Ronnie Radford was the GREATEST one-hit wonder who carved a place in football history with Hereford FA Cup thunderbolt
RONNIE RADFORD was a carpenter and joiner by trade — and a giant-killer by legend.
In his day job, he could have built you a pretty decent set of goalposts.
And in his down time, he would locate the top corner from 35 yards with a sledgehammer of a right foot.
Radford, who died on Wednesday at the age of 79, was the ultimate everyman FA Cup hero and football’s most celebrated one-hit wonder.
His thunderous long-range equaliser during non-league Hereford’s 1972 humbling of top-flight Newcastle is probably the most famous goal in the Cup’s history.
That it was scored by an unsung part-timer in a third-round replay against one of the mightiest clubs in the land gets to the essence of the competition.
That it happened on an old-school swamp of a pitch makes it the stuff of peak nostalgia.
And that it was greeted by a pitch invasion from an army of ecstatic supporters in Parka jackets, while others hung from floodlight pylons, made it an authentic moment of small-town euphoria.
No moment ever came close to summing up the soul of the world’s oldest knockout competition better than Radford’s goal.
John Motson, whose BBC career took off because of his commentary at Edgar Street that day, believes Radford was too modest to fully understand his celebrity.
He told me: “Ronnie was a typical, good-natured, down-to-earth Yorkshireman. He was completely unpretentious. There was no side to him, no ego.
“I always felt he was a little embarrassed by the fame that goal gave him, which is remarkable really.”
Radford’s own words stand up Motson’s assessment.
He once said: “The ball just sat up right. It could have gone in the car park.”
That it didn’t, that it flew into the top corner, turned this jobbing chippy into a footballing icon.
Tomorrow night, the BBC cameras will be back at Edgar Street to cover Hereford’s first-round clash with League One Portsmouth.
That Hereford is the club of Radford made it such an obvious choice for live national broadcast. Half a century later, the memories never dim.
Motson said: “That was one of the greatest moments in FA Cup history and it was also one of the best moments of my life — because once that goal hit the back of the net, my career took off.
“That pitch invasion was an eruption of spontaneous joy. Not long later we’d start seeing pitch invasions that were nothing of the sort, so that one has a certain innocence.
“I’m lucky enough to have been invited to a few reunions of that team, and I’ve kept in contact with several of them, including Ronnie and Ricky George, who scored the winner.
“Just this February there was a 50th anniversary get-together in Hereford, but sadly Ronnie wasn’t well enough to be there.
“A couple of years earlier, Ricky scored an FA Cup hat-trick for Barnet against Ronnie’s Newport County side and no one could ever have imagined those two would end up being bound together in legend.”
Radford played as an amateur for Sheffield Wednesday while an apprentice joiner, and was in Leeds’ youth team alongside some emerging stars of the Don Revie era.
Signed for Hereford by Wales legend John Charles, Radford went on to have a brief stint as player- manager of Worcester City but soon returned to joinery.
They will remember him with a pre-match silence at Edgar Street tomorrow.
And they will recall the wonderful bedlam Radford created for a whole lot longer than that.
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