Posted by sean on May 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm in Football, Ventures Outside Of Bath with No Comments

Hereford United 3-2 Torquay United
League Two
Saturday 5th May 2012 – 15:00

Despite Bath City finishing their league season last week, I promised all you lucky people another blog, and boy have you got one. At the weekend, the “giants” Hereford played host to the titans of Torquay. I had to make use of planes, trains and automobiles to get to Herefordshire (OK, four trains and two taxis – no planes), but I am proud to bring to you my first ever blog on a Football League game. Make sure you’re sat down, as the ‘Excite-o-meter’ is about to go into overdrive.

When you think of Hereford, you think of cider. Well, I do. Cider which is pretty decent, but nothing on the stuff from Somerset. When you think of Hereford United Football Club, many think of FA Cup upsets. Most people would think of the time in the 1970’s, when as a Southern League outfit, they beat topflight Newcastle United. Again, I think differently. Hereford United are the “giants” Bath City (famously) knocked out of the FA Cup in 1993 (it was live on Sky, don’t you know).

Since then, Hereford have gained promotion to the Football League, reaching the dizzy heights of League One in 2008. They beat my other team, Leeds United a couple of times along the way, but we won’t talk about that. Since then, for whatever reason, Hereford have not been doing so well and have battled against relegation all season.

Cue a last day of the season clash against Torquay United, who themselves could be promoted to League One with a win over Hereford, should moneybags Crawley Town lose to Accrington Stanley. Then again, Hereford could stay up if they win and Barnet lose to Burton Albion. The permutations were endless, and Jeff Stelling was no doubt having kittens on Soccer Saturday.

Random photo of a wall light

The day started with a taxi journey to Bath Spa train station. I arrived very early and predictably, the train was very late – and very full. Cue mayhem – people fighting to get onto the train, people fighting to get off and getting trapped in the train doors. Then there was the gladiatorial battle for a reserved seat. If anyone wants to see normally perfectly civilised human beings turn into animals, take a trip aboard a busy train.

After making the train trip to Newport, getting delayed and catching a later train, we eventually arrived in Hereford. There, along with about 20-or-so of Torquay United’s toughest hooligans, we were greeted by Hereford’s local constabulary. After wishing us luck (I say “us”, I’m not even a Torquay fan), we were asked to behave ourselves and not to relegate the home side.

Does "rank" mean something different in Hereford?

We then made our way to the ground. We got as far as Morrison’s supermarket – 30 seconds from the train station – when I realised we were lost. I began to wish I had listened to the friendly policeman who had offered directions. I decided to follow a group of Torquay fans, who appeared to know where they were going. Making conversation, I informed them that I was a Bath City supporter and reminisced about past encounters between our clubs – the 2007 FA Cup tie and the 2008 FA Trophy match. I reminded the Torquay fan his side won both games. He apologised.

Green army!

The ground was in fact easy to find. It was a simple case of follow the police officers who lined the streets. Edgar Street impressed me. A friendly club, which treated both home and away supporters like human beings – something which many clubs I have visited this season have failed to do. Both sets of fans were invited to use the clubs many bars and socialise pre-match. There was no trouble whatsoever.

Extremely hungry after our travels, we looked for food. Besides an impressive selection of crisps, there was nothing on offer in any of the three bars. There was however a rather enticing-looking burger van. Burgers were ordered, sadly without chips as the deep fat fryer had broken. A sad day.

No chips. I predict a riot.

Burgers eaten and cider drank (sadly, Magners), we walked though the turnstiles and found our seats. We could have gone in the terraces, but chose to end the season as prawn sandwich eaters.

As the stands and terraces began to fill, supporters were reminded that it was a criminal offence to encroach onto the pitch. A pointless announcement. If Hereford were to save themselves from relegation or Torquay win promotion, that pitch would be full of football fans quicker you could say “Proud members of the Blue Square Bet Premier”.

Best not bring a bottle

The atmosphere and tension began to build. A set of fans behind the goal in a home terrace let off a couple of flares. I was impressed. I don’t think the stewards were overjoyed at the firework display though. As is the technological age we live in, some fan videoed the blatant act of hooliganism and uploaded it to YouTube.

