NEXT HOME GAME - N/A
NEXT AWAY GAME - ALDERSHOT ON SATURDAY APRIL 26TH AT 5.30PM

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Second Grays game on Sky- Maybe?

Grays Athletic have published details of their play-off games with Halifax.

The dates for the Semi Final games against Halifax have been confirmed as:

Halifax Town vs Grays Athletic - Playoff Semi-Final Leg 1
Sat, May 6, 2006. Kick off: 15:00

Grays Athletic vs Halifax Town - Playoff Semi-Final Leg 2 (Sky Sports)
Wed, May 10, 2006. Kick off: 19:45


The implication seems to be that the Morecambe game against Hereford United will be on Sky with a Saturday, or possibly Sunday, evening kick-off. The second leg is expected to take place on Thursday May 11 with a 7.45pm start.

This is subject to confirmation.

UPDATE 9pm:

Halifax Official Website has this evening suggested that the information on the Grays Site may not be correct:

Halifax Town have announced this evening that NO dates have been agreed for the playoff games between Town and Grays Athletic.The official Grays website had announced today that they would be facing Town on Sat 6th May, 3pm kickoff and entertaining us on Wednesday 10th May, 7-45pm.The Conference have confirmed to the club tonight that no dates have been set as SKY TV have not chosen their games.Dates are expected to be announced on Tuesday morning.


A few stats for the Conference season

With the Conference season over, Hereford United will be able to look back at the campaign with some pride.

The Bulls have recorded less fouls than any other Conference side, just 422. Their Play-off opponents Morecambe were credited with 571.

Hereford had the joint lowest number of yellow cards, 38, but unusually for the Bulls recorded 4 reds. Overall they are 2nd in the Discipline table.

Ryan Green, Alex Jeannin, Daryl Taylor, Andy Ferrell and Guy Ipoua were all sent off during the past season although Ipoua's card was recinded on appeal.

But the highlight of the season was Hereford's defensive record. Just 33 goals were scored against the Bulls in the 42 Conference games, by far the best in the league.

As predicted earlier this month by Bulls News, Wayne Brown has now featured in the top ten tightest defences for the third time.

The current top ten is now as follows:

Kettering 93/94 24 goals
Darlington 89/90 25
Macclesfield 96/97 30
Chester 02/03 31
Scarboro 80/81 32*
HEREFORD 05/06 33
Scarboro 86/87 33
Chester 03/04 34
Maidstone 83/84 34
Maidstone 82/83 34
* Adjusted from 38 game season.

The current defence is also the meanest Bulls defence since the promotion winning side of 1972, who conceded just 30 goals as they finished runners-up in the Southern League.

The attendance at Edgar Street have averaged 2793, down 9% on last season's 3068.


Six Bulls in National Squad

There are six Hereford United players in the English National Game Squad for the Four Nations Tournament which takes place at the end of May.

Wayne Brown, Simon Travis, Tamika Mkandawire, Andy Willams, Andrew Ferrell and Rob Purdie have been included in the inital squad of 35.

The squad will be cut to 18.

Meanwhile there are no places for either Tony James or Ryan Green in the Welsh squad but former Bull Graham Evans is included. He has scored six times in sixteen appearances for Wales.


Shrimps start sales this morning

Hereford United's opponents in the Play-offs, Morecambe, start selling their tickets this morning.

Unlike the Bulls, who have increased their prices, the Shrimps are charging their normal Conference prices.

Whilst Bulls News does not advocate buying tickets from Morecambe as opposed to Hereford for the game at Christie Park, fans living away from Hereford may find it difficult to obtain tickets as the Bulls are only selling tickets from Edgar Street to personal applicants.

However Morecambe have released a telephone number for sales of tickets and will take a credit card.

Main Stand, adults, £12.00, concessions, £9.00, under 16's, £5.00
All other areas, adults £11.00, concessions, £8.00, under 16's £4.00.
Payment by credit/debit card would be subject to a .50p per ticket booking fee.

Tickets may be purchased over the telephone (01524-411797) by using
credit/debit card


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Runners up for third sucessive season

Hereford United secured their almost traditional second place in the Conference this afternoon with a 3-1 victory away at York City. It was the first time that The Bulls have scored three goals away from home in the league this season, and continued their superb run that has seen them go unbeaten in the Conference on their travels since the 7th of October.

Changes were made in the Hereford side as Danny Carey-Bertram missed out through injury and Ryan Green returned. Simon Travis played on the right of midfield in front of Green, who played at right back. It took Hereford a while to get into their stride, and York enjoyed the earliest of the chances. Travis blocked an early shot, forcing a corner before Dean Beckwith had to get in the way of a shot from Andy Bishop, who won another corner for the hosts. It was a third corner from which The Minstermen came closest, as the ball fell to Neal Bishop who fired first time, but Wayne Brown was equal to it.

Hereford were not as wasteful with their chances, and took the lead following their first effort on goal after thirteen minutes. Craig Stanley won a free kick just outside the box that Alex Jeannin fired low and hard. The goalkeeper Chris Porter parried the ball away, but only into the path of Andy Williams, who fired low into the far corner from close range. United got themselves into the game as York's early spirits had been dampened but failed to create another decent chance until the thirty fifth minute - when they scored again!

Some good passing in the midfield managed to release Travis in space on the right flank, and he had time to cross into the middle where Andy Williams challenged Porter for the ball. Neither won it clearly and it rolled out to the far post where Rob Purdie was on hand to tuck in a second for The Bulls. Purdie had an opportunity for a second before the break but, after Williams had flicked on a ball from Jeannin, his low shot was tame and no trouble for Porter.

York came out for the restart with renewed optimism. Clayton Donaldson made his way down the right before centering for Joe O'Neill but Brown again saved, however he couldn't deny City on fifty seven minutes. A free kick from Mark Convery was headed straight into the path of Andy Bishop, who stole in to head home from five yards, for his 25th goal of the season. City went on to have a strong period, but couldn't find the equaliser.

Hereford's Williams had a shot blocked before Adam Stansfield should have restored the two goal advantage, with Travis once again the supplier, when the striker couldn't get a cross from under his feet, with a clear view on goal inside the six yard box. Ferrell forced the save of the game out of Porter from twenty five yards with a well hit shot before Tamika Mkandawire almost scored, but his header was just inches off target. Soon after this, Graham Turner made two changes replacing both his strikers in the eighty second minute. Stuart Fleetwood and Guy Ipoua were introduced but it was York who went closest to scoring again.

This time it took a header off the line by Stanley, following a free kick, and a tip over from Brown to deny the hosts. The resulting corner caused more problems, causing a mass scramble in the goal mouth, in which it looked as though York may have netted twice before the ball went wide for a goal kick. Hereford survived the late storm though and went on to score a third in the final minute from substitute Ipoua. The move started with Brown who sent a long ball wide to Green on the right, and the Welshman then found his fellow country man Fleetwood. The striker ran at goal before poking the ball onto Purdie, who set up Ipoua with a low ball across the goal leaving the Cameroonian to net from close range, much to the delight, and relief, of the 329 Hereford fans in a crowd of 2,755.

So it's second again for Hereford and they will now face Morecambe in the play offs. Todays performance was much better than those seen recently, and will have given encouragement both to the team and supporters.

HUFC: Brown, Green, Beckwith, Mkandawire, Jeannin, Purdie, Stanley, Ferrell, Travis, Williams, Stansfield. Subs: Pitman, Mawson, Nicolau, Ipoua, Fleetwood.

YCFC: Porter, Thomas, McGurk, Dudgeon, Peat, Panther, O'Neill, Neil Bishop, Dunning, Donaldson, Andy Bishop.Subs: Hotte, Reid, Convery, Kamara, Merris.


Morcambe Ticket Sales Start Tuesday

The Bulls will have an allocation of 1180 tickets for the away leg of the play-off with Morecambe next weekend.

They will be on sale from the club office to season ticket holders and members on Tuesday from 12pm to 4pm, and on general sale from 4.30pm to 7.30pm. Season ticket holders and members can obtain one ticket each.

There are 200 seats and 980 terrace tickets available. The Official Website has noted that the club is not accepting postal applications for the away leg.

Prices:
£12 Adults
£9 Senior Citizens
£5 Children Under 16


Rushden Relegated Back To Conference

Rushden have been relegated from League Two, and rejoin the Conference five years after being promoted as champions.

Today's 2-0 defeat at Boston mean they are five points adrift of safety with only one game remaining. Oxford are now favourites to join them in the dropzone, being two points adrift of safety, but any one of seven sides including former Conference champions Barnet and Macclesfield can still be relegated.

Weymouth have joined Northwich in promotion to the Conference. The remaining two Conference places will be decided by play-offs.


Conference Results Round-Up

Stevenage blew their play-off hopes, and collected their 12th red card of the season, losing 2-0 to Forest Green - who guarantee their Conference safety by finishing out of the relegation places.

