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Friday, July 03, 2020

John-Lewis Set To Remain With Hereford

 

Lenell John-Lewis looks set to remain with Hereford FC for the forthcoming season.

It is well known that manager Josh Gowling was keen for him to stay and it appears a deal has been agreed.

John-Lewis joined Hereford early last February. He had been released by Shrewsbury the previous month. 

After his first game for the Bulls he spoke to the media.

"Of course, I wouldn't be here otherwise but I've got to impress. Hopefully I can do that, then we'll see what happens.

"It's a big club with a very good fanbase, I knew that coming in and I know Josh and I know his asperations. Behind the scenes it's a very good set-up especially at this level."

Recently Gowling spoke about strikers and the fact that both John-Lewis and Kelsey Mooney scored goals in the last few games of the season.

"We've got players that can score goals and have scored goals in the past and that's the main thing."

This morning it seems likely Gowling has one striker for next season signed. 
 

From The Archives: A Look Back To 2014

Distant Bulls fan Andy H watched the situation (as at July 2014) unfold at Edgar Street from 3,000 miles away:

I live more than 3,000 miles away from Edgar Street, the home of Hereford United. Having not lived in Hereford for more than 20 years, I am used to keeping up with all news Bulls related from afar via an unofficial site, a fans forum and an official site and following the "action" on the BBC website.  My US neighbours have as little an idea of where Hereford is as my old ones in London. Telling anyone who I support generally draws a blank expression and the question, what league do they play in? Some also resort to facetiousness - a Norwegian friend began to refer to Hereford United as Herefordshire International. But, for me and my friends, that has become  a term of endearment for the club we support.

In writing this, I have spent some time pondering why the events at Hereford, particularly over the last 6 months, have troubled me so much. Although I lived in Hereford for 18 years, after school I moved away. All my friends did the same and aside from family, the club is the only genuine link I have to the place where I grew up. I have had the opportunity to introduce my nephew to the beautiful game at Edgar Street (2-1 loss at home to Port Vale, not that beautiful) and I want to be able to do the same with my kids. Following Hereford has been a struggle this past season, even from a distance. And although financial problems had been rumoured for a while, what has happened recently could and should have been avoided.

Financial problems at Hereford are nothing new. Graham Turner managed to steady a sinking ship and then brought some great players and football to Edgar Street. He left in 2010 with the football side in reasonable shape (okay, we had been relegated from League 1 the prior season, but having spent years in the Conference, being in the Football League  was satisfying enough).  The facilities on the other hand, and to put it politely, could have done with some modernization, although  I still lament the passing of the Meadow End trainer.  

David Keyte took over as Chairman and it's impossible to discuss the current plight without mentioning Mr. Keyte, since we find ourselves in this position due to events that occurred under his tenure.  During the 2013/14 season we were apparently losing 30,000 per month. This came to light around halfway through the season. At the time I thought that Mr. Keyte, a local gentleman and apparent long term supporter, would come good on the promise to not let the club go under on his watch. By that I assumed that the necessary cash would be found to keep the club afloat for the season. It transpired that instead Mr. Keyte had actually stopped paying staff and players. It was no surprise then that performance on the pitch deteriorated and left Hereford needing little short of a miracle on the last day of the season to escape relegation from the Conference (which, incidentally, would have been the second relegation of Mr. Keyte's tenure). I was resigned to the fact that we would be going down, but the stars aligned and in the last five minutes of the season both our result and that of Chester went our way and we stayed up. The feeling of elation was as good as any I have experienced following the club. With Conference status secure, and with Mr. Keyte looking for a buyer I thought things may be looking up. 

Without going into the details of quite why we were losing so much money suffice it to say that Mr. Keyte was no longer prepared to bankroll the club. With this the case, I believed that the way forward was through a Hereford United Supporters Trust (HUST) takeover. HUST  began asking for pledges in order to offer Mr. Keyte a nominal amount for the club with the wiping out of directors loans and the intention of paying off football related creditors. Mr. Keyte did not let them look at the books, and indicated instead that there were other interested parties, which were better deals for the board. Towards the end of May it was announced that investors were preparing to put cash into the club, but there was some secrecy as to who exactly they were. In June, it was announced that Tommy Agombar was the purchaser. It quickly surfaced that he had an unspent criminal conviction and may not pass the FA's fit and proper test. 

Given the previous regime's later opaqueness, I was skeptical of his sound bites but was at least prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.  He had that benefit until it became clear that he was not going to pay off football creditors to satisfy the Football Conference so that we could take our place for next season. There was some bluster from Mr. Agombar about debts being four times what he thought they were when he took over. But unless I am very much mistaken the majority of debt is in the form of loans from previous directors, which I assume would have been disclosed during the takeover due diligence. Mr. Agombar also refused to pay a bond to the Conference for the season. Understandably, the Conference want to make sure that any club in their leagues can complete the season. Since Hereford looked like a basket case they asked for a bond, refundable at the end of the season (so opportunity cost, the interest lost on the bond, not the bond itself) Since football debts were not settled or the bond posted, Hereford were then demoted 2 further divisions to the Southern League. On relegations, Mr. Agombar 2 Mr. Keyte 1.

