The Hemel Hempstead Town FC management team of Dean Brennan and Stuart Maynard hit the 300 game mark for Hemel’s recent draw away to Bath City. In recognition of this achievement since their appointment in 2012, the Tudors Supporters Club presented both Dean and Stuart with commemorative framed shirts ahead of our home game against Concord Rangers.
By the time Dean and Stuart hit 300 games, their five and a half year reign saw The Tudors use 185 players, win 147 games, draw 66 and lose 87. Under Dean and Stuart Hemel have scored 635 goals, conceding 446.
When Hemel Hempstead Town FC Chairman Dave Boggins announced the appointment of Dean Brennan and Stuart Maynard as first team managers in the summer of 2012, Tudors fans would have been excused for raising an eyebrow; Dean was a former-Hemel player who had previously taken charge of the team as caretaker-Manager for the final stages of the 2009/10 season, for a forgettable run of form (one win in nine games) that condemned Hemel to relegation, albeit the club was reprieved and maintained Southern League Premier Division status. Few people could have foreseen the impact Dean and Stuart would have at Vauxhall Road… opening the 2012/13 season with a run of wins, The Tudors didn’t leave the top four league positions all season and spent nineteen games as Premier Division leaders. The season culminated in Hemel’s highest ever league finish, fourth in the Premier Division, and the attendance of 2,254 for the subsequent Play-Off Final defeat against Gosport Borough was the highest gate for a Tudors game on record since Hemel moved to Vauxhall Road in 1972. The Tudors also won the Herts Senior Cup for the first time since 1926. The club was also awarded the 2013 Sir Stanley Rous Memorial Trophy, an honour awarded annually by the Hertfordshire FA to a club or individual that has brought the most prestige to Hertfordshire (The Tudors retained this honour in 2014).
The Tudors improved under Dean and Stuart in 2013/14; on the way to winning the Southern League Premier Division championship, the team gained the clubs biggest ever winning margin in a league game at Vauxhall Road – with a 10-0 victory against Bashley, as well as The Tudors biggest winning margin in a Cup competition – 13-0 against Chipperfield Corinthians (St Mary’s Cup, Quarter Final). Also in cup action, there was our furthest Post-War FA Cup run, reaching the fourth qualifying round (lost replay to Sutton United). The strike force assembled by Dean and Stuart formed a formidable partnership, with Ben Mackey and Lewis Toomey scoring 74 goals between them (a record for a pair of Tudors strikers), while ‘keeper Laurie Walker kept 19 clean sheets, the most in a season by a single Tudors goalkeeper. It wasn’t just club records being smashed, The Tudors set a new Southern League record for goals scored by one club in a league season, 128.
It’s fair to say that the club has had a challenging time both on and off the pitch in adapting to life at the current level, since promotion to what was then known as the Conference South in 2014. However, despite inconsistent starts to each season, Dean and Stuart have initiated evolvement as seasons have progressed and assembled squads that finished strong – ninth in 2014/15, fifth in 2015/16 (only being denied a fourth-place finish and a play-off spot on the final game of the season when beaten by our promotion chasing rivals Whitehawk) and twelfth in 2016/17. A memorable FA Cup run in 2014/15 equalled 1938/39’s First Round record achievement with a 1-3 away defeat at League Two Bury; The Tudors took the lead in this tie but couldn’t hold on. It was as similar story in the FA Trophy that season with The Tudors furthest run, reaching the Third Round in which we lost at home to Torquay United. The club lifted the Herts Senior Cup for the second time in three seasons and added the St Mary’s Cup to the trophy cabinet.
During the 2015/16 season, Dean Brennan and Stuart Maynard become the longest serving Tudors Management team in 30 years and by the end of the season had achieved four consecutive seasons of improving on the previous seasons final League position, the first time The Tudors had achieved this since 1961/62. Off the field, Dean established a greater sense of professionalism in the manner our club engaged with the media, embracing local and regional newspapers/radio to spread the word of Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club and encourage more fans to Vauxhall Road; in fact, The Tudors achieved club record average attendances (Vauxhall Road-era) for three consecutive seasons between 2012/13 and 2014/15 which was as much a result of the way the club engaged with fans as it was the continued successes on the pitch. Dean also encouraged the formation of the Tudors Supporters Club, facilitating a regular financial contribution from the players towards the fans travel fees to help get the supporters club up and running.
Oliver Hawkins, signed earlier this season for Portsmouth from Dagenham & Redbridge (and who featured for the Daggers regularly in the Non-League Paper’s “team of the week”), was brought to Vauxhall Road by Dean and Stuart as an eager youngster in 2013. His development under the management team was clear for fans to see, with him going on to score 24 goals in 81 games before being signed by the Daggers midway through the 2015/16 season during an impressive and prolific run of goal scoring form. Highly rated Vanarama National League defender Moussa Diarra of Barrow and Jamal Lowe also of Portsmouth both featured for Hemel under Dean and Stuart; whilst fans may point out that these two players left Vauxhall Road before finding their steppingstone to footballing success elsewhere, its testament to the progression of Hemel Hempstead Town FC during Dean and Stuart’s reign that our club has progressed to a stage of identifying, and competing for the signatures of, top non-league players. Current Tudors midfielder Jordan Parkes, now in his second spell at Vauxhall Road in recent years after a spell at Ebbsfleet United, flourished under Dean and Stuart; in 2014/15, at the National League’s end of season awards ceremony, Parkes earned a placed in the Vanarama Conference South team of the season but more impressively also picked up the prestigious prize for the division’s player of the season after scoring 30 goals from midfield for The Tudors – as Dean and Stuart implemented an attacking style of play and encouraged goals from all positions.
The Tudors Supporters Club thanks Dean Brennan and Stuart Maynard for their hard work and continued eagerness and desire to succeed at Vauxhall Road; furthermore, we thank the families of Dean and Stuart for supporting them through the highs and lows of their time at Hemel. The club is in a far better place than it was in 2012 with many successes and achievements that may take many years to surpass. Here’s to the next milestone…!