Bristol City, Championship, Football, Friendly, groundhopping, Huish Park, League 2, Martin McConachie, Yeovil Town
Saturday 15th July 2017 ko 15.00
YEOVIL TOWN 1 (Olomola 75)
BRISTOL CITY 3 (Reid 22 28 Magnusson 25)
Att 2,636 (883 away)
On occasion I get asked how I pick my games, and people are often surprised when I say that often they pick me! This one was a case in point, I was due to be in Minehead in the evening and my girlfriend Robyn is a Bristol City fan. Then there was the Martin McConachie factor to consider…
My regular reader will remember the name, Martin was the man who made Oldland Abbotonians hop game so successful. Martin is now at Hengrove, and will no doubt make sure that their hosting on this season’s Western League Hop will also be superb. Martin is also involved in the press team at Yeovil and in any case I’ve never needed too much of an excuse to visit Huish Park.
Despite being opened 27 years ago Huish Park still has the feel of a new-build stadium, being built to allow Yeovil Town to fulfil their ambition of league football, the infamous slope at the old Huish Athletic Ground, like Chard Town, a barrier to progress. Yeovil finally gained Football League status in 2003 but every time I’ve visited (normally involving an Oxford United defeat) it’s clear that the club haven’t lost their non-league soul.
They’re a friendly bunch, Martin walking round the ground to come over for a chat, and finding time also to speak to former Glover Al-James Hannigan visiting with his family. The ground does have a quirk, the away terrace is smaller than its home equivalent, and has no roof. I suppose keeping smaller away attendances dry is a not a high priority to club that had a worrying brush last season with relegation from League 2.
The curio with this game was the Johnson factor, Gary Johnson managed Yeovil and City was distinction, and his son Lee played for Yeovil and is now City manager. It surprised me this friendly isn’t an annual event
Of course from a fan’s perspective games like this are a chance to get to know new players, in Yeovil’s case that meant the likes of winger Rhys Browne and former Hartlepool midfielder Jake Gray. For Bristol City that meant full back Eros Pisano and club record signing (£5.3m) forward Famara Diedhiou. The latter, signed from Angers SCO is seen as a straight replacement for Tammy Abraham now back at Chelsea with a new 5 year contact and another season out on loan, this time at Swansea City. Angers must hate the sight of Bristol City, they sold Abraham’s predecessor Jonathan Kodjia to them in 2015!
And the resources of a League 2, when compared to a Championship club were put in stark contrast. Martin described it as “Men versus boys” which was the correct cliche, but it felt more like watching money talking. I remember Callum O’Dowda tearing League 2 defences to pieces for Oxford United, and it must have felt like a return to familiar pastures to the winger, who when used in the wing still looks devastating, albeit against a defence two notches below his club’s level.
Bristol City won the game in the one 5 minute, 3 goal spell that they hit top gear. Other than that they contented themselves with dusting off the cobwebs from their passing game. On the sidelines their fans speculated as to why centre half Aden Flint only started when Jens Hegeler picked up a knock in the warm up, is Leeds’ interest more than just a rumour?
Of course little or nothing really mattered. Yeovil managed to bring on 10 triallists for the last 20 minutes, meaning Olufela Olomola’s thunderbolt was scored by the only Glover on the pitch at the time who wasn’t anonymous! But this wasn’t a time for the minutia, it was that time of the pre-season where fans can look at the combination of new and old faces in their teams and hope for better things from the season to come. And despite the gulf in status between Yeovil and Bristol City, that was something both sets of fans could agree on.