Ronnie Hanley to lead Baildon United's legends to mark 50th anniversary

First published in Sport by

A TEAM of Basildon United legends will roll back the years when they take to the field on Sunday to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary.

A Bees side managed by their greatest ever manager, Ronnie Hanley, will take on a Canvey Island legends side at Gardiners Close in a match which kicks-off at 3pm.

Dave Cusack, Billy Heale and Paul Clark are among the Bees’ favourite sons who are set to play against a Gulls XI who will be managed by Jeff King and Glenn Pennyfather.

Hanley, 70, who led Basildon to five league titles and numerous cup successes during their golden era in the late 1970s and early 1980s, says it will be a fitting occasion to mark a milestone for a great club.

He said: “It will be a celebration game and there will be plenty of proper players on show, including some Southend United legends.

“Many of my players are in their 50s and 60s, but they were determined to play – I’m hoping to even have 10 minutes on the wing myself!

“Jeff King is a good friend of mine and it was great of him to agree to help with this. Jeff actually played for me at Basildon in the early 1980s and will tell you I was the only manager who ever actually managed to get him fit by pushing him up One Tree Hill!”

The Bees started life as a junior team called Armada in 1963 and became Basildon United in 1967.

They were founder members of the Essex Senior League, which they still compete in, and enjoyed the best spell in their history when Alan Read was appointed manager in 1975 with Hanley as his number two.

Hanley took over as manager two years later and led the club to 11 years of success under the chairmanship of the late Ron Hill, while unearthing talents including a 17-year-old Steve Tilson, who went on to achieve folklore success at Southend United.

Hanley said: “Tilly was just a baby in our special side. I played him up front and you could see he would go on to be some player.

“And he’ll be one of the younger ones there on Sunday!

“We’ve also got people like Ricky McQueen coming. He’s been in cancer remission and has had a heart attack, but he was determined to take part. I think that tells you about the spirit we created at the club back then.”

Hanley says he’s tried to contact as many of his old players as he can but no longer has telephone numbers for many. He invited any of the old players who want to come along on Sunday to give him a call on 01268 476526.

Basildon United Legends squad: Steve Mead, John O’Brian, Dave Golding, Paul Clark, George Young, Mark Keaune, Cliff Moorcroft, Dave Cusack, Micky Hill, Steve Tilson, John Keeling, Colin Russell, Gary Nelson, Greg Hunt, Ricky McQueen, Micky Brooks, Andy Howard, David Matthews, Frank Heritage, Graham Franklin, Billy Heale, Colin McBride, Jimmy McFarlane, Mark Janney, Tony Gamma.

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