15th hosts 18th for our regular evening soiree to Wales.
After a serious of heavy defeats there, we’ve got used to leaving the Principality with a smile on our faces. Last season, we pinched a 1-0 courtesy of Luke Haines’ late spectacular while the season before the Bulls recovered from being two down to win 3-2. Such drama is rare indeed generally across National League North where the most regular score seems to be 1-0. It’s the only score at Edgar Street. If you didn’t know any better, you’d suspect Tony Pulis manages 14 different clubs in NLN.
Season 22/23 went abruptly pear shaped for the Seals despite being unbeaten away for over 20 games. They lost their home Play-off match to Brackley and worse a section of their support invaded the pitch to get at the opposition fans. This action cost Chester a £5,000 FA fine. 33 of their own supporters were identified and received a lifetime ban.
Still, their supporters have rallied once more. Over 1,500 have bought a season ticket and 710 people donated to raise £116,000 via Boost the Budget. Average attendances are around 2,200. With those figures, you imagine Callum McIntyre’s budget is far, far larger than that of Paul Caddis. Chester’s squad train 3 days per week on their own purpose-built facility in their home city which is shared with their full-time academy.
The Seals added 7 new players this summer, all from higher leagues plus 3 young loanees. They now have 21 contracted players, one of whom Charlie Caton is on a two-year deal. Caton was on loan from Shrewsbury last term and was a regular scorer. He’ll need to maintain that in the absence of 22/23 top scorer, Kurt Willoughby now with Oldham.
Chester have retained the services of key midfielder Declan Weekes, mainly because he had another year to run on his contract. He’s been named as Players Player of the Year two seasons in a row. And to think he was a triallist with the Bulls a few years back.
And yet for a side who finished third last season, Chester’s start in 23/24 is as “low key” as ours. Admittedly they demolished Kings Lynn 3-0 at home (our battling draw in Norfolk isn’t looking so good now) and beat Farsley 2-0 on Bank holiday Monday but have scored only once in their other 5 games. Striker Charlie Caton was injured for a month but was fit enough to come off the bench at Spennymoor on Saturday and score. At home, they have 7 points from 9.
If you are travelling, be aware that Welsh passports are not normally required and admission is cheaper in advance. Seats only for visitors, tickets are £19 in advance. It appears tickets will not be made available on the day.
If you can’t make it, you can take a stream but make sure you nominate the Bulls, so that Hereford FC get most of your subscription fee.