Mr. Agombar had stated on numerous occasions he is "a football man". I am still not really sure what this means, but take it that he is more interested in the football than the business side. But, If you were in it for the football, wouldn't you want that football to be played at the highest level possible? Wouldn't you also want to engage your fan base? Hypothetically, if you didn't have the cash to satisfy the Conference, but still wanted to put out a decent side in the Southern League, wouldn't there have been at least one player signed by the start of July?  Unless of course the motive for taking over the club was not football related.  
It transpired that very soon after taking over the club Mr. Agombar had asked the council (who are the clubs landlords) if he could move the ground's leases to a holding company of his own rather than keep them with the club's company. The leases had been secured by Mr. Keyte with some fanfare. They represent the clubs only real asset and through development would hopefully bring either a lump sum or a future revenue stream to the club, depending on how the land was developed. Why, if you main interest is the football, try and move the leases away from the club?

Whilst all this has been happening on the non playing side, on the football side there was an initial flurry of reports in the local paper, the Hereford Times. Mark Ellis, football "consultant", who had a extremely impressive CV (seemingly coaching jobs at a host of Premier League, La Liga and Championship clubs) for someone working at what by now was a Southern League club, indicted that any new team was going to storm the league. But he suggested that the manager's job was too big for Peter Beadle, who had engineered Hereford's relegation escape at the end of last season.  Peter was held in extremely high regard by supporters and such comments were received with disbelief. Mr. Ellis has remained very quiet ever since. Rather like his employer in fact. In the last 3 weeks, there have been two updates on the official Hereford United website (since the previous media officer, who had gone unpaid for months, quit). We have learnt that we are in the Southern League. We have also learnt that we will play a friendly against a Help4Heroes side. This match seems like a deeply cynical ploy given that supporters are rightly upset at what is going on at the club, but do not want to be seen to be snubbing a worthwhile cause and because it may be used by the club against the supporters. So, as an exile, I am learning nothing from the club directly anymore. What a strange way to run a consumer oriented business. 

Instead I have been turning to the excellent Bulls News and a fans forum (Bulls Banter) for updates. But wait a minute, there have been some updates from the club on the fans forum! Although to an outsider, insulated from the barmy goings on at Hereford, this is likely to be quite confusing. Two users, whose identities were checked by the forum admin, posted suggesting that they wanted to set the record straight and answer questions about the club. The users were Andy Lonsdale, who turned out to be the President of Bedfont and Feltham FC and Joel Nathan, CEO of Grays Athletic, both friends of Mr. Agombar. Given the understandably combustible nature of a fans forum, not least when there is no official information coming out of the club, and the inability of either individual to answer anything but the most rudimentary questions, forum admin decided that both should be banned. Rather than describing fans as "fools" and "idiots", Mr. Lonsdale and Mr. Nathan may have been better served addressing fans genuine concerns (most pressingly, why have the creditors not been paid?!).  At best, it strikes me as extremely odd that the method that the club chooses to use to engage fans is an online fans forum, and even odder that their choice of mouthpiece is officials from other clubs.

So, where are we now? HUST have just asked members to vote to see whether they want a boycott of Hereford United until creditors are paid. I will vote "yes". I will be home in August. So I will miss my annual visit to Edgar Street. Putting aside that communication does not appear to be the new owners strongest suit, I keep asking myself if Mr. Agombar really is a football man, where are the signings, where is the manager, where are the season ticket prices, and where is your engagement of the fans and the local community? As the previous 1,000+ words testify, this isn't about football anymore, at least not in the way that I understand it. Yes, football is a business, but if you persistently break promises and alienate your fan base you will run the club into the ground. Perhaps that is the crux. Clearly Edgar Street is a valuable piece of development land. The lease situation with the council is complex and appears to depend on whether the club continues to function in its current form. The club is still facing a winding up petition (perverse that this almost the least of my concerns!) and a CVA (administration) is also being explored. Neither option looks good for creditors including hard working former staff and, presumably, former directors who extended loans to the club. 

At this juncture, I have severe doubts as to whether a ball will be kicked competitively at Edgar Street this season. Would things have been different if Mr. Keyte had been prepared to talk to HUST? I doubt that creditors would have been treated as shabbily as they have been and there would not have been a mass exodus of loyal staff from the club. We may also have been able to mend bridges with last year's team and some of the emerging youth teamers who have a very bright future. We would be looking forward to pre-season matches against local clubs, rather than local clubs spurning invitations to play due to the state of the club. 

Realistically, there may still have had to have been a liquidation of the club or a CVA, but that is no worse a situation than we find ourselves in now - at least local fans who care deeply about the club would be in charge of our destiny, rather than a board of directors that appears to change almost weekly and that have no links to the local community. It begs the question, how has the deal with Mr. Agombar been better for the previous board exactly, since it is not working out too well for the club?

But amongst all the gloom there are beacons of light. There are continual words of encouragement from supporters of clubs such as Chester and Wrexham, who have had similar problems to Hereford and fought through them successfully. Kevin Rye of Supporters Direct is actively involved, local councilor Jim Kenyon and MPs Jesse Norman and Bill Wiggins are on the case. HUST is also backing a consortium of local businessmen who are looking to pick up the pieces. Unless the situation evolves rapidly and there is either a about change in the way Mr. Agombar operates, or he decides to walk,  I will not visit Edgar Street this year on my return home. 

But with the groundswell of local (and more far flung) support for the club I am hopefully that by this time next year, and in whatever league, I will get to see the Whites play again.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Jackson joins Chippenham


Former Hereford striker Marlon Jackson has joined Chippenham Town.

