Hereford FC: A Phoenix from the ashes

Football is a quirky game filled with quirky facts and associations.

Hereford United will always be associated with the FA Cup, thanks to the heroics of Ronnie Radford in that famous cup tie in 1972. It broke records and made time stand-still for every Hereford and Non-League supporter in the country. One hopeful swing of a boot epitomised what the FA Cup is all about, and for the people of Hereford it will be treasured forever.

Fast forward over 40 years and Hereford United no longer exist.

Phoenix club Hereford FC have been born out of the ashes of the old club, and they’ve had a superb first season in existence. Peter Beadle’s men have stormed to the top of the Midland Premier League (The ninth tier of English football) and they’re still in the local MFL Cup.

But the talk of the town is the FA Vase – Non-League’s biggest prize.

It’s the tournament that gives plumbers, teachers and van drivers the chance to play at Wembley in-front of their adoring fans, for whom, it will probably be the biggest trip of their lives.

And Hereford FC have one foot in the final, having won their first-round tie against Salisbury 1-0 on Saturday.

Talented winger Mustapha Bundu grabbed the goal for the Bulls, but it could have been so much better after Pablo Haysham had a goal ruled out for handball – much to the delight of Steve Claridge (remember him?).

Hereford had numerous other chances to wrap up the game, but will have been extremely thankful to goalkeeper Martin Horsell, who made a cracking save in the last ten minutes to make sure Hereford take a 1-0 lead to the Raymond McEnhill Stadium.

The whole town was there to see the victory, and the day very much showed how far the club have come since their first game against FC United of Manchester back in pre-season. There was a dedicated fan-zone, streams of national press and an army of volunteers who, like every week, give hours of time to man the turnstiles and ensure everyone stays safe.

Roared on by a packed crowd of 4,683, it was clear to see this day was a celebration of everything Hereford FC have achieved in a mere 10 months. If you could choose moments that define a season, Bundu’s goal in this tie could be huge. Although a small lead in a game where away goals have no impact, it’s a start and the Bulls will be confident ahead of the return leg.

And despite it not being the FA Cup, Hereford FC’s performance on Saturday shows there is romance in English Cup competitions still. There will be some of a slightly younger age who fail to remember Ronnie Radford’s 35-yard piledriver against Newcastle United all those years ago.

But on a pitch that resembled a ploughed farmer’s field, he showed the world that anything was possible in football.

Step forward Hereford FC, who are well on their way to creating history in their first season in existence.

Do it for Ronnie, lads.