year-old made nine appearances for us but has been unavailable in recent weeks as he completed a suspension for a red card in the league match against Hemel Hempstead.

In a club statement Tigers’ manager Tim Harris said: "Jamie is a player of great technical ability and playing in a higher league will allow him to fully show that, so we are not going to stand in the way of him moving up to a higher league. I am also pleased to have a direct replacement available in the fit-again Michael Noakes, so we will be able to cover the loss of Jamie. All at the club wish him every success for the future."

The decision to release Price from his contract and let him go is also likely to reflect the current programme of reshaping the squad after disappointing results and reducing the wage bill after the club’s flood problems and premature FA Cup exit. Whilst Price certainly didn’t lack ability City don’t currently have the luxury of allowing players time to settle, and in the short-term the return of Noakes probably left Price outside of a first choice starting XI.

Links: Gloucester City FC Official Site, Jamie Price pen pic.


Citizen back page
Gloucester Citizen back page splash

17 October 2007
New Stadium Site Proposal is for Waterwells

Gloucester City fans now know the likely site of the club’s new home after the City Council confirmed the preferred site for the new football ground is at Waterwells, on the southern edge of the city.

The announcement of the Council’s intended plans follow a three week period of frenzied speculation and rumour amongst fans since an announcement that an undisclosed new site had been identified. Importantly the site has already secured cross-party political support in the Council chamber, which should smooth one potential obstacle to planning progress. Slightly misleadingly the Gloucester Citizen’s original report suggested the site would not be one of those previously discussed, although the Waterwells site has been frequently listed as a viable option on this site (see stories below) and in other fan discussions. However, in fairness, City supporters have argued the merits of nearly every scrap of land within five miles of Gloucester…

Waterwells - Sat Image

The Waterwells site on the edge of Quedgeley has many positive benefits for the club. Traffic access should be good, lying off the A38 dual carriageway by-pass, near the City’s outer ring-road and junction 12 of the M5. It is also already on a major bus route from the city centre, and although residential areas should not be close enough to create objections the club will be within walking distance of the new Kingsway housing development as well as the existing Quedgeley estates. Perhaps most importantly the site is well away from the floodplain of the River Severn!

The council owned Waterwells land is already in use for local junior and grassroots football by Quedgeley Wanderers and as a result some access roads already exist, along with some changing facilities built with help of a £301,228 grant from the Football Foundation. The scheme's progress will need to be taken forward delicately to combine the needs of the existing Wanderers club. The 14 acre site should be large enough to accommodate most reasonable needs and offer the potential for the club to operate as a genuine community football centre. Early sketch plans are understood to already include an artificial training surface and other sports facilities.

In the Gloucester Citizen report City council leader Paul James is quoted saying "These are very exciting ideas, and although it is only at first principles stage it feels like it can deliver significant benefits for the two football clubs and greatly enhance sporting facilities and enjoyment for Quedgeley and for Gloucester."
Gloucester City AFC owner Eamonn McGurk said: "I am genuinely excited by the Waterwells idea, not only because it is an excellent location but also by the opportunity to work with Quedgeley Wanderers, which has a fantastic record in developing grass roots football. I think both clubs stand to benefit a huge amount. We are really keen to begin more detailed discussions with the council, QWFC, Quedgeley Parish Council and the wider community."
Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda has also been heavily concerned in the developments and said: "It's important that any agreement is done carefully and with the interests of both Gloucester City and Quedgeley Wanderers at heart."

QWFC - pic of WaterwellsCity have an agreement to rent at the New Lawn stadium of Forest Green Rovers for this season after a decision was taken that it was no longer financially viable to continue repairing the club’s Meadow Park home after July saw the third and worst major flood since the ground opened in 1986. The speedy developments are testament to magnificent progress and behind the scenes negotiations with the Council and planning officers by various club officials and club owner Eamonn McGurk. The next stage will see more detailed plans and designs developed before the proposal goes through the formal public planning procedures. At this point fans will have the opportunity to lend their support and weight to the consultation process, together with any recommendations to tweak the design to ensure the best possible matchday experience.

There are obviously many further details to be ironed out, and essentially there are still questions to be answered about the source of funding and indeed if land is to be provided by the Council or is intended to be bought by McGurk or the club itself. It is also not clear how large the site available to City will be – ideally the club will be hoping for room to continue providing community pitches, as well as parking and social revenue generating facilities. Those details are vital – this is an opportunity of a lifetime to secure a successful future for football in Gloucester and lay foundations for decades to come. However, for all of the remaining debate and the delicate neogitations that lay ahead, today’s news still provides a huge lift to fans and a club which has been enduring a miserable time since the exile to Forest Green. We would be wrong to feel the job is now done, but at least clear progress is being made and the Tigers’ return to playing football in Gloucester could be far quicker than feared.

Links: Gloucester Citizen, Gloucester City Council website, City FC Official Site, Quedgeley Wanderers FC.


Welsh: gone

Griffin: gone

Suddenly the exit door is congested...

5 October 2007
Harris Gets Tough as Welsh and Griffin Axed, Webb Listed

The managerial threat that recent performances would mean players having to leave the City squad came to fruition today with two players leaving and another made available for transfer.

Tim Harris was furious after Sunday’s cup exit to Hellenic League outfit Shortwood United and little happier after another disappointing home defeat to Mangotsfield United. He had made it clear he was looking to freshen the squad up after that result and it’s no surprise that the axe has now fallen, with the club issuing a statement after Thursday night’s training session. However fans might be a little surprised at the players released and the area where changes have been made: Strikers Jason Welsh and Scott Griffin are released with immediate effect whilst midfielder Tom Webb is placed on the transfer list. Tim Harris is clearly intent on bringing in some new faces, and it seems he is already talking with several players he hopes to bring to the club in the near future.

Griff was due to leave the club at the end of the year to go travelling, so his departure is merely brought forward to create room for a new striker who can work with the side for the remainder of the campaign. The departure of Welsh is more of a surprise - he followed Harris to City from Merthyr last summer and the big centre-forward is highly rated by the boss. Despite an injury plagued first season Welsh finished as joint top scorer last season with 13 goals, but has struggled to regain fitness during pre-season after a shoulder operation last May.

In the club statement Tim Harris says, "I am really disappointed as I know that City have not seen the best of Jason. He has been troubled by one injury after another, and sometimes you have to make the tough decisions because time is never on your side in football. If he could get himself fit then he would be an excellent player at this level, and like Scott we wish him well for the future."

Both players had managed just three goals between them this season, but their departures leave our side looking a little light up front. Both Pitcher and Whittington are fast but small, and City now have no-one who looks capable of being strong in the air or holding the ball up in advanced positions. Young forward Jody Taylor may now get a real chance after stepping up from Hellenic League football during pre-season. It might also suggest a permanent return to the City fold for Jody Bevan who is on a difficult road back to fitness after snapping ligaments and breaking his leg last October at Tiverton. Jody has been scoring whilst on loan at Almondsbury Town this season and has the character and attitude Harris is seeking, but it remains to be seen if his knee is entirely up to the rigours of SLP football.

Tom Webb is a popular player at Gloucester City having clocked up 277 appearances in eight seasons with the club since graduating from the youth team. He is the longest serving player currently at the club and won the player of the season trophy two seasons ago. Player and manager have been reported as not having seen eye to eye for sometime and it seems that, despite Harris' denials of a bust-up, that frustration reached breaking point this week with Webb left out of the side entirely for the midweek defeat to Mangotsfield.

Harris said, "Tom is a good lad who been at the club for many years, rising through the youth ranks. His energy levels are without doubt his major asset, but I feel that now, after some 250 games, it might be the right time for him to seek a new challenge. We will see what develops from that, and then assess the situation."

Those comments seem a little cryptic, but it is clear that Harris is leaving Webb with an opportunity to patch things up and return to the City fold. It’s also obvious that Harris is canny enough to realize that Webb has a value to the club as a homegrown contracted player who has previously been courted by local clubs higher up the non-league ladder. If Webb does leave City will hope to gain a significant fee for him, but the fans will be hoping it’s not too late for him to settle back into the squad.

Links: Gloucester City FC Official Site, Jason Welsh pen pic, Scott Griffin pen pic, Tom Webb pen pic, Hemel Hempstead match preview, City Seasons Stats 2007-08.


Meadow Park in 2000
Farewell to flooding...?

27 September 2007
Council Pledge Support for New Site for City Ground

There was welcome news for City fans in tonight’s Gloucester Citizen with clear statements of support for a new home for the club coming from the leaders of all three of the political parties on Gloucester City Council.

It seems from the back page comments in the local paper that the Council have now earmarked a potential site in the city and that it has received cross party support from the politicians. Intriguingly the site remains undisclosed, presumably at this stage for commercial and planning reasons. However the report rules out several of the sites that have been widely discussed by fans on the City Open Forum: the Railway Triangle off Metz Way, the Winget Sports Ground off Tuffley Avenue and the Black Bridge sports fields in Podsmead.

Cllr. Paul James, leader of the ruling Tory group on Gloucester City Council, told the Gloucester Citizen: “A site appraisal has been done and I've met again with Eamonn McGurk to update him on the findings. It's fair to say there is a frontrunner, which is exciting, but we need to make sure we've investigated it fully before going public. Nothing has been ruled out, although I'm sure people will have read about the plans by LXB Properties for the Railway Triangle - there is no mention of a football stadium in there."

