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Hereford FC

Currently en route to Malvern for Hereford FC's first ever football match.

Massive turnaround for their supporters and club in the past few months. Slightly surprised we didn't offer them a friendly given our Trust club status, but then again they are starting in a very very low level (Step 5 I believe, two leagues below Chesham United).

They have sold an incredible amount of season tickets, albeit cheap, and their supporters are set to have s very fun season if all goes to plan (their average attendance per GAME will approximately match the other clubs' attendances per SEASON).

Looking forward to seeing some football!

Comments

  • Good luck to them. I hope they continue to progress from this point onwards.

  • Good for the other clubs in the Midland League too with increased away followings. As a groundhopper I might pop along to one of their away games

  • Sorry it's taken me ages to reply to this!

    But fear not as there is lots to update on. And to make up for it I have a post which will not fit in one post.

    Tuesday saw the first ever Hereford FC match take place away to Malvern FC. A small 'ground' with a supposed capacity of 4000, despite being smaller and less 'luxurious' than Wealdstone. 2007 were in attendance, unsegregated (mostly Hereford fans) to witness a 3-2 win for the away team.

    In bizarre fashion, Hereford FC's first ever goal will go down in history rather strangely. At 0-0, the Malvern keeper made a fine save, only for a quick fire follow up to beat him, before a Malvern centre back stretched across goal, beating the ball away with his fist.

    As it was only a friendly, the referee consulted with his linesman, before making the decision to award Hereford FC their first ever goal, in lieu of a penalty or penalty and red card. The result - their first ever goal never crossed the line.

    There was a lot of singing, and a generally great atmosphere with a mid match BBQ. Their manager, Peter Beadle, was in charge at the end of the 2013/2014, when Hereford United stayed in the Conference on the last day of the season away to Aldershot, shortly before things fell apart for them.

    I stood right behind him and the dugouts for this game - with only a handful of registered players, a different lineup was fielded in each half, with the exception of the promising looking number 1. The majority were trialists, and the honest truth is that although they had had a combined three days of training together at this point, some were clearly out of their depth. As someone who plays regular five a side, I could have replaced at least three or four of them with no noticeable difference in quality.

    In amongst this, however, appear to be a few gems, who would possibly be capable of playing a level or two higher, and this will be needed if Hereford are to progress up the leagues at the first attempt.

    Saturday came and time for the first Hereford FC game at Edgar Street, against FC United of Manchester of all teams. Approximately 4200 filled the stadium (the club's new safety certificate for the stadium only came through on Friday morning!) for this memorable fixture.

    Since the last time I was there, a lot of development has taken place around the ground, including a new Eden Centre style shopping outlet a mere 20 seconds walk from the turnstiles. It is clear to see why the locals were tentative about development opportunities and ulterior motives of 'investors' from the get go.

    In truth, the upper Len Weston terrace (my first time there, as I have never been to ES as a 'home' fan) feels genuinely dangerous. The supporters have done a great job with a steady team of volunteers painting, decorating, carpet laying, etc. on a frequent basis, but the upper LW, which is their equivalent to the upper Frank Adams in terms of offering the 'birdseye' view, seems very old. The seats are comfy and the view is good, but there is one staircase to get up, which only has room for single file traffic. This is the same staircase one must use to exit, and there is no other visible route down once you are up there. I would estimate, if everyone tried to leave at the same time, you'd be looking at a good 10 minutes+ to exit. Add to this people standing ON the staircase throughout, and perhaps someone needs to look at the stewarding or safety of the stand. Not the supporters' faults, but I've genuinely never seen anything like it.

    The occasion itself was spectacular. The fans were in fine voice, and cheered the eleven on the pitch on with everything they had, despite the majority not having a clue who they were! Lots of 'Come on number 11!' and 'That number 5's pretty good!' throughout the match. No doubt next week everyone will have their own song.

