Friday, April 30, 2004

James and Green in Welsh squad

At last it has been confirmed that both Tony James and Ryan Green of Hereford United have been picked for the Welsh Squad to take part in the Four Nations Tournament next month in Scotland.

Wales manager Andy Beattie named his eighteen man Welsh squad today and it includes several Conference players. Included is Gethin Jones of Merthyr who played in a pre-season friendly for Hereford.

The full squad is: Tony Pennock (Carmarthen Town); Tony Roberts (Dagenham & Redbridge); Tony James (Hereford United); Ryan Green (Hereford United); Chris Todd (Exeter City); Gethin Jones (Merthyr Tydfil); Darren Moss (Shrewsbury Town); Damon Searle (Forest Green Rovers); Steve Evans (Total Network Solutions); Peter Smith (Newtown); Ben Davies (Chester City); Jamie Tolley (Shrewsbury Town); Gary Lloyd (Newport County); Scott Ruscoe (Total Network Solutions); Graham Evans (Caersws); Carl Owens (Porthmadog); Mark Dodds (Port Talbot Town); Craig Steins (Merthyr Tydfil).

Full coverage of Monday's match

BBC Hereford and Worcester will provide full coverage of the second-leg semi-final play-off match between Hereford United and Aldershot Town from Edgar Street on Monday afternoon.

The normal sports programme will feature the game with full commentary on 94.7 FM and all their other frequencies. The show will be presented by Trevor Owens.

There will also be coverage on the internet through the BBC Hereford and Worcester sites.

Although Sky are covering the game between Shrewsbury and Barnet, their cameras will be at Edgar Street and the highlights will be shown.

Rose gets the Bottle

Michael Rose was given a bottle of champers after Sky made him their man of the match last night. It was a well deserved award.

In the Sky interview Rose said: "We scored early on which was a great start. Aldershot battled well, fair play to them. I think it will make a good game on Monday."

Asked if the penalty had changed the game Rose continued: "I think so. Right on half-time, that's when you want to score and I think it got them going and they came back out and played really well."

Graham Turner, also interviewed after the game on Sky, said: "I thought we should have won it. I thought we had a lot of strikes on goal. We are not dissatisfied with the night's performance, but it could have been so much better for us. I thought on the break at times we looked ever so good, creating good movement without really finishing off with a clear-cut chance.

"But it was a terrific game, terrific advert for the Conference I think. It was full of pace, full of commitment."

Car parking fears eased

Fears that the Merton Meadow car park, right next to the football ground, would be half-full of Fairground lorries and trailers on Monday have been discounted.

It had been assumed that as the fair is in Hereford next week, parking for the second-leg of the Conference play-offs between the Bulls and the Shots would be difficult.

However Police sources say that the fair vehicles have agreed not to move into the car park until at least 6pm. This should allow the usual number of parking spaces to be available.

It will still be advisable for those driving to Edgar Street to allow plenty of time to find a parking space as Merton Meadow is likely to fill up quickly on Monday with a near full house expected.

Other car parks are available close to the ground.

Telford's future still in doubt

Whilst Edgar Street is buzzing with the play-offs, Telford's future looks in doubt with the news that their manager, Mick Jones has been relieved of his duties.

It looks as though Telford have no owner, no manager and probably few players after Tuesday when contracts start to come up for renewal.

Meanwhile former Hereford United player John Snape has been appointed player/coach at Worcester City. "I am excited for myself and grateful to manager John Barton that he has given me this opportunity. It is one I couldn't resist," Snape told the Evening News.

Guinan doubt for Monday

Steve Guinan is a real doubt for Monday's second-leg against Aldershot. He hasn't trained for over a week and Graham Turner says that he will have to train before the game to have any chance of taking part.

"He's done no training since a week last Tuesday. So if he is going to be considered for Monday he has got to be able to train tomorrow and Sunday just to get a little bit of work under his belt. We are hopeful that he will be fit but that remains to be seen," said Turner, talking to BBC Hereford & Worcester.

"Obviously when you have a goalscorer that has twenty odd goals this season, not only that but he helps us out from defensive set pieces, he's strong in the air and he holds the ball up well for us. So to some extent we missed that a little bit."

Turner thought Bull was star man

Although the sponsors thought otherwise, Graham Turner thought that Aldershot's Nikki Bull was the man of the match.

"We made their keeper make one or two great saves. I think we had a dozen shots on target, some very good strikes. Last night some of them went straight down the keeper's throat, others he made very good saves from."

Talking about the Man of the Match Turner continued: "I think he made some tremendous saves. How (the sponsors) picked the other lad out I don't know. I think there was only one choice and that was the goalkeeper.

"I really do think he made some terrific saves to keep Aldershot in it."

After the game Aldershot manager, Terry Brown, said his team was ready for the second-leg. “It’ll be a packed Edgar Street and this time the pressure will be all on Hereford, and we will be more than happy to exploit that,” he said. "I thought we battled well. I was worried they might overpower us late on because they are a very fit side but the pressure is all on Hereford now."

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Bull controls Bulls

A report from The Times:

HEREFORD United took a step closer to regaining the place in the Football League that they lost in 1997 when they forced a draw in the first leg of the Nationwide Conference play-off semi-final at the Recreation Ground last night, writes Walter Gammie.

They showed that they have the capacity to pierce any defence, but after David Brown put them into the lead in the seventh minute, they found Nikki Bull, the Aldershot goalkeeper, in fine form. The goal was created by a quick free kick that fed Danny Carey- Bertram, whose shot was parried by Bull, allowing Brown to smash the ball home.

Bull blocked a fierce drive by Ryan Green and palmed away a curling free kick by Michael Rose just before half-time, before further denying Rose and Simon Travis after the interval.

Aldershot forced their way back into the match by applying persistent pressure from set-pieces. They were denied a penalty when Green appeared to elbow a header by Ray Warburton off the line, but justice was done a minute before half-time when Warburton gained a fortunate decision when pushed by Tony James. The penalty was converted by Roscoe D’Sane. “I thought it was a very harsh decision,” Graham Turner, the Hereford manager, said. “The other incident might well have been a penalty, but two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Aldershot shook Hereford after half-time, but Jamie Gosling hesitated to allow Matt Baker to block his shot after a pass by Jon Challinor and Lee Charles side-footed a golden chance over an open goal. “It’ll be a packed Edgar Street and this time the pressure will be all on Hereford, and we will be more than happy to exploit that,” Terry Brown, the Aldershot manager, said.

Result pleases both neither side

A report from this morning's Guardian:

A tense stalemate was fought out here with the result satisfying both sides but pleasing neither. Though Hereford's 11-game winning streak has ended, Graham Turner's team, who finished 21 points ahead of their hosts in the Conference, will go into Monday's second leg confident of capitalising on this hard-earned draw.

Turner felt his side should have had the tie sewn up but the Aldershot keeper Nikki Bull proved equal to everything thrown at him. "Ten shots on goal is a high total in a game like this," said Turner. "On another day they would have been flying in. But it's left the tie finely balanced."

Though Bull was the star man for the part-timers the men in front of him made up for their lack of guile with guts aplenty. "I thought we battled well," said the Aldershot manager Terry Brown. "I was worried they might overpower us late on because they are a very fit side but the pressure is all on Hereford now."

Brown had warned his side in his programme notes that they "could not allow a team that has scored 103 league goals the freedom of the Rec". Yet they failed to heed his words, allowing Danny Carey-Bertram the space to fire a shot that Bull could only palm out to David Brown who hammered home the rebound.

The home side grew in confidence and urgency as the half progressed and went close with Ray Warburton forcing a fine save from Matt Baker in the Hereford goal. The equaliser when it came was therefore fully deserved.

Roscoe D'Sane coolly slotted home from the spot after Warburton had been bundled over - a penalty decision Turner described as "a bit disgusting" - but their hard work was almost wasted within minutes as Michael Rose forced Bull into a save with a stinging drive.

The home side continued the second half as they had ended the first, putting the visitors under pressure even if they also continued their habit of squandering possession. Gosling and then D'Sane both missed good chances to give them the lead but they could not find the right finish.

They may have regretted such wastefulness had Jamie Pitman's deflected shot not spun agonisingly wide with Bull stranded before Hereford pressed hard for a winner late on, but Aldershot remained resolute.

Hereford draw

Hereford drew 1-1 against Aldershot this evening.

Terry's report is here.

Good Luck Hereford United

All the team are off to Aldershot so there will be no more news today.

And because of the time of the game we may be a little late bringing you our normal coverage of the match and reaction to it.

