The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

All time greatest F A cup giant killings

Number 17

 

Hereford United 2-1 Newcastle United
 
Third Round replay: Saturday February 5th 1972 {After Extra Time}

Attendance: 14,313       

Scorers: Malcolm MacDonald {82}, Ronnie Radford {85}, Ricky George {103}     

Ranked at the time: 8

The 1972 Winter Olympics were under way in Sapporo, Japan, though no Briton would even come close to winning a medal, The British embassy and several British owned businesses were attacked by outraged Dubliners in the wake of Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, T-Rex knocked the New Seekers off the top of the pop charts with Telegram Sam, Nicholas Parsons began hosting the quiz of the week from Norwich, Sale of The Century and John Wayne was Will Anderson, a rancher who is forced to hire a team of School boys to help him drive his cattle in 'The Cowboys'

At St James' Park, struggling First Division Newcastle were finally getting the go ahead for their cup third round tie against Southern League Hereford United after a waterlogged pitch had forced the game to be postponed twice but what a shock the 39,000 fans, which included 5,000 traveling Bulls fans were in for. Just seventeen seconds had elapsed when Brian Owen fired the visitors into the lead but it wasn't to last long and Malcolm MacDonald and John Tudor turned the game around in thirteen minutes and that looked like being the end of a grand day out until Hereford player-manager, Colin Addison fired in a long range effort to force a replay at their tiny Edgar Street ground.

The game yet again fell foul of the weather on three occasions before it was finally played on Fourth round day and of course Hereford won, hence the story of this game appearing on this website. When measured against other cupsets there are ties where a much larger gulf in class has been bridged, or where the underdog has gone to the home of the giant and slayed them in their own back yard or indeed occasions where the giant has not just been beaten but destroyed, which explains why this tie is listed outside the top ten of cupsets. So why is it that this game consistently wins fan polls as the most famous cupset of all time, beating those dozen or so ties that in the cold light of day were clearly greater in merit?

Perhaps because it had elements that can never be measured by a statistician. It had mud, lots of mud, a quagmire in fact. It had a ground filled well beyond its capacity, a First Division team full of players with much greater ability than they seemed capable of displaying come Saturday and a striker, noted as something of an ego and quoted as saying he would score ten goals at Edgar Street. The ties rated more highly had elements of this but perhaps none has combined them all to create every schoolboy's perfect imagining of what a cupset should look like. Oh yes, there was also the small matter of it producing the goal of the season as well.

At the start of the 1971/72 season Hereford United were a little heard of Southern League club, save for the fact they had been managed for the last four years by the Welsh legend, John Charles. His time had been spent assembling a team good enough to break down the closed shop that was the Football League. By August 1971 they had a side that could probably have held its own in the Third Division, never mind the Fourth and yet Edgar Street was preparing for yet another non League campaign.

One of Charles' first signings was Alan Jones from Second Division Swansea, while Fred Potter arrived to keep goal in 1970, having found his top flight opportunities limited at Aston Villa. Charles had inherited local boy made good, Roger Griffiths to join club captain, Tony Gough and vice captain, Mick McLoughlin. The goal scoring hero was Billy Meadows, whose chances in front of goal could only be helped by Charles' class of 1971 when he signed Dudley Tyler, a promising player who had been passed over by many better clubs due to his having a hole in his heart. Ronnie Radford and Ricky George came from the lower divisions of the Football League while the signing that really got the crowd buzzing was the highly experienced former Sheffield United defender, Ken Mallender. And yet, with the season barely a month old, Charles walked away from Edgar Street. In early October his replacement brought more excitement to the club. Colin Addison had been a fans favourite in the 1960s at First Division Nottingham Forest where he scored over sixty League goals before attracting the attentions of Arsenal. Injuries badly hampered his time at Highbury and he moved on to Sheffield United where he ended his top flight career before taking the management opportunity at Edgar Street. Addison signed on as a player as well as manager.

Addison's task was to achieve something neither Charles nor any of his predecessors had. To win the Southern League, a feat which had earned Cambridge United a place in the Football League two years earlier. By the time the club entered the F A Cup in October the League was already developing into a two horse race with Chelmsford City. Hereford entered the cup in the fourth qualifying round and Cheltenham were disposed off with relative ease to earn a place in the First round proper where King's Lynn were a much tougher option, a replay deciding the tie. Fourth Division Northampton were next up in the second round where Hereford's cup run looked to be ending before a last gasp equaliser from Ken Mallender forced extra time in a second replay. Extra time was required before Dudley Tyler won the tie and earned a trip to First Division Newcastle United.

