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Hendon Green & Gold 14 - Gary Hand

Greensnet Editor
Thu 26 Jun 2014, 07:00

Today's Green and Gold subject is the man who is second on the appearances table in the Isthmian League era, former player and manager Gary Hand.

Gary Hand left Watford when his apprenticeship ended and joined Hendon at the start of the 1971-72 season. He made his debut in the No.11 shirt for the Greens' second Isthmian League game, away at Loakes Park, Wycombe, where Wanderers triumphed 1-0. Apart from an unused substitute appearance, in the 1-0 win over Walton & Hersham, a week later, that was the last Gary was seen in a first-team shirt until 27 December, when he was in his familiar left-back role for the visit of Enfield. Roy Butler's goal gave Hendon all three points.

From that point on, Gary was almost an ever-present - he missed just one match, the day before the first leg of the Middlesex Senior Cup Final against Hampton. Gary's first season was certainly memorable and he finished it as the owner of winners' medals from the FA Amateur Cup and Middlesex Senior Cup and a London Senior Cup runners-up medal.

Hendon manager John Evans and his successor Jimmy Quail put together one of the most dominant and stingiest defences ever seen in the Isthmian League: John Swannell in goal, behind right-back Tony Jennings, centre-backs Alan Phillips and Peter Deadman and Gary at left-back. The quintet had been together in the Amateur Cup Final victory over Enfield at Wembley and all five made at least 52 appearances the following season as Hendon won the Isthmian League with a record of 34 wins and six draws in 42 matches. The Greens conceded only 18 League goals all season and eight in the 34 games between 22 August and 17 April. Hendon astonishingly did not concede a single League goal from a corner all season, and did not taste defeat until the 39th League game, when runners-up Walton & Hersham won 2-1 at Claremont Road. The Greens' total of 74 points would equate today to 108 with three for win, which came into effect the following season. Gary was selected for the England Amateur international squad, but did not win a cap.

In 1973-74, Hendon enjoyed their best ever FA Cup run, reaching the third round proper. The Greens held Newcastle United to a 1-1 draw at St James’s Park, but lost the replay at Vicarage Road, Watford, 4-0. Gary would, in today's football, not have seen out the replay as his spectacular save gave the Magpies a penalty from which they made it 3-0. As he was being booked, the referee said to Gary, "Good save!" In the League, the departure of Jennings, Phil Fry and Derek Baker, plus terrible fixture congestion brought on by cup success and a multitude of Amateur Cup replays, meant Hendon finished runners-up, two points behind champions Wycombe. And Gary enjoyed more FA Cup success the following season, with Wycombe, having left Claremont Road in the summer of 1974.

It was only a one-year hiatus, however, as Gary was back in green and white in 1975. And he would enjoy further FA Cup glory as Hendon recorded their first-ever victory over a Football League club in the competition, beating Reading 1-0 before succumbing to a late Swindon Town goal in round two. Gary finished the season with the first of three Middlesex Charity Cup winner's medals, to go with his earlier hat-trick of Middlesex Senior successes.

A year later, Gary added a second Charity Cup winner's medal and one from the Isthmian League Cup, as Barking were beaten 1-0 at Earlsmead. Three weeks before the Barking game, Gary had celebrated his first Hendon goal (a chip over 6 feet 8 inches Staines Town goalkeeper Kelvin Hopkins); it came in his 254th first-team appearance - rather making a mockery of the line in the 1972 Amateur Cup Final programme, "watch out for his left foot"!

If one word summed up Gary's Hendon career, consistency would be it. He was close to an ever-present every season from 1975-76 until 1981-82, when the club encountered its first big financial problem. New manager Dave Mawson did things on the cheap and used mainly youngsters, but it didn't work and Gary returned to Hendon in February, in the role as player-manager, assisted by his former boss, Jimmy Quail. Work commitments meant he had to give up after seeing Hendon achieve safety, but he returned in the summer of 1985. It proved to be a most unhappy time in charge as the Greens were bottom of the table when he was relieved of his duties and replaced by Ted Hardy. It wasn't quite the end, however, as Gary returned in the early 2000s, managing the under-18s midweek team and then the reserves.

Joined Hendon: As player: Summer 1971, summer 1975; as player-manager February 1983;
as manager summer 1985
Left Hendon: Summer 1974, summer 1982, summer 1983 and November 1985.
Appearances: 619 (618 starts, 1 substitute)
Goals: 3
Medals won: Isthmian League 1972-73, FA Amateur Cup 1971-72, Barassi Cup (European Amateur Cup-Winners Cup): 1972-73, Isthmian League Cup 1976-77, Middlesex Senior Cup: 1971-72, 1972-73, 1973-74, Middlesex Charity