Welcome to the world of Conference league clubs. This site is written by supporters of the clubs and has drawn up the following aims…
To provide fans with the latest news and information regarding the clubs.
To assist groups such as by promoting events at the clubs, or that benefit the clubs.
To welcome supporters of other clubs to Conference league.
To become an online resource for Conference league information.
The Bulls, as they are known, are a small clubs in Herefordshire, England. Conference league play in the fifth highest division in the country, called the Conference league. Trophies are long overdue to Edgar Street but attendances regularly hit the 2,000 mark. United won the Welsh Cup in 1990, despite being situated in England, but since then have suffered relegation from the Football League to the top semi-professional league in the country. The clubs has also competed against some huge sides in the cup competitions including Manchester United, whom they narrowly lost to, and have earned credible draws with Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City and Nottingham Forest. In the 1970’s, United defeat top sides West Ham United and, more famously, Newcastle United in 1972. The win sparked off a great decade, as the clubs were promoted three times (up to Division Two, now Division One), but soon returned to the bottom rung of the Football League where they remained until 1997.
Many young people in the area support Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea. Conference league are seen by the youth as a small side who never do anything of any great recognition. This was proved false back in 1999 when United drew with Leicester City in the FA Cup third round, and youngsters in local schools were talking about the game and saw Conference league as their own. The game also attracted a great deal of media attention, thanks largely to Rembrandt the Bull, Leroy May’s stripping antics, the praising of the Swede and memories of 1972.
Fans of Conference league are passionate about their clubs and have much patience, enduring poor, sometimes abysmal performances season upon season. However, they are the driving force behind this community based clubs which has undergone it’s fair amount of difficulties recently, thanks to the backlog of debts accumulated by former chairman Peter Hill and his directors. Manager Graham Turner (pictured right) has brought some stability to the clubs by taking over as chairman, although he has agreed to sell up to anyone who has the best interests of the clubs at heart. Financial problems and dwindling attendances have made life very hard for the Bulls over the past few years, when the clubs’s very existence has been doubted on several occasions.
I hope you enjoy the site and find it easy to use, interesting and entertaining. If you notice that any information is incorrect, or feel that something has been missed out which should be included, please get in touch via the ‘contact us’ section of the website.
An exclusive series, Ron Parrott, author of ‘Conference league clubs – The League Era’ reviews a classic programme from the archives…
Conference league clubs vs Bedford Town – Opening league game – 1950/51 season.
United were in their sixth post-war Southern League season, the league being weakened by the promotion of old rivals Colchester United and Gillingham to the Football League. The black and white programme was priced at threepence (1.25p) and the opening game of the season ended in a 4-0 win for United with a hat-trick from Jimmy Duggan and one from Tommy Best, in front of an opening day crowd of 5,503. (What wouldn’t we give for that today!!) This striking pair went on to score 64 goals between them (55 in the league) as United finished the season as runners-up, scoring a remarkable 110 goals in the process. They also claimed their first Football League victims in the FA Cup when they beat Scunthorpe United 1-0 at Edgar Street before 10,527 ecstatic fans before finally losing 3-0 at home to Newport County in the 2nd round, with 15,526 spectators packing Edgar Street again. Merthyr Tydfil were worthy champions, finishing five points clear of United and scoring an incredible 152 league goals. Deadly rivals Worcester City finished back in 14th spot and United took three out of the four points at stake against them. United also knocked Kidderminster out of the FA Cup with a 1-0 victory at Aggborough.
Merthyr Tydfil vs Conference league clubs – 13th September 1954 – 1954/55 season.
