Friday, 29 May 2015

Ronnie Radford: Hereford Hero

The great thing about the FA Cup is that its exalted status hasn't come about solely because of the Final. The Final is merely the the cherry on the cake, the signature on the masterpiece. The reason that the words 'FA Cup' have become so venerable is because of the goals and the memories that are gathered each year, all the way from the first qualifying round to the conclusion at Wembley. Some goals add to the legend, whereas some become legendary in their own right.

If ever the dreams and the aspirations of everyone that's ever kicked a football were made manifest in a single moment, it must surely be the one that resulted in Ronnie Radford scoring against Newcastle United in 1972. Radford, a part-time player and a joiner by trade, had helped his Hereford United side earn a draw at St James' Park in the Third Round of the FA Cup in February that year. The replay became Hereford's own Cup Final - the culmination of a campaign that had begun in the Fourth Qualifying Round and now, in its seventh match, saw them play Newcastle United of the Football League First Division.

Hereford United were a Southern League side at the time, no match for the likes of Malcolm Macdonald, Frank Clark, Bobby Moncur and their ilk - or so it was thought. Ronnie Radford was just one of the white-shirted brigade for whom football was not a means of generating an income. It was a game, an engaging challenge for the mind and body that provided a release from the day job once a week, every Saturday.

What happened in that Third Round replay has cemented the name of Ronnie Radford into the foundations that today's FA Cup is built upon. His goal, as relentlessly accurate as an archer's arrow hitting the dead-centre of a bullseye, is rightly repeated and relished often and without apology. It is the goal every man Jack of us would've wanted to score, a thirty-yard bullet that crushed the spirit of Joe Harvey's men in an instant. It sent the game into extra time, whereupon Ricky George delivered his own fatal blow to finish off the Tynesiders.

It is a rare occasion when the simple actions of one man make him a local hero forever, but Ronnie Radford has managed to keep his feet on the ground ever since. Humble but grateful, he retains the air of a man who knows how lucky he was to let fly with that thunderbolt shot 43 years ago and rightly allows himself the beaming smile he earned that day whenever he sees it.

Evidence of Ronnie Radford's enduring humility can be found in a short film that's just been released which is well worth seeing. 'The Ballad of Ronnie Radford' catches up with the Hereford hero as he reminisces about that day in February 1972 and features music from the critically-acclaimed album 'Songs About Other People' by Harry Harris. All in all, it's a delightful reminder of why football can enrich your life with great memories and why the FA Cup itself is such a fine institution.

'Songs About Other People' is out now, and Harry Harris will be touring Ireland in June with fellow collaborator Anna McIvor, after headlining the final night of Home Farm Festival on the Folkroom Records stage.

The Ballad of Ronnie Radford

Directed by: Francis Newall & Matt Diegan
Produced by: Matt Diegan
All Music: Harry Harris
Grade: Steve Atkins
Sound Mix: Robin Clarke


  1. Hi. I think the Newcastle game was in the 3rd round that year, rather than the 4th.

    1. Apologies, Popper. You're quite right, and that's now been corrected in my original article. Many thanks and sorry again for getting the details wrong.