The next challenge for Hereford will be Billericay in an FA Trophy 1st Round clash at Edgar Street on Saturday. Having beaten FC United of Manchester in the last tie the Bulls will be hoping to continue on an upward curve, and it will be fascinating to see how they fare against one of the front-running sides from the Vanarama National League South. Simon Wright looks ahead.
Football is often about timing. The rest of the Premiership like to play a big six club days after they’d travelled to an away European game. Passing teams will often find their skills nullified on a sodden pitch. And clubs who are going through change are vulnerable, as we learnt to our own cost.
According to the Non-League Paper, the Blues soap opera is close to an end. Owner Glenn Tamplin has done a runner, out of contact for 3 weeks and thought to be out of money for his plaything.
Most everybody already knows the headline stuff. Tamplin bought Billericay in late 2016 and has so far thrown £2 million at it. He sacked himself as manager twice, been investigated for gangster activities and is a born-again Christian. The club became Champions of their Step 3 League last season and looked likely for another promotion. Until recent events. A new owner has come forward and understandably, expects the weekly wage bill to drop from the ludicrous £22,000 to a mere £10,000. Nothing specified but you would imagine the recently announced plans to go full-time will be disrupted.
Already four players, including main goalscorer Jake Robinson, have left and more will follow. I do wonder with an away League match in midweek on top, how bothered Billericay players will be about their Trophy game in the wild west. A lot of miles, a lot of effort for a minor trophy just when many are thinking about their next move. As the manager said: “we have a large squad, and many are here just for the money.”
Billericay football club is nearly 140 years old. They’ve had success in their day, winning the FA Vase 3 times in four years but being at Step 2 with the Tamplin circus is something else. The Blues only had one previous season in Conference South and were relegated. We are talking a small commuter town of 28,000 folk, who are best remembered for a certain Ian Dury song.
Billericay are an acquired taste and have the same sort of criticism levelled at them as do Salford and AFC Fylde. Hereford also have had a taste of it in past year but the crucial difference is that Hereford’s income is earned through the turnstiles. not donated by a millionaire who may choose to turn the tap off at any moment.
On the positive side, the opposition make for an interesting Cup game. We must say thank you to our club for doing the right thing and agreeing with the visitors to reduce turnstile prices. Hereford is a low wage area and 6 home games close together in the run-up to Christmas is a stern test of financial loyalty. Its pleasing that our visitors have the 350-mile round trip to and from Essex. Let’s not even think about a midweek replay…
Moving on hastily. ….
Dean Brennan became new club manager in September. He’s certainly been around a bit. Played for 19 clubs, mainly in the South-West.
His squad did read like a Who’s Who of Southern football. Older guys – 14 of the squad are 29 or older with hundreds of games behind each man, often in the Football League. These are serious footballers who expect a certain remuneration and may not be hanging about very long.
Billericay are third in National League South, just behind Woking and Torquay. Woking are one of only three sides to beat the Blues this season. The Essex club haven’t lost away since the first week of September. But these are turbulent troubles and maybe Hereford can pull off a victory.