On the day the doors were locked at Edgar Street in December 2014, I vividly recall feeling a massive loss. Our football club had died. Scarves were draped on the gates. I genuinely believed I would never set foot inside the ground ever again.
And yet here we are, just three seasons after our re-emergence, celebrating another promotion, another title, and a return to the National League system in the most rapid of timescales. It has been a massive transformation, and I feel it is surely time to recognise the achievements of “the gaffer” Peter Beadle.
The following article has been submitted to Talking Bull, the Independent Hereford Football Club Supporters’ Magazine by Simon Wright, who I wish to thank for his tireless efforts in keeping the fanzine alive.
Our Gaffer – Not fully appreciated?
In the football world, success is nearly everything. For a manager to lead a club to promotion, or far better still a Championship, is an absolute pinnacle for both man and club. His club are the best in the league and have a trophy to prove it. This is success. Money. History. Cherished Memories. A CV headliner for the manager, and a lifetime of club admiration, appreciation and free drinks. Credit in the bank for his next sticky patch; “You can’t sack him, he won the title for us.” Board members can break open yet another bottle, secure in the knowledge they’d picked the right man. Secure too – perhaps briefly – from supporter criticism.
For the vast majority of clubs, winning a championship is a rare, rare moment. In 35 years of Hereford United support, I saw just one title winning side – John Sillett’s Third Division champions way back in 1976. Even now, I can pretty much reel off United’s Championship-winning side, in itself a tribute to the rarity and special nature of that triumph. For my “other lot”, West Bromwich Albion the cross I’m still obliged to bear who used to be a football club, have also managed just one Championship in over 30 years, back in 2008. I’m eternally grateful for Tony Mowbray for providing those vivid memories. These are rare animals indeed.
So, a manager who continues to write history, a manager who has won his club three Championships in a row, should logically be idolised. Surely he’s a cult hero, under siege from autograph hunters and a man who’ll never need to step into a puddle due to the plethora of well-placed supporters coats.
But amazingly not here at Edgar Street it seems. Peter Beadle’s status is surprisingly low key. His name is not chanted on the terraces, and I struggle to remember when it was, other than a brief period when he was enduring a harsh touchline ban. I do find that curious during a season when even the hapless Alan Pardew at Albion had (admittedly brief) supportive chants and occasional praise from the stands.
Our manager has a tedious knot of stern critics. They’ll start with the “so he should” argument, and then somehow try vainly to pick holes in Beadle’s frankly dazzling statistical record.
Titles? A lIfetime’s worth… Check. Hundred Points …Check. Hundred Goals …Check. Cup Runs… Check. Eye for New Talent. …Check. Attacking Football… Check… We’re in dreamland here, guys!
Hereford FC are only the third non-League club ever to win 3 straight Championships after Truro and Chester. Moneybags Salford couldn’t match that. AFC Wimbledon didn’t, nor the social movement that is FC United of Manchester.
The next tactic is to question Bead’s personal qualities. Whilst there might be a soupcon of justification here, he’s in a rough, tough environment and needs to work accordingly. The job he was hired to do is very much getting done. Our next striker will be judged on his ability to score goals, not whether he is kind to his Mum or votes Conservative. Much as we all admire Jamie Willetts for his honesty and passion, there’s an obvious question mark whether he could cope with the top end of Step 3. In football, nice guys rarely win.
Much as many would love Peter Beadle to join us in Radford’s or Addison‘s for a post-match drink, that is clearly not his style. He has numerous duties to deal with before remembering he has parental responsibilities and a tedious trip home. Neither is it Beadle’s style to join in celebratory team pictures, without being prodded to do so. Modesty, leaving the glory to his players, false modesty, whatever his reasons, they don’t really matter. That’s his preference.
You know what? The Beautiful Game is better in hindsight. During a football season, we supporters always focus on the difficulty of the next challenge, the newest injury, the form of our opponents, our latest out-of-form player, the problem of securing match tickets, or whether Pablo Haysham might need a comfort break soon, and so on. All issues which distract from the wider perspective that the season actually progressed brilliantly.
Much along the same lines, I suspect that collectively, we have not fully appreciated what Peter Beadle has done for this club. To constantly rebuild winning teams here at Hereford, to consistently sign the right new player, to keep a big squad involved and continue to make the hard decisions, are all significant managerial qualities in short supply.
I’ve no doubt that Beads is universally respected, but a little more open appreciation from the fans for the most successful manager ever seen at Edgar Street is surely overdue.
Thanks once again to Simon for this and numerous Talking Bull contributions during the course of the last three seasons. Maybe you’ll join him in a chorus of “There’s only one Peter Beadle!”
Keith Hall firstname.lastname@example.org