Regardless of Altrincham's appeal Forest Green leapfrog both Scarboro and Tamworth to secure their Conference future and, while the cynics may expect Altrincham's appeal to succeed now Forest Green are safe, Scarboro and Tamworth will now be sweating on the developments over the coming weeks.

Scarboro grabbed a draw at Exeter thanks to a last minute equaliser, but finish the season bottom of the table on 37 points. Tamworth saw one of their biggest gates of the season, but no goals, as they finished up 0-0 with Crawley and end the season in 21st place with 38 points. Only goal difference kept Forest Green up after Tamworth managed to score just 32 goals all season.

In other matches Morecambe's 2-1 win at Grays, who fielded an under strength side, confirmed the final play-off candidate but they had to come back from a goal down to seal their spot. A weakended Accrington lost 2-0 at Kidderminster, and Halifax lost their unbeaten home record by losing 2-0 to Canvey.

Dagenham won 2-1 at Cambridge, Burton won 1-0 at Gravesend, Aldershot won 1-0 at Southport, and Woking beat Altrincham 3-1.


It's Morecambe In Play-Offs

The Bulls will face Morecambe in the play-off's after sealing second place with a 3-1 win over York City.

Andy Williams, Rob Purdie, and Guy Ipoua scored the goals which confirm the Bulls third successive second place finish in the Conference. They will now travel to Morecambe in the first leg of the play-off.

Full Report Later.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Stimson wants Halifax in Play-offs

Grays Athletic manager Mark Stimson has told the Essex press he would like to face Halifax in the play-offs.

"Of all the teams in there I fancy Halifax," said the Grays boss. "Hereford and Morecambe, presuming they get there, would be very tough opponents but I think over two games we will be better than Halifax. But we are beggars and can't be choosers.

"It doesn't really matter if we have the home game first or second to be honest. In some ways I would prefer bother legs to be away from home because we have such a good away record. The atmosphere and the pitches are generally better away from home. I think we can turn the atmosphere around like we did against Exeter but unfortunately we can't turn the pitch. That has gone."

As for Morecambe who play at Grays tomorrow, they have to take a point from the game to reach the play-offs.

"We can't go there and play for a point," manager Sammy McIlroy told Morecambe Today.

"We have had a great run at a crucial time and it is good to see. Our form at the moment is absolutely fantastic, both at home and away."

"I can't praise the boys enough. If you look at the fixtures (tomorrow), we have got the hardest but if we are on our mettle, I don't care who we play.

"Grays are on a great run as well but we know that if we can get something from the game, we are in the play-offs."

As for Stevenage, they have to win their game tomorrow and hope Morecambe slip-up. Manager Graham Westley is hopeful that Grays can help his side out.

"I always felt it was going to go down to the last game," he told the Comet.

"If Grays turn up and show their professional pride, I'm 110 per cent confident they will win the game.

"I think they're the best side in the league and Mark Stimson is the best manager in the league. All the other managers have to face that fact.

"Grays have got the Trophy final and play-offs to go for.

"People who are successful don't want to be beaten. I think a very good Grays side will win and our job is to go to Forest Green and get the victory we need."

Finally Halifax play Canvey Island tomorrow assured of a play-off place. However manager Chris Wilder would like to see the Shaymen finish second or third in the table.

"The more you look at our home record, the more impressive it gets," he told Halifax Today. "And we want to finish as high up the league table as possible.

"While we won't gain anything in terms of promotion straight out of the league you can say you are the second or third best team.

"That would be nice and I certainly want to play the second leg of the play offs at home. I think it can make a difference psychologically.

"A team would be coming to our place knowing that we are unbeaten and we would have the confidence from the fact that no one has beaten us at the Shay.

"But just getting in the play offs is an achievement and we will deal with anything that is thrown at us."

List of Fixtures:

Cambridge Utd v Dag & Red
Exeter v Scarborough
Forest Green v Stevenage
Gravesend v Burton Albion
Grays Athletic v Morecambe
Halifax v Canvey Island
Kidderminster v Accrington Stanley
Southport v Aldershot
Tamworth v Crawley Town
Woking v Altrincham
York City v Hereford United


Level of performance is vital says Turner

Speaking to BBC Hereford and Worcester ahead of tomorrow's match at York, Graham Turner has stressed that it is not vital to finish second in the league.

"If we win up there we finish second, however the actual finishing second is not vital.

"What is vital is the level of performance at York.

"I think there is a bit of pride in finishing second, but in the final analysis it doesn't really matter. We go into the play-off games as a fresh start after having the experience of finishing second twice and not progressing into the final.

"I'm not even convinced that (playing the away leg first) is any great advantage now with the way things are.

"If it's a tight game in the first one I know sides are likely in the second leg to come here and defend in numbers and defend deep and make sure we don't score."

Meanwhile Turner has told Jon Wells of the Official Site that it is unlikely that there will be an early kick-off should one of the legs have to be played on the Wednesday.

"There is no way the police would allow a 5.30pm kick-off on Wednesday at our place and we have informed the Conference of that issue. It's market day here adds to it.

"I would think everybody would be up in arms if it's a 5.30pm kick-off. We couldn't possibly supply enough stewards to go ahead with it.

"So for us we've indicated to the Conference that Wednesday would be a non-starter."


Exeter Become Second Club To Raise Prices

Exeter are only the second Conference club to announce price increases for next season.

Adult matchday entrance will rise by £2, their first rise for two years, while Concession rates remain unchanged. Season ticket prices also rise in line with both the price rises and the additional games, adding £75 to a standard adult season ticket.

The price rises will make Exeter one of the most expensive Conference sides to visit, alongside York and Kidderminster.


Exeter And Burton Continue Plans For Next Season

Exeter have extended the deals for two players while letting one go.

Midfielder Jamie Mackie and Goalkeeper Martin Rice, both 20, have signed new 12 month deals and the club are talking to a string of their other youngsters but striker Craig Farrell, signed last summer after playing a bit-part in Carlisle's promotion, will be leaving St James Park after eight goals in 38 appearances.

Burton have told goalkeeper Saul Deeney that the door has now closed on him signing a deal for next season. Manager Nigel Clough has fought all season for Deeney to commit himself to the Pirelli Stadium outfit, but has now agreed to take a goalkeeper on a season long loan deal from an unnamed Championship club.

Meanwhile, Burton and Kidderminster are both reported to be chasing Shrewsbury defender Stuart Whitehead, who has fallen out of favour at Gay Meadow and has been told his contract will not be renewed.


Chester could release Brown

With the news that Chester City have offered to open talks with goalkeeper Chris Mackenzie, speculation continues that Wayne Brown, the Hereford United goalkeeper on-loan from Chester, may be released from his two year contract with them.

City chairman Stephen Vaughan told the Daily Post: "We will sit down with Chris (Mackenzie) and his adviser next week and hopefully we can agree a contract which will extend his stay with us at Chester City."

"Mark Wright (Chester manager) is identifying the players he wants for next season and we are then sitting down with them individually and endeavouring to come to amicable agreements."

Mackenzie, who broke his thumb in mid-December, recently returned to fitness as Chester regained their form.

He joined Chester City two years ago from Telford United. Prior to that he was with Hereford United and Leyton Orient.


Scarboro To Exit Administration Next Week

Scarboro Chairman Malcolm Reynolds has confirmed that the club will exit Administration next week - saving the club from facing automatic relegation at the Conference AGM.

Scarboro have been in administration for the last two seasons and Conference rules prevent the side from starting next season under the same circumstances.

Reynolds stated earlier in the month that the club could exit Administration 'within days', and confirmed yesterday: "We are on course to exit administration. We should achieve that by the middle of next week, and certainly by the deadline set by the Conference."


Commentary from York

There will be full second-half commentary of the York City/Hereford United game from the Kit Kat stadium tomorrow afternoon both locally on 94.7FM and on the internet.

Steve Miller will be reporting for BBC Hereford and Worcester as Keith Hall is unavailable.

Meanwhile this morning sports editor, Trevor Owens, mentioned that home leg play-off tickets were still available.

"There was a steady procession of people through there yesterday," he said.


A visit to Egan Street

This article appeared last year on a site called Squall. It was highlighter by a poster on the Hereford United independent forum last evening.

Squall says it is a forum for radical quality journalism and photography. It presents accessible and factually reliable investigations into issues which the mainstream media dare not touch. SQUALL is independent of any political group or commercial proprietorship.

We reprint this without comment and without editing for inaccuracies.

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF FOOTIE - JUNE 05

A visit to a recent non-league football match reveals just how low it goes.

You'd think that if you could get away from the Barclaycard Premiership and the Coca-Cola Championship just for a second. If you could persuade yourself over to one of the lower league clashes despite having no history of support for the clubs involved, then perhaps your disillusionment with your beloved, yet increasingly commercialised, game of football might be assuaged with a touch of the real stuff.

And so it was that one of SQUALL's editors found himself at Egan Avenue, home to Hereford United, one Friday evening in May.