Jackson - who had two spells at Hereford United - returned to Edgar Street in September 2018 to sign for Hereford FC. However, he failed to make an impact and subsequently joined Weston-Super-Mare whom he netted 10 goals in 14 appearances for. Jackson then linked up with Gloucester City in National League North last season. 

THROWBACK THURSDAY | July 1990 - Colin Addison returns

After the departure of Ian Bowyer. Hereford were quick to secure the services of Colin Addision as manager.


Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Bulls fan hopeful of successful season

Hereford supporter Sam Cummins has written the below article for BN following the recent managerial appointments of Josh Gowling and Steve Burr.

The announcement that Josh Gowling and Steve Burr as the new management team of Hereford FC ahead of the 2020/21 season is a great appointment for the club and will hopefully be the start of a prosperous partnership moving forward.

We, as a club, now need a period of continuity in the management side of the club after the last two seasons of chopping and changing. I felt it was a positive move to appoint Josh until the end of last season and he guided us to safety before the campaign was cut short on March 14 after the 4-0 away defeat to the hands of Spennymoor Town due to the coronavirus pandemic. Steve is the right man to assist him with a wealth of managerial experience which began 20 years ago back in 2000 at Nuneaton Borough. I can always remember our clashes with Kidderminster Harriers when he was the manager there and we came up against Josh playing for Harriers during the same time. 

The new Adidas training wear and kits look good quality, hopefully the retained list will be realised soon and also we're able to bring in the right quality that we need in new players coming in. I personally hope and wish Josh and Steve the greatest success and with the fans' full support we can have a successful season pushing towards the right end of the table. Our club needs our full support once football does restart safely at National League North level for fans to be able to attend. Here's to hoping that the 2020/21 season whenever it does commence is a successful one for Hereford Football Club!

Premier League Aid National League Play-Offs

The Premier League will help The National League prepare for, and deliver, the end-of-season play-offs.

Chief Executive Michael Tattersall commented: "We are pleased to receive the generous donation by the Premier League towards our end-of-season play-offs".

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: "The Premier League is a big supporter of the wider game and we will continue our commitments in this area despite our significant financial losses and ongoing uncertainty.

"We will provide £200,000 to The National League to help them to conclude their season."

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Two Companies Continue Shirt Sponsorship With Hereford

Two companies have agreed to continue 'shirt' sponsorship with Hereford FC.

They are Montgomery Waters who have their name of the back of the first team shirt and Magna Electronics who are the sleeve sponsors.

Both companies were at the launch of Hereford's new shirts last Friday.

For Montgomery Waters Steve Prosser commented:

"Montgomery Waters are delighted to continue with our sponsorship packages, supporting Hereford FC through these difficult times and into the future. We hope that some form of normality will return to football and all walks of life as soon as possible. This has been a frustrating time for all of us and Hereford FC like many clubs need the help and support of governing bodies, the fans and all the sponsors to get through this and move forward.

"As a lifelong fan of the club, I am particularly pleased to be able to offer that support on behalf of Montgomery Waters and myself. Good luck for 20/21 whatever that holds".

And Mark Herbert, Managing Director of Magna Electronics said:

"We have already enjoyed two seasons supporting Hereford FC, and we are delighted to continue our support for this coming season. The progress the club has made over recent years is incredible and we are thrilled to be associated with the team’s future success".


 

From The Archives - Pre-Season With Martin Foyle

 

Seven years ago pre-season was about to start and then Hereford 
United manager Martin Foyle gave an update.

Firstly he was asked by Terry Goodwin for H&W how easy was it to switch ones phone off especially on holiday.

"You've got no chance," said the Hereford United manager.

"You are more accessible, ten or fifteen years ago you only had the office phone and the home phone.

"Agents can get you anytime of the day, they don't care when they phone you. At the end of the day they are just trying to give you a player or recommend someone.

"So you've got to listen especially given the position we're in this season."

What about the players signed to date?

"A lot of people will analyse what we are going to bring in, how many we are going to bring in but, so far, the fourteen that we've brought in through the summer I've got to say I've already got a selection problem, like getting eleven out of that fourteen.

"Obviously we've got to get a few more in.

"From last season we've only got Luke Graham on board so it's a massive change around."

Foyle was then asked if any more players from last season might sign again.

"They made their demands at the end of last season, what they were looking for. You can totally understand some wanted to play football, some were worried that perhaps they should get a job and play part-time. They all had their own bits and pieces, I totally respect that as today is a harsh environment, especially in the football world."
Foyle reminded listeners that there isn't too much money at Edgar Street at present.

"I'm working for Hereford and we've got to make another (cut-back) this year but we understand the plight the club has been in.

"The chairman and the board of directors have put a lot of money in, probably too much money, so we've got to re-address the situation."

 
Keeper Daniel Lloyd-Weston was signed by Foyle earlier this week.

"I had him when I was manager and he was in the youth team at Port Vale. Then he had a spell at Cheltenham.

"He's good lad, a good size. And I want two first team goal-keepers to put pressure on each other."

And what other players is Foyle looking for?

"I want a mid-field player, a striker who can play wide and a utility player.

"I think this utility player is so important especially if we are going for smaller numbers. Someone who can play like left back, left mid-field and also wide left mid-field.

"We will have to chop and change. We know we will get injuries, suspensions. I just hope they won't be as harsh and at the wrong time as last year especially with that transfer embargo as well.

