By Matt Badcock
You can take the footballer out of football but you can’t take away the winner. Rob Purdie may have organised a celebration of his career when Hereford United’s play-off heroes take on the new Bulls’ hat-trick of champions, but he still wants to taste that last victory.
The 36-year-old midfielder retired last summer to become a firefighter, but has been busy putting in his spare time arranging a fitting farewell.
The game between Hereford United and Hereford FC will take place at Edgar Street on Sunday, May 12 (1.30pm kick-off). Purdie played more than 200 games for the old club, which included a famous Conference play-off win over Halifax in 2006.
He’s got the old band back together to take on the players who helped propel the new club up to the National League North with three successive promotions under manager Peter Beadle.
“It’s players from the first three promotions at Hereford FC and then the Conference promotion Hereford United team – with a few others mixed in because I needed to find some players fit enough!
“Our old keeper at Hereford United, Matt Baker, says his knee hurts after he walks the dog and then at the other end you’ve got Stuart Fleetwood, who’s still playing at Swindon Supermarine, Ryan Green, who’s just retired. I wanted a competitive game, not just a jolly-up charity match, for at least 60 minutes before we do get tired.
“When I planned it I thought I’d have 45 minutes of HFC v Hereford United and then I’d mix it up. But when I got the Hereford United squad together I thought, ‘I actually fancy them to win’. So I’m going to play for them!
“If you’ve ever been successful in football, it doesn’t matter what you’re playing, you want to win. We’ll all have a laugh before the game and we’ll have a laugh after. But neither team will want to lose. There’s bragging rights at stake.”
The game will be stopped in the ninth minute for a round of applause in memory of Adam Stansfield, while there will also be a raffle, half-time crossbar challenge and six lucky fans will play in the second half. Former boss Graham Turner will manage Hereford United and Purdie is looking forward to seeing some old faces.
“Hereford FC had the three promotions and at Hereford United we had good success on a limited budget with Graham Turner,” Purdie said. “The United team I’ve got finished second in the Conference for three years running, so both are very similar in success and both are the best parts of my career.
“Especially the players I played with. If you get a successful team like we’ve had then it’s gold dust.”
Tickets can be purchased on the Hereford FC club website or using this link https://herefordfc.cloudvenue.co.uk/robpurdietestimonial