The Monday Profile: Stephen Henderson
In his second contribution to the two unfortunates in as many weeks, Ben Barrett profiles Stephen Henderson, scourge of many a League One striker.
The role of second choice goalkeeper must be one of the most frustrating jobs in football, yet being a back-up and then seeing your club sign an England stopper must make your heart sick.
This is exactly what happened to Bristol City stopper Stephen Henderson at the start of the season. There may have been excitement around the whole the city when the Robins announced the signature of David James, but a cloud loomed over Chez Henderson.
‘Hendo’ had two choices: either stay and fight for his place, probably aiming for nothing better than a position on the bench, or get out and prove himself. Luckily for Yeovil Town he chose the latter.
The 22 year-old Irishman initially joined the Glovers on a month-long loan to cover the injury to regular custodian fellow loanee John Sullivan but Terry Skiverton saw enough in that time to secure his services for the rest of the season.
Skiverton’s decision has been more than justified, and Henderson’s role has not gone unnoticed as Yeovil have gone on an incredible run, seeing them move from the bottom of the table to seventeenth place in little over a month.
Henderson was formerly an academy ‘keeper at Aston Villa before he made the move to Bristol, but his current form wouldn’t be out of place in most Championship, and dare I say it, Premiership squads.
Looking around at teams in the Championship, I find it incredible to compare Henderson with the second and third choice goalies.
In his last 6 or 7 games Henderson has kept the Glovers in games at key points with his most creditable performance coming at Sheffield Wednesday. His side were down to nine men and were trying to hold a 2-1 lead; in the end they couldn’t save it, but it was Henderson’s arms, legs and even his face that held the home side for 86 minutes.
Yeovil have had their fair share of loan goalkeepers over the years. Asmir BegoviÄ‡, Alex McCarthy and Chris Weale have all played vital roles in recent seasons, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest Henderson is the most important goalkeeper the Huish Park side have had since entering the Football League. Not a bad accolade for a player who has only played 15 games for the club.
Yeovil supporters are drooling at his keeping abilities, but the truth is that Henderson’s performances are of a higher quality than a League One relegation battle; scouts are known to have viewed him and rival clubs could be preparing a move in the summer.
There are some good stoppers around at the moment. Alex Smithies at Huddersfield, Keiren Westwood at Coventry and Joe Lewis at Peterborough are all quite possibly destined for bigger things. Should they depart their sides and leave a gap open in a promotion-chasing League One side or even in the second tier, then I’d be surprised to see Henderson turn the opportunity down.
For now, though, I’m happy to say that Bristol City’s loss is very much the Glovers’ gain. If Bristol City can wrap David James and Dean Gerken up in cotton wool then that would be just perfect.