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The good in goodbye - cheerio to L'il Lee


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by Blandy

Well it looks like Lee Hendrie has left, or is about to leave, the club he's been at since, well, forever really. I thought I'd jot down a few thoughts and good wishes for our (former?) impish midfielder.

I first saw Lee play for Villa in a reserve game at Deepdale, Preston, sometime in the early '90s. He was just a young lad then, full of promise and tricks, battling against physically stronger players in a pretty competitive game. He shone in that game, with his touch control and vision, and I've had a soft spot for him ever since.

After signing professionally for Villa in May '94 he soon made his debut, brought on as a late sub at QPR. Perhaps typically as it turned out, he was immediately the centre of attention - being sent off by the not-at-all-lamented ref, David Elleray for two soft bookings - the first for a harmless tackle and the second for taking a free kick that had been awarded the other way.

But the setback didn't stop him becoming a more regular feature in the side under Brian Little and then John Gregory.

An appearance many will remember as one of his finest was out on the left at home to Atletico Madrid, in the UEFA cup quarter final at Villa Park. We were knocked out on away goals, but not until a rousing fightback had just fallen short. For all that Stan Collymore affected the game with a tremendous goal, it was Lee's dynamic running and skills down the wing which brought about our fightback and inspired the team and really got the ground belting out some noise.

Here was a player who seemed to intuitively link up with the more intelligent football brains in the side. Play him in the same team as a Merse, Angel, Collymore and the link up play, little dinks and dragbacks really worked magic. He often should have scored more goals, but he made up for that by the sheer enjoyment he exhibited when he did score. There has never been a player that looked so happy to score, or for Villa to score.

Lee had a period where he was just about the best player in the side, shining also for the England under 21 side (along with Gerrard and Lampard). This led to him getting his only England call up under Glenn Hoddle, and he seemed to take to it straight away, coming on as a sub and almost scoring a great goal after a typical jinky run.

A change of England manager saw him drop out of the squad though. What might have been...

Lee began to suffer some unfortunate injuries, ankle problems and a need to put him back in the team early due to a weak squad meant that he played while not fully recovered. This led to a drop in form and some fans accusing him of being a "bottler" from tackles. Very harsh to my eyes.

He also did some pretty stupid things on the pitch, frequently irritating refs and opponents with his chuntering, getting wound up too easily and occasional displays of petulance. Bookings and sendings off accrued, none of them for anything malicious and most completely unnecessary. He promised to grow up, but never quite managed it.

He had disputes with fans who got on his case. Some "supporters" never got over the fact that his Dad is a Bluenose. To them that made Lee a 'nose and therefore fair game. I preferred to look at 300+ games for the Villa and his joy at the club doing well as evidence that he is one of us, and always will be.

Along with this split opinion of his heritage and whether people liked him for his talent, or didn't like him for his attitude at times is the perennial argument that "he didn't make the most of his talent" (and therefore is a waster) - He seems to invite strong opinions either side, with no middle ground.

There are not many players for which so much would be written and talked about that doesn't have direct reference to his playing ability.

For me though I'll always remember watching him play well and the feeling I had that he is worth the admission fee, or a good part of it, on his own, when on song. He scored some absolute belting goals, went mad in celebrating, had the bottle to take and score a pen at Wembley in the shoot out against Bolton and is one of my favourite Villa players of the past 15 years or so.

I don't suppose he'll change now, Stoke will get performances of real quality, examples of stupidity, great goals and vision and some so-so games from him in a ever changing mix. He'll be value for them, and in a game said to lack characters, he's a character alright.

Me, I wish him and hence the Stokies, the best of luck and will follow his progress with interest.

Thanks Lee. Up the Villa.

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Pretty well sums up my feelings about Lee Hendrie. Thanks for the article Blandy - In many ways it will be a shame to see him going to another club, but I do feel his best at Villa is now over and so it probably is the right time to move on for him.

Best of luck whatever happens Lee! Up the Villa.

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What a fantastic article. Sums up exactly how I feel about him, too. On his day, an amazing player and a real natural talent. Sadly, those days became all too infrequent.

Good luck, Lee.

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Nice article Pete, credit to the front page.

I guess we all have our favourites, he isn't one of mine and to be honest his days at VP have been numbered for a while. Not a player thats going to help in our revolution and for me he more than most epitomises what the old Aston Villa was all about

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Good article my man, very good indeed.

The first time I saw Hendrie play, it was for the youth team against the Blosers. He was clearly the pick of the bunch, and I remember predicting to my Dad that he would make his debut the season after. He did, and got sent off, which about sums his career up in a small way...

I do have an interesting theory about Hendries progress, and who is to blame - albeit only in a small way - for him never fulflling his potential.

Stanley Victor Collymore.

:?:

Yep, Stan. See, when Hendrie first started to make an impression on the team, he had Yorke & Savo up front, who would hold it up to allow the midfield to make runs through & link up with, too.

Hendrie was always linking up well with them, making sharp passes and generally contributing in a positive way.

