Hendon Green & Gold 8 - Danny Worley

Greensnet Editor
Sun 08 Jun 2014, 07:00

The latest in the series focuses on a Hendon player who died tragically young but heroically.

It takes a special kind of player to accept a role as substitute week-in week-out. One of those, and probably in the top two 'super subs' in Hendon's history, is Danny Worley. There were many things that made Danny, who was raised in Hendon, a special player, not just the acceptance of his place in the squad. Ask any manager about problems posed an opposing player, and the thing they all find hardest to deal with is exceptional pace. Danny was one of the fastest players ever to appear for the Greens and a succession of managers realised that his speed, against tiring defenders, would be more effective late in a game than from the start.

Danny came to Hendon when youth club Princes Park FC was the club's midweek under-18 squad. It was an exceptional team, led by Steve Newing, with Phil Gridelet also a regular player. Steve was one of the country's top schoolboy footballers, while Phil went on to enjoy a long professional career and remains the last man to earn an England Non-League international cap while a Hendon player. Junior Lewis wore England's No. 10 shirt in a Football Association XI fixture at Soham in the late 1990s, but it was not officially an England match.

Newing was the first of the trio to make his first-team debut, doing so on 1 January 1985. Danny made his bow on 23 March 1985, partnering George Duck in a 2-2 draw away to Tooting & Mitcham United. It was the first of four appearances - all starts - he made in what was a troubled season. Despite the Greens' problems, Danny was never on the losing side in that campaign. The highlight was his magnificent individual performance in a stunning 3-1 victory away to Wycombe Wanderers, denting their title challenge - the Chairboys went up when the top two, Sutton and Worthing, declined promotion - while simultaneously bolstering the Greens in their battle against the drop. He didn't score in the game, but Newing finished off a move created by Danny for the decisive third goal.

Danny brought something different, a joie de vivre and almost naïve attitude, but he was steeped in sportsmanship, something his father demanded. Despite taking serious kickings from a number of defenders neither quick nor smart enough to stop him legitimately, he never retaliated. In the 1985-86 season, he scored Hendon's goal in a 2-1 defeat away to Yeovil Town; in the return at Claremont Road in March, a Glovers defender, once more beaten for pace, slowed Danny down by literally knocking him into the front row of the stand.

The only reason Danny didn't make many more appearances for the Greens was that he was already committed to joining the Royal Air Force and his studies often took priority. In March 1987, Hendon FC Supporters Association made a presentation to Danny on the pitch at Richmond Road after a 1-0 defeat of Kingstonian. He had been an unused substitute on what would have been his final appearance before going to RAF training. Hendon could have done with Danny as the team had a frantic end to the season, which culminated in League and Premier Inter-League Cup final defeats. A player who could make a difference off the bench, he scored the winner the Inter-League Cup last-16 defeat of Dagenham, and there might have been a happier outcome if he had played in the 3-2 League Cup final loss to Bognor Regis Town.

But Danny wasn't actually finished with football or Hendon. The following season, when on leave, he came back to play for the Greens nine times, seven as substitute, but he didn't reach the 10 goal career milestone. His 61st and final appearance, 40th as a substitute, came on 29 March 1988, a win - naturally - 3–0 against Croydon at Claremont Road.

Danny travelled around the world with the RAF and when he entered civilian life, he was married and then moved from Wiltshire to Derbyshire - by coincidence the Commissioner of Derbyshire's Police force was his former Princes Park and Hendon Youth coach, John Newing. On 2 May 2000, with his wife heavily pregnant with their second child, Danny was co-pilot in a Learjet flying Formula One driver David Coulthard to Europe for a Grand Prix. The plane developed problems and crash-landed at Lyon-Satolas Airport in France. The efforts of Danny and the pilot, David Saunders, ensured that the three passengers escaped without serious injury; tragically, however, the cockpit caught fire and Worley, still only 33, and Saunders died.

Born: 1967

Died: 2 May 2000
Joined Hendon: 1984-85
Left Hendon: 1988
Appearances: 61 (21 starts, 40 as substitute)
Goals: 9
Winners' medal: Middlesex Senior Cup 1985-86

(David Ballheimer)