So to the match itself then. The whole point of the day trip in reality, we were after all “only HERE FOR Da football” and to meet a new friend, who goes by the name of Edgar.
Edgar is old and worn, but vibrant and welcoming. It’s neither a he or a she, it’s an “it”, Edgar, whose second name is Street is the wonderful home football stadium of the Bulls – Hereford United FC. I “tick off” football grounds as I go, and this probably took me up to about 300 stadiums, probably about 40 of those are in the English League. One fine day, on this planet, with friends around, I hope to make it to all 92 English (and Welsh) football league stadiums. A dream for another day.
This was Hereford away and we were loving it. Austin, Rich and I captured in rock n roll mode just before the kick off. Expectant.
If even a tear was shed at the turnstile for Ulster Cherry, I didn’t make it obvious in the slightest. Coloured up, holding a fake guitar, photographing a plenty, soaking in pre match and at ease with myself for the first time in 2009. Decision was made, I was emigrating, I needed to get as far away as I could and my travelling mind wanted to wander. For the match itself, I didn’t let myself wander one bit. I joined Rich, Tom, Austin and Dan in forming an “on the spot rock band” we didn’t have any hits but we had inflatable guitars and microphones and livened up the spirits of the old worn tiny stadium that is Edgar Street. Our friend at the start, who would ultimately turn enemy by the game’s end.
I paid in at the turnstile, a princely sum of 16 quid was worth it. No match ticket as a keepsake, almost as if I ghosted my way in, or “wasn’t really there”. My mind is vivid of the day out and the fun with the lads. When it comes to the 90 minutes, I actually struggled to recall the way the match panned out. We were pitchside but didn’t have a great view. It wasn’t cold. My eyes as red as my gushing blood. Ulster Cherry was back on top.
Hereford were the better side on the night, of that I’m sure. I applauded the teams coming out and the match was tight while news of other matches filtered in. Being a selfish Cherry I only wanted a goal to cheer on my “last ever Bournemouth match” (a phrase which I dropped freely into conversation all day – it really was meant to be the end…). I conceded the fact that we might lose, and don’t generally do well in stadiums such as Hereford’s graceful Edgar Street. Even though we were flying high, on a winning streak and top of the league!!! Yes really, I ended my Cherries dream on top of the league (at least I think we were)…
Half time was goal-less. I breathed in every piece of English air, knowing in a week I’d have swapped it for the smogginess of Taiwan and in a year or so I’d be in either Australia or New Zealand – in the end it was Australia that I moved to and lived longest in – though I did venture over to “the Zealand” again.
We got to hear John Garard “Nonny”’s chant of “Red Army” for the last time and got some good video footage of a typical Tuesday night division four away match.
We were struggling to play football. We looked out of sorts. Hereford took the lead through Mark Pugh (a story there too by irony of the weirdest he would also figure in my NEXT Bournemouth away match for the Cherries and also spookily used to play for Bury) Although we were enjoying a great season so far, this wasn;t the Bournemouth I had first watched back in 2003 – only 6 years earlier almost to the exact week – yet sunny sunny Bournemouth had been traded for hungry hungry Hereford as the Bulls had their eye on a treble 20. Or in this sport, another goal to kill the game off.
Then on came Alan Connell for Liam Feeney. Then came the singing again from us all. Then with time running out, came the moment I had been waiting for. The ball was drilled through low to Fletch. Muscular as ever he held off his marker, turned and fired a shot into the bottom corner. This is football. We were level at 1-1. Ulster Cherry was elated. At that moment I even said to Dan, “we might win 2-1…” but Dan, ever the realist said “no – let’s try and hold out for the point”. He was right – our performance had been pretty bad – Fletcher’s goal a shining light in a dark tunnel. We would be better hanging on to the draw and take the point.
But, of course this is football. This is the gritty depths of Division Four (now, commercialized into a more optimistic title of “League Two”). The Bulls hit the bullseye. It was all bull shit.
We were 2-1 down with time ticking away. It was over. The final whistle blew and that was that. A 2-1 away defeat to Hereford.
A sad emotional Northern Irish flag moment…then I said my farewells to a few of the Cherry regulars over the years such as Nonny, Serena and Dave Stone, and Steve Brown. Week in week out we had been at the matches together. I would have to say I was at 98% of AFC Bournemouth competitive home matches while I was actually in Bournemouth from September 2003 – December 2008. I missed the Oldham Athletic 0-0 home match in 2005 – 2006 because I was in bed ill. The others I missed through work. I even attended every match when I had my broken leg (2007-2008) and broken arm (2004). At least all those ones where I was in Bournemouth the day of the match until I went AWOL in January 2009.
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It had been a great comeback for me, but alas I knew it was the end. The referee’s whistle closed the book on my hardcore Bournemouth supporting days.
I want to thank Steve “Super Fletch” Fletcher for his goal on the night, despite our defeat. I fucking needed that final moment of cheer. There was no point in having a post match pint in Hereford. We got back to the cars and headed on our way back home to Bournemouth. We had contemplated a pub stop on the way down, but everyone was knackered. Even Austin fell asleep and I had a great chat with Dan, all of which will follow in part 9…
My videos tell some kind of story, as does the match report. The final part of this road trip (Part 9) will sum everything up and detail the trip back to Bournemouth…
Please note all the above photos are either mine or Dan Darch’s.
The below videos are all mine:
HEREFORD GO CLOSE:
TWO VIDEOS OF NONNY SINGING RED ARMY:
THE GREAT ESCAPE SONG:
I MANAGED TO CAPTURE FLETCHER’S EQUALISER ON VIDEO!!! iT WAS POSSIBLY THE ONLY TIME I’VE EVER SPONTANEOUSLY CAUGHT A CHERRIES GOAL ON VIDEO…:
LAST CHANCE FOR BOURNEMOUTH:
From the AFC Bournemouth website…
The Cherries winning run came to an end at Edgar Street against a spirited Hereford side. Steve Fletcher was on target for Bournemouth, but the side slipped to defeat after a late winner for the home side. Despite the loss, other results meant that the four point cushion at the top remains intact.
Marvin Bartley started the game with a protective cast on his hand, he replaced Josh McQuoid in the only chance from Saturday. A fifth of the crowd were from Bournemouth and they saw an even start, with Hereford making the best of the early chances. Brett Pitman was the Cherries main danger man, and he came close in the latter stages of the half, being denied from a tight angle.
Hereford started the second half bright and took the lead through Marc Pugh. This saw the game come alive with Bournemouth putting on the pressure. The equaliser came after good work from substitute Alan Connell put Fletcher in and he finished with a smart shot in to the corner.
It was Hereford though who had the final word thanks to an excellent finish from Pugh who sent in an unstoppable shot to beat the outstanding Shwan Jalal. On the balance of play, it was deserved win for the hosts.
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