This article appeared in the Worcester Standard.
POLICE officers had to use CS gas to contain dozens of rowdy Hereford United football hooligans at Worcester's Foregate Street station on Saturday.
The police have slammed the behaviour of the 30 or so trouble makers as deplorable and said they had had to use CS gas to keep order and to ensure the safety of members of the public was not put at risk by the hooligans.
Earlier in the day, police officers prevented Hereford fans, who were on their way to Kidderminster to watch their side's game against Kidderminster Harriers, from leaving Foregate Street station for fear they might cause trouble in the city centre.
On their return some fans tried to depart at Droitwich but were stopped by British Transport Police who were on the train.
However, when the supporters got to Worcester at about 6pm they started causing trouble while they changed platforms.
Police officers had to block off the station to prevent anyone leaving or entering until the train left for Hereford.
No arrests were made while eight Hereford fans were ejected at the match with Kidderminster.
A Worcester Police spokesman said: "The behaviour of a small number of trouble-making fans was deplorable, and our prime concern was to ensure the safety of other rail travellers and members of the public and to see that the problems created by these hooligans did not spread to other areas."
Hereford United Football Club has long had a reputation for attracting a minority following of football hooligans.
In February 2002, fighting broke out in the streets close to Chester City's ground while in 2004 violence erupted at Burton Albion's Eton Park when Hereford fans charged into the home side's supporters.
A total of 13 men from Hereford were charged with violent offences and jailed for between 15 months and two years but they have since been released.
Monday, October 31, 2005
This article appeared in the Worcester Standard.
The last time Hereford United met Cambridge City was in the FA Cup in November 1993.
Below is a reminder of that meeting from a Cambridge perspective written by Ian Pettengell reproduced by kind permission of Cambridge City Football Club.
So the build up to the big game began. Preparations got underway for the visit of Hereford, without doubt City's biggest game for many years. The game would stay at Milton Road and be played on the Sunday as Cambridge United were also at home in the competition that weekend and played the day before so any move to play at the Abbey Stadium was out of the question. The capacity was set at 2,500 and tickets went on sale at the next home game against Gloucester before going on general sale. Days before the big game it was announced that it was a sell-out, well, in the home sections anyway as Hereford had returned nearly half of their tickets.
Sunday the 14th November duly arrived and City were all set to step out into the spotlight. Hereford's supporters were allocated the Chesterton School end of the ground. Milton Road looked a picture, packed to the rafters, the fans buzzing as the game kicked off.
The conditions were difficult on the day, a strong buffeting wind and heavy overnight rain had contributed to a tricky pitch which survived a late inspection.
It was a game of few chances on the heavy surface. Hereford perhaps had the edge in terms of possession although City certainly gave as good as they got. Shortly before the break, City appealed in vain for a penalty. Most of the capacity crowd howled for a spot kick as Hereford midfielder Reece appeared to handle. Referee Paul Alcock disagreed and waived play on. Ten minutes into the second half Paul Coe had perhaps City's best chance, roared on by the crowd, the fleet-footed winger left Hereford player-manager Greg Downs for dead, got round keeper Alan Judge, but could only put his effort into the side netting from an acute angle. City skipper Steve Gawthrop also got forward to hook a decent chance wide.
As the game edged nearer to full-time thoughts turned to a trip to Edgar Street, a ground synonymous with the glory of the F.A. Cup, Ronny Radford and all that, but, in the 85th minute disaster struck. Substitute Max Nicholson performed miracles out on the right wing, beating two City defenders, before crossing for Chris Pike to power a header past Kevin Murray, the dream was over. It was rough justice for City who deserved a replay, but it was not to be. The gallant FA Cup run of 1993/4 had come to an end, but left us all with so many glowing memories.
Gravesend have added former Cambridge defender Adam Tann to their squad. The talented defender recently gained his release from the Abbey Stadium side after rejecting several contract offers. Gravesend have also signed teenage defender Adam Cottrell to the squad on work experience. Accrington have extended goalkeeper Darren Randolph's stay at the Interlink Express Stadium for a third month. Randolph has recently returned form a Eire U-18 trip. Halifax keeper Ian Dunbavin, the former Shrews stopper, has been charged with drink-driving. The former Liverpool trainee was virtually ever present this season, but missed Saturday's trip to Woking after being charged. He is due in court today.
Former Gillingham boss, and current player, Andy Hessenthaler is the latest name to be rumoured to be interested in the Crawley manager's job.
Forty year old Hessenthaler spent four years as manager at Gillingham until November 2004, and has openly admitted that he wants to return to management. However the combatative midfielder is still a regular in the Gillingham side and has a contract at the Priestfield Stadium until the summer of 2007.
Other names linked to the job include current Oxford manager Brian Talbot, who won the Conference with Rushden in 2001 and League Two in 2003, former Farnboro boss Dean Austin, and Andy Ford.
Early favourite for the job Alan Mullery is unlikely to be named as boss. Mullery's appointment as a consultant appeared to trigger the departure of not only the manager Francis Vines but also two assistants, however the 63 year old former England player chose to watch the Tottenham-Arsenal derby rather than Crawley's defeat at Cambridge suggesting he holds no intention to manage the ambitious club.
Crawley fan site crawleytown-mad.co.uk ran a dubious poll over the weekend for the fans choice for next manager. Nigel Clough topped the poll, with Alan Mullery and Danny DeVito (yes, that one) coming in joint second. Gordon The Gopher beat George Borg, Terry Brown, and departed assistant Murray Jones in the poll.
Anthony Elding appears set to leave Broadhall Way in the near future after a string of public rows with manager Graham Westley.
Elding, 23, joined Stevenage in Feburary 2003 and has averaged a goal every other game to make himself one of the hottest properties in the Conference. However constant arguments with Westley have blighted his time there, including being withdrawn from a pre-season trip, and he was an unexplained absentee for Saturday's 2-0 win at Gravesend.
Elding was spotted at yesterday's Burton-Altrincham match, but would not be drawn on speculation. He was recently withdrawn from the forthcoming England squad with Westley telling the press "He needs to get his house in order with the Club first". The player retorted: "It's like losing a family member and that's happened to me. I'm absolutely gutted. I wrote Graham a letter asking if he could get me back in but he said he stood by his decision. "I'm finding it very difficult to take. I'd rather be fined that withdrawn from the squad. Apart from my daughter, representing my country is as important as it gets for me."
Lincoln City appear to be the beneficiaries of the situation. Elding came through the youth ranks at near neighbours Boston before joining Stevenage, and looks set to return to Lincolnshire. If the move takes place, it would likely be as an initial loan until the transfer window opens.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Speaking to the Official KHFC website, manager Stuart Watkiss was happy with his side's performance in the 1-1 draw at Aggborough:
"That was a good response from the lads today after the FA Cup defeat last week, again you wonder why the same team can contrast performances so vastly but they did brilliantly out there. It was a great game between two good sides - a fantastic advert for Conference football you have to say. If we can kick-on from this and keep it up we'll have no problem picking up points."
"There were some mistakes out there today - of course there were. But they were honest mistakes, rather than through laziness or sloppiness. There was effort and commitment from our lads today and as long as they can keep putting that in, I can live with the honest mistakes, I'll take that."
"You couldn't fault our fans at all today, I said it was a great advert for Conference football and it was in every sense, the support too. Hereford brought a few and that spurred on their lads, and likewise our boys were really boosted by the backing we got. I heard there were quite a lot more in today than usual which is great for us, I think they'll be happy with what they saw today."
"We've got some games coming up soon that have the potential to be just as exciting, Exeter here next week and York in a few weeks time. It's a good spell for us and one to look forward today. Hopefully the fans will be encouraged to come back ."
Exeter's departed Managing Director Ian Huxham has threatened legal action against the club for constructive dismissal following his departure from the post less than two weeks ago.
The Exeter Express & Echo reports that a statement from the club denies any wrongdoing:
"At the moment the club does not intend to expand on Mr Huxham's reasons for resigning. That is up to Mr Huxham himself, as it was his decision to resign. Since Mr Huxham's resignation, the Board of Directors have been considering his reasons for resigning and taking legal advice in relation to threatened breach of contract proceedings for a significant sum. Having now had the opportunity to consider the circumstances fully, the Board of Directors would like to state the position of Exeter City FC is that it has acted reasonably and lawfully at all times, and it has not committed any act of wrongdoing towards Mr Huxham."
Huxham, 43, was two years into his five year contract but had received criticism over the £40,000 salary.
Grays stay top with a 4-1 win at Southport setting a new Conference record in the process for the longest unbeaten run at the start of a season. Their lead is extended to three points as York (4th) lost to Accrington (3rd) 2-1. Exeter moved back up to second with a 3-0 win over struggling Tamworth. Stevenage (5th) won at Gravesend with Dino Maamria getting sent off for the second time this season, while sixth placed Morecambe drew 3-3 with Canvey and seventh placed Halifax drew 2-2 with Woking.