So good luck tonight Hereford United, and don't forget, if you're not going, watch the game on Sky Sports or listen in to the BBC Hereford & Worcester Sports Special from 7pm tonight on 94.7FM. Alternatively, Trevor Owens and Terry Goodwin;s coverage will be streamed at

Bulls seek to banish anxieties

This article is from The Times by Walter Gammie.

EVERYTHING appears to be running in favour of Hereford United as they seek to banish the traditional anxieties of second-placed finishers going into the Nationwide Conference play-offs tonight.

They travel to the Recreation Ground to play Aldershot Town after finishing the league season with their eleventh win in succession. That it came at the expense of Chester City, the champions, was no great consolation. It merely made the one point they finished behind Chester in the race for automatic promotion more agonising.

Hereford are a full-time club seeking to regain the Football League place they lost in 1997 against part-time opponents who were in the Ryman League last season. Twenty-one points separated the teams in the table and Hereford won both their league encounters.

Hereford also take reassurance from the manner in which they have confounded the doubters at every turn. The fluent football they played last August was supposed to founder on muddy pitches; the small size of their squad would be a handicap; they would struggle after selling Paul Parry, their star wing, to Cardiff City in January and losing Ben Smith, their playmaker, with a dislocated shoulder in February. None of these fears was realised. Graham Turner, the manager, made shrewd loan signings and allowed the nimble-footed Rob Purdie to roam free in the role left by Smith.

Steve Guinan scored 25 goals to finish level with David McNiven, of Leigh RMI, as the second-highest scorer in the Conference behind Daryl Clare, of Chester, who scored 29. Guinan’s partnership with David Brown helped Hereford to amass 103 goals to equal the league record of the Barnet team that Barry Fry led to the title in 1991. No team have scored more away goals than the 61 put away by Hereford — boosted by the 9-0 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge in February that sparked their winning sequence.

Terry Brown, the Aldershot manager, is well aware of the threat. “You definitely have to stop them playing,” he said. “It’s not a case of going out and being too cavalier because we did that at times at home against them and they ripped us to bits. We’ve got to negate their strengths.”

In the other semi-final, Shrewsbury Town fancy their chances of getting past Barnet. While not taking the Conference by storm, as they had hoped upon their shock relegation last season, Shrewsbury had enough in hand before the play-offs to be able to rest Luke Rodgers and Duane Darby, their strikers, last Saturday. Jimmy Quinn, 44, the player-manager, helped to fill the gap and scored in the 3-3 draw away to Morecambe.

Barnet’s momentum was damaged by the loss last month of Martin Allen, their manager, to Brentford, but the good news for Paul Fairclough, his replacement until the end of the season, was that Guiliano Grazioli finally fired again after three months without a goal to secure the play-off place against Leigh RMI on Saturday.

Leave out superstitous players

The following article appears in this morning's Daily Telegraph.

The fate of Morecambe last season will come as a salutary warning to Hereford United tonight when they aim to end their seven-year absence from the Football League.

Morecambe, the Nationwide Conference runners-up 12 months ago, finished six points clear of Dagenham and Redbridge, taking four points off the east London club in regular season fixtures, yet still succumbed to the eventual losing finalists in the play-off semi-finals.

If any of Graham Turner's players are superstitious, Hereford's manager would do well to omit them from his side visiting Aldershot tonight in the first leg of the semi-final. For Hereford's parallel with Morecambe cannot be overlooked.

With a record-equalling sequence of 11 successive victories that took them to within a point of the champions Chester, Hereford are the Conference's form team. They finished 21 points clear of the fifth-placed Aldershot, completing a league double over them. Their total of 103 goals was 18 more than Chester and 23 more than their hosts at the Recreation Ground.

"We have played some great stuff and in any other season we would be champions," said Mark Beesley, Hereford's match winner against Chester on Saturday. "But we knew the system before the start of the season."

On paper, at least, the other semi-final is more tightly balanced. Only three points separated third-placed Shrewsbury from fourth-placed Barnet in the final reckoning. Both sides won 1-0 on the other's ground.

Under player-manager Jimmy Quinn, Shrewsbury will be trying to regain lost League status at the first attempt. The 44-year-old Irishman, who scored in the 3-3 draw at Morecambe on Saturday, nevertheless contributes less to the action these days.

He will probably give way to one of the club's top scorers, Luke Rodgers or Duane Darby, who were both rested at the weekend.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Pitman's sights are firmly focused

Jamie Pitman is unlikely to forget the day Hereford United dropped out of the Football League as he was a member of the squad that lost to Brighton. It was he said one of the worst days of his life. But, as he has told the Hereford Times, he is firmly focused on winning that top spot back.

"It would be really nice to be part of the side which goes back to the league, because for the players who were here at the time it was hard to take. You don't get many chances to acheive something in football so we really want to do that this time."

The 28 year-old midfielder says that the side is much younger now and more athletic. He also is full of praise for the management team at Edgar Street.

"We know that the club hasn't got a great of money but everything we can do that is professional we try to do to the best of our ability. We play free-flowing football, Richard O'Kelly encourages us to play football and so does Graham Turner."

Pitman is still a part-time player as he is studying to obtain a degree in Chartered Physiotherapy at Salford University.

"I'm enjoying my studies but I also love my football and I'm fortunate that I'm able to do both," he said.

The studies will have to wait for the next three weeks with the play-offs taking presidence.

"In the play-offs last time I was young and didn't feel the pressure that much. Now, being a little bit older and wiser, I tend to think about it a little bit more and see what's at stake."

It's a special Thursday

Today is Thursday April 29th. For many people it will be just like any other Thursday, but for Hereford United and its supporters this is a special Thursday. Special because today the Bulls play the Shots in the first leg of the semi-finals of the Conference play-offs. For the first time since dropping into the Conference, Hereford are in with a real chance of promotion into Division Three and a win this evening will bring that aim that much closer.

The game is to be played at the "Rec" in the centre of Aldershot. Not perhaps the best stadium in the Conference but one with great atmosphere in which the supporters can do their best to back their team.

Aldershot have a cunning plan to upset the Bulls support. They spilt the away fans. Those who like to sit are put in the opposite end of the stand to where the vast majority of the Bulls will be. It's not so easy to join the signing when the main group is fifty or so yards away.

On the other hand it does mean that there are Bulls fans close to the action where ever on the pitch and should there be more Bulls fans than the 1300 expected by Aldershot then an extra area can be used. This area is to the one side of the goal, next to the seated area. So if there are enough Bulls fans at the ground the Shots plan will backfire. In effect there could be Bulls fans on three sides of the pitch encouraging their team.

When the Bulls played the Shots on Easter Monday it was estimated that at least 800 Hereford fans travelled to Aldershot. Today that number could double. Extra coaches, minibuses, even threads in the forums askling for lists will ensure a good turn-out. If some London Bulls had their way there would have been a special train from the Capital to the ground. As it is, it could be very crowded around tea-time on the main-line to Aldershot. Some commuters might wonder what's going on. Why are all these football supporters on our train on a Thursday they will ask.

Hereford's streets will go quiet this evening. Most of the inhabitants will either be watching the game on Sky or listening to live commentary on BBC Hereford and Worcester. Some will watch at home and some in the pub or club. Many will wish they too had been able to travel to Aldershot, but perhaps work will have made it difficult. Others will say it isn't easy to go to two games in four days but all will be at Aldershot in spirit even if not in body.

The same applies to the many Bulls fans the world over who will be able to listen to the internet broadcast also being provided by BBC Hereford and Worcester. No-one can tell how many Hereford United supporters there are but it is a safe bet that the vast majority will find some way to keep in touch with the action. The advent of the mobile phone and texting will help.

By just after 9.30pm this evening the result will be known. Hereford will start as favourites and should give a good account of themselves. Whatever the result there will only be a break of just under 90 hours before the teams meet again for the second-leg next Monday. A full house at Edgar Street is expected.

Bulls on Sky

Hereford United have been featured on Sky today with interviews from both Graham Turner, the manager, and Tony James, the captain. The pictures came from a very wet training ground.

"In the rain lashed cathedral city of Hereford not even divine intervention could have produced a more thrilling season. Consider the facts: 103 goals scored that's equal to the Conference record, just a point behind champions Chester City, 61 goals on the road including the 9-0 demolition of Dagenham. It seems almost unjust that they have to feature in the play-offs for a Football League place." said the Sky reporter.

