Hammer blow to Hereford United name change

The prospect of a return to the name Hereford United FC was dealt a hammer blow on Thursday night at the 2018 Annual General Meeting of HFC.

A special resolution passed on the night, with a 97.89% shareholders vote, means fans who believed it was only a matter of time before the club requested a club name reversion to United will have to come to terms with the fact Hereford FC is the future.

At the January 2015 open meeting ahead of the launch of the new club at the Welsh Club in Hinton Road the desire to change the name from Hereford FC to Hereford United FC at some future date was high on the agenda of many longstanding supporters. Indeed, it was made clear then that the new club would investigate the possibility of a name change, but that such a request could not be made for 5 years, and that an overwhelming desire for it would be needed to gain agreement from the Football Association.

With the passing of the resolution meaning any change of club name from Hereford FC will now require over 75% of the shareholders vote, instead of the original 50%, this move effectively ensures fans will never see Hereford United running out onto the Edgar Street pitch ever again. Some supporters may see this as the last straw, others see it as natural progression, some even suggesting the brand Hereford United had become ‘toxic’ in any case.

But in a thought provoking updated Talking Bull article, Nick Brade wonders whether a return to the name Hereford United would have been such a good move anyway.

As you read this, our wonderful little football team is still less than four years old.

Much like the Queen, we celebrate two birthdays. The club’s birth certificate may say “22nd of December 2014”, but our team only arrived, kicking and screaming its way into this big wide world, some six months later on a summer’s evening beyond the Malvern Hills, to the delight of the two thousand godparents present. 

Since that day, both team and club have managed to baffle any naysayers, to the point of surpassing even the most optimistic of expectations. 

The team’s players may have come and gone quite regularly (the many fine balances between playing lower-level football and leading “a proper life” make it inevitable), but, despite this turnover, a “Hereford style” has been firmly established. So, whilst spectators’ desires for results will always remain high, the great majority of the Edgar Street faithful can understand that the team’s patient approach is often paramount to its winning ethos. 

On the club side, I can hardly credit how much work has gone into making all aspects of the match-day experience an all-inclusive affair, with a family atmosphere prioritised. The ever-willing band of volunteers are an integral part of making it all tick, both on the day-to-day running and on ad hoc basis, such as the pitch-clearing details. 

But, whilst everything in the garden is so rosy, I and a good many other fans still wish that this could have been Hereford United taking these great strides forward. The club we grew up with, the club who won us over and let us down, the club who charmed us and frustrated us in equal measure, the club that suffered an undignified, witheringly painful end. The club that couldn’t survive. 

I always, but always, wear one or more Hereford United items to each game. I would imagine I shall continue to do so until my dying day. It’s not that I don’t have a good many Hereford FC items, of course I do. But whereas the club may now operate under a different banner, the team is still my team, from my home-town, my Hereford, my United. And the players are the latest group of young athletes to whom I entrust my aspirations, and those of my forebears, who would only have known of United, not HFC. 

There will, no doubt, be broad and eloquent support for a return of the name Hereford United, when sufficient time has elapsed to make that possible under Football Association rules. After all, many of the songs, particularly “that song”, retain the name, and we all exhort the team on with the name United even when, by definition, our opposition is the only United on the pitch. And, based on the above, you would expect that I’d be counting down the days until the name returns. But I’m not. 

No. Please don’t change it back. Hereford United, it’s not gone, it’s still there. It’s part of history. It won’t vanish, because history doesn’t vanish. It will always be known and it will never go away. But Hereford FC doesn’t need to grab the name to keep the story going. The current club’s story is still the story of Hereford United as well, the two are unmistakeably entwined. 

When national media speak of football in our city, they remember United’s passionate anoraked young fans, and our subsequent meteoric rise, in terms of “confounding the critics” and “defying the odds”. The anoraks may have gone, but the young fans are back, watching their own brand-new meteor on the rise, despite its critics and despite the odds. 

For every story such as “keeper Fred Potter, a fence-erector by trade, certainly built a barrier to keep the Newcastle attack at bay”, we now have a “for Mister Dinsley it was back to morning roll-call at his school” TV report. The old club may have given us the most-watched Goal of the Season of all time, but only the new club ever gave us the chance to witness a prize Hereford bull parading around our National Stadium. 

Hereford FC will go on making history, but as HFC, not United. United is very much integral to the current club’s fabric, but that book has now closed. But, as is the beauty of books, you can open them again from time to time, and re-read your favourite passages, or learn something new. And I would implore anyone with a love of our team and club to study the ‘book’ of Hereford United and learn to not make the same mistakes this time.

By Nick Brade

This article first appeared in the latest edition of Talking Bull, the Independent Hereford Football Club Supporters’ Magazine, issue 111 “The Third Summit”. A handful of copies remain available to purchase via our online store.

13 Comments

  1. R Webb

    I am very disappointed. Most clubs who get done by their owners bounce back with some sense of their identity. I feel that this is not happening here. If the name, which was popular as a place holder is going to stick, how about some blue shirts and send the bull down the road. If it is a new club in more than name and Companies House, then support would be like going up to Salop. Which may be preferable.

    We really did kill off our football club after all. I feel gutted. One born every minute.

    Reply
    1. Stephen Greig

      Completely agree with the above comment.

      I only supported the boycott and celebrated that final courtroom decision because it was supposed to be something that the club would survive. Hereford United couldn’t be beaten by a couple of chancers like Agombar and Lonsdale. Even if that meant living on through another limited company, the football club would carry on.

      But by leaving the name behind – out of choice – we are consigning Hereford United to the past, and conceding that this is now a different club with a different identity. Meaning we didn’t live on. We let Agombar and Lonsdale kill Hereford United and we should be ashamed of that.

