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Flashback - 'The Bulls Bow Out'

Flashback - 'The Bulls Bow Out'
Orient 1 Hereford United 1

A last-minute goal by Jimmy Lindsay earned the Bulls a point from their Second Division swan-song when they drew with Orient at Brisbane Road way back in May 1977.

This brought the Bulls total of points from their last nine games, of which they only lost once, to 12.

However, the draw at Brisbane Road was not enough to hoist United off the bottom of the table, as they would have had to have won by a three-goal margin to have achieved that, but the result gave Orient a fighting chance of avoiding relegation themselves. Orient needed another draw in their final match against Hull City to draw level on points with Carlisle United. And they duly did so!

The Cumbrians were thus relegated on goal difference and accompanied Plymouth Argyle and Hereford United down into the Third Division.

Orient's gate was a modest 4,956 but their fans gave them vociferous support, and with time running out, they must have felt that left-back Bill Roffey's 40th minute goal would give them victory ensuring Second Division football at Brisbane Road for another season without the need for another game.

They were stunned into silence, however, when in the final minute Kevin Sheedy slanted a low cross through the home defence from the right flank for Jimmy Lindsay to push the ball home from close range.

Not that Orient could claim with any justification that they had been robbed. After exerting a lot of pressure in the first half, the home side surrendered the initiative to the Bulls in the second period and overall a draw was a fair result.

In fact, there was an element of luck about Orient's goal. Roffey fired in a 25-yard shot which bounced in front of goalkeeper Tommy Hughes and spun viciously past him into the net.

Hughes was in no doubt that the cricket season had overlapped with the end of the soccer campaign, as the previous week had seen a similar shot from Blackpool's Trevor Finnegan beat him with an awkward bounce. Orient had pitch problems with the surface bumpy and heavily sanded. United's boss John Sillett (pictured) commented: 'Edgar Street is pretty bad, but I think Orient's pitch is in an even worse state.'

The Bulls manager was none too pleased at his sides first half showing but he said: 'They picked themselves up in the second period and played some good football on the difficult surface. I thought we well deserved a point, and another four would certainly have saved us from relegation.

'We have paid dearly for throwing away home points after being in winning positions on so many occasions this season.'

Orient: Jackson; Grealish, Roffey, Bennett, Gray; Roeder, Chiedozie, Glover, Mayo; Allen, Whittle. Sub. Fisher.

Hereford United: Tommy Hughes; Steve Emery, Steve Ritchie, Julian Marshall, Derek Jefferson; Jimmy Lindsay, Roy Carter, Les Briley, Kevin Sheedy; Colin Sinclair, Dixie McNeil. Sub. Peter Spiring.

Attendance: 4,956

Referee: Mr L.C. Shapter (Devon)

The Bulls bowed out of the Second Division with every reason to believe that they might have made the grade if they had adjusted themselves earlier to the demands of the league.

Beaten just once in the last nine games, their end of season rating placed them as one of the section's top three form teams.

The clubs first, and to date, only, taste of Second Division football was not the disaster some critics suggested. Indeed, in 84 seasons since the Second Division had been formed, only five teams who had finished bottom of the table had collected more points than Hereford achieved, but it was not enough!

Indeed, in 10 of the seasons since the War, United's total would have been good enough to have avoided relegation, and the Bulls scored more goals than 11 teams placed above them!


Second Division - Bottom Half - Final Table 1976/77

Blackburn 39
Oldham Ath 38
Hull City 37
Bristol Rov 37
Burnley 36
Fulham 35
Cardiff City 34
Orient 34

Carlisle U 34
Plymouth 32
Hereford U 31

Writer:Colin Green
Date:Monday August 4 2008
Time: 7:08PM

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