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Hereford Hero: Steve Emery

Hereford Hero: Steve Emery
Steve Emery is assured of a place in the history of Hereford United as he became the clubs first ever apprentice when the Bulls were elected to the Football League, and was also the first Hereford player to be sold for a fee of 100,000 when he was transferred to Derby County.

Steve made his debut for United just after his 16th birthday in March 1972, in a Border Counties League match against Worcester City at Edgar Street. Three months later when the club were elevated to the Fourth Division he was invited by the then Bulls boss Colin Addison to join the groundstaff as an apprentice. He had caught the eye playing for Ledbury Town when he was a member of the Herefordshire youth team.

He quickly established himself in the reserve side and eventually made his first team debut after his 18th birthday at Cambridge United on February 17th 1974, and the following season he became a regular.

When the Bulls won the Third Division Championship in the 1975/76 season he missed only one league match and was rated as the best right-back in the division by his fellow professionals in the PFA. His speed and skill contributed to the United's Championship success, not forgetting his thunderbolt shooting, especially from set-pieces. One of his most memorable free-kicks was a stunning strike which rocketed into the roof of the Cardiff City net in a 4-1 victory in front of an Edgar Street crowd of 12,962. That win was all the more satisfying as the Bulls went top of the Third Division table for the first time in their history.

Steve was expected to play a starring role in the Second Division campaign the following term but cruelly broke his knee-cap in a pre-season friendly and this proved to be a disastrous blow. Manager John Sillett missed his services for three months due to the injury and then Steve caught german measels which restricted him to just 19 appearances all season. Sillett used no less than seven different right-backs in an effort to replace him before he returned to fitness. Indeed, United only lost one of their last nine Second Division matches when Emery was back in the starting line-up.

At the beginning of the 1979/80 season he became the first United player to make 200 league appearances before Mike Bailey, the then Bulls boss, agreed a 100,000 fee with Derby County where he re-joined Colin Addison. In a deal which brought Dave Rylands to Hereford from Liverpool, the Reds had first call on Emery but they had just signed Phil Neal and so the Derby manager Addison stepped in quickly.

Three years later Steve was stretchered off with a broken leg at Rotherham in 1982 and whilst undertaking rehabilitation stamina work he broke it again on the terraces at the Baseball Ground. A spell with Addison at Newport County came to nothing in March 1983, but John Newman then offered Emery the chance of a comeback at Edgar Street. After a successful three month trial Steve's hard work earned him a full contract back with Hereford United.

Emery played in 72 of the clubs next 92 league matches with all of his old verve and enthusiasm. Dixie McNeil then signed Emery for his Wrexham side in May 1985 but the old injury jinx struck again when he broke an ankle at Southend. This finally ended a tremendous league career but Steve continued in non-league circles with Gloucester City, Westfields and Ledbury Town.

Steve was also an excellent cricketer and captained Ledbury CC for many years, doubling up as manager of Ledbury Town during the 1990s.

Writer:Colin Green
Date:Wednesday August 13 2008
Time: 4:37PM

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