The ever popular Queens Park Rangers superfan, broadcaster and reporter Tony Incenzo reveals his top 10 favourite Non League players.
His love for the beautiful game has turned him into a serious groundhopper, so much so, he’s been to 2,365 different stadiums, watching games from every level of football.
Reflecting back from his previous visits, he has revealed to the Non League Paper which footballers impressed him the most. Find out what he said below…
ROD HAIDER (HENDON)
“I was a Hendon supporter as a lad in the 1970s and my team were one of the best in Non-League.
“Rod Haider was our captain and used to elegantly pull the strings in midfield.
“He fired the famous equaliser at St James’ Park in 1974 when Hendon, of the Isthmian League, drew 1-1 with top-flight Newcastle United in the FA Cup third round.
“That game wasn’t even televised but, if it happened now, Rod’s strike would be screened over and over again across the globe.
“Alas, Newcastle won the replay 4-0 at Watford’s Vicarage Road. Rod showed fabulous loyalty by making 696 appearances and notching 165 goals for Hendon between 1967 and 1980.
“He also deservedly became the most capped England Amateur international tn the post-war period with 65 appearances.”
Hendon team v Newcastle United at St James’ Park, 5 January 1974. Back row: Keiron Somers, Derek Baker, John Swannell, Phil Fry, Tony Jennings, Alan Phillips, Micky Cooper (sub); Front row: Peter Deadman, Rod Haider, John Baker, Gary Hand, Bobby Childs. Drew 1–1 (Rod Haider). https://t.co/tCHvakP1AP
— Hendondave (@Hendondave) April 19, 2020
RICKY GEORGE (HEREFORD)
“Hereford United’s 2-1 victory as a Southern League club over top-flight Newcastle United in an FA Cup third round replay in February 1972 ranks as one of the greatest giant-killings of all time.
“Indeed, the Hereford equaliser by Ronnie Radford was an iconic moment that is still regularly repeated on television every time the FA Cup comes around.
“Radford literally hammered the ball into the top left-hand corner from 35 yards causing hundreds of small boys to spill on to the pitch in celebration.
“It was a moment that launched John Motson’s commentary career on the BBC as he whooped: “Oh what a goal! What a goal!” But what is mainly forgotten is that Hereford’s winner came from the right boot of Ricky George during extra-time.
“It was a scruffy effort from the right hand side of the box that took a deflection.
“I’ve got to know Ricky quite well since then and he still smiles at the fact that his crucial strike is never remembered.”
We don’t get FA Cup ties like this anymore.
Giant killing, proper pitch, exuberant fans invading the pitch, half decent commentator and replays.
The great Ronnie Radford and Ricky George of Hereford in the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay v Newcastle 1972
When the FA Cup was Decent! pic.twitter.com/yJ363catXf
— TV Football 1968-92 (@1968Tv) November 7, 2020
CHRIS KELLY (LEATHERHEAD)
“Chris was known as the ‘Leatherhead Lip’ because he always had a lot to say for himself.
“When Isthmian League members Leatherhead launched into an epic FA Cup run in 1974-75, Kelly became a national media personality due to his outrageous quotes giving score predictions.
“He even forecast that his team would go all the way to Wembley. “It’s about time a Non-League side reached the final,” he said.
“Chris backed this up by scoring an outstanding winner in their 1-0 triumph away to Brighton & Hove Albion in the third round before heading the goal that put Leatherhead 2-0 up after 30 minutes away to Leicester City in round four.
“Leicester fought back to win 3-2 but Chris had certainly captured the interest of football fans everywhere.
“I saw him play several times for Leatherhead against my beloved Hendon, where he would spend the whole game winding up the crowd with his noisy banter.
“Chris definitely mellowed in later years as he became a foot-ball administrator.
“I interviewed him on the radio for Capital Gold when he was chief executive at Kingstonian and they faced a big cup tie.
“I was really confident that I could get him to give one of his infamous predictions but an he would say was: “Get there early. You might miss something!”
ALAN DEVONSHIRE (SOUTHALL & EALING BOROUGH)
“I first saw Alan play for Southall & Ealing Borough in an Isthmian League fixture at Hendon in 1976.
“I immediately recognised his sleek Rolls Royce artistry in the midfield that night although he did have a penalty saved!