The Bulls, as they are nicknamed, were playing Stevenage in the semi-final of the Conference league play-offs and the buzz about town was so great the management decided to open a disused part of the ground in order to squeeze in another few hundred. I bought the last ticket.

It is possible that Egan Av was once a model of a stadium but I think it fair to say that its golden era must have been circa 1920. These days the £12 entry fee seemed a little steep for access to a collection of large decaying cowsheds.

Nevertheless, this is what non-league football is all about. Slightly uneven pitches, precarious scaffolding structures, the smell of clods and sods and, of course, proper stand up terraces. So I shelled out the twelve notes and got excited at the prospect of the game ahead.

With an hour to kick off I went in persuit of the stuff that makes Herefordshire famous cider. The proper stuff that it is, not the artificially sweetened corporate phoneys like Strongbow and Blackthorn. So I walked into the pub right next to the stadium looking for a pint of the local ferment.

In order to understand what happened next you have to visualise what I'm wearing. All the way up to my neck its the usual fair. But above that I stick out a little. Not much but a little. A pair of earrings and a bandana. Within 20 seconds of me walking into the Oxford Arms, 30-40 blokes are chanting: 'Gypo Gypo Gypo' followed by 'Where's yer caravan?' sung to the tune of 'Where's yer mama gone?'.

Three things struck me about the situation.

The first was that they all knew instantly which songs to sing suggesting their alcohol fuelled racism was a regular pastime The second was: how many gypsys outside of Hollywood movies do you know who actually wear a bandana and earrings?

And thirdly the bar didn't stock any local cider - just the usual corporate pints available everywhere - so there was er - no point in hanging around. I was outta there.

On the way into the ground I bought what must rank as the worst football programme ever. Costing £3 (the same price as high gloss premiership programmes) it offered just three small pictures of footie wedged between pages and pages of advertising. One of the few pieces of genuine information it contained revealed to my dismay that the evening's matchball was sponsored by Herefordshire Conservatives. The evening took a further turn for the worse when Hereford United ran out onto the pitch in shirts boasting large Sun Valley Foods logos on their front. Sun Valley Foods are the biggest supplier of crap eggs and ill chickens to the McDonald's Corporation. Regular readers of SQUALL willl be aware how the McLibel trial exposed Sun Valley's dreadful record of animal cruelty.

The quality of the football was dreadful too but a crowd who hurls abuse and monkey chants at black players on both sides deserves no better. Living in Lewisham, one of London's most multi-cultural boroughs, I had lulled into a false sense that racism was very much on the wane in Britain. But a visit to towns like Hereford prove its pernicious nastiness is alive and ill. The guy behind me shouting BNP slogans was only drowned out when other Hereford United fans in the shed behind him began singing 'We hate cockneys and we hate cockneys. We are the cockney haters'. No one seemed to appreciate the irony of the fact that in the next stand along there was a huge black and white flag which said Hereford United London Supporters Club on it. There were no black faces in the crowd though.

If you've been brought up thoroughly enjoying a sport it's a hard loyalty to give up. Which is why footie fans like me are fodder.

Twelve thousand Hereford United fans traipsed out of Egan Avenue that night disappointed with their team's 2-0 defeat. My disappointment, however, was far more profound. I had intended to keep up support for non-league Hereford United as an antidote to the thorough corporatisation of football which has taken place in the big leagues. But my one and last experience of Egan Avenue showed me just how low the malaise goes. I was ripped off AND I had to mingle in a swill of bile spitting rednecks. With free entry to all their matches, its Lewisham FC for me next season me thinks. Only they can save footie for me now.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Contracts to play for on Saturday

Whilst Hereford United players will have at least two more games to impress their manager, Saturday will be York City's last game of the season.

Many of their players will be out of contract and will hope that a good result might help their prospects.

James Dudgeon, a York defender, is one such player.

"There are contracts to play for and we want to get as many points as we can. We also want to get our own back on them having lost there and nobody wants to lose the last game of the season in front of your own fans," he told the York press.

"I'd like to end the jinx of not beating any of the top six teams as well. We have had some good games against them but need to beat one now."

"The majority of the teams who will finish above us have been together for two, three, four or, even, five years whereas we have only been together for nine months and I think we have looked organised and done well considering that. I think we will develop mental strength from our disappointments against Halifax and Cambridge and the late goals we have conceded this season."


Ticket sales going well

Ticket sales for the homeleg of the play-offs are going well according to Mark Farmer of the Hereford United Official Site.

Farmer says that, as at 4pm today, there are about 500 tickets left for the Meadow End. Tickets are also available elsewhere in the ground.

He also reports that applications for tickets by post are being processed within a day.

Away leg tickets are expected to go on sale on either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.


Proud of defensive record says Turner

Graham Turner, the Hereford United manager, has praised his squad's excellent defensive record this season.

With only one Conference fixture remaining, that against York City on Saturday, the Bulls have conceded just 32 goals in 41 games.

"As a team we have defended exceptionally well. We pleased with having the best record in the Conference defensively," Turner told BBC Hereford and Worcester.

"That is something we got to be proud of."

Meanwhile Turner says that Tony James will once again miss out on Saturday. Alex Jeannin and Danny Carey-Bertram are also slight doubts.


Aim is to improve pitch

Graham Turner has told the Hereford Times that the condition of the Edgar Street pitch has not been as good as he would have liked recently.

"It is a particular handicap to us because we like to get the ball down and pass it. Recently running with the ball has been a lottery with it bobbling up. And certainly playing first-time passes along the floor has been very difficult.

"After talking to the groundspeople, they are going to take whatever action they can to improve the surface before our home-leg in the play-off semi-final which could be two weeks away.

"The first thing they are going to do is to get 20 tonnes of top dressing on to the pitch, they feel that is as much as they can put on in that space of time to get it intergrated into the surface.

"It will be constantly scarified, raked and brushed to get that top dressing into the surface of the pitch.

"If the weather is kind to us over the next ten days or so, then there is every chance that the playing surface can be improved considerably before we play our big match."


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Travel To York

Hereford United travel to York on Saturday for only the fourth fixture between the two clubs in the last 12 seasons. York City Football Club play at the Kit Kat Crescent, and isn't the easiest place to reach according to the Red and Blue York City site.

BY CAR: From the South (A1-A64): Exit A64 at signpost 'Leeds, York A64' and at the roundabout turn right onto the A64. Exit A64 after 9.3 miles (signposted York (North) A1237, Harrogate) onto the A1237. Go straight on, remaining on the A1237 for 5.2 miles, over three roundabouts and over River Ouse, to fourth roundabout. Here, turn right (signposted York A19) onto the A19 Shipton Road. At lights after 1.6 miles by village green, go straight on (signposted City Centre). After 0.2 miles turn left by 'The Burton Stone''pub into Burton Stone Lane. You'll see the ground on your right.

PARKING: Parking in the area in and around Kit Kat Crescent is often very difficult. For Saturday's game you could consider using the City's Park and Ride scheme on the outskirts of town to avoid the hassles of looking for a parking space. The bus will drop you off at York Station where you can go on to make your own way to Kit Kat Crescent (see below). If you choose to park around Kit Kat Crescent then you can use the small 'Mecca Bingo' car park on Burton Stone Lane. You can also use Union Terrace, a little further away from the ground, just off Clarence Street, which will cost you £3.90 for 3 hours. Marygate is not far from the ground at the same price. Other than that it's all, more or less, street parking. Your car will be safe virtually anywhere around the ground although in the area surrounding the ground, parking is restricted to residents-only.

FROM YORK RAILWAY STATION: Kit Kat Crescent is about a 15 minute walk from York Railway Station. If you don't fancy the walk then you can travel by taxi for between £2.80 and £3.80. Alternative methods of transport from York Station include bus - take the short walk to Rougier Street and then use 'First York' number 14 which departs Rougier Street at 1415 and arrives Burton Stone Lane 1425 (for a Saturday 3pm KO. No service for night games). Alternatively you can get the number 1 (every 10 mins) from the Rail station to Wigginton Road, which is a 5 minute walk along the pedestrian only Bridge Lane through the Hospital grounds to the football ground.
If you're happy to take the short walk, then turn left out of the station into Station Road, past the Royal York Hotel. Take the 1st left (signposted towards the National Railway Museum). Follow the road round to the left, passing the Royal Mail depot on your right. Just before the railway bridge, turn right along pathway (this pathway is difficult to spot!) and take the footbridge (Scarborough Bridge) over the river. Once over the river turn left and take the path between railway and Marygate car park. At end of car park turn left through an underpass (under the railway line) and once under the railway turn right into Bootham Terrace. At Main Road turn left, cross over using the Pedestrian crossing provided and take the 2nd right into Bootham Crescent, leading directly to the ground.

AT THE GROUND: Inside the ground, the bulk of visiting fans are accommodated on the uncovered Grosvenor Road Terrace. The capacity of the Grosvenor Road End is 1,970 whilst travelling fans are allocated up to 990 additional seats.

