Hendo was O so ready to be a boss again

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

ASK a Bar­net fan to name the club’s finest ever skip­per and one name will emerge again and again – Ian Hen­don. The big stuff won minds. The full-blooded tack­les, the tal­is­manic lead­er­ship, the cool penal­ties at crunch mo­ments.The cup runs, the great es­capes, the Con­fer­ence tro­phy he raised aloft.

“When you’ve got a player like Ian Hen­don in the dress­ing room,” said for­mer Bees boss Paul Fair­clough, “be­ing a man­ager be­comes very easy.”

But it was the lit­tle things that won hearts, like the league game at Steve­nage in Septem­ber 2003.


In­jured dur­ing the first half and subbed at half-time, Hen­don limped around the pitch to join the sup­port­ers in the away end. There, he chat­ted to fans, signed au­to­graphs, joined in their songs and, when Bar­net scored, dis­ap­peared un­der a pile of ador­ing bod­ies.

Then there were the home vis­its; to one Bar­net fan re­cov­er­ing from heart by­pass surgery; to another re­cov­er­ing from in­juries sus­tained in a train ac­ci­dent.

“I’d gone on loan from Sheffield Wed­nes­day and ended up find­ing a place that felt like home,” said Hen­don in 2009. “It is very tight-knit there and the sup­port­ers are great – you vir­tu­ally end up know­ing them all by name and I still speak to some of them now. They were great times.”

Yet, if Hen­don even­tu­ally came to love life on the down low at Un­der­hill, it was hardly what he’d dreamed of as a kid.

Born in Il­ford, the young cen­tre­half played for Es­sex County and then Eng­land school­boys be­fore win­ning an ap­pren­tice­ship at Spurs – the club he’d loved as boy.

But de­spite cap­tain­ing the FA Youth Cup win­ning side of 1990 (in a side that in­cluded fu­ture Eng­land keeper Ian Walker) and win­ning seven caps for the Eng­land Un­der21s, his suc­cess never trans­lated to the first team.

“Tech­ni­cally, Ian was a solid player,” said Spurs for­mer youth team boss Keith Wal­don. “But his real strength was his per­son­al­ity and his lead­er­ship. I think that’s maybe what held him back at the high­est level.”

Over­looked by Terry Ven­ables and Ossie Ardiles, he made just four sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ances – in­clud­ing one in the 1991 Char­ity Shield against Ar­se­nal – be­fore be­ing sold to Ley­ton Ori­ent for £50,000 in 1993.

It re­mains, ac­cord­ing to Hen­don, the sin­gle “big­gest dis­ap­point­ment” of his ca­reer.

Yet the re­main­der of his play­ing ca­reer can hardly be called a dis­as­ter.

At Ori­ent – the club clos­est to his fa­ther’s heart – Hen­don scored five goals and played 153 games, while re­fus­ing to join the mass ex­o­dus as wages went un­paid and ad­min­is­tra­tion beck­oned.

Then, at Notts County, he cap­tained Sam Al­lardyce’s all-con­quer­ing side, who won the Third Di­vi­sion ti­tle with six games to spare and broke a string of club records along the way.

“I still re­mem­ber the buzz and the spirit we had that sea­son,” said Hen­don in 2009. “We used to spend hours in the club lounge af­ter ev­ery game, just en­joy­ing each oth­ers’ com­pany. I can still name ev­ery mem­ber of the squad, which tells you how close we all were.”

At Northamp­ton he won pro­mo­tion from Di­vi­sion Three and a berth in the PFA team of the year, earn­ing him­self a move to Sheffield Wed­nes­day.

Then, in 2003, came Bar­net, the club he joined at 32 and two years later led into the League.

“I signed Ian for Bar­net,” said Martin Allen, now in his third spell as Bees boss. “He must be one of the best sign­ings I have ever made. He is a great guy off the field, a great player on the field. It is no sur­prise he has gone on to be a very good coach.”

It is a tran­si­tion that Fair­clough, who took charge at Un­der­hill in 2004 and later ap­pointed Hen­don as his No.2, be­lieves be­gan while the de­fender was still on the pitch.

“Ian was a nat­u­ral leader,” he said. “And he was very de­mand­ing of play­ers around him. If he wasn’t get­ting what he wanted, he wouldn’t be shy about let­ting you know.

“We had a lot of young play­ers and he was a very im­pos­ing fig­ure. When he spoke, you took no­tice. Coach­ing was an ob­vi­ous pro­gres­sion.”

Less suc­cess­ful, howev- er, was an as­cent to man­ager in 2008; what started with an es­cape from rel­e­ga­tion and a brief stint at the sum­mit of League Two ended in his dis­missal af­ter a dis­as­trous run of defeats.

“I think it just came a bit too soon,” said Fair­clough, who was Bar­net’s di­rec­tor of football at the time. “He was pas­sion­ate and he loved the club, but he didn’t have the ex­pe­ri­ence to get over that bad spell.”


And now? Af­ter spells coach­ing un­der Andy Hessen­thaler at Gilling­ham and Al­lardyce – his old men­tor – at West Ham, Fair­clough be­lieves Hen­don is fully equipped to bring Ori­ent suc­cess.

“Ian is a young man with old fash­ioned val­ues,” he added. “As a player he was im­mac­u­lately turned out. His kits were clean, his boots were clean. He’d be ready for train­ing well be­fore time.

“It’s was all about re­spect and per­sonal or­gan­i­sa­tion for Ian – a legacy of grow­ing up at a pro­fes­sional club.

“His team will be dis­ci­plined, with a code of con­duct set out in black and white. “The fun­da­men­tals are all in place. Now it’s about how he gets through that tough pe­riod, be­cause he will have one at some stage for sure.

“But I’m con­fi­dent that he learned some re­ally big lessons dur­ing his time at Bar­net – and that he’ll know how to use them this time around.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

OLD SCHOOL: Ley­ton Ori­ent’s new man­ager has hard-earned lead­er­ship skills

HEROIC EF­FORT: Hen­don won the Con­fer­ence as a player at Bar­net

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