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Sunday, April 26, 2020

On This Day In 2008 - Promotion To League One

Twelve years ago today Hereford United were promoted to League One after they defeated Brentford.

A look back to April 26th 2008.

Promotion Party aided by Bees

Hereford United sealed promotion to League One after a comfortable 3-0 victory at Brentford this afternoon. With the one side nicknamed The Bees losing, the other, Barnet managed a 2-1 win over Stockport County to ensure third-tier football for United next season. Gary Hooper and Theo Robinson scored in the first-half to make things comfortable, and a vocal away support of 1418 saw Simon Johnson finish proceedings off with a late tap-in.

Graham Turner went with the same team than overcame Wrexham in mid-week, with one change being made on the bench; Trevor Benjamin departed leaving Steve Guinan to take his place. The Bees started Alan Connell up front against his former employers, whilst Glenn Poole played on left-wing; the tricky winger was a team-mate of Hooper's at Grays Athletic.

Gary Smith shot well wide in the early stages as Brentford made the more impressive start, but it was United who took the lead, when Hooper netted another vital away goal. After 18 minutes, Robinson flicked to his strike-partner Hooper whose quick touch took him clear of the back-line before striking past the helpless Ben Hamer in goal. Advantage Hereford and chants of "We are going up" were ringing around Griffin Park. Ben Smith's volley tamely went into Hamer's arms, whilst Clint Easton went closer, with a superb touch and shot following a Hooper switch of play bringing out a fine save from Hamer, as he threw himself to his left to tip over.

Ryan Dickson sent a placed shot past the post from the left-hand side, whilst a mistake from Toumani Diagouraga allowed Ricky Shakes to break but his pass to G. Smith deserved better, as he smashed over from 18 yards despite being in a promising position. Then came two minutes of action; firstly United won themselves a penalty after Dean Beckwith was held in the box. Robinson took it and rolled it home from 12 yards, but encroachment from Easton meant it had to be re-taken. It was second time unlucky for Robinson, as he went the same way but Hamer guessed correctly and palmed the powerful penalty clear. It didn't matter though, as a minute after, Robinson netted to double the advantage. A weak back-pass allowed Robinson to race on to the loose ball and round Hamer. The Watford loanee steadied himself before firing into the middle of the goal to the delight of the away support.

Hereford were in control and this continued into the second half, with Hooper's acceleration taking him into the area after being found by Easton but a poked effort was blocked by Hamer. Connell headed a poole free-kick straight at Brown before John Mousinho replaced G. Smith. Fine interplay up top from Robinson and Hooper allowed the latter to chest down a chipped pass from the former, but his placed effort was inches past the far post. Shakes looked lively with his running, but couldn't find an end product, with one shot deflected through to Brown and a header being caught by 'Superman'.

An excellent over-head kick from Connell landed on the roof of the net, but Hereford were rarely troubled, instead, they looked like adding to the score they had accumulated so far. Superb counter-attacking football which started in their own penalty box, allowed Hooper to run 60 yards before sending Robinson through, but the striker's shot trickled past the far corner after beating Hamer. Shakes sent a powerful effort past the post, whilst Connel's chest set up Poole but his volley was wild and harmless. Matthew Heywood came on for Craig Pead, whilst another snapshot from Shakes again proved harmless as it flew well over Brown's bar.

Hooper left the field of play with ten minutes remaining to an excellent and deserved ovation, with Guinan taking his place. Brentford continued to press but to no avail, as a Dickson free-kick was curled past the post. Minutes from time, Brentford's very own Wayne Brown tested his name-sake with a rising half-volley but 'Superman' won the name battle by pushing the ball over the bar. Johnson replaced Robinson with a minute remaining and finished the game off in stoppage time. The final goal followed a magnificent free-kick from Poole which rattled the bar from 25 yards, but after Broadhurst had smashed clear, Trent McClenahan ran onto it, and was away. The Aussie got his head up as he raced into the box and passed across the goal to Johnson, who finished despite scuffing his shot. The referee soon blew up, and within minutes of full-time at Griffin Park, news filtered through about the final result at Underhill; the outcome? Hereford were up.

The scenes that followed were estatic reactions from players and fans alike. There was a pitch invasion by the majority of Bulls' fans on the terrace, whilst the players and coaching staff returned to the pitch to be greeted by cheers and songs of "Going up". It's been a fantastic season, and Hereford can now say a long goodbye to the days of Canvey Island and co, and now look forward to trips to Tranmere, Huddersfield and maybe even Leeds and Nottingham Forest.

6246 people were attracted to Griffin Park for a season best attendance, with Hereford coming out on top. The game itself was pretty routine, with all of United's players contributing to a good performance. In particular, Robinson and Hooper again linked up-well, whilst the defensive duo of Broadhurst and Beckwith were solid as ever, and the protection that Diagouraga gave them cannot be under-estimated.

So it's onto League One next year; there's going to be some sore heads in Herefordshire tomorrow!

Hereford: Brown, McClenahan, Broadhurst, Beckwith, Rose, Igoe, Diagouraga, Smith, Easton, Hooper, Robinson.

Subs: Esson, Collins, Taylor, Johnson, Guinan.

Brentford: Hamer, Pead, Bennett, Osborne, Dickson, Brown, O'Conner, Poole, Shakes, Connell.

Subs: Sankofa, Reid, S. Brown, Heywood, Mousinho.