Warm up shot

The players walked out onto the pitch to the club’s very own song Hereford United – We Love You. Cue thousands fans cheering and applauding – probably in appreciation of the excellent music which pisses all over You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Hereford began the game nervously. The thought of a trip to Braintree Town on a cold Tuesday night a real possibility should they lose the game. The fans were quiet. You could tell they were nervous. They did erupt to abuse the linesman who, to be fair to the home fans, was absolutely rubbish.

A load of old bull

Despite looking edgy and generally under pressure from Torquay, Hereford took the lead early into the game. The home fans went absolutely crazy. More flares were lit, a few supporters fell onto the pitch only to be greeted by the club’s mascot, who was equally elated.

The jubilant home supporters behind the goal started singing “We’ll do what we want, we’ll do what we want” Presumably in response to the spoil-sport stewards trying to ruin their flare-lighting and pitch invading fun. Booo!

Traditional floodlights. I like.

The manic scenes still turned very sombre when word got around that Barnet were beating Burton Albion. This meant, as things stood, Hereford would be relegated. I am sure the news of the goal had caused Jeff Stelling to jump around the Soccer Saturday studio like a man with a family of scorpions in his boxer shorts.

Forza Hereford Ultras!

Torquay, who still appeared to be the better side, pushed for an equaliser which would get their promotion charge back on track. They played some fancy football, but cheated a fair bit too; Eunan O’Kane throwing himself to a ground and rolling around the floor a bit like this. This enraged the already angry home supporters, although not as much as when Torquay’s Rene Howe became obstructed by a Hereford defender and did his very best impression of a man getting hit in the face by a baseball bat.

A huge cheer erupted moments later, but I did not know why. My heart sank, thinking I had somehow missed a wonderful long-range goal, or even more disappointing, a dog invading the pitch. It was neither of those things. The scoreboard had an update from the Barnet game and brought good news – Burton Albion had equalised against Barnet. Better still, Jeff Stelling had been admitted to hospital following over excitement and scorpion stings on his genitals.

Match shot

Hereford’s afternoon got even better when they were awarded a penalty, which was well converted. A third goal was scored shortly after, the best of the game, to put Hereford 3-0 up and dreaming of survival and trips to Fleetwood Town next season.

The second half kicked off and Torquay made two changes. One of which was to bring on Ryan Jarvis, who I thought was excellent and changed the game – so much so, he scored in under 20 seconds. 3-1 then became 3-2. The comeback was on, although the Torquay United coach drivers had clearly seen enough – a tannoy announcement informed all away fans that the drivers had returned to their vehicles.

The second goal was greeted by the Torquay supporters ‘doing the poznan’. Some kind of celebration presumably created by Manchester City which involves hugging each other, turning your back to goal and jumping up and down a lot. The home fans responded with “What the fucking hell is that?” before throwing another flare.

Sadly, the 14-12 ‘goalfest’ scoreline I was hoping for did not happen. There would be no more goals and the score would finish 3-2 to Hereford. Excellent. Boom boom, we’re staying up etc… However it wasn’t great. Barnet had taken the lead at Burton Albion, saving themselves and relegating Hereford. Home fans sung how they would be Hereford until they died (or have to go to Ebbsfleet United), while the disappointed away supporters left hoping the play offs would bring them success – and that their coach drivers hadn’t gone back to Devon.

So a sad day really. Sad for Hereford fans that they went down. Sad for all football fans that Torquay didn’t go up, as it meant Crawley Town got promoted instead.

"We're relegated. Lets blame the mascot"

Good luck to Hereford next season. It is a shame I won’t be making the trip with Bath City. Good luck to Torquay in the play offs too, although I will also be keeping an eye on their opponents Cheltenham Town, who have one of my favourite ex-Bath City players ever – Sido Jombati.

And as far as my blog goes, that is about it. Until next season anyway. See you for the pre-friendlies in July, which will feature Western League grounds, trialists nobody has heard of, false hope and the annual visit of a Bristol Rovers XI to Twerton Park – always an exciting affair.

Lets pretend we're staying up

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