Former long-serving Hornchurch captain Styles picks all-time line-up – from long list of players!
PUBLISHED: 15:00 29 May 2020
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Former Hornchurch captain Elliot Styles has revealed his own all-time XI from an 11-year stay at the club for whom he made 541 appearances.
And the versatile skipper also revealed a telling statistic from his time with the Urchins that at one point during Jimmy McFarlane’s reign a total of 196 or 197 different players had been used – and Styles was the only ever-present!
“That’s a lot of people to cross paths with and play with, many different levels of CVs in football, and achievements those players had,” said Styles, who joined from Ilford and was subsequently given a testimonial by the Bridge Avenue club after passing 500 games.
“We had some cracking teams over the years and it’s just a shame we couldn’t combine certain players from certain years into one team as we could’ve gone on to win almost everything and could even be in the league.”
Goalkeeper – Sam Mott: Two goalkeepers really stand out. Darren Behcet had much more of a professional pedigree, was a fantastic professional and is the goalkeeping coach at Yeovil. But we won things with Sam in goal. He showed great character for us and the year we got relegated in his first season with us, we had a difficult start, our first 11 games away from home, and Sam kept us up as best he could. His performances saved us from getting relegated very early in that season.
Left-back – Joe Anderson: Will always be the best left-back I’ve ever played with and I think the best left-back that ever played for Hornchurch. Absolutely phenomenal player, a breath of fresh air when he came to the team. He was a different dimension of full-back which we were not used to in my time there and he had such an influence on the game from that position.
Centre-backs – Jimmy McFarlane/John Purdie: I would like to pick myself for this team, but I can’t because it won’t justify the amount of people I’ve played with, so I’ll have to leave myself out, although I would be playing if there was a game.
We’ve had some fantastic partnerships and individual defenders, but you can’t beat this pairing. These two as a unit were the wall, the colossus in the team, that we were built around. It would have to be them two in my team because of what they did week in and week out.
Right-back – Alex Bentley: We had a variety of people play in that position, sometimes that aren’t naturally a full-back, but this guy showed great consistency and versatility in his time at Hornchurch.
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From the day we signed him his consistency for three or four seasons running was phenomenal. One-on-one situations he rarely got beaten. His ability on the ball was calm.
Right wing – Mark Janney: We had some great pace down the years on the wings in Abs Thomas and Tambeson Eyong, but I think this guy through what he achieved in non-league and what he brought to the team was phenomenal.
His ability to run at defenders, he was an old school wide man, he would get as close to the byline as he could and provide a cross.
Central midfield – Frankie Curley/Jonathan Hunt: I don’t think these two ever played as a pair, but I think that was because I was played, but I have to pick them as individuals because of what they brought to the team and from my experience playing with them.
My first choice would always be Frankie. The chemistry Frank and I had in midfield was fantastic and worked from day one. I think we were the youngest in the team at the time. We were picked every week by Colin and completely outrun teams.
I got moved to centre-back but Frank held his position in the team for many years and was a big part of the team.
Jonathan was just remarkable, especially at the age he joined us. I think he was close to 40 but had the legs of a 19-year-old. The fitness and professionalism he brought to the club, he was one of the guys that had a big influence on me and I used to speak to him about his professional days. How he spoke about the key parts of being a professional is looking after your body. He was a beacon to anyone who inspired to be professional.
Left wing – Andy Tomlinson: This was tricky. I played with Bradley Warner in the latter stages of my time and he was a naturally gifted footballer. He had many attributes and I wish I had some of them. It was between him and Andy, very chalk and cheese if you paired them together, but they brought another dimension into attack. ‘Tommo’ gave you a little bit more defensively. Bradley would pip him going forward, but it’s Andy for his all round game.
Strikers – Kris Lee/Simon Parker: This was really hard as you’ve got George Purcell for what he achieved at the club [all-time leading goalscorer] and what he could do for you on the pitch.
He could have a quiet game and then pick a goal out of nowhere in the 90th minute. But this pairing from when I first signed for Hornchurch, I’ve never played in a team where the front two were a team in themselves. They naturally worked together and clicked.
We romped home in the league that year by about 21 points. It was their goals that produced it for us. You’ve also got Martin Tuohy who is a decorated player in non-league. It’s very close between those four for the two places, although we’ve had other great strikers.
Purcell and Tuohy would definitely be the first names on my substitute bench!
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