The Magpies were under the charge of Joe Harvey, a member of their great Cup winning side of the 1950s, who had returned to restore the club's fortunes after relegation in 1961. He achieved promotion at the first attempt before establishing the Magpies as an unremarkable mid table side through the 1960s. His greatest moment had been steering them to Victory in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1969. In the summer of 1971 Harvey sold his top scorer, Pop Robson and brought in the mercurial talent of Malcolm MacDonald. At first it was anything but successful. Goals from any players were scarce and after fifteen games they had won just twice and were bottom of the First Division until MacDonald clicked into gear. By the time Hereford came to St James' Park for their twice postponed third round cup tie MacDonald's goals had helped see the side enjoy a good Christmas to climb out of the relegation zone. Super Mac was still to win his first England cap at that stage but three of his team mates, Northern Ireland's David Craig and Scottish duo, Bobby Moncur and Tony Green were Internationals. And so it was these two sides that left the field ninety minutes later tied at 2-2 and facing a replay at Edgar Street.

It was as hard to get the replay off the ground as it was the first tie. Edgar Street was a marsh of a pitch that failed the referee's inspection three times, leaving Newcastle, and their traveling fans with three long and wasted journeys. In the meantime The Magpies played just one game, a draw at Huddersfield to add to two victories in January, a three game unbeaten run that was their best of the season so far. Meanwhile it was decided to stage the cup tie on fourth round tie, a huge disappointment for the Hereford board who had been looking forward to a rare occasion in the spotlight, literally as they had hoped to be featured on TV's midweek Sportsnight programme. Now the game was buried to the role of tiny bit part against much more mouth watering ties in round four. Newcastle had booked into a hotel in Worcester after the third midweek postponement and stayed there for three days waiting for the Saturday. Local reporters took the opportunity to get quotes with Malcolm MacDonald being reported as stating that he intended to break Ted MacDougall's ten goal record haul for an F A cup tie.

The Hereford players and fans needed little more firing up than after reading those comments and were determined to make Super Mac eat his words. While Newcastle left their hotel, looking every bit the First Division stars, the Hereford players made their own way to the ground. Ricky George was fortunate that he was able to get a lift from his friend, John Motson, an up and coming commentator who had been given the brief to cover the game for BBC's Match of the Day programme. It wouldn't be much though. The powers that be having sent main commentators, David Coleman and Barry Davies elsewhere for more enticing fourth round ties. Motson, regarded as lacking the experience for the big games, would get five minutes at best on that night's show.

Edgar Street was full to bursting by kick off, with ropes placed in front of the two terraces behind the goal to use up as much extra space as possible. Hundreds of Parka clad youngsters took their position on the touchline between the terrace and the ropes, unaware of the iconic role they had yet to play. And then the roar went up as the home side, unchanged from the first tie, took to the field. Newcastle emerged a few seconds later, clad in all red and with the services of Bobby Moncur and Viv Busby restored to the side, having missed the first game. Malcolm MacDonald and his team mates warmed up, many of them testing the pitch with their boots, almost as a statement of intent that this was not what they were used to. The ground was playable but only just. It wouldn't take much Football to cut the middle of the ground up.

Referee Dennis Turner got the game underway as Newcastle kicked off, quickly sending the ball all the way back to keeper McFaul who launched it forward. Ominously Malcolm MacDonald latched onto it as Radford was unable to head clear and raced towards goal with only Potter to beat. The keeper was brave to race out and smother the opportunity before MacDonald could get a shot away but even in these first seconds it came at a cost as Roger Griffiths was left in agony after colliding with his keeper. The defender needed lengthy treatment before continuing with only the occasional limp giving it away that he was playing through the pain barrier.

The first half was rapidly turning into a tale of two forwards. At one end, Malcolm MacDonald's every touch was met with howls of derision from the home fans who delighted every time he misplaced a pass, lost the ball or failed to trouble Potter. He was becoming an increasingly annoyed figure, arguing with the referee, his team mates and opponents alike. At the other end the stand out player in white was Dudley Tyler, whose speed and control was giving the Newcastle back line plenty to think about. Twice McFaul was forced into saves from long range efforts, albeit both were comfortable, though he made a meal of the latter, almost spilling it at the feet of the onrushing Billy Meadows.

