It’s been a fairytale season for Hereford FC. Whilst Jamie Vardy has been having his party at Leicester City and Aston Villa have been begging for the pain to end, there has been an even better story bubbling under the surface in non-league football.
Back in December 2014, Hereford United supporters faced the most cruel of footballing punishments… watching their beloved Bulls sink in a London Court as they were wound up due to a tax debt. Owner Andy Lonsdale had promised to invest £1million into the club, but the money was never seen and on the 19th of December 2014, Hereford United ceased to exist.
Supporters gathered at the hallowed turf of Edgar Street on that fateful day and left flowers as the gates were locked shut forever. One fan told the cameras: “We will come back. It may take ten years but we’ll be back”. The defiance etched on the faces of these Hereford United fans was strong – they weren’t going to give up.
Little did they know they wouldn’t have to wait long for their beloved club to come back.
Hereford FC were formed last summer, and promptly entered the ninth tier of English Football, the Midland Football League Premier Division. Average attendances for this league were less than 100 until Hereford got involved – they averaged more than 2,800 at home matches all season.
After a cautious start, Hereford went on a 27 game-winning streak and their final league stats read: Played 42, won 35, drawn 3, lost four. 138 goals scored with a grand total of 108 points – some winning margin. They’ve added the Polymac Packaging Midland Football league Cup and the HFA County Challenge Cup to their trophy cabinet, too, this season, and are only one game away from a quadruple – all in their first season in existence.
It’s almost nice to look back on how much worry, angst and heartbreak there was back when the old-club was wound up. Now we know how well it’s gone, we can look back fondly and remember just how much it meant to each and every Hereford supporter. The last nine months have flown by in a hurricane of joy and revival, and the people of Hereford are shouting louder about their football club than ever before.
The hoards of supporters that have acted as volunteers all season will have their big day out at Wembley, and there will be more from Hereford in attendance than all of the other three teams there on the day put together.
On Sunday at 12.15, captain Joel Edwards will lead his side out against Morpeth Town in the FA Vase final knowing that a win will give them their fourth trophy of the season in front of nearly 20,000 Hereford supporters, who will clap, cheer and sing whatever the result.
For some people, football is more than a game. To truly appreciate what you have, you need to know how difficult it is to survive without it. Hereford FC have risen from the ashes, and are flying once more.