Down the bottom Burton play today against Altrincham hoping to lift themselves off the bottom of the table after Scarboro's 2-2 draw with Aldershot, coming back from 2-0 down, took them above the Brewers. Crawley lost again 2-1 at Cambridge, and Forest Green drew 1-1 with Dagenham & Redbridge.
BBC Hereford and Worcester have broadcast the following report on events yesterday at Worcester Station:
The incident happened as Hereford United supporters were heading back to Hereford following yesterday's game. A journey that neccessitated a change of trains at Foregate Street station.
Acting Superintendant Steve Pooler confirmed to BBC Hereford and Worcester that there had been a incident on the platform.
"Whilst at the station a small minority of those supporters confronted police officers. There was a minor skermish and an officer did employ CS spray.
"No one was injured as a result of that incident."
Acting Superintendent Pooler stressed that this had only involved a handful of fans. He praised the vast majority of fans for their behaviour.
"I'd personally like to thank the well behaved supporters of Hereford for what they have contributed to the operation today which has made life good for everybody."
Police later confirmed that there had been no arrests at the incident.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
HUISA have announced details for next Friday's Cup game at Cambridge.
There is a coach running to Cambridge for the cup game on Friday.
Departure time is 2:30 from Edgar street picking up at Ledbury on the way.
Travel will cost £20 and tickets will be on sale at the Blackfriars St office from monday morning.
Although official details are sketchey, it is understood that CS gas was used by West Mercia Police at Foregate Street Railway Station, Worcester earlier.
The incident involved football supporters.
The incident involving the use of CS gas happened when Hereford United supporters were returning from this afternoon's game at Kidderminster. The train they were on arrived at Foregate Street to be met by a large police presence.
For reasons yet to be confirmed CS was directed towards some fans.
BBC Hereford and Worcester are expected to have a report about the incident on tomorrow morning's news.
Graham Turner was interviewed by BBC Hereford and Worcester after today's game. Below is some of what the Hereford United manager had to say.
"I think that before the game we might have taken that (a point). I think that when you go a goal ahead and I thought we started the game quite well with room to pass it.
"The equaliser really put their tails up and set us back a notch or two. I was disappointed with the way we played when we had the ball. We didn't cause them any real problems.
"In the end we had to defend against the wind and some lively attacking play from them. It took two good saves from Wayne Brown to get a point.
"We've been solid at the back all season. We've had three full backs out today, so Rob Purdie has had to play right back, with Darren Blewit at left back.
"We've been solid all season, we're just not scoring enough goals."
Asked about Ipoua Turner continued:
"He started the season off with three goals in three games, then got his injury. He looks as though he needs a bit more training yet. He's lacking a bit of fitness.
"We've got Adam Stansfield to come back. Back at the start of the season I would have put my money on him to get twenty goals. He did last season. He's a goal scorer and there's no doubt we've missed him.
"So there is something to look forward to when we get players fit again.
"Jeannin is available after suspension, Ryan Green should not be far off fitness, Simon Travis probably needs a little bit more training, but he's not far off.
"So we've got players coming back. Stansfield should be the middle of November."
Turner finished the interview by talking about the hope of a late challenge by the Bulls. He admitted there are some decent sides in the Conference, but then returned to the Hereford United performances.
"It's not flowing, we're not creating a lot of opportunities, we're not scoring a lot of goals. We've got to hang on in there until it turns.
Hereford United put out a make-shift back four as injuries and suspensions took their toll, leaving Graham Turner with no full backs to choose from. Rob Purdie and Darren Blewitt took the positions up and helped in what was a good defensive showing.
The travelling army of Bulls fan's were sent into raptures with no more than six minutes gone, when Jamie Pitman broke the deadlock. He found himself with a clear run at goal twenty five yards out, but hesistated and a recovering tackle sent the ball airbound. However, it bounced perfectly and Pitman hit a spectacular volley into the roof of the net. The Bulls pushed on from then and created a couple of chances. Firstly Danny Carey-Bertram was just inches from connecting with Andy Ferrell's back post cross and then Jon Brady fired over.
However, with twenty eight minutes gone, Harriers broke against the run of play and netted an equaliser. Simon Russell delivered a pin-point cross for Taiwo Atieno to head in from close range. Tamika Mkandawire had to be on his toes to put in a good challenge as Russell forced his way towards goal and the centre back was busy at the other end moments later. Brady swung in a cross and Mkandawire rose above everyone to smash a header into the back of the net, but referee Bob Desmond gave a free kick the other way.
United continued their search for a second goal and man of the match Pitman, who popped up anywhere where a tackle was needed for the visitors, almost struck glory once again. He unleashed an unstoppable shot that was destined for the top corner, until taking the slightest of deflections off the back of Matt Bailey. On the stroke of half time Brady again switched play to Ferrell, who this time picked out Carey-Bertram, put his volley went across the goal face.
Bailey was replaced at the break, giving youngster Andy Williams a chance to shine, and although he didn't score, he posed a threat in the United attack. Atieno was again causing problems for United's defence with his height and power and moments after the restart skinned Tony James, only to be denied by a super block by Craig Stanley. Mkandawire again caused problems from a corner, but this time nodded over and he was then on defensive duties to hook away a dangerous effort from Russell. With fifteen minutes left, Guy Ipoua was introduced and Carey-Bertram made way.
Harriers began to mount some pressure on Hereford in the final stages and pretty much had United boxed in their own half, expect from some counter attacking football by The Whites. Wayne Brown reacted brilliantly to deny what seemed a certain goal from Atieno; he met a quick-fire cross with his head and Brown somehow tipped over from point blank range. Brown then did well to punch away a header from the resulting corner to keep the scores even.
United were soon on the break with Andy Williams, who beat his man on the edge of the box but was then forced wide and could only win a corner off the 'keeper, Dan Lewis. Ipoua then created a good chance for substitute Dean Beckwith, who'd replaced the injured Blewitt, and the defender saw his low effort deflected just inches wide, as the 'keeper had been wrong footed. A final chance for Harriers in injury time fell to Russell in the middle, but his effort was blocked by an on-rushing yellow shirt.
It turned out to be quite an entertaining game for the neutral supporter, but for the Hereford fans, of which their was at least 1,000 (later confirmed as 1031) in a crowd of 3,241, it was a disappointing result in a game, before hand, many expected to win. The lack of an attacking force was once again evident for The Bulls who must be craving the return to fitness of several key players, including Adam Stansfield and Ipoua in attack.
HUFC: Brown, Purdie, Mkandawire, James, Blewitt, Ferrell, Pitman, Stanley, Brady, Bailey, Carey-Bertram. Subs: Beckwith, Mawson, Williams, Evans, Ipoua.
KHFC: Lewis, Mullins, Burgess, Hatswell, Jackson, O'Connor, Fleming, Sheldon, Russell, Atieno, Heslop. Subs: Thompson, Danby, Burton, Hurren, Wilson.
The Bulls drew 1-1 with Kidderminster at Aggborough today. Jamie Pitman scored the opener on 6 minutes, with Taiwo Atieno equalising midway through the first half.
The result leaves the Bulls in ninth, ten points off the top and four points outside the play-off zone.
Full report later.
Graham Turner confirmed to Jon Wells that Matt Bailey had been taken on for another month, describing his recent criticism by the fans as unfair. He referred supporters back to games like the Halifax game where the game was generally played in the Bulls half of the pitch, and that with Bailey it's generally being played in the opposing half as he has caused central defenders problems in the air. Turner admits that his goalscoring and work with the ball on the floor can improve, but he adds an extra dimension to the game. Turner felt that it was better at the moment to play Andy Williams with Bailey as he is more similar to Danny Carey-Bertram than Bailey.
Ryan Green will join Simon Travis and Alex Jeannin on the sidelines for the Kidderminster game. Rob Purdie will continue on the right side, with Darren Blewitt coming in on the left.
On the financial side, the completion of the dressing rooms and the impending work on the floodlights were required to meet Football League standards. The Blackfriars End is first on the list to be done, with the Meadow End likely to follow. Turner also noted that he could pay a transfer fee if needed for the right player.
The full interview is available on the official site in Windows Media format.
Friday, October 28, 2005
AFC Bournemouth's fans are in a unique position within football - being able to dictate the future of their Dean Court stadium.
Most Fans Trusts that own Clubs do not own the playing surface, but AFC Bournemouth own the ground outright - and the supporters trust, Community Mutual, have 51% of the voting rights in it's future.