Lobbying by the club and Tigers’ fans seems to have succeeded in establishing wide support for the need for a new home for the City’s football club, a campaign which has also been helpfully publicised and championed by the Citizen. On 19 September the City Council has formally passed a resolution stating their aim to find a "potential viable, alternative site for the club in order to preserve its future and meet its objective of being a top-class football club." Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: "Gloucester City need a home that is an asset, rather than the millstone round their neck, as Meadow Park became. Anywhere within the boundaries of the city that is easily accessible by fans would get my vote." Cllr. Mary Smith, Labour group leader, said: "I am pleased that the city council showed a united desire to give all help possible to Gloucester City in finding a new home after the devastating flood damage."

The statements will lift fans nervous about the long-term future of the club if it is forced into a lengthy exile away from Gloucester. There has been a period of public silence whilst a series of meetings have taken place involving club owner McGurk, club officials, Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda and various representatives of the Council. City have an agreement to rent at the New Lawn stadium of Forest Green Rovers for this season after a decision was taken that it was no longer financially viable to continue repairing the club’s Meadow Park home after July saw the third and worst major flood since the ground opened in 1986.

City fans will obviously now speculate feverishly about where the proposed site might be and intriguingly the newspaper story rules out several options mentioned, but not the Waterwells site in Quedgeley, the land off the Barnwood By-pass area, Tuffley Rover’s old Glevum Park site or the Civil Service club site by Escort Road. However it does also state that it is not one of the sites that have been publicly discussed. Crucially the paper also doesn’t make it clear if land is to be provided by the Council or is intended to be bought by Eamonn McGurk or the club itself. It is also not clear how large the site will be – ideally the club should be hoping for room to provide community football facilities and training pitches, as well as parking and clubhouse.

At this stage there are obviously a lot of details to follow and many issues to be settled, but City fans will just be gladdened at any prospect that the return to playing in Gloucester could be quicker than feared. The unequivocal support across the Council for a new ground is very good news, and should smooth and speed the planning process. However there is still a long way to go, and City fans must be both resilient and patient – there is still much to be done and a lot of money to be found.

Links: Gloucester Citizen, Gloucester City Council website, Gloucester City FC Official Site.

Pitcher: Wembley bound
Pitcher: High Five and Wembley bound

24 September 2007
Pitcher Leads the Way to Wembley

City striker Jack Pitcher has booked his place to Wembley after fans voted him the player of the round for the 1st Qualifying stage of the E.On sponsored FA Cup.

Pitcher was nominated for the award by the Non-League Newspaper after his incredible performance netting all five goals as City demolished SLP rivals Yate Town 5-1 at their Lodge Road ground. The Bristol based forward picked up an overwhelming 58% of the poll, with nearly 1000 votes cast via the FA website. Pitcher no doubt benefited from City’s strong online community’s encouragement to secure the prize, but the Bristol based player’s scoring feat was also noticed by many other fans with even Yate supporters moved to vote in recognition of his achievement. Ironically the player coming second in the poll with 23% was Steve Cook, the forward bought in by Clevedon Town to replace Pitcher when he moved to Gloucester in the summer. Merthyr’s Matthew Harris recorded 15% and Selby Town keeper Adam Mitchell 4%.

Pitcher now has a VIP ticket for himself and a guest to attend the FA Cup Final at Wembley in May, as well as a trophy to mark the award and £500 worth of football equipment for a local school supplied by FA Cup sponsors E.On. His achievement will also help generate some much needed publicity for the club, and with his name and club now being listed on material for the rest of the competition we can look forward to Gloucester City’s name in print right the way up to the Cup Final programme.

Our 24 year-old striker may be hoping to watch Manchester United in the final, but City fans are an optimistic bunch and won’t easily give up hope that Pitcher may yet to have trade his VIP seat for a place on the pitch. However more realistic ambitions might have to be aiming for the 3rd Qualifying Round by beating Hellenic Premier outfit Shortwood United at The New Lawn on Sunday.

Links: FA Cup Player of the Round, Jack Pitcher pen pic.

Pitch: Count Em 5
Pitcher: Five Goal Hero

17 September 2007
Five Star Pitcher Blasts City Past Yate in Cup Stormer

Gloucester City brushed aside SLP rivals Yate Town in a comprehensive 5-1 victory in the 1st Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. The hero of the hour was striker Jack Pitcher who completed a memorable personal feat in claiming all five of the Gloucester goals.

The FA Cup tie had looked like a tough draw for City whose recent form has been inconsistent and patchy, unfortunate to be away to a side in the same division and especially Yate who have proven something of a bogey side for us in recent years. It proved to be anything but as Tim Harris’ side managed to exceed all expectations with one of those special performances that happen all too rarely for football fans, especially City’s put-upon fans.

Pitcher shot City into an early two goal lead, converting a low Jason Welsh cross and then curling an inch perfect shot from the right wing. Our half-time lead was soon under threat and it seemed things may get nervy as Yate pulled one back. Harris threw on Lyndon Tomkins to reinforce the defence, but City retaliated and accelerated away with the match. Pitcher completed the perfect right foot, left foot, header hatrick by nodding in Price’s free kick. To add insult he then notched another two for his highest ever personal match tally, Smith setting him away for both and arguably the pick up of the bunch seeing him round the keeper after a 30 yard run. Whilst Pitcher was clearly the star of the show City fans enjoyed Lee Smith making mincemeat of our favourite panto villain David Elsey, and Welsh led the line well before being forced out of the action with a suspected groin strain in the second half. It was also a fitting match for skipper Neil Mustoe to celebrate his 200th appearance for the club he used to support as a boy.

Jack Pitcher is now expected to be nominated for the player of the round award. Fans will be able to vote for him having registered on the FA website. The winner receives a pair of VIP tickets for the Wembley final, but the award would also provide the club with some very welcome positive publicity.

*In today’s 2nd Qualifying Round draw City have been handed a home tie against Gloucestershire neighbours Shortwood United. The Hellenic Premier side produced the shock result of the last round in winning 3-0 at SLP side Tiverton Town so we will not have an easy ride. The match will be played on the weekend of 29 September, although exact fixture arrangements have yet to be announced as landlords Forest Green Rovers have a home league game on the Saturday.

Links: FA Cup Player of the Round, Jack Pitcher pen pic, 2007-8 City Fixtures & Results.

Lee Smith:
Smudgers Back: left-backs be scared


Wilko: We Salute U
Wilko: Off to the Twigs

13 September 2007
Wilko Heads for Forest while Smith & Price Come In

It’s been a busy fortnight in the T-Ender website’s absence with several exciting bits of business bringing new faces to the City playing squad. Unfortunately this inevitabley means a few departures as well, and we always get a little sentimental when long-serving players are shown the door.

One of our new signings is very familiar, with the glad news that right-wing paceman Lee Smith is back in City colours. This is very probably where he belongs, the Coney Hill lad became a firm fans favourite as he progressed from our youth team - winning the player of the season award before departing in 2005. Smudger entertained everyone when he suggested he was going to SLP rivals Cirencester Town to further his ambitions, but after a two year exile and a brief unhappy spell with Blue Square South outfit Weston-super-Mare it seems Lee has taken quite a pay cut to come home. That should silence any lingering suggestions he just left us for cash, and the prospect of his pace down the wing linking up with what the squad already has available is tantalising.

Another good bit of business seems to be the signing of former Ch#!tenham Town youngster Jamie Price who joins having been released by Premiership outfit Birmingham City. He may well yet progress back into pro football, but the 18 year-old left sided player has signed a contract with the Tigers and if he continues his early form for us he could well command quite a fee if any other clubs show an interest. Price’s arrival is a timely replacement for Luke Buttery who is taking a leave of absence from football due for undisclosed personal reasons. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious as Luke has shown good form in his brief spell with City, and it would be very sad if his promising talent was lost to local football. The club retains his Southern League registration and it’s understood Tim Harris will remain in touch with him, so hopefully he’ll be back in yellow and black before long.

Sadly the new arrivals put pressure on the already straining budget and it is no great surprise that long-serving midfield battler David Wilkinson has been released. It seems Wilko will now join up with Keith Knight’s ever growing list of City veterans at Cinderford Town. The decision makes sense in terms of squad management, and at least we now have Il Mister able to make such decisions, but Wilko’s contribution to our cause should be celebrated.

He joined us as part of Chris Burns’ initial in-take when he took over the City reigns in July 2001, making the vast step up from County League Brockworth at a time the club could barely afford to cover player’s expenses. He quickly became a fixture of the side, adding stability and teeth to what back then seemed a rather light weight side. His role was always mainly midfield tackling and disruption, but he played a central part in the side’s FA Trophy quarter-final run, our promotion from the Western Division and our survival in the SLP as we scrapped against relegation. Despite often being the player on the line to hack the ball clear Wilko also found the opposition net with astonishing regularity, netting 45 goals in his 248 City appearances, and finishing the 2004-05 first season back in the SLP as the side’s top scorer with 12. Many of those goals were created by late runs of deceptively slow pace, but also included some unforgettable screamers such as that at Merthyr and the crucial winner at Aylesbury in April 2006. Of course sadly loyalty and enthusiasm alone cannot command a place in the squad, but the fact that Wilko was one of those players available at short notice to try and rescue stock as Meadow Park flooded this summer also deserves to remembered. To Wilko’s great credit he was a player who never failed to give of his best, and made the very best of talents that were never quite as limited as some of his detractors liked to believe. A whole-hearted Tiger, and a City legend who will be fondly remembered wherever the T-End ends up being re-sited.

