Delayed View at Belle Vue

From the Talking Bull archives…Simon Wright looks back to a “Football Friday” when supporters actually came first…

In 1992, Friday night for me involved endless monologues about the price of bread with elderly in-laws.

“Arr, I tode yo, didn’t I? It’s up 5p in Tesco this wik. 5p. In one wik. I’ll goo to the foot of our stairs. It was never like this in my day…” etc. Thus a night match at Doncaster was seized upon eagerly as an opportunity to miss a week. I wanted to see goalscoring loanee Marcus Browning in action….

Progress from the Black Country was initially straightforward. Then we reached the M1. I understand that rapid progress on the M1 on a Friday night is as likely as an Aston Villa goal at Wembley. But the volume of traffic was immense with no obvious reason why or any end in sight.  Kick-off drew ever closer. I resorted to shall we say “creative driving” which was reassuringly effective.  I passed much stationary traffic including a familiar-looking Yeomans coach. Couldn’t be?  It was. I’d overtaken the team coach. Oh. With no need to rush, I throttled back. But even so I left the team coach far behind. The supporters’ coach, puffing painfully in the slow lane, was also overtaken.

Once I reached the motorway exit, progress to Belle Vue was straightforward. I was concerned for the club. Finances were inevitably tight and a fine for not handing in the teamsheet on time would hurt.

Work reached Donny Rovers of the traffic delays with a jolly PA announcer keeping everyone up to date. Apparently, a Police outrider was despatched to the M1 to track down the Hereford coach. A curious use of Police time but no-one within the ramshackle ground was complaining with 7.30pm just a memory.

From my terrace position, I spotted the travel weary Yeomans bus with its Police escort pulling in.  “And here’s the Hereford side so we’ll be able to kick off very soon” came the announcement. I watched the door open and the first figures disgorge. They were familiar .. but the wrong sort of familiar. Hereford supporters not Hereford players.  The Police Officer had escorted the wrong coach.

Helmet visor firmly down to cover his red face, he zoomed off again leaving the announcer to explain “ummm I’m afraid that’s the Hereford supporters’ coach which just arrived. I’m sure the players won’t be far away now…” 

There were predictable moans all round and cries of “we’ll play the supporters instead.”  And so we waited. The announcer “filled” with music. Personally, this was a relief as during the only other match I’d been to where the visitors were late, the announcer decided he was personally responsible for entertaining the crowd. He read the whole programme aloud and then in desperation moved on to the rules of the game.  It was painful, even worse than bread monologues.

Hereford United FC rolled up after 8pm. They’d already changed on the coach somehow. Couldn’t be easy to move the contents of the skip from the boot into the coach itself on a motorway. The jaded United team had a few minutes warm-up but they weren’t really ready to play.  Even with a racecourse next door, Hereford were not at the races and lost 2-1.

Simon Wright

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