They might be a couple of games away from Wembley but Bath football are still the city’s ugly ducklings.
But 25 years since a previous visit and Twerton Park looks barely different. It’s sort of reassuringly unvarnished. Fairly ramshackle, engagingly old-fashioned but a painful contrast to the pristine, gleaming middle-class moneybags mecca right in the middle of town.
Still, at least they’re in a cup semi-final and North Ferriby this coming Saturday in the first leg of of the semi-final look beatable on paper and Bath have already knocked out ex-tenants The Gas, Altrincham and now, Dover. Ken Loach should make a film about it.
The founder of Bath was once a swineherd (and father of Shakespeare’s King Lear) whose charges were miraculously healed of an ailment by rolling in the mud of the Avon.
Maybe playing at Twerton has rubbed off on this side who are currently playing like kings in the FA Trophy and relishing it like, well, pigs in muck.
That even translated to the back-up players drafted in for Tuesday’s Conference South game when Farnborough were thumped 7-4.
Road to Wembley?
As for this quarter-final well you’ve got to turn up for the first half at least and Dover didn’t. Perhaps they’d fallen off the white cliffs en route.
A great cross was whippped in for Steve Pratt to glance a header home to chalk up the first and beefy bearded lunk of a centre-half Chas Hemmings headed the second and maybe a crater opened up where he landed. Two-up in 29.
Hemmings then took a free-kick shortly after and, having last seen a centre-half score a free-kick in 1992 (Ronald Koeman) it looked like the goal had gone to his head.
But, fair dos, he thundercracked it at the crossbar from 25 yards and it was nearly game over.
Tyrone Sterling pulled one back but even after Bath had Naby Diallo sent off with five to go, they didn’t threaten enough even after throwing on ex-Cardiff City £250,000 signing Solomon Taiwo.
A crucial difference for neutrals was that Bath keeper Mellor commanded his box and his shorter oppo Mitch Walker was uncomfortable all night.
The right outcome then and after years of hand-to-mouth existence Bath fans, who are trying to buy the club, have something to shout about.
We may yet see pigs fly.