Hereford had so far given a good account but they should have been behind after thirty-eight minutes, ironically after the referee had rightly disallowed a Newcastle goal when MacDonald's looping header dropped into the goal after John Tudor had rushed in and baulked Potter as he waited to gather the ball. Potter's clearance from the free kick was a poor one, launched straight back into the penalty area by Terry Hibbett. McLoughlin got there first but could only smash a clearance off John Tudor, the ball arcing over a helpless Potter before crashing off the bar. Terry Hibbett was first to react and was presented with an open goal but from all of ten yards he somehow lashed the ball high, and yet again against the bar. McLoughlin redeemed himself by ensuring MacDonald was unable to steer the ball goalwards for a third time.

The half time whistle came at a good time for Hereford as Newcastle had been starting to impose themselves on the game. Colin Addison would later claim however that his half time team talk was probably easier than his counterpart, Jim Harvey, merely reminding his players that they had put in a good shift and largely contained Newcastle. 

Containment didn't appear to be the agenda for the second half though as Hereford came out with a new sense of purpose while their opponents didn't seem to come out at all. Again it was Dudley Tyler pulling the strings in the early minutes as he twisted and turned his way through the Newcastle defence and forced a good stop from McFaul. The resultant corner was also taken by Tyler, having to clear a path through the pitchside spectators before swinging in a great ball that Mallender headed goalwards. For a moment the crowd in the Kop prepared to unleash a roar of delight at the opening goal only for the noise to change to a gasp of despair as the ball cannoned back off a post before Jones lashed the rebound narrowly wide. Edgar Street was rocking and so, it seemed, were Newcastle. Another great chance was spurned when Tyler yet again fed in a dangerous cross and for a moment it seemed certain that Gough would stroke the ball home from barely four yards out. The pitch, seen by all as the great leveller was the thing that let them down as the ball skipped up off the uneven surface at the key moment to cause Gough to miscue his shot and allow a grateful McFaul to pluck the looping effort out of the air.

As the half wore on it began to appear as if Hereford has missed their golden chance. Newcastle settled and Tudor and Hibbett in particular began to find space to exploit as the home side appeared to tire. From a corner, MacDonald headed goalwards and even the slightest touch from Viv Busby would have driven the ball past Potter into the net. Fortunately for Hereford the keeper remained undistracted and gathered the ball cleanly. Newcastle were now first to everything and a through ball from Hibbett sent MacDonald clean through. He rounded the keeper with ease and the whole stadium held their breath and waited for the inevitable sound of the leather on net. A howl of delight erupted when SuperMac contrived to drive the shot high and wide of the empty net with his body language, as he walked away, telling it's own story. The relieved crowd rubbed salt into his wounded pride with a chorus of 'What a load of rubbish.'

The chiding of the Newcastle striker had hardly died when he took the best revenge a striker can. Potter's goal kick was sent straight back upfield to Viv Busby who took the ball into the corner before drifting in a pin point cross, which was perfect for MacDonald to head into the net. The Newcastle striker roared as his frustration was ended and the crowd silenced briefly and while they tried to raise the home team with a chant of Hereford! Hereford! The gut feeling among everyone off and on the pitch however was that, with just eight minutes remaining, Newcastle had broken Hereford's resistance and would now simply see out the remaining time to book a fourth round tie with West Ham.

Believing the tie was over, Colin Addison called for Roger Griffiths to be given a well deserved rest, the defender having played eighty minutes in increasing pain of an undiagnosed broken leg. Ricky George was brought on to provide the fresh legs but while his team mates carried the look of a beaten team, heads down and hands on hips, George came on pumping his fist and barking encouragement. He had stood on the touchline thinking that his long career had been largely disappointing from his point of view and that if he was ever going to do anything memorable in the sport he had eight minutes to do it. The effect was almost instant. 

Yet again Dudley Tyler, surely the unsung hero of this cupset was at the centre as he had a half chance, which yet again increased the noise levels of the crowd. Newcastle cleared but Ricky George was determined to get his kit as dirty as his team mates before the game was out and he dashed in, harrying Green and Busby until the two gave him the ball, Mallender lofted it into the box but yet again it was cleared as the BBC's John Motson complimented them on their tremendous spirit and determination not to give up.

Ronnie Radford was epitomising this as he went into a challenge with John Tudor just inside the Newcastle half. The Hereford man emerged with the ball and slid it forward to Owen who teed it back to Radford with only one thought in his mind. The ball sat up just right for the crispest of strikes. Years later Colin Addison, standing a few yards away from Radford said "I didn't need to look. I knew exactly where the ball was going the minute it left Ronnie's foot." By contrast Radford would later claim "It could so easily have gone into orbit." But it didn't. The ball flew like an arrow and while Willie McFaul did his best to look like a keeper making a valiant effort to save, he, nor any other keeper on earth, was getting anywhere near it. The ball crashed into the top right corner of the net for what, without any shadow of a doubt has become the most famous goal ever scored in a giant killing act.

