This day in football history
On 5 February 1972, non-League Hereford United shocked Division One Newcastle United in the third round of the FA Cup, winning 2–1 in extra time. Regarded as one of the biggest upsets in the Cup, it was the first time in over 20 years that a non-League club had beaten a top flight club in the competition.
The two clubs had taken dramatically different paths to their meeting. Newcastle, as all top flight clubs, entered the Cup directly in the third round. Hereford, meanwhile, had entered the competition in the fourth qualifying round, where they beat Cheltenham Town, then defeated King’s Lynn (in a replay) and Northampton Town (in two replays) in the first and second rounds, respectively, to advance to their date with Newcastle.
The two sides met at St. James’ Park on 24 January 1972, where they drew 2–2, forcing the replay at Hereford’s Edgar Street ground on 5 February. The stadium was packed to its capacity of 14,313, with onlookers climbing trees and floodlights to view the match.
The muddy pitch made play difficult for both sides and they struggled to score, but Newcastle forward Malcolm Macdonald eventually found the back of the net with a header in the 82nd minute. The lead didn’t last long, however, as Hereford midfielder Ronnie Radford launched a 30-yard shot that flew into the net’s top corner in the 85th minute, causing many of the Hereford supporters to invade the pitch in celebration.
In extra time, Newcastle struggled to regain their composure. Hereford midfielder Ricky George, who had come on as a substitute in the 83rd minute, took advantage and scored in the 103rd minute, sparking another pitch invasion. Newcastle were unable to rally and Hereford held on for the win.
Radford’s equalizer was later voted Goal of the Season. Hereford’s Cup run ended in the next round at the hands of West Ham, but they took some comfort from winning their division and earning promotion to the League.