I have no doubt our club will travel to the Scottish border with the best of intensions. Yet human nature will play a big factor. For some of our squad, Blyth means a quite ridiculous 20-hour day. The team coach leaves Edgar Street at 6.30am so our South of Hereford members will be cursing a 4.00am or 4.30am alarm clock. Even for fit young men, that’s a big ask at any time but when there is nothing on the game, that five-hour coach journey (on top of driving to reach the coach) that fatigue factor is multiplied.
The last game scenario. Seen it so many times before at every level of football. When a club need a result against one who doesn’t, the outcome nearly always goes with the needy side.
There will be Hereford players making their last appearance. Loaners returning, retirements, the non-contractors and those who aren’t expecting another contract. That group may not be offering 100% effort. No-one wants to pick up an injury in the last game. Holidays coming up, the need to make extra trips for physio etc. Or even worse to be off their feet when their football club aren’t paying them. If a wide-eyed, desperate opponent is diving in, you’re getting out of the way. Human nature or arguably plain common sense.
Our new Gaffer will be there though I doubt his presence will be a galvanising factor. He’s been around the block and understands the laidback nature of the last game at the end of a marathon season. Bar possibly a few “not sures”, he’ll have already made up his mind who he would like to re-sign. He’ll be looking for examples of leadership, organisation and winners to underline his thinking and recent video overload.
The scorer of the first goal will set the tone. Pretty much if Hereford go behind, they stay behind. If the Bulls score first, Spartans young squad may panic. The Bulls have won here on their last four visits. Spartans have only won one of their last 9 home games and have scored even fewer goals than their visitors. Their last win was a 1-0 scramble over Kettering in February, a result which might look very important at the end of the season. Or not.
Survival is not in Blyth’s hands. They need Farsley to lose at Spennymoor or Kettering not to win at Kidderminster to survive if they do win. Or builders currently working 15-hour days at Peterborough Sports not having their work signed off by the end of this month.
The Spartans top goal scorer walked out on them after Easter which really doesn’t help their cause. The new Top man – it’s comparative – is the splendidly named Nicky Devardics, a veteran midfielder with 30,000 minutes play on his clock. He has nearly twice as many cards than goals to his name.
Let’s be plain, if the Spartans are relegated for the second time in their history, it will be because of their poor performances over the season, especially at home, not their last day result. If they do stay up, they only face another year of struggle and another joyless 9 months. If Blyth beat us and stay up at the expense of horrible Kettering, then that’s a result of sorts for us. Two of the horrible brigade (Leamington being the other) out of the way at once feels an uplifting prospect.
If you are travelling for our last hurrah, then do be discreet. Emotions are going to be raw around Croft Park and there is no need to irritate such warm and generous hosts. A last chance to say thanks to Yan and Kev for doing their best with our incomplete jigsaw squad.
See you there?
Blyth Spartans v Hereford | Vanarama National League North | Blyth Spartans AFC Web (ktckts.com)