We take a look back at the Talking Bull archives from the more recent past, as mid-season during the 2016/17 campaign many Hereford supporters claimed they would not watch the Bulls until they faced “stronger opponents”.
Hereford FC merely winning games wasn’t good enough. Winning in style was expected and there was a common theme that Hereford needed to be playing much stronger opponents. Well, now we are and funnily enough that much stronger opposition means we don’t win every week. Oh and Villa aren’t so funny any more, claims Simon Wright.
For decades now, I’ve maintained a healthy but entirely rational dislike of Aston Villa. Their kit brings on some form of nausea for me (which perversely makes watching Westfields at home rather unpleasant). Local media are routinely castigated for their bias for their headline stories. All business trips to Villa Park are immediately declined and all self-catering which involves staying in a Villa are discarded.
Ask supporters of other local professional clubs what they dislike about Villa supporters, and chances are that arrogance will be mentioned within the first minute. In the last few years, the Villains have had lessons in humility as the club maintains their new image as the gift which keeps on giving but before that … “We’re the biggest club in the Midlands”… “we won the European Cup”… “we deserve to be in the top six”… “we’re better than you…” On and on and on with tedious variants on a theme. Think Manchester United with a Brummie whine and you have it. Those were depressing monologues, blinkered and just simply arrogant which doesn’t make for good relations.
And yet .. and yet in recent months, I’ve become horribly aware of Villa-like pronouncements around Edgar Street. Yes, we’re celebrating success and our thoughts are often factual. It’s obvious our club is a salmon in a garden pond. When we outnumber opposition supporters on their own ground in every single league game to date, that is unnatural.
So too, that at time of writing, we’re unbeaten all season and unbeaten away in the League since the first month of our existence. It’s natural to discuss and celebrate our achievements. That all said, I’m conscious these observations can be interpreted differently by outsiders. We’re in the uber polite and welcoming Step 4 so generally this isn’t a problem, but umbrage is taken when others object. And of course, it’s hard to be humble when the opposition team can’t wait to get on the Edgar Street turf with their phones to take selfies and tweet excitedly about the “amazing atmosphere” when Hereford supporters are muttering how quiet the old place is again.
We expect our team to win every game. That’s every single game. Just to win is almost not enough now. That’s unhealthy for any team and even more so for their supporters. Such a mindset leads to even more unrealistic expectation. It’s not so perverse that I ultimately enjoyed the draw at North Leigh more than any routine victory. It meant more. I invested more so gained more.
Basically, we all need a new challenge. Everyone has enjoyed the rare winning mentality at Edgar Street, but there comes a time when any routine becomes less appetising. However much I look for positives within their squads, the vast majority of large village/small town Step 4 clubs just cannot compete with us, Cup Final mentality or not. They have more pride and more fitness than in the League below so rarely cave in completely. But there aren’t many real contests.
Roll on Step 3 be it in the South or North.
Slightly bigger clubs with bigger fanbases and finances. Harder, tougher games.
Time for some humility for us, methinks.
Images: North Leigh FC