Sunday, July 25, 2010

Will Keyte bring back the Bull and the Swede?

One of the promises of new chairman David Keyte is to reconnect Hereford United with Herefordshire and beyond. But will he go as far as bringing back the old tradition often practiced on FA Cup matchdays of parading a bull around the ground and dribbling a swede into goal?

Back in December 2004 former chairman Graham Turner decided that messing around with swedes had no place in today's game at Edgar Street although he seemed happy to see a bull paraded.

"One tradition I enjoy is the parading of the Herefordshire Bull," said Turner. "These are magnificent creatures but, unfortunately, today's match coincides with the big Smithfield Show, therefore there wasn't a trained bull, that is one used to parade rings available."

Tony Francis of the Telegraph explained:

Let this result be a warning to all those tempted to skimp on their vegetables: Hereford United 2, Boston United 3.

Admirable though it is for Hereford to kick the swede-worshipping habit that traditionally accompanied FA Cup days at Edgar Street -"We decided at a supporters' forum that we didn't want this country bumpkin image any more. It's time to move on," explained manager Graham Turner - the swede nevertheless struck back by denying them a potentially lucrative place in the third-round draw.

The game itself got off to a cracking start when Tamika Mkandwire's head thumped the ball past a motionless Boston goalkeeper. The Edgar Street roar echoed across the Welsh Marches, a giant-killing coming up. (A bizarre concept since Boston United only escaped from the Nationwide Conference two years ago and are a smaller footballing entity than Hereford.) It wasn't to be.

Jason Lee levelled before the break and two goals by Andy Kirk killed the tie in the second half. Craig Stanley's 25-yarder in the last minute of normal time was cosmetic.

Some traditionalists will blame the Smithfield Show for interrupting Hereford's FA Cup run. Just when they needed an experienced bull to parade around the running track - a ritual Turner is keen to preserve - they'd all been carted off to London. Several farmers volunteered their bullocks but Turner was put off by visions of a Pamplona moment with a ton and a half of startled beef introducing itself to the crowd. So, no meat and no veg. The famous old stadium wasn't the same.