Video Of The Game:

A Terrific Day For Us - Graham Turner

Speaking to BBC Hereford and Worcester an elated Graham Turner said it had been a terrific day.

"It's been a terrific day for us, it's been a terific season," said Turner

"We've had a group of players that have worked tremendously hard for the club.

"We've had a fair bit of talent in there, a fair bit of experience and it's culimated on a day like today.

"We've had a good following come down here. The support has been terrific."

Turner also spoke to the Hereford Times.

"We would ideally have liked to have done it at home but there is relief now because we have been in contention for some time and sometimes that tension can get to players.

"The supporters have suffered a lot over the years and to be going up again in our second season back in the league is terrific.

"This rates very highly in my career achievements but it’s freshest in the memory.

"Going up at Leicester was a terrific day for us to finally get back up into the League but this is a great occasion.

"You can’t put these days into any sort of order, but this is fantastic."

 Our picture shows Turner giving an interview to Sky Sports.

Onwards and Upwards Part Two

It's probably fair to say that few, if any, Hereford United supporters would have thought that their club might have been celebrating automatic promotion by 5pm yesterday. The odds on both the Bulls winning and the Hatters losing seemed pretty unlikely as supporters set off for Griffin Park.

Some of those travelling from Hereford and the surrounding area must have wondered whether it was going to be one of those days when reports on Five Live revealed a lorry had overturned on the M4 and there were delays. Phone calls and a quick look at the map suggested a detour along the A4 might be a good idea.

However the traffic on the A338 to get to the A4 was very slow and nobody realised the A4 went through several small towns with as many traffic lights as in the whole of Herefordshire. It took over an hour to get back on the M4 at junction 12.

It wasn't too long before the floodlights of Griffin Park came into view just a few hundred yards away to the right. Shouldn't be too long now.

Nobody had factored in the Chiswick roundabout. We just made it in time. A few were late.

Although the away end looked uninspiring from the outside, once inside the view from the upper tire was excellent. The stand had been built close to the pitch and is one of the better away ends, at least upstairs, in League Two. It did help that it nearly full of Hereford United fans many who had found yellow shirts from various seasons to wear. And there were yellow baloons.

Straight from the kick-off the supporters became the twelveth man. Wayne Brown was in the goal below us and could be seen smiling at several of the chants from the 1400 or so behind him.

But many supporters only had one eye on the game, the other looking at their phone waiting for news from Barnet where rivals for automatic promotion Stockport were playing.

The biggest cheer so far came in the 18th minute when Hooper scored and then another massive cheer on 36 minutes when Robinson made it 2-0. And that was the score at half-time.

It was still 0-0 at Barnet then on 47 minutes Puncheon put the Barnet Bees ahead. It didn't take long for news to travel across the capital. A hugh cheer from the away end. Lots of fans checking their phones to ensure the information was correct.

Then a few minutes later another cheer until it was realised that the Hatters had equalised through Rowe. It least it wasn't former Bull Micheal Rose who was subbed at half-time. 2-0 to Hereford and Stockport drawing 1-1.

We had to wait another 30 minutes for more goal action. Akurang had put the Barnet Bees ahead. Is this right? Let's hope this isn't a wind up. It wasn't. The realisation that the Bulls could be promoted by 4.50pm was beginning to sink in.

And the there was the icing on the cake to come with a goal from Simon Johnson on 90 minutes. An emphatic victory for the Bulls. Now what's happened at Underhill?

It seemed an age for the Stockport result to come through. It was probably no more than a minute or so after referee Scott Mathieson had blown for full time at Griffin Park.

We've done it. Stockport have lost. Hereford go up automatically. No play-offs for the Bulls. Three weeks extra holiday for Wayne Brown - just what he had asked for several weeks ago.

Fans on the pitch but the stewards and police, even a few on horseback, were well prepared. They formed a line and all the celebrations were good natured. Players not involved with the game came on and joined their team-mates as did Graham Turner and the rest of his staff.

After a while back to the dressing rooms and then out for an encore. And perhaps something many would never have dreamed might happen.

As manager Graham Turner was in the middle of a group of players and fans, two other players, Kris Taylor and Trevor Benjamin, emerged with a container of water and tipped it over GT's head giving the Hereford United manager a real soaking. He took it well.

Whilst all this was going on, the press both local and national were interviewing whoever they could and there were cameras everywhere. Jubilation.

Slowly all involved with Hereford United returning to the dressing rooms and the supporters began to leave the stadium. But to which pub?

There is a pub at each corner of Griffin Park and soon there were Hereford fans in each of them. Some said their aim was to celebrate in all four. A few probably did.

Brentford supporters wished us well next season. A friendly bunch.

The journey back to God's Country was straight forward compared with the outward journey.

Alan Green was on 6-0-6. Several Hereford voices came over the airwaves. One in particular asked when Green might come to Edgar Street and commentate on a Hereford game.

And one of our party was interviewed by Steve Claridge for Setanta TV. Claridge was reminded how Graham Turner had taken Hereford to League One on next to nothing. Just one transfer - that of Ben Smith from Weymouth for £20,000. Hadn't Claridge been manager there?

On reflection it doesn't get much better. It's not long since the Bulls were playing at, for example, Leigh RMI, Margate and Farnborough.

Onwards and Upwards part two has been completed. Can we hope for part three?

A Look Back At The Celebrations