Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Hereford United - Edgar Street




Hereford FC
Edgar Street
Hereford 
HR4 9JU






Ground Number: 121
Tuesday 12th September 2006
Hereford United 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Coca-Cola League 2




HEREFORD FC - A BRIEF HISTORY 

The original HEREFORD UNITED were formed in 1924, joining the Birmingham Combination before progressing to the Birmingham & District League. Their best season here was in the 1932/33 season when they finished 4th. They joined the Southern League in 1939 but the Second World War put their progress on hold. When football resumed, they would be runners-up, a feat that they would go on to match on a further two occasions. They spent all but one season in the Southern League's top tier with 1964/65 seeing them crowned Southern League Division 1 champions following relegation the previous season. They were elected to the football league in 1972 with Barrow being booted out to make room for them. Their first season was a huge success with them finishing runners-up to Southport in their debut season. After finishing 18th and 12th in their first two seasons they finished as Division 3 champions in 1976. Their sole season in the football league's second tier saw them rise as high as 6th in October but a bad run of results saw them slump to bottom place by season end, and suffer a double relegation which saw them back in Division 4 in 1978. They'd stay in the bottom tier until 1997, with the closest they came to returning being in the 1995/96 season when they lost to Darlington in the playoff semi-finals following a 6th placed finish.

The following season saw financial issues forcing them to sell players to keep afloat. A huge decline in results saw them finish bottom following a last-day decider against Brighton & Hove Albion. Relegation to the Conference followed and they would spend 9 seasons in their first spell here, the low point being a 17th placed finish in 2001/02. By 2004 they had recovered sufficiently to finish second, but they lost out to Stevenage Borough and Aldershot Town in consecutive playoff semi-finals. It was third time lucky the following season and this time they were successful this time, defeating Morecambe in a two-legged semi-final before beating Halifax Town 3-2 in the final at Leicester City.  Their return to the Football League saw them finish 16th in their first season back before a 3rd placed finish saw them promoted to League 1 in 2008 with immediate relegation after a rock bottom finish. They never really recovered and after a series of lowly finishes they were once again relegated to the Conference in 2012 after finishing second bottom. Despite a promising 6th place finish in their first season, just missing out on the playoffs. Financial peril would once again take hold and they would finish in 20th place the following season. Even worse, spiralling debts saw them expelled from the Conference and suffer a two league drop to the Southern Premier. The club limped on until December with many fans boycotting due to the poor ownership of the club. On the 19th December 2014 they were officially wound up with their Southern League record expunged.




Plans were immediately put in place by the supporters to form a Phoenix club with the name HEREFORD FC being chosen. They'd start out in the Midland League for the 2015/16 season and despite Alvechurch challenging them for much of the season, they would go on to be champions, losing just 4 games all season and amassing 108 points which included 27 wins in a row following a shaky start. This season saw them do even better in Southern League Division 1 South & West with another league win and just one defeat all season. Next season will see them return to where the old club left off in the Southern Premier.



Hereford United captured the nation's imagination in the FA Cup 3rd Round whilst they were still a non-league club. After being Kings Lynn and Cheltenham in previous rounds they were paired with football league side Northampton. Two replays were needed to separate the sides with Hereford eventually winning 2-1 in the second replay at West Bromwich Albion. They were drawn against top-flight Newcastle United and following a 2-2 draw up at St James's Park they won 2-1 in the much-delayed replay with Ronnie Radford scoring a spectacular goal, much to the excitement of a young John Motson who was commenting on the game. They went on to take West Ham United to a replay, drawing 0-0 at Edgar Street before going out 3-1 in the replay in East London. They would match this progress on a further 4 occasions. The new club debuted in the FA Cup this season, going out to Tonbridge Angels after a 4-2 defeat in the 3rd Qualifying Round.

Their best progress in the League Cup came in 1974 as they reached the 3rd Round before defeat to Ipswich Town. The club competed for many years in the Welsh Cup, winning the competition in 1990 after defeating Wrexham the final at Cardiff Arms Park. The FA Trophy semi-final has twice been reached and last season they got all the way to Wembley in the FA Vase, only to lose 4-1 to Morpeth Town. The Football League Trophy semi-final has been reached on a number of occasions and locally they have lifted the Southern League Cup twice. The new incarnation won two trophies in their first season with the Midland League Cup and Hereford County Cup being lifted.



MY PREVIOUS VISITS

I first visited Edgar Street in September 2006 to see Wycombe's only ever win there. I went up on the supporters coach, enjoying a pint of the local Gold Label cider in a local pub. On that occasion, a Jermaine Easter brace saw us edge past Hereford and record a 6th consecutive win to carry on a good start to the season under recently appointed Paul Lambert. I was to drive when we played them the following season, visiting various grounds along the way to get pictures. This time we lost 1-0 thanks to a Russell Martin own-goal.



The latter of my three previous visits came in April 2011 with Hereford going well in League 2, sitting 3rd while Wycombe were in around the playoffs. The game ended in a dour 0-0 draw, though Wycombe were probably the better side. I mainly remember the game for us having a bit of fun with the linesman with him saying that he didn't care as he was retiring at the end of the season! It was that night that I decided to complete the 92, thanks to inspiration from a fellow groundhopper called Rob who was a Blackburn fan. I also remember it for the Wycombe assistant manager Martin Kuhl punching a player on the team coach on the way home and being sacked the following week.