Tony James was then interviewed. He said:" Yes you could say that. I suppose with the amount of points we have got, one point behind Chester, a great last run-in, eleven games won. We are a little bit disappointed that we haven't gone up automatically so bring on the start of the play-offs."

Sky:" What's most remarkable about Hereford United is that they have acheived all this with virtually no cash and with a squad bearly into its early twenties."

Graham Turner:" We made a policy decision not so long ago that we could not afford the experienced ex-league pros so it was a matter of taking a high percentage of younger players, still with ambitions, perhaps been discarded by league clubs and that's beginning to pay dividends."

Sky:"After a run of eleven straight wins Hereford United rightly fear no-one but their captain is well aware that sometimes the fancied side in the play-offs trips up."

Tony James:" History tells you that the team that finishes second doesn't always go up. It's two big games now in the semis. You have to prepare well for both of them and just hope you reach the final. If we reach the finals - who knows then."

Sky:"After seven years outside the football league, Hereford United badly need a return both financially and professionally, but Aldershot will certainly have a say about that."

Turner aware of Shots

It's all about the approach taken by his team says Graham Turner looking forward to the first leg of the semi-final of the play-offs.

Turner says he is well aware of the threat posed by Aldershot.

"I think they are a decent footballing side. I think they have got some good players in their squad. For their first year up in the Conference they have had a tremendous season," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

"It won't be easy, we know that but all we have to do is keep our own form. We've played so well in the last eleven games that all we have to do is to recreate that, repeat that, play at the right tempo and we've got every chance of making the final."

Plenty of players to choose from

Graham Turner, the Hereford United manager, should have virtually a full squad to choose from for tomorrow's game at Aldershot.

With the exception of Ben Smith, who is recovering from his shoulder injury, there are no reports of other players with problems.

Both Steve Guinan and Simon Travis are said to be able to rejoin the squad after missing the Chester game.

Meanwhile Danny Carey-Bertram has told the Western Daily Press that he is hoping for a chance to play for at least part of the game against the Shots. He has praised his fellow strikers Steve Guinan, David Brown and Rob Purdie and accepts he may not start the match.

"They have played consistently well all season. But I'd be delighted to get onto the pitch sometime," he said.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

TV appearance for Turner

Graham Turner featured in the ITV1 Carlton Central programme Kicking It Around last night, ahead of Hereford United's play-off battle with Aldershot Town.

The Bulls director of football told of the situation when he took over as chairman, saying: "There's been no pleasure in it but the club has stayed in existence.

"We were in dire financial straits when we were relegated, and it wasn't the relegation that did it, but the years of mismanagement in the League. If we go back, it will be as a stronger outfit than when we went down."

When asked about his future, Turner added: "I was manager when we went down, I've stuck with it, and the big thing is to get the club back into the League.

"There's no guarantee that I'll end my career here, I'd like to think there's other things ahead, but I'd like to see the club back in the League."

United go to Aldershot Town on Thursday evening in the play-off semi-final first-leg.

Brown heaps praise on Turner

Terry Brown, the Aldershot Town manager, has congratulated Hereford United on the superb season, but hopes his side will upset the Bulls' party in the play-offs.

Talking to the Aldershot News and Mail, he said: "I’d like to say congratulations to Graham Turner, who’s done a fantastic job, but we’re going to give you a game on Thursday.

"I’ll be saying to the players that they can get to Stoke City, in the final and I can use loads analogies — the best one being Hednesford. They didn’t think they stood a chance in the FA Trophy semi-finals but they thoroughly deserved to win both games.

"Now I’m hoping that the burden of fear has been taken off them I want them to get out, play their football and enjoy their football again. It’s a clean slate now, It doesn’t matter if you finish 20 points ahead of anybody and we’ll be looking to take advantage of it. We know it’s going to be hard, they’re on a fantastic run but they will fell a bit of pressure won’t they. Anything now will be a double bonus.

"We’ve had two really close games with Hereford, we were really unlucky at their place when we lost 4-3, while in the home game we were at sixes and sevens and they were good value for the win.

"The players are not going to get bigger games than this. There will be two full houses and the atmosphere will be fantastic. The first one is always an awful game, a very nervy affair, and I wouldn’t mind betting it will go down to the last 15 minutes at Hereford in the second game."

Brown also revealed that the Shots will be practising penalty kicks as both last season's Play-Off semi-finals were decided from the spot and Brown is well aware that getting ready for such an event is vital. He added: “Yes, before you ask, we will be practising penalties. I don’t care how we win it, just as long as we do."

Brown is hoping to have defender Simon Downer back in action.

Record Conference crowds

John Moules, Chief Executive of the Conference has told BBC Sport that the league is celebrating record attendances as its season heads for a climax with the promotion play-offs. More people than ever watched Conferences games in the regular season, which finished last Saturday.

"We are absolutely thrilled," said Moules. "If you add the play-offs and cup matches to that, close to 1m people will have watched our football this season. It shows we are going from strength to strength. The facilities and standard of football is improving all the time.

"A lot of things have contributed, but this is still traditional English football, which is affordable, family football played at a high standard."

Hereford United's gates have averaged 3704 compared with 2038 last season.

Guinan expected to start

The Western Daily Press is reporting this morning that Steve Guinan, Hereford United's leading marksman, is expected to take his place in the Bulls' starting line-up for their crucial play-off semi-final at Aldershot on Thursday evening.

Guinan, who has been voted Hereford's player of the year last Saturday, missed the 2-1 victory over champions Chester City due to a niggling neck injury.

Meanwhile it has been announced that Mr Singh will referee the first-leg between the Bulls and the Shots.

Monday, April 26, 2004

BBC coverage at Aldershot

BBC Hereford and Worcester will be at Aldershot on Thursday to cover the first semi-final leg of the play-offs between Aldershot and Hereford United.

There will be a special sports programme from the ground starting after the 7pm news on 94.7 FM with Trevor Owens and Terry Goodwin.

Live coverage of the game will also be available on the internet site of BBC Hereford & Worcester by clicking here.

For the home leg next Monday, there will be a Sports Special from Edgar Street with Trevor Owens and Keith Hall. Full commentary will also be streamed onto the internet.

More in hope than expectation

The official Aldershot website has printed an article by Steve Gibbs on how he sees Aldershot's chances in the play-offs. Below is an edited version:

The Shots have never done things the easy way, but eventually, with the tension threatening to engulf everyone and everything, we limped into the play-offs.

And so, on Thursday, the season starts anew against Hereford – provider of two of the most memorable games in an already stellar season. We go more in hope than expectation, of course, but that’s where we came in, way back in August.

Every victory has taken us further than we could have hoped for, and now it’s time for the clich├ęs to come flooding back; the 2nd place team never wins the play-offs; we’re long overdue to beat Hereford; League placing counts for nothing in a cup-tie; the pressure is all on them; Doncaster went up from 5th last year; evoke the spirit of 87 to beat another Graham Turner team; surely we must win again soon??

Should we just say to hell with everything, have a great time, go for it on and off the pitch, and see what happens? Which is what we’ve been doing most of the season, anyway, and it seems to have worked pretty well up to now!

That’s not to say the team should lose their heads and attack at all costs, but merely to play with a freedom and a conviction born of the knowledge that expectations have been exceeded and anything else will be a glorious bonus. We do seem to play better as underdogs, after all..

Hereford are rightly favourites for the second promotion place, and their fluid attacking play would surely pose a problem for many teams in Division 3, but favouritism can be as much a burden as a spur. And with The Shots having visibly wilted in the final month of a tiring season, perhaps the players can be reinvigorated to produce the ultimate surprise.

Bulls are bookies favourites

Hereford United are the bookies favourites to win the Conference Play-offs.

Graham Turner's Hereford United are 6/4 favourites with UK Betting to win the Nationwide Conference play-off finals.

Turner's men travel to 9/2 outsiders Aldershot on Thursday for the first leg of their play-off semi-final, having missed out on automatic promotion by just a single point.

"If there was any justice in football then Hereford would win promotion to Nationwide Three. The Bulls finished a massive 17 points clear of third-placed Shrewsbury and have won their last 11 games," said the firm's football spokesman Grant Williams.

"They are certainly worthy favourites for the end of season promotion lottery and if they can play anywhere near the level they have been over the last couple of months, 6/4 could prove to be a massive price."

Jimmy Quinn's Shrewsbury Town come next in the firm's betting at 9/4 after losing just one of their last eight league games.

The Shrews take on fourth-placed Barnet over two legs, with the London club priced up at 7/2 after winning just two of their last eight matches.

