Sprague content to be back in familiar surroundings at Hendon
PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 September 2016
He may have only been away for a matter of months, but Oliver Sprague is delighted to have re-signed for Hendon after an ill-fated spell at Welling United.
Having been one of the first names on Gary McCann’s teamsheet since the 2014/15 campaign, Sprague departed Earlsmead at the conclusion of last season, having made 102 appearances for the Greens.
But after just three National League South appearances, and with the Wings languishing in the relegation zone, the left-back returned to familiar surroundings this week, having learned a great deal.
He said: “I’m not going to go into too much detail, but I wasn’t very happy about the way I was treated [at Welling] – that’s football.
“From the short time I had there, I’ve realised that I’m only going to excel if I’m enjoying football and I’m confident – it’s definitely toughened me up.
“When things did go a bit pear-shaped, the first port of call I came across was to go back to Hendon, so I’m really pleased to be back and it’s good to see old faces.
“Obviously I want to enjoy football so that’s the first place I would go if I went anywhere – the geography of it is a lot closer for me too.”
Sprague is just one of several former players to have returned to the club this season, including Aaron Morgan and the Maclaren brothers, who are available to play again following suspensions that kept them out of action for the bulk of last season.
And having reached the Ryman Premier Division play-off final in 2015 with a similar player base, Sprague believes Hendon are in with a chance of achieving a similar feat following his return from Kent.
He said: “I’d think it was a disappointment if we didn’t get into the play-offs, so I’d say that would be a good aim for us, especially with a lot of the team having experienced the play-off final two years ago – we’d definitely fancy ourselves.
“We had a friendly on Monday night which was my first 90 minutes in about three weeks. It was good to put the Hendon shirt back on and play with some of the old players I used to play alongside.
“You can see that, with a couple of others added to the team, it looks a lot stronger than it did last year so I’m really excited to play in this team again but it’s a lot more competitive.”
The 22-year-old had reportedly been courted by Football League clubs including the likes of Stevenage, Gillingham and Brentford following his performances under McCann but, while he still harbours ambitions of playing at a higher level, Sprague is content with continuing his development at Silver Jubilee Park for the time being.
“Hendon is where I feel that I can get the most out of myself,” he revealed. “There’s a lot of competition but at the same time I can enjoy myself, having players around me that I can trust.
“I like playing with Gary as my manager, he gives me a lot of confidence and also the training is really good for the level that it is.
“In terms of pushing higher, I’m not aiming to do so short-term, but in the long-term being here is definitely going to help to get clubs interested in me.
“I think it will help me but I’m not looking to go anywhere at the minute.”