Hot Lists Thursday, December 29th Words by: Adam Knight

From Brexit to Basement Jaxx: Herefordshire's Big Moments of 2016

Hot Lists Thursday, December 29th

From Brexit to Basement Jaxx: Herefordshire's Big Moments of 2016

2016 wasn’t short of the kind of moments that make you wonder whether the Four Horseman were buckling up their saddles somewhere. We know this well enough. But there was also a whole lot of good stuff going on this year, nowhere more so than Herefordshire.

Here are some of the big moments of the last 12 months.


1. Hereford FC go to Wembley.

Hereford FC go to Wembley

If the nation’s imagination was caught up in Leicester City’s improbable rags-to-riches story, Herefordshire had its own footballing fairytale. Only with less Dilly Dong and more cider.

A modern-day morality play, the city’s storied team rose from the ashes of the trash fire that was the Cockney ownership consortium who ran United in to bankruptcy, to play at Wembley in their first year as a phoenix club.

Yes, they lost in the final of the FA Vase to Morpeth Town. But in a way that just makes the whole thing all the more poetic.

Besides, it was a hell of a ride for those 20, 000 supporters who made the trip down South. And they still had a league title and a promotion to console themselves with. 


2. Festival season is a thing now.

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Kanye once played at Ledbury. Kanye. As in, West. But for a while now many Hereforshire festival fans have had pack up their wellies and look elsewhere to seek their al fresco boogieing and six-pound ciders.

This all changed when, early in 2016, Eastnor Castle announced that it would be hosting not one, but two major music festivals.

Throw in the ever-present and beautifully boutique Nozstock, and this is a list of artists who played at Herefordshire festivals this summer:

Basement Jaxx, Craig David, Primal Scream, The Coral, Kano, Jurassic Five, Jungle, Shy FX, We Are Scientists, Artful Dodger, Toddla T, Blonde, Starsailor, Goldie.



3. Talking of festivals.

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The culinary geniuses behind A Rule Of Tum (The Burger Shop, The Bookshop) somehow turned a Hereford carpark in to the kind of trendy haven of eating and drinking that would not look out of place in East London. And they even convinced Gus from Alt-J to play a couple of DJ sets in exchange for a few Jack and Cokes.

Hereford Indie Food brought together some of the best of the county’s burgeoning food scene - from the Beefy Boys’ burgers to eight-course Chef’s Suppers – and acted as this swaggering moment of clarity of where Herefordshire is and where it’s heading.


4. Pokémon made it out West.

For months, the undisputed Game of 2016 had people running all over the county trying to find and catch these particularly elusive creatures. It was noted by several older generation that they had been doing this for years, until Tony Blair and co put a stop to it.


5. Led Zeppelin surprise gig.

In May, long-haired rock royalty in the form of Robert Plant dropped in to the Left Bank in Hereford and gave the handful of on-lookers an I Was There When story to tell their grandkids (and Instagram followers) as he ripped through ‘When The Levee Breaks’ with Deborah Bonham’s band. As you do. 


6. The Golden Boy does it again in Rio.

Para swimming legend Sascha Kindred scooped Gold in Rio, an incredible 20 years after making his Paralympic debut. To put that in context, the 38-year-old, who trains in Leominster, has been at the top of his sport since Jimmy Nail was in the charts.

And he did it by swimming a World Record time, just 24 hours after being wrongly DQ’d from the event entirely, and having had to appeal the decision just to make the starting blocks. The man is cucumber cool.

Sascha will be doing it all again at the Worlds this summer – keep your eyes peeled for a big feature coming on the site.



7. Brexit – Herefordshire got what it wanted.

So this is the reason I intro’d this list with ‘Here are the big moments…’ not ‘Here are the highlights’.

But whether or not you agreed with the result, Brexit was the single most significant thing to happen to the UK all year, maybe even for a generation. In Herefordshire it got people talking, with forums across the county packing out and the result dividing families.

The result however was emphatic. In Herefordshire, 59 percent of you voted Leave – the highest result UK-wide was just 62 percent – and you got what you wanted. So we won, I guess?


8. NWA came to Hereford.

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It wasn’t just the festivals bringing the big names to the Shire this year. The Venue talked DJ Yella in to coming straight outta Compton, and straight in to Hereford for one wild night, wrecking trainers the city over.

Famous for manning the decks with a certain Dr Dre as part of all-conquering rap group NWA, Yella wasn’t the only coup for the club, who followed up with the likes of Fabio and Grooverider, Nicky Blackmarket and the smiling soul man himself, Craig Charles. Oh, and even Super Hans did a shift.

(Pic above is not actually of The Venue. Obviously. But it is Yella. I promise.)


9. Ellie Goulding offered to knock Katie Hopkins' block off.

You may have missed this one as it came about in full present-buying season, but a few week's ago Herefordshire’s favourite daughter got in to a Twitter row with Katie Hopkins - who, if nothing else, is a living, breathing equivalent of that Facebook post which starts ‘I’m not racist, but….”.

Anyway, Ellie, who was brought up in Kington before going on to have a celebrated career in the field of popular music (this year alone included award noms at the Brits, Grammys and the MTV Europe Music Awards) called out Hopkins on social media before a fan suggest the two pull on the gloves and settle things the old-fashioned way, in a girl-on-girl charity boxing match.

Both parties are keen, apparently. Stay tuned for an event that would undoubtedly make the 2017 edition of this list.


10. Hereford invaded by two-wheeled burger mules.


Deliveroo arrived in Hereford this summer, meaning you can now get wine brought to you in the park with uncanny ease.

And not just wine, beers and a whole load of food as well. It’s a sign of the times in Herefordshire, where until recently, eating out was basically a choice between Spoons’ Curry Club and a Jamals’ special.

In 2016, Observer food critic Jay Rayner gave the Burger Shop a shoutout in his end of year review – while the ARoT crew were joined in the city centre by a host of new spots from The Firefly to Sensory & Rye and the Speakeasy. And not an overcooked roast spud in sight.


11. Dying Hereford man has wish granted to appear to in new Star Wars.

Okay so I had to finish on this one. Because despite Bowie and Trump and all the horrible things that have happened this year, the fact that things like this still happen should give you more than enough faith to stride boldly in to 2017.

A campaign was launched this year to help Neil Hanvey, a father-of-two from Herefordshire, an incredible illustrator and huge Star Wars fan, get an early look at the latest film before he died.

In August, the campaign reached all the way to the desk of Rogue One director Gareth Edwards. Touched, he agreed to arrange a special screening for Neil at St Michael’s Hospice. But he didn’t stop there.

In fact the film’s director came out himself to personally screen Rogue One for Neil, and to talk to him about the upcoming blockbuster. And he brought his tape recorder.

Edwards recorded a few lines with Neil, one of which - where a character says “we have not come here to make friends” - was then dubbed in to the final cut of the movie.




Here's to 2017.




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