Nationwide Conference Play-Off Winner:

Hereford 6/4

Shrewsbury 9/4

Barnet 7/2

Aldershot 9/2

First leg to be televised

Sky Sports have announced that Hereford United's away play-off semi final will be televised live.

The first-leg encounter, to be played at Aldershot Town's Recreation Ground, will kick-off at 7.45pm, and for those travelling down from Herefordshire, no advance tickets are required as it is pay-on-the-day.

Prices are as follows: Adult Terrace £10.00; Concession Terrace £5.00; Adult Seating £12.00; Concession Seating £7.00. Please arrive early and if possible bring the correct change.

The second-leg, on Bank Holiday Monday, may also be televised, but a decision will be made after the first-leg matches. The other game on Thursday sees Barnet host Shrewsbury Town.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Barnet did not want to play Hereford

Barnet are playing Shrewsbury in the Play-offs on Thursday and seem pleased that Hereford are not the opposition.

Forward Joe Gamble told the Times: “We kept thinking we were going to play Hereford, who are very unlucky not to be going up. Shrewsbury came here a few weeks ago and deserved to beat us, but we beat them at their place earlier in the season, so it’s going to be a tough game. But I am happier to be playing Shrewsbury than Hereford.”

Champion retains league title

Well done to Len Weston's Last Stand, who is the winner of the Predictions League competition for the second season running.

He has a trick to all of this success, but he wants to keep it a secret!

Tracey's Boys won the monthly award.

Turner to win manager of the month again

Confguide are reporting that Graham Turner will be awarded the Manager of the Month award for April whatever happens at Aldershot on Thursday.

Hereford United have won all five of their Conference games in April which means that their points total currently stands at 3.6 points per game, and even a defeat in the Aldershot play-off match would only reduce that to 3.0, which couldn't be caught.

More details awaited

More details on the arrangements for the play-offs are awaited.

Sky are to cover two of the four games in the semi-finals and the final but have not yet announced which games will be covered next Thursday or the following Monday.

It is also thought that the kick-off time for the Bank Holiday fixture at Edgar Street may be changed to a 1pm start. Much could depend on Police reaction to the news that Aldershot are the visitors.

Announcements are expected tomorrow.

On the financial side, the superb attendances at Edgar Street have brought much needed extra revenue to Hereford United. Using the figure of £7 per person , this suggests that income from the turnstiles has risen by about £240,000 this season. And there are profits from the play-offs to come.

There is also the cash raised from the sale of Paul Parry to take into account.

Meanwhile Steve Guinan was voted the Player of the Year at HUISA's function last night.

Hereford deserve to go up says Wright

Hereford deserve to go up is the title of a piece in today's Non-League Paper. The Chester manager Mark Wright gave a long interview to the paper before yesterday's game at Edgar Street.

"Hereford United gave my Chester team such a titanic championship battle that I hope they follow us up into the Football League by winning the Conference play-offs. I made a point of sending United manager a text after we had beaten Scarborough to win the title wishing his side all the best in the play-offs - and I sincerely meant it," said Wright.

"If I had to pick a winner I have got to say that Hereford deserve to be in the Third Division next season after all they have achieved this season. They came so close to going up automatically, scoring more than 100 goals and with their magnificent support they should be a League club.

"United play free-flowing football, have a strong defence and certainly know how to score with Steve Guinan their danger man up front and David Brown providing the quality.

"Graham Turner has done such an exceptional job for Hereford. It is his club and if any manager deserves to win promotion it's him. Hereford need to go up this year after what they have done because it will be so hard for them playing Conference football next season if they don't."

He also says that Shrewsbury are the big threat to the Bulls and he thinks that they will meet in the final.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Some of the play-off rules

Firstly the promotion semi-finals - if aggregate scores are level after 90 minutes of the 2nd leg, "silver goal" extra time applies. If still level, then the usual penalty shoot-out separates the sides. At no point does an "away goal counts extra" rule apply.

Secondly the promotion final - The promotion final is a single leg on a neutral ground. Silver goal and penalties apply as tie-breakers if necessary.

Thirdly how are the receipts split - For the semi-finals, the net gate receipts are divided equally among the participating clubs, after deduction of allowable expenses and an unspecified levy to the Conference.

The visiting club in each match is entitled to 10% of the ticket allocation, or a minimum of 600 were that's greater.

For the final, the clubs act as agents for the Conference, and ticket fees go to a central pot. The money left after expenses and a levy for the Conference is split between the participating clubs. TV income is accounted for separately, and goes straight to the Conference.

Information courtesy of the Conference Guide.

Brown can play in play-off final

Even though David Brown, the Hereford United striker, received his tenth yellow card of the season he can still take part in the play-off final should Hereford get to Stoke.

The rules are set out on the FA site and are as follows:

v) If a player accumulates 10 (ten) recorded cautions in any Competition between the opening day of the Playing Season and the last day of the same Season, he will be: "Severely Censured and Warned as to his future Conduct"

Had he collected his ten cards two weeks ago he would have missed two games.

Graham Turner may have taken Brown off this afternoon after receiving his yellow card as he feared he might have received a second which would have meant a sending-off. Had this happened then he would have been punished.

Highest attendance in Conference

Today's attendance at Edgar Street was the highest in the Conference this season.

The gate was 7,240, some 500 more than the previous high at Shrewsbury when 6,738 were counted in their game against Telford. It is the sixth highest Conference gate since the league began.

It was also the highest attendance for the Bulls since Leicester were the visitors in the FA Cup several seasons ago, and the top Conference gate since Hereford joined this league.

The aggregate attendance for all the Conference games at Edgar Street this season is 77,784 or an average of 3704 which is an increase of nearly 82% over last season's average of 2038.

Beesley gets the winner

Mark Beesley scored the winning goal this afternoon, aided by a slight deflection from ex-Hereford United defender Chris Lane.

It must have been sweet to score against his old club, Chester, who released him earlier this season.

"It was nice to score against them," Beesley told BBC Hereford & Worcester. " It was a good performance today and hopefully it can continue on Thursday when we go to Aldershot. If we can win there and bring them back here and win again, then it will be on to Stoke."

"It's eleven on the bounce now so hopefully we can make it twelve, thirteen, fourteen. If we win fourteen on the bounce we will be all celebrating at Stoke."

There still seems to be some confusion over David Brown who was the only Bulls player to be booked today. He now has ten cards so may miss the play-off final assuming the Bulls get there. He was replaced by Beesley just after receiving his card.

Meanwhile, the Bulls tally of goals for the Conference season is 103. This means they go into the record book with Barnet as joint top scores in the Conference. The record of eleven wins in a row is also a record equalling that of Dagenham two seasons ago.

However, Steve Guinan missed today's match with a stiff neck so was unable to have a crack at becoming this season's top scorer in the Conference. Simon Travis also missed the game but both Rob Purdie and Tony James played for the full ninety minutes.

It's Aldershot in the play-offs

Hereford United will meet Aldershot in the play-offs. The first game is next Thursday evening and the return will be on the following Bank Holiday Monday.

Hereford beat Chester 2-1 this afternoon, and Brian's report can be read here.

Aldershot were held to a draw by Tamworth this afternoon and as Barnet defeated Leigh RMI, the Shots drop to fifth place in the Conference table. The other play-off game will be between Shrewsbury and Barnet, with the first leg at Underhill also on Thursday.

Aldershot have made their game with the Bulls pay on the gate, so there appears to be no restrictions on how many Bulls fans can travel.

The Bulls have already beaten the Shots twice this season, so will start favourites for the games.

Wright to stay at Burton

Former Hereford United captain and fans favourite Ian Wright is expected to be offered another year long contract at Burton Albion.

Wright, now 32, moved to Burton on a one year deal from Edgar Street last summer but has made less than twenty starts because of injury problems.

Nigel Clough, the Burton manager, confirmed yesterday than Wright's name is on his retained list. He told the Burton Mail: "It's been a difficult and, injury-wise, a disappointing season for Ian but we think he still has plenty to offer.

"It's not as though he's 35 or 36 and coming to the end of his career. We haven't yet sat down and discussed terms with him, but we've let it be known to him that we would like him to stay because we're confident we'll get a good season out of him next time round.

"He just needs to do some work in the summer to build up his ankle and his general fitness, so that he's flying by the time we report back for training in July."

Hereford beat the Champions


Hereford United defeated Chester 2-1 this afternoon in front of a crowd of 7240 at Edgar Street. Full report later .

