In the early 1960s, Hereford United Supporters Club volunteers embarked upon a project to replace the wooden sleepers at the Blackfriars End. The old worn-out sleepers were to become smart rows of concrete terracing. They are still there now but sadly we cannot stand on them.
HUFC fans gave up their time in the evenings after work. I, along with a friend, decided to join them. We were just 13 years old. We were allocated tasks that the elders thought we were capable of doing, since it was quite heavy work.
Our efforts were spotted. We were invited by groundsman Bill Groves to help him with other tasks in the daytime in our holidays, jobs such as removing rubbish from the terraces, removing weeds, and sweeping the dressing rooms after matches.
There was an unexpected perk as players in that era used to do some extra training sessions in the day in addition to the normal evening sessions. This was possible because many of the players lived in Hereford. I recall Jock Wallace, Selwyn Vale, Peter Timms, Ray Daniel, Ian McIntosh, Ronnie Burbeck, Alan Rodgerson, Roger Griffiths, Freddie Jones, John Neville, Brian Punter, Albert Derrick, were among the ones who popped in. The manager at the time was Bob Dennison.
To make up teams for 6-a-side games, Jock Wallace invited the two of us to join in their sessions. This was a dream come true for us teenagers. Jock was a great goalkeeper, but he used to play out in these games, and I remember he packed a very hard shot, and my thigh blocked one of his goal bound efforts. The dead leg took a time to wear off but I was encouraged to run it off by a distinct Scottish twang in the nearby vicinity. I shudder to think nowadays how Health and Safety would view us joining in and having fun!
Finally, I remember we were able to see the team sheets pinned in the dressing room even before the local press. We did keep quiet, not wanting to lose our privileges. Don’t reckon this would be allowed now either.
As a token of gratitude, the Club gave us free passes for that season. What we enjoyed the most was the way the players just invited us to be part of their sessions. I am sure those days would not be repeated in the present era.
AND ANOTHER FOND MEMORY OF MY TEENAGE YEARS…
The gentle giant John Charles was a very affable gentleman both on and off the pitch. Always prepared to chat to fans in the Supporters Club after a game, when it was housed behind the Meadow End, whether we won or lost. It gave the fans a great insight of how things were run in pre social media days.
At the time when he was at Edgar Street, a local chess player Peter Johnston, was attempting to break a record for a marathon of playing non-stop 5 minute chess games. The event was to take place in Greenlands, then a famous department store in High Town.
A personality was required to open so I managed to invite John to be the first opponent. The only problem in the words of our John was “I don’t know how to play the xxxxxxg game”. We got around the problem by a little coaching by yours truly in the background, but out of the view of the photographer. John was captured smiling broadly as he painstakingly moved his chess pieces for the photograph.
What a legend he was, I reckon he ranks as the most prestigious player to wear the Hereford strip. He was never too proud to be one of us!
Steve Hughes— Halesowen Bull