The Bulls latest loanee is 21 year-old Jack Joseph Melhado. He’s older and wiser than an academy recruit and may yet prove to be an inspired arrival. That he looked completely comfortable on his Hereford debut against Darlington probably owes much to his extended loan period at Telford last season. Melhado played 15 times, including a visit to Edgar Street in a Lillywhites shirt. Hereford won as they always do against Telford. The Shropshire club needed defensive reinforcement following Zac Lilley’s ankle injury and were sufficiently impressed to extent Jack’s initial month-long loan. Small world.

Loaned from the over abundant talent bank at Salford City, right back Melhado just might be a longer-term option for Hereford FC. He is midway through the last 6 months of his two-year pro contract with Salford City and with only token appearances in the Micky Mouse Cup is effectively serving notice of impending redundancy. His family base in Stoke meshes well enough for our training sessions in Walsall and games in the North. With ‘Skip” Hodgkiss missing a chunk of last season and suggestions of an even longer absence this season, his prospects of another deal this summer at the age of 36 look dim. That’s unfortunate but as the saying goes in American Football “next man up.” Continued decent performances for the Bulls may make him next man up in the summer, depending on who is doing the choosing.

Just like Hodgkiss, our new arrival learnt his trade at the Wolves Academy. Unlike Hodgkiss he didn’t bail out at the first opportunity but was released aged just 16. Jack had to participate in the meat market, the second chance trials for the many hundreds of cast-off hopefuls.

For Jack his chance came at Loughborough in front of 100 scouts. Talking to a Sky reporter, Jack’s mother Lisa said; “He’s been really quiet all morning on the drive here. He was released by Wolves before Christmas, where he’d been for nine years, and he was devastated. Football is all he’s ever wanted to do.”

Like Hodgkiss, Jack then saw salvation in signing for Albion. His Albion was the Burton variety, and he couldn’t make his mark in the six months he was there so had to take the hard way back to fully paid work. He joined his local club Newcastle Town. A certain Ryan Mclean was a teammate as Jack went on to feature in 19 games.

A loan spell at neighbours Hanley Town gave him more serious pitch minutes before covid took over. However, someone must have noticed the young full back or central midfielder as in July, Salford City offered him a two-year full -time contract after a weeks’ trial in April, plus an undisclosed fee for ‘Castle.

The Newcastle Town gaffer Robin Van der Laan has made much of his ability to develop young talent and get them back in the pro game.

Melhado offered the usual optimistic words around his signing. “First and foremost is to get myself in and around the First Team, then take it from there really. My aim is to get in there, give it my best and see what happens” In reality, not much happened other than being loaned out regularly, like his Salford teammate Mo Touray.

Most of his new Hereford FC team-mates have similar tales of previously being overlooked to share.

We welcome Jack.

Compiled by 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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