COST OF TICKETS: GROSVENOR ROAD TERRACING (Away terracing) Adults (16 and over) £13.00 Over 65s / Under 16s / Students £8.00.

THE POPULAR STAND:(Part available for Away Fans) Adults (16 and over) £14.00 Over 65s / Under 16s / Students £9.00

Food and Drink:

The catering inside Kit Kat Crescent is reasonable, but prices have gone up recently. For decent food, you're best advised to visit the chip shop in Newborough Street (go straight past the club car park/main entrance and turn left past 'Polly's Pantry') - 'Tony's Plaice' - for brilliant chips and decent portions. There's plenty of eateries in the town - McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Burger King etc.

For pubs, 'The Burton Stone' (01904 622945) comes highly recommended. Visiting fans are welcome in this family friendly pub. Alternatively, further down Burton Stone Lane, visiting fans are welcome in 'The Corner House' (aka The Mansfield).


TNS Use Ebay To Find Name Sponsor

League Of Wales champions TNS are using Ebay to sell the rights for their next name sponsor.

With TNS the company now sold to BT, chairman Mike Harris has decided to rename the club after a new sponsor. The auction has no time limit for the sponsorship and bidding has already reached £50,000 - although some dubious looking bids have already been placed.

The auction can be seen at http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8801349453


Bulls Target Lee Released By Barnet

Dwane Lee has been released by Barnet, it has emerged today.

The creative midfielder, 26, was fined and transfer listed in January following a dressing room incident which prompted Graham Turner to move for the former Exeter man. Lee rejected the loan move but failed to secure any other deal.

Lee played 66 times for Barnet, scoring 10 times, after joining from Exeter.


Different rules for Weymouth's mistake

With the news that Weymouth are not to lose any points for fielding a player without international clearance, Altrincham must be wondering how the rules are being applied.

The Terras will be promoted to the Conference from Conference South next season.

It had been thought that the club would have been deducted four points for playing former Millwall midfielder Soloman Taiwo in two games without international clearance.

The chief excutive of Weymouth, Gary Calder, explained the position to the Western Daily Press.

"We have done nothing wrong, and have been told by officials of the Conference League that they will be at the Wessex Stadium when we play Lewes in our final match of the season, together with the sponsors, Nationwide, to present the Championship trophy. It will be a proud day for us all.

"I feel that everybody has taken this allegation out of proportion. We have been caught up with something which has not been our responsibility. We have not been charged with any misdemeanour at all."

The Terras are now back in the Conference after an absence of 17 years.

Meanwhile Altrincham will have to wait for the FA to rule on whether their 18 point deduction and £1,000 fine should stand.

The petition in support of Alty is still running and has over 6,000 signatures on it to date.


Play-off Ticket Sale continues today

The sale of tickets for the Edgar Street play-off leg continues today.

Anyone can purchase tickets from this morning at 9am. The office will remain open until 8pm this evening.

Tickets can be purchased through the post but please remember to send a stamped addressed envelope with any request. Payment by cheque is preferred.

Credit card payment will be accepted but there wil be an extra charge for anyone using this method.

The office will be open as follows for the rest of the week:

Today 26th April: 9am to 8pm

Thursday 27th April: 9am to 4pm

Friday 28th April: 9am to 4pm

Saturday 29th April: 7.30am to 12 Midday


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Grays held by Southport

Grays Athletic dropped two points at home this evening as Southport held them 1-1. Only 918 spectators attended.

However the other contenders playing this evening Hailfax defeated Gravesend 2-0. The Shaymen have now secured their place in the play-offs.

Top of the Conference:

1 Accrington Stanley 41 33 91
2 Hereford 41 24 77
3 Grays Athletic 41 40 76
4 Halifax 41 17 75
5 Morecambe 41 26 71
6 Stevenage 41 17 69

Hereford United still do not know who they will face in the play-offs. All depends on next Saturday's results. For the Bulls to be certain of being away in the first-leg they will have to gain a point from their game against York City, or hope that either Grays are defeated by Morecambe or Halifax draw with Canvey Island.


Confusion over Play-off dates

There appears to be some confusion over when the return-leg of the play-offs will take place.

Originally the Conference announced that the first leg was to be played on either the Saturday or Sunday (May 6/7) and the return on the following Thursday (May 11) with a 7.45pm start.

However Sky, who are televising one of the two play-off games from both legs, now say that the return leg being televised will take place on the Wednesday (May 10) as well as the game on the previous Sunday.

Sun 7 Play-off semi-final first leg TBC SS1 5.30pm Conference
Wed 10 Play-off semi-final 2nd leg TBC SS1 5.30pm Conference


They haven't listed information about the final as yet.

Should Sky pick the Hereford game for televising on the Wednesday, the proposed early evening kick-off could stop some supporters from attending if they are unable to leave work early.


Burton Freeze Ticket Prices

Burton have announced unchanged ticket prices for next season.

Matchday admission charges will remain unchanged, in line with most other Conference clubs, while season tickets remain the same despite including two additional games.

Forest Green remain the only Conference side to increase matchday admission charges out of the dozen or so sides to announce prices so far.


Preview: York vs Bulls

The Bulls travel to the Kit Kat Crescent for their final Conference game of the season before the play-offs begin.

Pre-season this fixture was earmarked as a potential must-win and, with York getting away to a storming start, it looked like both sides would have something to play for. Instead, it's got that slightly deflated feel of a dress rehearsal of the real thing - York can't make the play-offs and the Bulls, already assured of a spot, are likely to use the match as a training exercise to determine the best side for the play-off assault.

York fans will be happier with their second season of Conference life. While the season has been dogged with financial problems and a revolving door on the dressing room, their small squad has performed admirably after last season's freefall threatened a second successive relegation at times. Only a spate of injuries to key players like midfielder Emmanuel Panther caused the loss of form that prevented them remaining in the title hunt and, if they can resolve their financial issues in the summer, a fully fledged title assault is likely next season.

The Bulls have stuttered their way to second place in the Conference in what has been a disappointing league this season. The promise of an opening day thrashing of Scarboro told more about the Yorkshire side than the Bulls own season with flashes of their previous brilliance largely drowned out by 'safe' football for most of the season. In fact, the Bulls have recorded 10 1-0 victories in the 41 matches so far - as many as the last two seasons combined.

Bulls fans will hope the side can continue their 100% record against York, and the defence will hope to keep another clean sheet against a side yet to score a Conference goal against the Bulls. Last season's 3-0 and 2-0 wins were followed up by a 1-0 win at Edgar Street in December thanks to an Adam Stansfield goal.


Play-off details may become clearer this evening

Depending on the results of Conference games being played this evening, Hereford United may be nearer knowing who they could face in the first leg of the play-offs in eleven days time.

Both Halifax and Grays Athletic are playing at home and would be expected to win their games, but should Halifax drop points, then it will confirm that Hereford will play their first play-off leg away.

Tuesday's fixtures:

Burton Albion v Dag & Red
Exeter v Crawley Town
Grays Athletic v Southport
Halifax v Gravesend
Woking v Forest Green


Monday, April 24, 2006

Moules interviewed on Alty points deduction

The Director of operations at the Conference, John Moules, has been interviewed about the Altrincham points deduction on Five Live this evening. Below are the main points.

Asked about how he viewed the Robinson situation Moules said:

"James Robinson has never appeared on any registration form or teamsheet in the Conference other than that of Altrincham and unfortunatly the rules that we have to go by are those rules laid down by the FA. We have to follow them religously.

"I'm an absolutely reasonable man and so are the board that had to make this decision. And I have to tell you they had no grounds of moving either way. They had to apply the rule as it was written. And it isn't our rule as I keep stressing. It's the FA's rule and we had to follow it by the letter. Otherwise of course there could have been other people who would have said you haven't done your due duty of diligence and applied your own rules."

Asked whether he had been put under pressure by some of the other clubs struggling against relegation Moules replied:

"No comment. Let me put it this way to you - obviously other clubs were having a keen interest in what was going on but it was the Conference that brought the charges."

Asked why Altrincham should look into the background of a player who had come from just fourty miles up the road (Accrington) Moules commented:

"Because that's what the rules says. It says whenever you sign a player you must look to see whether he requires international clearance."

Geoff Goodwin, the Altrincham chairman, was also interviewed.

"I don't blame Mr Moules - he's just done his job. He's had to sit around a table with his board of directors. He's making a decision.

"But the FA told us we had no charge to answer. So it's pretty confusing for me."

The point that the FA has said to them (Alty) there is no case to answer and why haven't you gone down that line was put to Moules.

"We have been down that line. We asked the FA to show us their evidence and they refused and therefore we had no choice but to carry out our own investigation because the FA refused to supply us with the evidence they based their decision on."

Moules was then asked if he thought the FA have let him down as director of operations in the Conference

"Yes I do," replied Moules.

