As a Bristol City fan, this was the game of the season I was most anticipating as we welcomed Manchester City to our Stoke Gifford stadium for a lunchtime kick-off. The game was also being broadcast live on the BBC.
Even though most of us didn’t expect to take anything from the match, we were looking forward to seeing our good friends from the Manchester City Supporters Club before the game. Some of our Bristol City Women’s Supporters Club members met for a pre-game drink, including one of our most dedicated fans Justine, who regularly travels from her home in Belgium to support the girls. She was also at Boreham Wood midweek to see us lose our Conti Cup game 7-0 to Arsenal.
Once inside the ground, we passed our popular Gateman, Martin, aka ‘Mr Vixens’ who has virtually seen every home and away game since our first against Doncaster Belles in 2013.
The Stoke Gifford Stadium was swelling with a very good crowd of over 1,200, including players and fans from teams from as far afield as Yeovil and Royal Wootton Bassett. As we passed Lionesses’ legend Laura Bassett, she was more than happy to pose for a photograph.
I was also delighted to hear that that one of our promising young players Katie Robinson had been selected to start her first WSL game in place of our Scottish striker Abi Harrison who had just been unfortunately sidelined for the rest of the year with an ACL injury.
The game itself was a predictable win for Manchester City, although I felt 5-0 flattered them slightly, especially as Bristol City more than held there own and were fiercely competitive for over an hour against a team full of household names such as Steph Houghton, Tess Wullaert and the fit-again Ellen White.
Today was all about the fans as many young Bristolians got to see their Lionesses heroes up close. Personally it was a terrific atmosphere and our singing section it was one of the best atmospheres I have been apart of as we rattled through our entire repertoire including chanting the hapless Abi Harrison’s name and singing songs about most our players. We debuted our extremely original ’12 days of Vixens’ Christmas Carol, which contains the names of most of our team, including manager Tanya Oxtoby, and was written by one of our supporter’s club members.
It was pleasing to receive messages from people who enjoyed our singing and we even got a compliment live on air by Wales manager Jane Ludlow who was commentating for the BBC.
As the players left the field we got to present a cheque of £125 to Steph Houghton from our supporter’s group for the Darby-Rimmer Foundation which was well received and also got to donate food to the Bristol Foodbank which was doing a collection today.
Our final act of the afternoon was to meet up with the lovely folks from the Man City Supporters Club to discuss the game, exchange our pin badges and pose for a photograph with both groups. It was an eventful and enjoyable day, apart from the result. As well as hearing that a young female Man City fan who was treated to the game as birthday present had arrived at the ground at the original kick-off time of 3 pm when the game had ended, although she did get to meet Ellen White and get given some Man City goodies which hopefully softened the blow of missing the game. Meanwhile, Justine got to take back to Belgium the pleasure of seeing Bristol City score 0 goals and concede 12 in 2 games, the wonderful life of being a Vixens fan!