What is the link between the FA Cup finals of 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1988 and one of the most famous and well known non-league clubs??
The connection is that some of the player's who took part in those finals (Graham Roberts, Peter Hucker, Graham Pearce, Steve Terry and Eric Young) all went on to wear the famous white and blue shirt of Enfield FC.
Roberts, who saw his career go full circle when arriving at Southbury Road (he had begun his career for non-league Weymouth and Dorchester Town) was player-manager in 1992 and 1993. Pearce also spent a period in the hot-seat in 1991 as player-manager prior to Roberts spell in charge. Peter Hucker made the keeper's shirt his own during in 1992 and 1993 with Steve Terry spending a number of season's with the E's after his transfer from Walton and Hersham. Former crazy gang member and Welsh International Eric Young played a handful of games for the E's (then managed by Gary Calder) in 1997.
Many other players who had successful football league careers turned out at Southbury Road with Paul Brush (West Ham United) and Martin Robinson (Tottenham Hotspur, Charlton Athletic, Gillingham, Southend United and Cambridge United) representing the E's under player-manager Peter Taylor (Tottenham Hotspur) in the 1990/91 Isthmian League season coming to mind. Taylor cut his managerial teeth in the rough and tumble of the non-league game spending four years at Dartford prior to his stint at Enfield FC.
Also playing for the E's at the time was the most famous of player's who made the opposite journey from non-league to the football league. Many a fan had thought that when The E's were relegated from the Conference, at the end of the 1989/90 season, Paul would get his move to a football league club after a host of impressive displays (since making his debut in 1986) saw a large number of scouts visiting Southbury Road.
Credit to him though as he showed his loyalty and stayed for a further season helping his team to a second placed finish behind Redbridge Forest. A few more wins and a little more luck it would of seen Enfield climbing back to non-league's top table at the first attempt and who knows where the club would of gone from there. Furlong is one of a number of names to play for the club who went onto bigger and better things and this article will look to highlight some of those players.
He left the E's for Coventry City (then managed by Terry Butcher) in the summer of 1991 for a fee of £180,000. Only four goals from thirty-seven appearances and a change of manager to Don Howe saw a move down a league to Division Two and a transfer to Watford. The Hornet's were managed by Steve Perryman who was assisted by Peter Taylor at the time.
The move proved a good one and he was an instant hit with the fans at Vicarage Road scoring 37 times in 79 games between 1992 and 1994 prompting a pre Abramovich owned Chelsea (managed by Glenn Hoddle) to make a bid of £2.3 million in the summer of 1994. How times change as this was the record transfer at Stamford Bridge at the the time????
Furlong scored 17 goals in 59 starts and 26 substitute appearances for Chelsea and found it hard to nail down a regular first team place competing against the likes of Ruud Gullit, Mark Hughes and Gianluca Viali.
What a journey he had made from the Isthmian Premier Division in 1991 playing against Wivenhoe Town, Bognor Regis Town and Leyton-Wingate to rubbing shoulders alongside some of European football's best known names in the Premier League.
The lack of starts in West London prompted Trevor Francis, then manager of Birmingham City, to pay £1.5 million for Furlong in the summer of 1996. Dropping down a division proved a success with 56 goals scored in 127 starts and 29 substitute appearances for the blues.
Ian Holloway the manager of Queens Park Rangers snapped up the front man on a free transfer in the summer of 2002 (after a short loan spell). Furlong left St Andrews the year they reached the Premier League after 16 years outside the top flight. Rangers were then in Division Two and his goals helped them win promotion to the Championship in 2004. After 50 + goals and 150+ appearances for the Loftus Road side he transferred to Luton Town. At 38 years old many would of thought Furlong would hang his boots up but he continued and had stints at Kenilworth Road, Southend United and Barnet whom he left in 2010 thus ending his league career seeing him play well into his early 40's.
