After uplifting performances and results against Kidderminster Harriers and Chester at Edgar Street, next we face title favourites Chorley on Saturday, 5th January. Losing to the Harriers at Aggborough today will have knocked aspirations back a little, but having secured five straight wins at Edgar Street the Bulls will go into the game with a totally different mindset from that shown two months ago.
Chorley FC is a Lancashire market town, close to Wigan and Bolton and is best known in the Shire as being the birthplace of ace photographer Andy Walkden. Their club was founded way back in 1875 but 8 years passed before they realised their ball looked more like a local pie than a football and really didn’t bounce well … another club who belatedly realised there can only be one Beautiful Game.
There is a United connection in the Chorley ranks – Josh O’Keefe – one of our players who soldiered on without pay during our desperate Conference days. He’s a first team regular with over 100 games behind him.
Chorley manager Jamie Vermiglio is a former Magpies player with 200+ games behind him. He apparently played a whole season with a slipped disc… and it was those back pains which made him retire at 32. Jamie is now 36 and was previously assistant manager for the past 3 years. He now has two assistant managers of his own and two female sports therapists. During the day, he is a Primary school headteacher. He has two children of his own and mentions his days have 27 hours in them regularly on his twitter feed. He’s quite clear that teaching is his priority and if Chorley do turn full time in the next 3-4 years, as has been mooted, then he may be leaving. For that to happen, Chorley will need to be established in Step One with higher gates. They’ll need to continue pulling in disillusioned Bolton supporters.
Chorley are Play-Off regulars, without ever quite getting over the line. The lowest they’ve finished in the League over the last 5 years is 8th. Twice in that time frame they reached the Play-Off Final and lost. In last season’s Play Off they won at Stockport before losing to eventual winners Harrogate. This season they are scrapping with Bradford for the automatic spot.
Just a few pointers on the current Chorley squad.
Goalkeeper Unwin is on loan from Fleetwood. Admittedly he is on his second loan spell but even he’s played around 80 games as a loanee which is stretching the rules rather.
Magpies Captain is Andy Teague, 32, with 350 appearances for Chorley. He’s part of a 5-man defensive unit who play together in almost every game and have the best defensive record in the League. (As of Dec 26.) That line-up changed recently in a bit of a throwback to our Didcot days and players with lurid histories. Regular Chorley defender Courtney Meppen-Walker served 8 months in 2012 for causing death by dangerous driving, He was 18, a Man City player and driving a Merc at 60 in a 30 zone. He was caught in late 2018 being twice over the drink driving limit and his case hasn’t yet reached court. Press speculation that if found guilty he’ll be doing more time. Chorley are sticking with him.
The guy with the hair on the subs bench, you’ll know straightaway who I mean on matchday, is Dale Whitham. Even though he’s only 26, Dale has made 360 appearances for his club.
Up front, Chorley don’t have one main goalscorer. Almond, Wilson and Carver have between 6 and 10 each. Carver scored three in total during their Christmas away wins at FC United and Curzon.
On Boxing Day, members of the Chorley Supporters Trust completed their annual walk to an away ground. The 18 mile walk to FC United was to raise money for homeless people and to boost their own funds. The Trust are fund raising so they have immediate dosh if the club is up for sale. They believe .. quote coming up.. “Fan ownership is the best way to guarantee a long-term future for the club they love.”
At one stage, Chorley had a nine-point lead at the top of our League. Our League game at Chorley came during their all-conquering period. We weren’t so bad ourselves then in the last days of Peter Beadle. We’d won a few games ourselves and were thinking “Step 2 isn’t so hard.” Hereford defended for most of the match and thought they’d got away with it, only to concede a very late goal.
Later Chorley had a bad patch. Their dip is attributed to key players being injured, leading to the Lancs club becoming vulnerable at set pieces. They went out of both Cups in the space of 4 days, Stocky beating them 3-0 in the Trophy and Donny Rovers slaughtered them 7-0 in an FA Cup replay. They started the FA Cup game without 3 players due to suspension and then a sending off completely stuffed them.
Chorley have only lost two away games this season – to Stockport and Bradford. Drawn a few and won seven times including 5-0 at Ashton, 4-0 at Kiddy Harriers and 4-1 at FC United. This will be a tough game.
There’s an extra reason to get to the Chorley game – the new Talking Bull is on sale. Only 3 clubs in our League produces a fanzine and TB is the most frequent by a Herefordshire mile. As usual, we have more new writers to boost our grizzled old lags. I haven’t yet seen the final line-up but I believe Dear Uncle Rob is back and a programme seller has confessed his sins. Just £3 for Hereford’s best read anywhere. Listen out for our sellers in Shire Las Ramblas behind the main stand.
Chorley comfortably beat FC United of Manchester 4-0 on New Years Day, and will arrive at Edgar Street full of confidence having regained top spot from Bradford Park Avenue with a two-point lead and a game in hand on their nearest title rivals.
The Bulls narrow defeat at Kidderminster will have deflated recent confidence boosting victories, over both Chester and the Harriers at Edgar Street, but Chorley look set to be extremely tough opponents.
Make sure you are at Edgar Street to support the team – and make sure you get your hands on the new issue of Talking Bull which will be on sale outside the stadium on Saturday.