Saturday, 12 July 2008

Football Heroes No. 3 - Dixie McNeil

Dixie McNeil was one of those rare breed that became a cult hero at every club he played for. Born in Molton Mowbray in 1944 he'd played for Exeter, Corby Town, Northampton and Lincoln before he joined Hereford in 1974. The transfer fee of £20,000 was a record for the Bulls at the time (still is almost!!) and although it might have seemed a lot for a thirty year old Dixie soon started paying it back. He was prolific that first year scoring 31 goals in 44 matches. He was top scorer for the three years he spent at Edgar Street and was the club's Player of the Year in 1975. Hereford were relatively new to the Football League in these days and we were punching above our weight. Survival was tough and chances for our strikers were hard to come by, but despite this, Dixie was the top goalscorer of the top four divisions of English football that season. Even the year Hereford were relegated from the old Second Division Dixie still managed to score virtually a goal every other game. Me and dad used to go to most home games at this time and I fell in love with Dixie. He had hair like James Hunt, but I dion't think that was what did it for me. It was the way he would always convert a half chance into a goal. During his time at Hereford he spent those long summers (do you remember those?) playing cricket and often used to play against Presteigne. But it's in the white with the Bull on the badge that I remember him for.

In August 1977 Elvis Presley died and the world seemed to end - the King was off the throne and there was doom and gloom all around. A month later, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, Dixie McNeil left Hereford to join Wrexham for £60,000 - much needed dosh at the time. For Wrexham he set a record for scoring in ten consecutive FA Cup games. He returned help the Bulls in 1982, aged 38, scoring three goals in 12 appearances. His League career record was 239 goals in 522 games. A true legend of the lower leagues, Dixie McNeil was a goal machine who will always be remembered at Edgar Street.

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