Southern League Premier Central Division
Hereford FC 5 Stratford Town 2
Tuesday 12th September, 2017
Five years ago this month the town made the 50 mile journey for a midweek encounter in the Southern League Premier Division. Arriving in Hereford 45 minutes prior to the game the queue of several hundreds of cars suggested this would not be a normal league encounter!
In fact the attendance of 2,006 would be the smallest ever attendance at Edgar Street for a league game. Of course Meadow End is renowned as the location for one of the most memorable goals in FA Cup history. The Bulls 2 – 1 victory in 1972 over Newcastle United came courtesy of Ronnie Radfords iconic 40 yard strike in the mud bath of a pitch.
Other than the development of the double tiered Len Weston Stand in 1974, Edgar Street has remained virtually unchanged in the fifty years since the famous game. There have been many difficulties encountered by the club in the intervening years resulting in the re-emergence of Hereford United as Hereford FC playing amateur football in the seventh tier of the English game. In contrast to this Stratford had achieved two promotions from the Midlands Alliance to the top tier of the Southern League. The guidance and impressive non league contacts of Carl Adams had hauled the town higher after many years drifting.
Hereford took the lead in the 28th minute when a Garyn Preen shot slipped between the hands of Louis Connor in the Stratford goal. It was an uncharacteristic performance by Connor under the pressure of playing in front of a packed Meadow End. The first half was a nightmare performance for Stratford and the fourth goal by former town maestro Michael McGrath seemed to seal our fate. In the 59th minute the double substitution bringing on Ben Stephens and Mike Taylor breathed new life and in the 78th minute the ball broke to Stephens and he blasted past the Hereford keeper.
Suddenly the town started to believe with several sharp passing moves and for the next 4 minutes we were brilliant it was like watching Brazil! In the 81st minute town centre forward Jazz Luckie scrambled the ball over the line from less than a yard out and the 26 town supporters in the corner of the Len Weston stand celebrated like we had won the FA Cup.
Alas the Bulls scored a fifth goal but the memory of town scoring twice at a famous former football league ground had made the 100 mile roundtrip worthwhile. Sometimes in non league football the memories and time spent with friends is more important than the result.
1) Louis Connor 2) Daniel Summerfield 3) Lee Thomas 4) Andy Gallinagh 5) Loyiso Recci 6) Guy Clark 7) William Grocott 8) James Fry 9) Michael Taylor 10) Jazz Luckie 11) Edwin Ahenkorah
Subs 12) Charlie Evans 14) Justin Marsden 15) James Hancocks 16) Ben Stephens 17) Liam Francis
Hereford went on to win the league that year with a massive 113 points to make it 3 promotions in a row. Let’s hope we return there soon!
Please see the Nostalgia section for other excellent articles by Martin Kenny