Inspirational Hartson draws big audience for Edgar Street fundraiser

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FORMER Wales international John Hartson's extraordinary story held a large audience riveted at Hereford United's annual sportsman's dinner at the Starlite Rooms.

The 38-year-old enjoyed a great and sometimes controversial career on the pitch, with spells at Luton Town, Arsenal, West Ham and Celtic as well as a suitcase full of international caps.

But it was the story of his battle against cancer and how it has caused him to re-evaluate his life and everything it means to him which set Hartson above the ordinary.

His struggle began when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer which spread to his lungs and to his brain.

There were times when he came within a heartbeat of losing his grip on life but his extraordinary recovery has become one of sport's most uplifting stories.

The well-attended evening, organised by director Grenville Smith, contributed around £4,000 to Bulls funds.

As well as the usual stand-up bingo and raffle, an auction, in the expert hands of Westfields chief executive Andy Morris, was responsible for more than £2,000 of the funds raised.

The Bulls return to Skrill Premier action on Saturday when they entertain Nuneaton Town at Edgar Street when they will be looking to bounce back from their FA Trophy defeat by Woking last weekend.

Hereford lost 2-1 at Nuneaton earlier in the season and also failed to beat their Warwickshire rivals last term when both matches between the teams ended in goalless draws.

Manager Martin Foyle will be hoping that his team can return to the sort of form which saw the Bulls put together a run of four unbeaten games prior to the Woking defeat.

But the Bulls boss admitted that he can never be quite sure what he is going to get from his team.

"With good players you know what you are going to get," he said.

"But with average players and below, it's fingers crossed.

"I don't know what we are going to get from them and if you ask me what I'm going to get on Saturday then I have not got a clue."

Foyle is likely to recall Damon Lathrope to central midfield.

The Torquay man, whose month's loan will be completed before the next scheduled United match, was left out of the starting line-up to play Woking as he has four yellow cards and another would have seen him suspended for this weekend's match.

It seems unlikely that Luke Graham, who has been suffering from a foot injury, will be risked while Rhys Evans, Rob Purdie, Sam Gwynne and Danny Pilkington are also still making their way back to fitness.

United's FA Trophy exit means that they are likely to be without a match on December 14.

They were scheduled to visit Wrexham on that date but the Welsh side will now be visiting either Staines or Luton Town in the Trophy's second round on that date.

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