Bournemouth are struggling under a massive debt. In 1997 they went into receivership owing £4m and were rescued by a fans trust that became the Community Mutual organisation in 2000. The organisation has over 2,500 members and has raised over £1m for the club.
Redevelopment of the crumbling Dean Court stadium has cost the club dearly. Three sides were redeveloped in 2001, but the fourth side has only just had a temporary 1,100 seat stand built, however the financial side of the club has failed to adequately sustain the redevelopment of the stadium and League One football, and the club now has debts estimated at £7m.
The club has proposed the sale of Dean Court for £3.5m to a London based property company to ease existing debts, with an immedate lease back estimated to cost the club £360,000 per year.
However, a second more ambitious plan has now been put in place. The wholesale changes of pension plans recently implemented by the Government means that individuals can now invest their pensions into practically any tangible item. The "AFC Bournemouth Supporters Pension Scheme" intends to use the pension capital of supporters to purchase the Dean Court site for £5.25m, and charge a similar rent to the property company offer. As few as 40 supporters investing a £50,000 pension capital each will allow the scheme to work, and it would generate £1.75m more for the site than is currently on the table. The scheme works by putting sufficient capital up for the scheme to take a mortgage out on Dean Court, with the Pension Fund size increasing by the £60,000 yearly difference between the rental payments made by the club and the mortgage costs, and external investment in other commercial property.
Community Mutual members have until November 9th to vote on the matter.
Graham Turner seems confident that, given the chances Hereford United are able to create, an opposing team is going to get a good hiding.
"We do feel that if we go on creating the chances, making the chances for ourselves, sooner or later they will start going in," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester.
He had been asked to comment on the agreement with Crewe to keep Matt Bailey at Edgar Street for another month.
"One of the reasons we took Matt Bailey from Crewe was when you think back to the games at Halifax and places like that, the opposing central defenders were heading the ball straight back into our half.
"We were always on the back foot and we needed somebody with a bit of height who could head the ball. He's won quite a few flick ons, so we've been playing on the front foot going into the opposing half rather than coming back into ours.
"And he's done that quite well and although he probably should have popped in one or two more goals.
"But we've kept him for another month just for that fact that opposing center-halves who thrive on being able to put the ball back into the opposing half have not been able to do that against him.
"We've played reasonably well over the last games. Him and Danny Carey-Bertram have done alright."
Hereford United captain, Tony James has told the Worcester News that his side needs to get a few wins together.
"If we can beat Kidderminster, it will be the first time we've won two league games on the run.
"It's been a frustrating start to the season. We are playing well in patches, but the whole package is not clicking together.
"Scoring goals has been a problem. We are struggling to score more than one goal in a game. We are keeping clean sheets -- and that's great for the back lads -- but we need to convert many more of the chances that come our way."
"It's good to have Kidderminster in the league, in that we've now got a proper derby. We've only really had Forest Green before, but they don't get many through the gate. All players enjoy a good atmosphere.
"The game at Alfreton was like playing in front of one man and his dog. You could hear the players talking. But this will be much different and I'm sure our supporters are looking forward to it."
Stuart Watkiss, the Kidderminster manager has also spoken to the Worcester News about the game tomorrow.
"It's a big game at this level and a derby against one of the better teams.
"Hereford have good players and play the game the right way. They have the ability to pass it around and hurt us. It's got all the ingredients of a good game.
"Just lately, we've done much better against the better footballing teams so we are looking forward to it and I do believe we can beat them.
"We haven't overcome the more physical, competitive teams and the biggest thing we've struggled with against those sides is the tempo of the game.
"But in the last two home games against Morecambe and Darlington we've beaten good teams that wanted to get the ball down and pass it. We could have won both by more goals."
Meanwhile Arthur Eastham, the Cambridge City chairman, has thanked Hereford United for agreeing to move next weekend's FA Cup match from Sunday afternoon to Friday evening.
"It makes sense to have the game on Friday night and Hereford have been very good about the switch, so we are grateful to them, he told the Cambridge Evening News.
The paper confirms that "as City have a Nationwide South game scheduled for the following Tuesday, the club were keen to bring the tie forward. And after securing the agreement of Cambridgeshire Police and Hereford, the new date has been confirmed."
He must have deserved it to be praised by, all of people, Boro manager Graham Westley, but tommorow's referee for the Kidderminster/Hereford game Bob Desmond received an accolade from Westley after refereeing last weekend's Cup tie between Exeter and Stevenage.
"It was good to work with four professionals at the weekend. The way that the referee conducted himself was first class," said Westley.
"Neither side could criticise him and that says everything. So often you can feel that influences affect the man in the middle but he just gave what he saw and intelligently at that."
Ex-Shrews manager Jimmy Quinn is itching to get back into management, and has targeted the Crawley job as the way back in.
"If I was to be given the manager's job then I would guarantee promotion inside a couple of years. I've done it before and, in the right situation, I could certainly do it again." Quinn told the Non-League Paper.
Andy Ford, formerly of Gravesend and more recently number two at Stevenage, is also interested: "I have heard the position of first-team manager at Crawley Town is available and of course I'm interested - I would relish the challenge of managing a club of their size and potential."
The NLP also suggests Lewes' boss Steve King is also in the running.
Former Hereford United player Tony Elliott is to join Workington Town as assistant manager.
Elliott will be remembered at Edgar Street as a useful goalkeeper.
He joined Hereford United from Birmingham City at the start of the 88/89 season and made 75 appearances for the Bulls. He was also an England Youth International goalkeeper.
After leaving Hereford he moved to Huddersfield.
Stuart Watkiss has explained in tomorrow's match day notes that he holds Graham Turner in high regard.
"Personally for me it's going to be great to see some old faces again," he told the Official Harriers Website.
"They are managed by Graham Turner, a man who I hold in very high regard after working for and with him in the past.
"I have some very fond memories of my time with Hereford, it was a happy time for me and it was heartbreaking when I left there.
"I'm sure there will be a great atmosphere out there come kick off and it's up to us to take the game to Hereford."
Meanwhile it has been confirmed that Bob Desmond is to referee tomorrow's game.
Brighton have finally obtained the go ahead for a new stadium at the Falmer site. The 23,000 capacity stadium was first applied for in 2001, and should be ready by 2008.
Brighton chairman Dick Knight said: "Never mind over the moon, we're over Jupiter. This is the greatest home win ever in the club's history. There's been a lot of hard work gone into this project over the course of the last seven years and we've really been through the mill."
The stadium is not to everyone's tastes. The resident of Falmer, a small village on the edge of Brighton, were vehemently against the construction of the stadium and expressed disappointment at the decision as the site infringes on the South Downs National Park, and that rail and road links and car parking on the proposed plan were inadequate for the anticipated numbers.
Council planner Neil Commin said: "We are disappointed and remain convinced that Falmer is the wrong location. Our firm view is that there are alternative sites available which are more suitable."
Richard Hodgson, who last week claimed the owners of Crawley were trying to force him out of the club, has departed after apparently agreeing a settlement on the remainder of his contract.
Hodgson, the former Darlington, Farnboro, Stevenage, and Cambridge player, refused an initial offer as "embarrasing", but is now expected to sign for a Conference South club ahead of the weekend. Crawley have made up for his departure by signing two on non-contract terms. Dorryl Profitt and Leonard Mendy have both impressed in trials and should both be in Saturday's squad.
In other news, Altrincham's cost-cutting exercise continues. Gary Williams has become the third player released. Altrincham started the season will a larger than anticipated squad due to long term injuries to several key players, but are now trimming the side with players returning.
Simon and Glynis Wright watched Tuesday's Cup Tie. Their thoughts are below:
As far as their ground was concerned, it was dead easy to find, really ? just a two-mile putter down the road from the A38, to you, squire, but you certainly couldn't say the same about those damned-elusive away turnstiles. Shades of Plymouth Argyle ? their Home Park abode is located plumb-spang in the middle of a public park ? as we navigated our purposeful way through leafy, lush environs, and by a circuitous route indeed, one taking us a good three-quarters of a mile out of our way. Such was the profusion of greenery about those parts, I began to seriously wonder whether it hid beneath its leafy depths a Japanese soldier or three, the sort that had never quite clocked the fact the war had finished some sixty years previously, and were hiding out in the undergrowth, still awaiting the next order from their long-dead Emperor.
Finally, we did locate the away turnstiles, hidden cunningly down a small but well-trodden slope, and within seconds, we were in. The first thing that struck me once in the ground proper was the relative lack of Hereford bodies; almost zilch on the standing area behind the goal, and the adjacent seats over the other side of the park were very sparsely populated also. There were, we noted, two Portaloos at the back of the terracing, to cope with whatever the evening brought from the motorway. 'Im Indoors was later to discover a sign within stating categorically that said facilities were only guaranteed to cope with ten people working a 40-hour week; any bodily detritus above and beyond that, liquid or solid, and the supplying company would not assure that the 'facilites' would remain in a fit and sanitary condition. So presumably, had there been a big crowd that night, it would have been 'clothes-pegs-on-the-nose' time for the travelling faithful?