Friday, April 23, 2004

Barnet ticketing details

The Barnet Official website has published details of arrangements for tickets for their first play-off game on Thursday April 29th, kick-off 7.45pm, which could be against Hereford United.

Barnet will issue tickets for Hereford United to sell. However it is not yet known when they will be available. Their home tickets go on sale on Tuesday, again assuming Barnet are in the play-offs.

The admission charges have risen for the game and there are no concessions for away supporters, according to the website. However, last time the teams met, vouchers were available from Edgar Street to gain concessionary rates, and it is thought that the Underhill-based outfit have sent some concessionary tickets. Hereford fans have been allocated the South-East terrace and South Stand.

Prices are expected to be as follows: Terraces £10/£12. Stand £14.

Practice for play-offs tomorrow

Although Graham Turner thinks that the big match atmosphere created by having a gate of around 7,000 tomorrow against Chester will help his players acclimatise for the play-offs, he also wants to use the game as preparation for the play-offs.

Speaking on BBC Hereford & Worcester, Turner said: "The tempo we play at, the way we work, the getting used to an atmosphere of 7,000, all those sort of things come into play. That's what we are looking for.

"We want to win the game. Winning is a habit. We've picked up that good habit over recent weeks and we've got to keep that going."

Regarding possible suspensions which would mean players missing the play-off final, Turner is worried about David Brown. "I think the big danger is Brown who is on nine bookings. If we leave players out, I think it is too long a gap for match practice. So the thoughts are with Brown, behave yourself, don't do anything silly.

Of players carrying injuries, he added: "If there is any doubt we will leave them out, but I think they will be fit enough to play even if not for the full ninety minutes I would like them to get a half or an hour just to keep themselves topped up with match fitness."

Chester short of players

Chester may be unable to bring a full squad of sixteen players to Edgar Street tomorrow, according to the Chester Chronicle.

Manager Mark Wright said: "The Conference have allowed Hereford to sign goalkeeper Chris McKenzie from Telford but wouldn't let us sign some youngsters to play a game which has no bearing on the Conference honours. It is stupid. It doesn't make sense. I think the Conference make up their own rules. At the moment, I don't know who is going to be available."

The Chester manager has several players unavailable for the fixture and may have only two substitutes on the bench in the all-ticket game at Edgar Street.

With Kevin McIntyre suspended, Danny Collins sidelined with a leg fracture and Shaun Carey (hamstring) among those under treatment, and Daryl Clare back home in Grimsby to be with his new son who has been having breathing problems, Wright sought permission to sign two or three teenagers on the necessary forms.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Eighteen man squad for play-offs

Graham Turner seems happy with his squad for the play-offs after obtaining goalkeeping cover for injured Ben Scott.

"We've got an 18-man squad going into the play-offs, and I'm very pleased with the quality of players that we've got in there," Turner told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

He may be without a couple of players for the game with Chester tomorrow as several have reported knocks and strains, but all appear to be minor and should be fit for next Thursday's first play-off match. Tony James, Rob Purdie, Danny Williams, Steve Guinan and Simon Travis are all doubts.

Chester will be without Danny Collins (foot), Daryl Clare and Kevin McIntyre (suspended) for the game.

Also, Chester have announced that ticket prices will rise with their promotion to Division Three next season. Some prices will rise by 30%. For example, an adult terrace season ticket will cost £247.

Ten Conference Refs promoted

Ten Conference referees have been promoted to higher leagues.

It is beleived that fourteen applied for inclusion on the Football League Referees list for next season. Interviews took place last Monday and the list was released yesterday.

The following have been promoted:

Jarnail Singh - Middlesex

Fred Graham - Essex

Keith Stroud - Dorest

Russell Booth - Nottingham

Paul Melin - Surrey

Andy Woolmer - Northampton

Gary Lewis - Cambridge

Clive Oliver - Northumberland

Mick Russell - Hertfordshire

Darren Drysdale - Lincolnshire

The four who have not been promoted:

Bob Desmond - Gloucestershire

Dave Foster - Newcastle

Bob Pollock - Liverpool

Dean Whitestone - Northampton

The referee for tomorrow's game at Edgar Street will be Keith Stroud.

Brown wants to avoid Hereford

Having said earlier in the week that he thinks Hereford United might slip-up in the playoffs, Terry Brown now says he wants to avoid the Bulls.

The Aldershot manager is hoping that his side will acheive their first win in six league and cup games on Saturday.

"It's a nervous time of year for all clubs in this position. Jumping that final fence is sometimes the most difficult one to climb," Brown told the Aldershot News and Mail. "Look at Exeter. Why would they go all that way before losing their last three games, and Barnet, with only one win in seven. It makes no sense."

Although a draw will do, a win is vital for the Shots if they are to avoid second-place Hereford in the Play-off semi-final.

Brown is well aware of what is required. He added: "A win will give us fourth place and a tie against Shrewsbury, which will give us a huge psychological boost seeing as we beat them at their place a month ago.

"You have to be realistic and say, ideally, we want to avoid Hereford as they and Chester are the best two teams in the league. They have each won 27 games to our 20 and Hereford have beaten us twice, albeit only just."

How Chris came back to Hereford

Chris MacKenzie, the Telford goalkeeper on loan to the Bulls, was spotted in the dressing room by Dave Bradley at Edgar Street this morning. Bradley used to cover Hereford United for BBC Hereford & Worcester.

"Chris, Chris MacKenzie is it not?" asked Bradley. "Indeed it is, back at Edgar Street. Tell us the story."

"I had a phone call Wednesday morning," said MacKenzie. "It said that they had a goalkeeper problem down here and did I fancy it. Of course everybody knows the situation at Telford is touch and go whether there will be a club on Monday morning. We'll all on half pay and not getting paid so it was a situation that suited everybody really. Hereford get a goalie, Telford get off the wage bill and I get a job. So I couldn't say no. And of course coming back to my old club as well."

Asked about moving after the transfer deadline, MacKenzie replied: "I just think that the club got dispensation because of only one fit goalkeeper at such an important period of the season. With the play-offs coming up the League have said yes."

"You could have a great end to the season," suggested Bradley. MacKenzie replied: "I hope so although I might be a bit of a bystander just enjoying looking at everybody else!"

Training at Edgar Street

Dave Bradley of BBC Hereford & Worcester broadcast his mid-morning programme from Edgar Street today and during the course of the proceedings had a chat with Hereford United coach and physio Richard O'Kelly. He started by asking O'Kelly how busy he was.

"We have quite a busy period over the last ten or twelve weeks and we've picked up a few niggles and the like. What happens is that the players come in the morning to clear up any little things like strappings for ankles, making sure that their little knocks and brusies are okay to train. They go and use the equipment in the gym for a little warm up with stretching exercises and using the weights.It's all basically making sure they are ready to train and to play on Saturday.

Questioned on how much he relies on players doing their own warm-ups, O'Kelly said: "They are a fantastic bunch of players. With the circumstances at the football club we are not over blessed with staff and the players have to take an awful lot of responsibility for themselves. Barring one or two teething problems they certainly done that this season. I think the performances, not only on a Saturday, but on a day to day on the training pitch have shown that. They train at the same tempo as they play the game at."

It was a nice day today so the players wanted to go out but what happens on a middle of winter, pouring with rain, day O'Kelly was asked. "They're like that all the time. I think what it is that at some football clubs they would stay with the physio but since I'm the coach and the physio they'll come with me as it can be quite boring back here! Generally they all want to train. Hopefully they enjoy the training that myself and Graham Turner put on and they certainly shows that when they are out there."

Comparing coaching and playing O'Kelly said: "You can't beat playing. It's what everybody wants to do."

Offer came out of the blue

Chris MacKenzie has told the Shropshire Star that the offer to join Hereford United for a month had come out of the blue. However he hopes that his career at Telford can continue if a solution to the Buck's problems can be found.

"Obviously everyone is in the dark at the moment and the sooner the situation is resolved the better," he said. "This offer came up for Hereford out of the blue and I felt it was in everyone's best interests if I took it up.

"But goalkeepers usually stay at a club for some time and hopefully I can do that with Telford. I have had a good season,settled in well and enjoy living in the area and I would like that to continue. So although I have joined Hereford at the moment, my thoughts are still very much with Telford and their battle for survival."

Barring injury or suspension, MacKenzie is likely to play second fiddle to Hereford first choice Matt Baker for the play-offs but is still relishing the prospect of being involved.

He added: "I would like to have stayed for the last two games because it has been a topsy turvy season and I think the events of the last few weeks have drawn the lads closer together.