* City have been drawn at home to Bishop’s Cleeve in the 1st Round of this season’s Gloucestershire County Cup. The Ch#!tenham Southern League Midland side boast a string of former City players in their ranks so it’s bound to be an interesting contest, not least as they dumped us out of last season’s competition in a 3-1 defeat at Kayte Lane – the first competitive meeting of the clubs. No date has yet been sscheduled for the tie.

Links: Lee Smith pen pic, Jamie Price pen pic, Dave Wilkinson pen pic, 2007-8 City Fixtures & Results.

Premier League logo

The Tide Turns

31 August 2007
Tigers Lifted by Barclays Premier League Flood Donation

The City fans and officials have been boosted by a generous gesture of a £10,000 donation to the club's flood appeal direct from the Barclays Premier League.

The donation is understood to have followed some substantial behind the scenes lobbying and hard work from a sympathetic individual actually linked to another club. As fans know only too painfully the club decided it should not return to its Meadow Park home after it was devestated by the worst flooding in Gloucester's history at the end of July. City have now agreed a one year ground sharing deal with Blue Square Premier neighbours Forest Green Rovers while the club assesses it options for a future home.

In a club statement chairman Chris Hill expressed his surprise at the donation saying: “Too often we hear of the so called attitude of the big clubs but those in the know understand that the 20 member clubs who make up their membership often support football at the lower levels, without singing it from the roof tops. In this particular case we are happy to do the singing for them and we are more surprised that it was the efforts of someone not connected with Gloucester City who made a direct approach to the Premier League. We can only say a big thank you to the Premier League clubs and their Board for such a tremendous donation towards keeping the club afloat. I will of course be writing personally to them to pass on the thanks of everyone connected with our club."

Phil Warren who is chairman of the City Supporters Trust also gave the club a quote saying: “Having friends who have contacts that have led to this large donation is truly amazing. I know the identity of the person who has been instrumental in speaking to the Premier League and although this person is associated with another football club he has been personally helpful to me and the Supporters Trust in the past with advice and guidance. It just goes to show that you never know where help comes from when you badly need it”.

The English Premier League may be arguably the wealthiest football competition in the world, and there is often frequent criticism that the big clubs ignore the plight of smaller community clubs. Some of that will certainly be answered by this gift, and those fans who have been angry at a lack of help from outside sources may take some comfort from this boost. After all, nobody actually owes us anything...

Earlier the club also recieved a significant donation from Southern League sponsors British Gas Business and the fundraising efforts of the Trust are now understood to have taken donations to more than £20,000. These have included donations from many individual fans and also a number of very gratefully received contributions from other clubs and their supporters. Fans of Gloucester City have been touched by the support and generosity from across the football community, and it has certainly helped keep morale high at the club despite the body blow of losing our home in difficult circumstances.

Links: City Official website, Premier League website, 2007-8 Fixtures, Rugby Match Preview

Webb on the run
Tom Webb: Off the mark for the season

28 August 2007
Webb Rescues Point as City Debut at New Lawn

Gloucester City salvaged a point against Halesowen Town as the Tigers’ first game at our temporary New Lawn home ended in a 1-1 draw.

Injuries meant Tim Harris had to reshuffle his resources with Scott Griffin replacing Pitcher up front, and Marc Richards filling in at the back alongside Lyndon Tomkins. Those who made the journey from Gloucester to watch our first match in flood-enforced exile were rewarded with an entertaining game with plenty of attacking football and penalty box incident. Halesowen enjoyed more of the opening exchanges but thanks to their keeper’s inability to catch the visitors presented early chances by first dropping a Matt Rose corner and then a deep Allard free kick. At the other end the Brummies Aaron Farrell grazed the post and were then able to take advantage of a defensive reshuffle as Lyndon Tomkins limped off to be replaced by Hamblin.

Webb went close for City with an acrobatic volley and Griffin saw a shot sdaved by the keeper’s legs, but it was the Yeltz who opened the scoring. Farrell clipped the City crossbar with a sharp shot and then found the net just before the break with the pace of Shane Paul outstripping our defence. His cross was half blocked by Chris Thompson but the ball fell to Farrell who this time had an easy fnish from close range.

With City facing something of a defensive crisis with sub Tom Hamblin himself forced off with a knock at half-time the game closed down a little in the second half but Gloucester levelled on 64 minutes. Tom Webb’s shot from outside the area seemed speculative but it paid off when a tricky bounce helped to make Yeltz keeper Jack Dormand look foolish as he flapped at the shot and allowed it to go over the line.

City survived a scare when a deep Halesowen free kick was met by a firm header which flew just over, but City ended the stronger and came close to claiming victory in the closing stages. The visiting keeper was again suspect as he fumbled a shot from sub Dave Wilkinson and was just able to redeem himself by saving at the feet of Griffin as he raced in. Whittington also saw a good shot deflect wide and a long distance Sykes effort went close to nicking a sensational winner.

Although City have now gone three matches without a win since opening the new league season with a 3-0 defeat of Cheshunt this can be seen as a solid result. Halesowen will be one of the sides challenging for a promotion play-off place at the end of April, and this 1-1 draw is an improvement on last season when City were well beaten 3-1 in the corresponding Meadow Park fixture. Of almost as much importance for the club is the respectable home gate of 388. Although exactly 100 down on last season’s attendance the drop can be attributed to the enforced switch from the original bank holiday afternoon kick-off to a midweek evening as much as the change of venue. The fact the gate has held up will be considerable comfort given the club’s need to maintain income whilst looking for a long-term solution to our ground problems, as well as suggesting the side can record results at our rented accommodation.

Links: 2007-8 City Fixtures, Rugby Match Preview, 2007-8 Season Preview, League Table.


Southern League

16 August 2007
Fixtures Finalised After Groundshare Reshuffle

After hours of complex and intertwined negotiations with clubs and leagues the Gloucester City fixture list for next season has been finalised. A massive reshuffle of City’s Southern League commitments was necessitated by the abandonment of Meadow Park after flooding in July 2007 and the resulting season long groundshare with Blue Square Premier neighbours Forest Green Rovers.

As landlords Forest Green obviously have first call on their New Lawn stadium so it is perhaps a relief that relatively few of City’s home fixtures have been badly damaged. Fixtures with Brackley, Hemel Hempstead, Hitchin and Tiverton have been salvaged by the simple expediency of swapping home and away dates to avoid clashes at City’s new Nailsworth rental. This follows the example of the Cheshunt fixtures that had already been swapped to give City an away opening fixture in Hertfordshire when the Southern League campaign opens on Saturday.

The changes do mean the fixture list now has a slightly lop-sided look to it at times. City doubtless had little luxury of giving weight to such minor considerations, but none the less the team’s promotion hopes will need to factor in some long runs of home fixtures from the end of November to Christmas, and then more problematically a run of away games after New Year’s day that will see us home again just once in January and February.

Sadly City have had to compromise in several places and as a result a couple of potentially lucrative fixtures have been moved to midweek with the likely result of lower gates and revenue. An early casualty is our first game at the New Lawn, with Halesowen Town’s visit moved from the August Bank Holiday Monday to an evening kick-off the following Tuesday 28 August. Other games to move to midweek are local derby visits of Merthyr Tydfil, Swindon Supermarine, Mangotsfield and Cirencester Town. The shifting of the home game against Ciren in particular is a shame as it also now leaves us with a potentially tricky away derby on the last game of the season.

The change of five fixtures from Saturday to midweek games hits fans that travel long distances to home games hardest (sniff, sob). However the club may also now look at alleviating the impact on those relying on public transport to reach games as the existing bus route doesn’t run late enough to return fans to Gloucester after evening games, something likely to especially effect younger fans. In the circumstances though the fixture list re-shuffle has been an exemplary exercise in football administration, and a triumphant survival of a tricky baptism for new City secretary Shaun Weston. After getting through all of that you can be sure no one will be shouting louder for City in away Cup and Trophy ties than our secretary. The prospect of slotting in a whole lot of re-arranged Cup and replay fixtures doesn’t really bear thinking about…

Links: 2007-08 City Fixtures, Cheshunt Match Preview, 2007-08 Season Preview.

5 August 2007
Groundsharing Deal Agreed at Forest Green’s New Lawn

The flood damage at Gloucester City’s Meadow Park ground has been judged to be catastrophic the club’s Executive Committee has decided to sign a season long groundsharing agreement with Blue Square Premier neighbours Forest Green Rovers.

The freshly inked contract was announced at half-time yesterday as the two clubs met in a pre-season friendly that ended in a 3-3 draw (see below). It’s understood the season long deal will represent good value for City*, and if true the deal is a considerable act of generosity by Forest Green. Of course the Stroud valleys outfit will make additional money from the extra use of their stadium facilities through extra bar and catering revenue, but even so the price reflects well on the continuing goodwill of former City chairman Colin Gardner who is now at the helm at Forest Green Rovers.

City will host games at the New Lawn

City’s Meadow Park ground was ravaged by between 8 and 12 foot of floodwater and as the waters finally fell last week the full cost of recovery became apparent. The damage was always likely to be extensive, but this time the toxicity of the sewerage contaminated flood and the length of time the area was submerged have left the pitch turf seemingly dead to its roots. The water was even higher than the previous floods of 1990 and 2000, with the electricity circuits sodden and the lower levels of the Meadow Park clubhouse soaked, with even some of the ceilings having collapsed into the waters.