    Hereford managed to sneak a 1-0 win, scoring their first Edgar Street goal in the second half, which was in reality gifted to them by a goalkeeper who performed like a pantomime villain throughout, joking with and taunting the fans behind him in the home terrace throughout the second half. He flapped at an exceptional cross under pressure, which was then poked in for an easy goal. Needless to say, he received a fair ovation in the post match lap of honour which both teams took part in. The 300 or so FC United fans were very positive about the occasion, and several other fans showed up in support of the new club, including for example a contingent of at least 20 Swansea fans.

    ironically, I have still never seen an away team score a goal at Edgar Street. The closest I have ever seen is Russell Martin scoring an own goal when playing for us, several years ago.

  • In the end, Hereford FC managed to dispatch an FC United side from three leagues higher. Despite United fielding several trialists in the second half, they took the fixture very seriously, and this is the equivalent to the Wanderers beating a newly promoted almost full strength Watford team, so a good sign. While I thought the defence looked rather shaky, the majority of home fans disagreed and seem quite confident in them. Their positioning and general battling abilities were good, but their clearances fed the next United attack throughout the game, making FC United look like Manchester United at times. While FC United could have found themselves 3 or 4 up at one point, credit must go to the players for coming out in the second half full of spirit and ready to win every loose ball - their nervous first half performance became a tenacious second half showing.

    The pre match half lap and the post match lap of honour was emotional, even for someone with absolutely no connection to the club or town. Watching players who had previously only ever played park football (and some who have at some point been apprentices with the likes of Cheltenham) be roared on by over 4000 people was simply spectacular.

    One thing is for sure - as my initial post asserts that the Hereford FC fans are in for a great season. I will definitely be trying to catch at least one 'proper' game during the season if time and fixtures allow for it. Unfortunately whether you drive or catch the train, Hereford always seems to be in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and it is really not the most fun of journeys. Still, the town itself is nicer than I remember it to be, possibly helped by the new town centre redevelopment.

    My final point relates to both Hereford FC fans and us, as a supporter's owned club. When you see the hard work that has gone into both clubs - the time, emotion, money, and sheer hard graft - we must all appreciate what has been fought so long for. I have not posted in the other thread but I have been reading it all and I agree with some and disagree with others.

    Without being at all political about it and actually expressing a view one way or another, we must ALWAYS remain the 'correct level of suspicious' towards everything that goes on at the club. I have no interest in receiving a daily voting slip regarding what the players should eat or drink that day, but we have absolutely every right to question anything and everything we want to question, but without being pedantic and annoying about it.

    No one can have a problem with that - anyone who does have a problem with that is probably hiding something. As the old gasroom taught us, anything anonymous, is generally anonymous for a reason. People have a natural tendency to shout good news from the rooftops.

    If a cash machine does not have a huge sticker plastered across is with the words 'FREE CASH', it is probably going to charge you £1.50 to use it. If it was free the company would be displaying that fact loud and proud, to encourage people to use it.

    Anyone who has contributed anything to the club - well - the club belongs to them. it is their money that is being spent. These people have every right to ask any question they would like to ask, especially at a forum set up specifically for the purpose of engagement with the membership.

    Is Andrew Howard the best thing since sliced bread? Is Andrew Howard not the best thing since sliced bread? Everyone can have their own opinion and still live side by side. I have no interest in partaking in these discussions. But one thing is for sure, he will not be running Wycombe Wanderers forever. And when he no longer is, whether that be 5, 10 or 50 years from now, I would ideally like the club to still be there, and the fans to be singing the team on, whatever league we're in.

    Don't trust anyone (but don't mistrust anyone either).

  • Great (and possibly the longest on the new gasroom) post.

  • Brilliant post. Spot on perspective and context.

  • I'm a Hereford fan with roots in Wycombe so I've been to a few Wycombe games in the last few years (lovely stadium you have).

    Great to see us get a mention. The last year has been so tough. Most fans (me included) boycotted the club, the last Hereford game I went to was in April 2014. I waited 1 year and 3 months to return and it feels like such a long time. Our team is looking reasonable for the standard we'll be at.

