Bath City have announced that Gary Owers has agreed terms to be their manager for the 2016/17 season after successfully keeping the Romans in the Conference South.
This is Owers’ second spell in charge of the Romans after joining the club for the 2003/04 season as a player. Then in November he took charge of the club, in a player-manager capacity, following Alan Pridham’s poor run of results. That season the club missed out on the cut for the new Conference South league being made for the 2004/05 season; losing out to Dorchester Town.
In Owers second season, his first full season, in charge he guided the Romans to a 6th placed finish in the Southern League. During this time Owers played 54 games and scored 6 goals whilst bringing in players such as Scott Partridge, along with a memorable FA Cup run ending in a close game against Peterborough United. However this success attracted the attention of other clubs and Owers opted to join Conference Premier Forest Green Rovers on a full time managerial contract.
Owers then returned to the club in February 2016 with the Romans in free fall and in a real danger of losing their Conference South status. A changed training routine and a series of loan players steadied the club and enabled them to put together a string of results; 5 wins from their last 7 games. Bath finished 14th in the Conference South and the board felt that Owers had done enough to earn himself a season long contract.
There was no time wasted as Owers looked to shape his squad further, as all of the players contracts have ended with the end of the 2015/16 season. Dan Ball, Steve Phillips, Frankie Artus, Chas Hemmings, Jack Batten and Billy Murphy have all agreed terms already for the 2016/17 season.
Dan Ball was awarded Players Player and Supporters Player of the season recently at the club’s awards night. The versatile defender has made 180 appearances for the Romans, scoring 7 goals, in a 3 year spell with the club. Former City and Rovers keeper Steve Phillips was made club captain under Owers and recently expressed his desire to play another season for the club. In the 2016/17 season Phillips will also be coaching at Bristol Rovers whilst hoping to keep his 100% appearance record; playing in all 47 competitive games in 2015/16.
The midfield has keep it’s spine with the creative Frankie Artus signing on and fan’s favourite Chas Hemmings also agreeing terms. This will be Artus’ third season with the Romans having made 77 appearances scoring 11 goals. Hemmings will also be playing in his third season and will be hoping to claim a more settled position after being utilised in defence, midfield and attack.
Former Bristol City youngsters Jack Batten and Billy Murphy have also been snapped up by Owers. Batten impressed whilst on loan with the club and was then surprising released in March by Bristol City. Owers moved quickly to sign him on until the end of the season with the defender playing 19 games scoring 1 goal. Murphy was another loanee having captained Bristol City’s under 21 side for the first half of the 2015/16 season. The defensive midfield showed great energy and vision in a more resolute City side in the last three months of the season.
Owers has also had to make some hard decisions with regards to players and has released Andy Gallinagh, Ash Kington and Brad Williams.
Gallinagh was originally signed whilst the club was in the Conference Premier and can play anywhere across the back four. The former captain played 172 games for the Romans scoring 3 goals in a 4 year spell. Kington joined the club at the beginning of the 2014/15 season from Weston Super Mare and quickly became a first team regular in midfield; 86 appearances and 7 goals. The former Cardiff City youngster Williams signed on with the Romans at the start of the 2015/16 but didn’t quite do enough to earn a regular starting spot under Howells or Owers, starting 13 games and coming on in another 13 games.
The club would like to thank all three players for their efforts and wish them all the best in the future.