Matt Healey continues the series.
Affectionately known as the “Wing Commander” Peter Heritage was born on the 8th November 1960. His footballing career started out as a part time player at a host of non league clubs in the south east. These included Albion United, Bexhill Town, Tonbridge Angels and Hythe Town.
He became a Football League player for the first time just before his 29th birthday when Gillingham paid Hythe Town around £30,000 for his services. He was nicknamed Hagar the Horrible after a character in the Sun Newspaper.
Heritage had scored for Gillingham at Edgar Street in a 1-1 draw on the 19th September 1990.
He scored 11 goals in 66 appearances at the Priestfield. I asked how he ended up at Edgar Street.
Heritage told me “At the time Gillingham had just signed David Crown who was a big signing and I was becoming a substitute a lot more regularly. I spoke to Damian Richardson the Gillingham manager, this was a bit new to me with football now being my main job. I said to Damian that I wanted to play regularly, he put my name out there and I had the chance to sign on loan for Hereford United, it felt right and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so when the club wanted to sign me permanently I upped sticks and moved to Hereford”
Heritage would score his first Hereford goal in a 3-2 home loss to Chesterfield on the 9th April 1991.
Colin Addison had signed Heritage initially but it was the manager during the 1991/1992 season that he clicked with the most. John Sillett returned to Hereford after having great success at the club in the 1970’s
“John was fantastic. I played under his brother Peter at Hastings United, John was the type of manager who told you how it was and I had total respect for him, we had lots conversations about everything, not including football, his demeanor and everything about him was fantastic, You knew where you stood with him, if we played on Saturday he didn’t say too much after the game, he would do the team talk on the following Monday, he always demanded 100%, he made things simple, he was a terrific person, he loved Hereford”
Hereford started the 1991/1992 season well. Heritage and Simon Brain were forming a decent goal scoring partnership.
Heritage opened the scoring against his old club Gillingham in a 2-0 win on the 4th September 1991.
There was another goal in a 2-0 win over the now Premier League club Burnley.
Heritage and Simon Brain both scored in a 2-1 win over York City on the 17th September 1991 which sent the Bulls to the top of the league.
Heritage is full of plaudits for his former strike partner “Brainy was fantastic, big striker small striker partnership. Brainy made more goals for me than I did for him, really sharp in the box, a really lovely chap, it was a brilliant team and he was big part of that, a slightly more quieter character, but got on with it no fuss”
Hereford were top of the league and it was sunshine and rainbows reverberating around Edgar Street. Heritage was the October 1991 player of the month.
Hereford though would plummet down the table and were mid table by November. “We were flying and had a dip in form, we just faded away and there was no change in effort from us all, to this day I can’t put my finger on it”
Hereford would have success in the FA Cup, Atherstone, Aylesbury and Woking were dispatched. It was a trip to top flight Nottingham Forest in the 4th round played on Sunday 26th January 1992.
“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”
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. The support from the Hereford fans was fantastic. The whole day was my highlight as a footballer, it will live with me forever”
Hereford would bravely lose 2-0 in front of a crowd of 24,259.
Heritage would score an equalizer during a 1-1 draw with Mansfield Town on the 15th February 1992.
The talk at the start of the season was promotion and championships, but Hereford ended the season in 17th position. The season had ended badly with four defeats on the bounce. Heritage would receive a red card in a 2-1 loss to Northampton in the final game of the season.
Heritage would leave the club that summer and signed for Doncaster Rovers, he then returned home to Kent and played for a few non league clubs in that area. He currently works as a projects manager and is still involved in football as the coach at Hastings United. He is also an active member of the Hereford United Facebook group.