The Bulls uplifting, and yet unsuccessful, performance against Darlington on Saturday will need to be just as positive if they are to gain anything from their upcoming National League North encounter at King’s Lynn next Saturday. 

The Linnets are endeavouring to gain promotion back to the National League following relegation last season, and always seem to find a way to beat Hereford, even when the Bulls are in form.

Simon Wright takes a look at the Bulls’ opponents.

Oh dear.  Its far easier to find reasons not to travel to Lynn.  Here’s a list:

* A slow 350-mile expensive and tiring round trip in December

* Highest admission prices in the League

* A venue where the Bulls have never won

* Hosts unbeaten at home in the League

* Segregated with no riff raff standing visitors allowed near a bar

* A home club partly Russian-owned

* Visitors on the road 7 Saturdays out of 8.

* Hereford errrm are “struggling for form.”

* And just to make sure … let’s have a 12.30 kick off. That’ll stop ‘em.

That’s a lot of ticks.  Admittedly not all are Lynn’s fault.  Their manager Tommy Widdrington may not have said to his squad “we need to stay unbeaten at home to encourage Hereford supporters not to come.”  and yet its Kings Lynn. There’s something of the night about this lot and thus I’m more open to listening to Linnets conspiracy theories than elsewhere.

If I had to blind guess which National League North club is backed by Russian money, I’d have instinctively said Kings Lynn and I’d be right.  Admittedly, there is no mention of links to the Kremlin but the club do have a new co-owner. Stephen Cleeve’s Russian wife Polina, 17 years younger than her husband, now owns one third of the football club.  She’s also vice-chair and the other half of the board.   Not many club boards have the opportunities to stage meetings in bed.  Polina must be the only woman in the UK to give big money to a football club, other than Delia Smith.  The rest have more sense.

After two years of struggle in Step One with high prices in a low wage area, some of the Linnets faithful have lost interest. Average gates are down 16% on what is already an embarrassingly low supporter base for a full-time club.  The promotion hopefuls now average an unspectacular 988, a figure below rock-bottom Telford, unfashionable Chorley and even Step 4 Halesowen Town.

The stay-aways have missed Lynn winning 6 straight home games prior to their Trophy penalty exit, averaging over 3 goals scored per match.  If they won’t turn out after that, when will they?   Remember Hereford FC season tickets could have one ticket for their big cup game.  For their second-round FA Cup match, Lynn season ticket holders can have 6 each.  King Lynn’s population due to recent growth is now not much smaller than Hereford at 49,000 though the residents are far more cosmopolitan. It has never been a football town.

Lynn’s balance sheets show a deficit around £286,000, mainly the balance of the loan they had to take out during covid.  The position would be far worse had the club assets (ie what Lynn owns) not increased massively by £630k in a year. I’m presuming that Mr and Mrs Cleeve have bought the land on which the club stands.

Manager Tommy Widdrington has been around a bit. Over 400 appearances as a player, including 75 with Southampton in the top flight plus long spells with Grimsby and Port Vale. He’s been a manager since 2010 and the Linnets are his fifth club.  He is full time as are his team.  They train in Cambridge. Rumour has it that he asked for and got 12 overnight stays this season.  The manager takes some of his family with him on the overnighters – son Theo plays in midfield though is currently injured.  His other son Kai is otherwise engaged as a dancer on Strictly..

What a big advantage so many overnighters offer a full-time club.  I hear from Scarborough that for their midweeker fixture, Lynn travelled up the day before and were resting on matchday while most of the home players had to work. Probably not surprising that the visitors looked fitter and were able to recover from a 3-1 deficit to draw 3-3.

Here’s an optimistic end thought.  Timing matters at this level and our visit follows on from their live FA Cup Second Round 3-0 defeat by Stevenage.  You might call it the Pompey Effect.  Can we catch them cold?

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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