This year, Hendon town are doing it the hard way as they slowly proceed through the FA Cup qualifying rounds. Their first round match against Harlow ended with honours even, and it took extra time in the replay for Hendon to squeeze by. In the second round, they got caught up in the blast of the Phoenix Sports controversy, bizarrely playing a second round tie against Phoenix, and then another against Lansing when the latter were reinstated. That, too was a draw, so Hendon’s third second-round match takes place this week.
For the fans, however, it is just one more opportunity to relish this unique time of the year. That holds true with any non-league side, but Hendon might have a few special guests who need it more than most.
Only the lonely
Prior to Hendon’s first round match, Chairman Simon Lawrence captured the attention of the national sporting and gambling media with his open invitation to those suffering from depression or loneliness. He said that anyone suffering from conditions like these who feels they could “benefit from a couple of hours watching a league game” is always welcome at Hendon and will be granted free admission.
It’s a gesture that resonates in this modern age. Today, we are as immersed in following eSports online as much as physical sport on the football field, and we are more likely to visit Casinopedia for the best online casino sites than have a night out in a gambling hall. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and it opens up these kinds of leisure activities to a whole new audience, but it can lead to an increasing sense of social isolation. Also, when you are gambling at eSports or casinos, always make sure you know your limits.
At Hendon, it’s personal
Lawrence, and the rest of the management and players at Hendon, have seen first-hand how devastating that can be. Dermot Drummy made more than 300 appearances for the team in the 1980s, and was one of those characters who inevitable goes down in sporting history for his skills on the pitch and his good humour off it. He went on to forge a successful management career in charge of Crawley Town, and was the youth coach at Chelsea.
Earlier this year, the sport was rocked by the news that Hendon’s most famous and popular son had taken his own life having battled depression for some years. Lawrence said: “I don’t think anybody could understand how such a bubbly character could be in such turmoil inside.”
For Dermot and for everyone
Lawrence went on to say that nobody is immune from mental illness, and that if Hendon can play a role in bringing even a small amount of comfort and relief, he will be happy. As far as the cup run itself is concerned, Hendon is looking to make it through the qualifying founds and into the first round proper for the 22nd time in its history.
The most recent appearance was in 2012, when the club lost to Aldershot. The furthest Hendon has ever advanced was in the 1973/74 season, when they played Newcastle in the third round and took the game to a replay. Plenty will be hoping for a repeat performance 45 years on.