GRENVILLE Smith MBE might well have thought that nothing much about Hereford United could surprise him any more.

The life-long Bulls supporter had seen the full range of emotions and achievements during his 11 years on the board.

There had been the disappointments of missing out on promotion from the Conference followed by the emotional high of the Walkers Stadium success as the club finally put nine long non-league years behind them.

Then there was promotion to League 1, swiftly followed by the return to League 2.

And all the time, United were progressing from financial uncertainty to welcome stability.

But even all of that could hardly have prepared him for what was about to happen during the last year.

“It has been a season we shall never forget,” he admitted.

“It started with Graham Turner and Joan Fennessy departing and a new chairman and vice-chairman in David Keyte and Tim Russon taking over.

“David was someone I knew; I had worked with him at the police station and David’s father John was my first boss when I joined the police force.

“I was very excited to be invited back on the board again.

“There was a new manager, Simon Davey who ticked all the boxes and we took nearly 1,000 fans away to Crewe and won the first game.”

Those early highs were swiftly followed by even more dramatic lows.

“After 10 matches, we had five points and had scored four goals and, unfortunately, we had to sack Simon and start again,” said Smith.

But the former police officer has nothing but praise for the way Davey’s successor Jamie Pitman has handled a difficult task.

“Jamie and his back-up team of Russell Hoult and Dave Kevan have done a cracking job,” he said. “They seem to gel well together.”

One of Pitman’s early successes on the field brought another memory, “We went into the boardroom at Northampton at half-time, 3-0 down after scoring just five goals all season,” said Smith.

“Their chairman said: “Well, this is a good game for you to win!” But we came back and scored four goals in the second-half which was absolutely amazing.”

Highs like that have always been balanced with compensatory lows, however, as United scrapped their way to safety.

“When we gave a penalty away against Bradford, I’ve not sunk so low for a long time,” said Smith.

“But when Stuart Fleetwood put the ball in the net for us, it was great and meant we could go to Macclesfield for the last game of the season relaxed.”

Off the field, Smith is better placed than anyone to see the progression from the previous regime to the new one.

“Graham Turner was very shrewd and got the club to where it is today,” he said.

“You can only thank Graham and Joan for the way they went about things.

“But David and Tim have fresh ideas and they are a breath of fresh air.

“They have had all the club rooms done out and we have done really well with sponsors; we have new dug-outs which look really professional.

They have brought new ideas which have been very simple and have not cost a great deal.”

Smith meanwhile has been to continue demonstrating the fundraising skills developed when the popular Jailbreak, which he organised with fellow police-officer Ron Davies, raised more than £1m over the years.

Those money-making skills have focused for several years at Edgar Street on the annual sportsman’s dinner, the latest of which is planned for the autumn.

“This year we have Matt Le Tissier booked up for November 10,” said Smith.

“Last year, we had a really good evening with Ron Atkinson and made £3,000 for the club.”

Before that, however, there is a new season to look forward to – hopefully with the tribulations of the last campaign put well into the past.

“If I had to pick a highlight out of this season, it would be staying up,” said Smith.

“That was such a worry.

“Now, we have a good nucleus of players for next season. We’re not going to be in the position where we have to find a new manager and a new team.

“We are very strong to start with,” added the long-serving director who still feels there is plenty to look forward to in his role.

“I’ve been on the board for 11 years and I still really enjoy it. I’m really looking forward to the new season.”

Pre-season dates fixed HEREFORD United have announced four pre-season away fixtures.

They begin on Tuesday, July 12 with a trip to Ludlow and then make the short journey to Old School Lane to take on Pegasus Juniors on Thursday, July 21.

They will take on Westfields at allpay.park for the Herefordshire Senior Cup on July 26 and travel to take on Forest Green Rovers on July 30.