Kevin Maclaren 'devastated' after AFC Sudbury fracas leads to Hendon departure
PUBLISHED: 16:30 25 January 2017 | UPDATED: 00:01 27 January 2017
Former Hendon captain Kevin Maclaren is "devastated" that his nine-year spell at the club has come to an end, but he admits he has only himself to blame.
The midfielder, who has been at the club since he was 19, received a red card for violent conduct after a mass brawl broke out in second-half stoppage time during Saturday’s game against AFC Sudbury, resulting in the game being abandoned.
Maclaren’s dismissal came despite the fact he had been substituted by Dons manager Gary McCann midway through the second half.
It is not the first time he has been involved in controversy – he was banned for a year for his part in a bar brawl following Hendon’s 3-1 victory over local rivals Wingate & Finchley in December 2015.
While the club stood by him at that time, Maclaren was told a reccurrence of that type of incident would result in his registration being cancelled – and after Saturday’s dismissal it was mutually agreed that he would leave the Greens.
Speaking exclusively to this title, Maclaren said: “I know I’ve let Gary down and many other people at the club. I had tremendous support from the chairman and fans like Paul Butler, who stood by me after the Wingate & Finchley episode.
“I know there was a section of the club who didn’t want me back and I fully understand and respect that as well. I don’t hold any grudges and I’ve left the club on good terms.
“I can only apologise for my actions as I thought I could keep my nose clean, but clearly I can’t help myself in certain situations. I have to pay the price for that now.
“I’m not a bad person though. I know I’ve given a lot to this club over the last nine years too, and Gary knows that.”
He continued: “I’m gutted to leave the club, especially in a relegation battle – as captain that’s very upsetting. We’ve got a real fight on our hands to stay up now.
“I’m devastated I wasn’t able to make my 300th appearance for the club, but I’ve only really got myself to blame.
“As soon as that had happened [on Saturday] I went into the dressing room after the game and told the lads I thought that would be my last game for the club.”
Explaining how the incident unfolded Maclaren, whose partner is due to give birth next month, explained that tensions between the clubs had been building during the game.
“It all kicked off on the pitch,” he said. “I went on just to make sure nothing was happening and one thing led to another.
“I raised my hand to [a player], which obviously isn’t an acceptable thing to do on the pitch. The linesman saw the incident and I got sent off as a result, and that’s the situation we’re now in.”
The 28-year-old says his actions should not hinder his brother, Casey, who was also handed a lengthy ban for his part in the brawl two years ago – while admitting there is no way he can return to Hendon in the future.
“Since he’s returned to Hendon, Casey’s behaviour has been impeccable,” said Kevin. “He shouldn’t be tarred with the same brush as me. I had a chat with Casey and told him that I wanted him to stay as the club need him big-time now.
“I think he’s been our best player this season and I think it’s vital he remains at the club so he can help them get out of this current mess.
“The door has closed on my time at Hendon. I still hold fond memories of my spell, but it’s time to move on now.”
McCann said: “Whenever Kev put the Hendon shirt on he wore it with great pride and gave absolutely everything for this club, never anything less than 100 per cent, and I had no hesitation in appointing him as captain.
“What isn’t so well-known is his leadership and support off the pitch. While on the pitch I had a great captain and very talented player. Off the pitch Hendon had a loyal and outstanding captain. I wish him all the very best for the future.”