With three wins from the last four the Bulls entertain Chester in a far more bouyant mood. But, and there’s always seemingly a but when it comes to supporting Hereford, injuries in the striker department are a major concern.

Dan Jarvis has arrived on loan from Gateshead until the end of the season but he’s predominantly an attacking-midfielder rather than an out-and-out striker. It’s very doubtful that cover up front can be obtained before the Chester game, but with players chipping in with goals from across the pitch maybe Hereford can complete a double over the Seals this season on Tuesday night.

In our early season night game in Wales, I stressed that the Chester FC squad was an impressively young and talented bunch who looked set for a good season.  Their new and very young manager Callum Mcintyre formerly ran the Chester Academy and thus has a long-term relationship with most of the playing staff.

I also predicted the arrival of “King” Kurt Willoughby, a consistent North-West based striker would be key.  Think I called all those pointers spot on and yes, I agree that is a rare event for me.   After some early season wobbles, Chester sits comfortably in the promotion play offs spots and Kurt Willoughby is one of the Divisions leading goal scorers. By early January, he had scored 19 goals across all competitions.  Chester went to Scarborough and were the first side to beat ‘Boro on their own plastic pitch for over a year.   Most recently they forced a 1-1 at Brackley.

The Seals are unbeaten in 15 games. Their away form is very impressive despite including several players who surely haven’t started shaving yet.  Six wins including at Scarborough, six draws and just one defeat at Peterborough Sports.  They have the best on the road record in the division.  They are a counter attacking team, normally playing a 4-4-2 formation and clearly comfortable with the style.  Still, no Chester side has won at Edgar Street this century despite 6 attempts.  Our last meeting in Hereford was in November 2021 when the Bulls won 1-0.  Mind, I said the same about Darlington and looked what happened there.

It would be remiss not to mention that Hereford won by the same 1-0 score at Chester thanks to Luke Haines’ late spectacular.  In truth, we pinched those points having been on the defensive for most of the game.  With hindsight, the victory that night remains one of our most impressive results of the season to date.  And thanks to another suspension, there will be no Haines thunderbolt this time around.

Chester FC recorded six figure profits in 2021 which more than covered smaller losses in 2020 and 2022.  Full details of their accounts including full profit and loss accounts are on their website for anyone to admire.  Their playing budget is £690k and Academy spend £107k.  Contrast that with a club close to home whose board won’t even let shareholders see such figures.   An increase in Chester’s playing budget allowed the squad to move to day-time training. Chester train 3 mornings a week on their own new purpose-built training facility in their own city. That’s an envy-inducing position.

Remarkable isn’t it that fully supporter-owned clubs like Chester, Darlington, Scarborough and Banbury, all with democratically elected directors, can be at the top end of the table and still all make a profit.   There was a takeover bid for Chester in 2020 leading to a vote where the members declined the offer.  They’d had a long history of poor owners and didn’t want another.  Yet I’m constantly told by some supporters that the only way Hereford can progress is a generous wealthy individual willing to give his money away.  There is another way.

Having said all that, your club needs you so be there if you possibly can.  And if you can’t, do your bit by buying 50-50 or Golden Goals tickets online.

Simon Wright

By Editor

Lifelong Hereford supporter who has endured the rise and fall of the club through progressive generations. Sports journalist, broadcaster and commentator who will never forget his Edgar Street roots.

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