"I've got to get players who can play thirty, thirty five games minimum a season."

Pre-season training starts on Monday.

"Players come back in better condition these days.

"We monitor them over the first two or three days, then testing into the following week, then it comes down to half a game then 60 minutes. Just break them in slowly.

"It's not so much about results but to make sure the eighteen, nineteen players get through and ready for the start of the season."

Foyle admited he would like to get involved.

"Me and Andy Porter are the biggest kids going around and with Pete Beadle on board as well we enjoy our football.

"We are lively and you want to get involved.

"Andy can do a bit more running than me, I've just got the whistle and stop-watch, you know you're getting a bit older!" 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Chester Agree To Take Part In Play-Offs

Chester FC have decided to take part in the National North League Play-Offs. They are the sixth and final club to agree.

The club had originally said they would take a detailed look at the financial implications of taking part but with help from the players, in particular, feel they can afford the challenge.

'The players have taken the very generous step to donate their contractual entitlements back to the Club to enable us to take part, again demonstrating how our special Club continues to pull together in the face of adversity.

The Club will incur significant expense as a result of participating in the play-offs due to the testing requirements, staff returning from furlough leave and Covid-19 safety measures, however we have taken steps to mitigate this and believe this decision reflects the wishes and ambitions of our members.'

Meanwhile Chester will be launching #InItTogether to raise funds specifically for the play-offs.

#InItTogether invites fans to contribute the equivalent of a match ticket towards the costs of the play-off campaign, which could reach £30,000 depending on the team’s progress.

Gowling will be pushing for the academy to come back

Hereford FC manager Josh Gowling says he will be pushing for the academy to come back at some point after the club decided to suspend it for the 2020/21 season after the coronavirus pandemic hit their resources.

You can hear Gowling's thoughts below and why he feels it's important that the Bulls are part of the community. He also goes into detail about his aims for next season.





FA Income Reduced Because Of Covid-19

The FA is no different to Hereford FC when it comes to the problems caused by Covid-19.

They have suffered from loss of income and have had to make cuts.

This from the FA's Chief Executive Mark Bullingham

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on The FA and we now have a greater understanding of the long-term and irreversible effect of the pandemic on our finances.
It might seem that football has weathered the storm by getting the top flight men's game playing again. However, unfortunately the past few months have impacted The FA severely and we have lost a significant amount of money that we can never recoup. We also anticipate that many of our future revenue streams will be affected for a considerable time.
The high level of uncertainty in our landscape means that we have had to plan for a whole range of potential scenarios. As previously communicated, we are currently planning for potential losses of approximately £300million. As a not-for-profit organisation, this will hit us hard.
Therefore, over recent months, we have forensically analysed the budget of every division within The FA in order to identify the most suitable areas to make costs savings; and the situation has worsened to a point where we now need to reduce the size of The FA in order to deal with the financial impact of the crisis.

Following much consideration of the situation we find ourselves in, we have reached a position where we have formulated proposals to begin a consultation process around reducing the size of our overall team at The FA.  These proposals are to reshape the organisation with the level of resource available in this smaller budget. 
Today we are proposing to make 124 positions redundant. Because we halted recruitment the day we left the offices in March, we are able to take 42 vacant positions out of the structure, which means that we are proposing to remove 82 roles from the organisation.
We recognise that this is an incredibly difficult time for those employees who have been affected by these proposals and we will do everything we can to support them during a consultation period, which will start soon.
Proposing redundancies is the toughest cost-saving measure that any organisation can consider implementing, but we believe that we must now adapt and future-proof the organisation to ensure our cost base reflects a future with significantly lower revenues.
We have a responsibility to preserve our core functions that regulate and serve English football. We also have a duty to support our men’s and women’s senior teams in their efforts to win major tournaments. That means we have set out in our proposals some difficult choices because we do not think we can afford to do all the things that we did before. We believe the impact of this crisis is to force us to focus more than ever on our key priorities.

The financial challenge we face is a significant one. We have lost all of the revenue from events at Wembley Stadium since March and all other future bookings, such as the music concerts in August and the NFL games in October. Our hospitality revenue from Wembley Stadium, which usually delivers around £35m per year, has completely fallen away and will probably take years to recover.
In addition, many of our sponsors and broadcasters have been hugely impacted by the pandemic and, in turn, we are not able to deliver the content we are committed to. This results in pressure on us financially as in some cases we need to pay compensation, for example where events are cancelled.
We do not think that it would be right to wait and see if the next few months bring greater certainty. The reality we are faced with is that no one knows the future and I believe that the money we have already lost, combined with the uncertainty of the coming months, means that we need to consider these proposals to avoid making matters worse in time. Going through this process now, as difficult as it is for all of us, means that in our worst-case scenarios we should still be able to overcome them and not need to repeat this exercise next year.
The next few weeks will be very tough for everyone at The FA and our aim is to ensure that we emerge in the strongest possible state and be ready for better times in the future.

.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Hereford FC - New Commercial Brochure


Hereford FC have launched their new commercial brochure for the 20/21 season.

The 12 page brochure lists most of the commercial sponsorship opportunities available for the forthcoming season.


