Matt Healey continues the series.
Simon Travis was born in Preston on the 22nd March 1977. He played in the Football League with Torquay United and Stockport County in the 1990’s, but then switched to the part game and played in the GM Vauxhall Conference for Telford United, Forest Green and Stevenage. He joined Hereford United in February 2004.
Travis tells me “I was at Stevenage and the manager there was Graham Westley, he was previously at Farnborough and bought most of the squad over. We didn’t really see eye to eye so we came to a mutual agreement and I left. I was going to sign for the “Mad Dog” Martin Allen at Barnet. It was like staring into the eyes of a bulldog, we had talks and I agreed to sign for him, on the way to officially sign the contract I had a phonecall from Graham Turner at Hereford United, he persuaded me to turn the car around and come and meet him”
Travis continues “I always admired Hereford United and I knew that Graham would suit me as a manager, I never responded well to a ranter or a raver. Hereford always played nice attractive football and my gut feeling was to sign for the club”
I asked Travis how Martin Allen reacted “It was a hard conversation” Travis laughs, “It was very brief, but the irony is a few weeks later Allen quit Barnet and joined Brentford, so I definitely made the right choice”
Travis made his Hereford debut in a 1-0 loss to Woking on the 21st February 2004, the team would then go on an amazing eleven game winning run “We just seemed to go on a roll, we felt invincible and didn’t think we would be beat”
Hereford would face Aldershot in a two legged Play Off Semi Final. Hereford had finished 21 points ahead of the Shots in the league table, this would count for nothing in the two matches.
Hereford went to the Recreation Ground and drew 1-1 in the 1st leg.
In the 2nd leg Hereford would lose 4-2 on penalties, the game ended 0-0 after Extra Time. Hereford had played most of the game with ten men after defender Andy Tretton was controversially sent off by referee Andy Woolmer. “We had put our heart and soul into it, we had come so close, it was horrible going out in those circumstances”
Travis would sign a new contract ahead of the 2004/2005 season.
“I was enjoying my time at Hereford and I knew we would be up there again, we lost a few players that summer but we did well finishing 2nd with the amount of players who left us”
As well as losing many key players, the Bulls lost coach Richard O’Kelly who linked up with Bournemouth. John Trewick came in to replace him. I asked Travis how they compared. “Well John had a much better tan and loved a sit up session, they both had a great knowledge of football, both gentlemen and I had plenty of respect for both of them”
Travis scored his first Hereford goal in an opening day 3-1 win over Farnborough on the 14th August 2004 and he made over 40 league and cup appearances that campaign.
Hereford would finish 2nd for the 2nd year running and it would be Stevenage in the Play Offs. “They were my former team and I think they targeted me in the 1st leg, DCB put us in the lead, but we drew 1-1 down there”
The Bulls would lose 1-0 in the 2nd leg at Edgar Street.
“We fell short on the day, it was another horrible experience”
Travis signed a new contract for the 2005/2006 season, but suffered an horrific injury playing for England in the Four Nations tournament. “Me, Craig Stanley and Adam Stansfield were representing England. we were playing Ireland and I was chasing the ball. The Irish centre half clattered into me and I had ended up with a collapsed lung”. Travis continues “I was in hospital in Cork for a week, but the FA looked after me”
I asked Travis his memories of the late Adam Stansfield “He gave everything, he wore his heart on his sleeve, he was always positive and had a great family. He reminds me of Jamie Vardy as he would just run and run”
Travis would undergo a hernia operation that summer, so didn’t appear for the side until the November.
“The management kept us very calm as we didn’t have the best of starts, we were settled and in a good place and just carried on with what we were doing, we had a bit more experience in the squad”
Hereford finished 2nd for the 3rd season in a row and would face Morecambe in the Play Offs this time around “Myself, Jamie Pitman, Rob Purdie and Ryan Green had suffered the heartbreak twice before, we had to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, we drew 1-1 with Morecambe away and that was the score in the previous games against Aldershot and Stevenage, but when we played at Edgar Street we did enough and came through 3-2 winners”
It was off to Leicester to play Halifax Town on the 20th May 2006 for a place in the Football League.
“It was a shame the game wasn’t at Wembley, but it was still a day to remember, we were 2-1 down and Guy Ipoua made it 2-2”
It was a seductive cross from Travis that set up Ipoua for the equaliser “I put the ball in, but Guy still had a lot to do, I loved Guy, he had tremendous ability, he could blow hot and cold, but on his day he was unstoppable, he had that extra bit of ability that got us over the line”
Ryan Green would then win the game in Extra Time and a 3-2 victory meant Hereford were back in the Football League.
Travis would sign a new one year deal for the 2006/2007 campaign.
“It was a step up, but we played a 5-3-2 formation which I really enjoyed, it was great season for me and I played over 40 games”
Travis nearly departed on transfer deadline to Stockport County. “It all came out of the blue. I knew the Stockport manager Jim Gannon from my first spell there, he offered me a fantastic contract, but I didn’t want to uproot my family up north. I was enjoying my football at Edgar Street, we struggled the last couple of months of the season, but I knew we would kick on next year”
Travis was offered terms for the 2007/2008 campaign, but he left the club that summer, the Hereford rumour mill was rife about a fax not going through and I asked Travis what happened “Yes that’s true. I was on holiday and faxed over to the club that I would sign a new deal, the club then denied they received the fax, it was a really sad and sour way for things to end. The club then rescinded the contract and wouldn’t return my phone calls. I wanted to accept the contract and stay as a Hereford player. I ended up going to the FA and taking the club to a tribunal. I won and received a payout”
Many Hereford supporters were upset that Travis left the club, but he bears no grudges “It was a long time ago now and I met Graham (Turner) at Rob Purdie’s testimonial and it was great to see him again, people operate in different ways and looking back it helped me in my current career. I was 30/31 back then and I knew I wasn’t going to go any higher in football. When I left Hereford I got accepted to the police force and played part time for the likes of Nuneaton and Leamington so was earning two incomes”
Travis continues “I work for Thames Valley Police now and based in Banbury. I’m a detective now, but will be a detective sergeant soon. I miss the camaraderie of football, but in the police force we have a team spirit too”
I asked Travis if he ever gets recognized by football fans in his new profession “Funnily enough it has happened. I was over in Worcester and was working with the custody sergeant over there and he saw that my name was Simon Travis, he started saying “The Simon Travis” multiple times”. Travis continues “It turns out he was a Hereford fan and had a tattoo of the Hereford United badge on his leg, I had to sign an autograph for him”
Hereford FC face Hornchurch on the 22nd May 2021 in the FA Trophy Final. Travis will be watching the game “I’m off work next weekend so will sit down and watch the match. The only connection I have with the current club is Daniel Carey-Bertram who is the fitness coach. I know of Steve Burr as he was manager at Nuneaton when we played them. I hope Hereford can win the match and I will be cheering them on”
Photos supplied by MH Archive, Ellie Woolstenholmes, Bulls News, Andy Compton, Hereford Journal