Gloucester City are a semi-professional football club based in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, currently playing in the Southern League. Their current manager is Tim Harris, who is an ex-goalkeeper and assistant manager at the club. The club celebrated its 125th anniversary in March 2008. The club was badly affected by the Flooding of Gloucestershire in July 2007 with the stadium under 8ft of water. Due to the flooding, the club are currently playing their home games at Cirencester Town's Corinium Stadium.
The club are the longest serving members of the Southern League, with a record of 68 consecutive seasons competing within the league.
After the end of the First World War in 1918 most of the players who had been with City joined Gloucester YMCA. By 1975 they had assumed the name of Gloucester City and become founder members of the Northern Senior League. In 1934-35, after winning both the Cup and League, City turned professional, joined the Birmingham Combination, and moved to a new stadium in Longlevens. They won the Tillotson Cup for being the best club in the Combination, and then had former Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Reg Weaver blow away all records with his 78 goals in the 1937-38 season. Moving on, in 1939 the club played Southern League football for very the first time, albeit in a restricted wartime competition as they took part in the west section.
After the war City rejoined the Southern League and have been members ever since. The competition was fierce and it was no surprise that it took until the 1955-56 season for Gloucester to taste success with their legendary 5-1 League Cup victory over Yeovil Town after losing the first leg 1-4. For three consecutive seasons, 1948-51, the club reached the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, each time losing to League opponents: Mansfield Town (1-4 away), Norwich City (2-3 home) and Bristol City (0-4 away). The attendance record was set at Longlevens in 1952 when Stan Myers scored both goals to beat a full-strength Tottenham Hotspur side 2-1 in front of 10,500 spectators.
Although Gloucester City were promoted to the Southern League Premier Division in the 1968-69 season, it was generally a barren spell in the club's history.
In the 1981-82 season a sixth place finish was enough to clinch a place in the reformed Premier Division. They were also runners-up in the League Cup, going down 1-2 to Wealdstone, who included future England captain Stuart Pearce in their ranks.
Despite Kim Casey scoring forty goals, the club were relegated back to the Midland division in 1984-85.
In 1986 Gloucester City moved grounds again, this time to the Hempstead area and Meadow Park. The Horton Road ground became a housing estate which now boasts the names of City legends: [Stan] Myers Road, [Dicky] Etheridge Place and [Ron] Coltman Close amongst others.
In 1988 Chairman Geoff Hester wanted to appoint a new manager and after an exhaustive search found his man: former Aston Villa and Wales player Brian Godfrey. The new manager went about trying to assemble a squad capable of fighting their way out of the Midland Division. Lance Morrison, Steve Talboys, Wayne Noble, John Shaw, Nigel Green and Brian Hughes were among those who walked to the Championship, but the most important signing came just before Christmas when Chris Townsend joined from Cheltenham Town. "Towner" went on to score thirty goals to leave his mark on the club. It was a very competitive league, and although a look at the final table would suggest that City strolled to the title, it was actually the penultimate game of the season at King's Lynn's The Walks Stadium that saw them crowned Champions.
The next big achievement of the Godfrey years was the famous FA Cup run to Cardiff. Mangotsfield United (4-0), Barry Town (2-2,2-0), Folkestone (1-0) and Dorchester Town (1-0) all came and went before City suffered heartbreak in the replay after being 2-0 up at Ninian Park with just five minutes to go.
Then, in the winter of 1990, Gloucester saw its' worst snow in many years and when the thaw came the River Severn overwhelmed all the local flood plains. The knock-on effect of the Sudmeadow flood saw incredible scenes at Meadow Park as the pitch was submerged under four feet of water, and the whole ground was out of commission for over a month. The first game back at Meadow Park, however, saw City defeat Gosport Borough 9-0 with "Towner" getting five.