He continues in the non-league game at player-coach at Blue Square Premier Kettering Town. 16 appearances and 5 goals last season shows the now 42 year old is an excellent example to any aspiring footballer on how to stay physically fit. Is there any player still playing at a reasonable level of football who was made their debut in 1986 other than Paul??
"Johnny, Johnny Bailey, Johnny Bailey on the wing" - I still think that John Bailey was the best player I have seen playing for Enfield FC and Enfield Town FC since I began watching back in 1987. A true fans favourite during his time with the club he always showed 100% on the field and gave the Southbury Road fans some unforgettable and memorable moments. The best the cold end can recall is when then Isthmian Premier Division Enfield travelled to Conference side Kidderminster Harriers in 1993. The away support among the 1,280 fans present that day saw the E's win 1-3 through goals from Mark Keen, Paul Turner and Darren Collins. When one of the goals went in Bailey joined in the mass celebration by jumping in with the away fans on the Aggborough terraces.
John arrived at the E's in the summer of 1992 from Dagenham and in his first competitive game for his new club scored twice in the season opening 1-3 win over Windsor and Eton at Stag Meadow. He went to score 17 goals in 49 appearances over the 1992/93 season as well as set up for Collins, Britnell, Hobson and Hull amongst others as well as sweeping the board in the end of season club awards winning the player's player and supporter's player of the year awards.
In the summer of 1995 Bailey signed for then Division Two (now League One) AFC Bournemouth for a fee of £10,000. Manager, Mel Machin, got himself an absolute bargain as over the next four seasons he played 137 times for the South-Coast side scoring 13 times. If it wasn't for an injury picked up (which eventually caused him to retire from the professional game) towards the end of the 98/99 season there is doubt he would of played many more times in league football.
Bailey is the answer to a quiz question due to his time on the South Coast - he is the only player ever to score at Wembley Stadium for AFC Bournemouth............... in the 1998 Auto-Windscreens Final (which Grimsby Town won 2-1).
John Bailey wasn't the first player to move from Southbury Road to Dean Court as in 1986 Carl Richards signed for Harry Redknapp who was learning his managerial trade on the South Coast. He went onto to play for Birmingham City, Peterborough United and Blackpool before rejoining the E's (and Eddie McCluskey) in 1992 from Bloomfield Road. Alongside Graham Westley and Marc Salmon he played regularly in the second half of the 91/92 season and also featured for Graham Robert's E's side in 92/93 before retiring from the game.
Midfielder, Lee, began his career at Southbury Road before being snapped up by Norwich City in the summer of 1996. He played over 100 times for The Canaries before moving to Leicester City in 2001. The Foxes manager was Peter Taylor (he must like an ex-Enfield player - see Paul Furlong) who had given Marshall a cap when in charge of the England Under 21 side. After a short spell at Filbert Street he moved onto West Bromwich Albion and has the distinction for scoring The Baggies first goal in the Premier League which was a late consolation in a 1-3 home defeat to Leeds United. Under Gary Megson Marshall only had limited opportunities in the first team so it was in 2004 that he joined his old boss Taylor, who was then in charge of Hull City, on loan.
Due to a terrible leg break (both Tibula and Fibula) Marshall was forced to retire from the game in 2005 aged just 26 years old. Had it not been for this injury I'm sure he would still be playing in the professional game now. A combined transfer value of £1,350,00 is not bad for a player who started out in the Isthmian League.
There have been many more - such as Millwall legend Terry Hurlock who played for Enfield and Leytonstone & Ilford before moving into the professional game. The legend that is Robin Friday spent a short-spell playing for Enfield in 1973 before moving back to his former club Hayes (he had also represented Walthamstow Avenue for a shortwhile) and then going on to cult status with Reading and Cardiff City in the football league. Friday's wikipedia entry is a great read detailing his highly eventful life as is the book written by Paul McGuigan and Paolo Hewitt 'The Greatest Footballer you never saw - The Robin Friday Story'.