    Our goalkeeper is a former youth teamer and looks a great signing, our defence (in my opinion) looks quite hopeful, particularly with fan favourite Tony James, who you might remember from Burton Albion, coming out of retirement to play for us. He's formed a decent partnership with a trialist named Nathan Summers. Our full backs look shaky and need replacing.

    Our midfield looks reasonable with another favourite Rob Purdie (Cheltenham, Shrewsbury) dropping down to play for us. We also have a trialist called Dan McDonald whose about 3 stone overweight but is ex Aston Villa youth and played some games for England under 23's a few years back. He's a strange looking guy but has a decent touch and played some good balls against FCUM. Our wingers look reasonable for our level.

    There's work to be done up front, the trialist who played on Saturday looked out of his depth. His replacement and goalscorer Nathan Hughes (ex Cheltenham youth) looked much better, with decent pace and power which could make him a danger at our low level.

    Overall, I'm hopeful. The trouble is that in our league, there's only one promotion spot and although we should have the biggest budget, there are a few teams that are being bankrolled by wealthy individuals and signing players who were in the Conference North and South last season. Also, every team is likely to treat us as a cup final as most will have never played in a ground like ours or against a team with our history.

    It has been a long journey but I want to send a warning. The FA failed us miserably and threw us to the wolves. That could happen to any league club (Wycombe included). We had years of miss management under our former owner David Keyte who appeared to be a lifelong fan with our best interest at heart. He accrued huge debts and made ridiculous decisions. In our League 2 relegation season, we were paying some players thousands of pounds per week (Stefan Stam was one of those I believe). Eventually, he racked up huge debts but managed to keep them surprisingly well hidden. He stopped funding the club or paying bills and instead left it to supporters who raised hundreds of thousands for the club in just a few weeks.

    A month or two later, he sold us down the river by selling to convicted thief Tommy Agombar, a delightful Essex thug type with links to Stephen Vaughan who was responsible for destroying Chester City. Most of our fans think Tommy was a front for Vaughan and his crook friends who were looking to develop the ends of our stadium which would be highly valuable for development.

    What I want to say is that you should treat absolutely everyone new with suspicion. Hereford fans have become experts in finding out less flattering aspects of people's pasts. If you or any other team is ever in our situation, we'll be there to offer advice. The last year has strengthened my belief in the football family. We have been helped so much by other fans from teams like Swansea, Chester, FCUM, Merthyr and so many others. If a team ever gets in our situation, the expertise of these fans will definitely be at hand.

    Good luck in the coming season, I will be at less Wycombe games this year as I have my team back now but I wish you well and I'll keep an eye out for your results every weekend.

  • Best of luck to you. One of my best friends is a Hereford fan so I've heard a lot about what's gone on. Hopefully, like Wimbledon and Newport, we'll see you back in the league in the not too distant future.

  • I'm hoping we might be back in the football league within 15 years

  • @HerefordBull said:
    I'm a Hereford fan with roots in Wycombe so I've been to a few Wycombe games in the last few years (lovely stadium you have).

    Great to see us get a mention. The last year has been so tough. Most fans (me included) boycotted the club, the last Hereford game I went to was in April 2014. I waited 1 year and 3 months to return and it feels like such a long time. Our team is looking reasonable for the standard we'll be at.

    Our goalkeeper is a former youth teamer and looks a great signing, our defence (in my opinion) looks quite hopeful, particularly with fan favourite Tony James, who you might remember from Burton Albion, coming out of retirement to play for us. He's formed a decent partnership with a trialist named Nathan Summers. Our full backs look shaky and need replacing.

    Our midfield looks reasonable with another favourite Rob Purdie (Cheltenham, Shrewsbury) dropping down to play for us. We also have a trialist called Dan McDonald whose about 3 stone overweight but is ex Aston Villa youth and played some games for England under 23's a few years back. He's a strange looking guy but has a decent touch and played some good balls against FCUM. Our wingers look reasonable for our level.

