Today’s Green and Gold subject is a current member of our management team, who graced the green (blue) and white shirt: Freddie Hyatt.
When Frank Murphy was looking for one or two final additions to his squad for the 1997-98 season, he chose a kindred soul: fantastic footballer, heavy smoker, free spirit on-and-off the pitch. For proof of this, look at the official team picture before the 1997 Leyton Orient tie. Welcome Freddie Hyatt, who filled all three criteria. Freddie had won an Isthmian League winner's medal with Hayes in 1995-96 and left the Missioners and Conference football to play for Frank at Claremont Road. He had previously played for Wokingham Town, for whom he won a runners-up medal against Hendon in the 1994 Full Members Cup Final, and Burnham.
Freddie signed on 16 August 1997, the day Hendon kicked off the season with a 2-1 victory over St Albans City. Three days later, he was on the bench for a salutary night in Kent as Gravesend & Northfleet scored three times in five minutes just before half-time, on their way to a 4-0 trouncing. Freddie came on for Paul Kelly long after the Greens had gone into damage-limitation mode.
Playing in the centre of midfield, he could spray the ball around the pitch effortlessly and set up chances from open play or set-pieces. His talent on the ball had made him a fan's favourite everywhere he had played - except where lung-bursting work-rate and effort were considered more important than good, solid, fundamental basic passing, together with more than a little flair.
Hendon fans were given a special taste on one of the greatest nights in the club's history - 25 November 1997 - when Leyton Orient's colours were lowered at Brisbane Road in that famous FA Cup first round replay. Freddie's part in the goal was an outrageous piece of skill. He flicked the ball over his marker, turned, ran onto the ball and sprayed the ball out to the right wing, where John-Simon White was raiding. He crossed - and the rest is history. Thanks, Junior!
Freddie's goals came in three categories: penalties, stunning or vitally important (and sometimes in two or more of those categories). His finest goal came in March 1998, and it is one he never tires of repeating. Hendon were leading Sutton 2-1 midway through the second half and were coasting, even if the scoreline didn't suggest it. Sutton's goalkeeper ran to the edge of his penalty to clear some danger, but his clearance landed some distance short of half-way. Freddie called off a team-mate as the ball bounced towards him, then volleyed it into the roof of the net from the half-way line. It was aimed; it was intended and it was inspired: typical Freddie Hyatt.
Hendon finished the season with the Full Members Cup as Basingstoke were beaten 4-1 at Chesham United's ground. Freddie won his second Full Members winners medal 12 months later as Worthing were downed 1-0 at Sutton United's Gander Green Lane, and that completed a cup double for the season as he had won the Middlesex Senior Cup final - against Wembley at Enfield - with an audacious chip - in a penalty shoot-out. It was the decisive penalty, so there hadn't been any pressure to make sure he hit the target.
Fast forward to 1999-2000, Freddie's last playing season with the club, and injuries hampered his progress. He scored three times in cup competitions, in consecutive weeks, to open the scoring in victories over Blakenall (FA Cup third qualifying), Slough (FA Trophy) and Margate (the only goal of a very tight FA Cup last qualifying round match) and all were powerfully struck free-kicks. Only the Margate goalkeeper even touched the ball.
Like all great showmen, Freddie made sure his last Hendon appearance was more than memorable. Thirty minutes into the season-ending game away to Heybridge Swifts - 10 minutes after his penalty had opened the scoring - Freddie ran towards Mark Cranfield, flicked the ball up with his heel, sending it high over the full-back. Before he could react, Freddie had ran past him, trapping the ball before it bounced, then set off for goal, only for his effort to be smothered by the home goalkeeper. Mr Murphy's reaction? "If he had scored that, I would have taken him off the field and told him to retire, because he'll never beat that!" Spoken by a showman, who appreciated the talent of a showman.
Freddie played for a few other clubs before retiring. But he returned to Hendon in February 2006, to become Gary McCann's right-hand man - their friendship long pre-dated their Hendon careers - a role he has held ever since.
Joined Hendon: As player: 16 August 1997; as assistant manager February 2006
Left Hendon: Summer 2000
Appearances: 163 (150 starts, 13 substitute)
Medals won: Isthmian Full Members Cup 1997-98, 1998-99; Middlesex Senior Cup: 1998-99