Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hereford United



Hereford United FC, who were formed in 1924 come from the catherdral and market city, which is located around fifteen miles east of the border with south Wales.

Up until 1924 there were four leading amateur clubs in the city, and it was agreed for a higher standard of football to arrive, they would need to amalgamate. Hereford City FC and Hereford Thistle FC decided to stay independent, but St Martins FC and RAOC (Rotherwas) joined forces to form Hereford United. The new club joined the Birmingham Combination, sharing an athletics ground at Edgar Street with City.

Crowds of around 2,000 were regular, leading to election to the Birmingham League in 1928. In 1939 'The Bulls' joined the Southern League to reinvigorate interest in the club. At the same time they became a limited company. Having reached the FA Cup Round Two on several occasions, United reached the next stage in 1959. Having deposed of QPR 6-1, which is a record score by a non league side against league opposition, they went down to Sheffield Wednesday in front of a record Edgar Street gate of 18,114. Former Leeds United, Juventus and Wales hero John Charles arrived at Edgar Street for a spell as player manager in 1966, which helped boost the attendances. FA Cup games saw the appearence of the club mascot, a Hereford Bull and the fans ritual before kick off off kicking a swede from the centre spot into one of the goals.





In 1972 Hereford finished as runners up in the Southern League, but under player manager Colin Addison, they put together one of the most famous FA Cup runs of all times. Cheltenham Town, King's Lynn and Northampton Town were all defeated, with The Bulls being rewarded with a third round trip to St James Park to take on the might of Newcastle United. They returned with a 2-2 draw before dumping The Magpies out in the Wednesday afternoon replay after extra time. Ronnie Radford scored the BBCs 'Goal of the Season' before Ricky George netted the winner.

To see the replay action, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnjEmscMDR4

West Ham United ended their fun in an Upton Park replay, but the real reward came at the end of the season as Hereford United were elected to the Football League to replace Barrow. In their first League season, Hereford avenged their defeat against The Hammers with an Edgar Street replay victory, before Bristol City won through in round four.





Promotion was won in Hereford's debut League season, and they went on to lift the Division Three title in 1976, with Dixie McNeil scoring plenty of goals along the way. However, their spell in the second tier lasted just one year. They did feature in one of ITV's more popular Sunday afternoon highlights, when they lost 4-1 at Craven Cottage to a Fulham team including George Best and Rodney Marsh.

To see the action, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC9uII1ymxE

Within a couple of seasons The Bulls were back in the Fourth Division, and there then followed a period of nineteen seasons without too much happening apart from a few changes of manager. Graham Turner arrived in 1995, and after a promising season, form dipped as debts mounted to £300,000. On 3rd of May 1997 United played Brighton & Hove Albion, who themselves had performed miracles to be in with a fighting chance of avoiding relegation to The Conference, in a match they had to win. A capacity crowd packed in to Edgar Street to see a late Albion equaliser relegate United.

To relive the game, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMQfTFPKtrM





Debts by now had reached £1M and the club was forced to enter into a CVA. In May 1998 Turner bought the club from Peter Hill who had previously saved the club. By 2002 the finances had deteriorated further, with only a FA Cup run and a live TV appearence against Wrexham keeping the club alive. The team also struggled on the pitch because of lack of investment.

Things gradually improved playing wise, with the team showing a bit more promise despite the need to sell their better players to make the books balance. They recorded a remarkable 9-0 away win at Dagenham & Redbridge in front of the Sky cameras. United reached the play offs on a couple of occasions, but they were defeated in the semi finals.

Finally at the end of the 2005-06 season Hereford returned to the Football League after a play off win at the Walkers Stadium against Halifax Town in front of 10,000 adoring Bulls. Turner had worked wonders behind the scenes and the club began to show a profit. A further promotion to the League's third tier was achieved in 2007. Their spell lasted two seasons before a return to League Two with former playing favourite Jamie Pitman in charge of team affairs after Turner sold the club and returned to his first club, Shrewsbury Town.

United's run in the League ended on the final day of the 2011-12 season when they were relegated back to the Conference. Richard O'Kelly took over from Pitman, to be replaced in turn by Martin Foyle in May 2012 as financial problems once again came back to worry the club. 

Hereford United FC will play in Football League Two in the 2013-14 season.


My visits

Hereford United 1 Scarborough 1 (Tuesday 21st October 1987) Division Four (att: 2,359)





I travelled to this game in Boro's first Football League season in the company of our wonderful driver Doomie, Mick Young and Crusher. With us all having a day off work, we visited several grounds on our way to the South West. Having called in at Burton Albion, Aston Villa, Walsall, Woverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and Kidderminster Harriers we parked up and went for a couple of pints.