"Fortunately Altrincham do have somewhere to go and that is the FA."

Moules conceded that the Conference are likely to want to change the rule but any change had to be approved by the FA.

He then appeared to suggest that the FA may reconsider the points deduction.

"I am a fair minded man. Let's see what happens in the near future."


Two Ex-Bulls Get PFA Nods

Both Michael McIndoe and Karl Hawley were named in the divisional teams of the year by their fellow professionals at last night's PFA Awards.

Hawley, who played six times for the Bulls in the 2002/3 season, was named in the League Two team of the year after leading the division's scoring charts with Carlisle all season with 22 league goals. Carlisle confirmed their second straight promotion on Saturday, and can secure the title with four points from their remaining three games.

McIndoe, who was sold to cover bills at Edgar Street during darker days in 2001, made the League One team after starring for Doncaster but is currently plying his trade at Championship side Derby.

In other news, Walsall have sacked manager Kevin Broadhurst after their relegation to League Two. Ex-Bull loanee Daryl Taylor played one sub appearance since returning to the Bescot Stadium, but the side were relegated on Saturday with two games left.


Burton Record £293,000 Loss

Burton Albion have recorded a £293,000 loss for last season, thanks in part to the construction of their new stadium.


The wage bill increased by more than £2,000 a week as the side moved towards full time status, with the £201,000 gate receipts covering barely one third of the total wage bill, but interest on loans saw the loss rise significantly.

One interesting point to note is that Burton spent more on total wages last season than the Bulls - £630,000 to £615,000 - but their turnover was almost half that of the Bulls.


Crawley Face Wage Cap Fine

Crawley have a week to explain their wage structure or face a £10,000 fine and the loss of three points.

Conference chiefs were unhappy with the answers Crawley gave Thursday's Conference board meeting, and have given Crawley until this Thursday to provide the board with detailed answers after investigating an alleged breach of the wage cap. The Conference board were also seeking assurances over the club's future.

Meanwhile, the Altrincham petition has now gathered over 6,000 signatures and Conference boss John Moules told the NLP he had received 400 'hate emails' over the 18 point penalty.


Latest Talking Bull now available

The final Talking Bull of the season was on sale for the first time last Saturday when Southport were the visitors to Edgar Street and found a ready market, including some visitors who knew a classy fanzine when they saw one.

Mainly to the diligence of Nick Brade, Simon Wright and Peter Povall's selling efforts during the first half of the match, three quarters of the entire print run were sold on the day.

The remaining copies will be on at sale at York and at Grays/Halifax/ Morecambe/ Stevenage (assuming the first leg of the Play-offs is on the road).

This £1 issue features a look back to 30 years ago when United were Third Division Champions, more Obscure Football Claims to Fame, a layman's guide to United's balance sheet and New Meadowender adds his unique slant to the Bull's current affairs.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Tam wins player of the year award

Ex-Landlord popped in Saxty's for a swift half last night and saw the HUISA awards being presented.

Tamika Wins HUISA Award by Ex-Landlord

At Saturday night's HUISA players awards ceremony held at Saxty's Wine Bar, the major award of Player of the Year deservedly went to Tamika Mkandawire.

Wayne Brown won the away player of the year while the best away goal award went to Alex Jeannin for his curling free kick at Exeter.

Special Outstanding Contribution awards went to Andy Williams, Dean Beckwith and Wayne Brown.

The players spent time talking with supporters and all seemed in good spirits regarding the forthcoming play-offs. I'm also pleased to report that there is no truth in the rumour that Andy Williams received a special R Whites' award for being a secret lemonade drinker!


Turner unhappy with late goal


The late equaliser by Southport yesterday which deprived Hereford United of all three points was unlike the Bulls said Graham Turner.

"It's not like us to give away a late goal but we've not really looked very bright or sharp throughout the game," Turner told the Non-League Paper.

"I would have expected better individual performances."

However Southport manager Liam Watson thought it was a great result for his side.

"Hereford are a very good side, where they are in the League tells you that," he commented.

Meanwhile Tamika Mkandawire won the Hereford United Player of the Year award at Saxty's in Hereford last night.


Bulls need to look more lively

Glynis Wright thinks the Bulls will need to look far more lively if they want to progress in the Play-offs.

Hereford United's last home Conference game was struggling Southport. I have to say that the clime on that hour and a half's drive was seriously good; distinctly chilly when we first set out, but once the 'Lickey Bank Effect' (see columns passim) had kicked in, the sun began to peep coyly from behind the clouds from time to time, its newly-liberated warmth exerting a most uplifting effect upon the ambient temperature, and, indirectly, gently persuading all those buds not open as yet to come and join the vernal fun.

So uneventful had our journey been, we even managed to arrive at the ground with a good 30 minutes to spare. Not before kick-off, mind - Simon, in one of those peculiar rushes of blood to the head everyone gets from time to time, had volunteered to give the Hereford fanzine "Talking Bull" a bit of expert assistance on the selling front. Once more, we pitched our metaphorical tent and camels right outside the public toilets adjacent to the ground - but not before visiting a nearby ice-cream van doing a roaring trade on account of the unexpected appearance of that strange golden orb in the sky above the famous cathedral city.

Having polished off some strawberry flavour in double-quick time, it was time to commence flogging duties for our chums. So enthusiastic was my other half in the performance of his duties, he even managed to shout "Grorty Dick" on more than one occasion! Yeah, I know - can't even get the fanzine sellers these days!

Flogging not being a two-person job, I contented myself with watching, in a schadenfreude sort of way, the antics of a goodly number of parents trying to get small offspring to 'the throne' before small bladders gave up the unequal struggle. Mind you, it would have been much better for everyone concerned had those blasted toilets been open for business in the first place! Dearie, dearie me.

The Bulls had their play-off place booked, of course, their Easter Monday victory over Tamworth finally sealing the deal, so nothing of note for them to play for - but you certainly couldn't say the same of today's opposition Southport. Hovering just above the relegation zone, they were, and their supporters not at all confident of escaping gravity's vice-like grip, so with that amount of added frisson to take into account, at least both sides weren't in the game to simply fulfil the fixture, and not much else.

The only other occurrence of note took place not long before we were due to strike camp and hand over the loot to those nice 'Talking Bull' people, and it primarily concerned one of the Hereford programme sellers. The lady in question, seemingly not one of nature's brightest, suddenly took violent exception to our presence, so we had no alternative but to shift to a better 'ole' before she took it upon herself to grab one of the local bobbies, or something. It was while we were stood there, I suddenly realised that some of the Southport lot had decided to commemorate the last one of the current campaign by 'glamming up' in fancy-dress outfits of one description or other. God knows how many 'schoolgirls' I spotted swanning through my field of vision in that short space of time; clearly, the fact they were, for the most part, resplendent with beards, clearly indicated a pressing need to keep taking those hormone tablets!

As befitted the final home game of the season, the sun shone in a cloudless sky as the home side kicked off their last home fixture of the current season. The gate, however, proved to be quite disappointing. Only around half of those who turned up for the recent Kiddy thrash had bothered to attend this one, play-offs or no play-offs. Hereford didn't stand on ceremony, either; just 5 minutes played and they'd already forced the Southport keeper to parry a shot for a corner, something that raised expectation levels to well above normal in that home end.

It was during a lull in play I happened to notice, for the very first time, how noisy the visitors actually were. Only 180 in their little section - plus the by now seemingly-obligatory drum in tow, a musical phenomenon that seems to have captured the imaginations of Conference followers the entire length and breadth of the country, if not their headaches - but the racket they were producing in there was totally out of proportion to their numbers, and far more impressive than that produced by their Meadow End counterparts.

The above observations apart, for much of the time, the game bore more resemblance to a midsummer stroll in the park rather than an important Conference game, and it was to be a good 15 minutes before the home side seriously threatened again, their efforts once more producing a corner. But those few brief spurts of interest apart, the whole affair was more or less taking on the distinct air of 'end of term syndrome'. If there ever was a game that had 'end of the season' written all over it, then this was surely the one.

But, there was still a modicum of drama left in the old dog, yet. With 30 minutes gone, The Bulls managed to get the ball into the back of the net, finally - only to have the effort ruled out so that the home side could take a free-kick they should have had the moment their lad was fouled in the first place! Needless to say, this daft 'jobsworth' decision brought out the very worst in the audience; no sooner had he twigged what was going on, 'Talking Bill' was onto his ample feet and roaring fit to bust about the awful cack-handed way in which the rule had been interpreted in the first place, the whole spectacular eruption climaxing with an explosion of nuclear proportions, ending in an almighty bellowed: "?.and you shouldn't have given the free kick in the first place,, you bloody stupid *&%$$!??." Sounded like Bill had belatedly recovered from testing his powers, then!