“A few months later, Alan signed for West Ham United for a fee of £5,000 – a transfer which often sees him popularly referred to as the Hammers’ best ever buy.
“Eight England caps rightly fol-lowed during his time at Upton Park. In recent years of course, Alan has been a top Non-League manager at Maidenhead United.”
ALAN SHOULDER (BLYTH SPARTANS)
“For me, Alan was the stand-out 9 player in Blyth Spartans’ momentous FA Cup run in 1977/78. This included a remarkable 3-2 victory, for the Northern League side in the fourth round away to Stoke City. Then after their 1-1 draw at Wrexham in round five, the replay was staged at St James’ Park, Newcastle, and the massive crowd of 42,157 saw Blyth narrowly defeated 2-1.
“Alan was a bustling striker who moved to Spartans in December that season and hit 20 goals in the second half of the campaign.
“He went on to play for Newcastle United.”
— Phil Castiaux (@Phil_Castiaux) December 20, 2017
JOHN KING (ALTRINCHAM)
“Every team in the 1970s had what can politely be described as a `hard man’.
“John King filled that enforcer role superbly in Altrincham’s illustrious side. He looked like Popeye’s nemesis Bluto.
“When Alty of the Northern Premier League drew 1-1 away to Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup third round in 1979, John totally marked Argentine World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles out of the game.
“In fact, having made his first crunching tackle on Ardiles just 14 seconds into the match, John reportedly said after-wards: “It was just two world class players going for a 50-50 ball!”
“Then in 1991, I had to inter-view John when he was manager of Altrincham and I was commentating for a television company called Sportscast.
“Just as the cameras were about to roll, John spotted another re-porter who he had experienced some mixed dealings with in the past.
“So he raced over and put that journalist in a friendly but muscular headlock to let him know who the boss was!
TIM BUZAGLO (WOKING)
“Another much renowned FA Cup giant-killing was Woking’s 4-2 success away to West Bromwich Albion in the third round in 1991.
“Although the Isthmian League team trailed 1-0 at halftime, they I took control in the second half and Tim Buzaglo fired a glorious hat-trick in the space of 15 minutes.
“At the end of the game, West Brom fans invaded the pitch to raise Tim on their shoulders and chanted: “Sign him up!”
GIULIANO GRADZIOU (STEVENAGE)
“There seems to be a Newcastle United theme developing here! Anyway, one of the biggest games I commentated on when I was Clubcall’s Non-League editor was a 1-1 draw between Stevenage Borough and Newcastle in the FA Cup fourth round in 1998.
“Conference members Stevenage installed a temporary stand behind one goal to house the visiting fans in a record crowd of 8,040.
“After Alan Shearer gave the Toon an early lead, Giuliano Grazioli – on loan from Peterborough United – forced in the Stevenage equaliser from close range.
“His goal celebrations were splashed all over the daily newspapers the next day with headlines such as “The Stevie Wonders!”
“For many years afterwards, I used to visit Dino’s Restaurant in Ware for top-notch Italian food.
“There was a colourful shrine to the Stevenage versus Newcastle tie on one wall with the programme and other matchday memorabilia on display.
“That was due to the fact that the restaurant owner, Dino Grazioli, is Giuliano’s uncle.”
LES FERDINAND (HAYES)
“Centre-forward powerhouse Les Ferdinand began his career in ‘ Non-League football appearing as ; a 19-year-old for Southall in the 1986 FA Vase Final before switching to nearby Hayes.
“After scoring 20 goals in 42 appearances for the Church Road outfit, he signed for top-flight Queens Park Rangers.
“I was the first journalist to interview Les when he moved to Loftus Road in 1987 and he came across as a very humble young man.
“I later invented his nick-name of ‘Sir Les’ during my Capital Gold radio commentaries.
“This moniker stuck during a glittering goalscoring life and it eventually became the title of his autobiography.
“I am good friends with Sir Les to this day and he still remembers my very first interview with him.”
PAUL CHOW (WHITLEY BAY)
“Northern League clubs have dominated the FA Vase in recent years and one of the best individuals on show has been Paul Chow.
“He was a Wembley winner on three occasions with Whitley Bay and holds the record for the fastest goal scored at the new national stadium.
“I was in the press box for the 2010 final when Paul headed into the net after just 21 seconds to put his team on course for a 6-1 mauling of Wroxham.”