Hereford Hero #19 – Derek Hall

Here at Talking Bull we are continuing to build up our archive detailing the careers of former Hereford heroes. This time we concentrate on a Hereford midfielder and skipper who now lives “down-under”.

HEREFORD HERO.

DEREK HALL.

The former Hereford captain Derek Hall now lives in Australia and coaches Adelaide Olympic Football Club, but continues to keep tabs on the Bulls despite living thousands of miles away, “Hereford is a special football club, and if people have never had the experience of playing for the side they may wonder where your passion comes from. I know where it comes from.

“I was lucky and privileged to represent the club as a player and captain. I met fantastic people, my team mates and coaching staff, but most of all a unique set of supporters that love their club and their amazing city”.

Derek played his part in a six-game FA Cup run in the 1991/92 season when Hereford eventually lost out to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest at the City Ground in the 4th Round of the competition. Hall skippered the side past Atherstone, Aylesbury and Woking to reach the 4th round stage but fell to goals from Stuart Pearce and Teddy Sheringham on Sunday 26 January, 1992 in front of a crowd of 24,259.

Hall will also be remembered for his role in “The Magnificent Seven” classic at Northampton on 6 September, 1992 in a calamitous match that gained national notoriety for all the wrong reasons. “Off, off, off, off. It’s a red card record” ran the headline in The Sun the following morning. The media had a field day, largely at the expense of the referee Brian Coddington, a local government officer from Sheffield, who had previously sent-off three Newcastle players.

The game itself was unremarkable, a dour, drab spectacle. It was still 0-0 after 74 minutes of pitiful football, but suddenly inside the area Andy Theodosiou stamped on County’s Phil Chard and was sent off. Player-manager Greg Downs disputed the punishment and was also given his marching orders. Hall then treated the referee to a verbal pennyworth, for which he was merely cautioned. Up stepped Stuart Beavon to convert the penalty.

Defeat for the nine men seemed inevitable, but against the odds Max Nicholson’s trickery set up an equaliser for Simon Brain. David Titterton was the next to go for a 2nd bookable offence after tapping the ball away delaying a Northampton throw-in. The “Hereford Eight” defended heroically before Coddington made history red-carding Richard Jones after he lunged in on Kevin Wilkin, and the “Magnificent Seven” held out until the final whistle. “We only need seven men” came the cry from the terraces.

Derek (born 5 January, 1965) began as an apprentice with Coventry City, turning professional in October 1982, making his Sky Blues debut later that season. He joined Torquay United on loan in March 1984, earning himself a permanent move there at the end of the campaign.

After scoring 6 goals in 55 appearances for the Gulls he moved to Swindon Town in the summer of 185 but struggled to settle and was transferred to Southend the following August. This was a very successful period for Derek as he plated 123 times for the club, scoring 15 goals in the process, before moving to Halifax Town on a free in July 1989. Halifax really struggled and narrowly avoided relegation ending up second-bottom just above Colchester in 89/90 and finished third-bottom the following year.

Derek moved to Edgar Street and was appointed captain of Hereford by boss John Sillett, who had known the central midfielder from his time at Coventry City. It was sunshine all the way in the early weeks of his Bulls career as Hereford got off to a flyer. Five wins in seven games fired United to the top of Division Four, but after that his first season with the Bulls was disrupted by injury and suspension. However, he came to the fore in the 1992/93 campaign as a hard-working and inspirational goal-scoring midfielder. His first goal for the club came against his former side – Torquay United – on 17 October 1992 with a fine drive from the edge of the area. Indeed, Derek was the club’s second top-scorer two years running. Only Owen Pickard and Chris Pike scored more, and without his efforts the club may well have been relegated.

Many Hereford fans will also recall Hall scoring the only goal of the game at the Shay against Halifax on the last day of the 1992/93 campaign. If Halifax had beaten Hereford and Northampton had lost at Shrewsbury, his former team would have stayed up. In the event, Hereford won 1-0 thanks to Derek’s shot, but it was a goal he did not celebrate even though he had not condemned Town to their fate as County went on to win 3-2 in any case.

Hall moved to Rochdale for a fee of £10,000 in August 1994 and had a chant to the tune of Wonderwall invented in his honour whilst at Spotland. Derek was in the Rochdale side that played against Hereford in the final game of the 1995/96 season when the Bulls confirmed a play-off place with a 2-0 win in front of a near 6,000 crowd at Edgar Street.

A move into the non-league scene with Hyde followed in 1996, before linking up with Stalbridge Celtic, Curzon Ashton and then Woodley Sports. Derek landed his first managerial role with Buxton in 1998, before returning to Curzon a year later.

After emigrating to Australia, he has enjoyed coaching positions with Port Adelaide Lions and with J&L Consulting Football Academy.

Keith Hall

Images: Ron Parrott

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