The 1990-91 season was one of the most exciting ever seen at Gloucester. It all started when Geoff Hester stepped down as Chairman and was replaced by Les Alderman, a Bath based businessman. Godfrey had held on to most of his squad from the previous season, and had been able to add several quality players to it. Jeff Sherwood (£15,000 from Yeovil Town), Phil 'the Fish' Troughton, Derek Dawkins, Keith Knight (£7,000 from Reading), Jason Eaton (£10,000 from Bristol City), and Steve Fergusson and Brendan Hackett (£25,000 from Worcester City) were just some of the signings that bolstered the squad. Due to the previous season's Cup exploits City had been made exempt until the fourth qualifying round where they faced Farnborough Town away and lost heavily 1-4. Little did they know then what an important part Farnborough would play in the season as we fast-forward to the last match away at Bromsgrove Rovers...
On the previous Tuesday Gloucester had needed to beat VS Rugby at home to go top of the pile, but could only manage a 2-2 draw, so it was all on the last day of the season at the Victoria Ground. Farnborough headed up to Atherstone needing to win, and went 0-1 down in the first half to the delight of the thousand or so travelling City fans. Just when the City game looked as though it might end in stalemate, substitute John Freegard got his head to Jeff Sherwood's long free kick and minutes later had won. In the meantime Farnborough had scored, but it wasn't enough. City fans were on the pitch celebrating the Championship and promotion to the Conference, but all they had heard were premature radio reports from Atherstone: Farnborough had actually scored a winner three minutes before the end of the game and they were promoted instead of Gloucester City.
Into the 1991-92 season, one that promised to start where the previous one had left off, and the bombshell hit City that Les Alderman had left the club. The squad was ripped apart: Fergusson and Hackett went to Telford United for derisory sums; Lee Rogers and Jeff Sherwood went unpaid, took the club to the FA, and forced a transfer embargo. Then Brian Godfrey was sacked, and replaced by his assistant Steve Millard. Ollie only lasted three months in what was a disastrous spell that saw him hardly keep the same starting eleven and basically have to start from scratch after Geoff Hancocks and Brian Hughes left the club in support of Godfrey. In February Brian was re-appointed to the hot seat and started to turn things around again; however, everyone knew that the title challenging days of Alderman were a long way off. The club survived the next few seasons under the guidance of Chairman George Irvine, but even the Roaduser boss knew that the Tigers couldn't continue this way. The club had crippling debts and were about to fold when former Moreton Town F.C. owner Keith Gardner stepped in.
With Gardner came razzmatazz as he did wonders for Gloucester City with his magical PR machine! Gardner sacked Godfrey again and appointed former Cheltenham Town and Trowbridge Town boss John Murphy as the club entered possibly the most exciting period in their history. Keith did more than his fair share of work in putting Gloucester City on the map, some would say he did too much! He made a deal with Carlsberg Tetley that enabled the City to buy the old Fieldings club and football pitches. To be fair he turned the whole 'Meadow Park' area into a footballing center, and he had a great idea to develop the ground into an all-seater stadium and add a leisure centre, ice rink and all weather pitch. His ambitions were matched on the field too, after seeing the club get by with local players, talent was brought in from further afield and the Tigers became a force to be reckoned with. Dave Porter only played a handful of games but will be remembered for the part he played in the 1-0 victory over rivals Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road in 1994. However it soon became apparent that Murphy didn't have what it took to turn a good side into Champions and was sacked in March 1996. Former West Ham United and Bristol City striker Leroy Rosenior took over and had to virtually rebuild the team from scratch after most of the players walked out in the wake of Murphy's dismissal.
Dale Watkins was signed from Rushden and Diamonds for the 1996-7 season, with Adie Mings from Bath City and record signing David Holmes being persuaded back after the Murphy furore. This formed one of the most potent front lines in non-league football and it was no surprise to see the Tigers beat all comers. Despite having to play manager Leroy Rosenior in goal against Kingstonian in their first game in the FA Trophy, City managed to reach the semi final before being beaten by Dagenham & Redbridge. The cup run proved to be a thorn in the side for City as they had to play three games a week to claw back games in hand and eventually lost out to Cheltenham in the race for second spot (after Champions Gresley Rovers had been denied promotion due to the state of their ground).
