Hendon Green & Gold 15 - Junior Lewis

Greensnet Editor
Sun 29 Jun 2014, 07:00

Today's Green and Gold subject is one of the three men who not only played in the Leyton Orient victory but has also been found every week in the Greens' dugout for the past three years.

Junior Lewis was one of the most passionate players to appear for Hendon in the 1990s. He is also the only man to have played in the top nine tiers of the English football pyramid. Junior played briefly in the Football League in the early 1990s before joining Dover Athletic, managed by Peter Taylor in 1995. After a short spell at Hayes, he joined Hendon, making his debut on 21 September 1996, a 3-1 win, in which he scored the first goal.

Neil Price's team struggled to put together a string of results in the League, but had much more success in the FA Cup - after escaping against Fisher in the second qualifying round. Junior returned to The Crabble in the third qualifying round where a Paul Kelly goal gave Hendon a shock win over Conference club Dover, and played his part in the victory over Hastings Town in the final qualifying round. The 2-0 win in the replay at Claremont Road gave Hendon a tie against former FA Cup winners (albeit 70 years earlier) Cardiff City, where the Bluebirds triumphed 2-0. A few weeks after Price departed, Frank Murphy was appointed and he engineered the Greens' escape form relegation

The following season, Junior and Hendon enjoyed even greater success, once more in the FA Cup. A first round proper tie at home to Leyton Orient attracted great interest and two Colin Simpson equalisers forced a replay at the Matchroom Stadium (Brisbane Road). There, on 25 November 1997, the Hendon management team of the past three seasons, Gary McCann, Freddie Hyatt and Junior, combined for the Greens' winning goal - the decisive cross coming from John-Simon White. It was only Hendon's second ever FA Cup victory over a Football League club, first away from Claremont Road, and the second half was broadcast live on BBC Radio 5 Live, with John Murray commentating. Cardiff ended the Cup run 3-1 in the next round.

But Junior was given a new strike partner straight after the Leyton Orient victory in the shape of Paul Whitmarsh. Simpson left to join Leyton Orient, a transfer that Junior took personally as he considered himself - justifiably, it must be said - a far better footballer. He told some Hendon youngsters in 2008, "When Simpson joined Orient I wasn't jealous, I was angry because I knew I was a better player, but I was even more determined to get back into the Football League. I knew I could play in the League."

Whitmarsh and Lewis formed a lethal partnership in the second half of the 1997-98 season, which culminated in a 13-match unbeaten run, including a thumping 4-1 demolition of Basingstoke Town in the Full Members Cup final at Chesham United's ground. The run of nine wins and two draws to end the campaign saw Hendon finish in fifth place, one of the best placings in a quarter of a century. Junior finished the season with 22 goals in just 41 appearances, and the Greens' stunning end-of-season form immediately made them title favourites for 1998-99.

It must be said that the campaign was more than a little disappointing. There was another FA Cup first round appearance and Junior was nearly a hero again against Notts County when he twice came within inches of scoring in the first game at Claremont Road - the replay, after a postponement, was lost 3-0. The Ryman League form, however, was inconsistent at best, mainly because all the goals scored by Lewis and Whitmarsh were more than cancelled out by less-than-stellar defending. Junior scored 28 goals in 55 appearances, but was eclipsed by his strike-partner who grabbed 42 in 53 appearances. Whitmarsh excepted, only once since 1967-68 - Tony Bass, with 30 in 1972–73 - had a Hendon player scored more than Junior's 28 goals in a season.

That saw the end of Junior's first spell at Hendon as Peter Taylor gave him a chance at Gillingham. All in all, Junior played more than 200 matches for Gillingham, Leicester, Brighton, Swindon, Hull and Brentford. A close of friend of Del Deanus, Junior then played in non league football for Del and Steve Newing at Edgware Town and Welwyn, helping with Del's care when he was diagnosed with MND and arranging fund-raising events.

He returned to Hendon in 2011, mainly on the coaching side, though Junior did pass the 150-appearance mark with eight games off the bench. He announced that he was leaving the club shortly before the end of the 2013-14 season to further his career, and has since been appointed as assistant head coach to Dave Hockaday at Leeds United.

Joined Hendon: As player: September 1996; as player-coach June 2011;
Left Hendon: May 1999 and May 2014
Appearances: 154 (141 starts, 13 substitute)
Goals: 69
Medals won: Isthmian Full Members Cup 1997-98, 1998-99, Middlesex Senior Cup: 1998-99

(David Ballheimer)