Friday, July 30, 2010

Bulls Reach Play-offs Again

We've reached the 2004/05 season in our review of Graham Turner's time with Hereford United. Another good season on the pitch but disappointment at the play-offs.

Pre-season started with the news that coach Richard O'Kelly was moving to Bournemouth. His style of football would be missed.

"I've this thing about football that as a player and as a spectator I've got to be entertained because if I'm not entertained then why do it?," said O'Kelly.

"Graham wished me all the best when I told him about the move to Bournemouth, even though he swore a few times when I first told him."

Also moving was Ben Smith up the A49 to Shrewsbury. Later both Steve Guinan (to Cheltenham) and Michael Rose (to Yeovil) left Edgar Street.

However Turner started recruiting early than usual as in early June he signed midfielder Craig Stanley who had been at Telford and later that month Adam Stansfield joined from Yeovil.

John Trewick was appointed as the new coach.

"He's given up a very good package at Wolves to join us," said Turner.

"When you get a coach that's worked at a higher level coming to a smaller club they've got to adapt."

In early July keeper Matt Baker left to move to Wrexham but better news a week later when it was revealed that Tamika Mkandawire would be returning. Graham Hyde was another new player.

And just before the season proper got underway, Turner signed three more players - Lee Mills, Mark Robinson and Johnathan Gould.

3644 turned out for the first game of the new season and the Bulls defeated Farnborough 3-1. However the following Tuesday at Crawley could only draw 1-1.

Meanwhile Turner reaffirmed his support for Hereford.

"It's been so long since I managed a side in the League that I can't remember what it is like," he said.

"But I want to taste it again. I was with this club when we went down and I want to be with Hereford go back up again."

A 3-0 win at York should have restored confidence but then a 1-0 home defeat by Stevenage.

"We certainly didn't play anywhere near with the sharpness with which we've been playing on our first three games," said Turner.

And on September 4th another home defeat. Halifax took their revenge on the Bulls after the previous seasons 7-1 drumming by winning this game 3-2.

Turner locked the team in the dressing room for over half an hour after the final whistle.

However the following Saturday the Bulls bounced back and were the first team to win at Gravesend in eighteen games.

Off the pitch Monday September 13th was the day when Hereford United's CVA was finally settled.

"We are delighted," said Turner. "It's been a hard battle for quite some time now and required a lot of help to stabilish the finances at the club. But we've done that.

"The big millstone now is that one million pounds that we owe the developers. That is the next thing we have to overcome."

Late in October Turner was linked to the vacant manager's job at Shrewsbury after Jimmy Quinn had quit and keeper Craig Mawson joined the Bulls.

Four wins in a row pushed the Bulls into second place but then a disappointing run saw just three points taken out of a possible eighteen. The Bulls were down to eighth. However form returned with a 4-0 win at Canvey Island on November 20th.

Ten days later the Bulls defeated Blackpool in the LDV Quarter Final. And Turner was given the manager of the month award.

At this time the first new project for over a decade was being started - new changing rooms.

"You may have noticed that work on the dressing room extensions is progressing nicely," said Turner.

"I hope that this is just the start to improving the facilities at Edgar Street, of course we are aware of some of the antiquated structures inside the ground. The toilet facilities are in desperate need of replacing, but there are a number of other problems to be considered."

By Christmas the Bulls were in third place but three defeats in January pushed them down to eighth. One of those defeats was against Burton.

"There's no excuses for today's defeat. I thought we didn't work hard enough, it's as simple as that," said Turner.

"Seven or eight of our players needed a kick up the backside to get started."

On January 15th The Bulls played Accrington in a Trophy tie and won 4-0 winners. They lost to Dagenham 1-0 the following Saturday and had dropped to eighth place but then started a run of 16 League games with just one defeat.

The Dagenham game was the 500th with Turner in charge. He had won 205, drawn 124 and lost 172 in all games. The goal talley was 732 for and 612 against.

As the season continued the Bulls were facing fixture congestion. Runs in the LDV Trophy, the FA Trophy and the GLS Cup had meant that several League games had to be postponed. It didn't help that it took a replay to defeat Eastwood in the Trophy and then in another reply the Bulls were defeated by Hucknall Town.

Meanwhile Turner was put up for a FourFourTwo FQ award.

Without people like Graham Turner there wouldn't be football clubs. The Hereford Chairman and Manager has almost single-handedly kept the club afloat during many a stormy season. For his investment in his community, perseverance and loyalty we salute Turner's FQ. Let's hope we welcome him back to the Football League this summer.

More good news was the revelation that Hereford United had made a profit of £298,585 to the year ended May 31st 2004. Turner took the opportunity to spell out his plans for the club.

"We have got to bring the ground up to a standard where it is acceptable to our supporters," he said. "Toilet blocks, canteen facilities. turnstiles, even the terraces themselves, all those have got to be done at the two ends, the Meadow End and the Blackfriars End and they've got to be done fairly rapidly.

"We want an extension to the leases and we want to start putting plans in place to get the two ends done.

"What we've got is a situation where we owe a million pounds to the developers and we want be able to get away from that. So what we hope to incorporate something that will suit them and at the same time get the ends developed. And if its office space, if it's a cinema, if it's residential that's fine. They can make some money out of that.

"From our point of view if we can get the two ends refurbished with good facilities for supporters, and we can somehow incorporate the million pound debt into it, good."

Striker David Brown left the club and joined Accrington.

"We bent over backwards to allow David to go to college two days a week," said Turner. "He was told to train with us on Wednesday, the day after the Eastwood game, bearing in mind he would not have been in on Thursday.

"His training had been very limited before that game, so it was not unreasonable for him to come in to training. There was a confrontation with the coach. If he wasn't committed to training, then we did not want him here."

A defeat at Morecambe on March 22nd stalled the Bulls promotion run but it was soon back on track with a 6-0 away win at Farnborough even after Leroy Williams was sent off. The following Monday saw Danny Carey-Bertram sent off in the 4-0 victory over Northwich.

"We had Leroy Williams sent off at Farnborough on Friday and now Carey-Bertram which is absolutely crazy," said Turner. "It could be put down to the impetuosity of youth but there is no excuse for what he did today."

By the beginning of April a play-off spot looked likely. A win at Stevenage and then a draw at home against Carlisle lifted the Bulls to third place but only on goal average.

"Carlisle are a decent side," said Turner. "They will not be far off at the end of the season and I don't think we will be either.

"It's been terrific. Three straight wins, four matches now without conceding a goal. Eleven goals in three matches."

More wins followed. Firstly 2-0 against York, then 3-1 at Forest Green, and 1-0 at Halifax. However the last two games were drawn. The Bulls finished in second place, 12 points behind Barnet.

The play-offs followed but promotion was not to be. The first leg was at Stevenage and was drawn 1-1. Danny Carey-Bertram put the Bulls ahead in the second half but 12 minutes later Dino Maamria equalised. 1400 supporters sang their hearts out in support of Hereford.

"The atmosphere at Stevenage was terrific and there is no doubt that the fans can play a big part in the way we perform," commented Turner.

The second leg was on Thursday May 3rd. 6862 packed Edgar Street but it was heartbreak when Dino Maamria put Stevenage ahead and the Bulls just couldn't find an equaliser.