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The Non-League Football Paper

Hemel Hempstead Town boss Dean Brennan finding alternative ways to compete

Pic: Andy Nunn

DEAN BRENNAN has come up with a unique yet time consuming way of making sure talented players don’t pass Hemel Hempstead Town by.

The Irishman accepts the club are not in a position to compete financially with many in the National League South.

So the manager and his staff have gone to extreme measures to find bargains and untapped ability lower down the ladder as the former Grays Athletic, Lewes and Hitchin player aims to build a squad ready to take the league by storm next season.

Brennan explained: “It’s Challenge 24 for us. There are four of us in our management team and every week, our aim has been to get out to six matches each.

“I’m not including Hemel’s matches in that! There’s a lot of football going on during the day, youth games, Non-League games and Football League matches.

“If you do a job I think you have got to do it properly or not at all. In management you have got to leave no stone unturned if you want to be successful – we’re looking to build a squad that can do something next season but we won’t have the budget that a fair number of clubs do so we’ve got to find other ways of doing things, like working harder than the rest!

“Six matches each a week scouting seems a lot, but we love it. You have to live and breathe football or you get left behind. Studying players is part of that job.”

The Tudors have just lost their best player, striker Jake Robinson, to big spending Billericay. Another way Hemel are trying to bridge the gap is by putting faith in their young players.

In their squad of 16 last weekend against Dartford, Brennan named one 17-year-old – Bradley Singh – and four 16-year-olds.

“Our academy is thriving,” he said. “Bradley played 90 minutes and was sensational against one of the best teams in the league.

“In fact we’ve had some fantastic news in the past few days that Kai Stonnell has been offered a trial with Crystal Palace. He’s 16, and oozes talent.

“We don’t pay money for players, but since I have been here we have brought in over £110,000 in transfer fees and I’m proud of that.

“We sold Jake to Billericay Town three weeks ago – he’s by far the best forward I have managed and it was a great deal for the club, considering he only had six weeks of his contract left.

“As a club Hemel have to find different ways to do things so there’s no rest for the management team!”

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