Great to see McFarlane reach landmark

PUBLISHED: 12:30 09 November 2016

Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane celebrates winning the Ryman League Play-Off final in May 2012 (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane celebrates winning the Ryman League Play-Off final in May 2012 (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO c/o 27 Plaiters Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3LR - Editorial Use ONLY - FA Premier League and Football League images are subject to DataCo Licencing restrictions

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When Colin McBride stepped aside to concentrate on building up the club’s finances, it seemed only natural that his assistant manager, Jim McFarlane, would take his place.

McBride became manager at Hornchurch in the summer of 2006, and, not unexpectedly, brought with him several players from his previous club, Purfleet, aka Thurrock.

Jim McFarlane was one of them, having made 634 appearances for Purfleet, scoring 75 goals, and he made another 107 appearances for Hornchurch, scoring eight goals, before becoming McBride’s assistant manager.

Jim made his playing debut for Hornchurch in August 2005 against Great Wakering, winning 5-0, and his last playing appearance was at Sutton Utd in April 2009, losing 2-1.

With no managerial experience, many wondered how long Jim would remain as manager. Over 400 matches later, Jim is still going strong.

His complete record: Managed 401; Won 181; Drawn 92; Lost 128; Goals for 631; Against 482. Not a bad record by any standards.

It started at Margate in September 2009, where the match ended goalless. Coincidentally Jim’s 400th, at Tilbury on Bonfire night seven years later, also ended goalless.

A total of 164 players have appeared for Hornchurch under Jim’s management, with Elliot Styles the only pne who has played in every season, and Hornchurch have played 99 different teams under Jim.

Leading the way is Billericay Town, having played them 16 times. East Thurrock come next, on 13. Bury Town and Harrow Borough have both came up against Jim as manager on 12 occasions, Kingstonian and Margate both on 11, and Aveley and Hendon on 10 each.

The best league performance to date is the 9-0 win over Leyton in March 2008 and the worst defeat is the 7-1 loss at Tonbridge in October 2010.

McFarlane must be wondering what went wrong at Tilbury on Saturday.

Hornchurch dominated the play and had the vast majority of the territorial possession, as Abs Thompson led the way on the right wing, racing past the home defence on countless occasions.

Twice he sent the ball invitingly across the goal, but there was no one to get the final touch, and twice more the ball fell to Abs Seymour, who, both times, placed his shot over the bar.

Sam Mott had little to do at the other end and he has now achieved nine clean sheets in 20 games, but there is not much point in having the best defensive record in the league if you cannot find the net at the other end, which has happened eight times this season.

On Saturday we were still without our all-time leading goalscorer, George Purcell, who has now been out for two months, but who is at last back in training.

To make things worse, Ross Wall was unavailable, and we were also missing Dave Collis, while David Knight has left and was making his playing debut for his new club, Bowers & Pitsea.

It was a similar story at East Thurrock in the Essex Senior Cup. Seymour hit the post, Leon McKenzie hit the bar, and a Paul Goodacre header was cleared off the line, while at the other end the hosts found the net three times.

We have the potential to win the league, but it seems that whenever one player comes back from injury we lose another, with James Morrish being the latest casualty.

There are three clubs all on 34 points at the top of the table, and we are seven points behind, with a game in hand over two of them. Not insurmountable, but we don’t want the gap to get any wider.

We are at home to Heybridge Swifts on Saturday and they are currently second to bottom on the league table, having lost 5-0 to Thurrock last weekend.

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