We continue the series by focusing on one of my favourite players during the 1990’s. Derek Hall joined Hereford United from Halifax Town in the Summer of 1991. John Sillett had returned to Edgar Street as manager, and knew Hall from their time together at Coventry City.

(c) MH Hereford United Archive

Hall speaks highly of the former FA Cup winner “Probably one of the best managers I ever played for. He was wonderful, we knew each other from Coventry, so it was an easy decision to join”

Hall’s first season was inconsistent. He made his debut in a 1-0 opening day away win at Wrexham, but struggled with fitness and being in and out of the team “We started well, were top of the league, but it went downhill. I struggled with injuries, and couldn’t get going. To this day I can’t work out what went wrong with our form” “We did though have a great cup run, and played Nottingham Forest in the 4th round. The supporters really got behind us”.

Hall’s former colleague Peter Heritage fondly tells me a story about the Nottingham Forest game “Derek went into Roy Keane with a crunching tackle…..and a little kick. Keane responded by saying “you can’t do that, do you know who I am” Derek replied “I don’t care who you fu*king are, i’ll kick who i want”

Heritage added “Derek bought the dressing room closer together, he led from the front, and didn’t settle for 2nd best”

Greg Downs replaced Sillett has manager in the Summer of 1992, “Greg was wonderful, really nice guy, really good coach, but he was trying to do everything, he had no assistant, he was also playing, and the club didn’t give him enough support”

Hall revelled under the management of Downs. He didn’t score in his first season, but Downs encouraged him to get forward. He scored his first Hereford goal against his former club Torquay United in a 3-1 win on the 17th October 1992, and plenty more goals followed.

The goals of Hall and Owen Pickard secured Hereford United’s Football League membership. A run of one loss in the last 10 games pushed the club into 17th position. The final game of the season was against Halifax Town. Hall scored the only goal in a 1-0 win. Halifax were relegated that afternoon to the GM Vauxhall Conference “It was a surreal moment, I had a great time at Halifax as a player, and I had plenty of friends up there, when i scored the goal you could hear a pin drop, it was crazy”

The next season Hall continued as club captain. Hereford started badly and lost their first four league games, but mainly due to Hall and Chris Pike’s goals the club avoided finishing bottom of the league. Derek was proud to be Hereford United captain, and would regularly host player barbecues at his house.

Derek Hall – February 1993

Dave Morris was signed from Bournemouth in February 1993 and told us “Derek always threw a good party, but he was a fantastic leader, and scored some vital goals for us”

Hall was voted player of the year at the end of the 1993/1994 season.

(c) MH Archive

“I was really thriving playing for Greg Downs , and thought things would only get better”. Things though changed after a meeting with Managing Director Robin Fry

“The club were talking about offering me a two year contract, I was really settled, player of the year, I just wanted a bit of security, me and my wife Sally had a lovely house in Bishops Frome, and I wanted to stay at Hereford. Robin called me in and offered me a one year contract with no negotiation. I went home really disappointed, two weeks later I was sold to Rochdale for ¬£10,000”

Despite moving back to his native Manchester, Hall didn’t really settle at Rochdale, only playing 23 games in two years, and spent time out on loan at Altrincham. Towards the end of his 2nd year at Spotland he had his most profitable run in the first team and played against Hereford as a Rochdale player during the final game of the 1995/1996 season. Hereford needed to win to make the 3rd Division Play offs, and did so with a 2-0 win, goals from Nicky Cross and Steve White.

Nearly 6,000 supporters were packed into Edgar Street that spring afternoon”It was a strange moment that day, Hereford had come through some bad times, but was great seeing the supporters so happy, I had a great relationship with the Hereford fans, it was brilliant to see Edgar Street packed out”

Hall then retired from full time football, and played for various non league clubs around Manchester including Curzon Ashton and Hyde. He then emigrated to Australia in the early 2000’s.

“We love living in Australia, we have a great life over here. I run a football academy out here in Adelaide”.

Due to the power of social media Hall is still in contact with his former Hereford United colleagues. “I love anything to do with Hereford, there were some fantastic players and friends that I can now keep in touch with. Its great to speak and share memories”

Peter Heritage seconds that “Its been great for us all to be reunited, hopefully we can catch up soon, lets hope Derek can afford the plane fare from Australia ūüėČ “