Just five minutes before the break, Hereford's scoreboard told a sorry tale of ineptitude elsewhere. Newcastle 1, Albion 0. Oh, whoops. Having said that, mind, I'd expected to see that scoreline, or one very similar, much earlier in the proceedings. But on with the game; while my attention had been diverted towards events developing elsewhere, The Bulls nearly ended up finding out the true cost of momentary inattention. Playing, seemingly, with one eye on the impending play-offs and another on late travel bargains up for grabs in town, they nearly gifted the visitors a goal of Laurel and Hardy proportions. And, that, save a creditable attempt by Purdie to grab some glory with but a minute of the half remaining, was the sum-total of the Hereford contribution that half. But not the opposition's - as the referee was raising his whistle to his lips, the visitors nearly broke the deadlock, their effort only just scraping over the crossbar.

Half-time, then, and an amazing tale. You think fixture congestion at our end of the league to be a pretty pressing problem? Well, spare a thought or three for poor Grays, then - no less than four games in eight days, and they're still pitching to get into the play-offs! Considering the vast majority of those games took place in parts of the country you'd shudder at, over distances that would see the average Premiership side collectively howling for Mummy, it's dead easy to see why I regard them to be the Conference's answer to that justly-famous Duracell battery advert!

The second half? Much the same as the first, really. With only five minutes gone, however, there was a bit of a mix-up between the Bulls keeper and one of their defenders that almost let Southport in for a crafty goal; fortunately, they had to settle for a corner in the end. A further burst of ennui then prompted 'Im Indoors to mutter darkly: "What's worse, I wonder? 2-0 down at Newcastle, or 0-0 here?"

With the half well under way by then, it was becoming clear that unless the home side started to concentrate properly, they'd fall victims to a sneaky strike totally against the run of play. At one point, the visitors managed to win a free kick almost on the curve of the 'D' adjacent to the edge of the box, closely followed by a series of Southport corners, one of which followed a deflection caused by persons unknown; had they not got in the way, accidentally or otherwise, the home side would have been holding a wake tonight, make no mistake.

For most of the half, 'Talking Bill' had kept his counsel mostly to himself, but that wasn't to last. This time, it was the referee that got it in the neck - or should I say his somewhat outlandish interpretation of the so-called 'advantage' rule? Whatever the wrongs or rights of the situation, the real loser was the game of football. And Bill's ire was aroused just minutes later when the referee failed to book Baker of Southport looking perilously-close to earning a red card for himself; five times he'd incurred the referee's displeasure, but without benefit of further sanction of whistling displeasure. It's at times like that Bill's demeanour approaches that of sweaty gelignite. One good giggle, though - the suggestion that the whole grim affair be marketed to the general public as :"A Nightmare At Edgar Street"!

The deadlock was finally broken with Hereford taking the lead, at long last, the strike the result of a cross to the near post, and Stansfield poking it in from a range of approximately ten yards out. With hand on heart, I truly have to say that they just didn't deserve it; Southport had looked far more likely to score for much of the half.

Five minutes later, trouble erupted. Baker again was seen to at least attempt to kick the Bulls keeper while he was on the ground and with the ball safely in his clutching arms, the intended path of the blow aimed directly at the poor sod's head. No wonder several of his colleagues then steamed in, intent on extracting revenge. As the guy had been a persistent offender throughout most of the game, popular opinion expected him to walk - but for some reason, unfathomable to man, he got yellow instead, something that caused most of the home support to erupt in an almighty roar of incandescent fury.

From then on in, Hereford should have won the game in a walk, but as I explained earlier, their minds just weren't on the job in hand. Just a minute from the end, Southport managed to equalise. As we all know to our cost, that's what happens when you back off, back off - and end up giving the other side what amounts to a virtual free shot on goal. In a nutshell, that's precisely what happened in this instance. Unsurprisingly, the minute the ref pointed to the centre circle, there was one hell of an eruption from their bit of the dug-out, players, backroom staff, the whole shebang celebrating their deliverance in frenetic fashion.

With that late, late equaliser, they'd been handed a buoyancy aid of totally unexpected proportions, and, when you sat down and thought about it, without too much in the way of effort, either. Hereford will have to look far more lively than today's showing if they truly want to achieve what they should have done in a walk just a couple of seasons ago. With the play-offs in clear sight, now, all the genuine angst and trauma is yet to begin in earnest for them.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

Five teams compete for Play-offs

The results this afternoon have confirmed that York City will not be involved in this season's Conference play-offs as they draw with Stevenage.

Otherwise Grays Athletic cemented their place with their win at Altrincham, Hailfax need one more point to be certain and it looks as though the other place will be taken by either Morecambe or Stevenage.

Stevenage, who had both Jason Goodlife and Darren Stamp sent off in their game with York, will have to win their game next Saturday and hope that either Morecambe or Halifax, assuming they lose their mid-week game, are defeated.

Next Saturday Morecambe travel to Grays Athletic for what could be a decider as to who plays who in the play-offs.

Top of the Conference:

1 Accrington Stanley 41 33 91
2 Hereford 41 24 77
3 Grays Athletic 40 40 75
4 Halifax 40 15 72
5 Morecambe 41 26 71
6 Stevenage 41 17 69

Potential Points Table:

Accrington 94
Grays 81
Hereford 80
Hailfax 78
Morecambe 74
Stevenage 71

Play-off tickets for Hereford United's home game were selling steadily before the game this afternoon but there were no long queues. As matters stand at present the Bulls need to take one point from the game at York next Saturday to be certain of a home game for the second leg in the play-offs. But that point may not be needed if Halifax fail to beat Gravesend on Tuesday.


Bulls Take It Easy Again

It was the same story as the two games over the Easter period as Hereford United took on Southport, fighting for survival at the bottom of the Conference, at Edgar Street this afternoon. That was the case, until the last minute of normal time when a breakaway goal changed things.

Hereford made just two changes from the side that started against Tamworth last Monday, with Andy Williams returning to the starting eleven at the expense of Nicky Nicolau and Wayne Brown replacing Craig Mawson. It seemed a good move as United started brightly and attacked well from the start, particularly down the right where Williams was playing. Craig Stanley picked out Rob Purdie with a ball to the left flank as The Bulls tried to gain an early advantage. Purdie slipped a ball into the run of Stuart Fleetwood, who was denied from a tight angle by 'keeper Steve Dickinson.

Andy Ferrell gifted the ball to Carl Baker at the other end, but his low drive was easily gathered by Brown before Hereford were on the attack again. Danny Carey-Bertram had touched the ball back to Ferrell, who then spread play to the left where Alex Jeannin skipped past a challenge before delivering an inviting cross to the far post. Fleetwood though, was just underneath the cross and it was headed behind for a corner.

Hereford thought they'd taken the lead midway through the half, but a dubious decision by the referee meant the scores stayed level. Ferrell was felled thirty yards out by a rash challenge, which the referee let go. The ball had broken to Carey-Bertram, who had turned towards goal and then fired a low shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. The whistle had already been blown though by the time the ball had netted, and the referee brought play back for a free kick for the foul on Ferrell - which he originally let go. If he'd played advantage, it was a baffling decision to say the least, as Hereford obviously had an advantage.

This seemed to give the Sandgrounders a boost and they had the best chances of the rest of the half. Firstly, after Tamika Mkandawire had slipped, Dean Beckwith was left to deal with two attacker and the ball was played to Steve Daly, but his effort rebounded away off the post. Then, on the stroke of half time, defender Gary Brabin headed inches over from a corner kick.

Graham Turner introduced Adam Stansfield at the break in the place of Carey-Bertram, and then minutes after Port made a change as the injured Daly was replaced by Neil Robinson. Stansfield was quick to get an effort in when he latched onto a flick on by Fleetwood, but he blazed his effort well wide before Stansfield was blocked off in the box following some patient build up play. Brabin, at the other end, drilled a free kick wide of the mark, albeit via a deflection.

Jamie Pitman was introduced in place of Fleewood and Williams, who had been quiet so far, moved alongside Stansfield in attack. This meant that Ferrell, seemingly, moved to the left and Stanley to the right, leaving Purdie to play in the centre. It took a while, but the change seemed to pay off as Hereford took the lead with fourteen minutes left. United pressed around their opponents box before Ferrell slipped a ball wide to Simon Travis who had some space. His first time cross to the near post was met with a delightful header from Stansfield that glanced into the far bottom corner, much to the relief of the somewhat frustrated home fans in a crowd 2,547.

Southport had to come out and attack after the goal and began to show more intent going forward and even more aggression in the tackles. Baker triggered a mass brawl as he left the studs showing in a tackle against Brown and was booked once everyone had calmed down. Then with about ten minutes left, Guy Ipoua was subbed on in place of Williams, and the Cameroonian showed some nice touches in his short spell on the pitch. Purdie, who was again Hereford's most creative player, especially when playing in a central position, and man of the match, saw a shot deflected shot go wide before Southport grabbed a late equaliser.