Amidst opportunities on offer are:

Stadium Sponsorship

Kit Sponsorship

Player Sponsorship

Match Sponsorship

Match Ball Sponsorship

Match Day Mascot

Goal Sponsor

Edgar Street Experience Match Hospitality

Internal and External Advertising Boards

Dugout Sponsor

Pitch Sponsor

Website Advertising

Media Sponsor

Programme Advertising

Programme Sponsor

Programme Article Sponsor

Season Ticket Sponsor

Team Sheet Sponsor

Match Ticket Sponsor

Substitution Sponsor
 

Cleeve In Conversation With Martin Watson


Last Thursday evening Kings Lynn chairman Stephen Cleeve spoke to Hereford FC's Martin Watson.

It's a long interview but here's a transcript of some of it.

Cleeve started by asking Watson about whether supporters wanted to change the name back to Hereford United and then what his position was at Edgar Street.

"There is a debate," said Watson.

"We reached the five year point at the club when you can consider changing the name and there is a debate amongst supporters as to whether to change it back or not. It is very much 50/50 at the moment."

What's the arguement for not going back?

"I think it's the way the old club ended, the bad taste that was left in the mouth. There is a lot of bitterness there some people don't want to go back to."

Are you a director or just the club secretary?

"I'm the club secretary, I used to be a director. I stopped being a director in January 2018. Basically I helped set the club up and spent three years on the board but now I'm just a minion.

"If you mess up as club secretary you are moving house."

How long have you followed Hereford?

"My father was involved in the old club to some degree and basically I was brought up in it. I was active in the supporter base from 16/17. At the end of the day it becomes an obession after a while."

Would a return to the Football League be number one on your agenda?

"That would be mission accomplished, that would be complete. But I think more than that there are certain things we want to do with the stadium, get it modernised. That would please me more at the moment.

"Basically the whole ground is council owned, we merely lease it. Over the last thirty years there have been all sorts of discussions about changing this and doing that and possibly relocating and ultimately the council have decided we are better off where we are but the one end which is facing the most recent retail development which is looking straight at a brand new Waitrose store, it's just rusting to hell and Waitrose don't like that. They want to do something with that end but again that's been three or four years in discussion so far.

"There were things in progress before this virus hit that were beginning to move and you would like to think that when we have some sort of normality it would move again but obviously there are talks of councils running out of money and you wonder whether it will get put back on the back burner again but we will just have to wait and see on that."

How has it gone so far?

"We reformed, we won three successive championships, we hit the National North level. But we hadn't played a game north of Birmingham then all of a sudden we were put in National North which is pretty much entirely north of Birmingham and we had to really reshape the entire squad and everything we did. We've had a bit of a remodelling and it hasn't all gone to plan.

"Josh (Gowling) is going to be the manager and Steve (Burr) his assistant. And then it's a case of working out what we do. There is this thing with Bury having demised, it's likely one or two clubs might get shunted south. I would think it will be Gloucester rather than us but you never know your luck."

Would you like to move south?

"Probably where we are now, no. But if we had the option two years ago yes. I think a lot of it is the football, the north is more physical and the south more technical."

The interview moved to fan-owned clubs.

"We are basically 50% fan owned. We took over the Edgar Street stadium that needed a lot of work. We had some local businessmen who put in £250,000 to fund that work and we spent every penny getting the stadium up to standard and then the Supporters Trust has got the ability to match that and take 50% of the club. At the moment I think they have £210,000 of it.

"Supporters Direct only ever pushed one model which was the 100% fan owned model. The problem for me with that is that every club is different. If we had been 100% fan owned, the fans would have had to find £250,000 in a matter of weeks to repair the stadium and realistically that prospect was very slim indeed and even SD admitted that the likelyhood of doing it was practically none.

"So we down a different route and 96% of the supporters trust members voted in favour of it that we would be this 50/50 hybred model and so far it has worked. 

"The biggest problem you get with supporters trust models is the turnover in the boardroom because there are a lot of people that want to help but they don't realise the sheer pressure that comes from supporters.

"There are an awful lot of people that would go into a boardroom and think it is all prawn sandwiches and turning up to meetings once a month to say yes or no to certain things and it's nothing like that. It is 20/30 hours a week of unpaid volunteer work to get your particular area up to scrath.

"We have a board of seven and because they had the bigger imput at the start four are voted on by the businessmen and three are voted on by the supporters trust. At the moment, because we've had a number of resignations, our board is down to four at the moment of which two are on the business side and two are on the supporters trust side. There are people being looked at as being candidates as there are jobs needing to be done. We can't continue with a board of four, it needs to be bigger.

"The queue of applicants is getting thinner and thinner as time goes on just simply because they see what happens. As part of my understanding the last vacancy on the supporters trust side had only one nomination and the two on the investors side have only just come up. We have had quite a hefty turnover of individuals because the fan base is expecting. The time I had on the board was a relatively easy ride because we winning every championship every year and pretty much every game. But once you start losing games and putting in bad performances and the crowds start to turn a little bit, you do start to feel it."

But it's not all bad?

"In our first season we went to Wembley in the FA Vase. We took 20,000 people but lost the game. At the end of the day when you have people in their 80's coming up to you, tears in their eyes, thanking you because they never thought they would see their club at Wembley. That's what you live for." 

The full interview: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/episode-16-with-herefords-martin-watson/id1507650273?i=1000479652268 

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Josh Gowling Interview (Part 1)

On Friday, BN conducted an interview with new Hereford manager Josh Gowling. 
Below, you can listen to the first part where he talks about the launch of the club's new kit following its partnership with adidas, the possible return of football in September and how he wants to create a better experience for supporters at Edgar Street.


