Matt Healey continues the series
Murray Fishlock was born on the 23rd September 1973 in Marlborough which is in the county of Wiltshire. He started out as a YTS at Swindon Town, but was not offered a full time contract. He subsequently joined Gloucester City in 1992.
After two seasons with the Tigers he moved closer to home and linked up with Trowbridge. It was from there he was spotted by Hereford United Manager John Layton and would make the move to Edgar Street.
Fishlock told me how he became a Hereford player “Trowbridge were in the Beazer Homes League, which is now National League South/North. My manager then was a chap called Steve Rutter and he told me Hereford were interested in signing me. I played a reserve match for them against Swansea City, that was on the Wednesday. I was invited for training on the Friday”
Hereford were due to play Scunthorpe United on the 1st October 1994. “I was told to come to the Scunthorpe game. I didn’t know that I was playing until I arrived. I thought I did ok and we won 2-1”
Three days later Fishlock would be playing against Premier League opposition in the Coca Cola Cup. “We had Nottingham Forest at home on Tuesday, the likes of Stan Collymore and Steve Stone were playing who were England internationals at the time. I got picked and we drew 0-0 in front of a bumper crowd. We lost the game 2-1 on aggregate, but it was a complete whirlwind. A couple of weeks before I was at university in Bristol playing non league and now I was up against top flight players. After the game Robin Fry (Managing Director) and John Layton offered me a two year contract which I signed straightaway”
Fishlock put in a main of the match performance and his late tackle towards the end of the game earnt him plenty of plaudits.
Fishlock stayed in the side until December, but broke his toe in a 4-2 loss at Preston on the 10th December 1994. He returned briefly in the March of 1995, but another injury meant his season was finished.
John Layton would depart that summer and Graham Turner arrived as manager.
“John was great, he gave me my chance, Graham Turner had an aura about him, he had been at Wolves and Aston Villa, he commanded that respect, he got us very organised, he made a big impact”
Fishlock scored his first Hereford goal in a 2-2 draw away at Cambridge on the 19th August 1995.
Fishlock would share left back duties with Kevin Lloyd. Hereford had an inconsistent start to the season, but the goals of Steve White would propel the club in to the play offs. Fishlock and White knew each other from their Swindon Town days
“Steve knocked in the goals then, he was brilliant, he just told me to keep crossing the ball in the box and that he would do the rest, he was one of the best finishers I had ever seen”
Fishlock was on the scoresheet in a 2-2 draw away at Preston on the 27th February 1996.
Hereford surged into the Play Offs, but were defeated 4-2 over two legs by Darlington. Fishlock played in both of the matches.
“We had a good season, we beat Plymouth twice, but Darlington beat us twice in the league, maybe if we got one of the others we would have got to the final at Wembley, Darlington had the likes of Sean Gregan and Robbie Blake who later played in the Premier League, we had a lot of experience in our squad, but it was a shame we couldn’t get it over the line and win promotion for the fans”
The Hereford squad would have major surgery during the 1996/1997 close season. Fishlock would stay at Edgar Street and signed a new two year contract.
“We lost the experience, the likes of Steve White, Nicky Cross, Tony Pounder and Richard Wilkins had all gone, they were probably near the end of their careers, but still could do a job, I thought we would have a good season, it just didn’t fall for us and then the financial problems started to creep in. We got relegated and that was horrific for everybody”
Fishlock made 29 league starts during the 1996/1997 campaign, but injury meant he would miss the relegation showdown with Brighton. He would be a non league player for the 1997/1998 season, but showed loyalty by remaining at Edgar Street.
Fishlock made 48 league and cup appearances as the Bulls experienced life in the GM Vauxhall Conference. He got on the scoresheet in a 2-2 draw with Sittingbourne in the 4th qualifying round of the FA Cup on the 25th October 1997.
He was also involved in the 2-1 win over Brighton in the FA Cup 1st round. Fishlock had missed the relegation showdown six months earlier.
Hereford reached the 3rd round of the FA Cup, but had a disappointing league campaign. Halifax Town and the goals of Geoff Horsfield ran away with it.
“It was tough, there was an expectation, everybody wanted to beat us, every game was like a cup final, it was a lot more physical and direct, the pitches weren’t as good, it was a big adjustment, we started poorly, but as the season went on, we would have achieved a play off place under the current rules”
Hereford would finish the season in 6th position. It was off to pastures new during the 1998 close season. “I was offered another contract but decided to move to Yeovil, I had a couple of seasons down there, but had injury problems. I tried to make a comeback at the likes of Melksham and Chippenham, but decided to retire”
Fishlock currently works for the Football Foundation and ironically lives near Brighton.
Photos supplied by Ron Parrott, MH Archive and Talking Bull