Since then City have struggled to keep their heads above water and the clubs weekly playing budget was slashed. Considering that the club had seen just four different managers in the 1990s (Brian Godfrey, Steve Millard, John Murphy and Leroy Rosenior), the turn of the century saw another three come and go. First Brian Hughes tried his luck in a move that was very popular among the majority of the supporters. He didn't last as the playing budget was cut and this proved to be the catalyst that saw the club relegated. Then Tommy Callinan took over in a player/manager role, and left at the end of the 2000/01 season. The third to try his hand was Chris Burns, who remained manager until January 2006. He was tempted back to Meadow Park from Forest Green and brought with him a largely untried bunch of young players to fit in with the very limited wage structure. It took the side a while to find its feet, and they had some real setbacks too (namely the 1-7 home defeat at the hands of Bedworth United), but gradually began to look the part.
As the management bandwagon rolled on, just before Christmas 2000 Meadow Park was struck another hammer blow when the River Severn burst its banks for the second time in a decade. This time the flood water did more damage than before because it reached just under seven feet high, and also managed to get inside the changing rooms ruining whatever stood in its way. The club was unable to hold matches at the ground for more than six weeks as the environmental health inspector ruled that due to the filthy content of the water, Meadow Park wasn't fit for public population. The lack of revenue for the club almost saw it go under and it meant that due to non-payment of players several walked out on the club. This was added to a contract dispute with ex-squad-members Niblett and Wigg, and meant that the club couldn't offer contracts to players.
However, in November 2001 ex-director Colin Gardner returned to the club to take over the Chairmanship. Working hand in hand with the Supporters Club, together they settled with Wigg and Niblett and lifted the contract restraints imposed by the FA. On the pitch things were looking up with new manager Chris Burns moulding his former City youth team into a force to be reckoned with. A mid table finish surprised many, especially those that had suggested that City would finish in the bottom two.
If ever the feeling that the club was bouncing back, then the 2002-03 season proved it. Off the field, a deal was struck between the club and Eamonn McGurk, where the latter bought the ground and took on the majority of the clubs debts. Financially, the club actually made a trading profit for the first time and were within reach of wiping out all of the historical debts. To add to the upturn, on the field Burns' young team upset a lot of the more fancied challengers, brought on some of the younger players and reached the quarter finals of the FA Trophy. The run included memorable victories away at league leaders Merthyr Tydfil, then two fantastic wins at Conference sides Woking and Southport. Sadly, Aylesbury United of the Isthmian League proved to be too big of a challenge and City bowed out. In the league, a fifth placed finish was a remarkable achievement and a great stepping stone to launch a challenge for the future.
The 2003-04 season saw further progress with the Tigers finishing second in the Western Division and gaining promotion to the Premier Division. At the end of the season, Colin Gardner stepped down as the highly respected Chairman, and Ken Turner took over in an acting capacity. Ken continued until he was forced to step down from the club in July 2005 for personal reasons. Chris Burns resigned as manager on 2nd Jan 2006, Neil Mustoe took over as caretaker-manager, but the permanent appointment of Tim Harris from Merthyr Tydfil was made.
In July 2007, Gloucester City's home, Meadow Park, was affected by the Gloucestershire flooding that engulfed the county. The club was hit with almost 8 feet of water, almost submerging the crossbar. This picture shot the club to national attention by both the media and football supporters around the UK using internet forums. This has caused many of the club's supporters to start a donation fund to help the club. Corby Town donated a significant amount of money to this donation fund. In the first game after the flooding occurred, Western League side Frome Town donated £300 to the fund. The club's home friendly against Bath City was changed to Bath's Twerton Park with all gate receipts going to the fund.
The club now play their home matches at the Corinium Stadium at Cirencester Town. The club used Forest Green Rovers The New Lawn stadium in Stroud for the 2007/08 season. The club had received offers from former tenants Newport County, Cinderford Town and Slimbridge.
