Matt Healey continues the series.
Steve “Woody” Devine was born in Strabane in Northern Ireland on the 11th December 1964. His professional career started at Wolverhampton Wanderers, he never played for the Black and Gold, but after leaving Molineux he appeared nine times for Derby County. After departing the Baseball Ground he had a brief spell at Stockport County.
Devine joined Hereford United in December 1985, making his debut in a 4-1 loss to Tranmere Rovers. The visitors were player managed by the late Frank Worthington and he ran the show at Edgar Street that afternoon.
I asked Devine how the move to Hereford United came about.
“I needed a club and one of my old coaches at Derby put me in touch with John Newman (Hereford manager). I played a few reserve team games at first and then signed on a non contract basis. The following season I signed a full time deal at Edgar Street”
Devine scored his first Hereford goal in a 4-1 home win over Crewe Alexandra on the 28th December 1985. He made 11 league appearances during the 1985/1986 campaign.
Devine played most of his career at Edgar Street in a left back role, but switched when needed to central defence, plus he played in a defensive midfielder role during the Greg Downs days later in his career.
The 1986/1987 season Devine showed plenty of consistency and made 40 league appearances as Hereford finished 16th in Division Four.
The next year saw popular manager John Newman leave early in the 1987 campaign. Player Coach Ian Bowyer took over as manager and Devine remained an important part of the team.
During the 1989/1990 season the club had a fantastic FA Cup run and reached the 4th round of the competition. The Bulls would face top flight Manchester United at Edgar Street.
“I remember the Manchester United game clearly, I can’t tell you who we beat in the run, but I do remember the match was in doubt due to the bad weather, but we gave a great account of ourselves and it was a shame to lose near the end, the Hereford supporters were absolutely fantastic”
Devine would have cup success later that season, but in the Welsh Cup. “We played some obscure teams on the lead up to the final, it was a really big occasion for us. I just remember the Hereford fans enjoying themselves and I had plenty of my family at the Arms Park, it was a warm day and we won the game 2-1 against Wrexham”
It was Devine’s cross that set up Ian Benbow for the winner. Benbow remembers his former Hereford colleague fondly “He was a great guy, loyal and a really good friend”
Devine would win the 1991/1992 Hereford United player of the year award and you can see the footage of him picking up the trophy below.
Devine made 272 Football League appearances for Hereford United and scored 4 goals. Sadly there isn’t any footage of him scoring for the club. He played under John Newman, Ian Bowyer, Colin Addison, John Sillett and Greg Downs during his eight seasons at Edgar Street. He would sadly leave the Bulls in the Spring of 1993.
“It was a strange one. I was offered a new contract at the club around Christmas 1992 and Greg said he would arrange it properly a few weeks later, we were in a bit of a relegation battle and it had got to the last month of the season and Greg eventually made me a offer, but it was for less money than what I was on. I had been at the club a long time and had recently got married and wanted to move back to Derbyshire. It turned out well for me as I came out of full time football and went part time at Corby Town. I then studied at university. It was a good decision as I was 28/29 at the time and needed to think about my future away from the game. I got a degree and by playing part time I was still involved in football, so by mistake I made the right move, as I didn’t want to come out of the Football League at the time, but long term it worked out well for me as I got an education and helped me achieve a career when I retired from the game”
Devine spent a season at Corby, then switched to Hednesford Town and was part of the team that was promoted to the GM Vauxhall Conference in 1996. He stayed at Keys Park for three seasons and later had a spell at Gresley Rovers . He joined Derby County as a sports therapist and then had a stint at Nottingham Forest as a Physio, he is now back working at Derby County.
I asked Devine if he still speaks to any of his former Hereford United colleagues
“It was funny as when I moved back to Derby. I was living next door to Russell Bradley for a few years. I still speak to Gary Bowyer and I have come across Ian Benbow and Mel Pejic in recent times”
Devine was an incredibly popular figure amongst supporters and colleagues at Edgar Street. A model professional who hopefully will be returning to Hereford FC as a guest next season.
*Photos supplied by Ron Parrott, MH Archive and Russell Bradley