Hendon defender Brathwaite aiming to stay fit and secure promotion in 2015
PUBLISHED: 15:27 07 January 2015 | UPDATED: 16:16 07 January 2015
Hendon centre-back Elliott Brathwaite is better known for stopping the ball going in the Greens net than sticking it in the opposition’s, but in recent weeks he has found his scoring touch.
The 29-year-old scored his first ever goal for the club to earn a point against second-placed Maidstone United in December and followed it up with another equaliser in the 2-2 draw against Harrow Borough on New Year’s Day.
Manager Gary McCann sets all his players 20-game targets. Failure to hit those targets means a £10 payment to the players’ pool – and Brathwaite has dished out a few quid since joining the club.
He said: “My targets were to score one goal and keep six clean sheets in the first 20 matches.
“In the first 20 matches I didn’t get the goal, but we got the six clean sheets – I think we got eight or nine.
“I’ve got two goals in three games in this 20 so I thought I’d have a little ask, to see if I could get a tenner back. I don’t think it’s going to happen though.”
Brathwaite has recently been paired alongside youngster Charlie Goode, who joined the club from AFC Hayes in November and is enjoying his football after several years which were disrupted by injury.
Brathwaite said: “This is my fourth season at the club. Injuries haven’t been the best for me. I did my cruciate just before I joined Hendon, and then in my first season at the club in my first game, I did my cartilage again in the same place.
“I was out then for the whole of that year, then I came back just before the Aldershot game in the FA Cup. I played a couple of games before that and then I did my other cruciate at home against Margate.
“This was the first pre-season I completed in four years. The last time I had a pre-season was the 2009/10 season so it’s really exciting to be back.
“The surgeon said to me, ‘last chance now, last throw of the dice’, so I’ve just put everything on the table and said I’m going to give it the best shot I can, try and stay in the best shape – I’ve still got a little bit of work to do.
“It’s a long road this season so, as long as I can keep myself fit, that’s all I’m hoping for.
“Obviously the position we are in at the moment, it is an added bonus.”
The draw against Harrow saw Hendon drop down a place to fourth in the league table but Brathwaite says the players are focused on automatic promotion rather than securing a play-off place.
He added: “We are just looking above now. There is no need to be looking behind, if you are looking behind then I think there is a little problem there.
“All we are doing is keeping an eye on Maidstone and Margate. As long as we can keep our results going, I think there is a chance we can catch them.
“It is a very tight club. We’ve always had a good bond but I think this year, I think you can tell when we are on the pitch, we are all pushing each other on and getting each other out of trouble.
“I think this is the best bond that I’ve seen.”
As for new year’s resolutions, Brathwaite has a couple.
He said: “For me, my girlfriend asked me my new year’s resolution and all it is, is to stay fit and get promoted. The way I’m going at the moment fitness-wise, I’m feeling good and you can see from the league position, I think promotion is a massive opportunity for us.”