Hereford have been handed a home draw against Vanarama National League South opposition Truro City with the tie taking place at Edgar Street on Saturday, 22nd September. After the superb cup exploits of last season, when the Bulls beat higher graded opposition on their way to a 2nd Round replay reverse against League One opponents Fleetwood Town, many Hereford supporters will be hoping for more of the same. However, Truro are desperate for the financial injection a cup run would bring. Simon Wright looks ahead with this Talking Bull FA Cup Preview.
Not a particularly kind FA Cup draw. We are at home but up against Step 2 opposition who have better results on the road, had a Cup run of their own last season and have a new manager to impress. Given our own current limitations, I fear this will be a close game. I hope we can take advantage of their disrupted season and their rocky status.
Our opposition have had a rotten summer. Their ground was sold in 2014 to a retail development company but with the expectation that Truro would have a new home to go to before the baked bean shelving went in. The developer lost patience with the continued delays and told the football club to leave this summer. Truro continue to pin their hopes on the multi-million Stadium for Cornwall which is a heavily Government and Local Authority funded Truro building project. City would share with a local College and the Cornish Pirates, who apparently are an odd-shaped balls team when they’re not pillaging or looting. The project won’t be completed for at least another season. Cynics suggesting a lot longer as both the Government and the Cornish Council are required to invest £3 million each.
Truro’s owner argued the football club had to go somewhere in the meantime. We think our club exists in isolation, yet Hereford is metropolis central compared to Truro in deepest Cornwall. There simply isn’t anywhere nearby to go which has the right ground grading. Thus, Truro now play their home games at Torquay, a mere 106 miles away. That’s a little like Hereford playing home games at Notts County. (Both Exeter and Plymouth are nearer but apparently neither needed tenants).
Coach travel is available at a reasonable-sounding £10. Even so, imagine the impact on attendances and the club cash flow. For two of their 4 home games so far, the attendance was 159. That fills one block in one stand at Torquay. Must be a horrible experience and its not surprising their home form is dismal with only 1 point out of 12. Poor form and poor gates are creating a vicious downwards spiral. With the winter to come and midweek fixtures, easy to see that figure dropping further. Truro City FC is simply not sustainable on those attendances.
Away from home, Truro are in quite reasonable form with a couple of draws before notably winning at Gloucester last Saturday in the “Exiles” derby. They got a lucky break when the Gloucester keeper made a mistake and then defended their lead. Overall, they’ve conceded 20 goals in their first 9 League games. That’s almost as many as Ashton. That first win with a clean sheet may be a turning point. Even so, Hereford is 220 miles away from Truro, that’s 4 hours hard driving in both directions. I think we can go easy on the hot dog ordering in the away end.
Truro manager Lee Hodges and his assistant Chris Todd. resigned after two games, which didn’t help the club cause. This just a few weeks after they’d agreed a new two-year contract. They left for “football reasons” whatever that means. The White Tigers made the Play-Offs last season and famously became the first Cornish side to reach Round One of the FA Cup for decades. They travelled to Charlton Athletic and lost 3-1. They were on the Up but clearly not any more.
The new man in charge is Leigh Robinson, formerly with Taunton Town. City, Tiverton and Taunton are an incestuous bunch with regular player and staff swapping, mainly because there is nowhere else to go. Travelling distance is a factor whether players can put up with Stupid, Very Stupid or Obscene amounts of miles in one season. New manager Robinson lives in Exeter, which is important.
The big point to note about the Truro players … and their old or new management is that they don’t live in Cornwall. They live in Exeter and Plymouth. Training is always staged in Exeter and the coach to away games runs from Exeter. The only time they visit Cornwall was for home matches. The fear for Truro supporters is that their club will merge with Torquay and there will no longer be a senior football club South of the Tamar. The Tigers Independent Supporters Association (TISA) point out that under the current ownership, the club have closed their social club and shut down the reserve team and the Ladies section. They see all the Cornish links slowly being destroyed.
Such is TISA’s desperation that they are pondering whether a voluntary relegation and a groundshare with a Cornish club is their best way forward. They aren’t convinced that Stadium for Cornwall will ever be built.
Over the summer, Truro have seemingly lost more talent than they’ve gained, again contributing to their fall from grace. Their big defender and Captain Ben Gerring were one of several first teamers to ship out. Easy headline here “Gerring is Gerring Out” (sorry!) Gerring moved to Billericay. However, the Moneybags XI loaned him back for a month as they don’t need him. Not clear whether he can play in the FA Cup. Incoming talent for 18-19 is mainly limited to five loanees, mainly from Exeter. Truro only have 15 players of their own. Again, may be questions about eligibility.
Let’s conclude on a selfish note. We do not want a replay. Torquay is obviously nearer than Truro but its still 150 miles in each direction. At night. At short notice. Big ask for both sets of supporters and our players. But if a replay should be necessary then well do our best to put a ground guide out at short notice.