1972 Amateur Cup: How Hendon beat Enfield

John Evans leads Hendon out for the 1972 Amateur Cup final

John Evans leads Hendon out for the 1972 Amateur Cup final - Credit: c/o John Evans

Hendon Football Club celebrates the 50th anniversary of their 1972 Amateur Cup final win over Enfield at Wembley Stadium today (April 22).

In the third and final 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.

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Having beaten Wycombe in the semi-final at Brentford in mid-March, preparations for our clash with Enfield were well under way. 

Local radio took great interest in this north London derby final and both Howard Moxom, the Enfield manager, and I were invited into the studios of Radio London to give a brief interview as to our thoughts and feelings about the game.

Since Enfield was the 'home side', my adversary was the first to be invited into the studio in order to offer his assessment of the game, followed by me later in the day. 

Generally the questions were of a nature one would expect from such an interview until the interviewer told me that he had asked Moxom the obvious question: "And the scoreline Howard. With your fire power, what do you think the final score will be at 5.40pm on 22nd April?"

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After a brief pause, Howard answered: "With our front line, Enfield will win 3-1."

As my interview came to a conclusion, they played that prediction back to me. I listened carefully to that piece of the recording. 

"Well, John. What is your reply to Mr Moxom?" I was asked.

It was my turn to pause. I looked at the interviewer with a smile and replied clearly and loudly. 

"A 3-1 scoreline? Howard is absolutely correct in his prediction that there will be a two-goal difference between the two teams. However, Enfield will not score."

Training during the week preceding the final was kept light with very little physical work but included a visit to Wembley Stadium as part of our sports psychology programme.

At Claremont Road we worked on some restarts having had one corner of the ground marked out to measurements equal to those of Wembley and all other preparations were focused on mental aspects of the occasion including light ball-play in the gymnasium and interviews with each player about their expectation.

Although there were players at Hendon who had experienced most of what amateur football had to offer, there were others who had seen very little of this type of arena, and this proved to be a bonding exercise which I believe players found useful and relaxing.

The press gave fair comparisons of the teams, tending to highlight the clash between Enfield’s strike force and Hendon’s defensive record, even suggesting the possibility of a dull game. 

However, the mindset of the club was positive as we had considered most, if not all, of what was to come and, although engaged in a heart-pounding event, we took a clear sense of purpose into the Wembley dressing room on that day.

As anticipated, the Enfield front line initially gave Hendon some very anxious moments after which we slowly gained momentum. 

"Because they were cooler under pressure and more constructive in midfield, it was no surprise when Hendon took the lead," wrote Terry Delaney and it was John Baker, the opening scorer in that crucial semi-final against Wycombe who latched onto a clearance from our defensive third. 

In spite of close shadowing away from the danger area, John’s powerful delivery struck a defender’s leg and looped over the Enfield goalkeeper and into the net for the opening goal. 

We took that lead to the dressing room at half-time and, rather similar to the Wycombe game, the attitude was one of quiet determination to deal with the Enfield front line, to be patient and maintain firm control of the game. 

Walking out onto the pitch in the second half to see the scoreboard read 'Enfield 0 Hendon 1' was nothing short of magical, an incredible boost for any player wearing a green shirt.

With some 11 minutes to go, an error took place, an error on their part. 

Pouncing on the short ball, Johnny Connell did not need further encouragement than to be given possession in space. He seized the mistake and took off before a clumsy tackle brought him down. 

There was no other player better than Roddy Haider for putting a free-kick in a given area. Tony Bass entered that space at speed getting in front of the defender and powered the delivery past the goalkeeper’s right hand.

It was then a case of patient control and wait for the final whistle. As the clock ticked, that 'Enfield 0 Hendon 2' scoreboard seemed to get bigger.

Hendon players celebrate winning the Amateur Cup in 1972

Hendon players celebrate winning the Amateur Cup in 1972 - Credit: c/o John Evans

Trevor Williamson in his Sunday article wrote of "Cabbie Connell rings up his Treble" making reference to the fact that Irish international John had just picked up his third winner’s medal, the other two having been won with Enfield in previous years. 

Dennis Signy hailed Tony Bass’ clinching second goal but added comments about his slight bias towards Hendon as he, Dennis, was a Hendon boy and sneaked in through a hole in the fence in order to watch his first game of footie at Hendon in the heady days when the Compton brothers, Leslie and Denis played, for the club before moving on to more fame with Arsenal and England.

Lance Masters’ headline was "Bass Brews a Winner" adding: "Their (Hendon’s) defence indeed lived up to its reputation, with Swannell always looking what he is, the best amateur goalkeeper in England. But their attack also frequently looked more polished and dangerous than anything Enfield had to offer."

People are entitled to an opinion in a game like this but what everyone saw that day was the result of hard work. 

Undoubtedly Peter Deadman was outstanding with Rod Haider and Bobby Childs thoroughly enjoying themselves creating space in midfield. 

Connell received much recognition and Tony Bass gave us possession in the air and on the ground. And there was Johnny Baker who again turned in a huge performance. 

But I read many reports and could not find names like Keith Jameson or Gary Hand and only scant mentions of Tony Jennings and Alan Phillips, an absence of report only because those lads, all of them defenders, did not put a foot wrong and were every bit as expert in their areas as any of those mentioned, a team in which all recognized the importance of collective effort. 

In that Hendon team there was no such thing as a weak link, just a desire on every player’s part to make the necessary contribution in order to deliver the required result. 

It was a joy to work with them and, taking another sip of tea whilst sitting in his garden recently, I asked Peter Deadman how he felt that day. 

Hendon players on a lap of honour at Wembley after winning the Amateur Cup in 1972

Hendon players on a lap of honour at Wembley after winning the Amateur Cup in 1972 - Credit: c/o John Evans

The question initiated a huge grin. "Easy answer, it was the best day of my life," he said.