Poll Caused A Stir At Hitchin

Back in 1994 Simon Hill was a commentator on BBC Hereford and Worcester. 

Recently he recalled the day Hereford United went out of the FA Cup at Hitchin when a young referee called Graham Poll was in charge.

'We crossed paths when I had commentated an English FA Cup 1st Round replay between Hitchin Town and Hereford United.  Poll - then a young, up and comer - was in charge, and Hitchin created a big upset by knocking out Hereford, who were then a league outfit.

Poll however, had caused a stir when he blew his whistle prematurely for full time - on the back of a pitch invasion after Hitchin had scored to make it 4-2.  Hereford, understandably, weren't happy, especially as Poll had been born in Hitchin.  They complained so loudly that their CEO, Robin Fry, got hit with a misconduct charge.

Fry had to appear before an FA Enquiry at Lancaster Gate the following week - and he asked me to travel to London give evidence on his behalf, as we had made mention of the early finish during our commentary on BBC Hereford & Worcester.

My words didn't do Fry much good, as he got hit with a fine.  Poll meantime, escaped without sanction, and made a light-hearted comment to me on the way out about "remembering my name" in future.'

Sol Wheatley Joins Bodmin

 

Former Hereford FC winger Sol Wheatley has joined Bodmin Town. He joins another former Hereford player, Nathan Summers, at the Cornish Club.

"I have played abroad for the last few seasons so I am now looking forward to a different challenge and can’t wait to get started," said Wheatley.

"I am looking forward to being part of a team that’s going to be competing to win the league."

Wheatley left Hereford in November 2015.

David Keyte Interview Part Four


 

Below is a transcript of the fourth part of a recent interview former Hereford United chairman David Keyte gave to Matt Healey for YourHerefordshire.

Healey started this part by asking Keyte if he thought media abuse had affected him.

"Well I would be surprised if anybody would fail to be affected by the amount of abuse I was personally getting through social media. As time has gone on, I've got no medical confirmation of this, I suspect looking back I was probably under some sort of depression in the first year or so.

"I listened to Peter Hill's interview where he quite correctly responded by saying that nobody in the boardroom at Hereford United over the years would make any decision that would worsen the football club deliberately.

"And yet when the 'experts' get hold of things, usually after the event, and the criticism comes in, the added social media impact now through keyboards is enomorous. We are in a highly changed world from 20 years ago and there are some people, the young woman from love island who took her own life. Some people just can not cope with the intense criticism that it's possible to get these days and hopefully I've come through with a bit of a thicker skin than that."

Reading your programme notes for a game against Gateshead on Saturday April 12th 2014, the club was in a right mess, we had HMRC bills to pay, there was the courtyard gig that Omid Djallii performed for free,  we had children selling toys on e-bay, and giving away pocket money. How did you feel personally when you had children giving away their possessions to try and keep the club alive?

"Well that was obviously a very difficult time for the club and everybody involved. We were pleased that people from all sources were helping, families, children etc, comedy shows. We had sponsorship of £10K from Heineken. In total those sources raised about 50% of the tax bill, about £35K from memory. And it gave us, the directors, a chance to settle that by paying the balance between us. Very difficult time when you know you are literally in debt to people when the club's finances had reached such a poor state.

"There was this alternative social media agenda that was growing, it became very personalised at that time. We had heard in the boardroom that one of the recently departed directors of the new football club was openly saying in Addison's Bar that his purpose in life is to get Keyte out after a match. It's a small city, a small set-up and most things get back around but on social media it was things like get your hand in your pocket Keyte and it's probably worth me pointing out clearly for people that David Keyte was never the owner of Hereford United football club. The media, particuarily TV and radio - Tim Russon used to refer to it as lazy journalism - would often start things off as owner, chairman and so on, when in actual fact when we went in and bought Graham and Joan's shareholding it was 27% of the club's shareholding. So they, it's not for me to speculate looking backwards, Graham had never held any more shares than that, he was never the owner of Hereford United. My share of that was 17% and Tim had 10%. And even between 2010 and 2013 the club itself initially with Grenville involved and then latterly Dave Preedy and Nic Nenadich coming on board the total shareholding for the board of Hereford United was never more than 30%. And the other 70% was scattered across about 1200 people who over the years had bought a share or two or ten or whatever in Hereford United going right back to the days it helped to build the Len Weston stand in the 70's..

"I think it's fair to say there is some irony when linked across to the new Hereford where supporters are dipping into their pockets daily to try and raise money to get to 50% of the shareholding when over the past 90 years the supporters had, certainly in my time, 70% of the shareholding."

The interview turned to the youth team in which the club had invested heavily.  Was their a frustration that Martin Foyle had not blooded the youngsters (Jarrod Bowen in particular) earlier with the potential of possibly selling one of them in the January 2014 transfer window.

"That's difficult one, it didn't work quite as neatly as that. The youth team and community set-up was originally my idea when we got involved. It was another of our off the field plans to get the football club back in amongst the local community and give some local people a chance. I had been lucky enough to play as a schoolboy under Colin Addison, I've still got my football league registration stub in the drawer in the bedroom. So we had a youth set-up. The likelyhood of success is minimal, perhaps that a touch harsh, but Herefordshire is not the strongest county for sport but we felt it was the right thing to do and we were looking for a new Steve Emery, they have come out from Herefordshire in the past but not in great numbers.

