Friday, 24 June 2011

Cack-Handed Away Guide X: GLOUCESTER CITY AFC.


Gloucester City AFC
Arriva House
Meadow Park
Sudmeadow Road

The Tigers

But we call them


Billy basics

Managers: David Mehew, Adie Harris
Founded: 1883
2010/11: 14th, Conf North
2009/10: 18th, Conf North
2008/09: 3rd, Southern Premier League
Highest position: 2010/11: 14th, Conf North
Average attendance 2010/11: 346

Who are Glaaaaaarstar?
 Despite being formed in 1883, it took six years for Gloucester to bother with going competitive. Like so many others, they got into the rhythm of joining all sorts of regional leagues until joining the Southern League in 1939. It then took the Gloucestrians a wait 'til after World War Two to see where things would take them. The stand-out factoid from their early years was in 1937/38, when striker Reg Weaver netted 67 goals in all competitions, making Ross Hannah look like a Jägerbomb-fuelled Nigel Jemson.

Post-war, Glaaaaaarstar quickly surfaced in the proper, big-boy rounds of the FA Cup, beating Tottenham Hotspur 2–1 in 1952 in front of 10,000 or so. Promotion to the Southern Premier came in 1969 and again in 1982, and again in 1989. The following season, they held Cardiff City to a Second Round replay in the FA Cup and began to aim for the Conference National. It came within a whisker in 1991 when SPL promotion rivals Farnborough scored a winner in their game against Atherstone to pip Glaaaaaarstar and their travelling hordes at Bromsgrove, the fans already invading the pitch in some vain joy. Further cup frolics came in 1997 as Dagenham & Redbridge beat them in the FA Trophy's semi-finals, a distraction to losing out on promotion to the Conference again to rivals Cheltenham Town.

It will be here that I crack on with what has afflicted Glaaaaaarster more than anything: its blasted location. In July 2007 the River Severn burst its banks once again, flooding their Meadow Park ground once and for all. The Tigers had previously been waterlogged numerous times, Meadow Park being their ninth ground. FC United can't even get one built. The Severn's floods almost wiped the club off the map on numerous occasions due to countless brief exiles and unpaid players walking out. Convinced they'll never be done over again, the current rainforest at Meadow Park plans to be rebuilt into some flood-proof barracks, and the worrying term "community stadium" has been coyly thrown in there—early promises of a soulless San Generico-type ground, perhaps?

Glaaaaaarstar won the SPL play-offs to find themselves at their highest level yet in latitude as well as prestige. The furore of such a southern outfit playing in the North half of step 2 has been much-bitched about, and subsequently forgotten about now the obscenely southern Bishop's Stropford have joined us. The pain of travelling for the rest of us has been lessened slightly by Gloucester's latest exile bringing them slightly up north to Cheltenham Town's place. Personally, Following the Shaymen prefers West Country cider to Home Counties Pimm's, so an away day is an away day, unless it's an away night in the mid-winter with an assignment to hand in the next morning.

The ground

Sources 1 2 3

Sources 1 2 3

So, it's a ground a few of us can remember from the pre-Sat Nav age. Cheltenham's unit will look much more abandoned with 500 or so Gloucestrians and Haligonians dotted about the place, wondering what their younger selves would've thought of this, but there could surely be a way of rehearsing the Town choir after this season's longest trip.
Meadow Park is pictured in part for posterity. The 21-year stay there gave Glaaaaaarstar a fairly brief identity of their own. It will however be a good few years before the Tigers next have something to roar about (a parish periodical-standard pun right there).

The town

Cheltenham was the home of the Tories' choice composer Edward Elgar, a football man himself who once wrote a piece inspired by watching Wolves play: proving somewhat that supporting yer local team has never been very well embraced. All evidence points towards Cheltenham being as southern as fook: horse racing, natural springs, Michelin-star eateries, cultural festivals, a French-named district containing millionaires' townhouses, and being voted as a decent place to live. If we can't afford to assimilate for the day then we may have to be our own tourist attractions.

For the ambitious, cross-country trains meet Cheltenham from Leeds and occasionally Manchester Piccadilly.

Will we need to segregate?


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