Casey Maclaren hopes to have many more happy years at Hendon after his 300th appearance
Casey Maclaren hopes he has many more happy years ahead at Hendon, stating he will be with the Greens for as long as they want him, after making his 300th appearance for the club.
The 29-year-old, who is currently in his 10th season with the Dons, is the club’s longest-serving player and he reached a notable landmark in last Wednesday’s Middlesex Senior Cup tie against Wembley – which the Dons won on penalties.
The achievement is a source of great pride, but Maclaren – who feels he is in the form of his life – is just as excited about the present and future under manager Gary McCann.
“I’m obviously delighted to reach that landmark,” said Maclaren. “I’ve improved so much over the years since I’ve been here. I love it at Hendon, I love the manager and the people at the club, so I’ll be here for as long as they want me.
“I joined as a right-back and Gary soon saw me as a player more effective higher up the pitch so he moved me into midfield.
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“I’ve changed my game and become more of an attacking player. I’ve played up front and as a centre-back too. He’s made me more versatile and I’d like to think that wherever he asks me to play I can do a job for him.
“I feel like I’ve peaked now and have been playing the best I’ve ever played during my career over the last two years.”
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While Hendon reached the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup, they have endured a slow start to their Ryman League Premier Division campaign and lie fourth from bottom.
McCann recently stated he was “embarrassed” by the club’s lowly position and Maclaren is similarly keen to help the Greens climb the table – a mission that was set back by their 1-0 defeat at Burgess Hill Town on Tuesday.
“I’m embarrassed by our league position, too. It’s unacceptable,” admitted Maclaren.
“All the players are – collectively we haven’t been good enough. We know we’ve got plenty of quality, but we’ve got to get it right and quickly.
“We can be a match for anyone in this league. This is as good a team we’ve had since I’ve been at the club.
“Elliott [Brathwaite] will be back in the next three or four weeks and he’ll be massive for us. Ever since we lost him and Charlie Goode [to Scunthorpe] two years ago it’s a position we haven’t really filled, so it’s important we have him back.
“We’ve got a big bulk of that team left from two years ago [when we reached the play-off final] so we should be confident of turning this around.
“If we have aspirations of making the play-offs we’ve got to turn it around soon.”
Maclaren and his brother Kevin were both handed lengthy bans in June 2015 after getting involved in an altercation following a derby clash against local rivals Wingate & Finchley in December 2014.
But they have both returned to the Dons side and Casey Maclaren has praised the club for their support at a difficult time.
“Kevin and I are very thankful for the way the club responded to that incident,” he said. “They could have reacted differently of course, but they were loyal to us and I don’t think there’s any doubting we’ve replicated that loyalty over the years and are continuing to do that.
“We got our suspensions and served them and we were both really grateful for the support from the club – in particular from Gary.
“I just want to do my best here and be really successful, on a personal level of course, but first and foremost collectively with the team.”