"But we did have a couple of lads from Leominster in Jarrod Bowen and Billy Murphy, I thought Billy was the better prospect which shows just how much I know, but as to those two at the time difficult situation. I can undertstand why Martin didn't rush to put the youngsters in. Somebody once said you don't win anything with kids which I can't do in a Scottish accent for you but when Peter Beadle was asked to come in he had  a bit more of a last throw of the dice mentality to those last few games. He knew the boys well from the youth team and he probably had a closer handle than Martin Foyle to who might be able to bridge the gap and they came in and Jarrod and Billy did very well to go with the other lads and obviously we stayed up on that great day at Aldershot.

"To answer your question about the value, it's very difficult. The days of lower clubs making money from academys are probably gone. I remember Defoe moving for £100,000, unlikely to happen again now because of the Player Progress Path that came out a few years ago had a fairly rigid valuation formula that includes the number of years at the club. So I suspect that if a Jarrod or Billy had been in the team before Xmas transfer window and got picked up I would think we would have had an offer of £5K maybe £10K and it would all be about the future add-on deals. So in terms of our financial situation it was probably not even if that, it was probably not a immediate answer to the problems we were facing and it would have been somewhere down the track, as we've seen with Jarrod now, where the biggest money would have come through."

 

When did you first hear about the Agombar consortium?

"Over Xmas/New year we played Kidderminster twice and talking about both club's issues in the boardrooms the chairman there at the time said that they had a meeting with a guy called Jed McCrory who had left Swindon Town but they had thought about things and they were quite content at the time, they had just banked £300K for somebody, they were okay at the time and didn't feel they needed to bring anybody else in but he may be of use to you at Hereford from what they had been reading in the press. So I did pick up the phone and spoke to Jed McCrory and met up with McCrory who wanted to stress he had no plans to get involved but, I think he was still in a dispute at Swindon, he knew of a number of people and could probably put names to us and that's how it started and one of the names was the Agombar group.

"The first time I spoke to Tommy Agombar was when we were away on holiday and the phone rang one day and it was Agombar asking if it was possible to meet up. I had to tell him I was away but we were back the following week and we arranged to meet in London which I did. That would have been somewhere in mid to late April 2014 which it's probably worth saying at that point social media yet again actually denies the fact that Agombar had owned Hereford United for twelve months by then and that he was seen in the VP Club by all these people who start to spread inaccurate if not untruthful social media rubbish. But I met him first towards the end of April down in London."

Can you accept supporter criticism that whilst it was all going wrong in Hereford you were, in their eyes, away on holiday in the Caribbean?

"Yes absolutely I can.  Would I have made a different decision, no I don't think I would. For the record on a personel level, my wife Lorraine was on dialysis by then after having kidney failure. It's very difficult to organise dialysis abroad not least the cost of it and I remember we discussed it both at home and in the boardroom thinking I shouldn't really going but people in the club and the boardroom said to go and have your holiday, you need it and we can look after the shop until you are back. So we did go but I was in touch daily on Skype with board members, I think  I may even have had a chat with HUISA whilst I was away. I spoke most days with Luke Graham the captain about any money that was coming in. We were trying to pay different players and Luke administrated that for me really well. So it was no different to me getting a car and driving across to Hereford to the ground and having the same conversations. Sadly at present with the conoravirus it's probably a more regular model moving forward that the world will get used to. 

"Yes I understand Keyte deserting a sinking ship but there are occasions where I put family first and that was one of them. There is a real possibilty that you could be out of the country, away from the office for two weeks and actually the situation was very difficult to influence whether you were in the office or not. So we took the break and the criticism followed."

Did you know about Tommy's past?

"Yes"

Did you think he would have failed the proper persons test? 

"I knew for certain he would fail that. But that wasn't the conversations, discussions we were in. The structure that was being proposed I remember in our own boardroom that I would be prepared to stay on as their chairman and I remember Dave Preedy asked if it could include him staying on doing the socials, the bars and so on and Nic wanted to stay in charge of United In The Community. So that was the sort of proposal we went in at on the basis that it would be very difficult to run this from Essex. You need local people involved in the structure. So that was the line of conversation we had despite this chap's background. I think it's fair to say, I've no evidence of this, there are probably lots of football clubs around the country and beyond where people who are putting the money in  may or may no pass individually the owners test but they still get their involvement in the club. Would Chelsea supporters boycott the club  because Abramovich got involved, Manchester City likewise. There will be many others. Unfortunately as the days went on he couldn't stay in that box, he needed to be the person in front of the microphone and that was never going to be a happy ending I don't think.

"And then when we stepped aside local people stepped out as he increasingly wanted to use his own people. I remember putting Pete Beadle to them and I believe he met with them. But they had got this Ellis chap, ex-world beater and so on. And then when he didn't do the first part of paying down the outstanding wages and things like that not surprisingly they lost the support of the office and other people at the club and were owed money. And so it when on and actually just fed the alternative local agenda who through social media were able to get a groundswell of anti going on and eventually boycotted the matches."

Just to clarify you sold the club to Tommy for a pound and he took on the debts?

"Yes"

Was there any regret that you sold it to Tommy?

"The deal was quite normal, a pound to take on all the debts. The regrets only came about with hindsight when things moved away from the original structural agreement and they then failed to make those early payments and lost face in Hereford. So regret that it didn't run through as planned but actually the original discussions could have worked. He had the money, he appeared to be passionate about his football, I think he is passionate about his football but when you create local angst you start to push water uphill. For the Hereford United that I've supported for 50 years, 90 years of history, you have to have regrets that it didn't come through properly. But I will always say to you I think there was a helping hand from certain local bodies."

