Hendon Green & Gold 45 - Richard Wilmot

Greensnet Editor
Sun 23 Aug 2015, 08:38

The player today is one whose bravery was maybe greater than any of the recent era, goalkeeper Richard Wilmot.

We first came across Richard Wilmot when he played for Hitchin Town in the Southern Counties Floodlit Youth League. He was one of the most affable goalkeepers around, and he had talent, too, as he was signed by Mansfield Town. It didn't work out for him and he returned to the south Midlands and Hitchin, though he also had a spell at Stevenage Borough

He was an excellent 'keeper, on more than one occasion earning points for his team with top performances against the Greens. Very tall and athletic, the nickname "Stretch" seemed entirely appropriate. Gary McCann's injury meant he was unavailable at the start of the 2000–01 season and Andy Iga lost form, so manager Frank Murphy hunted around for a goalkeeper. Hitchin had three and they considered Richard to be their third-choice, so he came to Hendon for a month. Richard was also one of three police officers in the Greens' line-up - probationer Jon Daly and Paul Towler, both in the Met - and Richard, based in Stevenage.

Richard did well enough in the first month for the loan to be extended for a second month and then a third - the maximum permitted under the loan rules of the time. A trip to Carshalton was the last game of the loan spell, but it proved to be his final game for quite a while. Already trailing 1-0, Richard raced of his line to deal with danger from Jamie Pace and the two collided. He has subsequently revealed that he knew immediately that his arm was badly injured - probably broken - but he stayed on the pitch. Think about this for a moment: a goalkeeper, in the final game of a loan spell, breaks his arm and refuses to come off. It was 100 percent insanity, 100 percent loyalty and 100 percent bravery. By half-time, the pain was too much, so he was packed off to hospital to get the break confirmed, while Bontcho Guentchev took over in goal, and Hendon came back to win 2-1. Come the end of the season, and although Gary was back playing, he had to be nursed through games and could not play three times a week. Richard was released and returned to Hendon for the final few weeks. Unfortunately, he then injured his groin, so Hendon finished the season with two crocked goalkeepers - both, semi-mobile at best, had a half in a loss at Gravesend & Northfleet.

Fast forward to 2006 and Gary, now the manager, was looking for an experienced goalkeeper, who could look after a very inexperienced team in front of him. The Greens had been reprieved from relegation during the summer and the team went through a difficult few months to start the season, failing to win any of the first 11 League games, and they had just two points on the board before they went to Walton & Hersham and won 2-0. It was the start of a remarkable turnaround. Richard was inspiring in goal, almost single-handedly defying some teams as the Greens found ways to snatch wins and points. Not only were his performances frequently top-quality, he was respected and trusted in equal amounts by the defenders in front of him and their performances also improved. Unsurprisingly, Richard's form was recognised by the fans and he finished the season with the Supporters Association Player of the Year in 2007. Hendon, in the end, finished just below half-way, 19 points clear of Worthing, who were the highest-placed Ryman League Premier Division club relegated. Richard was a League ever-present and missed only one cup-tie in what was to be his only full season for Hendon.

He celebrated his 38th birthday early in 2007-08 season, but 20+ years of goalkeeping were catching with up him and injuries took longer to heal, and he played in only 33 games. Richard was in goal, however, for the London Senior Cup final at Imber Court when Tooting & Mitcham United won 3-2, so he ended his Hendon career without any medals. He wasn't in the plans for the following season, but Luke Blackmore was injured in the second game, Joe Welch played three times and Berkley Laurencin four before Richard was recalled. He played in the final game at Claremont Road, but appeared only 10 times all season with Will Viner the main goalkeeper. Richard went on to play for AFC Sudbury before joining Barton Rovers where he eventually became part of their management team, leaving at the end of last season.

Joined Hendon: August 2000 (loan), March 2001, Summer 2006. Left Hendon: November 2000 (loan ended), May 2001, Autumn 2008
Appearances: 114 (all starts)
Supporters Association Player of the Year: 2006-07