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Hendon Green & Gold 11 - Dave Root

Greensnet Editor
Wed 18 Jun 2014, 08:00

The latest in the series focuses on a Hendon player who gave many years of fine service in the club's tradition of outstanding goalkeepers.

Dave Root joined Hendon from Walthamstow Avenue in the summer of 1986. In the late 1970s, Dave had the misfortune of being the second-best goalkeeper in Barking's youth team - but he was behind Kevin Hitchcock, who went onto enjoy a long career as a full-time professional. Although Kevin was the regular first-team and youth-team keeper, Dave made 16 appearances for Barking in 1982-83 and, by the time he moved with his family to run a guest house in Cornwall in 1985, he had played 97 times for the Blues. Dave turned out a few times for Launceston Town, but returned to London and signed for the Avenue in 1985-86.

Mark Broughton, a Hendon hero in the 1985-86 relegation battle, returned to Derbyshire, so Ted Hardy was looking for a new goalkeeper, and he chose Root. Dave made his debut in a 2-1 defeat at Yeovil. It was the busiest season in the club's history as the first-team played in 76 matches and Dave set a club record, one which will, almost certainly, never be beaten, starting 31 cup ties in the campaign - if Hendon were to win every cup competition they enter next season (including the FA Cup), they would play a total of 33 ties.

Dave had all the attributes to be a goalkeeper, height, speed, agility and safe hands - until he became a courier van driver, he was a chandelier repairer. Hardy and Hendon were happy to ignore his one weakness - he was a very poor kicker - and Dave quickly became a fans' favourite. Although bad games were rare, Dave had a very disappointing AC Delco (Isthmian League) Cup Final, against Bognor Regis Town at Windsor. The Greens lost 3-2 and Root was the scapegoat.

The upshot was that, for the start of the 1987-88 season, John Jacobs was between the sticks; it was a short-lived and unsuccessful experiment - Jacobs' last eight matches saw him concede at least two a game and 20 in total - and at the end of October – albeit after Hardy had resigned to be replaced by his number two Micky Janes - Dave was back in the number one shirt to stay. He played in all but two of the remaining 42 League and cup matches, including the Middlesex Charity Cup Final against Wembley FC at Wembley Stadium. Root's first visit to Wembley had come a few weeks earlier, as a fan, for the FA Trophy final, and he spent much of the afternoon walking around the stadium, open-mouthed in awe at the surroundings.

A strange statistic regarding Dave's career is that in eight seasons (excluding the third of a season he missed in 1986-87) and 442 overall appearances, Dave was never an ever-present, although he did play at least 50 matches in every campaign and missed no more than four league games in each season. This is even more remarkable given the state of flux at the club; managers came and went, budgets were cut regularly and the dressing room door frequently resembled a turnstile. But through all this, Dave was 'Mr Dependable'. Other clubs were very keen to sign him and one prospective buyer walked away when the league's transfer tribunal came up with a valuation far higher than both clubs rated him.

When Victor Green became chairman at the end of 1991, Hendon went on another wild ride, with rapid turnover everywhere at the club - well, everywhere except in the number one shirt. At the season's end, Dave became one of an elite group of Hendon players to be awarded the Supporters Association Player-of-the-Year trophy for the third time - he had won two and four years earlier. The following spring, as a way of persuading him to stay for an eighth season, Dave was awarded a testimonial season – the last Hendon player to be so honoured.

The 1993-94 season started very brightly and ended in chaos despite Hendon picking up silverware at the end of the season, in the Full Members Cup. With a very bleak future - the club's survival was confirmed only 24 hours before new season's start – all but two players on the books in 1993-94 departed, Dave included. He spent a number of years at Kingstonian before joining Boreham Wood. Sadly some fans never forgave him for moving on and publicly vilified him at every opportunity. A loyal club servant - and thoroughly decent bloke - he deserved a much better reaction than that.

Born: 21 April 1961
Joined Hendon: Summer 1986
Left Hendon: Summer 1994
Appearances: 442 (all starts)
Goals: 0
Supporters' Association Player of the Year: 1987-88, 1989-90, 1991-92
Winners' medals: Isthmian League Full Members Cup: 1993-94, Middlesex Charity Cup: 1987-88

(David Ballheimer)