FFA Cup analysis: Redlands, Gully do a 'Hereford'

When you talk about #MagicOfTheCup there is one story from the English FA Cup that epitomises what this really means.

Over 40 years ago, there was a small club based in a picturesque part of the English countryside called Hereford United.

Their Edgar Street ground was a typical non-league ground, this one tree-lined with some fans perched on branches for vantage points. 

The pitch cut up in winter like minced meat but it was a club big in heart and with an enthusiastic local fan-base following a team with a never-say-die spirit.

Heroford toiled away in Southern League football, their players local heroes at best.

The Bulls’ biggest day came when they were drawn against English First Division (then the top league in England) glamour club Newcastle United in the English FA Cup third round. 

Surely, with “SuperMac” – English goal-scoring machine Malcolm McDonald – and other international players there was no way the Geordies would lose to opposition five leagues lower?

With a 2-2 draw in the first leg forcing a replay at their Edgar Road ground, and playing in an unusual plum coloured away kit, Newcastle were expected to smash Hereford.

The replay was jinxed for the big boys, it being postponed on a number of occasions before finally going ahead in February of 1972.

But for much of the game they toiled away on the heavy pitch failing to put away the hosts. 

Newcastle finally made Hereford pay with a late goal to McDonald on 82 minutes. It looked like normal service would resume. The goal was greeted by silence around the ground.

Green Gully celebrate their win over the Mariners in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32.

But like Redlands and Green Gully, Hereford had heart, the sort of heart that attracts a nation of fans.

And what happened next is still talked about.

Hereford pulled off a miraculous comeback making heroes of the hitherto unknown duo of Ronnie Radford and Ricky George.

Radford’s equaliser just three minutes after McDonald’s header has been replayed endlessly (it sparked incredible scenes with the fans jumping the flimsy rope fencing and celebrating on the increasingly muddy pitch).

His long-range screamer was hit perfectly, despite the pitch being a mud patch with players barely able to stay on their feet. 

And in extra time, a shell-shocked Newcastle conceded a second through sub George’s low shot from inside the box.

Cue pandemonium as the non-league boys did the seemingly impossible.

In the UK, they still talk about Hereford. It was the stuff of legends. It was a thrilling day.

And it’s all on YouTube with commentary from a then new voice: John Motson. Watch it. Enjoy it. It'll add to your understanding of the FFA Cup and why it's so special. 

Redlands United and Green Gully have replicated Hereford. 

Like Hereford, both games ending 2-1 after miraculous and late comeback victories.

Hereford had Radford and George, Green Gully has Liam Boland and Daniel Jones; Redlands have Michael Lee and Paul O'Brien.

Cup wrap: Match Day 3

The electrician that sparked Cup upset

Canberra happy to win ugly

What’s exciting for Australia is there’ll be kids watching Redlands and Gully who’ll become lifelong fans of football because of the night they defeated the big boys from the A-League. 

And some will even want to be a Liam Boland or a Paul O'Brien, sparking their own dreams of playing careers. 

Gully and Redlands are the toast of Australia this week. Their Cup glories pure sporting theatre, not concocted TV marketing. 

Over 40 years on from Hereford and it's clear the drama of local heroes knocking off the big boys remains as electrifying and riveting as ever. 

So congratulations to our new Cup heroes from Gully and Redlands. 

Just another reason to love and understand what #MagicOfTheCup really means in our FFA Cup. 

Redplands players celebrate