MONEY TROUBLE - SOME THINGS DON'T CHANGE
Bath City AFC began life not at their current home of Twerton Park, but in the compact Belvoir ground situated at East Twerton and now the former premises of Stothert and Pitt. The first manager was a Bristolian, Charlie Pinker, who possessed wide connections in Bristol amateur football circles and was able to introduce many players to the club, including the likes of Harry Grubb and Wally Osbourne, along with local favourite, Charlie Slade, who subsequently joined Aston Villa and Huddersfield Town. The advent of World War I saw the appearance of many service teams, together with their military bands who entertained the crowds gathered on the railway bank which flanked the ground. When the war ended a move was made to the Lambridge ground, tenancy being arranged with the Horse Show Committee and Bath City FC. The rental of £100 a year for the ground was considered exorbitant at the time, especially when the football club was debarred from playing on the pitch on the occasions of the Horse Show, which made use of a 'water jump' usually dug in the centre of the pitch. Flooding from the river Avon was also a liability, affecting many matchdays. The set-up at the ground included an ornate wooden stand which stretched almost the length of the pitch. Admission to the ground was 9d (3½p) and 6d (2½p) for the unemployed.
The first fixtures were played in the Western League against a mixture of West Country and Welsh teams, and appearing at Lambridge were the likes of Cardiff City Reserves, Cardiff Corinthians, Ebbw Vale, Mid-Rhondda and Welton Rovers. The reserve team, playing under the title of Bath City Amateurs, was managed by Joe Selman, who was instrumental in discovering much talent for the first team, including Reg Dabner, Alf Mountain and Jack Hulbert. In 1921, having made little impression on the Western League, City joined the Southern League, following the addition of a Third Division to the Football League. To help finance this move a Limited Company with £1 shares was formed under the chairmanship of Alderman A Hunt who was then chairman of the Bath Board of Guardians (the forerunner of the present Social Security). Other directors were Alderman Cowley, Clem Shute, Mr Francis and, latterly, Mr Walshaw senior. The secretary was Mr Abbott. The first player/manager of City's Southern League team was Billy Tout. Tout was a brilliant half-back and a member of the famous Swindon Town team which included Harold Fleming, whose religious convictions debarred him from playing on Christmas Day and Good Friday. Tout's team achieved reasonable success, finishing 11th (out of 19) in their first season, particularly impressive when 16 of the sides were the reserves of League clubs. In the cup success also came in the form of victories over Exeter City and Barrow. The match at Exeter finished 2-1, highlighted by a winning goal from Albert Woodward, who originally played for Bath rugby club and rugby league with Oldham, a tremendously fast player who came from a sporting family of footballers and boxers. At Barrow, City achieved a defensive 0-0 draw with goalkeeper Gilbert Read being the hero. The replay resulted in a victory at Lambridge by two goals to nil.
A thriving supporters club had been formed under the chairmanship of C H Moss (Guildhall), J Walker, secretary, and W Mustoe (Trams), treasurer. The raising of funds was a difficult task, the Lambridge ground coming under the jurisdiction of the then Somerset County Police, who precluded draws, raffles, etc. An instance of which was highlighted when a draw was arranged for a prize of a £5 note at a match, which was attended by an eager crowd (many unfortunately unemployed) who had neither possessed or seen such a document. However, the draw was cancelled by the police to the disappointment of all the participants. Billy Tout had, by this time, retired and the, ever present, problem of finance had again arisen. Public subscriptions were made and usually headed by a generous subscription from the Bath and Wilts Evening Chronicle. An internal adjustment had been brought about between the existing board of management and a 'takeover' committee, with gentlemen calling themselves the 'Five Jocks'. The committee re-engaged Pinker, then in the veteran stage, to manage the affairs, who with his usual aplomb gathered a team of amateurs from the Bristol district covering Hanham, Kingswood and St George.