The images would become the most iconic too as a flying Willie McFaul groped in vain, fellow Ulsterman, David Craig doubled over, head in hands, Alan Jones and Billy Meadows, both caked in mud, hurled their arms aloft in delight and the fans in the kop rose in euphoria. Then the tiny retaining rope broke and the youngsters, exploded onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes. When the pitch was cleared there were still five minutes of normal time that were played out to a crescendo of noise as the Hereford kop did it's best to resemble its more famous namesake on Merseyside. On the pitch meanwhile both teams seemed a little shell shocked by events with neither side able to muster anything resembling a cohesive attacking move. The final whistle brought the players back to a sense of reality and was accompanied by a roar that might have suggested to anyone outside the ground that Hereford had won. It mattered little though to the fans for whom, just taking Newcastle this far was a moral victory. Whatever MacDonald and co mustered in the thirty minutes that were to follow it would be of no consequence as tiny Hereford had already silenced any boasts that had been suggested before kick off.

As Hereford kicked off the first period of extra time the pitch was now the main enemy to both sides as ninety minutes of hard graft had left the centre, in particular, badly cut up and muddy. With fading light and aching limbs, the players could be forgiven for the game becoming scrappy and neither keeper was being overly troubled but as the interval approached it was the non league side who were moving onto the front foot, gaining a free kick near the corner flag when Ronnie Radford was fouled. With so many players committed to attack, Hereford were almost caught out as the ball was cleared out to Hibbett who made for goal with MacDonald in support and only Ken Mallender back to try and stop them. The ground fell silent as Hibbett slid the ball to the unmarked striker but yet again Supermac fluffed his lines at the vital moment, miscontrolling his first touch and being forced wide before hitting a tame shot that Potter smothered with ease. The last time MacDonald had missed a gilt edged chance he made amends within a minute, this time he was made to pay as the keeper sent Dudley Tyler back on the attack. His ball into the box wasn't a great one but he had the strength of mind keep running and make a crucial interception to keep the attack alive. Tyler slid the ball out to Radford before offering himself up at the edge of the box. for his performance on the day Tyler deserved to score but his shot was never going to be strong enough to beat McFaul. Instead it fell to Ricky George just inside the box who controlled the ball before turning with what seemed like the entire penalty area to himself and shooting hard and low into McFaul's net.

[image below - Ricky George [centre white shirt] watches on as his shot is heading past McFaul and into the net. Dudly Tyler [left] and Billy Meadows [right] watch on. Frank Clark, Bobby Moncur and Pat Howard are the stricken Newcastle players.]

Once again there was a scene of pandemonium as the fans poured onto the pitch to share the joy of the players and a chorus of we shall not be moved rang out when the referee was finally able to complete the two remaining minutes of the first period of extra time. The second period of extra time was physical as well as mental agony for many of the Hereford players as the effects of cramp began to take hold. Owen and Meadows in particular were now little more than passengers, forced to hobble up and down the field, having given so much to the non league side's cause during the game. Newcastle though could not create a meaningful attack as launched hopeful balls were always met by a defensive clearance. As the minutes ticked away Newcastle threw almost everyone into a bid to try and save the tie and were almost caught again as Owen, Tyler, Meadows and George combined to finish them off but in a desperate scramble could not find the killer touch between them to stab home the goal that would have ended the tension. 

For the fans it was now all eyes on the referee, willing him to put the final nail in Newcastle's coffin before they could save themselves. Red shirts were packed into the Hereford penalty area, desperate for the right ball to present a chance but it never came and the Hereford players were mobbed by the crowd when the result was settled. Suddenly a game that was meant to be a footnote of fourth round day became the headline story and Match of the Day changed their running order to ensure that the game covered by the trainee, John Motson was now top of the bill. The game would launch the career of a commentator who three years later covered his first F A cup Final.

The Newcastle players didn't know it at the time but they, above every top flight side to be humbled before or since, would never be allowed to forget their day at Edgar Street. In the short term it actually turned a relegation threatened season into a half decent mid table one as Newcastle went unbeaten in their next five top flight games, perhaps spurred on by the knowledge of how badly they had let their fans down. Seven of the team would go on to take the Magpies to the cup final in 1974, though yet again Malcolm MacDonald made the mistake of boasting about what he intended to do to the opposition.

