On this day 30 years ago Hereford United travelled to top flight Nottingham Forest in this FA Cup 4th round tie. This would be the final season before the financial might of the Premier League took over and changed Football culture.
Forest at the time were in 11th position in what was then known as Division One. Managed by the legendary Brian Clough Forest they would be losing League Cup finalists a couple of months later against Manchester United.
Hereford were at the time in 15th position in Division Four (Now League Two) a season that had started so well with the Bulls being top of the league in mid September under returning manager John Sillett, was now being kept alive by an FA Cup run.
Hereford were drawn away to tier two non league opposition in the first three rounds. Back then the non league pyramid was a bit different to what we have now, the highest level of non league football was the GM Vauxhall Conference (Now National League) then below that were three feeder leaders.
There was the HFS Loans league which was for Northern Clubs, The Beazer Homes League catered for Midlands and Southern based teams, then there was the Diadora League which was London and the South East.
In the 1st round it took a replay to knock out Beazer Homes League side Atherstone United, a 3-2 win at Diadora League team Aylesbury United clinched the 2nd round victory.
Then with everyone at Edgar Street hoping for a lucrative 3rd round home tie, it would be an away trip to another Diadora League side in Woking. The Cards the previous season had knocked West Brom out of the competition and the draw was a horrific one for the Bulls. Woking were flying high at the top of the league and would later that season win the division by eighteen points. Being the Football League club all the pressure was on the Bulls and this was a horrible banana skin, but a fantastic defensive display secured a 0-0 draw and a replay at Edgar Street ten days later.
Hereford faced Woking at Edgar Street in front of nearly 9,000 supporters on the 14th January 1992 in the 3rd round replay.
A 2-1 Extra Time victory won it with goals from Jon Narbett and Simon Brain. The Bulls superior fitness and that extra bit of quality was the difference and with the 4th round draw already made, the victors knew they would enjoy a financial windfall of a match away at top flight Nottingham Forest.
Hereford’s preparation ahead of the Nottingham Forest game wasn’t great.
Eight days before the 4th round game they suffered a 2-1 loss to Blackpool, the collateral damage of this match was midfield maestro Jon Narbett sustained an injury and would sadly miss out on playing in the FA Cup tie, top scorer Simon Brain also needed stitches to a head wound, but later declared himself fit.
Hereford would then play again midweek and face bogey side Walsall in an Autoglass Trophy game on the 21st January 1992, the Bulls would lose 1-0, a bitterly cold night at Edgar Street saw the game be settled in Extra Time in the 110th minute with Saddlers stalwart Chris Marsh heading home the winner.
The goal was scored in front of a freezing cold Meadow End crowd who had huddled together for warmth. It was a miracle the game wasn’t abandoned due to the frozen pitch. Walsall faced Stoke City in the next round.
Playing for 120 minutes twice in the space of seven days with a league game sandwiched in between wasn’t ideal, but Hereford had to get on with it.
The Forest game was played on a Sunday afternoon and around 5,000 Hereford supporters headed east to Nottingham.
Two seasons previously Hereford had faced Manchester United in the FA Cup 4th round and only two players from that game would be involved against Forest, they were long serving defender Steve Devine and Goalkeeper Tony Elliott.
An injury to former Oxford goalkeeper Alan Judge a couple of weeks earlier against Cardiff City meant Elliott was back in the nets for The Bulls. Elliott had started the season as first choice but had lost his place in the side two months earlier. The former Birmingham City shot stopper was now the number one and relished the big game opportunity.
Elliott told us “It was a fantastic occasion to play in with plenty of travelling Hereford fans. It was brilliant seeing them all packed behind the goal”
The Forest team included England Internationals Des Walker, Stuart Pearce and Teddy Sheringham, plus legendary hardman Roy Keane.
Peter Heritage would lead the attack alongside Simon Brain that Sunday. Heritage told us “The whole weekend was brilliant, we trained at Coventry City on the Saturday and stayed in a hotel overnight, when we pulled into the City Ground I got the team singing Robin Hood riding through the glen, we walked into the dressing room and then onto the pitch. Forest manager Brian Clough came out and he knew Woody (Steve Devine) from one of his previous club’s, he said to Steve, Woody are you playing today, Steve told him he wasn’t sure, so Brian Clough kicked him and said that’s incase you are”
Forest created a hatful of chances in the early stages but their finishing would let them down.
Heritage continued “I remember Derek Hall running alongside Roy Keane. Del got stuck in with a tackle. Keane said to him “Do you know who I am. Del replied I don’t f*cking care who you are. I’ll kick who I want. We fought for each other”
Heritage had a great chance to give Hereford the lead midway through the 2nd half but he sliced his shot wide.
Meshach Wade was a 19 year old Bermudan midfielder who had come over to England alongside Kentoine Jennings to sign for The Bulls. John Sillett had spotted them playing in a friendly game whilst on a holiday. This would be a time with no internet or mobile phones, two young lads coming over to a cold English climate was a huge culture shock for the popular teenagers.
Jon Narbett told us a story about the duo “They were two very young lads living over the road in one of the terraced house’s near Edgar Street, on their first visit to Tesco they bought a load of groceries, they thought they could take the trolley home with them…it stayed in the kitchen for about three months,” said Narbett.
Wade was enjoying a profitable run in the team and had starred against Woking in the previous round, he remembers the day fondly “I thought I played well against Forest, I just remember thinking it was brilliant being on the same pitch as Des Walker and Roy Keane, I had seen them on TV and now I was playing against them”
Forest took the lead on 37 minutes through a Stuart Pearce header, the video evidence shows the hard as nails Pearce celebrating by kicking the goalpost.
Andy Theodosiou had the job of marking Teddy Sheringham “It was the highlight of my career” he told Your Herefordshire “I marked (Teddy) Sheringham. I never got near him all day” Theodosiou joked.
Forest made the game safe in the 90th minute through Sheringham who steered home a right wing cross. Both goal scorers for Forest that day would have a huge part in England reaching the Semi Finals of Euro 96 four years later.
Tony Elliott added “I wanted so badly to keep a clean and at worse bring them back to Edgar Street for a replay”
A crowd of 24,259 were at the City Ground that afternoon and the Hereford players received a standing ovation from both sets of supporters at full time, the Bulls would then return to league action and finish the season in 17th position.
Heritage wraps up the story with these words “The support from the Hereford fans was fantastic. The whole day was my highlight as a footballer, it will live with me forever”
Line Ups- Nottingham Forest – Mark Crossley, Gary Charles, Stuart Pearce, Des Walker, Darren Wassell, Roy Keane, Kingsley Black, Scot Gemmill, Lee Glover, Teddy Sheringham, Ian Woan, Sub Gary Crosby
Hereford – Tony Elliott, Steve McIntyre, Greg Downs, Andy Theodosiou, Steve Devine, Steve Lowndes, Derek Hall, Simon Brain, Peter Heritage, Nigel Vaughan, Meshach Wade, Sub Chris Fry
*Photos supplied by Ron Parrott & MH Archive