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Romford chairman Gardener’s all-time favourite line-up from his time at club

PUBLISHED: 12:24 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:24 30 April 2020

Delight for Romford Chairman Steve Gardener (Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Delight for Romford Chairman Steve Gardener (Pic: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

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

When he was asked to name his all-time favourite Romford XI, his initial thought was ‘that’s something to do for 20 minutes’, but Romford chairman Steve Gardener was completely wrong.

Three days later, and with pages of scribble, underlined, scored out, highlighted, a final rewritten version has given him a starting XI, plus a selection of substitutes he is sure would grace any football club – at Isthmian League North level and the one above.

But he is still not entirely comfortable when he looks at the quality of players left out.

The criteria was a minimum of 50 games and only players from the reformation era since 1992.

The 50-game qualifying criteria does, of course, rule out the present squad, and indeed some great players who Gardener was surprised to see had played less than 50 matches for Boro.

So, with a view to switching off the phone and coming off social media until those disappointed players stop trying to contact him here is his 4-3-3 formation.

Goalkeeper: Roy Drake. We have been blessed with so many great keepers, any one of five players could have made the team, but Roy was the first keeper we ever saw after reformation, and was a great shop stopper.

Defender: Paul Clayton. Reliable, strong in the air, no surprise he was the club captain for so many years, and top appearances for the club. Paul also features as one of the club’s all time record goalscorers, not bad for a defender.

Defender: Jack Barry. A youngster who grew into the position and became club captain. Solid player, calm, and like all these players, popular.

Defender: Steve King. The plan was always to sell ‘Kingy’ and use the proceeds to build a stadium! Despite that never happening, one of the best-ever players at the club, fantastic in the air, and often our nemesis since leaving.

Defender: Paul Evans. ‘Plank’ was possibly the most dedicated, fearless, funny and certainly unpredictable player the club has ever seen, 100 per cent committed in everything, but a fair player on the pitch. His tackling made supporters wince.

Midfielder: Danny Benstock. Nicknamed the Rolls Royce, the epitome of a box-to-box player. Incredible timing when jumping for headers, great balance and control, fantastic shot, and still a fans’ favourite now.

Midfielder: John Nicholson. One of my favourite players to watch. He commanded the midfield and dictated play, the pace and urgency of the game.

Midfielder: Mark Reed. No surprise Mark was part of one of the most successful teams the club has had to date. A bundle of energy on and off the pitch, great skill, and scored some great goals for the club.

Forward: Micky Ross. Tall, imposing player, dominant in the air and, despite being in a side that was entirely new, scored goals most weeks.

Forward: Tom Richardson. A cultured player nurtured by Magic and his team into a dangerous player. A box of tricks, impossible to dispossess at times, and scored some impossible goals.

Forward: Nick Reynolds. Impossible to leave out Boro’s record scorer. Scored goals over a long career with the club, great in the air, expert at the half chance. His goals kept the club in the Isthmian league over several seasons.

As for substitutes, the following would give any manager the confidence to make a change, knowing there is quality coming onto the pitch.

Martin Hayes: Once he got his fitness back one of the most technically proficient players the club has seen.

Mervin Abraham: Did things that shouldn’t have been possible and some of his goals are still talked about.

Danny Cossington: You couldn’t find a player more dedicated or committed, to his club and every game. Seemed to win every header, irrespective of who he was up against.

Chinedu McKenzie: His goals kept us in the Isthmian League. On his day untouchable. Scored goals wherever he has been.

Kurt Smith: Several spells with Romford and a great goalscorer, but just as happy to fit in as full back.


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