Matt Healey continues the series.

Paul Burton was born on the 6th August 1973 and was educated at Haywood High School. He broke into the Hereford United youth team aged 15.

(c) MH Archive

Manager Ian Bowyer was keen to blood youth into the first team, and gave Burton his debut in a Welsh Cup match against Connahs Quay Nomads. He promptly came off the substitutes bench and scored a second half hat trick in a 9-0 demolition job. Burton told Your Herefordshire.

“I had an unbelievable first year, I made my official debut for Hereford United and scored a hat trick, I didn’t know I was playing until I arrived at the ground, Ian Bowyer told me to get my boots on as I was on the subs bench. That night flew past”

A couple of weeks later Burton played in Mel Pejic’s testimonial match against First Division Everton who sent a full strength team to Edgar Street “It was every boy’s dream to be playing against top flight opposition”

He watched in the stands as Hereford United played Manchester United in the FA Cup 4th round, and then managed to make his Football League debut at the end of that season. He even scored a late consolation goal in a 5-2 defeat at Rochdale which was the final league game of the successful 1989/1990 campaign. “It was a good goal for me, a bit further out than normal. Sadly I’ve never seen any footage of it”

Burton’s former colleague Richard Jones spoke highly of him. Jones who also played for Newport County & Swansea City told us “He had a dry personality, and a cheeky grin, but a very good attitude, he was a young lad, who could finish in the penalty area”

There was though personal disappointment at the end of the 1989-1990 season as Burton was left out of the Welsh Cup Final squad ” I thought I would make the bench, I had scored the last game of the season, and we were low on numbers. We trained the morning before the game , and we had a lot of injuries.

It broke my heart when I was left out. Ian Bowyer (Hereford Player Manager) who had hardly played that season put himself on the subs bench.(back then teams could only name 2 subs). He told me that my time would come next season. Sadly he left that Summer”

Hereford would go on to defeat Wrexham 2-1 at Cardiff Arms Park.

Colin Addison then replaced Ian Bowyer as Hereford manager during the Summer of 1990.

“I got on well with Colin, and still see him around the city, I didn’t feature much, I started the last game of the season which was a 2-1 defeat at Scarborough. My preparation wasn’t great. I played in a reserve game the Thursday night. Then had the long coach journey to Scarborough the following day, and didn’t do myself justice”

The following season saw another change of manager with John Sillett coming in. “I found that season hard, I just couldn’t get any momentum, and only made a couple of sub appearances. I just didn’t get a sniff. Simon Brain and Peter Heritage were the preferred striking partnership and they both scored goals”

Burton was released by Hereford in the Summer of 1992 “It was a tough time, I was only 18 and fell out of love with football. I adored the game and hated the knockback. There was interest bizarrely from teams in Belgium but due to a change in family circumstances I stayed in Hereford.

It was former Hereford United player Gary Stevens who helped Burton rekindle his love of the game. Stevens was the manager of Hereford Banks’s Brewery side Westfields. “Gary definitely gave me my love back for the game. I was scoring around 40 goals per season for Westfields. Sam Bowen (Father of West Ham’s Jarrod) then joined and we were a formidable partnership”

Interest then came in from the likes of Bromsgrove who were GM Vauxhall Conference at the time, and Dr Martens sides AFC Newport and Gloucester City “The problem back then was I didn’t drive, so I stayed at Westfields”

Westfields Chief Executive Andy Morris was a huge fan of Burton “Without doubt one of the best strikers we have ever had. He won the Brian Preece golden boot leading goal scorer for four years on the trot. he formed a formidable attack with Gary Stevens and Sam Bowen, Paul was always in the right place at the right time, and most of his goals were in the 6 yard box”

I asked Paul if Hereford United ever got in touch again, between Phil Stant leaving and Steve White signing we never had a 30 goal season striker, and Paul tells me they did.

“I had a week there on trial when Greg Downs was manager in the mid 1990’s, and trained with the first team, but they say never go back, and the move never materialised. “Me and Sam (Bowen) scored nearly 100 goals between us for Westfields in one season, and it was time to go up the pyramid”

Bowen signed for Worcester, whereas Burton had now passed his driving test “I felt a lot stronger, and my all round game improved, so I ended up joining Newport in what is the equivalent now of National League South/North. I enjoyed my time there, and stayed in the higher non league circles playing for Redditch United and Evesham. I then had a brief spell at Kington before returning to Westfields”.

Now retired from football Burton earns a living as a supervisor for a local flooring company.

Sadly Burton was never really given an extended run in the Hereford first team, and was a victim of the changes in management, maybe if Ian Bowyer had stayed in charge at Edgar Street he would have been given more opportunity, but Burton looks back on his time with pride.

“I enjoyed my time as a footballer, and wouldn’t have changed it for the world” Burton added.