John Frendo has netted 100 goals in three seasons with Hitchin Town of the Southern League Premier Division. That’s no mean feat, because Hitchin are, in many ways, Premier Division stragglers. Frendo’s goals have effectively kept them up for two seasons – two campaigns that have taxed the nervous systems of everyone involved at the club. Just ask manager Carl Williams, who bade an emotional farewell to the club after the final game of the season at Bedford.
Williams, who tired of the conspiratorial whispering from the sidelines, despite taking Hitchin back to the Premier Division in his first campaign in charge in 2011, talks with passion about Frendo the player, Frendo the man and, above all, Frendo the talisman. Without him, Hitchin would surely have been relegated in 2012-13.
His 43 goals also made Frendo non-league football’s top marksman and his sheer consistency, and collection of explosive goals, make you wonder if it is time for the modest cabbie from North London to really test himself at a higher level.
There’s no shortage of takers, because Frendo’s finishing is not just outstanding at the level he’s been playing, but his goals would light up any level of the game. Hitchin fans could compile a top 10 of their team’s goals in 2012-13 and Frendo would probably be responsible for all of them!
When Hitchin signed Frendo from Ware, there were question marks about his discipline and not without reason. He joined the club on suspension and each season has seen him miss games either at the end or beginning due to bans. In 2012-13, he seemed to change, as if realizing the massive burden of responsibility he was carrying for his club. Frendo was not Hitchin’s problem child anymore, but the frustrations were still visible at times. Almost all of Frendo’s card collection was down to dissent.
Frendo has taken the breath away with some of his strikes. The last game at Bedford saw him score a hat-trick in a 4-1 thumping of Hitchin’s local rivals, and each goal was a classic: a free kick that Didier Drogba would have been proud of; a first-time shot into the corner of the net; and a half-volley that took a swerve from 25 yards. Each goal was a roof-raiser. “The finest hat-trick I’ve ever seen,” said one Bedford official. He was not wrong.
Frendo’s popularity at Hitchin means that if he does leave – and the churches of the North Hertfordshire market town are doubtless full of kneeling Fishponds Road patrons praying that he decides to stay – there will be a public outcry from Canaries fans. Hitchin Town and their loyal band cannot complain too much, because the man has given everything in the club’s cause and his 103 goals represent something of a modern day sensation. He is quite simply, a brilliant forward.