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Hendon Green & Gold 34 - Alan Phillips

Greensnet Editor
Thu 16 Jul 2015, 18:24

The subject of today's feature is one of only two Hendon players to score the winning goal for the club in FA Cup ties against Football League clubs.

On 22 November 1975, Alan Phillips added his name to the pantheon of Hendon greats. It was his header, from a Dave Metchick free-kick, past Reading goalkeeper Steve Death, that gave the Greens a 1-0 win, their first ever FA Cup victory against Football League opposition. But that is getting ahead of ourselves, because it came in Ala'’s second spell, and the last of his four seasons at Claremont Road. Alan first joined Hendon from Isthmian League rivals Tooting & Mitcham United at the start of the 1971–72 season. At 25 years old, he was an experienced player, with four Wales Amateur international caps to his name - earning two each at Tooting and Barry Town. Alan was a clever centre-half, not particularly robust in build, but good enough to keep taller players quiet in an era when challenges were distinctly more physical and referees more lenient.

In Alan's first season, Hendon finished nine points behind champions Wycombe Wanderers, but they did beat them 2-1 in a memorable FA Amateur Cup semi-final. In the final, Hendon met Middlesex rivals Enfield at Wembley. Alan, and the rest of the Hendon defence, were magnificent as they kept Enfield out as the Greens won 2-0. It was not Alan's only winner's medal that season, as he also played in Hendon's Middlesex Senior Cup triumph against Hampton - and Enfield denied him and the Greens a treble by winning the London Senior Cup final. Alan, who worked for Heinz, had his football exploits publicised in an illustrated feature in the company magazine.

Hendon's defence in 1972-73 was arguably the meanest in Isthmian League history and it was the Greens' proud boast that none of the 18 goals they conceded in 42 league matches came from a corner. Hendon raced to the championship and did not lose a league game until 17 April 1973 (ending a run of 13 straight league wins which had begun on 25 November and had seen just two goals conceded). Stability was key and between goalkeeper John Swannell, the regular back four of Alan, Tony Jennings, Gary Hand and Peter Deadman and the two central midfielders, Phil Fry and Rod Haider, just three cup-ties were missed between them. Many more league games were missed, but clashes with internationals made that inevitable. Alan won his last two Wales Amateur caps during his first two Hendon seasons, including one in 1972-73 (as an aside, Wales's final ever amateur international came on 23 February 1974, the day Hendon entertained Leatherhead in the Amateur Cup and while Alan put club ahead of country, future Hendon manager Gwyn Walters, then at Barking, did play in the game). Hendon won two other trophies that season: in October, as the Amateur Cup winners, they played Italian side Unione, for the Barassi Cup and won 3-1 on aggregate; then, in May, retained the Middlesex Senior Cup, beating Enfield in the final.

Alan missed only one of 67 matches in 1973-74, the season in which Hendon hit the national headlines by holding Newcastle United to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup third round. In the previous round, Alan was on the scoresheet in his homeland when Hendon won 3-0 at Merthyr Tydfil. Only a crazy run-in to end the season - Hendon had played nine FA Amateur Cup ties, but drew six of them - saw the Greens end up two points behind champions Wycombe. More importantly, it was the end of the amateur era, and while clubs such as Wycombe and Enfield spent heavily on players, Hendon were more frugal - the upshot of which was wholesale departures, Alan included, from Claremont Road.

A move to Wycombe brought Alan more FA Cup glory as the Chairboys held top-division Middlesbrough - managed by World Cup winner Jack Charlton - to a goalless draw before losing the replay 1-0 on their sloping Loakes Park pitch. A year later, Alan was back at Hendon and the Greens reached the FA Cup second round, where Swindon won 1-0 at Claremont Road thanks to a late penalty. In the previous round, Hendon had been drawn at home to Reading. The Biscuitmen - as they were known in those days – were riding high at the top of the old Fourth Division, but Hendon matched them in every department and Alan's headed goal proved to be the only one of the match.
The Greens finished the season in sixth place, with Alan having played in all 42 matches - he missed just one cup-tie - and added the Middlesex Charity Cup to his already large collection of medals. He scored the last of his 11 Hendon goals in his penultimate appearance for the Greens, the consolation in a 3-1 defeat at Woking.

Joined Hendon: Summer 1971; Summer 1975. Left Hendon: Summer 1974; Summer 1976
Appearances: 232 (all starts). Goals: 11
Medals won: FA Amateur Cup: 1971-72; Isthmian League: 1972-73; Barassi Cup: 1972-73; Middlesex Senior Cup: 1971-72, 1972-73, 1973-74; Middlesex Charity Cup 1975-76