Most HYDE UNITED fans probably stopped wondering when things would be this good again.
After reaching the dizzy heights of Conference Premier in 2012, earning a 2nd season in non-league’s top tier, the Tigers went into freefall.
They were relegated not once, not twice, but 3 years running, to end up back in the Evo-Stik North in 2016. So in the space of 13 years, Hyde had gone from step four of the non-league ladder to step one – and all the way back again!
But finally the feelgood factor is back at Ewen Fields. They’re still unbeaten this season and still in the FA Cup after a superb comeback victory on Saturday.
Darren Kelly endured brief spells in charge of Oldham and Halifax at the end of 2015 before becoming Hyde manager in March 2016. Despite being unable to avoid relegation, Kelly remained in charge and has gradually rebuilt the squad.
Meanwhile, after gaining ownership in 2015, the Supporters’ Trust has stabilised matters off the field. Actually, there’s no longer a field at Ewen Fields as the club installed a 3G pitch last year, which brings in some much-needed revenue. That has helped ensure Hyde are debt-free and have a full-time management team in Kelly and his assistant David McGurk.
The pair led the Tigers to a strong finish last term, with defender Paddy Miller, winger Chris Sutherland and striker Matt Beadle becoming key men after arriving mid-season. Hyde lost just 2 of their last 20 league games, going unbeaten in their last 9 to finish 10th in the Evo-Stik North.
And they’ve carried that form on this term. Hyde host Atherton Collieries in the league on Tuesday night hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to a remarkable 23 games.
Pictures courtesy of Alan Palmer Photography
But that record came under serious threat during a thrilling FA Cup tie on Saturday. They didn’t pull off a giant-killing – the Tigers were favourites as they were away to Boston Town, who were the lowest-ranked side in the 3rd Qualifying Round as they play at step five in the United Counties League.
Instead it was the manner of Hyde’s victory which really kept the feelgood factor going. The Tigers twice fell behind and went down to 10 men but fought back to win 3-2, with Beadle completing his first Hyde hat-trick with a last-gasp penalty.
Boston took a shock lead from a free-kick on 9 minutes before the Tigers lost Kyle Harrison to a 2nd yellow card on 40 minutes. Beadle levelled soon after from a Big Khamsuk pass but a James Burke foul allowed Boston to go back in front from a 54th-minute penalty.
However, Beadle was then fouled in the box and converted the spot-kick to claim a 2nd equaliser. Then as Kelly’s men pushed for a winner late on, Khamsuk’s shot was blocked on the line and the Boston captain was sent off for handball.
Beadle again held his nerve to tuck in the penalty for his 8th goal of the season and give the Tigers 3 FA Cup games in the same campaign for the first time since 2004/05.
More importantly, Hyde are now one game from reaching the FA Cup First Round for the first time since 1994/95. And who dared to dream that was possible during the last 4 years?
The Tigers were handed an away tie in the 4th Qualifying Round so will visit either Scarborough Athletic or Stratford Town on Saturday, October 14.