Three London Bulls attended Bedfont and Feltham FC this afternoon, with low expectations including a tin-pot pitch, scratch teams of limited ability, and no sign of a new investor. We were wrong on all counts.
B and F is a tidy ground of Westfields stature, the playing standard was encouragingly high, with four shortened trial matches, a couple of teams from London agencies including the very real Don Ubah, and others using the new owner’s coaches (one being John Taylor, former centre-half at Southend). Mostly in the 17 – 22 age bracket, some with considerable football league experience, and also one Joe Benjamin, who thinks the great former bull Trevor is his cousin. But he wasn’t certain. This was apparently arranged as a trial ‘specifically for Hereford United’, but the new owner was aware that other scouts may have been present.
He was happy to introduce himself thus, and more than happy to share his thoughts in a surprisingly long chat, but was keen to avoid photographs, and to be allowed to announce details in his own time. We are happy to comply with the first request, less so about the second, but will do so out of respect. Acknowledging that this is not ideal, we would add that his name was mentioned before lunchtime today, and official news should be released very soon.
It’s fair to say that he is a genuine football man, a former professional and comfortable in the environment in which we encountered him, but with a multitude of other business ventures, one of which was unsurprisingly, property development.
As for his thoughts, and there were many of them, here goes, and these are his words, as we can best remember them.
‘A sustainable football club, properly run, fully inclusive with the local community.’
‘Proposed development (of the ends) will provide a steady income for the football club, at Edgar Street.’
‘Aim to stabilise the club, and encourage young talent to regard HUFC as a place to further their careers.’
‘Have a good idea of management and coaching structure, with several names already spoken to.’
‘A return to the football league is a priority.’
‘Confident that Conference Premier status will be maintained.’
‘Significant ambitions to develop academy at Aylestone Park.’
‘Contracts offered to four senior pro’s from last season.’
‘Cream of players on show to return for a second trial later this week.’
‘Favours a player-manager, in talks with more than one candidate.’
‘Owner will not be based in Hereford full time, looking for local help to run the club.’
‘Mark Ellis currently in Nigeria, but expected to have a role at the club.’
|Don Ubah with trialist|
We did ask several other questions, including the obvious one, we also shared our view on how the club could best move forward after four years of less than stellar leadership, but again, were requested to hold fire on specifics.
How we viewed the discussion is a tricky one. Certainly, the man has confidence, charisma, and talks a great game, and if even half of what he said comes to pass, we will very soon be in a far better place than we are now. Of course, when something sounds too good to be true, it generally is too good to be true. We are football fans, Hereford fans, and by definition, deeply cynical.
That said, we spoke to many others present, including possible future Bulls coaches, player’s representatives and parents, and the Chairman of Bedfont and Feltham FC, and two things could be said of all of them. They were proper football people, and they all vouched for, and liked the guy.
As to whether he is the Messiah, or just a very naughty boy, only time will tell, but he is a genuine football man with the resources to significantly change things around at Edgar Street.