"But I think this move helps everybody. Hereford have a goalkeeper problem and Telford have a cash problem and it helps both. And it keeps my season going and also ensures I will get a full month's wages because it has obviously been difficult for all the lads since we took the deferral.

"I am fully aware I will be sat on the bench and probably won't get a game but something very exciting might be about to happen at Hereford and it is always nice to be part that."

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

James and Purdie doubts for Saturday

Tony James is suffering from a knee problem and Rob Purdie has a hip injury ahead of this Saturday's match against Chester City at Edgar Street, kick off 3pm.

"If they are fit they will play," said Bulls manager Graham Turner in today's Hereford Times. "The best preparation for the play-offs is to play games at the right tempo."

Danny Williams played for the reserves on Tuesday, but is also a doubt having received an ankle knock. The team won the Central Conference league title when they beat Nuneaton away 2-1.

Danny Carey-Bertram scored both goals.

Baker asks for good behaviour

Matt Baker has asked Hereford United supporters to be on their best behaviour when Chester visit Edgar Street on Saturday.

"I must ask for calm for our final home match on Saturday," Baker told the Hereford Journal. "Whatever your feelings for our opponents you must conduct yourselves in the proper manner and under no circumstances cause trouble or enter the field of play. That is for players and players only.

"We have already had trouble at Burton and a handbags incident at Halifax, and any more problems could mean serious repercussions for the football club and damage our bid for promotion.

"I hope that, on Saturday, cooler heads will prevail."

Meanwhile, for Saturday's game Skybet are suggesting a Hereford victory. Latest odds are Hereford 11-8, Chester 13-8, and a draw is offered at 11-5.

Brown thinks Bulls will trip up

Terry Brown, the Aldershot manager, thinks that Hereford United may fail to win the play-offs.

"My hunch is that Exeter and Aldershot will eventually get through and may even contest the final," he told the Exeter Express and Echo. "I know Hereford are flying and will be favourites, but I have a feeling they will be beaten."

After Morecambe’s 1-1 draw with Margate on Sunday afternoon, Aldershot know that a win or a draw against Tamworth on Saturday will ensure their place in the final four.

If the Shots win it will set up a semi final with Shrewsbury Town, while a draw will also be good enough to ensure the Shots will make the play offs regardless of the Barnet v Leigh RMI result.

Depending on that result, however, the Shots could drop to fifth in the table, thus pitching them with old foes Hereford, who are assured of finishing second.

Bucks loan Mackenzie to Bulls

Hereford United have agreed to take Chris Mackenie on loan from Telford for a month.

The Telford goalkeeper has joined Nationwide Conference promotion hopefuls Hereford as the Bucks' financial crisis continues to take effect, reports the Shropshire Star. The deal was agreed with Graham Turner yesterday and means MacKenzie, rated as one of the top keepers in the Conference, will be eligible to play in the play-offs for the Bulls.

Special exemption has been given to Hereford to sign a goalkeeper after the transfer deadline as their reserve stopper Ben Scott has broken a thumb.

MacKenzie is no stranger to Edgar Street as he made more than 80 appearances during a three year stint between 1994 and 1997. He came from Corby and left Hereford to go to Leyton Orient. Telford's acting chairman Rob Cave insisted the deal had been agreed in the best interests of the club and the player.

"In ideal circumstances, this is not something we would have considered," he said. "But it means Chris is getting paid his full wages and has the chance to be involved in some important games - and also means that it reduces our wage bill which is obviously important at the moment."

Telford manager Mick Jones added: "I can see how hard the directors are working at the moment and our position is so dire that I have to be supportive of every decision they make.

"Chris has been fantastic for us and I am sure he will do well at Hereford."

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Shrewsbury slip up

Shrewsbury Town could only draw at home against Gravesend this evening. The final score was 1-1.

Shrewsbury will finish in third place in the Conference whatever happens in their last game of their league programme which is a potentially difficult away fixture at Morecambe.

Darren Moss was sent off for Shrewsbury in tonight's game and so should they reach the final of the play-offs he could miss the game.

It still looks likely that Hereford United will play Barnet in the play-offs and, if so, then the other fixture will probably be between Shrewsbury and Aldershot.

Meanwhile tickets went on sale at Edgar Street for the home leg of the play-offs today. This fixture is likely to take place on May Bank Holiday Monday.

Monday, April 19, 2004

More records can be broken

Hereford United need to score three more goals to break the highest goal total for a season in the Conference, an accolade currently held by Barnet.

The Bulls passed the 100 mark last Saturday at Leigh when substitute Danny Carey-Bertram scored. Steve Guinan then took the total to 101, a club record, with his late goal.

With nothing but pride to play for on Saturday when Conference champions Chester City are the visitiors, the Bulls have a real chance to break or equal the record.

A Conference record already broken is the total amount of away goals scored by the Bulls this season. The final total was 61 which equates to 2.9 goals per game. The previous record was 53 held by Barnet. To have won 14 of their away games is also a club record for the Bulls. The Conference away record is 15 wins held by Scarborough.

The ten games in a row without defeat is another club record. Should the Bulls win the Chester game it will become a joint Conference record equaling Dagenham's achievement in the 2002/2003 season. However, it looks like the Bulls will just fail to head the fair play table this season. Burton are the current leaders with the Bulls second.

And Steve Guinan will need to score six goals next Saturday, without any contribution from Chester's Daryl Clare, if he is to get into the record book as leading scorer for this season. That's a tall order, even for Guinan!

Play-off ticket information

Hereford United have announced information about the purchase of tickets for the home leg of the play-offs semi-final.

The tickets are likely to be for the Bank Holiday Monday second-leg game, which is currently scheduled to be an afternoon kick-off.

Further from the Liaison meeting tonight, telephone and postal bookings are being taken until Monday only.

And, on the subject of tickets for the away leg, some clubs haven't printed tickets yet so if there's a mad two-day rush, it is not the fault of Hereford United - they can only sell what they've been given!

For the travel for the away leg, Richard and Dave from HUISA are scheduled to be in the VP Club on Sunday from midday until 2pm to take bookings for the coaches. Further announcements to be made as and when we actually know who we're facing!

Below is a copy of the information released by the club, courtesy of the official website.

Play-Off Ticketing Information

Prices: Seats - Adults £15.00 Concessions £9.00; Terrace - Adults £12.00 Concessions £6.00

Tuesday 20th April - Season Ticket Holders & Membership Card Holders

Wednesday 21st April - Season Ticket Holders & Membership Card Holders

Thursday 22nd April - Season Tickets Holders & Membership Card Holders & Shrewsbury Ticket Stubs

Friday 23rd April - General Public

Saturday 24th April - Ticket Sales-General Public (Please Note - The situation will be monitored by Police on this day due to the home match taking place - If crowd problems occur then the club will be ordered by the Police to close the ticket sales)

Monday 26th April - General Ticket Sales


Disabled team to play Chelsea

This coming Wednesday there is a Disability Football Festival being held at Hereford Leisure Centre in conjunction with the Herefordshire Football Association and Disability Sports.

Under 16s can play between 10 and 11.30am, with Adults from 1pm until 2.15pm, and the sessions will be run by FA Qualified Coaches.

If you require further information, please contact Phil Hall on 07957 432966, or just turn up!

Furthermore, this Sunday, the Hereford United Disabled Team are to play their counterparts from Chelsea at Edgar Street, kick off 3pm.

The game is in the semi-final of the Karl Waldren Cup; entry is 50p per person and there are refreshments available on the day.

All support is greatly appreciated.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Memorial service for John Charles

The memorial service for John Charles took place today in Swansea. His ashes were given to the city where he was born.

Speakers at the service included the former Wales and Swansea star John Toshack, while fellow footballers George Best, Mark Hughes and Eddie Gray were in the crowd.

It is believed that Hereford United were represented.

Preparation for the play-offs

Both Graham Turner and Andy Tretton have spoken to BBC Hereford & Worcester about the Nationwide Conference play-offs, in which Hereford United will be involved.

Manager Turner says preparation is a must. "What we have to do now is to make sure we are prepared for the play-offs," he said. "Sometimes the major disappointment of just missing out can be a handicap. Often you see the side that finishes in the top play-off position doesn't make it to the next league. We have got to make sure that the disappointment is put on one side and the preparation is positive for the play-offs.

"There are some good teams this season in the play-offs and it will be a tall order. But the way we have gone all season with confidence and professionalism amongst the players has been outstanding and all we need to do is to keep that going for four more games.

