It’s a harsh comment because their people are a friendly bunch yet going to Alfreton still feels like a parental threat. “If you don’t behave yourself, I’ll take you to Alfreton.” Especially in midweek as the attendance fills just 10% of the ground and the pubs will probably be shut afterwards. This is our fifth visit to the Impact Arena as Hereford FC where we are still waiting for our first win. We drew 3 and lost one of the four. Its 2018 since we last defeated Alfreton anywhere.

Alfreton have scored 17 times in their first seven home games – that’s way higher than Hereford’s total home AND away. The Derbyshire side are also missing key players. Top scorer Matt Rhead won’t play until 2024. If your side is scoring over 2 goals every home game, then few supporters will complain how they do it.

I watched several Alfreton videos and their play still revolves around Adam Lund’s long-throws, keeper Willis’s long kicks and basically everybody’s deep crosses. Their wide players are still quick and the home side aren’t afraid to shoot from distance. If you’re a defensive opposition player you will be in for a busy night. Billy Heath is the second longest serving manager in our division so nothing is going to change soon. Rather comically, Macclesfield’s Robbie Savage made much of the 41-page dossier his club has assembled prior to their FA Cup meeting. That’s comic over elaboration. If you can deal with 90 minutes of bombardment and ideally not have your penalty saved as Macclesfield did, then you have a good chance. It’s that simple. And you won’t lose 3-1 as they did

As we know the Reds made the play-offs in 22/23 but are only one point ahead of us this term. But for them it’s a cul-de-sac. Because their support is so limited, there is no great financial bonanza for any knock out matches and the club can’t afford promotion anyway. Alfreton are victims of punching above their weight. Last time manager Billy Heath got a small unfancied club into Step One, he resigned within weeks. In their current state, the Reds can’t go any further forward. They are based in a not very prosperous town of 20,000 people where Derby County or Nottingham Forest lure football lovers away most Saturdays.

Every summer, another group of mainly experienced and mainly large players join Alfreton. The latest crop of 14 new faces includes everyone’s favourite substitute Kenny Digie. He’s 26 and with his 13rd club. Thus far surprisingly, 6 foot 3 Digie is a regular starter in central defence.

The Reds do have another six-foot 4 inch striker apart from the injured Rhead. I know, I know, surprised me too. Not. Jake Day’s been around a bit on the Northern circuit though strangely has only played the target man role once this season. Something feels fishy when the Alfreton top scorer is barely six foot tall. Lewis Salmon must leap very well. He’s 21, ex Nottingham Forest and has six goals already. Keep up that ratio of goals and he’ll be back in the full-time game in January (though he may be crocked at the moment.)

In their last game, the Reds had a bad day at the office. They lost 3-0 at Gloucester, had 7 yellow cards plus defender Nathan Newell and Billy Heath sent off. Most unlike Alfreton., cough.

If you are travelling to the game, admission is £15 adults, £10 concessions. It’s cash only on the turnstiles. How quaint. If you can’t be there, don’t worry as the BBC Hereford & Worcester and Radio Hereford FC crews will both keep you informed. Or you could buy a stream. Most of your fee goes to the Bulls.

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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