Fifty years ago when FA Amateur Cup winners and Isthmian League champions Wimbledon FC decided to turn semi-professional, the London club was admitted to the Southern League Division One (the lower of its two divisions). I started following the Dons at Plough Lane from that 1964/65 season onwards. With two great strikers, Wembley hero Eddie Reynolds and Gerry O’Rourke, they performed really well in their first season. Only one club was better: Hereford United, table toppers with a record number of points and goals (Albert Derrick: 37). Both sides were promoted to the Southern League Premier division.
Both Wimbledon and Hereford as non-league sides gained a reputation as giant killers in the FA Cup. In 1971/72 after a 2-2 draw with First Division Newcastle United at St James Park in the FA Cup third round, the teams met again at Edgar Street in a much postponed replay. After taking a late lead through Malcolm MacDonald, Newcastle looked certain to progress. However, a Ronnie Radford goal for the Bulls sent the tie into extra time. Substitute Ricky George’s winner gave Hereford a famous 2-1 win, the first time a non-league side had beaten a First Division club since 1949. Three years later Wimbledon beat Burnley in the same round and went on to take Leeds to a replay in the fourth round. So the clubs have much in common, both of them going on to join the Football League.
Whereas the Dons have been reformed as a supporters-owned club, AFC Wimbledon, that climbed through the non-league ranks to regain league status, Hereford have had severe problems. Now the Football Association has announced that Hereford United FC which was playing in the Southern League Premier Division (Evo-Stik League) haswbeen suspended from all football activity.
A statement from the FA says that the club and its officer, John McCarthy, had been ordered last month to comply fully and correctly with their obligations under the Owners’ and Directors’ Test Regulations by 4pm on Thursday 4th December. Following consideration of a document submitted by the club, the Independent Regulatory Commission gave the parties until 4pm on Monday 8th December to submit further documentation to satisfy the orders of the Commission. Having failed to provide the requested further documentation by the deadline, both Hereford United and Mr McCarthy shall remain suspended until such time as the order of the Independent Regulatory Commission has been complied with to the satisfaction of the Commission.
The FA says it understands the importance of football clubs to their local communities and will continue to work with all relevant parties to ensure senior football returns to Hereford at the earliest opportunity, although this will be contingent on the club complying with the Regulations and subsequent orders of the Independent Regulatory Commission.