Asked about the support for a midweek play-off game, Turner added: "We've had tremendous support away from home all season where ever it is. If it's Aldershot, perhaps Barnet or Exeter then although the distances are great, our supporters will make every effort to get there. I know the games will be supported in large numbers, which is crucial. The support at Aldershot on Easter Monday was tremendous. Their help in the last twenty minutes was crucial to us."

Defender Andy Tretton was pleased that the Bulls kept their run of wins going at Leigh and was also happy that the team has now scored 101 goals in the Conference this season.

"If it had all built up to hang on next Saturday and then we didn't go up, mentally that would have been tough to take," commented Tretton."At least we can sit back for a week now and just prepare for the play-offs. A number of us have got bumps and brusies so we might be able to look after them.

"We want to put up a good show against Chester but I think the main thing is that we've come through injury and suspension free and we can have a real good crack at the play-offs."

Hereford must pay Willis' wages

Lincoln City manager Keith Alexander says that the Bulls are responsible for paying Scott Willis's wages even though he has left Edgar Street.

Willis was dismissed from Hereford after a "serious breach of club discipline". Graham Turner has not commented on the wage row, but Lincoln seem adamant that the Bulls must honour any deal.

"As far as we are concerned Hereford took him until May 15th and he remains their player until then. We certainly have no intention of recalling him and as such they remain responsible for his wages," Alexander told the Non-League Paper.

"He is suspended next week anyway, and he was suspended playing for Hereford. It makes you wonder what is going on, but it's not our problem."

Bulls in English squad

Three Hereford United players have been chosen to join the England squad for the Four Nations Championships to be held in Scotland next month.

Matt Baker, Michael Rose and Steve Guinan are all in the main squad which comprises eighteen players. Andy Tretton and Rob Purdie are in the so-called twelve-man contingency squad.

The criteria for selection appears to have changed for this competition as far as England are concerned as older players have been chosen this time.

Tony James is expected to feature for Wales, and Ryan Green could be named in their squad too.

Turner praises Chester

Hereford United manager Graham Turner has congratulated Chester on winning the Conference title. He said that the Bulls had hoped for a miracle yesterday at Chester but it had been a tall order.

Quoted in the Non-League Paper, Turner said: "It has taken a very good side to have beaten us this season, and Chester are a very good side. You can't take anything away from what they have achieved, but I think we can take a lot of pride from what we have achieved and run them close.

"To go as we have ten matches with ten wins has asked a lot of questions of Chester but they have dealt with the pressure. We are disappointed but all we can do is say well done to Chester and we will look forward to the play-offs.

"We have scored 101 goals which is an incredible record. We have graced the Conference with some of our play. Sometimes it happens that the side that finishes runners-up doesn't always perform in the play-offs. We have to make sure that the run we have had stands us in good stead."

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Which team will Hereford play?

Whilst there is another game for Hereford United before the play-offs, most interest will now focus on who the Bulls will meet in the play-offs.

Having come second in the Conference the Bulls will play whichever team comes fifth in the first round of the play-offs. And the Bulls are likely to want to meet that team on the opponents ground first.

This will mean a trip to one of four possible venues as things stand at present. What is certain is that it won't be Shrewsbury as they will finish higher than fifth whatever happens in their last two games.

So it will be off to either Aldershot, Exeter, Barnet or Morecambe next Thursday week with the second-leg in front of a large crowd on May Bank Holiday Monday. Morecambe play Margate at Dover tomorrow. Should they lose they will not feature in the play-offs and even a draw may not be enough as they have to play Shrewsbury at home next Saturday and would probably need to take three points from that fixture to have any chance.

Currently it looks like the Bulls will travel to Barnet. This assumes that both Aldershot and Barnet win their last games next Saturday. The Shots play Tamworth and Barnet take on Leigh RMI. It would be surprising if either of these two slipped up.

But nothing is certain and the Bulls will have to wait until next Saturday tea-time to find out.

There is an article regarding the play-offs under the features section.

Bulls smash Leigh but Chester come top

Hereford United beat Leigh RMI 5-0 this afternoon, but congratulations to Chester City, whose 1-0 win against Scarborough means they clinch the Nationwide Conference title.

The Leigh report can be read here.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Beesley hopes for Chester slip-up

Mark Beesley, the Hereford striker, says that the Bulls must concentrate on the game tomorrow at Leigh and make sure they come away with three points. And if Chester slip up then the final game of the season at Edgar Street could be a great finale.

Interviewed by the Non-League Paper, he said: "We're still in with a chance and if Scarborough can do us a favour then we'll have a great chance of winning the title. We've won nine games on the bounce and done all we can. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that this will be the week when they (Chester) do finally slip up."

Meanwhile, Graham Turner has a concern that the pitch at Leigh RMI could be cut-up. He spoke BBC to Hereford & Worcester, telling of his worries. "They play rugby on the pitch so whether the pitch is in poor condition remains to be seen and that might hinder us in our passing game."

Of the Chester/Scarborough game, he added: "We've just got to hope for a minor miracle at Chester. Russell Slade the manager at Scarborough is a shrewd person. He will want to salavge some pride for his side so I'm sure they will be well up for the game."

"If Chester do pip us they will be worthy champions and we will have to make sure we are prepared for the play-offs."

Online commentary for Leigh showdown

BBC Hereford & Worcester will be providing online commentary from Leigh RMI tomorrow through their website at, with live reports on the radio as usual.

Full details can be found by clicking here, with coverage starting just before 3pm.

Looking ahead to the game, United captain Tony James told the Evening News that the defeat by Leigh at Edgar Street before Christmas was devastating. "The Leigh defeat was one of our home results that was disappointing and it cost us. They're down already so we're not sure what form they are going to be in.

James feels that perhaps the title is beyond the Bulls now, but another two victories to end the season would be ideal. "We've just got to keep the momentum going into the play-offs. We're playing some good football and even when we've not played well have managed to win some tough games."

"The Chester game will just be an opportunity to keep the run going. But you never know we might have something to play for which would be good otherwise it might be a bit of an anti-climax."

Leigh won't lie down

Hereford United face another tough tie on Saturday against battling Leigh RMI at Hilton Park on Saturday, kick off 3pm.

Leigh miss defender Steve Redmond once again as he is kept out with a thigh injury, but Chris McGrath and Paul Shepherd should return after missing Monday's 1-0 win over Northwich Victoria. Phil Starbuck's men lie eleven points from safety with two games to play, but could be given a reprieve if they win their last two matches and finish above Farnborough Town who are four points ahead of them. However, they will need to beat Hereford, and hope that no side is promoted from the Unibond League.

"It's a massive game which means a lot for both teams," Starbuck told BBC Online. "It's a great last home game. Hopefully we'll get a good crowd in, but more importantly get the right result.

"We are still trying to stay in this division and rebuild for next year. If we go down we will rebuild and look to bounce straight back."

The other crucial game for the Bulls involves the league leaders. Scarborough travel to table-topping Chester City on Saturday, and the Seadogs boss Russell Slade said: "It's not a big game for us because we're safe - but it's a massive game for Chester. That only makes it a more difficult task for us because a win will take them up, so you can imagine it will be a carnival atmosphere.

"I believe Chester will be promoted as champions because they've been the most consistent team in the Conference this season and, for my money, also the most difficult side to break down."

Chester defender Scott Guyett added: "Our last six or seven games have all been big games and Saturday will be no different – it’s just that we’re going to be lifting the trophy after the 90 minutes are up.

"We know we’ve got to get our heads right this week because nobody is going to lie down for us," he told the Evening Leader. "Nobody is going to let us walk away with the title as we’ve seen with Hereford, so it’s going to be another battle."

The referee tomorrow at the Deva Stadium is scheduled to be a Mr. G. Turner.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Nervous Chester may miss Clare

The Daily Telegraph reports this morning that the possible absence of Daryl Clare, the Nationwide Conference's leading scorer, will only add to Chester City's nerves tomorrow when they attempt to secure the title in their final home fixture of the season against Scarborough.

With Clare's new-born son in intensive care, manager Mark Wright gave his striker permission to miss Tuesday's goalless draw at Shrewsbury and Clare could also be missing for Chester, who must win to avoid a possible last-day decider at Hereford, their only rivals for the automatic promotion place.

Kevin Rapley took Clare's place at Gay Meadow, but his failure to accept the one clear-cut chance to come Chester's way left the leaders with only their second blank in the league since October 18th. Wright was yesterday considering the recall of Ian Foster from his loan spell at Kidderminster.

