We make many decisions in life, one massive choice is which sporting team we will pledge our allegiance. The moment we make that final choice we accept the up's and downs that will be thrown our way in exchange for our devotion.
As Bath fans we've certainly had our fair share of the roller coaster of emotions, from the Heineken Cup to relegation, but the big or small issues still arouses our passion.
This season has already tested us, the Gary Gold saga was a major test of our commitment; a great draft of players, the team suddenly clicking and getting results, Gary Gold moved upstairs to DOR leaving Mike Ford to take the helm as head coach. All in all looking good for Bath, as supporters we had plenty to coo about, then from nowhere the news Bath and Gary Gold had parted company. A bizarre situation that sideswiped the majority of the Bath faithful, but as all passionate fans we eventually move on (not completely happily) and keep the faith in our beloved team.
A true test for any avid fan is when you get a multitude of issues cumulate at once, and in the last week there has been an abundance coming at the Bath rugby community.
- Thursday we were handed the news that Bath would not be allowed more ground to redevelop the Rec.
- Friday we had the loss to Sale Sharks featuring the now infamous "scrum gate".
- The latest news has aggravated the season ticket holders and raised a recurring subject, price reductions on tickets to draw more fans to the games.
The now infamous scrum fiasco- courtesy of @onsideimages
It's hard not to dwell on a game where so many things happen that cause a team to lose. It's fair to say that Bath certainly didn't make the most of the opportunities that were handed to them, yet Sale and Cipriani certainly took their chances. It could be easy to blame George Ford for missed kicks, but it's a team effort and the loss can't be put upon his shoulders. If the points had been scored then Bath would of been comfortable winners, even though potentially being the weaker team in the first half, but one man can't shoulder a teams blame.
What we did witness in the game was the biggest scrum farce ever seen on a professional rugby pitch; 5m scrum leading to 7 penalties to Bath, 2 resets and a yellow card for a future Bath player Henry Thomas, but no penalty try! The letter of the law states that a scrum must be moving backwards to be deemed a try scoring opportunity and thus awarding a penalty try, with Sale continuously collapsing the scrum it didn't allow the scrum to move backwards....so no penalty try. Dean Richards should of looked at this sensibly and common sense should of prevailed, Mr Richards should of dealt with this accordingly and awarded a penalty try as Sale were spoiling purposely, to top it of he did even indicate after the fourth penalty he would award a penalty try after the next one.......but as we all know he didn't.
Hindsight is a fantastic thing, the only thing we can use from it is to possibly learn from it and move on, onwards and upwards as they say.
One of the most painful issues for Bath fans comes with the Rec itself, for what seems to be an eternity Bath have wanted to redevelop the ground and give the team a ground worthy of their stature. Bruce Craig has stipulated from the moment he took charge that unless Bath got the redevelopment he would consider, at worse case scenario, to move away from the Rec. With the Rec being such an iconic ground, set in the most stunning of back drops in the premiership nobody wants to see Bath leave.......well Almost nobody!
Hopes and belief have been slowly brewing that the proposed 16000 capacity ground could actually happen, always sceptical but always hopeful. Plans drawn and released for public viewing, could this be the moment we had all been dreaming of............sadly no! No more space is to be granted to Bath Rugby to create a far more aesthetically pleasing stadium, so for the time being the NIMBY's are once again winning.
What's next for the ground? Bath aim to appeal but worse case scenario leave the Rec, leaving it as almost dead space, other than Bath Rugby how much does it really get used? If Bath Rugby move to what detriment will it have to the local economy? An example of the effect is the Royal Oak in Widcombe, with the loss of the rugby in Bath they could face to lose £70-80k a year, think of the other watering holes that take great bonus' from match day- The Boater, The Pultney Arms, The Pig and Fiddle to name but a few.
I for one and also probably joined my a huge army of Blue, Black and white Faithful hope Bath win the appeal and not see nearly 150 years of tradition disappear.
One large contentious issues that keep arising is one for the season ticket holders, ticket offers to help push sales and help fill the ground. Games on Fridays and Sunday seem hard to fill (take note BT Sport).
Sundays game against Brive isn't covered in the season ticket package, so season ticket holders have to buy the tickets as do non season ticket holders. The tickets are offered to STH before members and then go on general sale, this is to allow them to be able to guarantee their normal seat, the seats they have secured for the whole season. This offer to them would seem as an advantage for them and rewarding them for continuing support to the club, in actual fact it isn't an advantage and could been seen as a punishment. Due to the STH getting the first call on tickets it also means they have to pay full price, only for a week before the game to see ticket offers with a reduction and undercutting the price they have payed. A prime example is the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter final against Brive this Sunday, one season ticket holder payed £28 to get her seat she sits in week in week out, now as it's a rerun of the 1998 Heineken Cup final in which Bath won the club are offering the tickets for £19.98. With all of the Friday night and Sunday games this season many STH are finding it ever increasingly difficult to get to the games, and if they travel added expense for possible accommodation is added. So a club that is wanting to build a bigger ground with more seating is actually punishing the people who religiously support the club.
I for one am a fan of ticket offer as it does offer fans who ultimately can't always afford to go to the game a chance to see their team live, but reimburse the STH accordingly as they ultimately are the backbone of the crowd. It is quite a big issue and I feel the club need to sit up and listen to them, as many fans are now contemplating not renewing their ST's as they feel it could be more cost effective to buy the offers. We all love the club and that's why we keep coming back and wearing the clubs colours with pride, but don't bite the hand that feeds you.
It is safe to say we all want to see a brand new ground in exactly the spot it is now, filled with adoring fans all cheering on the Bath Boys and becoming that 16th man! Let's hope our dreams do come true!
Big thanks to Patrick from @onsideimages for supplying the photos