VISIT 4: HEREFORD 3-0 HEREFORD LADS CLUB 
(HEREFORDSHIRE CUP FINAL 1/5/17)

My latest visit to Edgar Street was only decided on the previous Saturday. I was on the coach to Morecambe v Wycombe and needing to kill time I sent a list of games I fancied doing to my fellow hoppers. Chris was the first to reply, being very keen on Hereford. It was one I was keen to do, I hadn't really seen the ground through the eyes of a groundhopper. My blog also needed a proper entry for such a great venue, and we would also be assured of a decent pre-match. I'd stopped in the town on the way back from Westfields last year to get some takeaway cider and was impressed with what it had to offer. Though I'd be restricted to one or two pints due to driving duties later, there would be a wealth of choice for a cider lover like me, with the potential for me to get something to take home with me too.



I woke quite early on the day of the game, around 6 am. I had a sausage sandwich for breakfast and watched some YouTube videos before having a bath. I was enjoying my game of Football Manager, but by 9.20 it was time to shut down my PC and leave. I'd originally planned to fill up with petrol the previous day, but the queue at ASDA was so big I decided against it. Instead, I stopped at Tesco in Milton Keynes which was conveniently located and the cheapest in the area. I met Chris bang on at the prescribed 10:30 meet time and we were soon on our way. Frustratingly, after all my planning, there were two games that The Football Traveller and Non-League paper didn't have listed - an 11 am kick off for Heath Hayes U21 and a 7.30 kick off at Atherton LR. I could have made a nice treble out of them, but sadly it was all too late to change my plans. The journey started well and Genesis, The Two Mikes & The North West Counties Podcast kept us company for the two and half hour journey. The latter part was on slow, single track roads, but at least there was interesting and attractive scenery to compensate.



We got into Hereford at 1 PM, paying a rather steep £1 an hour to park in a tatty building site that doubled as a car park. It was the same place as I always used, only this time a lot of alternative exits were closed which would prove to be a pain later. My first choice for a pre-match pint was 'The Beer In Hand' which had done a brilliant job when I'd needed takeout on the way back from Westfields last year. Usually, on a Monday it opens at 5, I was hoping that that might be differently on a bank holiday. Alas, my luck was out, so we made our way to the local Wetherspoons, The Kings Fee. There were no new ciders there, but I retried Crackling Rosie Perry with a huge Empire State Burger that I had a job to finish. From there we made our way to the ground, getting there with around half an hour to kick off. I'd chosen to sit in the stand for a batter view, but for that, we first had to go to the ticket office, then to the turnstile to get in. At least the view was decent and with good leg room, with us sitting on the edge of the area near the home end. It was nice at half time to walk around the ground and see some parts that I wouldn't normally encounter as an away fan.



Hereford had named pretty much a full strength side against a team that would be 4 leagues below them next season. A dominant performance might have been expected, but that wasn't the case in the first half. The hosts only had one goal to show for their efforts, a 9th minute deflected shot by top-scorer John Mills. Hereford Lads club battled well though and could consider themselves unlucky to be behind. The second half was a different story as Hereford stepped things up. Symons doubled their lead on 66 minutes as he finished from inside the 6-yard box after the ball was cut back. They wrapped things up in the 78th minute as John Mills scored from the penalty spot following a foul from the Lads Club keeper. It looked like that another penalty would be awarded four minutes later, but bizarrely, after initially pointing to the spot, the referee decided to award a corner. The rest of the game passed without much more incident and before we went, we watched Hereford lift the cup, much to the delight of the majority of the 1,322 crowd. 


A post shared by Russell Cox (@russ_wwfc) on


Hereford Lads Club had done themselves credit though and had bought a good travelling support. They are certainly a team I will look to visit in the future, with them having a stand and being located right near Westfields FC. We returned to the car at 5 PM, but it was nearly 6 before we got out of the car park and on our way. Due to all the entrances being blocked off, there was only one exit, and this was guarded by a flaky set of traffic lights that only let a few cars through every minute. Eventually, we were on our way, but several sets of speed-restricted roads due to roadworks hindered our progress. Various podcasts were listened to on the way home, the best of which was about Ron Atkinson's career. Due to a long delay on the M1 I set the sat nav to take an alternate route, so it wasn't until around 8.30 that I dropped Chris off. I got home myself an hour later, but with no work in the morning, I had a late night, typing up my blog and relaxing with a few drinks before going to sleep.



THE GROUND

EDGAR STREET is a proper old school football ground. Being situated right in the town centre, there are no end of pubs and takeaways to choose from, the pick of which is probably the Beer In Hand, a few minutes walk from the ground which stocks several real ales and ciders. Back at the ground, there is a bar, although I have not yet visited, the same can be said of the tea bar facilities in the ground.

Away fans are given half of perhaps the best stand in the ground - The LEN WESTON STAND, a "double decker" stand with terracing below and seating on top. The end where the vocal home support go is to the left is called the MERTON MEADOWS END a covered terrace with a decent capacity. Opposite is the MAIN STAND, which has a bar underneath it and seats raised above pitch level. Finally, the BLACKFRIARS END is mainly unused now - in the past it has been a covered terrace set back from the action before temporary uncovered seating was added for their sole season in League 1.

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