Walking further over to the other side of the terracing, we saw precisely why the temporary 'thrones' were there in the first place; before us, half-built only, stood more permanent accommodation. Another excellent reason why the £10K prize-money would have come in handy for the home side, so that away supporters could be properly ? erm ? 'satisfied'! In the seated area, where we were headed, were no more than around 16 Herefordian souls. How come? Easy; the interval 'twixt draw and replay had been insufficient to enable away regulars to make transport arrangements, take time off from work, and so forth. According to Nick Brade and his little 'harem', the coach was only partially-full for this one, fifteen in a fifty-seated number, which explained the paucity in numbers we'd noticed. However, nearer the kick-off, it became clear that some had elected to make their own way to the place: 150 good Bulls and true was the final head-count, according to my other half, who has a thing about counting things, especially away attendances. God knows why, but there you have it. Modest that might sound, but it comprised around 20% of the audience, the total gate being around 740.
A strange set-up indeed: even stranger was the music on the PA as we walked in: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and that mid-eighties naughty, "Relax". Mind you, the follow-up "Ghost Town", by The Specials hit the nail right on the head. "Dis town is comin' like a ghost town?.." Pretty much summed up both ground and town that time of night, really. Add to that heady mix the intermittent explosions produced by fireworks let off by local kids outside? like small bombs, some of 'em, making the place feel more like Baghdad with every ground-shaking detonation ? and you really had a Cup-tie going. Where the hell did they get the money? Those pyrotechnically-inclined kids, I mean, not Alfreton Town.
As both teams entered the arena, I decided it was time to visit those splendid 'facilities' myself, my reasoning being that no discerning Bull would want to miss the kick ?off, so I'd have them to myself. And, yep ? I was right. Just as described, they were, with one additional 'feature' that made me speculate long and hard. A flush handle on the side of the pan, the absolute double of a car's gear-stick, it was. Cue for my fevered imagination to get going. If I pushed the knob forward, would some unseen engine propel me right into the middle of the goalmouth? I could just see it, my rapid ejection for encroachment onto the playing area, and me with my trousers in ruins around my ankles, still. No surprise, then, that I treated that flush with far more respect than it might have otherwise warranted. Oh ? and another thing. I've been in toilets all over the world, Asian 'elephants' footprint' jobbies, the lot, and have sometimes gone about my 'business' with music (or that other refined excretory torture, Muzak) playing soft and seductive overhead, but never before have I let gravity do its worst with ?Come on, Hereford!?.? ringing out by way of (loud, and very, very close!) background accompaniment!
Back to the stand, then, and just as the ref set the whole messy business in motion. Being more used to the vagaries of top-notch football, which is usually totally devoid of any sense of humour whatsoever, sometimes its lower division doppleganger can come up with some hilarious moments, and tonight was no exception. Example? Later in the first half, Hereford were awarded a free-kick just on the edge of the box. Alfreton's keeper, the same lad that had impressed me so much during the first game, immediately began bawling instructions to his comrades about the wall. "Left! Left! Left!?." he shouted, prompting some evil genius or other in the away end to counter with the precise opposite ? "Right! RIGHT! RIGHT!" It being a small ground, and a small crowd, it must have confused those poor defenders no end.
The first half was mostly the property of the Bulls. In their frantic search for the definitive deadlock-breaker, they hit both the post and the bar in rapid succession. Denied twice also, of course, by the magnificent form of the Alfreton keeper, whom I now understand to belong to Birmingham City's Academy. No wonder The Bulls got so little change out of him the whole of the first game. Unfortunately, though, it was the home side that drew first blood, and completely against the run of play, on 30 minutes, to be precise. And very Oedipus-like was the strike, too ? the Alfreton player responsible for completely ruining Graham Turner's evening was none other than his very own son! Shakespeare would have loved the irony, of course, but I'm not so certain Dad did!
The interval turned up a situation so surreal, I had to pinch myself to ascertain it was really happening. The problem was with the stewards ? not as individuals, as each and every one we spoke to was courtesy personified ? who had to ensure complete segregation between us and the home regulars immediately on our right. There were but around twenty of us in that bit of stand, and none of us under the age of forty, but rules were rules, apparently. What the home lot had to do was give the money for their food/drink etc. to one of the stewards at the barrier, upon which point he then traipsed off to the adjacent refreshment area, returning shortly afterwards with the goods ? and the correct change, presumably. The whole process absolutely beggared belief. Why the hell someone couldn't have been allowed to use their common sense out there, and simply allow these old farts complete access, I'll never know.
The second half brought much better fortune to the visitors; after a period of sustained pressure ? it really seemed easier for them to score, than to miss, on occasions! ? The Bulls got the equaliser. Stanley was the scorer, from a header. Now the visitors surged forward in an attempt to get the winner. It all proved too much for one Alfreton player, their Number 11. With about twenty minutes of the half gone, he pulled up as if shot on our side of the pitch, then shouted to the bench, loudly: "I'M STRUGGLING!" Countered Nick, equally-loudly: "IF YOU'RE STRUGGLING, YOU SHOULD SEE OUR BLOODY LOT!" Well done, Nick ? always the man to rise to the occasion.
By now it looked very much as though extra time and penalties would beckon. Mind you, that didn't stop the home side from raising their game in the last ten minutes of the half, and it couldn't have been an easy time for the defenders; given a bit more luck and a following wind, they might well have snatched a sneak winner. Extra time it was, then. No surprise, then, to see the entire thirty minutes develop into a war of attrition for both sides. A bit like watching a pair of mud-wrestlers slug it out in the ring, really; the only true winners would be the fittest players.
Come the end of the game's half-expected coda, and still the issue remained unresolved. Penalties it was, then. As we all know by now, the Bulls won that one 4-3, which meant they were through to fight another day, but in passing, I do feel honour-bound to relate what transpired when Alfreton were lining up to take their second. The taker? None other than Turner Minor, the apple of the Bulls gaffer's eye. Just as Graham's flesh and blood was about to take the kick, someone in the crowd bawled: "Go on, miss it for your dad!" And that's precisely what he did do, miss the damn thing. Enter that disembodied voice, again: "Thanks, Dad!"
BBC Radio 5 Live sports journalist and Worcester based author Chris Green will be signing copies of his new book Matchday: What Makes Saturday Special? at Kidderminster Harriers' home game against Hereford United this Saturday 29th October.
Matchday tells the unfolding drama of a typical football Saturday through the eyes of 18 people connected with the game, and the book features Harriers' award-winning caterer Brian Murdoch, who has served food at Aggborough for 43 years. Murdoch will receive a special presentation from the club at the game and is also being featured in the BBC food magazine, Olive.
Recalling his day at Kidderminster, Green said: "Being with Brian at seven o'clock in the morning when the infamous soup starts bubbling and the cottage pies are going into the oven was amazing. It showed how much effort goes into his cooking"."Brian is different to most football club caterers. He actually serves a wider range of food to away fans because they have travelled further and spend more money. On the day of my visit one fan drank eight cups of soup and took another three home! Brian is the only football caterer I know who sells food like pasta and curries to fans on the terraces. He is a truly remarkable person".Copies of Matchday will be on sale at the Harriers club shop.
Chris will be available to sign copies from 2pm onwards and immediately after the match.
Kidderminster will be missing the suspended Iyseden Christie and Chris McHale. Johnny Mullins will return to the side after resigning on loan, and Michael Blackwood will face a late fitness test. Steve Burton leaves Aggborough for Australia next week, but is unlikely to get a place in the sixteen.
The Bulls will again be without Stacy Coldicott, Adam Stansfield, and Simon Travis. Ryan Green, rested in midweek with a niggling knee injury, should return in place of the suspended Alex Jeannin with Rob Purdie likely to continue in the other wing back role that he was utilised in on Tuesday. Matt Bailey is likely to continue up front alongside Danny Carey-Bertram after the Crewe man agreed an extension to his loan deal.
Match Odds (bet365): Kidderminster 11/8, Draw 12/5, Hereford 6/4.
Kidderminster Harriers fans are not confident of victory, but do expect a low scoring draw, as this preview from http://www.harriers-online.co.uk/ shows:
It's the big one, the one that Parka'Bull and a million other people residing in the quaint little town of Hereford have been waiting for.
This Saturday the Bulls will be led to the slaughter and sacrificed on the Aggborough altar in front of the baying Harrier hordes.That's enough of the Parka'Bull type hallucinations for now so let's get on with the preview.
