Ahead of the Rob Purdie Testimonial on Sunday, 12th May, the Hereford legend has been talking about the day itself, and how competitive he wants the match to be. Purdie is adamant the Hereford United side will beat their younger Hereford FC counterparts.
“Kick-off is going to be 1:30pm as we have to give time for our hospitality groups to have their pre-match meal, and to allow the players, some of whom live long distances away, time to get to Edgar Street.
“I looked at the fixtures and, as there could have been some players involved in the end-of-season play-offs, I decided to go for a Sunday kick-off. I just wanted to give every player who wanted to come the best chance of being involved.
“The Hereford FC squad pretty much takes care of itself. I wanted to get in as many of the players I could from the first season. That’ll be the players that got the club to Wembley.
“The Hereford United team was a little bit tougher to put together. I wrote down 40 names originally and I knew they were my closest mates in the dressing room. They were the players I thoroughly enjoyed being with during my time at Edgar Street.
“You won’t see any players from my time when Martin Foyle was the manager. There are a few from when Jamie Pitman was in charge, but most are from the Graham Turner era. They were the best years I ever had at Hereford, before the emergence of Hereford FC.
“Then I went through the players I really wanted to be there, and I was massively humbled as everyone I contacted wanted to come and play. So, the hardest task I had on paper was can I get the players that the fans want to see, and so it eventually became my easiest.
“It’s kind of the club saying thank you. Thank you for having been with us for this amount of time, and achieving this with us – and we want to give you a big send-off. But I’m not using it as that as the reason I’ve gone for a Hereford FC against a Hereford United side is more because I wanted the players here who have given me, and the fans, so much joy on the pitch over the years a chance to say thank you.
“Some players like Steve Guinan and Ben Smith got released at the end of the season, and never got the chance to say goodbye to the fans. As a result, many supporters never got to see them again. So, the testimonial gives those players a chance to say their farewell. I know lots of fans will enjoy seeing the players one-last-time, so give them something back in that sense.
“So, the reason I haven’t invited a big-club side, or an Under-23 XI to Edgar Street for the testimonial is to make sure the fans get their chance to see their favourite players from the recent past and the players themselves get that last game at Edgar Street.
“They are coming back because they played with me and enjoyed it. I remain friends with a lot of the guys and they are coming back to Edgar Street because they loved playing here, and enjoyed the support they received from the fans.
“In the 9th minute of the game I’d like to hear the biggest noise of the afternoon when we stop the match to give Adam Stansfield a minute applause. He was the nicest guy you could ever meet. A great family guy and he embraced the city with his family who all moved to Hereford when he joined the club under Graham Turner. The way Adam played epitomised Hereford. He wasn’t the best footballer. He didn’t have the best technique, but his work-rate and attitude made him the player he was. It’s only right that he is part of this day. I’m hoping his family come down and in the ninth minute the game will stop. I’d like to hear the fans at their loudest at that point. How loud can we make that 9th minute for Adam?
“I’m hoping for a big turn-out as the teams will get a big buzz from that. If we can get more than a thousand fans through the gate I’ll be pleased as it’ll create a good atmosphere, and anything over that’ll be brilliant.
“It will be a great day. It will be competitive. It will be the last chance for some of the players like Wayne Brown, Nathan Summers and Paul Parry to ever play at Edgar Street. It’s also a challenge to the fans to come out and show how much they respected these players, and raise some much-needed funds for charity.
“As far as the fans are concerned, they know we are not the biggest city. We haven’t got the biggest ground, or the most modern stadium, but we make a big noise and when we work hard, and everybody clubs together, the place comes alive.
“Joel Edwards will captain the Hereford FC side, whilst Tony James will skipper the Hereford United XI. I know both players are looking forward to getting back out onto that pitch and putting on a performance in front of Hereford fans once again.
“I want the fans to realise all the players are up for this, and it’ll be a competitive match. I think with the talent we’ve got in the Hereford United side we will beat the Hereford FC team. I look at the Hereford United squad and I think you know what – there’s some cracking players in there, and I fancy them to win the game. I don’t want it to just be an exhibition match. You just look at the calibre of the teams out there, and you know we’re in for some game.
“I would like to pitch it as everything Hereford, and that’s what it is.
“So, whether you used to watch the team 20 years ago, or stopped after what happened four years ago, just come.
“Come and spend a day at Edgar Street. Come and recall those moments, and those players, you enjoyed watching in the past. Come and watch Hereford. Come and watch your favourites. It’ll be a really good day for everyone – the players, the coaching staff, and the fans!
“Get your football fix ready for the summer. It’ll be a day to remember”.
Tickets for the game are priced at:
Tickets and further information can be purchased online now.
Images courtesy of Steve Niblett
Interview: Joanie Roberts