 [image below -celebration time in the Hereford dressing room after the game]

Hereford had little time to celebrate. They had to prepare for the visit of West Ham, a top flight side who were going through a tricky period and were sliding down the Division. Confidence wasn't high at Upton Park and it showed as a team including Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Clyde Best, Frank Lampard and Pop Robson struggled to get to grips with the conditions at Edgar Street. 15,000 fans were packed in to see Colin Addison's side put in a second half display that had everything but the goal they deserved. Yet again Dudley Tyler was the stand out player in a Hereford side that again were mobbed at the final whistle, though this time the sense of disappointment and feeling of missed opportunity was palpable.

The replay was a throwback to the days a generation earlier when ties were played in the afternoon, power strikes having made an evening kick off impossible. Over 50,000 people skipped off work or school to see the tie on Monday February 14th, with a good 10,000 of them being shut out of the over flowing stadium but there was to be no happy Valentine for the Bulls as Geoff Hurst found his shooting boots to score a hat-trick in a 3-1 win that West Ham deserved against a dogged but tired looking Southern league side.

Hereford may have been out of the cup but the impact would go far beyond a Monday afternoon defeat at Upton Park. Their bid to win the Southern League yet again ultimately proved unsuccessful, finishing runners up but there was no doubt that Hereford had enough media exposure to make them a real prospect in the Football League election voting. These were the days when the bottom four in the League would go up against a host of leading Non League sides as the chairmen of the Football league clubs cast their vote on who should stay or go. In an era where the League was a closed shop, election of a new side was rare. Hereford were easily the most popular non league side in the voting but even then they could only tie with the fourth of the League sides, Barrow. The two teams went head to head in a second ballot, which Hereford this time won. Addison's side would take their place in the Fourth Division the following season.

They were so good they won promotion at the first attempt and went on to win the Third Division in 1976, and drew West Ham in the F A cup again while at that level, and this time beat them! Sadly most of the side that had rocked Newcastle to its foundations had moved on by that stage. Dudley Tyler, easily the stand out player of the ties, impressed West Ham so much that they bought him, though sadly it didn't work out for him at Upton Park and he returned to Edgar Street with one First Division goal to add to his career. Keeper, Fred Potter struggled to keep his place in the League side but he was re-establishing himself as first choice when a broken leg ended his career in August 1973. Roger Griffiths opted against joining his team mates as a full time pro and remained in Non League Football. Ken Mallender, Tony Gough and Alan Jones were all regulars in the side that won promotion to Division Three with Mallender and Jones later moving on to play in the United States. Manager Colin Addison also remained as manager of the side that won promotion from Division Four at the first attempt but then promptly left to embark on a career managing a host of clubs world wide.

For winning goal scorer, Ricky George this was, as he had hoped, the golden moment of his career and he was happy to wish his team mates well in their League campaign as he returned to Barnet to stay in non League Football. He remained a good friend of commentator John Motson and in the 1990s attempted to convince him to buy a share in a race horse. Motson declined but was still delighted for George when he and his fellow owners enjoyed the glory of seeing their horse, Earth Summit, win the 1998 Grand National steeplechase at Aintree and would later write a book entitled 'One goal, one horse'.

It is often mistaken that Ronnie Radford scored the winner and not George, so often has Ronnie's rocket been shown on television. The goal became the first goal from a cup tie to be voted the Match of the Day goal of the season and earned it a place in the opening titles of the programme for years to come. It still gets pulled from the archives almost every year without exception around third round day and is relived as the perfect example of what an F A cupset should look like.

The fans have often been polled and pick this as the most famous cupset of all time. Of course though being the most famous doesn't make it the biggest and how Ron Atkinson must wish his Oxford team were filmed in colour by the BBC. How Ray Crawford must wish the Layer road pitch had been muddy and How Mickey Thomas must wish Arsenal's shirts were not so awful that they should never be seen on film again. Who can say exactly what it is that has elevated this above all others? Hereford fans can rightly argue that they don't care if there have been bigger cupsets, this is the most famous without any question.  

Hereford: 1:Fred Potter, 2:Roger Griffiths [Sub 12: Ricky George -83], 3:Ken Mallender, 4:Alan Jones, 5:Mick McLoughlin, 6:Colin Addison [player-manager], 7:Tony Gough, 8:Dudley Tyler, 9:Billy Meadows, 10:Brian Owen, 11: Ronnie Radford   
 
Newcastle:1:Willie McFaul, 2:David Craig, 3:Frank Clark, 4:Irving Nattrass, 5:Pat Howard, 6:Bobby Moncur, 7:Viv Busby, 8:Tony Green, 9:Malcolm MacDonald, 10:John Tudor, 11:Terry Hibbett, Manager:Joe Harvey