Yes, this game is eagerly awaited but now it seems for all the wrong reasons. At the start of the season we had visions of two sides serving up a feast of cultured football at the top of the table but in reality we are both firmly entrenched in mid-table with neither side able to get any consistency into their game. We had dreams of an all ticket game being sold out weeks in advance with the sold out signs hanging from the gates. Instead we'll be lucky to see 3,500 and a bit less money in the coffers to stave off this supposedly imminent 'liquidation' that's supposed to be hanging over us.We are losing money hand over fist, true, but it's nothing that a good cup run can't cure. Oh dear, bit late there aren't we!
Hereford continued their good luck in all their games this week when, while we were being ejected from the FAC at Southport, they were struggling to hold Alfreton, a coal miners team from the East Midlands, to a draw at home and then struggle to get past them at their field on Tuesday evening in the replay. It took penalties to achieve that.They won't need so much good luck against us. Just turn up and we'll roll over.Or will we? Well our defence is now that much tougher now that Johnny's come home and it'll be the weak link Wayne Evans that will be making way for him. With Hats, Jacko and Burgess all playing well our defence has now taken on a much meaner look.It's up-front where we are now found wanting. With Christie out due to suspension we're going to have to rely on ?????. Who are we going to rely on to get some goals? Atieno is back after Walsall refused to allow him to play in Cup games but he doesn't seem able to make goals for himself, he needs crosses for that. Sheldon? He's failed to deceive for me and can blow hot and cold but he's said to the press this week that he's glad that he signed for us and not Hereford so it's up to him to get into the thick of it and prove to us that he did the right thing.Simon Russell is too lightweight and he'll get found out by the Hereford henchmen and Simon Heslop doesn't seem to have the strikers instinct in front of goal.Nil Nil then.
Missing for us tomorrow will be just Chris McHale and possibly Michael Blackwood who is still suffering with his hamstring injury but he might make it to the bench.Hereford, hoping to get one over their more illustrious neighbours, will be without Ricky George and John Motson for this game because they are both throwbacks to when they were famous and only play at the intro of the Match of the Day FA Cup Special. They'll also be without Alex Jeanin (suspended) and Adam Stansfield, Stacy Coldicott and Simon Travis will be sidelined through injury. Ryan Green and Guy Ipoua are both on the verge of returning to the side after injury and could start on the bench for the Bulls.The Bulls manager, Graham Turner, will have to decide whether to continue with the reserve team keeper, Craig Mawson in goal or let loanee Wayne Brown return to the sticks after being told by his parent club, Chester City, that he couldn't play in the Cup games. Mawson has played well and it'll be a tough decision for Turner.Their big striker on loan from Crewe, Matt Bailey, has been allowed to stay at Edgar Street for a further month by Dario Gradi. He's scored twice in his seven games for Hereford.I think we'll be seeing a good, solid showing from the Harriers with Mullins back in defence and a pairing of Sheldon And Tai up front there must be a goal in there somewhere but I still think it'll be Nil Nil.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
BBC Hereford and Worcester will have second half commentary from the Kidderminster/Hereford game on Saturday afternoon.
Steve Miller will be at Aggborough to report for the station.
The commentary will also be available on the internet.
Meanwhile Harriers captain, Mark Jackson, has told the Official Harriers Site that he is knows this is going to be the biggest game of the season for many supporters.
"I'm sure it's going to be a real 'blood and guts' affair on Saturday and it's the kind of game you look forward to as a player," he said.
Conference TV viewers have been warned that unless revenue improves then the service will have to charge fans for watching games.
A monthly charge of £4.99 is on the cards.
The partners in the venture, BT, Sportinglife and InTheBox Media, are said to have invested heavily in the loss making venture. And despite additional sponsorship from totalbet.com and others, the revenue has not covered the costs of the site.
ConferenceFootball.tv now says that an affiliate programme has been set up. The first advertiser to join is totalbet.com, a company in the same group.
According to the Football Conference Website: Each time a Conference fan signs up to one of these services, money goes to support both ConferenceFootball.tv as a free service and the respective club. We can track where each registration has come from to ensure correct distribution of funds.
To make this work only 10,000 fans need to participate in the affiliate programme each month.
Sportinglife and totalbet are both owned by ukbetting. Confguide, whose future is also in some doubt, belongs to the same group.
Matt Bailey's loan spell has now been extended for another month. The Crewe frontman has scored two goals in seven appearances in his first month at the Bulls and is eligible for both the FA Cup and LDV Trophy.
In an unusual move, Altrincham have released former captain Steve Hawes. The one time Sheffield United trainee has been an ever present this season after rejoining the club in the summer. The club have promoted reserve team striker Pat McFadden after he scored fifteen goals in seven reserve appearances after joining the club. Exeter have handed a trial to former Chelsea trainee Danny Woodards after his release from Stamford Bridge in the summer. 22 year old Woodards recently had an unsucessful trial at Wycombe. Kidderminster have extended the loan of Simon Heslop from Barnsley for a third month. Aldershot have signed a ninth loan player. 20 year old Milwall defender Jason Rose joins for a month and will go straight into the squad for Saturday's match against Scarboro. Morecambe have resigned John Hardiker on loan from Bury. Hardiker, 23, left Morecambe for Stockport in a £150,000 deal in 2002, but joined Bury on a free in the summer after slipping down the order at Stockport.
Stuart Watkiss, manager of cash-strapped Kidderminster Harriers, is hoping that Saturday's derby with Hereford United will bring his club a much welcome cash boost.
The Harriers, according to the Kidderminster Shuttle, are hoping for their biggest gate of the season. Last time the Bulls visited in January 2000 there was a crowd of 4606.
"For whatever reasons - and we wish we knew the answer - we've been performing much better against the better teams. Obviously, Hereford come into that category.
"It's also a local derby, so it's got all the ingredients of a good game, one that we're looking forward to. But, again, it's one that we know we'll have to be at our very best to have any chance of winning.
"But we're optimistic. Hereford play the right way. They get it down and pass it and I hope I'm not tempting fate, but those type of teams seem to suit us."
Turning to the Harrierrs fans, Watkiss asked for their support.
"Obviously, we need your support to get behind the boys, stick with them and cheer them on."
Meanwhile Harriers' Gareth Sheldon has also been talking to the same paper, who revealed that he had considered joining Hereford United last summer. The former Exeter City winger now insists he was right to join Kidderminster.
"Hereford was the only other club I could have joined in the summer. I changed my mind about going there because the squad was too big.
"I'd rather take my chances here and I'm confident I've made the right choice."
"It's a long season, as I keep telling everyone. Fair enough we've lost five or six games but teams are going to do that throughout the league.
"Everybody in this division can beat everybody else, but once we hit that good purple patch I don't think there's many teams that will be able to beat us."
According to the official HUFC website, the Cambridge City FA Cup Round 1 match will now take place on Friday November 4th with a 7.45pm kick off.
More details have emerged from the Official Cambridge City Website:
It has been confirmed that City's FA Cup First Round tie at home to Hereford United will take place on Friday 4th November, kick-off 7.45pm.
The game was originally moved to the 6th November at the request of Cambridge Police but it was felt that this was too close to City's next fixture, the following Tuesday against Thurrock.
The game is not all ticket and admission prices have been set at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.
Speaking to Keith Hall, John Trewick spoke about the Alfreton matches, and the coming games:
"We're obviously very, very pleased to have won. Over the two ties we thoroughly deserved it. We should've won the game on Saturday in ninety minutes, and we should've won the game tonight inside ninety minutes. But sometimes it's not as easy as that and you've got to give enormous credit to the players as I thought we just kept playing the ball, trying to create opportunities and sometimes you don't get the break - and also Alfreton were making it very, very hard - and they were working their socks off to try and stay in the tie. But we deserved it and we're through which is fantastic."
"It was always part of the game plan to get the ball into flank areas - the same as we did on Saturday - and deliver decent crosses into the box. And we did that. Sometimes you get on the end of them, and sometimes you don't. I thought their goalkeeper played very, very well and made some important saves at important times. On another day we might've won by two, three or four. But it wasn't to be and in the end it was very close. But we're pleased to be in the next round which is only just over a week away, and it's something really to look forward to. I was fairly confident stood there before the penalties. But you never know because on the day you can have an inspired goalkeeping performance - somebody could slip as the run up to take the penalty in these conditions - there's all sorts of unknown factors that could come into play, but I was fairly confident with the penalties, and we got through which is fantastic, as I say. I pleased for Craig who made a couple of saves in the shoot-out. He guessed the right way on a couple of occasions, and he obviously does his homework. He studies the body language of the taker's run up and all goalkeepers have a little bit of a psychological battle with the taker and on this occasion Craig did enough to come out on top, and I'm delighted for him."