      Reply
  2. RON FELDMAN

    We musnt live in the past. Its onward and upward with, Hereford F.C

    Reply
  3. Mike Baldwin

    It looks like we have lost to Tommy and Andy and have been stitched up by Captain Ken and his board members who seem to have no respect for the history of our club and its famous players who were proud to play not for HFC ,but for Hereford United. This decision by the board means that we the fans who fought to save United from the crooks need to mobilise once again to express our opinion. I suggest all true fans who oppose this decision by the board should let their feelings be known by turning up for the match on Boxing Day wearing United shirts , hats , scarves etc and singing the original club song Hereford United We All Love You.

    Reply
  4. Steve A.

    The headline and thus tone of this article is disappointingly provocative. The resolution passed at the AGM (proposed by HUST as a result of a survey of it’s members by the way) is hardly a “hammer blow” to the prospect of reviving the old name but is in effect a protection of supporters interests in the issue.

    If the name could be changed by ordinary resolution as before, requiring only 50% + 1 of the shareholders vote, the balance of shares held by the 5 larger shareholders could in effect give them alone the ability to make the decision regardless of whether or not the supporters were in favour or had been consulted. The new 75% requirement now in effect puts the decision in the hands of supporters because the larger vote needed ensures that the HUST vote, and therefore the will of the supporters they represent is absolutely crucial. In a time when an increasing number of supporters are suggesting they feel a disconnect growing between the board and the fans, a feeling that may be more prevalent now that the 5 “benefactors” have in effect blocked the fans from having the equal boardroom representation that many feel a 50% shareholding deserves, this resolution was in fact an absolutely essential method of ensuring the clubs name, colours and home cannot be changed without first having a conversation that fully engages the clubs true spiritual stakeholder – the supporters.

    The fact remains, if supporters want the name to revert to “United” then they simply need to engage with HUST, lobby their representatives on the HUST board or indeed propose their own resolution at the next HUST AGM to force a discussion and fans vote on the issue. HUST will be ultimately governed by a strong majority opinion whichever way this turns out and will use the methods at its disposal in order to press the club into acting in their interests.

    This was always going to be a contentious issue. One where feelings for both name options would be strong and one where ultimately it will be impossible for everyone to be happy but at least now under the newly past resolution it will be the fans voice that is heard loudest in the discussion and the fans who will ultimately decide important matters relating to the identity of THEIR football club.

    Reply
    1. Editor (Post author)

      If there is a groundswell of support for a return to the name Hereford United, the fans voice will certainly be heard, and ultimately a special resolution put before the shareholders. At that point it will be interesting to see which of the 5 “benefactors” are likely to embrace such a change. Without their commitment the club identity as “United” will not happen.

      Reply
  5. Steve A.

    Of course. What this resolution in effect does is ensure everyone including fans, directors, and shareholders (HUST and private) are able to engage in a vital conversation.

    I would argue though that HUST should not be waiting for a “groundswell of opinion” to emerge either way but should now be actively engaging with the membership in order to lead the conversation and prepare for a full and definative vote on it. There are many who have strong views both for and against changing the club’s name but also there are many, like myself, who are conflicted on the issue and thus a conversation led by the supporters trust is as important for helping resolve that individual inner conflict as well as recording the numbers that are already stead fastly for and against.

    Reply
    1. Editor (Post author)

      Hopefully there will be some engagement, and all supporters ultimately able to vote by perhaps a full fans ‘definitive’ ballot. But even if there were a resounding vote for a “United” identity return, will the shareholders and 5 “benefactors” back the change at the newly increased 75% requirement?

      Reply
      1. Steve A.

        I guess ultimately that can’t be predicted (without asking them directly of course). However if HUST do their part and in particular if they establish a significant fans majority one way or the other it would become difficult for any of the other shareholders to oppose it. Yes, technically they still could but would be making themselves a target for the anger of fans if they did.

        Reply
  6. Mick prince

    I’m very sad to read this. I’ve supported both hfc and united (for well over 50 years) and do not believe that the united name is toxic in any way. On the contrary the name Hereford United has a famous footballing history, is very well known across the football world and is a positive identity for the counties senior football club. I always believed that we would return to the name Hereford united … this really changes things for me.

    Reply
  7. Mike Baldwin

    I totally agree that the name Hereford United is in no way toxic. Ask any 100 people what the name of Herefordshire’s football team is and they would overwhelming reply United, and following up on the recent H.F.C. A.G.M. re special resolutions I understand that shpuld H.F.C wish to change the club’s name back in the future to Hereford United they will then be able to reclaim all its historical league and cup records of which we supporters and so many ex players are so proud.
    If the chairman and the board however in their infinite wisdom decide not to pursue this option in the fullness of time, then in my opinion they should face up to the consequences of their action which implies they would have to sever all links to the past club and its name, that we loyal supporters loved and fought for. So no longer would would they be able to mention in all honesty the phrase ” continuation of the old club”, and logically no further copies of Ron Parrott’s Hereford United memory matches would appear in the matchday programme. There would also be no further broacasts of the club song ” Hereford United We All Love You” and all merchandise in the club shop bearing the logo ” Forever United” would have to be binned !!
    However if the club, at the end of the day, reverted to its former name the club shop would have a whole new selection of merchandise to sell.

    There is no doubt in my mind as to whom the word toxic applies.

    Reply
  8. jack

    The FA will not allow a change, unless the debt of the old club is paid off .So it will never happen.

    Reply
    1. Editor (Post author)

      Not the case with Newport County, Darlington, Aldershot, Accrington Stanley, Maidstone and Bradford Park Avenue who went bankrupt or were dissolved. The FA have been supportive of clubs who wish to retain historical links as part of their communities.

      Reply

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