Thursday, January 19, 2012

Brian Purcell and Roy Evans

Two Hereford United and former Swansea players died 43 years ago tomorrow while traveling to play in a Bulls match.

Still in our thoughts.

Below is an article written by Ron Parrott which originally appeared in in 2001.

Hereford United vs Sheffield Wednesday - Brian Purcell and Roy Evans Memorial Match.

The recent dank, dark and foggy evenings got me thinking about this month's featured programme and it proved quite a task to find something to match the weather. I decided in the end to feature a programme and occasion that brings back particularly sad memories for me but ones that the younger followers of United may not remember. It goes back to the time of the great John Charles, who at the time, was building an impressive side around him. Following a successful summer tour to Rhodesia, John moved swiftly to sign two Swansea defenders who had impressed him greatly when they turned out on tour as guest players. Brian Purcell was Swansea-born and signed for his home team in 1958, where he remained until signing for United. In fact, he was the "Swans" first choice centre-half for the previous three seasons. Alongside him at right-back at the Vetch Field, was his close friend Roy Evans who made 212 League appearances for the Swans as well as representing his country at full international level.

The pair oozed class and rapidly became firm favourites at Edgar Street, both on the field and off it, where their friendly natures and likeable personalities made them very popular. All was going well on the field and the pair travelled weekly from their Swansea homes to join the rest of their Hereford team-mates. On one such occasion, they were travelling along the infamous and fog-bound "Heads of the Valley" road, en route to Hereford to join the team for a coach trip to Nuneaton for a Camkin Cup match. Tragically, the pair were killed in a head-on smash and the shock of the accident devastated the whole of Hereford.

The Mayor of Hereford immediately launched an appeal for the families of the pair, both of whom had a young child and United fans were generous in their response. Highlight of the appeal fund was a rapidly arranged Memorial Match at Edgar Street against First Division Sheffield Wednesday and a crowd of 5,240 saw the Yorkshire side triumph by four goals to two, United's strikes coming from Albert Derrick, another of my all-time favourite United players and Len Allchurch who was making a guest appearance.

Roy and Brian loved football and loved life. They really were smashing blokes as well as outstanding footballers and gone they may be, but in some small measure, I hope that this article will ensure that they're never forgotten!