The previous floods left the club unable to gain any insurance cover at all and facing the full cost of repairs. The 2000 flood is believed to have cost around £70,000 to repair but this time the expected bill of restoring Meadow Park back to a position to stage football matches is estimated to be more than £100,000. In a club statement chairman Chris Hill said: The current devastation of the stadium, and the pitch, question of the wisdom of investing the £70,000 last time a flood occurred, and the subsequent work on the pitch, drainage etc just to see it all written off a couple of years later. If we were to contemplate recovering the stadium it would cost in the order of £100,000 plus and we would be irresponsible to attempt to raise that kind of money without seeking planning permission to at least raise the stadium and pitch above the flood level, though where might the flood level reach next time! A better option may be to create a new Gloucester City stadium somewhere other than Meadow Park.”

Birds happy - fans sad

It is clear that the club is prepared to gamble on being able to find a new site suitable for a new stadium away from Gloucester’s western fringes that have proven so vulnerable to the River Severn’s whims. However the one year groundshare is unlikely to prove anywhere near sufficient to obtain planning permission, identify a new site and actually build a new facility.

The move will now need to be ratified by the Football Association and the two clubs’ respective leagues, but there would seem no likely obstacle in the circumstances. The real work will come in trying to re-work the two clubs fixtures to enable home games to go ahead at the New Lawn. With the home side fairly usually expecting to take priority this casts doubt on the exact times of City’s first two planned home fixtures on 18 August against Cheshunt and on summer bank holiday Monday against Halesowen. Both fixtures currently clash with home Blue Square Conference fixtures for Forest Green Rovers. The deal also only extends to City's first team so both the youth and ladies teams will need to make their own arrangements.

For City fans news of the move is a bitter pill to swallow, especially at a time when a series of exciting summer signings seemed to prepare the way for a genuine promotion challenge in this year’s campaign. Gloucester City fans are all too familiar with having to rally behind the club in testing times, but the prospect of several years playing outside the city boundaries is bound to create a new level of uncertainty and fears for the Tigers’ long-term future.

Links: 2007 Pre-Season Summer Fixtures, Trust Flood Appeal, Forest Green stadium info.

T-Ender Editorial: From Despair to Where?

The news that Gloucester City seem to have played their last match at Meadow Park will sadden our fans. It’s been our home since 1985 and for many of us is really the only home ground we remember. In that time there have been many happy memories, many fine matches and fine players. The fans have poured money into improving the ground and the pitch. To leave in the circumstances of this latest flood, the ground’s third, seems especially sad.

There’s no doubt though that Gloucester City’s long-term future has to lie away from Meadow Park. The huge financial cost of repairing the damage after flooding cannot continue. We need to get away from the vulnerable western fringe of the city to higher ground, away from the disruption and expense of flooding. With climate change now a reality the likelihood of more unpredictable weather and more frequent flooding disasters seems set only to increase. A move also presents a chance to address some of the other downsides of Meadow Park – a bigger bar that can be marketed for social functions, an area with a more accessible local community, even training and all-weather pitches to encourage greater community use and added income.

However, all of that lies in the future, and it is the length of time a new stadium is likely to take that is at the heart of concerns the club might be premature to dismiss the cost of renovating Meadow Park one last time – even for use in just the few years whilst a new more sustainable home can be found. The motivations behind groundsharing are easy to follow. The cost of repairing the flood damage is estimated at a huge sum of over £100,000, and you can well understand reluctance to go through all of that energy and effort again after seeing the summer’s work so cruelly destroyed. Even if the work was carried out City would need to spend on renting a temporary home for at least a few months. And then of course there is the ever present risk that the ground could flood again and all that money and effort could again spin down the drain.

Whatever decision was to be taken it would constitute a gamble, but we shouldn’t underestimate the dangers of being homeless and away from the city the club represents. The search for a new ground will take time, this is not a one year situation but the start of a self-imposed exile that is likely to last three to five years. That’s a long time for a small club to sustain itself away from it’s fanbase, and a long time that we’re gambling on sustaining the enthusiasm of our fans. It might also have proven easier to generate donations and sympathy for the repairing of the ground, less so to cover rent at another club’s ground. To pretend the club will be in a new stadium by this time next year is simply delusional, the planning and construction of most conservatories takes as long.

Even finding a new home will be hard enough, but land, planning and designing all cost money – and even if we can salvage and re-build parts of the old Meadow Park the actual construction costs will still be considerable. That money must come from somewhere – and where will that be? Club owner Eamonn McGurk also owns the Meadow Park site, but he’s unlikely to generate much money for land that so demonstrably floods, and then of course he must clear existing mortgages secured on the ground. He’s subbed the club extensively in recent seasons to reassure many of us who’ve previously doubted his motives. It seems unlikely he or other local business people are queueing up to fund the millions needed for our new theatre of dreams, and whilst the Trust’s fundraising has been extraordinary on our own it is not at a level to fund a new ground. Grant funding might plug some of the gap, but to achieve that the club will have to demonstrate financial reliability – despite improvements over the last few years that might be a challenge. Some level of collective share ownership by the Supporters Trust would increase the chances of the club’s community commitment being taken seriously, but that would take time even if McGurk sees the sense in that approach and can be persuaded to restructure.

That leaves the political angle. The regeneration project and central stadium may still be a possibility, but the Council doesn’t have a great track record of helping the football club. Any political support seems most likely to come from the efforts of Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda, but despite his active backing for the club his lobbying to a Tory controlled local authority may be limited in its influence. There is a fear a move out of the city could be an attempt at brinksmanship to force the local council’s hand, but there are long odds that they’d care even at a time when half the local economy wasn’t in tatters. As it is, we could just be cutting off noses to make our own faces even less attractive. Then there is a danger the club begins to panic and ends up going for anything in a rush to get back into Gloucester. We don’t want to end up with either a soulless half-finished park like Cirencester’s ground, or God forbid somewhere with a running track to kill off any hope of match atmosphere.

Whilst all of that lies ahead of us the club will be plying it’s trade in Forest Green and communication and club cohesion will be even more challenging. Sure, some clubs like Bristol Rovers, Newport County and Charlton Athletic have secured success whilst away from their home areas. For all of that though even those clubs would tell you how close to the edge they were in those years. For Wimbledon and Maidstone it ended in disaster, while Wealdstone have been without a ground for ten years and Brighton will tell a similar tale. Losing your ground isn’t easy, and the longer we leave Meadow Park untended the less likely is it that a return will ever be even a short-term option.

The deal with Forest Green seems excellent value for City if the basic annual figure widely circulated is correct*, especially if we its confirmed we’re to keep all of our gate money regardless of numbers of games played. However even at that price the cost of renting stacks up over time and provides less value year on year, the longer we’re there the more it looks like a false economy. There also has to be the danger that Forest Green become less welcoming as our fans take liberties with their stadium and the players with the pitch, especially if their own fixtures start getting shifted by the FA. As tenants we are not in control of our destiny. The cost is also not just that of rent, but of lost business opportunities through lost sponsorship revenue and limited earning potential. The Trust and the club will also have to save hard for the new stadium project, our resources won’t be easily spared to sub the playing squad.

And then there’s the cost of the loss of support - hard to quantify but invaluable. A club that you have to travel miles up a hill to watch is bound to act as a disincentive to the floating fan. Our hardcore supporters are the most loyal of any, and they would watch us play games in Manchester in the local district league. For some though the trip will be too much, at least game in game out, especially if the team struggles, and if our stay extends year on year. Evening games and winter games could be hardest hit. The links with Gloucester will fracture, and the danger of fans drifting away must grow with decreasing chance of new ones arriving. How easy it’ll be to recreate the T-End atmosphere at the New Lawn remains to be seen, but that will have a bearing on our chance of on the field success too (and dear God surely we don’t have to have Mambo Number 5 blared at us to remind us how excited we all are that the home team has scored). Even in the best of outcomes it is hard to see the club’s support and attendances growing in the way we’d hoped this year.

Of course we can now only hope and strive for the best. The deal is done and we all owe it to the club and the city to make it work as best as we can. A decision to stick to the task at Meadow Park would also be a huge risk, and although there is clearly work still to be done there the facilities at the New Lawn appear excellent and if we have to groundshare it is hard to think of a better option. This is the club that would not die, the fire they couldn’t quell and indeed the nightmare from which we cannot wake (all Ó various Hollywood films). Our fans have stuck through the club through the thin, thinner and wafer thin, but this will be our hardest challenge to date. All we can do is hope the road back to Gloucester is shorter than feared, and has fewer twists, turns and potholes than expected.

* The original versions of both the new story and the editorial referenced a figure understood to be the basic terms of the groundshare deal. The T-Ender has had representations from Gloucester City asking us to remove this figure, to which we have reluctantly agreed. We believe that fans should have access to this information, but understand the terms of the deal are considered to be commercially restricted despite having been widely known to those at the New Lawn on Saturday. The T-Ender website would not wish to damage the best interests of Gloucester City AFC, or to cause embarrassment to our new landlords Forest Green Rovers, and would ask any who have re-used the figure to remove it for the same reasons we have. Monday 6 August 11:50.

John Davis - life guardWell done to the swimmers.
Some Humour despite the flood ravaged pitch at Meadow Park.










