Matt Healey continues the series.

Quentin Townsend was born in Worcester on the 13th February 1977. He signed as a YTS originally for Wolverhampton Wanderers and then agreed a one year professional contract. He would sign for Hereford United after his release from Molineux in the Summer of 1996.

The Hereford United squad had major surgery that close season. The previous campaign the club had reached the Third Division Play Offs (Now League Two), but the likes of Steve White, Richard Wilkins, Tony James, Nicky Cross and Neil Lyne had moved on, and as well as Townsend the new intake at Edgar Street included Dave Norton, Adrian Foster, Gavin Mahon and Ian Foster, whereas Chris Hargreaves and Andy deBont who had been on loan the previous campaign had now signed permanently.

Hereford United 1996/1997 Team Photograph

I asked Townsend how the move to Hereford transpired.

“Graham Turner was my manager at Wolves in my first year at YTS, so he remembered me from of old, so when I was released by Wolves and available on a free transfer he came in for me with chief scout Ron Jukes and I signed, I was really excited as I wanted to play in the Football League”

Townsend made his Football League debut for Hereford against Fulham on the 17th August. In a scorching hot afternoon in London the Bulls would be defeated 1-0 by a Mike Conroy goal.

“It was a fantastic atmosphere, a hot day on the banks of the River Thames, all my family came down to watch, my childhood dream in playing in the Football League came true, bar from the result it was a great day”

Hereford started the season playing a 5-3-2 formation, wing backs Dave Norton and Murray Fishlock were complimented with three central defenders in Townsend, John Brough and Dean Smith. Townsend started the first eight games. The lack of goals was Hereford’s Achilles heal and it was obvious the team was missing the 33 goals that top scorer Steve White (who departed to Cardiff City) had banged in the previous campaign.

Colchester United 1-1 Hereford United – 31st August 1996

Townsends sadly had a match to forget in a 4-0 drubbing at Swansea City on the 10th September 1996. He would be substituted during the first half.

“The Swansea game at the Vetch wasn’t my finest hour. I was marking Steve Torpey who outjumped me twice to score a couple of goals, I then gave away a penalty, it was my naivety back then, the Swansea game highlighted some weaknesses and would ultimately cost me my place in the first team”

Townsend also played in the 7-0 1st leg drubbing away to Premier League Middlesbrough in the 2nd round of the Coca Cola Cup, “I thought I did well in that game against the likes of Fabrizio Ravanelli, Emerson and Juninho, I still have the tape of the match at home and me and the kids will watch it every so often”

Hereford the previous season had reached the 3rd Division play offs, but despite heavy investment the club were bottom of the league at the end of September 1996.

Townsend made his final appearance for Hereford coming off the bench as The Bulls beat Rochdale 3-0 on the 21st September 1996. He would make the substitutes bench a couple of times in November 1996 and again three times during March 1997, back then only three substitutes were allowed to be named, so to gain experience Townsend spent some time on loan at Worcester City who then were played in the Dr Martens League which was two steps below Hereford.

“We had the likes of myself, Gavin Mahon and Ian Foster who were around 18/19. Graham (Turner) thought it was a bit inexperienced, so he bought in a couple of central defenders in Nicky Law and Trevor Matthewson, but the season just seemed to go from bad to worst”

Hereford were tragically relegated from the Football League on 3rd May 1997. In an end of season shootout. The final game of the season was against Brighton. To stay in the Football League Hereford needed to win. Brighton needed a win or a draw. The game ended 1-1.

Despite accruing 47 points, which would normally most seasons keep you up. It was sods law that in the 1996/1997 season the rules had changed.

Usually when a team is level on points, the usual system of goal difference would kick in, but that season it was changed to goals scored, and with Hereford scoring less than Brighton, and with both clubs level on 47 points, Hereford went down by just 3 goals. If it had been on goal difference then the Bulls would have survived.

Townsend added “I went on loan to Worcester City for a spell, I played a few games for my hometown club, Graham (Turner) had made up his mind that I probably wasn’t the right type of signing. I knew I could earn good money playing semi-professionally and combine it with a career away from the game, so I left Hereford in the summer and had a really enjoyable time non league with the likes of Worcester City, Bromsgrove Rovers, Cinderford Town , Stourbridge and Stourport Swifts”

I ask him if he still speaks to anybody from his time at Hereford.

“Gavin Mahon is one of my best friends, i’ve crossed paths with the likes of John Brough, Phil Preedy and Ian Foster over the years, we had a good set of lads at the club”

Townsend is now the manager of Stourport Swifts and works as a sales manager.

*Interview taken from audio recorded in 2018, photos supplied by MH Archive, Ron Parrott and Quentin Townsend.