When Collymore started playing, he would often drift out to the wing, and half the time would not hold it up as well as either of the other two. This had a knock-on affect to Hendrie, who all of a sudden had a missing option for the 'zip' pass he used so well, and consequently was often having to hold on to the ball longer and would no longer have the same impact on the team, as he was not really linking much with the forwards anymore.

Now yes, Hendrie should have been good enough to compensate for this, and ultimately he wasn't. But clearly the confidence started to drain from him at a crucial time in his career, and I can't help but look back & think that maybe the slight tactical change in the Villa side was a contributing factor.

Is it the main reason? Not at all. The lifestyle of Lee Hendrie, his temperment issues and overall average-ness speaks for itself.

Seems only a small thing, but it is something I noticed in the team at the time and I still believe it now. Maybe I just spend too much time analysing tactics! :)

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Good article my man, very good indeed.

The first time I saw Hendrie play, it was for the youth team against the Blosers. He was clearly the pick of the bunch, and I remember predicting to my Dad that he would make his debut the season after. He did, and got sent off, which about sums his career up in a small way...

I do have an interesting theory about Hendries progress, and who is to blame - albeit only in a small way - for him never fulflling his potential.

Stanley Victor Collymore.

:?:

Yep, Stan. See, when Hendrie first started to make an impression on the team, he had Yorke & Savo up front, who would hold it up to allow the midfield to make runs through & link up with, too.

Hendrie was always linking up well with them, making sharp passes and generally contributing in a positive way.

When Collymore started playing, he would often drift out to the wing, and half the time would not hold it up as well as either of the other two. This had a knock-on affect to Hendrie, who all of a sudden had a missing option for the 'zip' pass he used so well, and consequently was often having to hold on to the ball longer and would no longer have the same impact on the team, as he was not really linking much with the forwards anymore.

Now yes, Hendrie should have been good enough to compensate for this, and ultimately he wasn't. But clearly the confidence started to drain from him at a crucial time in his career, and I can't help but look back & think that maybe the slight tactical change in the Villa side was a contributing factor.

Is it the main reason? Not at all. The lifestyle of Lee Hendrie, his temperment issues and overall average-ness speaks for itself.

Seems only a small thing, but it is something I noticed in the team at the time and I still believe it now. Maybe I just spend too much time analysing tactics! :)

yeah blame someone else for his poor form. Lee should look squarely at himself. He had great natural ability, just not the heart or the head to be great. Im not too disappointed Lee is leaving, he should have done 2 years ago. As for a testimonial, it could be the worst attended one ever. I can't see more the 3,000 turning up. How sad is that.

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I was at his first game, Christmas at QPR. (Time flys when you are having fun)With all his history, i still believe he should have been given his chance under MON.If he needed to pull a performance out of the bag (when new contract was needed) he had the talent to do so,i believe a rolling six month contract could have worked with him.

I believe MON has got rid, not because of lack of ability, but because he is a disruptive influence. With lees past he can have no complaints.Good bye Lee and good luck!

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sorry guys i was never convinced about lee

i went to school with him until the age of 18

and even in our school team he was decidely average

lacked and real physical presence that his mouth

demanded that he had

not sorry to see him leave at all

he really should have left a few years ago while he shone

in a more average midfield than we have now

still all the best Lee

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yeah blame someone else for his poor form

Quite clearly if you read the whole post I haven't. Also, if you read through my post history or my Villa Blog, you will again see that I have give him plenty of stick and actually want him gone, and have not wanted him at Villa for quite a while.

But thanks for the silly response.

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nice article Blandy, and I agree with it for the most part. lee was such a talent as a lad

I think though, that as we move into our brave new future we will be saying goodbye to alot of the things we found comfortable and cosy and familiar, hopefully we will be embracing in exchange a whole new raft of heroes to match those of 82 in exchange.

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and even in our school team he was decidely average

No offence, but I reckon that's probably bollocks. Bet he ran rings around you :winkold:

well as a goalkeeper yes he probably would have

but as we were playing on the same team he never realy got the chance

there were in fact 4 midfeilders in our school team of fair higher quality

two of whom were severly injured playing in said team at 16 years and 17 years old

one of whom had signed a pre contract with manure but i'm not getting into name dropping :lol:

and if you still think its bollox you can always drop into the school and ask the teacher who ran the team i'm sure he'd be happy to put you right

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well I agree a good post,particularly if you like Lee Hendrie.

Lee Hendrie for me epitomises the Ellis Years.......Kiss the badge.......rally the crowd......declare that you are a villa fan and you are made for life. No wonder we are where we are.

Lee Hendrie for me was like a fart in a cullinder.....He had some ability granted,but was far too lightweight(despite his decent frame) to turn that ability in to any effect.For me he was a total reflection on how the club was being run.

Lee has been a very lucky boy to have earned as much as he has for the ability he has displayed for us, but i wish him well and yes he is undoubtedly a villa fan.

ps IMO he would never have been at the club this long under Martin O'Neill.

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