Lions legends look back on 20 years
With Lions first ever game on the football pyramid 20 years ago, we caught up with three guys who played that day, and who are STILL plying their trade in a blue shirt, having given the club 20 years of unbroken service.
Craig Henry, Bradley Lazarus and Danny Reuben all were part of the team on 19th August 1995, and have graced not only the first team in their younger days, but every other Lions team on Saturday and Sundays over the last two decades.
We asked them about how it feels to have such a special relationship with the club:
What do you remember about that first game and the prospect of ‘non-league’ football:
Craig: For me, the opening game of that season. 3pm kick-off on a Saturday afternoon meant we were playing proper football against proper teams. It was so exciting, so new, with a new ground and a new era which started everything we know today.
Dan: Typically, my view of it was largely from the bench, or more accurately the bank overlooking the amazing pitch at the former American University in Bushey. I remember being gutted not starting the game and even more so, because of how I found out; Josh Newman (manager Malcolm’s son) was probably about 7 at the time and he came up to me before we had even got in the dressing room before the game to say “Danny, you’re on the bench!” I did get on however, as we came back from a goal down to win.
Brad: To be fair the pitch was pretty decent, the changing rooms were the old cricket pavilion, Paul Wise and Malcolm Newman ran the team. We were pretty decent if I can remember.
What do you find so special about Lions that you have stayed for 20 years?
Craig: I was brought to what was then MAL aged 17 before the days of Youth Development. Most of the guys I played with then are the same guys I play with today. It’s been 25 years of friendship, laughter, highs and lows on and off the pitch and great camaraderie.
Dan: I’ve loved my time at the club, the friendships, the banter and even some of the football! I’ve been involved as a player, a manager and also spent time to help run the club – we have had some amazing experiences and hopefully many more to come. My generation of players and those before us are possibly a dying breed – we lived and breathed footy as kids and then as immature adults!
Brad: I have always loved playing for Lions, it’s always attracted the best players. I have always had a winning mentality, so to be at the best Jewish club, with the best Jewish players, with the best facilities. Most of all, my team mates are now my friends, so it has been an honour.
Are you able to pick out a single most cherished moment?
Craig: Scoring a brace in the Morrison Trophy against Leeds Maccabi and being hoisted in the air by Andrew Myers after the second goal. It was 20 years ago and probably the last time I scored.
Brad: Too many to remember, but the Morrison Trophy Cup Final weekends away were special.
Dan: It’s hard to pick single moments as highlights, we have one a lot of trophies, we have had incredible times and we still carry on. I genuinely look forward to every Sunday
What about a favourite player?
Craig: Too many to mention everyone but Matthew Wise, Richard Baum, Andrew Myers, Alan Mattey, Paul Wise, Malcolm Newman, Danny Schindler, David Kyte, Peter Lazard have all been an inspiration for different reasons but I will go for Bradley Lazarus; he was and still is the best.
Brad: I agree with Craig.
Your funniest moment:
Brad: Every week with my Masters team mates – it’s like being back at school.
Dan: Richard Baum always comes to mind. We all know he is a very gifted footballer, as a manager, it was often difficult to know where to play him. We had a big cup semi–final and during my team talk I focused on him. “Baumy, big game for us today, I really need you to work your socks off; get up and down the pitch and really graft”. His response was classic Richard Baum “I work Monday to Fridays 8am til 6pm, I don’t work on Sundays”
You’re still donning the blue shirt every Sunday, what’s the secret?
Craig: Train hard – a minimum of 4 days a week, every week, plus a good diet. The sheer love and enjoyment I still get from playing means that now I embrace every game as if it’s my last and try to cherish the moment each time I play.
Dan: Grit your teeth through the pain, take plenty of Nurofen, have loads of massages, and most importantly run the team so that you ensure you get picked!
Brad: As Dan mentioned before, the secret is living, breathing, and loving football; I still get a massive buzz from it. I get to Rowley Lane at least an hour early every Sunday as it has been part of my life for 20 years. I still think I can offer my team something and until that feeling goes, I will be a Lions player forever. When I hear that younger players don’t want to play for teams and push themselves as much as we did, I just can’t get my head around it. What could be better than playing with your team-mates, hopefully winning but more importantly, taking part in the great game?