The club had played at Meadow Park since 1986. The ground had a total capacity of 4,500 with a 560-seat stand. Other than this the ground is terraced and 80% is under cover. Following the floods of summer 2007, on 22nd July, Meadow Park was almost 9 feet under water. A combination of a lack of insurance due to previous flooding (this was the 3rd time in less than 10 years that the stadium had been flooded) and contamination by sewage water, the club had no choice but to abandon the ground.
The club currently play at Cirencester Towns ground The Corinium Stadium. The club are attempting to relocate back to the city but have been scuppered with several attempts. A groundshare with local county league side Quedgeley Wanderers, who play around 4 miles outside of the city boundaries, was rejected in November 2007 after the Wanderers' board and the local Parish rejected the proposal. Hopes of a groundshare with Gloucester rugby club's Kingsholm stadium was also rejected by their multi millionaire owner Tom Walkinshaw. Gloucester Rugby Club also rejected plans to move to a new purpose built 20,000 seater stadium in a derelict area of the city nicknamed "The Triangle" near to the Railway station. Both the rugby and football club were earmarked to use the facility.
In the mean time "the Tigers" will play the 2008/2009 and possibly the 2009/2010 season at Cirencester. The ground has been deemed good enough for the Blue Square Conference South/North should Gloucester win promotion.
|1978/79||SL 1 North||38||18||8||12||76||59||44||7/20|
|1977/78||SL 1 North||38||14||8||16||68||75||36||13/20|
|1976/77||SL 1 North||38||18||4||16||70||81||40||10/20|
|1975/76||SL 1 North||42||13||9||20||49||78||35||17/22|
|1974/75||SL 1 North||42||13||8||21||55||75||34||17/22|
|1973/74||SL 1 North||42||10||6||26||52||81||26||20/22|
|1972/73||SL 1 North||42||18||7||17||55||64||43||9/22|
|1971/72||SL 1 North||34||8||8||18||46||61||24||14/18|
As of 29th August 2008
Cheltenham Town - This is the most fierce and causes the most hatred from City fans. Due to the near proximity of Cheltenham to Gloucester the rivalry has been alive for more than a century. The first of these matches were played in 1900 and since then over 150 matches have been played between the two (100 in League Football). However, recently matches between the two have declined due to Cheltenham's rise in the Pyramid System. This infuriates fans of the club due to the chance that Gloucester City could've been promoted instead of Cheltenham if they had beaten Salisbury City, however City lost 3-1 and Cheltenham were promoted due to Gresley Rovers (who won the league) ground not being to a sufficient standard for Conference Football. Hence last league game between the two was in 1997.
Merthyr Tydfil F.C. - As the city of Gloucester is very close to Wales, any time a Welsh team travels to Gloucester high tensions arise. However the match that is most anticipated by City fans is the visit of Merthyr Tydfil. In fact City have played Merthyr Tydfil more times than any other team (only second to Cheltenham with the clubs meeting 122 times). The clubs' first contest was in 1946 and since then the clubs have mostly been in the same division, with the only exceptions being in 5 periods (the longest of which being 4 years) with them not being in the same league. In the past intensity between the clubs players and fans has been high off the pitch but now thankfully these have calmed down with mostly a friendly rivalry between the two. In recent years the clubs have become even closer with then Merthyr manager Tim Harris leaving the club to join City with many high profile players too. These matches are also known for the vocal battle between the two sets of fans.
Forest Green Rovers - Even though Forest Green are located near Gloucester the same rivalry that City have had with Cheltenham is not present. Only recently have Forest Green shot up the Non-League ladder and quickly surpassing City in the process by only spending 14 seasons (spread over 80 years) in the same division as City. Also only until the late 1980s were they seen as a 'force' in Gloucestershire Football, therefore a rivalry has not been able to build. Only 40 matches have been played between the two. Now relationships between the two are very well with Forest Green players often coming on loan to City. This rivalry is not held with much importance to City fans.
City also share rivalries with Bath City, Newport County, Cirencester Town and Worcester City however these aren't felt as nearly as strong as they do to the main three mentioned. Historically Barry Town were major rivals of the Club. However due to their departure from the Southern League this rivalry is no longer.