Kentoine Jennings has expressed sadness at the news that Hereford United, his former club in England, had been wound up by the High Court over unpaid debts.
Jennings, who, along with his former Bermuda team-mate Meshach Wade, spent two seasons at the club before being released in 1993, has fond memories of playing for the Midlands side in the third tier of the English game.
The club’s debt to their creditors include present players, other club staff and clubs from which they loaned players during last season, adding up to £148,000 ($229,714).
Hereford have had a troubled few years, with spiralling debts, low attendance and overspending on players which left no money to pay tax bills.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” said Jennings of the winding up order when contacted yesterday. “It was a very memorable time there, a small club in a small community which reminded you of being in Bermuda in a sense,” said Jennings, who joined the club in 1990 after he and Wade were spotted as teenagers by then-manager John Sillett playing against the United States at Devonshire Recreation Club.
Sillett, a regular visitor to Bermuda, who won the FA Cup in 1987 with Coventry City, subsequently invited the players to Hereford for trials.
Both Wade and Jennings were released by the club when Sillett stood down as manager.
“We tried to go to other clubs but we didn’t have an agent looking out for us,” said Jennings, now 43. “To be left on your own in England was difficult. Mark Trott helped us get to Coventry [on trial] but it never went any further.”
One of the highlights of Jennings’s time at Hereford was playing against Shaun Goater who was then at Rotherham United.
“I would say probably my most memorable game was against Goater when he was playing for Rotherham and they came down to Hereford and we beat them 1-0,” Jennings said.
“It was a highlight playing against Goater, not just as a friend but former team-mate at North Village and that was one of the better memories I had while at Hereford.”
Another cherished memory for Jennings was playing against Manchester United in a testimonial match for a Hereford team-mate. United’s team included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and David Beckham.
Hereford, formed in 1924, were fourteenth in the Southern League Premier Division. They were scheduled to play Hitchin Town, the team of Bermuda goalkeeper Tahj Bell, last weekend. Loyal supporters gathered at the club’s Edgar Street ground where one supporter said: “We will come back, it may take ten years but we’ll be back.”
Sillett, who first visited the Island in 1988, was even talked about as a possible national coach for the Bermuda team, such was his connection to the Island.
“He was like a father to us,” Jennings said. “I remember in my first game I was booed by my own fans, I didn’t even know what I did wrong.
“It wasn’t like I was having a bad game, but they were calling me names I didn’t know you could call people. But after a while they started taking to you. It was just the unknown of who we were, you still had to prove yourself to them.
“I was grateful for the opportunity I got, it was a great experience and when I came back home I continued to play at a decent standard, playing for my country. Nothing was more intimidating than playing in England at a young age, not even when I went to Haiti with Bermuda.”
Both Jennings and Wade went on to captain Bermuda.
Hereford were expelled from the Vanarama Conference last season over their debt. A group behind a plan to launch a phoenix club in the wake of Hereford being wound up want it to be called Hereford FC.