A long ball from the middle of the park picked out Robinson, making a break down the left, and he held up the ball until Blakeman arrived on the edge of the box. Blakeman jinked inside and then unleashed an unstopable shot into the far top corner, much to the delight of the travelling 182 supporters.

The game plan for The Whites was again evident - to do just enough to win the game, without sustaining any injuries or picking up too many cards, and it almost worked for a third game in a row, until a breakaway goal in the final minute. It was poor to watch for the most apart, but not too many people will be complaining if this game plan pays off come the end of the play offs.

HUFC: Brown, Travis, Mkandawire, Beckwith, Jeannin, Purdie, Stanley, Ferrell, Williams, Carey-Bertram, Fleetwood. Subs: Pitman, Nicolau, Mawson, Stansfield, Ipoua.


Play-Off Dates Unresolved After Draw

The Bulls gained another point in today's 1-1 draw with Southport.

An Adam Stansfield goal was not enough for all three points as Southport fought for their Conference survival.

The point today still leaves the play-off home and away dates unresolved, but Halifax's draw at home to Crawley means that if Halifax fail to win their midweek game at home to Gravesend the Bulls will be at home on Thursday May 11th.

Full Report Later.


Play-off ticket sales commence this morning

Season ticket and membership card supporters are able to buy tickets for the home-leg of the Conference play-offs from 11am this morning.

For full details see yesterday's Bulls News.

Other news this morning includes the suggestion that several Conference South clubs could be deducted points because of another international transfer breach of regulations.

Solomon Taiwo, who played several games for both Maidenhead United and Weymouth this season, has now been found not to have international clerance after joining a third club, Windsor and Eton.

Meanwhile the petition launched in support of Altrincham has been signed by over 5,000 to date.

Finally Grays Athletic have had to cancel their supporters bus for their visit to Altrincham today because of lack of support.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Eleven Conference games tomorrow

There is a full fixture list of Conference matches tomorrow.

By 5.00pm those clubs chasing a play-off place could be narrowed down, but the relegation end may not be any more certain because of the appeal by Altrincham to the FA over their 18 point deduction.

List of games:

Accrington Stanley v Tamworth
Aldershot v Woking
Altrincham v Grays Athletic
Burton Albion v Forest Green Rovers
Canvey Island v Exeter City
Crawley Town v Halifax Town
Dagenham & Redbridge v Kidderminster Harriers
Hereford United v Southport
Morecambe v Gravesend
Scarborough v Cambridge Utd
Stevenage v York City

As regards Hereford United's rivals for the play-off positions, Grays Athletic would be expected to defeat Altrincham and Morecambe should beat Gravesend.

Halifax may find it difficult to take all three points from recently improved Crawley Town but Stevenage must be favourites to take three points from visitors York City who have missed out on a play-off place.

Meanwhile there will be second-half coverage both locally and on the internet of the Hereford United game from Edgar Street by courtesy of BBC Hereford and Worcester.


Exeter Get £150,000 Player Windfall

Exeter have been given a boost after a transfer tribunual decided two sides should pay £150,000 up front for two players taken from Exeter's youth side.

Jamie Hatch left Exeter for Southampton, and Mark Ellis joined Bolton. The tribunual has decided that Southampton must pay £60,000 up front for Hatch, with Bolton paying £90,000 for Ellis.

Both decisions have a number of additional trigger payments, and the two transfers could net Exeter over £900,000 plus sell-on clauses. Neither player featured in Exeter's first team, but both were registered to Exeter's Centre of Excellence.

In other news, Kidderminster have signed midfielder Gavin Hurren to a deal for next season. Hurren, a product of the youth side, has become a regular since Mark Yates took over. Kiddy have also released Paul Smith by mutual consent, after the player's mother fell ill.


Turner expected to make changes

Graham Turner is expected to make several changes to the side that defeated Tamworth last Monday for tomorrow's game against Southport.

Wayne Brown is likely to be back in goal and Craig Stanley should return in mid-field.

Turner may change around the front-pairing. Guy Ipoua only featured for a few minutes in both the Altrincham and Tamworth games last weekend and Adam Stansfield didn't feature at all last Saturday.

Tony James is still out with a groin strain and there is no sign of any return for Stacy Coldicott. Ryan Green is also a doubt.

Southport are said to injury-free except for Kevin Leadbetter who has a broken arm.


Ticket Details - Home Leg

The following information has been released by Hereford United.

Home Leg Play-Offs - Ticketing Details

FOLLOWING A CLUB BOARD MEETING IT HAS BEEN AGREED THAT THE PRICES FOR THE PLAY OFFS WILL BE AS FOLLOWS:

STAND - ADULTS £15.00 CONCESSIONS £10.00
TERRACE - ADULTS £12.00 CONCESSIONS £8.00
........................................................................................................................................

TICKETS WILL BE ON SALE TO SEASON TICKET HOLDERS AND MEMBERSHIP CARD HOLDERS ONLY ON:

SATURDAY 22ND APRIL - 11am - 3pm
MONDAY 24TH APRIL - 12 noon - 4pm

*SEASON TICKET HOLDERS - MATCH NUMBER 24 WILL BE REMOVED FROM YOUR BOOK.
*MEMBERSHIP CARDS WILL BE CUT IN HALF.
* TICKETS ARE LIMITED TO ONE TICKET PER VOUCHER SAME APPLIES TO MEMBERSHIP CARDS
........................................................................................................................................

GENERAL SALE.

WEDNESDAY 26TH APRIL: 9am - 8pm

THURSDAY 27TH APRIL: 9am - 4pm

FRIDAY 28TH APRIL: 9am - 4pm

SATURDAY 29TH APRIL: 7.30am - 12 Noon
........................................................................................................................................

IN ALL CASES CASH AND CHEQUE IS THE PREFERRED PAYMENT THERE IS A CHARGE FOR ALL DEBIT/CREDIT CARD TRANSACTIONS.

POSTAL APPLICATIONS ARE SENT IN AT YOUR OWN RISK. WE TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ORDERS LOST IN THE POST. ALL POSTAL APPLICATIONS MUST INCLUDE A SELF-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE.

NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN ON TICKETS.


Conference "Concerned" With International Clearance

The Conference board has admitted, on it's own official website, that it is concerned about the current state of the international clearance rules - but is powerless to to anything about it.

A statement on the site suggests that it was advised by lawyers to follow the rulebook, suggesting that the board were not in favour of such a massive deduction. The statement reads:

Whilst the Board accepted there were mitigating circumstances, based on legal advice, it was compelled by Rule 6.8 to deduct points gained, resulting in the deduction of 18 points gained in the 16 matches and a total fine of £1,000.

The Football Conference is concerned with the current operation of the system of International Clearance, which is beyond its control, and the impact that it has on its clubs. It is anticipated that Altrincham will exercise its right to appeal to the FA.

Over 2,700 signatures are now on the online petition, having been set up less than 24 hours ago.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Help Altrincham with their protest

The news that Altrincham are to be deducted 18 points (see earlier story on Bulls News) for fielding a so-called ineligible player is probably the most severe deduction ever given to a Conference club.

The following is from the Official Altrincham website:

At its meeting today (Thursday) at Burton, the Football Conference has implemented its rule that the playing of an ineligible player attracts a fine of £1,000 and a deduction of all of the points gained in matches in which that player took part. So, Altrincham have been fined this sum and an 18-point deduction is to be applied to the club's league record this season. The club is awaiting this decision in writing before deciding on an appeal to the Football Association.
As readers will know, this case arises from the transfer from Accrington to Altrincham of James Robinson. Accrington had not obtained international clearance for Robinson, who did not actually play for them in the Conference.


Already an on-line petition has been set-up in support of Altrincham. (See previous article)

A letter of complaint has been drafted by an Altrincham supporter (UPDATE: letter edited to include reference to Hereford United) to Mr John Moules, the Conference chief.

Dear Mr Moules

I would like to register my dismay at the disproportionate punishment that
has been handed out to Altrincham F.C. this afternoon. Your decision to
deduct eighteen points from Altrincham together with a £1000 fine has
massive implications for them. The certain relegation could be a nail in the
coffin of a proud non-league football club that has spent the last few years
trying to fight its way back from financial meltdown.

The eighteen point deduction is the largest ever penalty to be levied upon a
club in the history of the Football Conference and as such needs
reconsideration. Altrincham's crime was not to cheat nor was it to
deliberately engage in any type of misconduct, it was simply to sign an
English footballer from another English club in good faith. Contrast this
with Boston United who were found guilty of corruption in their Conference
winning season but were still rewarded with promotion to the league. Their
"punishment" was a mere four point deduction the following season. Dagenham
and Redbridge who were denied their place in the league suffered far more
from this decision.

The docking of points has now relegated Altrincham for a genuine mistake
that almost every other Football club would have made. Is there no room for
justice in the Conference rule book? Are you honestly convinced that a club
should lose its place in the league next season due to an administrative
error?

