Matt Healey continues the series.

Gary Pick was born in Leicester on the 9th July 1971. He played local football in his home city at non league Leicester United, and then was signed by Stoke City. He was part of the hugely successful reserve team of 1991/1992 who stormed the Pontins League.

Stoke City manager Lou Macari had included Pick on the substitutes bench a couple of times, but he never made a first team appearance. Macari left for Celtic, and former Bristol City manager Joe Jordan arrived. A new manager tends to bring in his own players, and Pick was surplus to requirements. Pick told me “I wanted Chic Bates to get the job, he was Lou’s assistant, he promised me a two year contract, but Joe came in, and I fell down the pecking order”

Gary Pick 1994

He was released from the Potteries in the summer of 1994, and was subsequently signed by Greg Downs at Hereford United. Downs had significantly changed his squad that summer, the likes of Colin Anderson, Dave Morris, Leroy May, Gareth Abraham and Alan Judge departed, and the new arrivals at Edgar Street included Steve White, Dean Smith, Nicky Cross, Tony James and Richard Wilkins.

Pick made his Hereford debut in a 1-0 home loss to Doncaster Rovers on the opening day of the 1994/1995 season. Despite heavy investment Hereford started poorly in the league, a famous League Cup win at West Brom wasn’t enough to save Downs, and he departed Edgar Street in September 1994. Pick though remembers the night at the Hawthorns fondly. “We played so well, my best mate as a kid is Carl Heggs, and he played for West Brom that night, we played Nottingham Forest in the next round, and were unlucky to lose that 2-1 over two legs. Chris Pike missed a sitter at the City Ground from my through ball”

Assistant Manager John Layton then took over the reigns at Edgar Street.

Under Layton the results gradually improved, but an embarrassing FA Cup defeat against Diadora Non League side Hitchin occurred on the 22nd November 1994. Hereford had fought back from 2-0 down at Edgar Street to gain a 2-2 draw, but they sadly went down 4-2 in the replay. Pick scored Hereford’s 2nd goal with a superb diving header.

After the humiliation of the cup exit. Four days later Hereford returned to league action and went to Northampton winning 3-1 at the Sixfields Stadium. Pick opened the scoring early in the 2nd half.

Pick and Richard Wilkins were forming a solid partnership in midfield. “Wilko was a quality player, he had been at Cambridge before, and nearly reached the Premier League with them, he was a great talker on the pitch”

Hereford United 1994/1995 Team Photograph

The late Dick Bate then arrived at Edgar Street as assistant to John Layton, and Hereford went on a decent run the 2nd half of the season. Bate’s influence had shored up the defence, and Hereford started to climb the table. Pick scored a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Fulham in March 1995.

Hereford ended the 1994/1995 season in 16th position.

John Layton departed as manager, and the highly experienced Graham Turner took over for the 1995/1996 season.

Pick didn’t feature as much this season, and was in and out of the squad. Turner had bought in his old Wolves player Keith Downing into the midfield, and Pick struggled for consistency.

“Me, Nicky Cross, and Dean Smith used to travel to training. Im delighted Dean is doing well as Aston Villa manager”

Hereford United v Preston North End – September 1995

The end of Pick’s time at Edgar Street was about to happen “I didn’t get on with Graham Turner, I was developing a bit of a reputation for partying, he got me in the office and said Cambridge United had come in for me, he also told me Leicestershire murder squad had wanted to speak to me about an incident, there had been a mass brawl in Leicester and someone had been tragically killed. I was pictured at the scene, I was questioned, but released without charge”

Gillingham v Hereford United – February 1996 Steve White, Dean Smith, Neil Lyne, Gary Pick, Stuart Watkiss

Pick departed Edgar Street in March 1996 and joined fellow Division Three club Cambridge United. Injury problems meant his stay was a short one, he then played non league with Worcester City, Kettering and Newport. but retired from the game in the late 1990’s. “I got arrested, and ended up being sacked by Kettering. I packed it in soon after that”

Pick now resides back in Leicester, and has started playing local football for a senior team. “We’ve only played 2 games due to Covid-19, but its a great way to keep my fitness up”

Pick has had a troubled past, “You could write a book about me” but the past couple of years has turned his life around “I had 18 months in prison for assault, but things are a lot better now. I’m in work, and got an amazing girlfriend”

Gary Pick – February 2020