Hereford United hope for increased crowds after FA Cup run

Edgar Street

Hereford United chairman David Keyte hopes that the Bulls' timely FA Cup run could trigger increased league attendances at Edgar Street.

A crowd of 5,026 watched Tuesday night's FA Cup second round replay 2-1 defeat by Cheltenham Town.

A healthy 4,000 of them were home fans - in contrast to this season's average league gate of just over 1,800.

"We got 5,000 in. Now it's a case of trying to win them back, " Keyte told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

"To be fair to the fans, we've had four poor seasons, where a number have drifted away but they are out there.

"As ever, Hereford United on a cup run brings the people out.

"It was a tremendous night. The result went the wrong way, but we hope a few more will now want come back on Saturday.

"It just looked like it was a game too far on Tuesday night,.

"We've had the same squad of players for several matches now, there were some tired legs out there and losing Ryan Bowman early on was a big blow. That could be a few weeks out.

"We play a system with Ryan Bowman on his own up front and, once we'd had to make that change, we had nobody up there to hold onto."

This Saturday's FA Trophy second round clash with Blue Square South side Chelmsford City will be a test of the Hereford public, who have been somewhat disaffected following their side's second relegation in three years, their return to the Conference and the downward spiralling effect of this season's financial woes.

But Hereford have had just one home league game in two months. And spirits have been truly restored by the backs-to-the-wall effort put in by Martin Foyle's clearly stretched squad.

Added to that, the financial benefits of the Bulls' Cup run have allowed the Blue Square Bet Premier to pay off debts of £120,000 in VAT and PAYE payments to HM Revenue & Customs.

"The Cup's been good to us," Foyle told BBC Hereford & Worcester. "It's been a lifeline.

"We've made about £150,000 in TV money. And, if we'd gone out in the first round against FC United, it would have been a different story."

The FA Cup first round win over former Bulls supremo Graham Turner's Shrewsbury Town on 3 November generated £38,000 - a combination of prize, gate and TV money.

They were then due £70,000 from the first Cheltenham game, which was chosen for coverage by ESPN. And they received the same again when Tuesday night's replay was also chosen for live coverage,

Meanwhile, Bulls midfielder Josh O'Keefe has extended his deal at Edgar Street until the end of the season.

The 23-year-old has made 11 appearances for Hereford since joining on a short-term deal in September.