If there is a genuine feeling that Altrincham should be relegated for acting
in good faith on the issue of a simple transfer then this is a dark day for
the Conference. As a fan of Hereford United, I have thoroughly enjoyed our
time in this league and have viewed it as a league of honesty and integrity.
After today's decision, with clubs' fates seemingly being determined behind
closed doors by people with little accountability badly tarnish that image .
If the decision regarding Altrincham stands, the Conference will have become
just as corrupt and closed as the Football League of twenty years ago, which
the Conference fought valiantly against.

I hope that you take into account the strength of feeling amongst Conference
fans and promptly reverse this decision.

Yours sincerly


The letter should be sent to: john@footballconference.co.uk

Although Hereford United itself is not affected by the points deduction for Altrincham, many Bulls supporters have already signed the petition and will have much sympathy with the plight of the Robins.

As yet, the Conference have not commented on their Official Website about the decision. It isn't even known who was at the meeting and how, if there was a vote, those attending voted.

Phil Wallace of Stevenage is the Conference chairman.

LATER: John Moules has declined to give an interview on FiveLive this evening.


Conference Faces Fans Backlash At Alty Decision

Conference chief are facing a backlash from fans against their decision to dock Altrincham 18 points.

Within an hour of the decision being revealed, a York City fan had set up an online petition after an outcry on the main Confguide forum. That petition received around 700 signatures in the first three hours, and a standard email letter was being circulated for mailing to the Conference as well.

The petition can be accessed at http://www.petitiononline.com/ab1bc234/


Mkandawire offered new contract

Tamika Mkandawire has been offered a new contract at Edgar Street.

Graham Turner confirmed the offer to BBC Hereford and Worcester earlier today.

Mkandawire has recently taken over the captain's armband from Tony James and has been ever-regular in the heart of the Hereford United defence this season.

He has also played for the England National XI recently.

Mkandawire will be 23 later next month.


Much younger squad this time says Turner

Going into the Play-offs comparisons will be made between this years squad and that of two years ago.

At that time players such as Steve Guinan and Matt Baker were in the side.

However Graham Turner has told BBC Hereford and Worcester that he is pleased with his competitive side.

"I think we have done quite well to replace some of the players we've lost in the last two seasons. I think we've done okay in replacing them.

"The age of the side and the squad as a whole is very much younger."

However he appears disappointed that his strikers haven't scored that many goals.

"Our leading goalscorer hasn't reached double figures yet, so that is one of the problems.

"Having said that, we've had seventeen or eighteen goal scorers which is an incredible record, and they've been spread throughout the side.

"Obviously, that has been a problem; the strikers have not come in with as many goals as we would have liked."

Looking at the other sides likely to be in the Play-offs Turner continued:

"There's some good sides in there; we've obviously started the preparations and we want to have each of them looked at.

"It looks as though it's going to be either Stevenage or Morecambe that will drop out but of the rest, we want to make sure we have a picture of what they are about.

"Grays have stuck the course extremely well; I thought with the amount of games they had left they might start to slip up, but to go up to Scarborough and win 7-2, that's an excellent result."


Conference Screw Alty With 18 Point Deduction

The Conference have proven their ineptitude by docking Altrincham 18 points after finding the club guilty of fielding an ineligible player.

With the penalty, Altrincham will drop to the bottom of the league 13 points adrift of safety and effectively relegated with only two games left. Alty have also been fined £1,000.

Alty have already assured fans that an appeal will be made to the FA, who had already exonerated them after intially charging Accrington over the matter.

Whilst this ruling is in line with the rulebook itself the circumstances of the situation, where Alty signed the player from another English club and both the Conference and FA accepted the transfer without question, are likely to lead to a re-writing of the rules regarding international clearance.


Halifax Extend Smikle Loan

Halifax have extended the loan of ex-Bull Brian Smikle until the end of the campaign.

Smikle, 20, has played in nine games since arriving in February, and will now be available for the remainder of the campaign right up to the play-off final if needed.

Smikle played five times for the Bulls in the Conference at the end of last season.


Meanest Defence Since Giantkillers Of '72

Providing The Bulls can concede less than five goals in their final two games Wayne Brown will feature in the meanest defence in the Conference for the third time.

And if the side can concede under four more in their two remaining games they will be in the top ten meanest defences in the Conference ever.

The current top ten is as follows:

  1. Kettering 93/94 24 goals
  2. Darlington 89/90 25
  3. Macclesfield 96/97 30
  4. Chester 02/03 31
  5. Scarboro 80/81 32*
  6. Scarboro 86/87 33
  7. Chester 03/04 34
  8. Maidstone 83/84 34
  9. Maidstone 82/83 34
  10. Scarboro 99/00 35

* Adjusted from 38 game season.

The current defence is also the meanest Bulls defence since the promotion winning side of 1972, who conceded just 30 goals as they finished runners-up in the Southern League.


Crawley on Conference Meeting agenda

The Conference meeting today at Burton is not only about the 'Robinson Affair'. (see yesterday's Bulls News)

They are also set to discuss a possible points deduction for Crawley Town.

According to the Surrey press Crawley's Barry Munn will represent them in discussions with the league regarding a breach in player contracts earlier this season.

If the league decide appropriate punishment is a points deduction then manager John Hollins and his side may still have work to do to keep out of the relegation area.

"Obviously we are hopeful that won't be the case but we cannot rule out the possibility of a points deduction," said club spokesperson Gil Roberts.

The Crawley News quotes John Moules, the Conference boss, as saying there are five matters to be discussed, ownership, funding, directors, players wages and the club moving forward.

Any penalties the club may face will be dependant on the answers given by the club.

A spokesman for the club said "We expect to get a fine".

The Conference usually seem to keep their business to themselves but it is beleived most chairmen, incuding Hereford United's Graham Turner, are due to attend.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Grays put seven past Scarborough

Grays Athletic hammered Scarborough in the only Conference game played this evening. They were 3-0 up at half time and went on to win 7-2.

It was the highest scoring Conference away win of the season, the last more than five goal away haul being the Bulls at Farnboro in March 2005, Grays raced into a three goal half-time lead and never looked back.

They now move up to third and, with a massive goal difference margin over their rivals, need only three points from their final three games to secure a play-off spot. Interestingly they are only 13 goals short of the Bulls 103 goal haul from 2004, and face both Altrincham and Southport in their remaining fixtures.

Scarboro remain 21st, a point inside the relegation zone with only two games to play.

Grays are currently catching up fixture wise. By Saturday they will have played four games in eight days. And at the end of the season they have the final of the Trophy to play as well as the Play-off games, which they are now almost certain to be involved.

Conference League Table:

1 Accrington Stanley 40 32 88
2 Hereford 40 24 76
3 Grays Athletic 39 38 72
4 Halifax 39 15 71
5 Morecambe 40 23 68
6 Stevenage 40 17 68
7 York 40 17 62

Potential Points Table: (unchanged from Monday)

Accrington 94
Hereford 82
Grays 81
Halifax 80
Morecambe 74
Stevenage 74


Conference To Give Alty Verdict Tomorrow

The Conference hearing into the charges brought against Altrincham for fielding an ineligible player will be held in Burton tomorrow.

Should the Conference find Alty guilty the club can appeal to the FA, who have already cleared them of any wrongdoing once. The FA initially investigated the case, where midfielder James Robinson played for Accrington reserves before joining Alty, and charged Accrington, but not Alty, after Robinson allegedly failed to disclose a spell playing in Iceland.

Meanwhile, Accrington are to be expelled from their reserve league after finding themselves having to play 11 games in two weeks in order to finish the season. Accrington have struggled to raise a reserve side all season, and have used 71 players in their 20 reserve matches including manager John Coleman.


Rotherham Face Winding Up Order

Rotherham have been issued with a winding up petition by the Inland Revenue for £571,363 in unpaid PAYE.

The petition will be heard in court on May 10th, but Rotherham hope to have agreed a CVA before that day. A May 5th creditors meeting will vote on a proposal to be tabled by the new Rotherham board of Directors, formed after a group of local businessmen invested significant sums into the club.

Chairman Denis Coleman told the official Rotherham website: "As supporters will be aware we did not have time to complete a thorough due diligence before we took over the running of the club. Despite an incredible effort, fantastic support and substantial investment we have to inform the fans that in order the club survives and plays league football again next season it must now implement a voluntary agreement with its creditors to avoid liquidation which has been threatened by the Inland Revenue.

"The new board and its advisors have been working around the clock for the last few weeks but further to completing our investigations into financial position of the club and the petition issued by the Inland Revenue, the club has no other option but to make this proposal to its creditors.

"If the proposal is not accepted the club will go out of existence. To ensure the club fulfils its fixtures and survives through to the start of next season, the Millers still require all supporters to maintain their remarkable level of support. Further, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for all their efforts to date and hope that together we can ensure that the club is still playing league football next season."

Should the Millers enter a CVA, they will start next season with a 10 point penalty. They are currently two places, and four points, above the League One relegation zone.