The atmosphere in the pub was edgy. A local youth told us Boro fans were due to arrive at the station on a 'football special' shortly, which made us laugh! We got chatting to a lad who'd hitch hiked from Sheffield to get a new ground in. We took pity on him and as he was coming in the away end with us, Doomie agreed to take him back.

Edgar Street was a strange venue. We were placed in one half of the Blackfriars Street End. Like The Meadow End at the other end of the ground, this was a covered curved shallow terrace with flat standing at the front. To our left was The Len Weston Stand, which was named after a former club benefactor. It had a small terrace with seats directly above it, with the stand being very tight to Edgar Street behind it. An old covered terrace had stood their before United's elevation to the League. The final side was taken up by the Merton Stand. This stand had raised seating above boxes and offices and had been extended for League football.

The game was nothing too memorable. Boro came from behind to draw with a Colin Russell goal. Craig Short came on to make his League debut playing up front. No-one was aware of the career he was about to embark upon. We left slightly disppointed with a draw as Boro had got off to a decent start and we were hopeful of reaching the play offs.

After the game, we stopped in Worcester on my recommendation for beers and pizzas. All in all we had a decent day and night out, albeit a very long one!





Hereford United 0 Scarborough 0 (Saturday 24th February 1996) Division Three (att: 2,551)

I got the rare chance of a ride in the peoples carrier with Filey John, Bunner and co which meant a very early start. Gaz Kilner managed to put a side window through adding to the expenses of the day, which cheered me up no end.

It was a pretty ordinary day all in all. The pub before the match was average so I went on my own for a look at the pretty city centre and cathedral, where the Magna Carta was displayed. The game was just as bad. We sat upstairs in the Weston Stand for a decent view of nothing very much at all. My companions were going for more beers, but I wanted to get back so I managed to get a ride in the Supporters Club mini bus.

Hereford United 4 Scarborough 4 (Saturday 2nd October 1999) Football Conference (att: 1,886)





By now I'd moved to London. This match seemed a good idea and Steve and Sarah in Oxford were also looking forward to a day out. I had purchased a Network Rail card to make the journey cheaper. We had to change trains at Malvern and on the last part of the journey I had an interesting discussion with the guard who told me my ticket was invalid before she cacked down, much to the amusement of my friends.

We went straight to the ground and drank in the clubhouse. One or two local youths didn't seem too welcoming, but I figured that they were half cut. Once again we were placed in the Weston Stand, but this time I stood downstairs with the other thirty or so Seadogs.

The match was an absolute belter, full of decent forward play but woeful defending. Boro's goals came from Andy Morris, Marvin Harriott, Gareth Stoker and Steve Brodie.

At full time we had a couple of drinks and then got in a taxi and told the driver we wanted a pub serving good steaks, as the city had a good reputation for them. Indeed, the market stood just behind Blackfriars Street. We had our fill and a couple of pints before heading home.

Hereford United 0 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 28th September 2002) Football Conference (att: 2,171)





I eventually arrived at this game in a serious state of tiredness and hangover. I had been out for several hours the night before as was my habit at the time, spending far too much time and money in the Lord's Tavern.

After an exhausting evening I changed tubes to head for Paddington from my Willesden Green room to realise I'd left my advance purchase rail tickets at home. I really was a shambles, and I can only come to the conclusion that my mind was on other things! I was sold some new tickets for a reasonable price and told to send in my originals for a refund, which was most acceptable.

I arrived in Hereford via a change of trains in the ugly looking town of Newport, in time for a livener with Butch. It was a struggle, but slowly I came round and entered the ground, where we were located in the same place as on the previous occasion.





Boro put in an excellent performance and won 1-0 through a David Pounder goal, but the game was overshadowed as Seadogs star young defender Shaun Rennison was carried off with a knee injury. Despite an attempted comeback, this injury ended the playing career of a fine servant to the club. It was his final game in a Scarborough shirt.

We had a pint in the Oxford Arms over the car park from the Merton Stand, but I wasn't in the mood. Instead I headed back to the station for a direct train to London. I needed a rest!


The images on this page have been taken from the internet and books as I didn't take a camera on any occasion to Edgar Street. If they remain in the League I will have to return if I want to become a member of the '92 club.

2 comments:

  1. That would be the Mappa Mundi you saw rather than Magna Carta. You were lucky, it used to be free for all to see in the Cathedral, now it's tucked away off the cloisters and it'll cost you to see it now. Incidentally what was the Len Weston stand is the way it is because the council decided Edger Street wasn't wide enough and that was all the club could do with the land left to them. Awful view from the back of the terraces in a big crowd though sadly not a problem at the moment.

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