After two excellent team performances, at both Fylde last Tuesday and at Southport on Saturday, Hereford next take on the “Away Day Kings” Chester at Edgar Street.
Can the Bulls secure another double over a promotion chasing side? It was Fylde last week, so why not Chester this Tuesday under the lights?
Welsh-playing club Chester and ourselves are fairly evenly matched rivals. Both with chequered histories, reformation and with very similarly-sized support. Equally, there are differences. Chester FC find ways to bring in nearly £1 million each season, despite being 100% supporter owned and being quite open about how they spend their money. Their playing budget is just under £700,000 which I presume is far larger than Hereford’s. In fairness, we must add that the City of Chester is prosperous and twice the size of Hereford with its 118,000 people.
Over the last 3 years, despite all the uncertainties and covid, Chester FC made £113,000 profit. Their board used the surplus funds to start a contingency fund and increase the playing budget. Chester train 3 mornings a week on their own new purpose-built training facility in their own city, alongside their Academy team. That’s an envy-inducing position.
Their manager is the youthful Callum McIntyre, just 28 years old, promoted from his full-time job running the Chester Academy. Callum is nearing the end of the first year of his two-year contract with a mandate to improve on last season’s 16th spot.
He’s been brave moving several of his Academy charges into the first team squad though some don’t look old enough to shave. They also secured the signing of striker Kurt Willoughby, a regular scorer who has already found the net some 23 times for the Seals. If Chester aren’t promoted this summer, he probably will be.
Chester have sat in a play-off spot for most of the season. They went 17 games unbeaten before losing to Spennymoor in early February. They’ve drawn too many games and their home record isn’t brilliant. The manager is frustrated that chances are created but not put away. That was the tale when Hereford played in the Principality at the start of the season. We pinched those points having been on the defensive for most of the game thanks to Luke Haines’ late spectacular. With hindsight, the victory that night was one of our most impressive results of the season until recently.
Chester’s away form is amazing. The best in the division. Eight wins including at Kings Lynn and Scarborough, eight draws including points at both Brackley and Fylde and just one defeat at Peterborough Sports. They have now amassed an 18 match unbeaten run on the road this season. 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. A repeat would be ever so welcome.
On a Saturday, this would be one of our more appealing fixtures with a healthy away following, but it’s a midweeker.
It’s our last scheduled home Tuesday night game (we hope).
We know it’s difficult for many, but be there if you can. Nothing like live football.