City at the New LawnCity at the New Lawn:
Next time in home colours

4 August 2007
Players Fight Off Flood Gloom with Goal Fest at Lawn

The Gloucester City players did much to help lift the spirits of despairing Tigers’ fans with a gutsy display to earn a highly creditable 3-3 draw at Blue Square Premier neighbours Forest Green Rovers.

With the flood waters revealing the true extent of the devastation at Meadow Park the match was played against the heart-wrenching backdrop of an announcement that the club is set to leave the city and groundshare with Forest Green (more on that tomorrow). That made City’s first visit to Forest Green’s New Lawn stadium on the hill high above Nailsworth also, slightly bizarrely, a first home game at the stadium our fans will hope will only be home for as short while as possible.

Forest Green put out a strong side but City started brightly and were ahead after only 3 minutes when Jack Pitcher glanced in a deft header from a deep Alex Sykes cross. Forest Green looked strong and physical but struggled to find their way through a City central midfield where Mustoe and Rose are already looking a formidable combination.

Scuffle against FGR Right: Mustoe drags Les Awful away from trouble as the 'friendly' suddenly gets fresh





City were unlucky not to go further into the lead when a perfectly judged lobbed shot by Jamie Reid was harshly ruled out for offside with Marc Richards flagged as offending despite seeming to be well away from an ‘active’ position to interfere with a direct shot. Forest Green then pulled level through Les Awful, who had also earlier enjoyed an ill-judged skirmish with Lyndon Tomkins having seemingly misunderstood the concept of a friendly match.

City again started the second half as the livelier side and again took a quick lead soon after the kick-off. Alex Sykes scored with a clever lifted shot as the Forest Green defence suddenly disappeared to leave their area dominated by City’s white shirts. Falling behind the second time did seem to galvanise the home side who finally started to show signs of their status as a full-time side two divisions higher up the pyramid system. Kevin Sawyer did fantastically well to palm out a hard drive from the right but Mark Beesley was on hand to tap in the rebound from close range. City were then undone by a strong run from Gloucester boy Stuart Fleetwood who burst through the City defence and smashed in a crashing shot to put Forest Green into the lead.

It was the first time City had been chasing the game but despite tiring legs and an increasing flurry of subs from both benches the players showed great spirit to keep going. We deserved something from the match and it came when Lyndon Tomkins won a brave towering header at the far post and Michael Whittington swivelled to strike a crisp half-volley that whistled into the net.

Lyndon sets up equaliserRight: Lyndon's brave header across goal sets up Whitts for City's third to level the match






This was another impressive performance from the City squad, and it seems fair to say that the club’s main worries are not on the pitch this season. Perhaps the days real result was that of the half-time bucket collection towards City’s now heavily stretched finances which gathered in excess of £1,000 to the flood appeal cause. With City set to be away from Gloucester for the foreseeable future, that kind of continued generosity from the fans will be essential.

City: K.Sawyer, J.Reid, L.Buttery, N.Mustoe, T.Hamblin, L.Tomkins, M.Rose, M.Richards, J.Pitcher, A.Sykes, T.Webb. 2nd Half Subs Used: M.Whittington, C.Thompson, A.Allard, J.Taylor, D.Wilkinson, A.Harris.

Links: 2007 Pre-Season Summer Fixtures, Trust Flood Appeal.


Twerton Park - new home
Twerton Park: Home of the Generous

28 July 2007
City Fans Glad to Get Bath Despite Defeat at Twerton

The unwashed Tigers hoards descended on Twerton Park and despite Gloucester City losing 2-0 to last season’s Southern League champions the fans were just glad to see some football – and to dip themselves in some running tap water.

After City’s Meadow Park stadium was engulfed by more than eight foot of floodwater from the River Severn last weekend emotions of the club’s supporters have been running as high as the murky waters. The match gave a huge boost to players and fans alike, Bath City having generously agreed to switch the venue to their stadium with Meadow Park so clearly out of action. Bath had also agreed that Gloucester City would be able to keep any revenue generated through the turnstiles, with the Somerset club’s supporters also donating funds from their 50/50 raffle draw. At a time when our club is struggling it was a morale boosting gesture as well as providing some funds which will be desperately needed once renovation work can start.

On the pitch City took a while to find their feet, and perhaps understandably it was a rather disjointed performance. The players showed commendable effort and spirit though, and a 2-0 defeat away to a side that has now been promoted to a higher level was no disgrace. Jack Pitcher showed a few real turns of speed while Chris Thompson is also pleasingly showing signs of stepping up a level, even if his determination did threaten to brim over as he escaped censure for a professional foul that would have seen him dismissed in a competitive game. Both of Bath’s goals came in the first half from paceman Craig Davidge, City’s defence looking a little slow at times and the first came from a mis-placed Hamblin header, but fans will see signs of a little more solidity in the second half.

The news from Meadow Park remains unchanged with the floodwater only starting to drop very slowly, with the water still several feet high at the clubhouse doorway. There is a strong sense of frustration from those wanting to start repair work but the sobering tragedy at Tewkesbury Rugby Club where two club volunteers sadly died attempting to pump out the clubhouse cellar has acted as a stark warning against rushing in.

With this third flood in 17 years it seems the time has come to have a real debate with the local city council about finding a new home for the football club away from Meadow Park. However this is likely to be a long-term solution and in the meantime a huge clean-up operation waits to get underway, and it seems entirely improbable that City’s scheduled opening home league fixture against Cheshunt on Saturday 18 August will be able to take place at Meadow Park. The most sensible option would seem to be to seek permission to swap this to an away fixture, but a short-term ground rental with Forest Green, Cirencester or Cinderford could all provide alternatives. At least the club’s pre-season preparations should not be overly affected with news that Saturday’s friendly against Blue Square Premier neighbours Forest Green Rovers will go ahead, with the venue switching to the New Lawn in Nailsworth.

Links: 2007 Pre-Season Summer Fixtures, Forest Green match preview.


Marc Richards
Richards: Back in Action
& amongst the goals

26 July 2007
Players Back In Action as Harris Issues Rallying Cry to Fans

City’s players were back in action as they battled to a 2-2 draw at Toolstation Western League hosts Frome Town yesterday evening. With many fans still nervously watching the catastrophic floods that have engulfed much of the western fringes of the city, including Meadow Park, the football seemed of secondary importance. More important than the result was the friendliness of the Frome fans and their kind donation of £300 towards the club’s clean-up operation.

On the Badger’s Hill pitch City came back from a first half goal from former Southend striker Mark Salter and levelled thanks to Marc Richards who smashed into the net from a Webb short corner. City went ahead when a lively Jack Pitcher lifted a header over the keeper but the Frome side deserved the equaliser minutes from the final whistle thanks to another Salter goal.

City have also received good wishes from a number of clubs including SLP rivals Banbury United who have also seen their ground flooded, and Bromsgrove, Melksham, Newport County, Slimbridge, Cinderford and Chippenham. City fans will also be touched by pledges of money from Corby Town supporters and encouraged by promises of help from Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda. At present there seems little sign the waters are significantly dropping, so the exact extent of the damage at Meadow Park is difficult to estimate. With most homes in the area still without any form of water in their taps most people are not yet able to focus on the football club’s difficulties, and the long-term impact on the local economy is also likely to have a knock-on effect on the club’s revenue. In the meantime we wait for a time when the clean-up can begin, and hope that no further heavy rainfall sends the water levels back up.

Boss Tim Harris has tried hard to remain upbeat and set the tone for what will be a difficult few weeks of renewed hard graft for fans trying to help the club regain momentum. He told The Gloucester Citizen: “"We must be positive and keep our heads held high. What has happened is terrible and we have to take a look at electrics and contamination and things like that. But this is football and we must remember there's a lot of homes and businesses that have been affected like we have. Hopefully we can keep working hard, keeping getting results and try to put a smile on the faces of people in Gloucester.

“This club has had enough kicks in the teeth and this is the third time it has happened. We have moved everything up to the bar, but the biggest problem we have is the risk of damage to the floodlights and the electrical system. We can't do much at the moment, but when the water recedes we have to deal with it the best we can and it's going to cost a lot of money to put things right. But this club has a big heart and we will fight through it and be better for it."

Links: 2007 Pre-Season Summer Fixtures, Tiger Images Meadow Park flood pictures, Gloucester Citizen

The Tide Turns
Pic: Matty Clift
BBC Gloucestershire online

23 July 2007
Meadow Park Swamped as Floods Engulf Gloucester

Gloucester City’s Meadow Park stadium was underwater this morning as the catastrophic impact of the flooding from the River Severn continued to devestate the West and the Midlands. The Severn burst it’s banks after Friday’s downpour and the water level has steadily continued to rise with the river bloating with water running off the hills further upstream. The high tide levels have now passed far beyond the Severn’s usual floodplain and threaten to engulf the whole northern and western sections of Gloucester, passing beyond the previous known record high water mark of the 1947 floods.

Quick thinking volunteers had been to the Meadow Park ground on Sunday afternoon and tried to salvage what could be moved, with some equipment moved upstairs to the bar area. However the floodwater is far beyond being stopped by a few sandbags and with residents being evacuated from the Hempsted area of the city the water is now lapping at the crossbars. The Meadow Park cowshed and T-End terrace all now lie beneath the muddy brown murk.