    There's work to be done up front, the trialist who played on Saturday looked out of his depth. His replacement and goalscorer Nathan Hughes (ex Cheltenham youth) looked much better, with decent pace and power which could make him a danger at our low level.

    Overall, I'm hopeful. The trouble is that in our league, there's only one promotion spot and although we should have the biggest budget, there are a few teams that are being bankrolled by wealthy individuals and signing players who were in the Conference North and South last season. Also, every team is likely to treat us as a cup final as most will have never played in a ground like ours or against a team with our history.

    It has been a long journey but I want to send a warning. The FA failed us miserably and threw us to the wolves. That could happen to any league club (Wycombe included). We had years of miss management under our former owner David Keyte who appeared to be a lifelong fan with our best interest at heart. He accrued huge debts and made ridiculous decisions. In our League 2 relegation season, we were paying some players thousands of pounds per week (Stefan Stam was one of those I believe). Eventually, he racked up huge debts but managed to keep them surprisingly well hidden. He stopped funding the club or paying bills and instead left it to supporters who raised hundreds of thousands for the club in just a few weeks.

    A month or two later, he sold us down the river by selling to convicted thief Tommy Agombar, a delightful Essex thug type with links to Stephen Vaughan who was responsible for destroying Chester City. Most of our fans think Tommy was a front for Vaughan and his crook friends who were looking to develop the ends of our stadium which would be highly valuable for development.

    What I want to say is that you should treat absolutely everyone new with suspicion. Hereford fans have become experts in finding out less flattering aspects of people's pasts. If you or any other team is ever in our situation, we'll be there to offer advice. The last year has strengthened my belief in the football family. We have been helped so much by other fans from teams like Swansea, Chester, FCUM, Merthyr and so many others. If a team ever gets in our situation, the expertise of these fans will definitely be at hand.

    Good luck in the coming season, I will be at less Wycombe games this year as I have my team back now but I wish you well and I'll keep an eye out for your results every weekend.

    Great post. As stated in the past, I have it on very very reliable authority that Tommy and co were sniffing around Adams Park, and that they only pulled out because we DIDN'T get relegated the season before last. Frightening stuff (I've seen the pictures of Tommy and Mr Lonsdale taking in a match in the Main Stand towards the end of that season).

  • That's worrying. They seem to sniff around any time a club is for sale as well. There was news a month or two ago they were looking at buying Hartlepool but I think their owners pulled out last minute. They're a complete disease to this game.

    Lonsdale destroyed Bedfont and Feltham football club in London. He moved them out of their ground and then dumped thousands of tonnes of waste on the land so all there is to see now is basically a pile of rubble. Stepehn Vaughan, who they has links with destroyed: Chester, Widnes Vikings (a rugby league team) and Floriana FC in Malta. They seem to be surprisingly well connected as well, with Grays FC being owned by an associate of theirs. He's also got links to Droylsden, Redditch (who tried to steal our stadium from us) and Barrow.

    Vaughan is good friends with gangster Curtis Warren, who used to be Interpol's most wanted and was the UK's most notorious drug baron.

    No club should go within a mile of any of these people. They'll strike again some time soon when a club is in desperate need of help and they spot that they can make a quick penny from it.

    The FA should protect the clubs under their jurisdiction but sadly they don't seem to care about anything but Premiership money. More clubs just like mine will have to go through the same thing. Things at a football club can go bad so quickly. When our previous chairman, Graham Turner left, we had 500K in the bank and had just been relegated from League 1. Within 5 years, we'd been sold to the Essex mafia and had debts of 1.3 million. After another 6 months, the club was destroyed. This may sound melodramatic, but things can turn sour so quickly and I would hate for anyone else to have to go through what we went through.

  • @HerefordBull

    Thanks for taking the time to come on here and make an excellent contribution to the forum. WWFC have come perilously close to the abyss on a number of occasions in the recent past, and what you post is why supporters must never give up holding those in power at their club and trusts to account. That isn't to say that Andrew Howard can be compared to the shady individuals you mention as having been sniffing around Hereford United before its demise, or other clubs who have been destroyed, however it doesn't mean that he can be given a free ride to do whatever he wants without questions being asked by supporters.

