Here is Part Two of our Hereford Christmas Previews as we look ahead to what appears to be a tough set of fixtures. On top of the usual crowded schedule, all our opponents are all top six sides chasing promotion – albeit Kidderminster are doing their best not to chase too hard. We have our first return game of the season, doing battle again with Chester and have two matches against the only side we have yet to play – the Harriers. Somewhere among that lot, we need to grab some points to keep us out of the bottom three and to boost morale. To stay up, we need to average 1.26 points per game for the rest of the season.
Since 2012, Kidderminster’s operating model is a full-time playing squad, funded by developing and selling their own or buying cheap, selling long. Although Harriers are selling a couple of players every year for decent dosh, they continue to run at a loss which the owner must pick up. Neither have Harriers escaped from Step 2, partly as they are permanently having to replace their key men. As best I can understand, this is the model that Tim Harris aspires to introduce at Edgar Street, so it will be interesting to find out how Tim can do things differently.
The Kidderminster owner is a former Hereford United player. Ex Bulls go on to do many interesting things but not many own football clubs. Colin Gordon owns 75% of Harriers and all their bills. His new idea is to relocate Harriers to a new ground on the basis “they can’t be a community club stuck in the middle of a housing estate.” I suppose there is some logic in there somewhere. His dream is a ground in use seven days of the week, generating support and revenue so I guess we’re talking a 3G playing surface.
Kidderminster average 1,600 supporters but if their current home form continues, those numbers will be dropping. Famously, they lost 4 times in a row including defeats by relegation strugglers FC United and Southport before beating Brackley recently. We’re all very aware what damage to morale is created by a run like that but we do have the excuse that we’re not full-time.
On the road, Harriers are generally strong with a few blips. Stourbridge beat them in the FA Cup for the second time in a few years. They only managed a 1-1 draw at Nuneaton. But they’ve won away four times including beating Bradford 2-1 back in October and only lost once – to Chester.
Listeners to BBC Hereford and Worcester will be familiar with the voice of Harriers manager Neil McFarlane. Neil is 41 and has no previous experience of Non-League or being a manager. Compare and contrast with our own Marc Richards who is often accused of not having enough experience…
In the Kiddy squad is a player we would have liked and another we used to have. Ed Williams is ex Cheltenham and ex-Gloucester but opted for the full-time football at Aggborough. Ed made the headlines with his goal scoring but his goals have dried up. Been stuck on 11 since October including missing a penalty. Not a bad problem to have. We’d love to have a player in double figures. Midfielder James Baxendale is a former Hereford United loanee. He placed once as a sub at Barnet in 2012. I ought to add that Keyon is a former Kiddy player.
Harriers previous main striker Joe Ironside is out of the picture now, and was recently loaned to York. Bit of a Kiddy reshuffle going on in December. Harriers loaned York 2 players and Halesowen Town 3 recently. Halesowen are very grateful..
Our home game on Boxing Day will be preceded by a supporters’ game at Victoria Park, competing for the Steve Millington Cup. The fans of both clubs are organising teams so why not pop along and give them support when the final details are known.
As regards the main fixture, Edgar Street should host its biggest crowd of the season. Harriers have been allocated nearly 800 tickets and if those are taken up, the old place will be pretty noisy.
The return fixture is on New Days Year and I’m not going to say much about Aggborough as its such a familiar venue to Shire folk. There was a friendly at the start of our second season and of course before that was the protest game.
Aggborough is one of the most modern stadia in the Division, albeit rather soulless. We have the modern, covered South Stand terrace with room for 1,500 plus and a few hundred seats in the new-ish Bill Greaves East Stand Blocks L and M. Prices ain’t cheap. Terraces are £15 for adults, concessions priced at £9 (over 60’s and students with NUS ID) with U16’s £3. Seats are a daunting £17 with concessions at £12 and under 16s £5. Children aged up to 6 are free of charge. Disabled supporters admitted for £10 and their carer free of charge. Wheelchair access available at base of stand. Just for interest, one of Harriers directors is a wheelchair user and she’s a champion for all local disabled people.
The food at Kiddy is simply beautiful. And an example to us all. If a Worcestershire club can offer quality food at realistic prices, why can’t HFC, squatting in the middle of a celebrated foodie county, do the same. Anyway, just take your pick of the freshly cooked range of hot dishes. The cottage pies are simply the best at any football club, so too the Aggborough Soup.
Car parking is convenience against cost. Spaces behind the away end are £5 (and do include a few blue badge spaces on the usual “first come” basis.) Parking behind the home end is £3 and there’s much more of it. Exit from either park will be slow along Hoo Road. An alternative are side streets off Comberton Hill (where both preserved and modern train stations are based.) or the huge Severn Valley car park which is handy for a quality pint. Or there could be some street parking on Hoo Road itself.
Doubt we’ll get into the Harriers supporters’ club bars. Pubs near the station are best. The King and Castle is the Severn Valley Railway pub. 8 real ales (Bathams and Hobsons are house beers) plus 3 still ciders. Or just down the same Comberton Hill Road is Weavers Real Ale House. A new micropub with 8 real ales and 4 ciders.
By Train: Highly do-able. Roughly 90 minutes each way from the Shire, due to changing at Worcester Foregate. From there, 5-10 minutes’ walk.
By Reg: £10 per seat on the coach. As usual visit Hereford Awaydays Facebook to book.