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Hereford Hero: Ronnie Radford

Hereford Hero: Ronnie Radford
As part of the continuing growth and scope of the Vital Hereford United website we bring you the first of a weekly series in which we look back at some of the clubs Heroes & Legends.

And we begin focusing on the legendary Ronnie Radford.

Ron was born at South Elmshall in South Yorkshire on the 12th July 1943 and signed amateur forms for Sheffield Wednesday in the 1959/60 season. However, he was spotted by the Leeds United scouting system and was offered full professional terms in October 1961 and Ron made the move to Elland Road.

It proved especially difficult to break into the first team picture with Leeds United and Ron relocated to Cheltenhamwhere he persued a part-time career with the Robins as well as establishing his own carpentry and joinery business.

Having played regularly for Cheltenham Town over the next 6 years his consistent form was rewarded with a second chance in the Football League at Somerton Park, the then home of Newport County.

Ron therefore made his Football League debut at the age of 26, after signing for Newport County in July 1969, some eight years after he had first signed as a professional at Leeds. He made 66 league appearances for Newport over the next two seasons, scoring 7 goals from a right-sided midfield role.

The Bulls' manager John Charles had seen a number of the midweek matches at Newport and stepped in to sign Ron for a bargain 1,000 transfer fee in July 1971. This allowed Ron to continue as a part-time player and maintain his business in Cheltenham.

Ron quickly established himself as a regular in the United line-up and his long-range shooting came to the fore in the Southern League Premier Division long before his famous strike against Newcastle United.

However, he quite literally 'shot to fame' on the 5th February 1972 and that epic FA Cup 3rd Round replay against Newcastle at Edgar Street.

In the 82nd minute, against the run of play, a Viv Busby cross reached the head of Malcolm MacDonald which enabled the centre-forward to deflect the ball past the Hereford 'keeper Fred Potter and into the net. As the BBC commentator John Motson put it - 'that's it'.

However, the tireless Ron Radford had other ideas and proceeded to score one of the most spectacular goals ever screened on TV. He latched onto the ball in midfield and following a one-two with Brian Owen crashed the ball home from 40 yards out. His effort screamed past Liam McFaul into the top corner for the goal of a lifetime. In BBC polls subsequently Radford's strike was compared to others as the 'Goal of the Century,' and was of course the BBC 1971/72 'Goal of the Season.'

Radford's thunderbolt remains one of the most featured goals on TV giving Bulls' fans great pleasure every time it is shown.

United presented Radford with a rose-bowl as thanks for the goal, and he still keeps this in pride of place within his Yorkshire home.

The goal always brings a smile to his face, as Ron recalls:

'Apart from the rose-bowl the warmest recollections are still all in my mind.

'In midfield I pushed the ball forward to Brian, and when he gave it back I though 'ooh aye.' I always liked a sudden dig when my instinct sniffed a chance.

'You don't think about it, nor look up to place it. Just head down and good contact.

'If it's 'on' and you can see the white sticks, then have a go.

'Mind you down the years quite a few screamed over the bar, but that day I just caught it perfect.

'It flew in - but I only became famous because the telly was there.'

Ron helped Hereford United win promotion from Division Four the following season - the club's first in the Football League - and was a regular in the team that consolidated the clubs place in the Third Division in the 1973/74 season.

He later played for Worcester City and managed Ossett Albion.

'Radders' remains a carpenter recovering recently from a spell of ill-health, but was present at last seasons cup tie at Elland Road when United were once again on the FA Cup trail, and joined Ricky George and the rest of the 'Giantkillers' at a recent Sportsmans Evening in the county.

Do you have any memories of Ronnie Radford?

Drop us a line here at Vital Hereford United, it would be great to hear from you.

Writer:Colin Green
Date:Wednesday May 28 2008
Time: 2:37PM

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