"The derby on Saturday is fantastic to look towards. The important thing now is we've had 120 minutes on a sticky pitch in a tough game and obviously Kidderminster haven't had a match during the midweek, so what we must do now is to recover. That's our priority - making sure the players get the right fluids and the right fuel into their systems now. We've obviously got to look at the content of the training on Thursday and Friday, so we leave a lot in the tank for Saturday. But the derby is a great thing to look forward to. It should be a big crowd, and we're looking forward to it. The Cambridge City tie is another tricky one. But it's a tie - as the higher league club - that we've got to look to win, and there is no reason why we shouldn't go there and win. They did quite well last year in their division. I'm not quite sure exactly what they're doing this season, but we'll have them watched this weekend and we'll do a little bit of homework on them. But as ever, it's always about what we do, and our performance - so we'll be concentrating very much on that."
"Ryan Green has had this niggling little knee injury now for maybe, two or three weeks. He had to ease out of training yesterday and he was always going to be doubtful for this replay. Having said that I thought Rob Purdie stepped into the right back area and performed very, very well. It's yet another string to Rob's bow - as he's played in a few positions - which is fantastic. We are going to talk about a loan extension with Crewe for Matt Bailey in the next day or two. Matt gives us an extra dimension in our play with his height and his presence, and a decision will be made very, very shortly."
In today's Hereford Times, it is reported that Hereford are close to finalising an extension to Matt Bailey's loan from Crewe for another month. The 6ft 4in striker has scored two in seven appearances for the Bulls, and his current loan spell expires today.
The Hereford Times also reports that the Bulls have been drawn away to Kington Town in the semi final of the HFA Senior Invitational Floodlit Cup. The other tie is Westfields/Wellington vs Ledbury/Pegasus. The Bulls Football In The Community officer Adriano Girolami quit as manager of Kington last week after three months in the job for personal reasons, but remains a player at the club. The tie is to be played before March 1st.
Gary Roberts, manager of Cambridge City, has said that his side will have nothing to fear when they take on Hereford United in the FA Cup next month reports the Cambridge News.
Roberts watched the replay at Alfreton last Tuesday and admitted afterwards that he wasn't reading too much into the fact that Hereford had struggled to dispose of opponents who play at the same level as City.
"I did not come away quaking in my boots, I came away thinking we have got a decent chance. But we must not get too far in front of ourselves, there is a lot of planning to do. If we have our best starting XI available, we will be a threat.
"The pitch was not the best last night, it stopped Hereford playing and they got dragged into a bit of a battle, but when they knocked it about they looked a class above.
"They looked very good going forward, but they gave some chances at the back and we have players, like Paul Booth, who could hurt them, although I'm sure they will be thinking the same about us."
Below are some edited details about Aggborough Stadium , the home of Kidderminster Harriers taken from their Official Website and also Harriers Online.
AGGBOROUGH Stadium is a compact but smart ground that has undergone major building work over the past fifteen years. The Main Stand was built in the summer of 1994, replacing an old wooden stand that ultimately cost the club promotion to the Football League earlier that year due to an insufficient seating capacity. The Main Stand houses the Aggborough Suite and a range of executive boxes, with disabled supporters comfortably accommodated at a specially designated area at the front of this stand. Two identical covered terraces (refered to locally as the 'Town End' and 'The College End') sit behind both goals which, when at least half full, create a superb atmosphere.
Facing the Main Stand and running parallel to the far touchline is the new East Stand. Built during the summer of 2003 at a cost of £1.1 million, it houses 2,040 seats for both home and away fans. Catering facilities at Aggborough are excellent with fast food type bars situated throughout the ground; the 'world famous' Aggborough soup is an experience that must be tasted! There is a well populated Programme Shop in the corner between the Main Stand and the North Terrace.
Adjacent to the Club Shop is 'The Harriers Arms' - Aggborough Stadium's very own public house. Despite being open to the general public on non-matchdays, this establishment is, however, CLOSED to visiting fans before and after First Team matchdays due to limited space.
SOME OTHER FACTS....Capacity: 6,238 approx. (3,140 seats)
Record Attendance: 9,155 v Hereford United (27/11/48)
HOW TO GET TO AGGBOROUGH BY CAR: From Birmingham, Wolverhampton and North (M5)Exit M5 at junction (signposted A456) and follow towards Kidderminster (approximately 12 miles). At roundabout on Kidderminster Ring Road, take first exit (signposted A451 Stourport). At next roundabout, take first exit (signposted A448 Bromsgrove), then take first turning on right (Hoo Road). Aggborough Stadium is approximately half a mile along on the left hand side.
From Worcester and South (M5)Exit M5 at junction 6 (signposted A449) and follow towards Kidderminster (approximately 15 miles). At first roundabout, take third exit (signposted A449, Kidderminster & Wolverhampton), then take first turning on left before railway bridge. Go down Hoo Road, over railway bridge, and Aggborough Stadium is on the right hand side.
From South-East (M40 & M42)Leave M5 at junction 4 (signposted A491 Stourbridge). After approximately 5 miles, turn left onto A456 and follow towards Kidderminster. At roundabout on Kidderminster Ring Road, take first exit (signposted A451 Stourport). At next roundabout, take first exit (signposted A448 Bromsgrove), then take first turning on right (Hoo Road). Aggborough Stadium is approximately half a mile along on the left hand side.
From Herefordshire: Either travel to Worcester and join the A449(as per details from Worcester and the South) for Kidderminster, Or travel to Leominster, take the A4112 for Tenbury Wells, join the A456 for the centre of Kidderminster then follow the signs for Aggborough.
Car Parking: There is car parking at the ground but is limited. Some street parking close by.
BY RAIL: Kidderminster Station (0.5 miles from Aggborough Stadium). Walk down Comberton Hill towards the town centre and take the left turning just before Motorway Tyres near the bottom of the hill. Walk up Hoo Road for approximately half a mile to the Aggborough Stadium.
Matchday ticket prices:
Over 65's £8
Under 16's £5
Under 8's Free
Over 65's £11
Under 16's £11
Under 8's Free
Usually visiting supporters are given the use of Blocks L and M in the East Stand (seats) and the whole of the South Stand (terrace).
For a pint before the game Harriers Online lists:
Social & Supporters Club. By main carpark.
The Railway Bell Hotel. Station Hill.
King and Castle. At S.V.R. Station.
The Viaduct Inn. Hoobrook.
The Crown Inn. Hoobrook.
Yate's Wine Lodge.
Below is an up-to-date fixture list until the end of November.
Sat Oct 29th Conf Kidderminster Away 3pm
Fri Nov 4th FA Cup Rd One Cambridge City Away 7.45pm
Sat Nov 12th Conf Woking Home 3pm
Sat Nov 19th Conf Dagenham&Redbridge Away 3pm
Tues Nov 22nd LDV North Round Two Port Vale Home 7.45pm
Sat Nov 26th Conf Exeter City Home 3pm
Should Hereford United draw their Cup game at Cambridge City then any replay will take place on November 8th
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Just two days after manager Francis Vines quit Crawley Town, caretaker boss Murray Jones has left the lowly Conference side.
Jones was appointed as second in command just over a month ago after Dave Swindlehurst's departure. Simon Wormull, the former Stevenage player and current injury victim, will become the latest caretaker boss of the side at just 28.
The Crawley board offered a £500 reward in September for information on a mole that was leaking their secrets to the outside world, but the offer lead to no definite outcome despite Swindlehurst's departure. Consultant Alan Mullery was believed to be taking a more hands on role before Jones' departure, and will likely fill in for the lack of experienced leaders, and may be a permanent successor to Vines.
This report by Clive Edwards is from the Official Alfreton Town Website.
AFTER the promise of the first half, a session filled with action, chances and hope, from which Alfreton left the field with their noses just ahead, the outcome of this cup-tie was a gut-wrenching disappointment.
The look on Gary Mills' face at the end of the game said it all.
He knew that they were a penalty kick and a save away from victory, and he also knows that dwelling on defeat is no way forward.
"I'm gutted," he said. "But we have proved that we are not easy to beat. In the end, the fitness levels of the professional side counted against the fitness levels of the semi-pro side. But I'm proud of my team and their performance tonight."
It was an honest appraisal, and as cheerful as one could hope for after the morale- deflating finale.
The evening started well for Alfreton. In damp and blustery conditions, the Reds created plenty of chances, often beating their opponents for skill and pace.
Bettney, Stevenson and Godber combined well time after time to threaten the Bulls' defence.
Clarke, as ever, showed genuine pace in his attacking forays. This was a different Alfreton from the cautious, defensive side that Hereford had met at their ground on Saturday.
This time, Alfreton meant business.
