Up for the Cup with the New Boys!

Solihull Moors are up for the cup in Hereford this Saturday, a club founded only in 2007.  ‘Founded” is the key word here. There was no previous club history for this fly-away club, unlike ourselves, no misty-eyed headline FA Cup action to bore grandchildren with.

The Moors are a pragmatic pairing of Solihull Borough, a Southern league side who owned their ground but had no support and their reluctant tenants Moor Green, forced there by two arson attacks on their ground which razed basically everything. The Moors were THE Non-League side in Birmingham. They were the nearest club to my former home and so I watched them occasionally. I still have dim memories of a Southern League game against a quaintly named side Forest Green Rovers. Whatever happened to them?

The merged club had grown rapidly to now claiming the status of the biggest Non-League club in the West Midlands. In status terms there is no debate as they are the only Step One side in the patch. The downside of that of course is the absence of local rivals – Hereford could easily be their nearest competitive game all season. Not to mention this being their first ever blood and guts encounter with an Edgar Street club.

Our opponents currently sit in joint fifth place and are very much in form. They’ve lost only 2 of their 11 League games (no Cup games yet of course) and ominously not conceded for over 3 games.  That’s obviously without their central defender Reiss McNally who they felt comfortable loaning out. Poor guy. Reiss will be in a difficult position this week if either manager asks him for inside information.  The loan probably came about because of Josh’s links to Solihull assistant manager James Quinn.  Both men are Coventry born and bred and were at WBA at the same time so may have car shared?

The Moors have scored an impressive 17 goals with one of their midfielders Joe Sbarra with 7 to his name. (By the way, the Radio Hereford experts believe the S is silent so its pronounced Barra.) That’s nearly double the number of League net-busters from the entire Hereford squad.

Solihull probably have as many directors as the Bulls have contracted players – 15.  No doubt they all contribute mightily but decision-making with so many bods must be time-consuming. In what is a very large and well-funded organisation, the club employs 15 staff.  There’s a big Academy, ladies teams etc..

The feeling remains though that Moors are an artificial organisation, punching well above their station because of the ambitions of one man with deep pockets, Darren Eales.  Their last accounts in 2020, in mid-Covid, showed a deficit approaching £3 million.  Since then, of course, they’d played another full season with no attendances and changed their Gaffer twice.  Still, to their credit, the Moors are a CIC social enterprise. Which means should the club ever fail, all remaining assets would go to the local community, not into anyone’s pocket. I’m sure the Rover factory and the cargo-port will be very grateful.

The plane spotters average around 1,500. On one hand, that’s a desperately poor figure for Football league aspirants but on the other, it’s a massive increase from 2007 with their zero-fan base. Entry prices are reasonable for Step One, indeed they are cheaper than some Step Two clubs.  Question of needs must really.  Moors are a little bit stuck, status wise as the National League is stuffed with ambitious clubs, some of whom have massive funding. Success is very hard to achieve.

Would be remiss not to mention Bandwagon fanzine, the Moors online fanzine who were in perfect isolation until I introduced them to other editors. They are now extremely briefed about Talking Bull. They didn’t get a choice in the matter. Proper zines use paper and shout a lot, guys.

Josh will need a cunning plan to win this one.  A cunning plan beyond what Step One managers can devise.

The odds for me very much favour the visitors, but as Radio Hereford’s Frank Williams was too polite to mention, what do I know?

I repeatedly predicted a heavy defeat at York.  So just ignore me, buy a ticket and be there.

Simon Wright

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