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Hendon skipper Maclaren keen to repay the faith shown in him by manager

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 August 2016

Kevin Maclaren (right) is relishing his long-awaited return to Hendon

Kevin Maclaren (right) is relishing his long-awaited return to Hendon

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Returning Hendon captain Kevin Maclaren has hailed manager Gary McCann for standing by him during his year-long suspension, and says he intends to repay him on the field this season.

Maclaren and his brother Casey were handed lengthy bans after getting involved in an altercation after Hendon’s 3-1 win against local rivals Wingate & Finchley on December 27 2014.

It was alleged that an argument in the bar resulted in Kevin attacking Wingate’s community development officer Mike Bayly, with Casey throwing a punch in the ensuing melee.

As a result of the investigation, Casey was banned from playing until February this year, while Kevin was banned for the entire 2015-16 campaign.

Kevin expressed remorse over the incident, while praising Hendon for sticking by him during the difficult period saying: “I look back on it with regret but at the same time maintain my innocence.

“Luckily there were people at the club like Gary McCann who were there when the incident occurred, so I think that went quite a long way as to why the club stood by me, as he actually saw what happened.

“It’s not good publicity for the club though, so I do appreciate it. [Chairman] Simon Lawrence has been brilliant, as have [director] Rob Morris and [secretary] Graham Etchell – but in particular Gary.

“We go back a long way, we’re friends away from football, so I feel like after the way he’s stood by me I’ve got to repay that faith.”

Maclaren admits he considered the possibility that Hendon might terminate his contract, and believes his service to the club was rewarded.

“I was a little worried they might cut their ties completely with me,” he said. “I’ve had a past with Hendon and had a few disciplinary issues and sendings-off, so I knew Gary would probably be under a bit of pressure.

“But at the same time, with the sort of servant that I’ve been to Hendon and the years I’ve shown to them, I did expect that loyalty to be shown back to me if I’m totally honest.

“Casey and myself had a meeting with the chairman, Graham and Gary, and they told us they’d be repaying the loyalty we’ve shown to them.

“We’ve had a few opportunities to leave Hendon in the past, but we’ve never entertained anyone that has been interested because we’re Gary McCann’s players and we play for him.

“The playing and management staff were aggrieved at the severity of the bans as well. They felt it was harsh, but that’s in the past now and we move on.”

The 27-year-old, who has been at the club for eight years, believes the sky is the limit for the Greens this term as they look to banish the memories of last season’s disappointing campaign.

“Last season was a big opportunity missed for us in my opinion,” said Maclaren.

“There was no stand-out team in my opinion, so it’s a shame we couldn’t keep up the momentum from the previous year as I think we could have gone on and got promoted.

“It was the poorest the Ryman League had been since I was here for sure.

“We obviously had numerous injury problems, lost some key players who played a huge part in our success the year before, and various off-field issues made it a really difficult season for everyone connected to Hendon.

“The squad is looking in good shape heading into the season. I’ve got a battle to get back in the team. We’ve made some great additions over the summer. Spencer McCall and Karl Oliyide have really impressed me, and we’ve got that spring in our step back now.

“I want to be involved in a season where we are really competitive and seriously challenging for promotion.

“I believe we can win the league. I don’t think there’s one particular team who will run away with it.

“Anything less than the play-offs would be a massive underachievement, that’s for sure.”

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