Next Game: Pre-Season Friendly - Melksham Town Away on Saturday 7th July

Monday, July 31, 2006

Back in the League on Saturday

Next Saturday, August 5th 2006, Hereford United return to the Football League with their first game at Edgeley Park, the home of Stockport County.

It was on May 3rd 1997 that the Bulls were doomed to Conference football after failing to defeat Brighton at Edgar Street in the last game of that season.

Ron Parrott summed up the scene in his book 'The League Era':

It was only when the final whistle blew that reality hit home like a bullet. United had been banished from the Football League.

For a few minutes most fans stood motionless, panic eating away at their insides. Then the tears swelled and trickled down faces, glistening in the sunshine. some supporters somehow made their way onto the pitch where they collapsed on to their knees overwhelmed with grief. Others placed comforting arms around the Hereford players who had also slumped to the ground.

Scenes of desolation and total despair.

Fast forward to Saturday 20th May 2006 and the play-off final at the Walkers Stadium at Leicester. It was 120 minutes before the Hereford knew for certain they would be playing League football again.

Glynis Wright said it all in her report of the game.

Finally, after nine miserable years out of it, The Bulls were back in the League.

A nice circular end to their exile, having witnessed them lose their League status to Brighton all those campaigns ago - but all that forgotten as rapidly-rising rockets signified The Bulls' final acceptance of that precious Conference play-off trophy. Then the celebrations after that, during which I have a vision of the lad Ipoua grabbing a multi-coloured flag from one of his admirers, then proceeding to do an improvised hula-hula dance with it fastened firmly around his waist! And, watching everything from afar - after all, it was the players' party, not his - there was Tucka Trewick, an enigmatic smile on his tanned face and applauding his players' efforts from time to time. What a satisfactory outcome for him, too, not to mention Graham Turner, whose faith in the side had finally borne fruit.

A quick couple of celebratory drinks in a nearby pub, and it was back home for us - but not before we'd listened to the numerous discordant honks emanating from drivers of Bull-ish vehicles as they quit Leicester for good. As Neil Diamond once put it, "A Beautiful Noise", and one achieved in spite of much heartbreak, doubt and anguish from the Edgar Street persuasion.

For most of us mere supporters next Saturday cannot come soon enough. One particular person who has waited for this day is Graham Turner.

He said when Hereford were relegated he would stay with the club and get them promoted. He has stuck to his word. There must have been times when he wondered if it would ever happen.

But it has and if anyone deserves a cheer on Saturday it's Turner.

No one knows how well Hereford will do this season. Some fans are hopeful of a play-off position, some will be happy with a mid-table place and others will just hope Hereford finish above the relegation zone.

That is for the future, the present is Stockport on Saturday. There will be strong support for Turners young team. There will be a lot of emotion, even perhaps a few tears shed, as the Bulls take to the field.

Some supporters will never have seen Hereford in a League game. Others will remember the first time Hereford played in the League (Division Four in those days) away at Colchester on August 12 1972 which they lost 1-0.

Young and old, recent convert to Hereford or a regular for years, lets show the footballing world on Saturday that Hereford United are back in the league and here to stay.