Hendon Green & Gold 9 - Jimmy Quail

Greensnet Editor
Wed 11 Jun 2014, 07:00

The latest in the series focuses on a Hendon legend who, as recently as 2012-13, was an occasional visitor. Thanks to Peter Lush for his assistance with this biography.

Jimmy Quail was one of the finest players to grace the Isthmian League when Hendon entered the competition in 1963. He had already spent 10 years with the Greens - apart from a short spell at Enfield. In modern football, he would probably be either a striker or attacking midfielder, in the mould of Zinedine Zidane.

His family had moved from Bambridge, Northern Ireland before he was old enough for school, living in Harlesden. He wrote to the club in 1953 to ask for a trial and was taken on, but did not become a regular Hendon first-teamer at Claremont Road until 1956.

Jimmy played in the 1960 FA Amateur Cup-winning team, and was rewarded with a place in the British squad for the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, but didn't get a game. He did, however, earn the first of his two Northern Ireland amateur international caps and, in November 1960, also came very close to selection for the full Northern Ireland team. In a scenario that wouldn't have happened today, Jimmy played in an FA Cup replay against Oxford United instead of representing Northern Ireland against Scotland at Hampden Park in a Home Nations Championship match. Quail scored Hendon's second goal in a 3-2 defeat.

After two years at Enfield, Jimmy returned to Claremont Road for the start of the Greens' venture into the Isthmian League - which was now the number one amateur competition in the south of England, and Hendon were among the very best. The Greens finished runners-up behind Wimbledon in 1963-64, but the following season was the greatest in club history.

With Jimmy pulling the strings, Hendon won the League and Amateur Cup. But there was an earlier highlight, in the London FA Challenge Cup, a competition for London Football League clubs and two invited amateur teams - the finalists of the previous season's London Senior Cup. Hendon were drawn away to Arsenal, who filled the team with a number of players who would become household names. Ian Ure, a recent big-money transfer, was at centre-half, Bob Wilson was in goal, Jon Sammels played in midfield and John Radford led the attack. Radford scored a hat-trick, but Danny Lakey and David Hyde, also a hat-trick, ensured Hendon advanced.

Jimmy and Hendon returned to Highbury for the Amateur Cup semi-final, and Quail set up David Hyde for the first goal in a 4-1 Hendon victory over near-neighbours Finchley. On 24 April 1965, Jimmy scored at Wembley in the Greens' 3-1 victory over Whitby Town and, six days later, was in the Hendon team at Champion Hill, Dulwich, as Enfield were crushed 4-1 in the only championship playoff in Isthmian League history.

On 26 February 1966, playing against Wycombe Wanderers in the Amateur Cup quarter-final, Jimmy suffered a double break to his leg. Without Quail, Hendon reached the final but succumbed to Wealdstone. Jimmy did return the following season but, by his own admission, was not the same player. He returned to Enfield for a brief spell, then joined Walton & Hersham, but he retired after one season.

In November 1972, Jimmy was contacted by former Hendon team-mate John Evans, who had managed Hendon to victory in the Amateur and Barassi Cups that year. Evans was leaving to manage in Colombia, and Jimmy was invited to take over as boss. His first game back (Evans remained in charge for a few more weeks) could hardly have been tougher, an FA Cup first round proper tie against Plymouth Argyle. Hendon came within a few seconds of forcing a replay, going down 1-0.

Quail finished what Evans had started, a dominant season, unbeaten in the first 39 Isthmian League games and champions by Easter. The following season saw Hendon's best FA Cup run, reaching the third round proper, where Newcastle won a replay at Vicarage Road after a 1-1 draw at St James’s Park. Eventually the Greens finished runners-up behind Wycombe in the race for the title, after which football lost its amateur-professional distinction, and Hendon slipped out of the elite. Jimmy had already decided to resign at the end of the season because of work commitments.

Jimmy returned to manage the club for 18 months in 1976, leaving at Christmas 1977, and then again in 1982, when he worked with Gary Hand, who was officially the manager. They kept Hendon in the Premier Division, but Gary's work commitments meant he (and Jimmy) left at end of the 1982-83 season. Although Gary returned in 1985, Jimmy has had no involvement with football management since then.

Born: 14 November 1935

Joined Hendon: 1954-55 and 1963-64, two spells as manager, one as assistant manager

Left Hendon: Summer 1983

Appearances: 383 (382 starts, 1 as substitute)

Goals: 174

Winners' medals: FA Amateur Cup: 1959-60 and 1964-65; Athenian League Champions: 1955-56 and 1960-61; Isthmian League Champions: 1964-65 (player) and 1972-73 (manag