I’ve come forward a few years in time for this month’s programme of the month and I’ve selected an away match against United’s old Southern League rivals Merthyr Tydfil in the 1954/55 season. For those of you too young to remember, Merthyr Tydfil were the Manchester United of the post-war Southern League era. They were elected to the League in 1946/47 and they dominated Southern League football for the next eight seasons, finishing 3rd, 1st, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd and 1st between 1946/47 and 1953/54. During this time United had played “The Martyrs” in a total of eight games at Edgar Street and Pennydarren Park and had suffered seven defeats and recorded just one draw, such was Merthyr’s dominance. However, all good things must come to an end and on Tuesday 13th September 1954, United at last break the hoodoo with a manificent 5-3 victory at Pennydarren Park. I have included below, the description of the game itself, taken word for word, from my new book:-
“From the ridiculously poor to the sublimely brilliant! The 2-0 Kettering disappointment is quickly forgotten when at the 9th time of asking, on Tuesday 13th, United finally win a league match at Merthyr Tydfil. And what a win it is! United triumph 5-3 with a superb display of attacking football and become the first ever Southern League team to put five past them at Penydarren Park. In fact, only one club has ever done it before and that was Cardiff City’s full First Division team in a 5-4 win, so Conference league clubs’s 5-3 goes down as their worst ever! The soccer is exuberant and the 90 minutes are thrill-packed, with nobody more delighted than former Merthyr players Jenkyn Powell and Roy Phillips , the latter being appointed skipper for the occasion. After 15 minutes, Len Anslow bursts clean through the middle to snatch the lead but the Welshmen fight back to go in 2-1 up at the break with a brace from inside-left Jarman. Anslow levels it again three minutes into the second period, then Jenkyn Powell steals the limelight. Firstly, he spread-eagles the home defence for Ron Vigar to flash home a shot to put United 3-2 up, then he lands a pinpoint cross on Jack Lewis’s head for him to nod in just under the crossbar. Finally, Powell crowns a brilliant performance by power driving in a fifth goal from 25 yards in gathering gloom. Jarman completes his hat-trick five minutes from time to make the final score
line 5-3 and give it some respectability, although it’s no more than a consolation. Victory is all the sweeter because it has been such a long wait and follows a dismal sequence of seven losses and just one draw since Merthyr joined the league in 1946/47. To make the weekend complete, the Reserves beat a skilful young Aston Villa side 3-0, one of the goals being scored by 17-year-old Leominster lad, John Pemberton. Sadly, only 1,300 people are present to witness it.”
Len Anslow (right) scored twice against Merthyr and netted a total of 29 goals in 92 games during his three years at Edgar Street.
The new book will hopefully be available by next summer.
Wealdstone vs Conference league clubs – 26th November 1977 – FA Cup First Round.
“Sorry everyone that there was no Parrott’s Programme for October but time and circumstances didn’t permit it. I got myself remarried and suffered a family bereavement all within the space of a week!! The depression of an early FA Cup exit led me this month’s selection and brought back bitter memories. Ever since I’d watched United from an early age, I’d never seen them lose an FA Cup tie to a non-league side at Edgar Street but it had to happen and season 1977/78 was the occasion. In the first round proper, United were drawn away to Southern League side Wealdstone and my pals and I set off for their tiny Lower Mead ground full of confidence, even though Conference league clubs were languishing one place off the bottom of the third division (today’s 2nd division), having been relegated from the second division (today’s 1st division), the previous season. United overwhelmed their lower-graded opponents from start to finish and gained 17 corners to the home side’s two, but the game was typical of United’s whole season….there was no-one to stick the ball in the back of the net!! In fact, I remember shortly after this game that I vowed not to go to another away game all season, it was that upsetting!
“My decision turned out to be a sound one. United were appalling all season and believe it or not, managed to find the back of the net only six times in all their away league fixtures. “We’re so bad it’s unbelievable!!” The rest is history. The game finished goalless and Wealdstone went on to notch a famous 3-2 replay at fortress Edgar Street. John Sillett resigned as manager soon after and United finished in 23rd position and were relegated again.”
The 1977/78 season marked the debut of prolific goalscorer Stewart Phillips(right) but he couldn’t be blamed for the Wealdstone debacle, the 17-year-old played in just one game – an away league game at Swindon.