In Hereford’s first re-match of the season, we play in the shadows of Stansted, with a game against Bishop’s Stortford.

The Blues are having a miserable time and already their position does not look retrievable. Assuming they want to retrieve it. They are ten points from safety with half the season gone.

They need new talent to have any hope but who is going to sign for a bottom of the table side with long distance away games when there are easy alternatives nearby? Some new recruits have arrived, either young loanees or players with frankly bizarre cv’s who can’t afford to be too choosy. Such as 33-year-old striker Osman Sowe who has Swedish and Senegal ancestry. He most recently played in the Thai league. Back in 2016, Hearts sold him for £2 million to a Japanese club. As you would.. I guess he is quite used to travelling.

On paper their squad looks a little disjointed and lacking step 2 nous. Their top goal scorers only have 3 each. Still, Bishops Stortford are entitled to complain they should never have been in our league in the first place. The Isthmian League Champions are for sure victims of circumstances and unluckily for them after Oxford City’s unexpected promotion, there wasn’t a better answer at the time than adding a Hertfordshire club to the Northern circuit.

Although Stortford do have more miles to travel than any other in our League bar Blyth, they do have a motorway within a Curtis Pond kick of their ground. In terms of travel time, I think there’s an argument that we spend more time on roads than they do. I’d lay bets that their squad lives a lot closer to their ground than ours.

Our hosts were struggling when they visited the Street back in September. After our 1-0 victory, the Blues have only won once and haven’t kept a single clean sheet. Easy to imagine their morale is low especially on the road where they have only collected two points so far and taken several hammerings.

We need to be a little mindful that the Bishops have picked up most of their points at home. Yet they have lost seven times on their own manor with Rushall, Warrington and Alfreton scoring four times each. For me, we have to go at them. Score first and watch their body language change.

Hertfordshire is something of a novelty trek for us. Just the one previous visit, a key end of season game in Step 3 under Beadle. We won 1-0 on a bad pitch against a home side who only wanted to defend. Not the nearest venue being 180 miles away though it’s quick as it can be with the RDA Stadium just 3 minutes off the M11.

Based in depressing airport and service station wasteland, the ground feels very isolated at the back of an industrial estate. The large club bar is a rare haven of welcoming warmth.

The Blues average home gate is 552. That’s actually a decent sounding 20% increase on last season. Even so, must be hard to sustain a step 2 side with those gates. Manager Steve Smith 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. I assume he covers the deficit of £418,000 shown on the last accounts.

If you are travelling, admission is £15 adults or £10 concessions payable at the turnstiles. No mention of any segregation. Car parking is £3 and because everyone has to drive to reach it, spaces are limited. Just as a reminder, ground capacity is 4,000, mostly under cover. Hope to see a good turnout of London and Home Counties exiles to boost our numbers.

BBC Hereford & Worcester and Radio Hereford FC are covering the game as usual. They’ll endeavour to be word perfect with the more challenging names in the home squad come match day. Listen in if you can’t be there.

Simon Wright

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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