In a mini-series, I am taking a look at what happened to some of the clubs involved in the FA Cup's iconic upsets, starting with Hereford United.
The weekend saw the first round of the FA Cup drawn. After progressing through six qualifying rounds, this iconic moment each year is the starting point for minnows in their quest of ‘giant killing’ and writing their name in cup folklore.
This series of write-ups will look at some of the clubs that have written their name in FA Cup history, starting with Hereford United, who on February 5 1972, managed to pull off what many have called ‘the greatest shock in FA Cup history’.
The Bulls were, as they are today, a non-league side and had been drawn against First Division (equivalent to Premier League for the youngsters of today) Newcastle United.
After a 2-2 draw, Hereford snatched victory in the replay, 2-1 after extra time; Ricky George’s goal on a mudded pitch, sparking a pitch invasion, has become synonymous with the FA Cup dream.
EUROPHIA: Fans invade the Edgar Street pitch after Hereford pull off a cup shock.
Over 40 years later and the club that once epitomised everything about the magic of the cup had a lot more on its mind this cup draw weekend.
Last week the club held an emergency meeting where chairman, David Keyte, explained the difficult financial situation the club is facing following relegation from League 2 -- and that included touching on the awkward topic of administration.
Dropping out of the Football League has left the club with over a deficit of over half a million (down from £734,000 last year to £251,000 for one year, falling to £50,000 as of June 1, 2013).
This loss in TV finances is not the only blow for the club. Attendances – although higher than ten years ago -- have fallen from almost 15,000 during that magical game against Newcastle to only 1,537 who watched a 0-0 draw with Baintree Town FC. This drop, according to Keyte has cost a further £66,000 to the cash-strapped club.
Although the club has never been a top-tier challenger – only once playing in the old Second Division – it has consistently frequented the lower leagues and become a staple of English football for almost 100 years. However its failure to meet its PAYE commitments of £34,000 could see the club fall short of its centenary birthday if the financial situation is not stabilised.
Supporters from all clubs have rallied in support of one of the English leagues staple clubs. Almost £15,000 has been raised to date, although with the inability to pay this month’s wages, which total £77,000, there is a long way to go.
As rough as times are for the Conference National side, the FA Cup continues to provide shining moments. Aside from their Newcastle fairytale, the club has enjoyed recent success with a cup run which saw them defeat Leeds United, Hartlepool and Tranmere Rovers.
After drawing Shrewsbury Town at Edgar Street, a game Hereford must see as winnable, club chairman David Keyte will undoubtedly be hoping that 40 years on from their Toon Army upset, Hereford United can begin another giant killing journey on November 3 2012.
Failure could prove costlier than ever looking at their balance sheet...