Matt Healey continues the series.
Alexandre “Alex” Jeannin was born in Troyes in the country of France on the 30th December 1977. He started his football career at his hometown club of Troyes and spells at Racing Club Paris, Darlington, RCS La Chapelle, Exeter City, Bristol Rovers took his career to the summer of 2005.
He joined Hereford on a two year contract replacing the previous left back Mark Robinson who had joined Stockport County. Jeannin told me how he arrived at Edgar Street.
“I was always impressed with Hereford when I played against them for Exeter City. I remember watching them beat Dagenham and Redbridge 9-0 live on TV and they were absolutely brilliant that night. John Trewick (Hereford Coach) got in contact and we spoke a few times, he invited me to Hereford to meet Graham Turner (Hereford Manager), the discussions went well, Graham told me he wanted me to play as an attacking left back and that he wanted the club to get promotion, it all looked great so I signed a two year contract at Edgar Street”
Jeannin embraced life in Hereford and moved to the city “Playing in England always surprised me as a lot of players would be travelling two-three hours to get to training. In France when a player signs for a club they would move to the city and I always did that when I signed for a team. I had a flat in the centre near to Marks and Spencer so I was very central to everything”
The previous two seasons Hereford had just fallen short in the play offs, with defeats to Aldershot and Stevenage, Many supporters felt that the club needed a bit more experience and when the club signed Jeannin along with Guy Ipoua, Jon Brady and Stacy Coldicott the squad was a lot more streetwise.
Ipoua and Jeannin struck up a friendship “Guy was from Cameroon but the native language in the country was French and we clicked, we had a really good team spirit, most of the players lived in the city, we socialised in Hereford with the fans, it bought everybody together and it was very important”
Jeannin scored his first Hereford goal in a 1-0 win away at Tamworth on the 29th August 2005. “I remember that, it was a hot day and I scored with a header in front of our fans”
The Bulls had an inconsistent start to the 2005/2006 season. Injuries to Ipoua and Adam Stansfield didn’t help, another striker called Graham Evans wasn’t up to par and the arrival of loanee Mat Bailey from Crewe didn’t pay dividends. By early October a 2-1 defeat away at Accrington meant Hereford were stuck in mid table.
Youngster Andy Williams was thrown into the starting eleven and started scoring goals. Ipoua and Stansfield were now back and getting on the scoresheet too. The team started to turn the corner after that and faced Jeannin’s old club Exeter City on the 30th December 2005 which was on the day of his 28th birthday. The Grecians were above Hereford and the game was screened live on SKY. Exeter took the lead, but Guy Ipoua equalised. Jeannin then had the responsibility of a free kick near the end of the first half.
“I still laugh now watching it on Youtube, Jamie Pitman misjudged what the plan was and he played me an awful ball, but that confused the Exeter defence. The idea was for me to run and strike the ball, what happened was I ended up curling the ball with my left foot and it deceived the goalkeeper and went in”
Guy Ipoua was then sent off in the celebrations “I still don’t know what the referee was doing, he apparently sent Guy off for pointing at my shirt, but with ten men we got the win, it was a big game and we made a statement winning that match and Exeter fell away after that, but we pushed on and never really looked back”
Hereford finished 2nd in the Nationwide Conference and would face the dreaded Play Offs for the 3rd season in a row, the Bulls would face Morecambe over two legs. “It was extremely tense, we went there and got a 1-1 draw in the 1st leg, then in the return game at Edgar Street it was 2-2 and went to Extra Time, Ipoua scored the winner and we got to the final, both games were really good. Morecambe were a decent side, but we had that extra bit of quality”
It had been a shade over nine years since Hereford were relegated from the Football League, on the 20th May 2006 Hereford faced Halifax Town at the Walkers Stadium in Leicester for a place in the Football League. The city was buzzing.
“Building up to the game there were flags everywhere. Every time I went out people were talking to me about the game, the Hereford fans were telling me we had to win and I wasn’t going to disappoint them”
In a dramatic game Hereford came from behind twice to beat the Shaymen 3-2 after Extra Time “It was amazing seeing 10,000 Hereford fans there, it was a great game for the neutral, but was very tense, I would have preferred a nice easy 4-0 win, but Ryan Green got us the winner near the end, we all had severe cramp when the final whistle was blown”
When the Bulls lifted the trophy Jeannin sprinted off with the silverware to the adoring Hereford fans “I think it was the fastest I had ever run, but all the emotion and the feelings came out and I wanted to share it with the supporters”
Jeannin recalls the celebrations “We had champagne in the dressing room, then we went up to the hospitality boxes and had food and more drink, by the time we got on the coach to take us back to Hereford I was drunk, we were singing on the coach and as soon as we got back we went out to Play Nightclub in our tracksuits, those were really good days and the celebrations went on for the next week”
Hereford would be a Football League club for the 2006/2007 season but an accumulation of yellow cards the season before meant that Jeannin was hit with a three game ban “Graham had signed Martyn Giles and he started the season as left back, I had to bide my time and I didn’t really feature until mid October”
Around that time Hereford had signed two loan midfielders. John Eustace joined from Stoke and Neil MacKenzie from Scunthorpe United and their influence helped hugely. “We switched from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 and that helped me as I was an attacking left back, we had Simon Travis on the other side and we bombed forward, I remember we had a really good run, beating the likes of MK Dons, Swindon and Acrrington in the league, plus we beat Shrewsbury and Port Vale and reached the 3rd round of the FA Cup. I was player of the month for November too”
Jeannin scored his last Hereford goal in a 1-1 draw at home to Torquay United on the 9th December 2006. “I didn’t play much after that, I was always speaking to Graham Turner about why I wasn’t selected, he was always fair with me and explained why I wasn’t included”
Jeannin would leave the club before the season ended “I got a settlement on my contract and left around March 2007 to join Oxford United, I was sad to leave and I really enjoyed my time at Hereford.
Jeannin played for plenty of clubs in his career and I asked him how Graham Turner ranks amongst the managers he has played for “Graham was a character, he had so much experience, he loved Hereford United and when you look back he took a non league club to League One, I don’t think the Hereford fans realised how good he was until he had left, my time at Hereford was one of the best of my career, we had such a good team spirit and the city got behind us”
Jeannin later played for Kidderminster Harriers, Mansfield Town, Truro City and Weymouth.
Two years ago Jeannin returned to Hereford for the Rob Purdie testimonial “That’s gone fast, it was great to see everyone again, I played about seventy minutes and it was a great occasion for Rob, maybe we can have a twenty year reunion in 2026 when Covid has gone, I saw Guy Ipoua in France the other week, he’s not as fast as he was” Jeannin tells me with a chuckle.
I tell Jeannin that Saxtys will be re-opening soon “Guy will definitely come back then if thats the case”
Hereford FC will face Hornchurch on the 22nd May in the FA Trophy final “I try and keep an eye on what’s going on at the club through Social Media and I’m planning on watching the game, I’m currently working as a scout for Lyon. I left PSG last year and couldn’t turn down the opportunity at Lyon. I watch around 8-10 games a week and even though there is lots of travelling it’s really enjoyable and I love it”
*Photos supplied by Ellie Woolstenholmes, Andy Compton, Bulls News, Lee Mills & MH Archive*