The Friday downpour had already led to the cancellation of Saturday's planned pre-season visit of AFC Telford for a summer friendly game. That decision was based on the travel problems between Gloucester and the Midlands as much as the waterlogging effecting the Meadow Park pitch. However since then the floodwater has steadily risen across much of Worcestershire and north Gloucestershire, with the water levels not expected to peak until tomorrow and still further heavy rain forecast on Wednesday.

The ground has been seriously flooded twice before, in December 2000 and also in January 1990. Those previous dunkings have led to the club having problems obtaining flood insurance and this latest set-back is sure to cost the club heavily with the water levels seeming even higher than 1990. As well as the all too obvious mopping up and massive cleaning operation ahead there will be pitch renovation, and extensive electrical work required to the floodlights and catering facilities. The damage put the remaining home pre-season fixtures against Bath City and Forest Green Rovers in serious jeopardy, and also place the opening Southern League fixture at home to Cheshunt on 18 August in doubt. At present the flooding has made Meadow Park all but inaccessible and the full extent of the damage can only be imagined.

City fans had some welcome news with an agreement from Bath City that the scheduled Friday night pre-season friendly will go ahead with the venue switched to Twerton Park in Bath. The newly promoted Southern League champions have generously offered that City can still keep the profits generated through the turnstiles, money sure to be desperately needed to restore Meadow Park once the flood water retreats. As a result the club is encouraging those fans who can travel to make the trip to Bath and get behind the team, financially and vocally. The club has received many messages of support and sympathy from other local clubs, with SLP rivals Banbury United's Spencer Stadium also seriously hit by the flooding.

With so many Gloucester residents and businesses suffering the awful after effects of the worst devastating floods in living memory the damage to the football club cannot be the most significant problem facing the local community. It is however still a real kick in the teeth at a time when the club seemed to be recovering it’s financial position after years struggling with serious debts, whilst on the pitch manager Tim Harris has assembled a squad that now looks capable of competing at the right end of the SLP. The flooding may set the club back just when things were looking more hopeful. Those you feel for most are the fans who have not only funded a summer of close season ground and pitch improvements through Supporters Trust donations, but in many cases have also contributed hours of labour to get Meadow Park to the best condition it had been in for nearly a decade. Once the waters recede all of that work must now start again.

Fans have been discussing the floods on the City Open Forum, where details of the clean-up squads will also be finalised.

Links: 2007 Pre-Season Summer Fixtures, BBC Online Flood Pictures, Gloucester Citizen.

Griffin: 3 Goals in 3 days

20 July 2007
Bevan Goal Rounds Off Saracens Come-Back

City survived a bit of a scare to beat Hellenic League outfit Cheltenham Saracens 3-1 last night after the home team took a first half lead.

The Tigers fell behind when Saracens striker Andy Sherlock slotted past triallist keeper Elliott Seddon, but City rallied with Scott Griffin continuing his early summer form with a fine brace before the break. Perhaps the highlight of the evening was a closing goal from Jody Bevan, the popular City forward continuing his comeback from a dreadful injury sustained last October at Tiverton. It is likely the forward will start the season out on loan to continue his rehabilitation at a slightly less demanding level of football, but none the less his progress to date suggests real hope he could confound the medical pessimists and return to the City line-up.

Earlier in the week a stronger Gloucester City side picked up a highly credible 2-2 draw against newly promoted Blue Square Premier side Salisbury City who had thumped Weston-s-Mare 5-1 in their last outing. New signing striker Jack Pitcher impressed for City up front, setting up a second pre-season goal for trial forward Jody Taylor. City were in good form, although eventually an impressive curling free kick from sub Scott Griffin was needed to level the scores at 2-2 with just minutes of the game remaining.

City fans will have been cheered by the sight of new signing Matt Rose forming a solid midfield partnership with skipper Neil Mustoe, and a good flying save from new keeper Kevin Sawyer who made an acrobatic reflex save at point-blank range from a header against his old club. Equally pleasing were some energetic displays from old campaigners Chris Thompson and Dave Wilkinson who seem ready to step up and meet the new challenge for places. Young starlet Jamie Reid also stuck doggedly to former City winger Luke Prince and despite conceding a controversial and dubious penalty did well enough to suggest he could yet emerge as the player to solve our longstanding right-back problem.

Central defender Adam Shakespeare has been released after a trial spell at City proved unsuccessful, but Tim Harris seems set to give former Cirencester defender Ollie Holder and former Slimbridge defender Ashley Thomas further chances to add themselves to the Tigers’ squad. Both should feature as City take on Telford tomorrow, if the fixture survives today’s downpour and resulting flash flooding.

Links: 2007 Pre-Season Summer Fixtures, City Playing Squad, Next Game Preview.

Pitcher: First touch - first goal.

12 July 2007
City Get into Gear in Opening Pre-Season Ledbury Win

There was much to take pleasure from on Wednesday night as City successfully shook off the close season cobwebs to end the evening with a comfortable 3-0 scoreline against West Midlands Premier side Ledbury Town.

The scoreline doesn’t tell the complete story as the home team twice rattled the City woodwork and at times the Gloucester side found a bumpy pitch troublesome. None the less City boss Tim Harris will have been pleased to have been given a little to think about. There were first appearances for new signings goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer and former Weston captain Matty Rose, while striker Jack Pitcher found the net with his first touch in a City shirt having come off the bench in the 73rd minute to complete the evening’s scoring. Victory in these games isn’t to be taken for granted after City struggled against competition from all levels last summer as the campaign got off to a slow start.

The City opener was scored by triallist Jody Taylor after 32 minutes, the young Harrow Hill striker followed up after Jody Bevan’s effort was beaten out by the Ledbury keeper. Centre-back Tom Hamblin added a second after 68 minutes. There were also several other new faces seeking to impress and win a place in the squad for next season.
Hereford based goalkeeper Steve Bell took over from Sawyer between the sticks, while central defender Adam Shakespeare also got a chance to step up his fitness. The 25 year-old former Hereford and Hednesford defender is trying to return to a decent level of football after missing the whole of last season with a serious knee injury and recently moving to our area after a spell in Welsh football. Also in the City side were two more possible recruits from the Cirencester exodus, 19 year-old England Colleges squad defender Ollie Holder and 26 year-old defensive midfielder Matt Smith who started his career with Portsmouth and recently captained the Hartpury College side to BUSA title success.

City’s pre-season training continues over the weekend with the side next in action against Salisbury City, the newly promoted Blue Square (Conference) side visiting Meadow Park on Tuesday 17 July. City should be able to welcome Luke Buttery and Marc Richards back from holiday to feature in the squad for the game, while both Michael Whittington and Alex Sykes will hope to have shrugged off mino0r ankle problems to play some part in the match.

* Two more former City players have been on the move during the summer. Keeper Ray Johnston will make a quick return to Meadow Park having been released by the club following the signing of Kevin Sawyer from Cirencester. ‘Razor’ will be turning out next season for SLP rivals Tiverton Town – good news for a player who did nothing really wrong in his short time with City, and certainly deserves another crack to claim a spot at this level.

Also heading for pastures new is young winger Aaron Wilson – recently signed by Blue Square South side Weston-super-Mare Town. The Bristol-based left winger has been widely reported as a signing direct from City, but actually walked out of Meadow Park early in the year to sign for Taunton Town and help them into the South Western Division play-offs. This might suggest Weston don’t know exactly what they have signed, but with Wilson on one wing and Lee Smith on the other the Seagulls should now have enough pace to trouble the opposition next season. Luke Corbett seems popular after Bishop's Cleeve issued heated denials that the former City striker is set to swap Kayte Lane for Malvern Town after reports he attended a pre-season training session at the other SL Midland Division side. One player who doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is Jimmy Cox – having decided to quit Meadow Park the forward now seems set to turn down an offer from Cinderford to take a complete break from football.

Links: 2007 Pre-Season Summer Fixtures, City Playing Squad, Next Game Preview.


FA Cup

FA Trophy

FA Youth cup



Rands - off to the twigs.

4 July 2007
FA Cup and Trophy Draws Harsh Away Ties for City

Hopes for glory might be high at Meadow Park after exciting summer signings, but the draw for next season’s FA Cup and FA Trophy suggested that any success in those competitions would have to be hard won.

At the opening stages of particularly the FA Cup fans could be hoping for a draw against lower league opposition and an easy stroll for the City sides, although such opposition as Odd Down and Christchurch has been our undoing in recent campaigns. This time though the 1st qualifying round of the FA Cup sees Gloucester City travel to Lodge Road, the home of Southern League Premier rivals Yate Town. Not only do Yate feature several former City players, including panto villain David Elsey, but the tree-lined north Bristol venue has proved something of a bogey ground for City in the past. The tie is scheduled for Saturday 15 September with £2,250 prize money up for grabs to the winners.

The FA Trophy has seen more success in City’s recent history, but the draw for that is little better with another tricky away tie dropped into the calendar. City will take on Southern League Midland Division outfit Stourbridge who just missed out on the play-offs least season. The Glassboys three-sided ground will be a curiosity for visiting fans, but almost proved the club’s undoing as the Midlanders fought for promotion back into the Southern League as Midland Alliance titleholders in 2002 and 2003. The Glassboys also boast John ‘flying postman’ Williams in their squad, the veteran forward playing one inconspicuous game for City last season – fittingly in the FA Trophy. The 1st Qualifying Round FA Trophy tie is scheduled for Saturday 20 October with £1,350 prize money to add incentive.

