Ex-Aston Villa and Hereford United defender Dave Norton backing the Bulls in relegation clash (From Hereford Times)
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Ex-Aston Villa and Hereford United defender Dave Norton backing the Bulls in relegation clash
Norton said the final whistle on that fateful afternoon in May 1997 was like being ‘stabbed in the heart’.
Now Norton is calling on Hereford’s players to ‘stand up and be counted’ as they bid to do what his side failed to achieve.
“I would tell the players not to think about defeat — the pain comes after and I am praying that it won’t happen,” he said.
“I would be gutted to see Hereford get relegated.
“The players have got to have passion, pride and must be willing to give everything. If they can do that, they will be one step ahead of Torquay.
“If you all care and have passion and pride you can beat anyone and that’s the biggest thing — it’s like a two-goal start.
“It’s not just me, every player in the Hereford squad that got relegated in 1997, will say the same thing.
“Being relegated from the Football League is the worst feeling you can have in football, apart from retiring. The prize is better than winning the FA Cup.”
Norton, who lives in Nottingham and is a PE teacher, well remembers the build-up to the relegation shoot-out against Brighton and the aftermath.
“I left my house on the Friday evening and when I got back on Sunday I had 15 messages that said ‘you can do it’ and about another 12 messages that said ‘sorry you didn’t do it’.
“I think I cried for two days after the game. The day itself was magical and it was the biggest game of my life. We didn’t think about getting relegated. All of the players were full of confidence.
“We went into the game with 11 players ready to stand up and die for the club.
“We went a goal up and it was comfortable. Their goal should not have been given because there were two off-sides.
“We were the better team and then Adie Foster had a chance in the dying seconds and it was an easy chance.
“We played really well and we played with passion and meaning but it’s not down to just one game it’s over the course of the season and we finished bottom.
"We were responsible as a team and we all had a part to play.
“When the final whistle went I went from playing with so much passion to going completely the other way.
"It was like someone had stabbed me in the heart and all the blood and air was coming out.
“I remember that in the week leading up to the game I gave more interviews than I’d ever done in my life.
“Afterwards, it was all about Brighton staying up. Nobody was interested in little old Hereford – the media coverage was all about Brighton.”
Norton says he hopes to return to Hereford one day and says Edgar Street will at the forefront of his mind this weekend.
“I will be glued to Sky Sports on Saturday and keeping my fingers crossed for Hereford.
“Everyone who played for Hereford against Brighton that day will be rooting for Hereford to stay up.”