Football’s Coming Home
75 Years of football at Twerton Park 1932-2007
Carnival Time at Twerton
The summer of 1932 was one of the busiest in the club’s history. Twerton Park was not a football stadium or even a football ground yet. It was a flattish grassy area, with a long steep slope leading up to Innox Park behind. But the cavalry was on hand, in the form of the Supporters Club, as ever.
By the end of May the supporters had laid a substantial area of turf. Apart from volunteer labour, they also produced the money to employ ten men on turf-laying, in addition to the work done by the professional players paid by the Club. There was also ‘work experience’ for unemployed men anxious to show prospective employers what sturdy workers they were!
From 31 May – 2 June 1932, the Great Supporters Club Carnival took place over three days on the newly laid turf. It was a triumph. Twerton put out the flags and bunting the length of the High Street to celebrate the return of football. There was the usual funfair, and a Boxing exhibition match put on by the Stothert and Pitt Boxing Club. There were games for children and adults – fancy-dress, skittles, guess the weight of the pig, and so on. Bizarrely (on newly laid turf!) there was a motor-cycle gymkhana.
And there was the infamous First Match. Not Bristol Rovers on August 27, as the history books state, but Mr A. Mortimer’s Ladies XI versus Colmer’s Ladies. For anyone who doesn’t know, Colmer’s was a massive department store in Union Street where most Bath kids of my age were taken once a year to demand the latest Meccano set or doll’s pram from Father Christmas.
Without a doubt this match took place. There was a picture in the Bath Chronicle, and the Chronicle never lies. Without a shadow of doubt the first match ever played at Twerton Park was women’s football. So respect please for the women footballers of Bath. Meanwhile Jolly’s were offering less sporting women ‘charming and interesting models at very moderate prices’ from their hat shop in Milsom Street.
So that brings us to August 27 1932 and that ‘other’ first match – Bath City versus Bristol Rovers Reserves in the Southern League. The general feeling was one of relief, summed up by the Chronicle headline ‘ALL’S WELL WITH BATH CITY’. The match took place. City won 2-0. That was it. Manager Ted Davis’s new signing, Reg Trotman, a man whose football reputation had been made at Rovers, knocked in both goals for an easy victory.
The Chronicle’s reporter went over the top about him:
I like his bigness [oh yes?], his positioning. I like height in the front line. Trotman has it.
On the other hand, he worried about Butt on the right-wing, waiting to go into hospital to have his appendix out.
The official crowd was 2,936 paying a shilling (5p) a head. That included 470 unemployed and 400 boys, all of whom got in cheap. The actual crowd was bigger, as season ticket holders and the Supporters Club ‘voluntary workers’ weren’t counted. And the Club Treasurer deplored the ‘many people mean enough to break down the fences and thus avoid payment of admission’. Just like the Glastonbury Festival, then.
There may not have been changing rooms (but hey, what’s wrong with converted pig-sties?) there was no stand, no cover or terracing on the Popular Side, but football had come home at last to Twerton Park. There was also a great free view for the kids on the bandstand in Innox Park.