Whilst City’s FA Cup and FA Trophy ties are tough they are nothing in comparison to that handed out to the club’s under-18s in the FA Youth Cup. The youth team must travel to face Blue Square Premier outfit Exeter City in the preliminary round tie in the second week of September. The players will know how stern the test they face will be – the Devon side knocked them out of last season’s competition 7-0 at the 3rd qualifying round stage. However if City were successful they would face a tantalising home tie against Forest Green Rovers in the 1st qualifying round.

Meanwhile the first team should find out their season’s fixture calendar with the Southern League promising fixtures by 18 July. This isn’t simply a case of former City secretary Jason Mills being slow to pick up his new duties as Southern League secretary. With several Southern League clubs sharing grounds with Blue Square clubs the task of allotting fixtures couldn’t be started until the old Conference published their schedules earlier this week.

The club’s pre-season fixtures have also been tweaked, with a new home friendly match against Blue Square Premier (Conference) neighbours Forest Green Rovers now scheduled for Saturday 4 August. The fixture replaces that previously arranged for Friday 3 August against Blue Square North side Redditch United. Redditch received a better offer for that weekend from Birmingham City, but things turned out better for us as well with a game more likely to attract local football fans and a harder test against full-time opposition.

* Fan favourite Lee Randall looks set to finally leave Meadow Park having taken up an invitation to join pre-season training at Midland Division neighbours Cinderford Town. The bulky former pro has won himself a special place in the affection of the City faithful with his dedication to the cause and obvious affection for the club. However his battle for full match fitness has been only partly successful, and despite his considerable ability on the ball Lee sadly collected only 21 appearances and three starts in his two seasons back at the club. Whilst the chance for more regular football at Cinderford is a sensible move for the player the great Rands will be missed at Meadow Park, and the fans will wish him well and always be glad to welcome him back in the hope that one day he can grab a City goal in front of the T-End.

Randall may not be the only player to exit City for The Causeway – pacey striker Jimmy Cox is also being courted by the Forest club’s new boss Keith Knight. Cox is understood to be unsettled by the arrival of Michael Whittington and Jack Pitcher, both adding considerable competition for forward positions in the City side. The loss of Cox would be a shame; the player is just four strikes short of being the first City player for nearly 30 years to reach a century of goals and that would be a meaningful achievement for a former T-Ender. Cox looked like he was just starting to re-find his best form as last season drew to an end, but City boss Tim Harris will feel he still has some depth and quality to his attacking options. Cox’s temperament and attitude has often been questioned and the club is not in a position to need to keep players who offer anything less than complete commitment in fighting for their place.

Links: FA Cup Draw, FA Trophy Draw, 2007 Summer Fixtures, City Playing Squad.


Whitt in aqction vs Team Bath
Whitts: Back for Good.

25 June 2007
Mick Whittington Returns to Gloucester to Fire Promotion Dreams

Gloucester City boss Tim Harris has pulled off another major coup with the unveiling of new signing Michael Whittington. The former Ch#!tenham Town forward has already proven a huge favourite with City fans in three previous prolific loan spells with the club, notching 13 goals in 20 appearances. News of his likely arrival has been rumoured for several weeks, but today’s confirmation will ignite real belief amongst supporters that the club could now be ready to mount a serious assault on the upper reaches of the Southern League.

Whittington was released by Robins boss John Ward in May after failing to earn an extension to his initial one year professional deal with our Whaddon Road rivals. Surprisingly Ward never seemed to really give the livewire youngster a chance to shine despite his side struggling for goals and survival in Division One. It’s a surprise and a shame that Whitts was unable to find a professional club willing to take a chance on him, but their loss is certainly City’s gain and hopefully we can provide a showcase for his talents and provide the 20 year-old with a chance to move back into full-time football whilst his extra quality could be crucial as we hope to build on last season’s top half SLP finish.

Ironically it was performances in a City shirt that earned him the chance of a pro contract with Ch#!tenham. Whittington enjoyed a three month spell with City whilst still a youth player, joining in Tim Harris’ first batch of signings as the new City manager back in January 2006. The teenage striker played a huge part in the revival of the club’s fortunes and successful run to escape relegation that season. Whitts ended up with a record of seven goals in eight appearances before his season was cut short in a nasty collision with the keeper playing for City against Yate. However his form at Meadow Park had done enough to persuade Ch#*tenham Town to hand him a first year professional contract and graduate from their youth team set up. Ward never quite seemed convinced though and the following season saw two further loan spells with City, followed by run-outs with Mangotsfield and Weston with little sign of a first team opportunity with his League club.

Whitts quickly overcame any knee jerk prejudice of his links with our Golden Valley neighbours to become a huge T-End favourite. Goals always help of course, but it was Whitt’s enthusiasm that helped him connect with the fans who admired his bravery and effort as much as his great pace and crisp finishing skills. His affection for City was evident by his continued visits to Meadow Park, and although the Bristolian had watched our final match of last season against Clevedon his decision to join the Tigers is still both a shock and a huge vote of confidence in the club’s future.

Manager Tim Harris says in the club's official statement: "We are well aware of what Michael is capable of, and what he can achieve with an extended run in a team. There has been a lot of interest in him, as there always is in goal scorers, but he has chosen to come here because he sees this as a club that can help him with his ambitions of a return to the full-time game. We are more than happy with that ambition. If he works hard and scores the goals then he can get noticed and achieve that aim - and both he and the club will be winners in that situation."

Whittington is also frothing at the mouth with rabid anticipation; "I had interest from a few clubs, and I have been around clubs at this level on loan but Gloucester is the one that stood out for me so it was an easy decision to make" says Whittington. "The club matches my ambition, Tim is a good manager who knows how to get the best from his team, and the fans are fantastic every match, really getting behind the team. I have had a disjointed year with loan spells at various clubs, but now things are settled I am looking to get a good run in the side, build the confidence that all strikers feed off, and start showing my best form. Of course I want to get back into the professional game, everybody dreams of that, but the best way for me to achieve it is by being successful with Gloucester City, and that is what I intend to do."

The arrival of Whittington also pays further testament to the persuasive skills of City boss Tim Harris who must feel that despite a tight budget he may be close to having a squad that could now challenge for a promotion play-off spot. The signing of Whitts follows close season signings of Cirencester goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer and Clevedon forward Jack Pitcher, and a series of players added towards the end of last season. Competition for places, particularly up front, will be intense with the forwards playing for their futures in the summer friendlies. Pre-season expectations are building, and the supporters will not be able to wait for the new season to start in August.

Tim Harris has also taken the opportunity to reassure fans the club isn't going back to boom and bust economics, despite the recent influx of players. "It is my duty as manager of this team to constantly look to improve it. I am talking to players and to clubs all the time, but at the same time we have to be realistic. Some have said that Gloucester City are throwing money around this summer, but that simply isn't true, as a club we are still developing our commercial side, and after the hard work of the last few years we wont jeopardise the future of the club spending money we don't have. I remain on a very tight budget, but the simple fact is that we have players recognising what we are building here, and wanting to be a part of that. They are joining for the right reasons, which is very pleasing. But we continue to need Gloucestershire's business community to embrace this club and help us generate the cash that will enable success on the pitch."

Links: Michael Whittington pen pic, 2007 Summer Fixtures, City Playing Squad.


city down & out in 2000
Rose will hope for a happier time
in his second spell at City.

22 June 2007
Rose Return Bolsters City Defence for Promotion Push

Gloucester City boss Tim Harris has pulled off another transfer coup by persuading Weston skipper Matt Rose to drop down a division and return to Meadow Park to help the club’s ambitions for next season.

The 31 year-old defensive utility player is well known to Tim Harris who previously signed the player for Newport County where Rose spent three seasons before heading to Weston. Rose is still fondly remembered by Meadow Park fans for his efforts in 1999-2000 when as a young player he was one of the few bright spots in a disasterous campaign with the club’s financial meltdown seeing the remaining players paid direct out of fans pockets and ending in relegation to the Southern League’s Western Division. Having started that season as a young squad player signed from Cirencester by Brian Hughes, he ended it having made 36 appearances all over the pitch and wearing the captain’s armband following the departure of Gary Kemp.

This time around Rose returns as a player with considerable experience of having played at the higher Conference South level, and although his versatility will continue to be a useful asset he will be expected to feature mainly in the centre of defence. He will bring some strength and grit to a City rearguard that at times last season shipped an alarming amount of goals. Whilst Lyndon Tomkins excelled in winning the player of the year award he is still prone to injury, and although Tom Hamblin shows great promise for the future there is little doubt Harris needed to add to his options in defence. The close season signing of Rose follows that of goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer from Cirencester and striker Jack Pitcher from Clevedon, all of which suggest the side can build on last season’s mid-table finish and challenge at the top end of the table. There are also suggestions Tim Harris has not yet finished his recruitment drive with at least one further player expected to arrive to add to the growing excitement of City fans.

Tim Harris said: “I have known Matt for a long time, and he was an immense asset for me at Newport. He can improve us in every respect – he is a terrific player, with a passion and drive to win, and he is a great presence to have in the dressing room and at training as well. He will improve what we have here at Gloucester in all of those respects, and will take us another step towards building the team that we need to challenge for honours.”

Matt is also quoted in the club statement saying: “I have been at the club before, but on that occasion it was not the best of the times for the club. But even then the fans were terrific, and I believe that has been maintained. Once I knew Tim wanted me, and he had explained what he was seeking to achieve down here, then I was keen to get on board. I am hungry for success, and hungry to win trophies, and I think we have a good springboard now. Tim and I both know how the other works, so I feel I can settle in quickly, and hope to play a big part in bringing success to the club. I know many of the players, and we have a great chance to push on this year and take the club towards the next level.”