Andy Pape, Dave Howell and Paul Harding all transferred to Barnet with the later going onto Notts County prior to The Bee's promotion to the football league. He played 25 times in the top-flight for the Magpies before spending time at Southend United, Watford, Birmingham City and Cardiff City. Mark Bentley who via Aldershot Town, Gravesend & Northfleet and Dagenham & Redbridge went on to play league football for Southend United and Gillingham spending sometime in the Blue Square Premier with Cambridge United last season. Greg Heald (Peterborough United, Barnet, Leyton Orient and Rochdale), Paul Underwood (Rushden and Diamonds and Luton Town), Peter Hinds (Dundee United) and Martin Buglione (St Johnstone via a whole host of local non-league clubs) are a few on the long list of players to have graced the hallowed turf of Southbury Road and gone on to play for football league sides.
Not forgetting those like Peter Taylor and Graham Roberts mentioned in first part of this article who played in the non-league game after their successful league career. For me the player who sticks out in this category can only be John Burridge.
Despite only playing nine games for the E's he became a firm fans favourite on the Town End. He made his debut on the 5th February 1994 in the home league game versus Grays Athletic. His clean sheet helped Roberts and Borg managed Enfield to a 1-0 win. His run and thumbs up to the faithful at the end of the game brought a massive cheer. Over the nine games he played the E's they were unbeaten and he claimed a total of six clean sheets. All this from a 43 year old!!
Budgie played in the Bishop Auckland FA Trophy games and also in an 8-0 win over Wivenhoe Town at Southbury Road. The Cold End's overriding memory of his stay is of him sprinting towards the cheering and chanting Town End to take a penalty that had been given when the E's were some goals up in the second half against Wivenhoe only for Borg and Roberts to wave him back and allow it to be taken by an outfield player whose name escapes me. Budgie went on to appear for Aberdeen, Newcastle United, Dunfermline Athletic, Dumbarton, Falkirk, Manchester City, Notts County, Witton Albion, Darlington, Grimsby Town, Gateshead, Northampton Town, Queen of the South, Purfleet, Scarborough and Blyth Spartans where in 1997 he was player-manager and took the North East side back to his first league club - Blackpool - which the home side won 4-3. He has gone on to coach in Oman and the U.A.E. where he is credited for discovering current Wigan Athletic stopper Ali Al-Habsi.
He is in the hall of fame at Bloomfield Road and if the old Enfield FC had such a thing I think some people would argue he would be included somewhere despite only his brief spell in North London.
A more recent example of a player moving up to the league is Colchester United goalkeeper Mark Cousins who came on loan from Essex to Enfield Town in 2006 playing a number of times between the sticks for Jim Chandler's side. Also, Nathan Smith who has just transferred from Yeovil Town to Chesterfield. Smith, born in Enfield, played for Enfield FC (after ETFC had been formed) between 2005 to 2007 then via Waltham Forest and Potters Bar Town got his move into league football with the Somerset club. He made the move to The Spirites this summer.
To end none other than one of the most famous names from football's history, Len Shackleton, the Clown Prince of Soccer, played for Enfield in the Athenian League whilst on loan from Arsenal prior to the Second World War. He went on to play for Bradford Park Avenue, Newcastle United and Sunderland as well as being capped by England 5 times.
And the equally as famous Liverpool legend Alan Kennedy played a cameo roll in Enfield FC's last season in the GM Vauxhall Conference. He came to Southbury Road in November 1989 making a total of three appearances in the 4-2 home win against Chelthenham Town and then away at the Surrey Docks Stadium where Enfield lost against Fisher Athletic 1-0 in the Bob Lord Trophy Round 1 2nd Leg. His brief stay with the club ended on the 11th November when the E's lost away at Stafford Rangers.
With the advent of Enfield Town's forthcoming move into the Queen Elizabeth Stadium and Ram Ismail bringing through many promising players from the youth team into the reserve set-up it may not be too long before a player moves up to the football league like Paul Furlong did in 1991.
Hopefully, with the future of the game in the borough looking bright, that time will come sooner rather than later.