1972 FA Amateur Cup: How Hendon built a winning team
- Credit: John Evans
Hendon Football Club will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1972 Amateur Cup final win over Enfield at Wembley Stadium next April.
In the first part of a special series to acknowledge that achievement, manager John Evans - who played in Hendon's 1965 final success - looks back on the men who helped to write that particular chapter in the club's history.
"It’s the only thing I ever wanted to do,” said Peter Deadman as we shared a pot of tea in the garden of his house in Essex.
“I just loved playing football,” he added with that beaming characteristic smile.
The sun shone warmly casting strange shadows among the wild flower patch nearby beyond which there came a happy ‘clucking’ sound, that of a pair of hens chatting away somewhere behind several fruit trees, a scene which evoked a feeling of quiet blissful contentment.
Football memorabilia is everywhere in Peter’s house, pictures, posters, cups and caps, mementos of a trophy-filled yesteryear all huddled together and living harmoniously with the evidence of his more recent and continuing exertions, his cross country running designed to punish his stamina, his swimming to challenge his resolve and his beloved bicycles the number of which I cannot recall.
The temperament of this man has not changed one iota over the last 50 years, his unaltered spirit still remains as a reminder of a time all those years ago when he displayed the very same resolve but perhaps then with a more youthful ethic which encouraged some, drove others but inspired everyone.
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However, back then in the middle of the last century Peter was one of a group of men who shared the same principles, men who wanted the same result and all who would accept nothing else but total commitment.
He was a member of the Hendon team which beat Enfield in the Amateur Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday April 22, 1972, a special occasion for all who were in some way part of Claremont Road.
At all levels of football, the building of a team which can become a serious contender is exciting and that which we experienced in 1972 was no exception.
Hendon Football Club guarded deep aspiration to succeed albeit with an acute awareness that the non-league football environment was fiercely competitive as every other amateur club throughout England had precisely those intentions.
But try as one may, sometimes the results leave those dreams in shreds owing to the wafer thin difference between winning and losing.
The early Hendon side was fraught with injury problems and further losses of staff led to a considerable depletion of players in key positions. We were in a difficult position with an urgent need to rebuild during the period preceding that memorable Cup Final.
To begin that reconstruction, an early signing of considerable priority was the man mentioned above, Peter Deadman, followed by Alan Philips, the then current Welsh central defender both of whom were very mobile performers especially Deadman, a very experienced England international whereas Phillips brought to the team his intelligent defensive skills.
With John Swannell, an ever present Hendon faithful and widely regarded as England’s best amateur goalkeeper, these three men represented a formidable defensive platform upon which to build the team.
In the 1970s, width was created by players entering wide spaces at speed, usually full backs who, while not compromising their defensive responsibilities, were willing and encouraged to get themselves into forward positions when the opportunity presented itself.
For Hendon, those players were Gary Hand, the left back, a player blessed with the sweetest left foot and on the right, Tony Jennings, a young man who was destined to wear an England shirt.
Probably one of the most outstanding mid-park players of the time was Rod Haider. Rod was at the club when I arrived from Barking and he was the quality of player who deserved the best of what the game had to offer. A perfectionist and club captain, he demanded full commitment from everyone and in order to achieve his maximum potential and therefore reap the maximum benefit from his considerable skills, he must firstly have possession of the ball, space to exploit opportunities and ample passing options.
It is with this in mind that I mention Keith Jameson. Keith was also at Hendon when I arrived but there was a need to clarify exactly what Keith’s role was. He agreed to take up the central position in front of Philips and Deadman, to dictate that central zone, a task which he performed with exceptional football expertise.
Bobby Childs arrived shortly afterward, an explosive player with colossal power who exploited space on the right complementing the creative work of Haider on the left. When John Connell joined Hendon, the side was beginning to look capable of winning trophies and the signing of Tony Bass was the final name on our shopping list.
There was however a player already in situ, a player who was to have one of the best seasons of his career. Johnny Baker, another powerful athlete, was already at Hendon as the principal striker but then found himself alongside experienced Wembley past attendees Connell, a right sided striker with magical close control and Bass, the main target man and most feared header of the ball.
Baker agreed to take up the left side of the attack, a challenge he willingly accepted and carried out with characteristic efficiency.
There is one extremely important player who was sometimes undervalued. Ted Moore was the ultimate substitute. He unfailingly took part in all coaching sessions taking up different roles as were required by me. A talented athlete capable of playing anywhere on the park including goalkeeper, Ted Moore’s commitment to the club was unfaltering.
The playing itinerary we coped with well, although our chances of winning the lsthmian League title had all but disappeared as we were lying second to Wycombe Wanderers who were riding high under the guidance of Brian Lee. And, with the season drawing to a close, it was unlikely that Wycombe would falter at this late stage.
However, changes were taking place in our own league as clubs were recognizing the need for more coaching therefore insisting that the man in charge held a coaching certificate, some holding the prodigious Full Badge.
Although it had always been prudent to respect all opposition, it became more noticeable that teams showed vast improvement in tactical awareness and therefore capable of claiming the scalp of the more reputable clubs. Shocks occurred more often, not just in the amateur game but also in other championship games, including the FA Cup.