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The Conference Years: Hereford United

28 May 2014

Remembering where we once were.

Doncaster Rovers had their fair share of success against Hereford during their encounters over five years in the Football Conference; the South Yorkshire side averaging a win per season.

Hereford, who were relegated to the Conference in 1997, were followed down from the Football League just a season later by the long-suffering Rovers and the sides met at Edgar Street in November ’98 where Richard Leadbeater’s 80th minute penalty separated the two sides.

The return favoured Ian Snodin’s side, who were three goals to the good thanks to Ian Duerden (x2) and Dave Penney before Steve Cowe’s consolation.

A total of 12 goals were scored in games between the two teams the following season and The Bulls’ 5-3 win in September ’99 had its fair share of talking points. Rob Elmes got the game off to a flyer within the opening 60 seconds; however his goal was cancelled out by Kevin McIntyre just minutes later. Mike Newell gave Rovers the lead after half an hour and they held on until the break. James Wall scored for the hosts after the restart however, and they retook the lead when Gavin Williams scored a penalty as a result of McIntyre’s red card. Paul Sturgess’ own goal, which gave Rovers a glimpse of a hard-earned point thirteen minutes from time, still wasn’t enough and Elmes and Craig Hanson bagged to cap a thriller.

The 2767 who were in attendance for the return will have been expectant of a similar tale, however Rovers, after taking the lead through McIntyre and Dino Maamria, were pegged back on each occasion by Paul Fewings and Leroy May and had to settle for a point.

Neil Campbell’s double was too much for United at Belle Vue the following season (2000/01) as Rovers prospered 2-1 and then 1-0 at Edgar Street thanks to Mike Turner.

Both sides had to settle for a point in Herefordshire in a goalless draw during the 01/02 season before Rovers finally avenged the 5-3 defeat with a 4-0 thrashing of their own – Andy Watson (2), Jamie Squires and Paul Green the trio responsible.

The sides met, yet again, in the 02/03 season and Rovers scooped the six points on offer despite their Chairman, John Ryan, taking to the field!

Mark Albrighton and Paul Barnes had already seen United off at Belle Vue earlier on in the season, before the return at Edgar Street in front of nearly 2,800 on the final day of the season.

With Rovers sure of the play-offs, they let their hair down, but – thankfully – not their guard and were 4-2 to the good after second half goals from Andy Watson, Tris Whitman, Barnes and Blundell before their number 28, Mr Ryan achieved his lifelong ambition of playing for his boyhood club.

Rovers were to go on to flourish in the inaugural Conference play-off final, while United fluffed their lines on two occasions in the end-of-season jamboree before getting it right in 2006. 

The Bulls didn’t waste too much time in League 2 and were duly promoted to the third tier just two seasons later for the first time in 30 years.

That was to be the pinnacle for the boys from Edgar Street and they only lasted one term in the third tier before two relegations in three seasons saw them return to whence they came.

Last season proved only marginally better for Hereford and they avoided relegation to the sixth tier on their goal difference, which was just two better than Chester’s.

*Rovers striker Tris Whitman takes a breather as he positions himself for a corner in the 4-0 win over Hereford at Belle Vue in April ’02 in front of less than 1800*

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