IN the years after the Second World War a big German overcame hatred and prejudice to earn the admiration of the enemy. NIGEL HEINS recalls goalkeeper Bert Trautmann and his memorable visit to Hereford. Remembered, too, is an accidental goalkeeping great.

THE Wembley crowd and television viewers looked on as he paced around the penalty area, clutching his neck and grimacing. And as he climbed the steps to receive his FA Cup winner's medal it was apparent the agony was as great as the ecstasy.

It later emerged that Manchester City goalkeeper Bert Trautmann had broken his neck during the 1956 triumph over Birmingham City - but he played on.

The German, who a dozen years before was regarded as the enemy at the gate, had become a football legend in his adopted nation, adding another chapter to the romance of the FA Cup.

And when the grey-blond giant played against Hereford United in 1964 they turned out in their thousands at Edgar Street to see him.

Trautmann was playing for Wellington Town in a Southern League Cup clash having come out of retirement to help a side depleted by injuries.

The gate of over 4,000 was the biggest for many a day and, no doubt, many turned up purely to see the former prisoner-of-war turned hero.

His arrival at Manchester City had prompted threats of boycotts and letters of outrage. Fifteen years and 545 appearances later he was much loved in Manchester, earning a testimonial match attended by 60,000 adoring fans.

Trautmann will never be forgotten for the day in 1956 when he helped City to a 3-1 win over Birmingham despite an horrendous injury suffered in the second half of the cup final when he dived bravely at the feet of Peter Murphy. The former paratrooper was dazed but defiant despite what was later revealed as a broken neck.

Against Hereford eight years later, the big man showed his prowess although it was reckoned some United players were rather overawed by the sight of a legend between the opposition's posts.

But even soccer immortals can get caught out. Wellington were leading 1-0 until the 83rd minute when Arthur Tyrer jumped high to head a Freddie Jones corner kick goalward and quick-thinking Dave Martin rushed in to stab the ball into the net.

United fans were happy. They had avoided defeat and had seen at Edgar Street a remarkable man who had, by his genius, banished hatred borne of war and earned the admiration of the one-time foe.

Six years earlier another goalkeeping injury had prompted a performance that sparked off unprecedented scenes at Edgar Street.

Non-league United, watched by over 12,000 fans, were playing border rivals Newport County in the second round of the FA Cup and hopes of a giant killing act were dashed by an injury to 'keeper Gwyn Groves.

With no subs allowed in those days, Groves - arm in a sling and in great pain - did what he could on the wing while young central defender Bob Masters donned the green jumper and proceeded to deny the Welsh visitors with stupendous saves.

United's forwards had their moments, too, and the "Lilywhites" deserved at least a replay but Joe Wade's gallant men conceded two late goals.

United's supporters poured on to the pitch at the final whistle, lifted Masters shoulder-high and chaired him from the field to the accompaniment of thunderous cheers.

After the match, Newport skipper and former Welsh international Alf Sherwood said: "It began to look that we would never beat young Bob Masters. I have something of a reputation as a substitute goalkeeper, but I give him best. I have never seen a better performance."

And teammate Henry Horton added: "What about Bob Masters! Frank Swift couldn't have made better saves!"