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Hendon Green & Gold 37 - Bobby Childs

Greensnet Editor
Sun 26 Jul 2015, 17:18

The subject of this feature is one who died tragically young, Bobby Childs.

Bobby Childs' statistics don't tell the true story of his contributions to Hendon. The only competition he didn't win in six seasons at Claremont Road was the London Senior Cup, but he did get a runners-up medal in 1972 (Bobby had left Hendon much earlier in the season the Greens won the League Cup, the first season they entered the competition). He also played in the Hendon teams that drew at Newcastle United in 1974 and beat Reading in 1975. Bobby never led the club in appearances or goals but was second-top goalscorer in 1975-76. Before he joined Hendon, Bobby won an FA Amateur Cup-winners' medal in 1966, scoring twice for Wealdstone in the final against Hendon at Wembley.

A case could be made that Bobby was the final piece in the jigsaw as John Evans moulded one of the most dominant teams of the time. In modern terms, Bobby would be considered a winger or wide midfielder, having previously been more of an old-fashioned inside forward in the 1960s. Slope-shouldered, short and stocky, Bobby wasn't a will-of-the-wisp winger, but he combined great ball-control and strength with the ability to beat a defender inside or out and then deliver a dangerous cross. He was also a set-piece expert, either from the corner quadrant, from free-kicks or the penalty spot. From 12 yards, Bobby combined both power and placement; the one time it didn't work was an FA Trophy tie against Kettering Town in 1976, but the referee ordered the kick to be retaken and Bobby made no mistake second time around for the game's only goal.

Bobby's debut came against Hitchin Town in October 1971, a 2-0 victory, by which time Hendon had completed a large chunk of their League fixtures. He finished the season with 40 appearances, 19 of which came in cup-ties, including the finals of the FA Amateur Cup, London Senior Cup and Middlesex Senior Cup. He contributed five goals, three in knock-out matches, including the opener in the Amateur Cup semi-final against Wycombe Wanderers at Brentford and in the Middlesex Senior Cup final against Enfield. Bobby also scored in the Barassi Cup first leg against UC Valdinievole in autumn 1972. The 1972-73 season was the second most prolific of Bobby’s Hendon career as he netted 12 goals in 51 appearances and claimed Isthmian League and Middlesex Senior Cup winners' medals.

Hendon couldn't repeat their League glory in 1973-74, but they more than made up for it in the FA Cup where victories over Barnet, Leytonstone and Merthyr Tydfil set up a third-round tie against Newcastle United. More than 30,000 watched the game at St James's Park, where Alan Kennedy had a torrid afternoon trying to keep Bobby quiet. A 1-1 draw led to a replay at Vicarage Road, Watford, and Newcastle made no mistake second time around, winning 4-0. A combination of long cup runs and power supply problems meant that midweek games were largely impossible during the winter months, which led to fixture congestion, and Hendon - worse affected than most - finished two points behind champions Wycombe. The only consolation was a third straight victory in the Middlesex Senior Cup final, this time against Edgware Town.

The offseason saw almost all of the great team move on to pastures new and Bobby was one of those to go, returning to St Albans from where he had joined Hendon three years earlier. However, he returned to Claremont Road in February 1975, where finished the campaign with six goals in 14 appearances. Bobby might have made the difference in the Middlesex Senior Cup, where Hendon reached a fourth consecutive final, but the arcane qualification criteria of the time meant he was ineligible and the Greens lost in a replay to Staines Town.

Saturday 22 November 1975 is etched in Hendon history as the day the Greens first beat a Football League club in the FA Cup. Bobby was fouled on the halfway line at Claremont Road, Dave Metchick took the free-kick, John Baker flicked it on and Alan Phillips scored what proved to be the only goal against Reading. The following spring, Bobby won a Middlesex Charity Cup winners medal as Wembley were beaten 1-0 at Claremont Road. From a personal performance point of view this was possibly his best season, as 17 goals from 54 appearances and the Supporters Association Player of the Year award attest. It was also Bobby's last full season at Hendon as he left the club after making just 10 appearances in autumn 1976. Tragically, Bobby developed leukaemia, which claimed his life in his early 40s, a few years later.

Joined Hendon: October 1971; February 1975. Left Hendon: Summer 1974; September 1976
Appearances: 221 (206 starts, 15 as a substitute). Goals: 43
Supporters Association Player of the Year: 1975-76
Winners Medals: FA Amateur Cup 1971-72; Barassi Cup 1971-72; Isthmian League 1972-73; Middlesex Senior Cup: 1971-72, 1972-73, 1973-74, Middlesex Charity Cup 1975-76