    All the best to Hereford FC, hopefully you can come back stronger from what happened to HUFC with a renewed sense of purpose. I'm sure many Wanderers fans will keep an eye out like we did for AFC Wimbledon and FC United and many others.

  • I don't know much about the internal workings at Wycombe as I'm not a proper fan. We thought David Keyte was trustworthy for about 3 years of his 5 years of ownership. Some spotted the issues within a year but they were mainly shouted down for acting negatively and having an agenda against Keyte. They turned out to be proved 100% correct. Many debts were hidden and Keyte was spending far too much while making poor managerial appointments (Simon Davey, Martin Foyle, Jamie Pitman) that caused results to suffer on the pitch. Of course this led to dwindling crowds as many couldn't deal with long ball, low quality football particularly seen under Foyle during our last 2 years in the Conference.

    Eventually he stopped paying the bills and left it to the fans before selling us off to criminals. We thought David was a genuine fan and for many years this seemed about right. When he finally left, we realised he was just as bad as the new gangster owners from Essex as he tried to cut a shady deal to get some money back from planned development of the ground. Later, when our reformed club tried to take back Edgar Street, our home for all of our life, he joined together with the chairman from Redditch (60 miles from Hereford) to try to apply to be the new tenants of the ground. In many ways there is more hate for him than Tommy Agombar and Lonsdale. Without Keyte's ineptitude, we would never have been in such dire straits. Tommy and Lonsdale are just vultures looking to make some money quickly.

    My point is that no club is safe. Even if owners are seemingly trustworthy and real fans like Keyte seemed to be, it doesn't mean you can relax.

  • Essentially, in a very very simplified world, Steve Hayes was our Keyte several years ago, but we managed through some very hard work to buy the club back from him through the trust. Keyte chose the dark route and sold out for £2, which is when the Essex Mafia took root in Hereford. In the process he apparently refused to even converse with HUST.

    It was after the Torquay game that apparently Tommy and co decided to go down the Hereford route rather than the Wycombe route, purely because we stayed in League Two, where more eyes would be watching them and a few more tough questions asked by the FA.

    What is interesting, and something to which we will never have an answer: Would our Trust have seen through the 'takeover bid' before it was too late if they hadn't pulled out in favour of Hereford? If it had gone to a vote would our fans have asked enough questions or would we have walked blindly into a nightmare scenario? Anyone who's interested should check out the last episode of the FLS from the 2013/2014 season, and watch how excited Trevor Stroud sounds at the prospect of these mystery investors taking over our club.

  • What superb posts. Extremely "educational ". Essential reading for any Wycombe fan and what an excellent guest writer @AttitudeEra would be on Vital.

  • I am no expert on the details of the Hereford situation , so cannot comment on what happened there. From afar and listening to what "HerefordBull" has posted, it would appear that Hereford were targeted by Mr Agombar as an asset stripping exercise with a view to developing the ground, which i understand was well located and well suited for lucrative development opportunities.

    @AttitudeEra has made what appears to be a very large jump to conclude that Mr Agombar was the "mystery investor" interested in us and that he was merely deterred by avoiding relegation. Is there any evidence to support this or is this a matter of adding two and two together and getting five.

    Frankly it feels rather unlikely that an asset stripper would want to get involved with WWFC for one fairly obvious reason - WWFC doesnt have any assets! The training ground was I believe gone by then and regardless has no development potential due to its location. The main stadium is owned by a seperate company, is badly located and given its location in an AONB is subject to severe planning restrictions (e.g. couldnt even build a training pitch on the spare land now car park alongside the stadium). Its hard to see what development a developer planning to asset strip the club could plan for the site (even assuming it got hold of the seperate stadium company as well as the football club). As such it would appear that any vaguely competent asset stripper would give up on WWFC at a very early stage. Frankly the Agombar asset-stripper theory for the mystery investors simply doesn't ring true.