Jimmy Kelly and Mark Quayle will be two opponents with an extra incentive to delay the end of Chester's four-year exile from the Football League - both players were released by Wright.

Chester could owe over £3 million to creditors

They may currently be top of the league but Chester City Football Club probably owe their creditors more than any other club in the Conference.

Their accounts to May 31st 2003 show that the club owes £2,313,405 to its creditors. This amount has risen from £1,371,621 the previous year. Recently Chester chairman, Stephen Vaughan, told the media that the club was losing about £65,000 per month.

Using those figures, it suggests that since May 2003, Chester have lost £750,000. When added to the debt already shown in the accounts, the overall debt figure rises to over £3 million.

Vaughan himself is the controlling party at the club. The accounts say that he is owed £858,071 for" transactions of a private nature."

The cost of Chester reaching the top of the Conference may have cost the club over £1.75 million over the last two years. Compare that to Hereford where the cost has been next to nothing.

Nine arrests at Aldershot

Nine people were arrested at Aldershot last Monday before and after the match with Hereford United, reports the Aldershot News and Mail.

Police said that most of the trouble at the game took place prior to the match by the turnstiles, as the hooligan element of both sets of fans tried to clash with each other. They also confirmed that more arrests were on the cards as officers were scanning the council's CCTV cameras in the town centre for known football hooligans.

Most of the trouble flared at the Rec turnstiles and at a number of pubs in the town. Police made nine arrests for public order offences on the day, with the alleged offenders released on police bail until mid May.

One Aldershot landlord decided to close all day after receiving a tip-off that rival fans were planning to meet in the pub before the match.

He said: "At about 12.10pm around 40 Hereford fans were waiting outside. I told them I wasn't going to open and they went off towards the town."

The landlord believes the meeting was arranged by Aldershot hooligan group "A-Company".

"They arrange these fights on the internet," he said. "If I hadn't closed the place it would have been smashed to pieces."

Willis returns to Lincoln

Graham Turner has confirmed that Scott Willis has returned to Lincoln.

The Hereford manager told BBC Hereford and Worcester:"Scott has returned to Lincoln. His loan spell has been cut short. He won't figure again for us this season."

Sources at Lincoln are suggesting he has played his last game for Lincoln as well as he is out of contract at the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Turner has also said that all the squad other than Ben Smith are available for the Leigh game.

"I've got Michael Rose back after suspension. Apart from that I think I've only got Ben Smith with his shoulder injury missing. Everybody else is okay."

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Bulls look to Seadogs for help

The title race between Chester and Hereford could hinge on the game between Chester and Scarborough on Saturday at the Deva Stadium.

If the Seadogs can contain Mark Wright's side then the title decider will be played at Edgar Street in nine days time. Chester have to drop points in the game or they will be become champions of the Conference rendering the game at Hereford meaningless to them.

The signs of an upset are not good. Scarborough lost at Telford last night 2-1 and the game on Saturday will be their fourth match in eight days. Chester have only lost one game at home this season and drawn four whereas the Seadogs have won three games on their travels and drawn six.

However earlier this season, Scarborough gave Chelsea a good game in the FA Cup so it has to be hoped that they can produce their best form on Saturday and at least hold Chester to a draw.

Meanwhile, Hereford United could choose to leave both David Brown and Jamie Pitman out of their squad for the trip to Leigh RMI this weekend. Both players looked out-of-sorts last Monday at Aldershot and were substituted during the second half.

David Brown is said to be trying to shake off a virus which had previously affected Mark Beesley. Jamie Pitman is reported to be needing surgery shortly. Michael Rose will be available for selection after serving a two match ban for reaching ten yellow cards this season.

No comment from Hereford United

BBC Hereford & Worcester have reported this morning that Hereford United have declined to comment on reports that Scott Willis has left the club.

The departure of Willis, who is on-loan from Lincoln City, is believed to have followed an incident on Saturday evening when he and team-mate Danny Williams were out in Hereford. It is said that they went against the club's advice and visited a nightclub.

Danny Williams is said to have been fined two weeks wages. Neither player travelled with the squad to Aldershot on Monday.

Willis was sent off against Barnet last Saturday and would have missed the Chester game if selected.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Chester extend lead at summit

Chester City were held to a goalless draw by Shrewsbury Town at the Gay Meadow this evening, meaning just three more points will secure them top spot in the Nationwide Conference.

The Cestrians host Scarborough on Saturday, and if they win that match, they will be crowned champions, regardless of what Hereford United do on their travels at Leigh RMI.

The Bulls host Chester on the final day of the season, and if results go Hereford's way, that match could decide the destination of the title.

Chester now lead the table by four points over Hereford, with each team having two games left to play. United, though, have a superior goal difference, albeit by a slender two goal margin.

The attendance tonight was 5827, which is just 23 less than the attendance at Edgar Street when Shrewsbury were the visitors recently.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Bulls keep title hopes alive

This reports appears in today's Times by Walter Gammie.

HEREFORD United kept the pressure on Chester City before their trip to Shrewsbury Town tonight with their ninth successive victory in the Nationwide Conference at the Recreation Ground. Already assured of finishing second and a play-off place, Hereford still harbour hopes of overhauling Chester, whom they entertain in their final league match at Edgar Street on Saturday week.

Hereford’s triumph was not easy. Aldershot matched them in a fast and furious contest, drew level and forced Graham Turner, the Hereford manager, to thrust on extra attackers. His move worked. Mark Beesley crossed for Danny Carey-Bertram, another substitute, who curved a precise left-foot shot past Nikki Bull for the 81st-minute winner. Hereford’s attacking machine had struck early , Rob Purdie stabbing the ball home from two yards after David Brown had controlled a long cross by the impressive Robert Betts.

“We were all over the shop at the start,” Terry Brown, the Aldershot manager, said. “With the players we were missing we didn’t have a tackle in midfield. It meant that it was going to be an open game, that could have finished 3-3.”

That it did not was because Matt Baker in the Hereford goal kept Aldershot at bay once they had equalised in the second half with a fierce downward header by Tim Sills. Finally the moment of inspiration by Carey-Bertram sent the thousand Hereford supporters home still dreaming of automatic promotion.

Brown wishes United luck

After today's match, Aldershot manager Terry Brown told BBC Southern Counties Radio that the two games this season against Hereford have been fantastic encounters.

"I thought the one at their place was as good a game as you'll ever see in non-league football. I think the strength of their bench tells the difference between the two clubs. It's taken Hereford a long time to get to the position they're in. They played good football and good luck to them.

"If you are playing a team of Hereford's calibre and you don't take your chances when they occur, then you pay the price."

Steve Guinan, talking to BBC Hereford & Worcester, said that three points were a must today. "When we were 1-1 you could tell that by Graham Turner throwing Danny Bertram on. Finally, we got the goal we deserved," he said. "Some of the passing movements were brilliant and I think the fans enjoyed it. A great game."

He then spoke of how Rob Purdie, who scored the first goal, has stepped up his game. "I think he has had an excellent season. The energy in the pace he plays, how he gets in behind the defences, he's so awkward to pick up and today I didn't even see him coming, I thought I was going to have a tap in but Rob just came in from nowhere. Fair play, he got the goal he deserved."

Turning to the Shrewsbury/Chester game tomorrow, Guinan said that the Bulls need the Shrews to win. "I wouldn't be surprised if a few of our lads are going to cheer on Shrewsbury! We need them to do us a huge favour."

It is also nice to report that the officials today all had a good game.

Bulls shoot down Shots in tense battle

The Nationwide Conference title race is still alive - just - after Daniel Carey-Bertram's late goal handed Hereford United a 2-1 victory over play-off challengers Aldershot Town.

Today's report is here.

Meanwhile, Crawley wrapped up the Dr. Martens League title and join Canvey Island in the Conference next season.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Shots manager hopes for win

Terry Brown, the Aldershot manager, is hoping that his team can dent the confidence of Hereford United tomorrow.

"Hereford are probably the best attacking team in the league,so we'll have to tighten up defensively," Brown told the Non-League Paper. "But everyone is beatable, and on our day I think we're more than a match for them.

"Hereford will be up for this game and whoever doesn't win the title will be favourites for the other promotion place. But history shows that teams who come second don't perform in the play-offs because they are low on confidence after missing out on the title, and we can strike at their morale with a good win."

Aldershot will be without defender Simon Downer and midfielder Will Antwi for the game. Roscoe D'Sane could also miss out after he was forced off against Woking, while Chris Giles is still suspended.

There are also slight doubts over the fitness of David Brown for the Bulls.