Hitchin Town face everyone's favourites Hereford FC as boss Burke shares FA Cup memories of Edgar Street
PUBLISHED: 13:07 17 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:07 17 November 2017
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Hitchin Town's visit to old friends Hereford has rekindled a host of memories for boss Mark Burke this week.
Burke is looking forward to taking his Canaries to evocative Edgar Street on Saturday for their Evo-Stik Southern Premier League match.
While Bulls boss Peter Beadle and Burke will rightly be battling each other for the three points on the pitch, off it, the fixture will jog happy memories from those Top Field regulars who will recall the sides’ FA Cup clash in the mid-90s.
During the 1994-95 season, Hitchin were paired away from home with the-then Division Three side Hereford United in the first round proper of the FA Cup – and Burkey played in the game.
Speaking to CometSport he said: “It was exciting. It was the first time we’d reached the first round proper for about 20 years and we drew a league club which was new to us.
“We treated it as a day out. We had a meal before and after in the hotel and turned up to the ground.”
Burkey chuckled when recounting the scoreline: “We took a 2-0 lead into half-time having played really well in the first half and scoring two really good goals, which were highlighted on Sky Sports by Andy Gray.
“They came back at us in the second half and got a 2-2 draw. That set up the replay in Hitchin, which was another memorable night. Fortunately we got a result and won 4-2.”
The Canaries were knocked out 5-0 in the second round by Division Two side Wycombe Wanderers at home, who themselves went on to be knocked out by Premier League side West Ham United.
The sides will meet for the first time in a league fixture on Saturday with many eagerly-anticipating the game which will be played at Hereford’s 5,000 capacity Edgar Street.
With the Bulls boasting a superb average attendance of 2,381 – more than five times higher than Top Field’s average attendance – there promises to be a special atmosphere in the ground near the Welsh borders.
Burke said: “It’s a big occasion for the club, I hope the boys will be up for it, I’m looking for them to thrive.
“The players could freeze and the occasion could be a bit too big for them but I don’t think that will happen, I think they’ll embrace it and enjoy the experience and go there to get a result.
“They’ve a similar crowd and a similar setup to what they had when we played them in the FA Cup.”
Hereford FC rose from the ashes of the old Hereford United, who folded in 2014 due to financial troubles – and with their rich tradition and heritage are a league club in all but name.
The Bulls captured the hearts of millions across the land in 1972 when they became the first non-league club since 1949 to beat a top flight side, thanks to Ronnie Radford’s wonder goal in their 2-1 win over Newcastle United – in a match which also launched the career of BBC football commentator John Motson.
Motty’s joy and wonder at Radford’s superb long range strike – on a bobbly Edgar Street pitch devoid of grass – propelled Hereford and the commentator into the national consciousness.
The club were elected into the Football League as part of their heroics and have been widely-loved ever since, even rising to the old Second Division – now The Championship – before their sad fall.
However the club are on the rise again and sit fifth in the league, eight points ahead of 11th placed Hitchin.
Burke added: “I hope my players will rise to the occasion – I’ll be happy if we can come away with a similar sort of result to the mid 90s.”