Howell must relive personal tragedy on his return to Harrow Borough

PUBLISHED: 15:57 05 September 2012

Dave Howell

Dave Howell


Dave Howell is anticipating ‘a very emotional day’ when he returns to the Earlsmead dugout this weekend for the first time since quitting Harrow Borough.

Howell, who was Borough’s manager for seven and a half years until he left to join St Albans City in 2011, is back at Harrow on Saturday when the two sides square up in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup.

But the 53-year-old’s feeling of apprehension has nothing to do with the match, or what reception he might receive from the Borough faithful – it is about reliving a personal tragedy he endured almost 30 years ago.

Howell was a player in the Borough side in 1983 when his brother Michael, a member of the visiting Hayes team, suffered a heart attack and died at the age of just 21.

“The biggest problem I’ll have is going into that away changing-room,” Howell told the Times. “It’s always been a difficult thing for me, walking down that corridor and thinking about what happened.

“I remember the whole Hayes team waiting in the corridor outside and I remember playing the whole second half without knowing my brother had been rushed to hospital and had then passed away.

“It’s not something I can forget and I’ve only been in that changing-room on maybe two occasions since, when we used to line up the players’ kit in there for the pre-season photo.

“Now I’ve got to go in there and give a team talk, that’s my biggest concern and it far exceeds everything else. Saturday will be a very emotional day for me, but not for the reasons people might imagine.”

Howell guided Borough to the first round of the FA Cup – where they lost to Chesterfield – during his last season at the club, as well as a place in the Ryman League play-offs.

Now he is aiming for success in both league and cup with Southern League side St Albans, but Borough fans hoping to see some of their former players in action on Saturday may be disappointed.

Of the players who followed Howell out of Earlsmead, goalkeeper Nick Jupp, left-back Ryan Watts and midfielder David Ijaha are all struggling with injury – although striker Jonathan Constant may feature.

“I suppose it was a bit of a shock when I left,” Howell added. “We’d done so well and people were already gearing up for next season, but I had to make a decision and I felt it was the right one.

“A few people at Harrow said ‘we’ll see you in the FA Cup!’ – a bit tongue in cheek, I think, but you never expect it to happen.”

Meanwhile, Hendon have confirmed that they will move to Borough’s Earlsmead ground at the start of next season after signing a three-year groundsharing deal.

The Greens have previously played a handful of home matches at Earlsmead after vacating their historic Claremont Road base during the 2008-09 season.

They agreed a three-year deal to share Wembley FC’s Vale Farm ground the following summer and have continued to play there since.

But the club turned down Wembley’s offer of a fresh three-year agreement this summer, opting instead to extend the arrangement until the end of this season.

Hendon chairman Simon Lawrence said: “We are very grateful to Wembley for all they have done for us in the past few years.

“Hendon are delighted to arrange this deal with our good friends at Harrow Borough. We look forward to playing on their excellent surface and enjoying their facilities in the seasons to come.”

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