The next opposition in our 2023/24 FA Cup adventure sees the Bulls take on the Lillywhites of Cambridge City, who are now mid-table in Step 4. In fairness, their plethora of Cup matches means they have played fewer games than most, so their league position is probably false.
Maybe worth noting that City have also won their last 3 away games, all in the FA Cup or Trophy albeit against modest opposition. Also interesting to see they had a scheduled Tuesday night home League four days before they visit the Shire, and beat Rugby Town 5-0.
Our visitors have battled through three rounds to play us and they are one of only four clubs from the Extra Preliminary Round to be still in the competition. The draw wasn’t too kind to them as Hereford are their fourth consecutive away tie. Thus far they’ve beaten Hadleigh United – actually beat them twice as the first game was abandoned with City 3-0 up, then went to defeat one of the Biggleswades followed by Leighton FC. Scored 11, conceded 4.
City, whose home colours are black and white hence their nickname, haven’t had a home to call their own since 2013. They were evicted from Milton Road, a venue Hereford United old lags will remember visiting during 93/94 in the FA Cup. Since then, they’ve had to groundshare and are currently tenants at St Ives (that’s the Cambridgeshire St Ives). Nine years of exiledom is not good for business. Average gates in 22/23 were 217 and thus far this term, they’ve dropped lower still. Sharing a gate six times bigger at Edgar Street is bonanza time for them.
Land worth £370,000 was purchased in the Cambridgeshire village of Sawston back in 2014 with the intention of building their new stadium. Predictably, there were so many obstacles to overcome that their opening day was repeatedly put back. They currently hope to open this Christmas. The family of the largest shareholder and 17-year veteran Chairman Kevin Satchell have donated a seven-figure sum towards the building cost. He’s not a builder but not far off as his company rents and maintains real estate. Incidentally, the second largest shareholder is the Cambridge City Supporters Trust who elect one board member.
Club manager is Robbie Nightingale, in charge since 2016 and is a former player and mascot.
He’s still registered as a player at the age of 42 and did come off the bench in an earlier FA Cup game. At this point, there’s a sharp reminder about football can’t always be divorced from real world events. Robbie’s Dad Phil, a dedicated City fan himself, died earlier this month and the funeral is next Wednesday. A tough time for anyone.
His squad are quite well established with 13 retained from last season, all with quite modest footballing cv’s. No former EFL players here. Headline summer arrival is 25-year-old Stefan Broccoli. Apart from being packed with vitamins and antioxidants, the small but powerful midfielder played for both Arsenal and Newcastle United’s Academy. He then played for 4 years in Italy’s Serie D. He’s mentioned frequently as their main man in the middle. Hopefully, Jordan Lyden will take charge.
Senior squad members are 34-year-old goalkeeper Joe Welsh for whom life’s been good so far. There’s also follically-challenged Scott Bridges. My clear memory of Bridges during his 7 years of Royston was being one of the largest and most aggressive players I’d ever saw in Step 3. He reminded me of a ZZ Top band member wearing football boots. But he’s 35 now so hopefully no longer quite such an influence.
At stake is Cup progress and the difference between the £1,800 going to the losers and the £5,600 for the winners. It’s a tad unfortunate to be at home with three straight Saturdays becoming a bit of a strain on the wallet, but be there if you possibly can. Supporters through the door keeps our club going.
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