    As a second point, it is always very tempting to subscribe to the "i know better than them in charge even though I have no facts and they have loads" approach. I have never met trevor Stroud but he appears a reasonably intelligent bloke, a WWFC supporter, and presumably a advocate of the supporter ownership model. If he was "excited" about the potential takeover from whoever it may have been, it is possible he may have been duped or it is possible that the details may have been genuinely exciting. Is it not a little unfair to immediately leap to the assumption (and effectively state it as fact) that he was stupid, naive and fooled?

  • edited July 2015

    @DevC The only part of this I have time to immediately refute is your final paragraph. My hypothetical question is purposed in no way to tarnish Mr Stroud in any negative light whatsoever. I would like to make that absolutely and abundantly clear. Since I can't find a link to the interview I mention in my post at this present time, I can't comment too much (but will try and hunt down the video at some point).

    My point merely goes as far as to suggest that (if you are willing to believe that there is indeed a shred of possibility that the Hereford 'investors' were interested in Wycombe) if Mr Stroud was as visibly excited as he was in that video, it goes to show that the investors WERE at least good at one thing, and that is putting forward a convincing and appealing argument for a takeover bid. Something that at least got his mouth watering with the possibility that these people were good for the club. In which case, if they had indeed put forward a formal bid, would we ('we' being everyone involved, not just Mr Stroud - the supporters trust, general fan base, directors...) have been able to see through it quick enough or would it have been too late?

    Bear in mind that all that is in the public domain is that the consortium was wanting to remain anonymous. This may mean that even the board members didn't meet them in person, and if they did, the person or people that they met would have been lower down the chain - merely cogs behind the bigger plan.

    My question stands even if you don't want to believe they ever set foot in Wycombe. Someone did at the end of that season, and whether good or bad for the club I certainly hope that we asked or would have asked all the right questions rather than accepting everything as gospel as a lot of clubs seem to have done recently, to their detriment.

    Your point regarding any potential value of our club to such people is a whole different kettle of fish, and I think people would be surprised at just how imaginative these people can be. In any case, there is enough money involved that they don't NEED to be successful every time. They can simply spend 6 months trying to make necessary changes and amendments to planning laws, fail and give up, and meanwhile have let the club slip into oblivion. If the club still exists after that, it is in an almost unthinkable amount of debt, as every second of their time (and all of their friends' time) has been invoiced to the club. It only takes one success for the windfall to be worth it.

  • Fair enough re Mr Stroud (and the rest of the Board). perhaps i misread/misunderstood what you posted.

    IMHO the Trust and Football Club Board and their contacts have enough knowledge to be adequately aware of the development possibilities of the Ground. Property Developers will not succeed in all projects it is true but equally tend not to want to spend time and money on lost causes. In my judgement there are much easier ways to make money than to seek to asset strip WWFC and development its commercially unattractive land assets.

    i have no reason to doubt that the trust board take their responsibilities seriously and would do appropriate due diligence on any offer received before recommending it. If they are excited by an offer, most likely it is an exciting offer. However they sadly, as far as I am aware, are in not in possession of a crystal ball, and hence cannot have perfect vision of the future. Whatever due diligence they perform and however exciting an offer appears, they cannot be 100% certain that it will turn out to be beneficial. Equally they cannot be 100% certain if rejecting an approach that the status quo will be beneficial to the club either. At the end of the day they (and we) have to form a judgement with incomplete information. i am afraid that is the way of the world.

  • New level of tedium reached there DevC, why use One word when you can use Twenty eh?

  • @RogertheBandito you actually read all that? Fair play

  • I think (maybe hope) having flirted with oblivion once we'll have enough sense not to do it again in the near future.

    Also, we were lucky. SH for all his faults (and there are indeed many) could have easily 'done a Keyte' and sold us down the river. That he chose not to (and as I understand it not make that unreasonable demands of us) is at least something in his credit pile

  • As football club asset strippers go, Hayes was barely Conference level. I remain to be convinced that he had any master plan when he took over the club, he just made it up as he went along.

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