This is the second of four straight matches against North East clubs, happily three of them are visiting us. And Shields get the short straw, travelling to play us for a Tuesday night fixture. That’s hard work for them even if their squad members don’t have other jobs.

With both clubs playing their fourth game in ten days, fatigue and squad size will be key. It’s worth emphasising that fatigue doesn’t just build up from playing. Our squad need to train too and most will be travelling 20 hours or more during that period. All of top of the day job and for some parental duties too. Our squad will be fully tested. Happily, Tom Pugh is with us until the end and Topper Obadeyi is an experienced addition.

For a well-funded full-time club like Shields to have a poorer away record than Hereford is difficult to justify. When their home form slumped as well, manager Julio Arca was sacked. Their on-the-road record of 3-4-6 is modest. Could easily have been worse had not two late goals turned a potentially embarrassing defeat at Bishops Stortford into their first three-point result since November. The club owner Geoff Thompson who has famously donated £8 million to Shields over the years is recovering from a serious illness and has sought the right buyer since mid-October. Is the uncertainty about the next owner and the next manager owner impacting on performances on the pitch? Can or should a new manager be appointed before a new owner? That’s tricky. There are also rumours circulating that Shields will become part time next season though that surely depends on who is in charge by then.

Their acting manager is Elliot Dickman, brother of Lewis Dickman who was interim manager of Spennymoor until he was sacked recently. Their Dad is Jonjo Dickman, a former pro football for Darlington. Is there a collective noun for Dickmans? I ‘ll leave everyone to come up with their own word. Meanwhile Elliott is 45 years old and has worked in Academies and U23 teams – mainly at Newcastle and Sunderland- since 1995. Leading a first team is a very different challenge.

Do watch out for their 25-year-old striker Paul Blackett ex Spenny, Gateshead and Hartlepool. He’s currently one of the division’s top goalscorer with 15 in 25 games. Such a scoring rate will surely mean he will move on in the summer. Of last seasons’ top 10 scorers, only one didn’t transfer.

A Tuesday night in January doesn’t sound too appealing but its Caddis’s very likeable bunch in action. See you there if possible, to see the first ever home game against South Shields.

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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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