As I understand Tommy was paying £2500 a month to you as part of the agreement on any redevelopement. Is that true?

"Yes, we discussed my wish and hope to get a little back out of the £500,000 plus I had put into the football club and they were open to that discussion. There was no pressure on whatever figure that was agreed and in fact I agreed to something over ten years. In round figures it was £300,000. which was £2,500 per month over ten years. I had the first payment and then things went awry and I had to go to court and get a court order to suggest the contract was valid and the other angle was that if they developed behind the goal at either end that would be an opportunity to of paying me out by some means inside the ten years. But no pressure on getting the money back."

If HUST had come to you and said we'll buy the club, take on the debts, but not pay you personally any money, is that something you would have entertained?

"Well that is a bit hypothetical today six years later. Looking back I believe we treated HUST very fairly. They were a genuine potential third interested party when we met them. They were two other groups talking to us at the time. I recall when we met they had a small group of eight or nine people in the boardroom. I recall discussing, which we had for consistancy with all people, saying there was an immediate £300,000 that the club was in need of and stating again the need to have, they needed to be aware that in the Conference about £300,000 a season at Hereford. And I do remember saying to them that they could probably save, compared with the outside interests, about £100,000 by using local volunteers for various things. But they had no evidence of funding although they did say they had pledges, they had nobody nominated to do due diligence. Their chairman, Chris Williams, had sent his apology in, wasn't even at the meeting and after a couple of hours we agreed that they would go away to seek further advice from the national body for supporters trusts. Martin Watson had made minutes and after the meeting sent me a brief script for me to sanction to go out onto Bulls News which was absolutely fine and that they had a positive constructive meeting but they were to go away and seek advice but sadly they never came back. Discussions about an offer, personal or otherwise, we never got close to. In fact as time has passed by, it's so easy to put pieces together from what you read, possibly make two and two make five, but maybe Chris Williams the chairman had been advised not to attend, perhaps by the people he and his colleagues had already got into bed with, allegedly.

"We know now of course that they had already opened up an alternative company in April 2014 when the rest of us were still battling to stay in the Conference. Admittedly it was called something elser, Hadoland I think. But when you see the registered office of the home address of a former director of Hereford United, finance director, you do wonder quite what other alternative agendas that were already in play at that time. But the chairman of HUST didn't attend the meeting. So sadly we had to accept that local people that could have saved Hereford United choose not to do so. And I would say that HUST's interest, though disorganised shall we say, was genuine."

Hereford United continued for the next six months but there was a boycott going on, crowds of 300/400  supporters. It was a real miserable time.The club was liquidated 19th of December 2014. How did you feel on that day the judge killed off the club?

"Very difficult day. As I've said before in this interview, when you've been going along to Edgar Street since 1964 for about 50 years and you like to class some of your better friends as Addison, Issac people. Very difficult to see those 90 years wiped out. Four of those years were when I was involved and the debate will continue as to whether that caused the demise or whether the next people in didn't handle themselves properly or whether the local people made sure that they didn't because they wanted the club themselves in some form, the debate will go on and on. I had thankfully stepped away from it by the December of that year but like everybody else when you heard it on the radio or whereever it was, disappointing time."

Chris Swan of Redditch was interested in Edgar Street and there was a rumour that you showed him around in early 2015, was that true?

"Yes that was true. I had a call from Chris to say he was interested in knowing a bit more about the situation, the ground was empty, not being used. Hereford United had gone into liquidation and the local outfit were with the council. And I remember saying to Chris that I would gladly meet you and show you around. He said that the council had offered someone to open the door for him but he would have to make his own way around and he wondered if I could go and meet him and point out various things around the ground which I agreed to do. I remembered saying to him you'll find it's a done deal. To my mind the local people we're the only ones the council were going to talk to. He came over and I met him at the ground. But Herefordshire being Herefordshire by the end of the day the grapevine has got it that Keyte was involved with Redditch United trying to set up a new club. So Chris Swan did go and meet the council he told me and he felt that I was right and actually he did get much of an input. That's as far as that all went."

The last question of the four part interview. Do you have any regrets?

"Do you mean apart from the obvious one about keeping £500,000 in my own bank account? Looking back I was probably a bit soft in the boardroom giving everybody an equal vote when the finances suggested that there was a dis-proportionate input and probably I should have pushed through my thoughts more strongly than I actually did and I think the other one would be as my old school-mate Dave Benjamin said to me at the outset that I should probably have done a bit more homework on the local politics as it became clear to me that some names cropped time and again over the last fifteen years of Hereford, they were skirting the edges of the club previously and in Graham's times they were the characters who would criticise Graham Turner and would then critise me as if nobody but themselves could do it properly and eventually they had an agenda that worked. Probably I should have found out a bit more about those local groups prior to jumping in. But that's life and we move on."

WINNING NUMBERS for the HUST CLOSE SEASON ONLINE DRAW (04) - Saturday 27th June 2020

This from HUST...

WINNING NUMBERS for the HUST CLOSE SEASON ONLINE Saturday Draw
Draw 04 - Saturday 27th June 2020

🎉 Congratulations to Marcus Byrne, Rob Payne & Barry Owens

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