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Hendon Green & Gold 36 - Eugene Ofori

Greensnet Editor
Mon 20 Jul 2015, 20:32

Dave Anderson was on not at the game when Eugene Ofori made his first Hendon appearance, in a friendly at Claremont Road against Yeading in August 2001. Assistant manager Jon Turner, the former Yeading boss, took one look at the stocky striker, who had played in the Ghanaian top division as well as trialling with Watford, and nicknamed him "Yeboah", because of the physical similarities between Ghanaian compatriots Ofori and Tony Yeboah, then one of the most exciting strikers in the Premier League.

Eugene's debut was brief – and as a substitute – and he did not actually appear in a competitive match until late September, coming off the bench late in a 3–1 defeat against Canvey Island. For a player who scored a goal every 2.76 appearances, it is surprising that he failed to register until his 10th game, a Middlesex Senior Cup tie at Kingsbury Town. Eugene also finished the season with an eight-game goalless run. He was used strangely in the campaign, coming off the bench 13 times in 28 League matches, but starting 11 of 12 cup-ties. But it was a successful season for Hendon in that there was silverware at the end of it in the shape of the Middlesex Senior Cup – Anderson's teams won the trophy in all three seasons he was Hendon manager. The first final was a thriller against Northwood, at Church Road, Hayes, and the Greens won 4-2 after extra-time.

The following season, capped by a Middlesex Senior Cup victory over Enfield Town at Northwood, in which Eugene scored the decisive second goal just before half-time, followed a similar pattern to 2001-02, because while Eugene was an almost ever-present in cup-ties - starting 13 times in 15 appearances - but 15 of his 35 League games were as a substitute. More importantly, he was a big contributor of goals, grabbing 17, four behind top-scorer Ricci Crace.

The best of Eugene's four seasons at Claremont Road was in 2003–04, when he averaged a goal every other game and appeared in 54 of the Greens' 57 games. He netted seven times in eight cup starts but more laudably managed 20 in the Ryman League, always a benchmark for a striker, irrespective of a season being 38, 42 or 46 matches. Eugene was again on target in the Middlesex Senior Cup final, grabbing the first goal in the 3-1 extra-time victory over Uxbridge at Yeading. In a spell of eight games from the first weekend of February to the first weekend in March, he scored eight times, helping Hendon to an unbeaten run of 16 matches. Hendon fans recognised Eugene's contributions and he was the easy winner of the Supporters Association's player of the year award. The Greens would have finished second if they had done better in their final four matches as they slipped from second to fourth in the table, but part of the dip in form could be attributed to the rumours surrounding the regarding Anderson's future - he would join AFC Wimbledon - and the promotion to the newly-formed Conference South.

It was all change in 2004-05 as 13 members of the Hendon playing and management staff moved to Kingsmeadow. More importantly the club decided not to take their place in the new second tier of Non-league football and had to find a new manager from outside, something that had not happened since March 1997. Tony Choules, from Northwood, was selected to take charge of team affairs and Eugene was one of the few players to remain loyal to Hendon. Although the season started well, things fell apart after the embarrassing FA Cup defeat at Stevenage Borough and Choules' immediate departure. Choules' assistant, Gary Farrell was the new manager and he oversaw a catastrophic January which saw exits from four cup competitions and 32 goals conceded. Farrell was sacked after three months as the Greens lurched towards relegation - they had been top of the table in September! Gary McCann became the third manager of the season on and he steadied the ship, seeing Hendon safely avoid relegation. Only goalkeeper Dave King and centre-back Rene Street made more than Eugene's 47 appearances, but Ofori's 14 goals were a distinct drop from the previous season.

Hendon opened the 2005–06 season with a trip to Braintree Town. The Iron wasted little time in putting in an approach to sign Eugene, and his final Hendon goals before moving to Essex came in his penultimate appearance - a double in the famous 5-4 win at Wealdstone.

Joined Hendon: Summer 2001. Left Hendon: September 2005
Appearances: 196 (155 starts, 41 as a substitute). Goals: 71
Supporters Association Player of the Year: 2003-04
Medals won: Middlesex Senior Cup 2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04