Hereford & Worcester

Ronnie Radford's famous FA Cup goal remembered 40 years on

Ronnie Radford (centre) after scoring
Image caption Ronnie Radford wheels away in delight after scoring the equaliser

It is perhaps the most famous goal in the history of the FA Cup.

On a muddy pitch, 40 years ago to the weekend, sideburned Hereford United midfielder Ronnie Radford exchanges a one-two with Brian Owen before launching a 35-yard screamer past Newcastle United goalkeeper Willie McFaul.

The journeyman footballer wheels away in delight, arms aloft, to revel in the adulation of the Hereford faithful, some of whom charge on to the Edgar Street pitch.

As well as helping to take non-league Hereford into the fourth round of the FA Cup in one of the competition's legendary acts of giant-killing, the goal helped launch the career of one of football's best-known broadcasters, John Motson.

"Oh, what a goal! What a goal! Radford the scorer... and the crowd are invading the pitch."

A 26-year-old Motson's excitable commentary as Hereford put top-flight Newcastle to the sword was instrumental in establishing him among the most familiar voices in football.

He is not the only person to have reason to fondly remember one of the greatest-ever FA Cup upsets.

Ball boy Martin Brain, who said he had been told there was no need for him at the ground that day, described how he only managed to see the game because of a friendly groundsman.

He saw the youngster "through the gap in the door" and secured him a prime location - on top of the Newcastle dugout.

He said: "When Ronnie Radford scored, I actually stayed tight... while most of the children ran on the pitch. I thought 'no, I won't lose my prime position'.

"When we scored the second goal, I just leapt off the dugout and ran on the pitch like everyone else."

'Total heaven'

Another fan, John Hancock, described how the drama of the day left him literally speechless.

"It didn't really sink in until I went to the petrol station. It was before self-service petrol pumps and I totally and utterly had no voice.

"I had to keep pointing all the way through... the wife thought she was in total heaven because nothing came out of that voice-box for a day-and-a-half."

Image caption Hereford United, including Ronnie Radford (top left) and Ricky George (centre left), celebrate a famous win

Watched by 14,000 fans who packed into Hereford's Edgar Street ground on 5 February 1972, Newcastle looked set for the fourth round thanks to a late Malcolm Macdonald goal in the delayed 3rd round replay.

But Radford's stunning strike took the game into extra time before substitute Ricky George grabbed the winner, as Hereford became the first non-league club to defeat a top-flight side since 1949.

George, who could be forgiven for resenting the fact his winning goal has been completely overshadowed by Radford's effort, told the BBC he felt the "Hollywood moment" was the one "quite rightly" captured in replays.

He added: "I'll love him [Radford] for the rest of my days because the goal he scored not only was the equaliser but it gave us all the extra time."

In Motson's autobiography, he recalls how he was covering his first season of football on television when he was assigned to the cup tie.

The BBC thought the action would warrant a five-minute segment following its two main games of highlights, but Hereford's win led to the game being promoted to the main action on Match of the Day - helping to establish the reputation of the commentator.

George, who lived in London at the time, recalled some of the team's - and Motson's - journey in convoy to the capital after the game, where they watched their heroics on Match of the Day that night.

He said: "Motty got out of the car as we stopped for petrol and he ran up to the car I was in and he just said to me 'Do you realise that you've made history?'"

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