I’d like to play devils advocaat for a minute. Take nothing away from Hendon – their merciless march towards the treble is something they can be incredibly proud of.
To go nine months unbeaten at any level is hugely impressive. The spine of the side is top-quality and they play and look like a real team, a unit, with no super-stars. They have been excellent from start to finish, displaying control, discipline and never parking the bus.
The power of captain Ari Last and summer signing Yoav Lebens have driven them forward and they have shown great strength in depth to overcome the loss of key defenders Josh Lipman, Motti Colman and Alex Gilbert. Added to that, the recent departures of brothers Josh and Paul Bentley has not held them back.
Not forgetting, of course, goalkeeper Russell Corin who has not missed a game in five years. Now that’s what I call commitment, and a very understanding wife.
When they need a moment of magic, Greg Corin, more often than not, pops up with it, and when they need a goal, you need look no further than Avidan Last. Yoav Kestenbaum is their ‘one to watch,’ while the even younger Mordi Weiler is definitely the future.
But the question I’ve been asked this week is what are Hendon up against? In Jewish football terms, that’s a tough one to answer right now.
This season, defending champions Faithfold lost their spark, with injuries, most notably to Alex Kaye, and a lack of goals hampering their progress. Norstar London Raiders A set the bar high, but Hendon have hurdled every test with ease as they look to wipe out what at one stage was a 21-point lead.
It’s been a season of transition for the Brady boys, who last season memorably claimed the Peter Morrison Trophy in Manchester, with a blend of youth and experience.
When their big guns are available, Redbridge Jewish Care A are strong, but they struggled to field their best team, week in, week out. What they would do for a Daran Bern right now, although the future looks bright with Nathan and Sam Sollosi set to dominate the stage for years to come. I’d love to see them at a Maccabiah.
Great teams have come and gone in Jewish football, and sadly it looks as though the very top players have lost their hunger and commitment. Mitch Hahn at Woodford Wanderers is one of the exceptions.
The great North West Neasden teams of yesteryear have featured the likes of Lee Cash and Daniel Levenfiche to name just two, and prior to that, the likes of Scrabble, Hillgar Athletic and Glenthorne who were awesome. And then there’s London Maccabi Lions, a club whose respective Saturday and Sunday men’s sections are in freefall.
Thought provoking, I’m sure, but the final word must go to Hendon gaffer David Garbacz, who, knowing him as I do, would say something along the lines of “we can only beat what’s in front of us”. Quite.