For the visitors, Mkandawire slammed a shot against the bar on the half hour, but it came as no surprise when the Reds went a goal up three minutes later.
A corner, not well cleared, came to Jason Blunt who crossed the ball left-footed into the six-yard box. Mark Turner, inevitably, was there to head home the opening goal of the cup-tie.
His Dad probably didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The Reds fans had no such moral dilemma.
After the break, Alfreton were pinned on the defensive.
The match changed in the space of four minutes. In the 53rd minute, a cross by Brady from the right was headed home by Craig Stanley for the equaliser.
It was unquestionably a good goal. But the subsequent series of events gave the initiative completely to the visitors.
Dave Robinson was pulled up for a foul tackle. His response - dissent- earned him a booking.
From the free-kick, Jason Blunt was booked for persistent offending - the referee considered that his break away from the wall towards the ball was a second too early, and a transgression too many.
Then, Chris Bettney limped off to the sideline. His contribution had been a joy. Skilful, and exciting. He could have been the matchwinner.
Alas, the Reds never fully recovered their composure. The back line played solidly, but the midfield frequently gave the ball away cheaply. Unable to keep possession, the Reds put themselves under too much pressure, and consequently had to play too deep.
It is a lesson that Gary Mills had demonstrated to them by playing himself in previous matches. In soccer physics, it might be known as Mills' Law: if you let go of the ball, it must be certain to go to one of your players.
Like all laws, under pressure, it's easier to say than to do.
Alfreton's survival was thanks to an outstanding display from Mark Turner at the heart of the defence, and from Adam Legzdins between the posts.
The youngster commanded his area with the authority of a senior pro. And he pulled off a string of saves at various points in the match which took one's breath away.
At full time the scores were level. And so to extra-time, so often a period of stalemate between two teams who fancy their chances in the 50/50 lottery of a sudden death shoot-out. And so it came to pass.
The dream would have been for the young superhero to pull off a few magnificent saves, and for Mark Turner to slot in the final kick of the evening before shaking hands with his dejected but proud father.
And then off we all go to Cambridge for the next round.
But Alfreton?s fairy godmother had turned in for the night by this late hour. She slept soundly as the home fans saw Mark Turner, and then Chris White have their efforts saved by Craig Mawson in the Hereford goal. Legzdins raised home spirits briefly with a brilliant save against Andy Ferrell, and he almost kept out Graham Evans' spot-kick to level the scales. But the shot had just enough power to trickle over the line.
And it was left to Hereford's Cameroon international, Guy Ipoua, to blast home the final kick of the night.
Those inclined to praise Graham Turner's tactical genius might point to the fact that, very late in the game, he made three substitutions. All three players who came on for Hereford, took penalties in the shoot-out. And all three of them scored. He?s no mug, that Turner fellow.
And in victory he generously paid tribute to Adam Legzdins at the end of the match. "We deserved to win, but we should have won in open play. Alfreton's keeper was magnificent. In both matches, he stood between us and the next round," said Turner.
Gary Mills said: "Adam was superb. He has been a credit to Birmingham City, to us, and to himself."
Before his first match against Leigh RMI last week, Birmingham City Academy manager Vic Callow said of him: "He's a good prospect with a great attitude."
Memo to Vic Callow: "You've underestimated him, Vic. You may want him back, pretty soon."
The Reds fans know that they have seen a young keeper who has a very bright future. I look forward to hearing John Motson mispronounce his name for years to come.
ALFRETON TOWN: A Legzdins, R Clarke, L Featherstone, M Blount (E Nwadike 76), M Turner, D Robinson (capt), J Blunt, M Fisher, M Godber, J Stevenson (P Duffield 71), C Bettney (C White 61)
Subs not used: N Ross, L Powell
HEREFORD UNITED: C Mawson, T Mkandawire, T James (capt), J Brady, J Pitman, A Ferrell, C Stanley (G Evans 113), D Carey Bertram ( A Williams 81), A Jeannin, R Purdie , M Bailey (G Ipoua 98),
Subs not used: D Blewitt, D Beckwith.
REFEREE: Mr P N Gibbs (West Mids).
GOALS: M Turner (Alfreton) 33 mins 1-0. C Stanley (Hereford) 53 mins 1-1.
C Stanley (Hereford) 43 mins- foul tackle
D Robinson (Alfreton) 55 mins- dissent
J Blunt (Alfreton) 56 mins- persistent offending
R Clarke (Alfreton) 105 mins- foul tackle
Scored for Alfreton: Duffield, Blunt, Godber.
Missed/saved: Turner, White
Scored for Hereford: James, Williams,Evans, Ipoua
REDS MAN OF THE MATCH : Mark Turner.
Canvey followed Accrington out of the FA Cup in their Tuesday replay, losing 2-1 at 10 man Burnham from the Southern League Division One West. They become the tenth Conference club to fall at the first hurdle. Aldershot goalkeeper Nikki Bull is to publish a book, "Being Number One", about his time at the Club focusing mainly on the last three seasons. Exeter and Kidderminster have brought forward their league game from January to FA Cup round 1 day now both sides are out.
It needed a replay, extra time and then a penalty shoot out for Hereford United to finally dispose of their lower league opposition Alfreton Town in the F.A. Cup Fourth Qualifying round but following the 1-1 draw last night, The Bulls find themselves in the first round proper with an away tie at Cambridge City. Ryan Green was missing for the Bulls and so Rob Purdie filled in at right back, making way for Craig Stanley to come back into the midfield, in United's only squad change from the side that started on Saturday.
Although the home side started well at the Impact Arena, it was Hereford who posed the first threats at goal. Early on Jon Brady had the away supporters thinking his twenty yard effort was flying into the bottom corner, but it drifted inches wide. Brady turned supplier for United's next shot; his free kick fell in the box to Tamika Mkandawire, whose shot on the turn was palmed behind by Adam Legzdins. Stanley shot wide for Hereford again before Jon Stevenson linked up with Gary Mills but his effort was just wide.
The Bulls should have taken the lead just before the half hour mark, but the cross bar denied Mkandawire from close range and with little more than half an hour gone, it was the hosts who fired in front. A half cleared corner fell to Jason Blunt on the left and his cross was met by a flying header which beat Craig Mawson at his near post, and to add insult to injury for Graham Turner, it was his son, Mark, who'd netted. Alfreton played out the half the much better side as the travelling fans' frustration grew.
The second half began much the same but then, on fifty three minutes, Craig Stanley popped up with an unlikely equaliser, with his head! Man of the match Jon Brady, a constant threat down the right, cracked in another great cross and Stanley was on the end of it at the far post, leaving the 'keeper with no chance. Alfreton lost a key player, Chris Bettney, through injury and picked up a couple of bookings and they appeared rattled by the goal. Danny Carey-Bertram fired over in his last contribution, as Andy Williams was introduced up front with ten minutes of the half remaining.
Andy Ferrell intercepted a ball across the defence with five minutes to go and raced clear, before squaring to Williams who, from six yards, failed to convert as Legzdins made himself big and turned the ball behind. Then, in the final moments, a golden chance fell to Godder, but having beaten Purdie to a cross, somehow directed his header wide of the mark and thus, the game went into extra time.
The first half of the added period saw the introduction of Guy Ipoua with the largely ineffective Matt Bailey making way. The extra time saw one good chance either side of half tiem for United; in the first Alex Jeannin smashed a left footed drive across the goal face and wide and after the break, Purdie was played in, running in from the right, but his poweful drive was parried away. The result remained at 1-1 after 120 minutes of football meaning a penalty shoot out would decide the tie.
Tony James stepped up confidently and hammered in Hereford's first, to level things up but Ferrell saw his shot brilliantly saved meaning it was still 1-1 after two penalties each. Williams and Graham Evans, who came on for the injured Stanley late on in extra time, both saw their penalties go in, although the 'keeper got a hand to both as Craig Mawson saved a second penalty leaving it up to Guy Ipoua to win the match with United's final penatly. The experienced Cameroonian made no mistake either as he smashed the ball down the middle of the goal, much to the relief of the travelling 150 or so fans in a crowd of 740.
HUFC: Mawson, Purdie, James, Mkandawire, Jeannin, Ferrell, Pitman, Stanley, Brady, Bailey, Carey-Bertram. Subs: Beckwith, Blewitt, Evans, Williams, Ipoua.
ATFC: A Legzdins, R Clarke, L Featherstone, M Blount (E Nwadike 76), M Turner, D Robinson, J Blunt, M Fisher, M Godber, J Stevenson, C Bettney. Subs: N Ross, L Powell, C White, P Duffield, E Nwadike.
First it was Andy Tretton who needs surgery, now Danny Williams is said to require an operation on a knee problem.
According to the Official Stevenage Borough Website Williams "may need surgery to correct his knee problem".
