“That’s why they call it the Blues.”
Simon Wright looks ahead to the weekend game at Edgar Street against visitors Bishop’s Stortford.
It’s been a few years since we’ve played a League game with a club from Hertfordshire. February 2018 to be precise.
Bishops Stortford or the Blues as they are often called, have a 24-man squad packed with unfamiliar names from the London circuit, including a few which will test our commentators’ skills. They feel almost foreign compared to the National League North where it is common for players to move from club to club. I recognised more names in the Anstey Nomads squad than theirs.
Stortford have serious history. They were the first club to win both the Vase and the Trophy So much so they will be celebrating 150 years of existence next season. Being a member of National League North is not new to them, their precedent was set back in 2010-2012, after which a way was found to join the other lot. Despite their long history, step 2 is the highest level the club have ever reached. The town from which the club takes its name has a population is 35,000 of which around 700 attend matches next to the airport.
The Isthmian league Champions had a major reshuffle last summer with 15 new arrivals – nearly as many as Hereford. They have one of the footballing Ekpikeka family in central defence, this one is Marvel Oghentega Peter Edet who is related to the Ekpikekas at Blackpool and Carshalton.
On the road, Blues have lost narrowly to Chorley, Spennymoor and Brackley but grabbed a 1-1 draw at Gloucester. Their form follows what you might expect from an outpost – they struggle on the road because of long coach journeys but are generally stronger at home because the visitors are the jaded ones. The Blues most often have a tight defence apart from the night goal shy Rushall turned up in Herts and somehow scored four times. They don’t score too many themselves with 33-year-old midfielder Ryan “Spider” Charles scoring over half their total of 7 goals. Suspicions that their defence can leak was reinforced in a home 3-3 FA Cup tie against lower league Biggleswade.
The Blues are a bit different. Manager Steve Smith has Graham Turner similarities as he also owns the club, or 70% of it anyway. At the age of 66, he’s also a director of 9 other businesses, nearly all builders. What is it about builders and football clubs in our League – Farsley, Buxton and Peterborough Sports are also owned by cash-rich builders – are we just paying too much for our building work? Smith is adamant his club is in good shape financially. We must take his word and assume the £418.000 debt showed in their latest accounts is due to him.
Reinforcing the message that the Blues are different is the presence of a former England test cricketer Ronnie Irani. To save bothering Google, he played test cricket between 1996-99. Nowadays he’s on the board of 12 companies and sounds very busy but even so, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that keen village cricketers Stig and George have installed indoor cricket stumps in the boardroom.
Usual appeal…be at the Street if you possibly can. That your club needs you is becoming more strident and urgent these days.
You can purchase tickets via the official club link: