Saturday, March 26, 2011

From the Archives - Miles in Charge

For today's archive article BN looks back to September 26 1972, a time when the Bulls were enjoying their first season in the Fourth Division. The slightly edited article first appeared in the USA.

Hereford United football club has supporters as far afield as Canada it seems.

When the club's young chairman Frank Miles opened a fund to build a new stand for the ground, a 10$ donation was received from a fan in Canada.

Miles isn't surprised by what he calls 'a predictable surge of interest in Hereford United'.

He took the failing club by the horns in 1969 and announced he would resign if it wasn't in the Fourth Division by the end of the 1972 season.

Today at 38, Miles is the youngest chairman and his letter of resignation has been filed away until 1983. His first ambition realized one year ahead of schedule, he has drawn up a new 10 year plan to take the club to the First Division.

"If we're not at the top by then I'll resign," he said.

"We're big down here and now we've made a start we'll be looking for promotion all the time."

Hereford emerged last season from the obscurity of the Southern League and then knocked out First Division Newcastle in the FA Cup, a soccer competition open to all-comers.

Hereford went on to tie with the premier British team West Ham before going out of the cup in a fourth round replay against this London based side.

Despite the cut-throat existence for Fourth Division clubs, Hereford is set for success in its first season in the League.

"Financially, as well as on the field of play, we're in top shape," says Miles.

While the club enjoys strong vocal support from thousands of fans throughout the West Midlands and farther afield, a group of local businessmen recently donated £2500to the Hereford funds.

Three weeks before the opening of the 1972 season, season ticket sales had risen to £12000, a league record for a new arrival.

"We are now financially sound enough to withstand the pressures," said Miles, head of a chain of carpet stores.

"We have given ourselves a guarantee far longer than a few seasons of mediocre success."

Surprisingly only three of the Hereford squad are full time players. The remainder, despite promotion to the league, will continue their careers says the club's player-manager, Colin Addison, 31.

"I had hoped that they would all turn full-time," he added.

"But I'm satisfied we can do as well as we did last season without making any big changes in our lives."

Addison predicts that Hereford will finish in the top ten in the Fourth Division by the end of the current season.

Certainly few Fourth Division sides can seriously predict regular home gates of between 8000 and 10000. To accommodate the influx and prepare for a rise to the top the club has invested £500,000 on ground improvements over the next five years.

"Frank Miles has made Hereford soccer almost as famous as the local breed of cattle," Addison says.

"It will take a brave team to stop these Hereford Bulls now."