The BBC reports: Williams has missed Boro's last three games and manager Graham Westley confirmed that he may require surgery.
The 24-year-old joined Stevenage from Hereford in the summer and has scored once in nine substitute appearances.
Meanwhile another ex-Bull is expected to be side-lined for a while. Steve Guinan, now with Cheltenham, is reported to have a back injury.
Guinan, who has started only one game this season for the Robins, is studying for a degree in sports science.
In the Conference, it's honours even between the local rivals. The Bulls did the double over Kidderminster in our first Conference season including a 4-1 win at Aggborough thanks to a Richard Leadbeater hat-trick, but Kiddy repaid it with a double of their own the following season. Two one-all draws in Kiddy's promotion season left the Conference results level.
It's the epic Welsh Cup battles of the mid 80's that brought this local rivalry to the fore. Kidderminster edged past the Bulls into the final in 85/86 - a 4-1 win at Aggborough put Kiddy firmly in the driving seat, but the Bulls fought back hard to get a 3-1 win at Edgar Street. The following season, it was a 3-0 defeat at Aggborough that ended the Bulls run in the Third Round, and two years later Kiddy again made the final with the only goal over the two legs. When the Bulls finally beat Kiddy, in 89/90 with a 3-1 away win, it led to the Bulls only triumph in the competition.
Hereford are lacking firepower at the moment with just 18 goals in 17 senior games this season leaves the Bulls ninth in the table, four points above Kidderminster. Danny Carey-Bertram leads the attack with five goals, and Guy Ipoua has three. The Bulls do, however, boast the meanest defence in the Conference, with just 10 goals conceded in 14 games.
Kidderminster drastically cut their budget in the summer following relegation, and it's been showing on the pitch. They've scored one less that the Bulls in the league, but have managed to be fairly tight at the back - four of the last five matches resulting in 1-0 scorelines one way or the other. Iyseden Christie and Taiwo Atieno lead the attack with five and four goals respectively.
It has taken 210 minutes of football and a penalty shoot-out for the Bulls to progress to the first round proper of the FA Cup.
Last night's eventual result brought relief to the 150 or so travelling fans, who unlike at Mansfield last Tuesday, were noticibly quiet through most of the game.
And, after Mark Turner, son of Hereford United manager Graham, had put the home side into the lead, the fans could not be blamed for fearing the worst.
Craig Stanley's equalising header raised the tempo of the game but with the Alfreton goalkeeper again in fine form, the Bulls couldn't find the back of the net in time to stop the need for the shoot-out.
Alfreton went one up with their first shot, but Tony James was as cool as ever and levelled the numbers.
Then Mark Turner failed to beat Craig Mawson, and Hereford supporters, for the first time last night sensed that at last the Bulls could win the game. Unfortunately, glooom decended again as Andy Ferrell's weak shot was easily saved by Legzdins. 1-1.
Alfreton's Blunt converted his attempt, but Andy Williams kept hopes alive with his conversion. 2-2.
Then hopes were raised again as Alfreton failed with their fourth attempt and Graham Evans, another of the subs, put the ball into the back of the net. 3-2 to Hereford.
Godber put his shot for Alfreton away so it was all done to another sub Guy Ipoua. He did the business and so the Bulls went through. 4-3 on penalties to Hereford. Relief all round.
The Impact Arena ground didn't look in bad condition considering the home club had arranged a local referee to look at the state of the pitch earlier in the day. Some fans had feared that the ground might resemble the pitch at Eastwood last year which had to be heavily sanded, but there was little to complain about.
Bulls News was taken to task yesterday by the Hereford United Official Site for not reporting that there was to be a second pitch inspection by match referee, Mr Gibbs, at 6.15pm. We took the view that, having made enquiries with the secretary of Alfreton Town, Bryan Rudkin, and checked with the Met Office on the forecast, there was no real likelyhood of the game being cancelled and so reporting this second inspection might have put fans off from travelling.
Alex Jeannin played for the Bulls last night. It had been reported on the Official Site that he would miss the game. However the editor of this site challenged that thinking and it now turns out that there is a seven day gap between a player receiving a ban after five yellow cards and missing a game.
Jeannin will miss the game at Kidderminster on Saturday.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Hereford beat Alfreton 4-3 on penalties. Craig Mawson saved two penalties, and Guy Ipoua scored the decisive kick after Craig Stanley kept the Bulls in the game 1-1 with a 52nd minute equaliser.
The Bulls now travel to face Cambridge City on November 6th.
Full report to follow.
Ahead of the weekend derby match, Kidderminster boss Stuart Watkiss has secured the return of a Harriers old boy but one of the current squad will depart after the weekend.
Johnny Mullins returns to Aggborough on loan after being one of Watkiss' first signings after taking over last season, the 19 year old Reading defender playing 21 times for the relegated side.
Meanwhile, fellow defender Steve Burton will depart Aggborough after the weekend for Australia. The former Hull man joined Kiddy in 2003 on loan, and made the move permanent in March 2004, but has found chances limited this season.
In other news, Scarboro caretaker boss Neil Redfearn has enlisted the help of Eric Winstanley for the forthcoming matches. 60 year old Winstanley was coach at Barnsley with during Redfearn's time there, and had two spells as caretaker boss at Oakwell in 1999 and 2000/01.
Alfreton will be boosted by the return of wingers Chris Bettney and Chris White who both missed the initial game, but have both recovered in time. There are no new injury problems for the Derbyshire side.
Hereford will travel with the same squad that was used on Saturday. Stacy Coldicott, Adam Stansfield, and Simon Travis all remain sidelined long term. Darren Blewitt's dead leg will continue to be rested with three other central defenders available, and Wayne Brown remains ineligible. The only likely changes will be tactical, with Craig Stanley, Andy Williams, and Guy Ipoua all ready to break into the starting line up.
Match Odds (bet365): Alfreton 11/5, Draw 11/5, Hereford Evens.
Steve Claridge has rejected rumours linking him to the Crawley manager's post, telling the Bradford City website:
"I have signed for Bradford City until the end of the season and as I said last week am keen to look beyond that. I've no desire to manage Crawley or any other club at the present time. In fact, I want to play until I drop."
Claridge, 39, had an unsuccessful spell as manager at Weymouth, and then spent 36 days as Millwall boss during pre-season. After a brief two game spell at Gillingham, he joined Bradford and has scored four in ten appearances so far. Claridge has scored 223 senior goals in a career that is now in it's 23rd year.
Tonight's FA Cup replay at Alfreton is On.
There was a pitch inspection at 12.30pm. A referee deemed the ground playable.
Hereford United have been contacted by Alfreton and are beleived to be about to set off for the Impact Arena.
There has been a lot of rain at Alfreton in the last twenty four hours and conditions could be quite heavy for the game. Currently the sun is shining and it is hoped that in the absence of much more rain the pitch will start to dry out.
England manager Paul Fairclough spoke to BBC Sport about his disappointment in losing assistant Alex Inglethorpe:
"It is disappointing that Alex felt pressured into stepping down. I singled Alex out as a great coach and a great person to work alongside. I can understand why he has gone but I am just sorry it had to happen. I will need to get someone in to replace him, but I need to think about who it will be."
In response to the Conference's objections to his role, Fairclough added: "I intend to carry on. I absolutely love this job and am proud to do it. I will stay on as long as the Football Association want me to do it."
Monday, October 24, 2005
Kidderminster Harriers are losing £5K per week according to an article in the Express and Star.
Chairman, Barry Norgrove, said that the debts inherited from the previous board are worse than imagined. The club was hoping for an investment from multi-millionaire Bermudan businessman Gordon Howard, but that is yet to happen.
He also admitted that last Saturday's FA Cup defeat at Southport meant that Kidderminster missed out on £10,000 in prize money which they could have done with.
"Last season our average gate was 2,875. This season we budgeted for an average of 1,900 but we're running at around 1,600 which is a massive difference.
"It means we're losing £5,000 a week on the gate at the moment.
"It's been difficult to get the commercial side going after losing our Football League status."
However there will be some welcome news for supporters of the cash strapped club this morning as Johnny Mullins is expected to return to the club.
Mullins, a fans favourite, has been at Reading but recently has not featured for their first team. He is joining on a four week loan and is expected to feature in the squad to play against Hereford United on Saturday.
Perhaps Hereford United Football Club should get someone in from the Hereford Ladies football team to show them how to put the ball into the back of the net.
Yesterday the Ladies defeated Plymouth Argyle 4-0 in the Ladies FA Cup.
Simone Quinn scored a hatrick in the game against a side several leagues above the Pegasus based team.
The Hereford Ladies will be at home against Penzance in Round Two on Sunday 13th November.
Meanwhile the Hereford United U18's were defeated by Bath City in the Cup this evening.