Adventures in Football #34: Edgar Street (Hereford FC)
November 16, 2021
HEREFORD FC vs. BLYTH SPARTANS (National League North)
Hereford FC’s badge reads “forever united” under it. A motto harking back to the previous team that played at Edgar Street. Hereford United were a club from 1924-2014. With debts of £1.3M they had no choice but dissolve in 2014 whilst in the National League. Hereford United was a solid club. Mostly lower divisions but famously knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup in 1972. Ronnie Radford! The greatest FA Cup goal of all time. Their disappearance from football in 2014 is one of many sad demises from that period where the upper tiers of non-league football had been flooded with Nouveau riche clubs aiming at the football league.
Hereford FC has a less rich history. They were founded in 2014 and are only seven years old. They won three successive promotions to reach the National League North in 2018 but have found that somewhat trickier. They remain at Edgar Street, which is apparently quite dilapidated. The difference between being run down in non-league where there’s no money and in the Championship (hello, Birmingham City) is that Hereford can’t really do anything about the ground. Therefore, it stands as a relic to the successful days of the 70s and I’m excited to see it.
Sadly, this will be the last game I get to with Josh for a while. He’s moving to somewhere near Woking (which he pronounced as “Wok-King”, I’m sure he won’t get beaten up down there). As a send-off we’re heading down the trainline to Hereford. As a special send off we’re going on a little mini pub crawl first! When we rock up to Hereford it’s already dark (at 4pm, nights are closing in, winter is coming etc). My keen sense of direction first takes us down a dead end street and then off towards the city centre. I was debating going to the cathedral but instead we see some nice old timey buildings littered throughout the city and it’s myriad of back streets and alleyways. It’s a proper mazy city. I love it.
The first stop on the crawl is the King’s Fee (not the King’s Feet as I assumed it was called and the T was missing). It’s a Spoons. They have a guest beer; Shropshire Hills Beauty, which apparently has ceased production. I’ve had it before, it’s nice. Josh has a pint of dark fruits. Sigh. Why do your kids always have such bad taste? He didn’t get it from me. We move on. To right next door! Hogarth’s is pub #2. It’s slim pickings from the taps so I go for a Guinness. It’s actually properly good so I’m pleased with that choice. There’s a bloke sat in the back that looks like the spit of my brother’s mate Jeremy and I know Jem likes a pint in Hereford so I go to say hello to him and bollocks, it’s someone else.
We move swiftly on to the Imperial Inn, which is very bright and kitted out. I don’t like it. The barman is miserable. I would be too mate. Not a proper pub at all. I have an HPA in there because ‘when in Hereford’. Next is a little trip through the back alleys to find the Lichfield Vaults. This is better. It’s a proper old timey pub with a tiny bar area and enormous benches in the beer garden. Unfortunately the beer selection isn’t great and the Guinness is “super chilled”. There’s only one reason you make drinks that cold. It’s so you can’t taste them because they taste bad. I had a Rhymney Golden Ale in here. It was quite nice. The last boozer pre-game is the Wellington thanks to it being close to the ground. I go Guinness again in here and it’s not as good as Hogarth’s pint. According to my Untappd the Rhymney was my 1000th check in on the app.
All in all I enjoyed the pub crawl and we got a decent standard of beer but not really the variety I was hoping for. I also love the little streets although I assume some of them get closed for market day and I was never quite sure if I was in the road in the semi-pedestrianised bits. You may have noticed something screwy about the photos. They are taken from Google Maps. All mine were blurry for some reason. I will put some up of the ground so you can see. I didn’t do anything different. I think my phone is just fucked.
Phwoar! Get a load of that floodlight. Absolute filth mate. I’ve also sneakily managed to get a photo of Josh with his hat on backwards. I assumed he was joining his interpretative street dance crew later for some sort of late night dance off. He took it off because I was laughing at him and his hair couldn’t have been messier if he tried. It looked like a Bryl Creem bomb had exploded under his hat.
We didn’t leave enough time to sink a pint in Ronnie’s bar. It looked packed to be fair, it’s probably for the best. We get inside the ground and oh my word, it is a beauty. It’s got a weird little curve thing at the Meadow End because there used to be a running track around the pitch so the stand was curved. They got rid of the track but never fixed the terracing. I hope they never do, it’s wonderfully original.
The ultras, who are mostly kids, are up the top there and Josh tried to sidle past them to go for a piss and they knocked his hat off. I’m howling just thinking about it. I’m a big fan of this club. Attendance is 1645, which is quite a lot for tier 6 on a cold Tuesday night in November. I went to Bromsgrove Sporting a few weeks back on a Tuesday and they barely had 400. The atmosphere was brilliant too (at Hereford, not Sporting). Fair play to those Hereford boys for coming out and making some noise. It’s not like the team is doing well in the league.
Right, all my other photos are blurry so I’m going to have to steal a few shots of the ground off Google so you can see what it looks like. I’ve even left the tag on the one above you can see who’s taken it. Credit where credit is due. James was in the same end as me but a bit further along to the left. From his vantage point you can see the stadium in all it’s glory. The tiny little away end was empty because who wants to drive 556 miles from Blyth to watch them lose. No one. I like both the stands at the sides. The one to the right, the Len Weston Stand, is two tiered and has terracing at the bottom and seating on top. The other side, the Merton Stand, is all seating and the lower part is boxes. A bit like Luton only with an actual seated stand on top of it.
Onto the game and it’s a bit of a shocker. I know we’re at tier 6 here but Hereford, and the fans, seem intent on demanding long balls that didn’t do anything. When they started playing the ball on the deck there was incessant grumbling. It was very weird. Blyth kept the ball on the ground better and looked the better team, which has to be worrying from a Hereford point of view. Hereford still took the lead thanks to a heavily deflected effort from Ryan McLean. McLean was man of the match and kept his full back busy throughout although he had to deal with a lot of long aimless balls punted in his general direction.
The second half was an edgy affair with Hereford still insisting on playing route one. I have no problem with route one, but you need the right players for it. Look at how Charlton play. They play a direct game but they’ve Jayden Stockley up front fighting the centre backs for the ball in the air. Hereford don’t have a player capable of influencing the game in the air and they shouldn’t be hoofing it long. This changed after Hereford got a second. Oddly enough from a precise through ball that sent Dan Smith clear. He smashed it into the top corner first time, and we were right behind it so we could see it going in from the moment it left his foot. It was a great goal and Hereford started playing some decent football after that. The confidence boosted and all that jazz.
The game finished 2-0 and on the balance of play I thought Hereford were a bit fortunate, but I’m thrilled for the supporters because they were right on it from the start of the game. We head back to Worcester on the train knowing this is the last away day with Josh for quite some time. I’m sure we’ll get to Wok-King at some point but it’s weird to lose someone from your close circle. I’ve loved going to games with him and without Josh’s encouragement I might not be here writing about football at all. Football has given me a reason to carry on writing when my previous source of inspiration just died for me.
Anyway, he’s off to Wok-King and I’m off to Luton at the weekend. The next one of these will be a Luton Town away day at QPR. Friday night football baby! Hopefully my phone lets me take non-blurry photos of it all. One last stupid Josh moment before we go. On the train he’s looking at my newly acquired pink Hereford third shirt (they’re flogging it on the cheap because Adidas aren’t making it anymore) and they’ve famously got a bull on their logo. Their nickname is the Bulls. “Is that a sheep?” says Josh. I ask him what Hereford is famous for? What product, other than cider, is linked to Hereford? “Wine?”
I’m going to miss his dumb comments. They make for fantastic content.