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Thursday, June 24, 2010

TV Money Kept Bulls In Business

Continuing with our look back at Graham Turner's time with Hereford United, today's article is about the 1999/2000 season.

Pre-season several new faces joined the Bulls including Rob Elmes, Steve Piearce and Paul Sturgess.

It seemed that any move away from Edgar Street was now unlikely.

"We are all optimistic that something can be worked out and it is appearing now that the club's future could be at Edgar Street," said Turner.

"If we can get everything sorted out it would be ideal to stay at Edgar Street, but there is a lot of work still to be done.

"Repayments of loans to the developers are required by May 2003. But if things are moving on then I am sure that the future of the club could be safeguarded."

August started off with a painting Sunday followed by an open day a week later at which over £40,000 was raised for the club including sales of new kit.

However behind the scenes director Mike Hancock was reported to be upset by Turner's 'one man controlled operation' and so has sold 2276 shares to HUISA for £4,000. Their chairman Richard Tomkins noted "We believe the club should be community based and that its shares should not just be in the hands of a few directors."

The first Conference League game, away at Sutton, was drawn 1-1 as was the following Tuesday's home game against Nuneaton.

"We've got two draws but there's plenty of work ahead," said Turner. "There's room for improvement."

Meanwhile youngster Paul Parry caught glandular fever and it was feared he could be out for up to six months.

September started with a 5-3 victory over Doncaster, and later in the month a 4-0 win over Rushden and Diamonds. On October 2nd another eight goal game, this time against Scarborough, with the scores level at the end. This draw pushed the Bulls up to sixth place in the league.

"I'm baffled why we aren't getting more fans to watch. There's plenty of entertainment at Edgar Street," said Turner. "Twelve months ago we could not score goals and I have to admit the standard was quite poor. This season the goals have been flying in but maybe that novelty of playing in the Conference has worn off. It's success that brings people in."

Off the pitch it was reported that a settlement had been made with former manager John Layton.

"In total it will have cost the club in excess of £20,000 and a considerable amount of time," said Turner. "Perhaps the saddest part about it is that the £10,000 settlement figure to John Layton may well be taken to settle his legal bill and he will finish up with nothing."

At the end of the month the Bulls put York out of the FA Cup. Leroy May was the scorer.

"That beats taking your clothes off for a living - nothing compares with scoring goals," May quipped.

November started with news that Sky would cover Hereford's second round FA Cup game against Hartlepool. The £75,000 was most welcome. And Brentford sent Hereford £40,000to cancel out Gavin Mahon's sell on clause.

The Cup day duly arrived and the Bulls did the business, A 1-0 win, Elmes scoring with a header, and a third round tie against Leicester City. This time highlights of the game were broadcast by the BBC and a certain John Motson returned to Edgar Street.

Turner was pleased with the tie against Leicester.

"It's just what we needed," he said. "I'm particularly pleased for the supporters because they've stuck with us through hard times. They've seen us relegated, then have to sell a lot of our better players to survive."

The game was a 0-0 draw watched by 7795 fans.

"The money from the replay will be useful," Turner said talking to Leicester manager Martin O'Neil after the tie. "That's why we can afford the wine! The tie should be yours now."

The replay took place eleven days later at Filbert Street and the Bulls put on a creditable performance but went out 2-1.

League form dipped somewhat after the Cup defeat and by mid-January the Bulls were in 14th position. However an unbeaten run of eleven games pushed them back to to 3rd position by mid-March.

Turner agreed extended contracts to three of his youngsters, Paul Parry, Gavin Williams and Tony James.

"I'm pleased we have settled the issue of contracts now," he said. "They have signed with the proviso that if a club comes in with the right offer we wouldn't stand in their way. I think that's only a matter of time."

In Mid-March the latest accounts showed the club has lost £162,074. The TV money had kept the Bulls in business.

And a poor run of results towards the end of the season meant the Bulls finished eight in the Conference. Several players with injuries didn't help and a bust-up with Paul Fewings at Telford meant he didn't play again.

Finally striker Rob Elmes signed a new deal.

"Hereford is an excellent club, well run and very professional under Mr Turner," said the schoolteacher. "Everything is geared up to success and to get back into the Football League."