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Elliot Styles: Legend, gentleman, Mr Hornchurch!

PUBLISHED: 17:00 19 May 2017

Elliot Styles and John Purdie lead out the teams at the Hornchurch captain's testimonal match (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Elliot Styles and John Purdie lead out the teams at the Hornchurch captain's testimonal match (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 1376 553468

Players and fans show support for Urchins stalwart

Elliot Styles and John Purdie face the camera before the testimonial match at Hornchurch (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Elliot Styles and John Purdie face the camera before the testimonial match at Hornchurch (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch fans turned out to show their appreciation for their team’s long-serving defender and captain Elliot Styles at his testimonial last Friday.

The Isthmian League club had decided to honour their stalwart skipper with a special evening, in recognition of his outstanding service over the past decade, with several fans’ favourites from years gone by returning to Bridge Avenue.

And the ‘old’ faces combined with members of the current Urchins squad to field two teams – the Entertainers and Boring United – which produced an entertaining end-of-season contest that saw six goals evenly shared.

Styles captained Boring United and saw Dean Green volley home the first goal of the game, before Mark Janney went close to a reply with a curling effort.

Andy Tomlinson escapes from Colin McBride at the Elliot Styles testimonial match (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)Andy Tomlinson escapes from Colin McBride at the Elliot Styles testimonial match (pic George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Green hit the crossbar after being denied by Callum Chafer, but doubled his side’s lead before the interval, which proved to be the end of the action for former manager and chairman Colin McBride.

George Purcell replied after the restart with a low drive, before Chafer kept out Billy Coyne with a stunning save and Ross Wall swept home an equaliser.

Martin Tuohy was foiled by another Chafer save, before Green teed up Sam Bantick to restore Boring United’s advantage.

But after all-time record scorer Purcell lifted a good chance over from Wall’s pass, the striker fired home from the spot to ensure it ended all square at 3-3.

The result was academic, though, as Styles was clapped off by both sets of players in a guard of honour before joining Urchins supporters in a packed clubhouse to celebrate.

Jordan Newman, chairman of the Hornchurch Supporters’ Association, said: “He’s a legend. He has shown unbelievable commitment to the cause and is 100 per cent dedicated and a real fans’ favourite.

“I’m really pleased the club are honouring him this way.

“I’ll never forget his goal at Dartford, an overhead kick, with Simon Parker waiting at the far post to tap it in! And during the Conference South season he always seemed to have a bandage on his head!

“You don’t get it that much at this level, that a player sticks with a club as long. He’s such a gentleman to the fans and always says hello. He’s a true ‘Mr Hornchurch’.”

Rob Monger has been watching Hornchurch for the small matter of 35 years and filming their matches since 2002.

And although naming Frank Peterson as his favourite ever Urchins player, he was happy to add his own tribute to Styles.

“We were at Hastings once and their chairman was complaining about him being physical and I thought ‘you’d love him in your team’,” said Monger.

“He’s never stayed injured long. If he got a knock he’d always get up again.

“He once saved a penalty in the FA Cup at Bromley after Dale Brightley was sent off and we won 1-0.

“He’s a bit like Peter Goddard, the record appearance-holder, and he should pass him soon. They’re both centre-halves, hard as nails, got booked a lot.

“They don’t always get it right, but which centre-backs do? He wins the ball ugly if he has to and gives away free-kicks.

“He’s uncompromising and has been a good servant, good captain and good example to all the players coming through. He’s been very loyal to the club which is hard to find nowadays.”

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