Next Game: Preseason Friendly - Evesham Away on Tuesday 17th July at 7.45pm

Friday, September 30, 2016

Hereford By Tonbridge

In their build up to tomorrow's game, Tonbridge's Simon Piper takes a look at Hereford.

Tonbridge host Hereford FC in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday (01.10.16), for an intriguing clash that should be one of those extra special Longmead occasions.
The phoenix side, founded following the collapse of the former Football League and once semi-professional greats, arrive in Kent just 20 months old – aiming to rekindle past glories.
Technically, the club is different from the United predecessor and the need to start afresh meant humble beginnings on the field, a long way down the football ladder, but the spirit will be the same. And that is the most important aspect – well, to be more precise, the fundamental feature is actually the fans. No team can achieve success without them and in the Herefordshire county town they are now in the driving seat.
Background on the visitors can be found in the feature article: Hereford – heroics and heritage.
The fledgling, without the word United after the original organisation was wound-up in the High Court, had to start from scratch on the lower levels of the pyramid.
Last season was the debut, with the Whites competing in the Midland Football League Premier (level 9); a feeder established a couple of years ago following a regional merger. Predictably, perhaps, the Bulls stormed to the title, clinching the championship at the first attempt and the honours list grew further as winners of the HFA Challenge Cup and Polymac Packaging Cup. The former is the county competition, while the latter is a battle among members of the Midland set-up.
Dreams of even more medals were dashed on the Wembley turf, however. For a club of Hereford’s stature in semi-professional football, expectations are likely to have been high ahead of this year’s FA Vase Final. The Whites had to settle for runners-up though, despite well-seasoned midfielder Rob Purdie opening the scoring in the 2nd minute in front of nearly 47,000. The contest concluded in a surprising 1-4 defeat by Morpeth Town.
Excursions to the home of football are no doubt enjoyable, even if the match concludes with disappointment, but the real purpose at Edgar Street will be climbing the tiers.
After one campaign, Evo-stick South & West (level 8) has been reached already, a lower regional section of the Southern League. In old money, the standard should be similar to the Southern Division (there were various names and re-organizations), in which the Angels competed for approximately 25 years, until switching to the Ryman (Isthmian) in the mid-noughties. Tonbridge also had short spells in the Kent and, more recently, National South.
The Bulls are managed by Peter Beadle, the well-known former Gillingham striker who was boss of the re-born Newport County side that beat Tonbridge 1-0 in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying during 2006.
The 44 year-old enjoyed a distinguished playing career, including appearances for the two big Bristol arch-rivals, plus the Gills, Watford, Port Vale and Notts County.
Since taking on dug-out duties, as well as the current position and the stint in South Wales, the Londoner has been in charge of Taunton Town and Clevedon Town.
Beadle has been about a long time, with 10 years managerial experience under his belt so far.
He is clearly doing an excellent job at Edgar Street, after taking on the challenge at the phoenix outfit in 2015. The appointment followed a spell as caretaker-manager of the United side in 2014, which would have been hugely difficult against a backdrop of off-field chaos.
The first real campaign at the helm concluded with the title triumph, courtesy of a massive points’ tally of 108, seven clear of Alvechurch, from 42 matches. It included 27 wins in a row and an unbeaten run of 34 games.
Hereford also amassed 138 goals and accumulated a goal difference of +105. The defence proved miserly too, conceding only 33 in the league.
The exciting performances and entertainment have lifted spirits after years of gloom and uncertainty.
Return of the feel-good factor has meant some parts of the ground sell-out and the average crowd last term was approaching 3,000 in the Midland Premier. Beadle’s attacking policy almost certainly helps where that is concerned.
The side includes some former players who represented the United team, plus recruits with championship medals for the Southern League South & West Division at other clubs.
It might be wise to keep an eye on prolific marksman John Mills, who has clinched two Golden Boot awards in as many seasons. He bagged 57 in 51 outings for Didcot Town, of the Southern League, followed by 52 for Hereford last term. The 25 year-old is already heading towards another accolade having netted in most games this season (14 in all competitions before Tuesday’s visit from Slimbridge).
There are plenty of goals in the team, with several members of the squad used to breaking the 30-plus barrier.
In the South & West, there have been big wins already, including 6-0 over Bridgewater Town and 4-0 against Bishops Cleeve, plus a number of three-goal victories.
This season is Hereford FC’s first foray into the FA Cup – the original United had an historic giant-killing record and there will be hopes the phoenix can continue the tradition.
The Bulls began in the Preliminary Round with a 4-2 success over former Midland rivals Alvehurch. Later, a replay was required to overcome Romulus (1-1 then 3-0), a team from Sutton Coldfield competing in the Northern League Division One South.
By coincidence, Hereford faced the other side from Sutton Coldfield, Town, of the Northern Premier, at the Second Qualifying hurdle, with the upshot a 3-2 triumph on home soil.
Tonbridge started the Ryman Premier campaign in superb form and were unbeaten (12 in all competitions) until a 0-2 reverse at fellow promotion hopefuls Bognor on Saturday. The defeat at the Sussex Coast was followed on Tuesday by a 3-5 loss in Surrey against Merstham.
In the cup, Ascot United were hammered 7-0 in a First Qualifying replay, after 2-2 at the first attempt. A last-gasp penalty save by ‘keeper Anthony Di Bernardo kept the Kent club in the competition. A 3-0 win at Wingate & Finchley set up the potentially sumptuous clash against the Bulls.
The visitors are in excellent form, with the most recent results a 1-1 draw at Tiverton Town last weekend, followed by a convincing 3-0 home midweek win over Slimbridge. The latter, watched by a crowd of 2,305, provided a four point lead at the top of the table.
The Emirates FA Cup Third Qualifying Round tie at Longmead Stadium, Darenth Avenue, between Tonbridge Angels and Hereford FC on Saturday October 1st is a 3pm kick-off.