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City up against it in the numbers game
11:30am Wednesday 5th December 2012 in Sport
HAVING covered hundreds of football matches over the years, it is fair to say little surprises me any more.
Yet when Chester scored their first goal last Saturday, I have to admit the noise from the crowd took me back.
It’s not that hearing supporters cheer a goal is new, of course it’s not, it’s just that the spontaneous eruption of 2,500 fans is not something myself, or anybody who watches Worcester City on a regular basis, is used to.
Take the memorable sound of City snatching a winner in front of the dressing room end at St George’s Lane, and double it.
It was great, too. A welcome change to the muffled applause of places like Vauxhall Motors.
Unfortunately for City, it was a noise they heard three more times during the Blue Square Bet North clash, which Chester won 4-2.
I appreciate how daft revelling in such a crowd size may appear to those whose staple diet is the Premier League — it’s barely the length of the pie queue at most grounds — but at City’s level, it really is a rarity.
Only seven other clubs, Worcester included, have broken the 1,000 barrier this season and nobody has come close to matching Chester.
To put it in perspective, their lowest gate (1,853) is nearly 500 more than the highest of Halifax (1,382), the division’s second-best supported club.
For the record, City attract the fifth best attendances in the league and are averaging a healthy 873 at the Lane, a figure set to rise when Halifax visit for a mouth-watering encounter this Saturday.
That is certainly something to be proud of.
I mention all this because this is what City are up against.
Nobody is doubting the strides they have made, and are continuing to make, but Chester are, almost literally, in a different league.
What Worcester would give to be in their position.
There is a definite gulf between the Deva Stadium outfit and the rest of the play-off zone.
Chuck in the financial clout of fellow top three sides Guiseley and Brackley — who both incidentally attract half City’s average gate — and Worcester are more than standing their ground.
Manager Carl Heeley knows how well his team are doing in that respect but is wary of people expecting too much.
He said: “By all means have optimism and I’m as positive a person as you’ll find but it’s got to be realistic.
“I’d love to see crowds like this (Chester) at Worcester City but it’s what dreams are made of.
“We’re going in the right direction because there was a time when we’d have come to Chester with a defeatist attitude and not had a go.”
Heeley added: “We had a right good go last Saturday and were undone by two moments of quality and that was the difference between the sides.”