* Two former City players are moving in the opposite direction to Matt Rose and have agreed terms with reprieved Blue Square South side Weston-super-Mare Town. Former City player of the year Lee Smith will be on the wing for the Seagulls next season, joined by central defender Ollie Barnes, briefly on loan with us last Christmas but now a free agent having been released by Bristol Rovers last month. Another former City player of the year is leaving Weston, defender Gary Thorne is new Mangotsfield United boss Frank Gregan’s first signing at Cossham Street.

Links: Matt Rose pen pic, 2007 Summer Fixtures, City Playing Squad.

City vs Newport summer 2006
Summer Football
back at Meadow Park

14 June 2007
City Friendlies Lack Glamour but Test Squad Promotion Credentials

Gloucester City have announced a fixture list of nine pre-season friendlies, and the schedule suggests a summer intent on building a side fit to challenge for promotion even at the expense of headline grabbing matches to titillate casual fans or swell the club coffers.

The schedule includes four home games, three of them against newly promoted non-league clubs and all of them will offer higher division opposition for Tim Harris’ developing Tigers squad. Despite rumours the club had been trying to line up home matches against Bristol Rovers, Bristol City and Oxford United the summer friendly list doesn’t include any big names to draw in floating football fans. However the club does seem set to experiment with the dark spectre of Friday night football, presumably with a view to trying to provide some summer increase in revenue. Only one of the nine pre-season fixtures is on a Saturday, and two of the Meadow Park games are set to be played on Friday evening.

However the opposition that’s been lined up will provide more competitive fixtures than simple revenue generating visits by bigger clubs bringing reserve and youth players. The visit of Blue Square (former Conference) Premier newcomers Salisbury City brings former Tiger stars Michael Fowler and Luke Prince back to Meadow Park, while our new keeper Kevin Sawyer is set to make his first home start against the club he left just a year ago. Bath City won the Southern League title last season but will make an early return to Gloucester on Friday 27 July before taking their place in Blue Square South. City will also face two Blue Square North sides, newly promoted Northern Premier play-off winners Telford and Redditch United who pipped City to the Southern League Western Division championship back in 2004.

City will also travel to a string of local lower division opposition as Tim Harris hopes his squad can reach match sharpness and some form ahead of the Southern League campaign opening on 18 August. He must hope this summer goes better than last, when inexplicably the side managed a run of eight pre-season games without a win – including embarrassing defeats to lower division opposition in the shape of Slimbridge, Dawlish and Almondsbury. The team had to wait until the last match before the season proper to find some goals, crushing local league Staunton & Corse 14-0.

The close season signings of goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer from Cirencester and striker Jack Pitcher from Clevedon already suggest that City could emerge as real promotion contenders next season with Harris still seeking to further improve his squad. City’s pre-season will start with the players returning to training on 30 June and continue in July with a weekend exercise and bonding programme in Gwent being laid on by the army’s fitness training experts. The first pre-season action sees City hit the road to take on West Midlands League outfit Ledbury Town on Wednesday 11 July, and preparations conclude with a run out at Quedgeley Wanderers on Monday 13 August.

Tim Harris said: "I am grateful to Hartpury College and to the British Army for their support of the club, being able to access their superb facilities really helps in our preparation. Fans can rest assured that no stone will be left unturned as we look to prepare the squad for a positive league and cup campaign."

* Gloucester City have appointed Shaun Wetson to replace Jason Mills as the club’s football Secretary. Shaun is a longstanding City fan who has returned to Meadow Park as a regular spectator after ending his own playing career in local football. As a self-employed accountant Wetson will be able to provide flexibility in finding the hours to carry out the demanding job – good luck!

Links: 2007 Summer Fixtures, Southern League website, City Playing Squad, Playing Stats 2006-07.


Pitcher: Striker signs

28 May 2007
City Signing Jack Can Pitcher A Goal or Two

Gloucester City’s close season optimism continued to build momentum with the announcement yesterday that Tim Harris had clinched the signing of prolific goalscorer Jack Pitcher from SLP rivals Clevedon Town.

The young Bristol based striker has proven himself a clinical finisher in three seasons with the Seasiders, helping them to the Southern League Western Division title in 2005 and scoring in the FA Cup 1st Round last Autumn against Chester City. However Clevedon struggled for SLP survival this season and the forward was keen to move on and was attracted by the fanatical support from the City fans.

Pitcher is quoted in a club statement saying, "We played Gloucester on the final day of the season, and frankly they were better than us. I had been disappointed with the way the season had gone at Clevedon, and being ambitious for success, I decided that I should move on in the summer. I was really impressed with the atmosphere generated by the Gloucester fans, and the stadium is obviously one of the better ones at this level. Tim Harris sold the club to me, it's a big club, and he told me of all the on and off-field work that is going in to bring success to the club. From that moment on I was sold on the idea of playing for Gloucester City. I am desperate for success, and feel that this club shares my ambition."

Tim Harris added “The capture of Jack Pitcher I believe will be a major boost to our attacking options as his record speaks for itself. Once again to obtain someone of Jacks ability and his desire to come to Meadow Park is testament to the hard work put in by everyone, especially the supporters, at the club over the last 18 months.”

Pitcher began his career helping Winterbourne United win promotion from the Gloucestershire County League to the Hellenic before being spotted by Mangotsfield United who gave him his chance at this level, moving on to Clevedon in June 2004. Pitcher will add some pace and trickery to the City forward line, and the prospect of him playing off target man Jason Welsh up front will leave fans looking forward to the new season.

Following on from the signing of goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer last week Tim Harris can be every pleased to have added to an already strong Gloucester squad from last season, and to have attracted two high quality and proven players has raised expectations that the side could mount a potential promotion challenge.

However, City fans will still worry that the squad may lack some defensive cover, and Tim Harris uses the club statement to clearly signal his feeling that his budget must grow if City are to seriously compete for the title. “We have a mountain to climb if we are going to see Gloucester City challenging for honours. I am convinced the good times are coming back to this very proud City football club, but we need more people, businesses and fans to come forward and make this club a force to be reckoned with. But we are up for the fight, and there is a positive feeling about the place.”

Links: Jack Pitcher pen pic, City v Clevedon match report, Clevedon Town FC website.


Kevin Sawyer:
Out of the Meadow Park shadows

23 May 2007
Big Goalkeeper Signing for City as Sawyer joins from Ciren

City’s close season transfer activities received a huge boost yesterday with news of the signing of highly rated goalkeeper Kevin Sawyer from recently relegated neighbours Cirencester Town. The keeper has caught the eye over many seasons with a string of impressive saves against City, and won the Southern League title with Salisbury City in 2006 before returning to Cirencester Town last season.

"City are a big club, with a great fan-base and ambitions for the future, so I was delighted to hear that they were interested in me," Sawyer told the Gloucester Citizen. "From that moment on I knew that there was no other club I wanted to play for at this level, even though several others were interested. The manager has told me of his plans, of his need to bring in a few players and his aims for next season, and it is clear that his ambitions match mine, I have not joined Gloucester City to spend my time in the Southern League Premier Division, and want to help the club reach a higher level.” Boss Tim Harris sounds fairly chuffed with his new keeper saying “I see this as a major coup for the club, especially as Kevin wanted to be part of what we are building here. He has tasted success at this level, and is one of, if not the best keeper in the league.”

The 27 year-old keeper began his career at Cirencester, progressing from a youngster at their academy into the first team. He moved on to Salisbury and helped them to two promotions and an appearance in the FA Cup 1st Round, being the only ever present in the Wiltshire club’s SLP championship winning side of 2005-06. Having felt his place at the newly promoted side was under threat Sawyer handed in a transfer request, but there was surprise when he elected to return to Cirencester Town last summer. Sawyer has now been secured on contract at Meadow Park and his arrival will increase optimism for next season’s campaign, his presence hopefully helping to address last season’s defensive frailties. Tim Harris is still believed to be actively seeking further additions to his squad, and although still operating with a tight budget is understood to be hoping to add at least one further new face before the summer break.

Sawyer has long been a familiar figure to City fans, and despite a load of banter about his ample frame he has been an opponent highly respected by the T-End. In the two City games against Ciren last season Sawyer was comfortably his team’s outstanding player, his fine form being largely responsible for limiting City to a goalless draw at Meadow Park in March. Despite Sawyer’s best efforts Ciren still finished in the SLP relegation places, although ironically the Cotswold club could still receive a reprieve from the drop if Conference South clubs Hayes and Yeading agree on a merger, necessitating a reshuffle of the non-league pyramid.

Unfortunately his signing does mean the departure of current keeper Ray Johnston, who must feel sore at leaving after just a few months with the Tigers. The former Bristol Rovers and Clevedon Town goalie made 17 City appearances since replacing long-serving City custodian Matt Bath in February. Razor had impressed with his character and attitude as much as his ability between the sticks, but whilst he was a good keeper Sawyer is an excellent keeper. Tim Harris has to be applauded for managing to attract a player of his quality and being able to take full opportunity of his availability. Sadly there is little room for sentiment in trying to build a successful team; hell, it almost feels like we’re a proper football club.

Links: Kevin Sawyer pen pic, Ray Johnston pen pic, Ciren v City match report, Cirencester Town FC website.


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