Hereford United vs Newcastle United – From the Archives


“One of the biggest FA Cup shocks then and people still talk about it 40 years on.” – John Motson – Hereford Times, February 2012

From the Archives is a series I have started in which we look back at some of the greatest football matches ever played.

You can expect features of some of the most thrilling and entertaining FA Cup ties from every round, until the final at Wembley on May 23.

As the Third Round Proper approaches this weekend, let’s go back to February 1972, when Hereford took on Newcastle United. This was (and remains) one of the biggest upsets of the competition and also the match which introduced the public to legendary BBC commentator, John Motson.

Before we get into the game, a little bit of context. The home side was playing in the Southern Football League; the fifth tier of English football, compared to Newcastle, who like they are today in 2020, were in the top flight. Despite being four divisions apart, the non-league side took them to a replay, following a 2-2 draw at St. James Park.

It was a sellout crowd at Edgar Street, with supporters sat almost everywhere just to get a glimpse of the match, walls, floodlight poles and even nearby trees.

Hereford Chance – Credit – Chronicle Live

The Magpies starting line up that afternoon included huge names, such as their skipper, Bobby Moncur, future European Cup Winner, Frank Clark and their two marksmen, John Tudor, and “SuperMac”, Malcolm Macdonald.

Hereford despite competing in non-league hailed a team with plenty of experience in the Football League, including goalkeeper Fred Potter, defenders Roger Griffiths and Ken Mallander, and forward Colin Addison.

It was the visitors Newcastle who expectedly started the match as the stronger outfit. A mistimed header from Bulls’ midfielder Ronnie Radford played in Malcolm Macdonald, which forced Potter into an early save.

Macdonald then thought he put the Divison One side in front after his header looped over Potter, but the goal was disallowed as it appeared that Tudor had fouled the Hereford shot-stopper.

Then before the break, a moment of madness, defender Mick McLaughlin’s clearance ricocheted onto Tudor which hit the crossbar and fell into the path of the Toon’s, Terry Hibbitt. With Potter tangled in the net, it looked like it would be 1-0 to the away side, but Hibbitt too hit the crossbar. Macdonald tried to follow up with a header but McLaughlin was there to clear the ball away to safety; something the Welshman thought he had done ten seconds before.

Hereford were battling hard and had some good opportunities too. The pick of the bunch was when the Geordie’s ‘keeper Willie McFaul struggled to hold onto a powerful 25-yard attempt from Dudley Tyler. But the game went in 0-0 at the interval.

The hosts started the second half well. From a corner, they could have drawn first blood, after Ken Mallinder’s header hit the frame of the goal, the rebound fell to teammate Alan Jones who put his shot wide.

But with seven minutes before time, Newcastle got the breakthrough. “SuperMac” leapt onto a ball crossed by Viv Busby which, despite the best efforts of Potter, sailed into the roof of his net. The visitors were ahead and looked to be heading to round four.

But what happened next was truly remarkable. Hereford refused to give up and their grit, spirit and determination paid off. A challenge from Ronnie Radford on Tudor from almost halfway prevented a potential Newcastle attack. Radford played a one-two with Tyler and his shot rifled into the top corner.

Hereford Supporters Invading the pitch
Credit – Chronicle Live

The ground erupted, Radford celebrated with his arms in the air, surrounded by his teammate Ricky George and a handful of Hereford supporters who had run onto the pitch in excitement. 1-1 and the game went into extra-time.

In the 103rd minute of the match, Hereford scored again. Tyler released Ricky George, whose attempt found the net. The crowd once again hugging the goalscorer and invaded the pitch in jubilation. The fifth tiered side had flipped the script against all odds.

The hosts held on for a historic victory and following the full-time whistle, the fans raced onto the pitch in celebration of their sides win. Radford and George, writing their names into Hereford Folklore.

The Bulls went on be knocked out in the fourth round by West Ham United, whom they also took to a replay. They also won election to the Football League that season. (Clubs were elected rather than automatically promoted from the Conference those days).

Two years after their surprising exit, Newcastle reached the FA Cup final in which they were beaten by Liverpool, 3-0 at Wembley.






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