How Hawks striker Scott Rendell wrote his name into the FA Cup history books
Quiz question - what have Hawks striker Scott Rendell and Pompey defender Sean Raggett got in common?
Give up? How about we add Matt Hanlon’s name to the list? Ok, here’s your last clue, and it’s a big one - Ronnie Radford.
For those football lovers of a certain age - mainly those who can remember what life was like before Sky got involved - the answer should now be obvious.
All four scored goals when a non-league club caused a sensation by dumping top flight opposition out of the FA Cup.
Radford’s name will forever be immortalised due to his long-range thunderbolt on a Hereford mudbath against Newcastle in 1972 - in my eyes, possibly the greatest goal ever scored. Poor Ricky George, his extra time winner is forever overlooked.
Hanlon was Sutton United’s matchwinner when they knocked Coventry out in 1989, and Raggett’s late goal gave Danny Cowley’s Lincoln a stupendous fifth round success at Burnley in 2017.
In amongst that list, Rendell’s magic moment might not be so easy to recall. But in January 2013 he scored the late winner that will never be erased from the history books.
Then playing for Conference club Luton Town, he netted 10 minutes from time, after coming on as a sub, to give his side a 1-0 fourth round success at Norwich City.
It was only the fourth time since the late 1940s that a non-league club had beaten a top flight one in the world’s greatest club knockout competition.
‘We were the first non-league team to beat a Premier League team away in the FA Cup,’ Rendell recalled. ‘It was a bit of history, though it goes under the radar a bit due to the stature of a club like Luton.
‘They were way too big to be in the National League.’
That much is true. When you think of non-league cup upsets, the likes of Yeovil, Altrincham, Sutton and Woking spring quickly to mind. But Luton Town, who voted for the Premier League to go ahead but (unfortunately for them) were relegated the season before it was launched? Luton Town, 1988 League Cup winners and currently eighth in the Championship? No, they’re not your average non-league motley crew of builders, binmen, bakers and butchers.
‘It was a different kind of pressure when I was there,’ said Rendell. ‘They’re a massive, massive club and everyone expected them to walk the league. That brought different challenges, but I had some fun there.
‘I enjoyed it, until it was cut short when (manager) John Still arrived - but that’s football, everyone has their own opinion.’
The Carrow Road winner was Rendell’s fourth FA Cup goal of that campaign, but his first against professional oppositions.
He had netted Luton’s goal in a 1-1 home draw in the first round against fellow non-leaguers Nuneaton, and then grabbed a brace in a 2-0 replay victory.
Further wins followed against lower division Dorchester and three tiers higher Wolves before Rendell became, briefly, a national FA Cup star. The run was ended in the last 16 when he started for the Hatters in a 3-0 home loss to Millwall.
‘You would have liked a bigger club (than Norwich) but it was still a Premier League team, still a Premier League ground,’ Rendell told The News ahead of Hawks’ FA Cup glory bid at three tiers higher Charlton this weekend.
‘We had nothing to lose so we just went out and gave it our best shot. It was our lucky day - our keeper pulled off some great saves and I managed to nick one late on.
‘It was a tap in at the front post, just instinct really.
‘I’ve been lucky to score some important goals but that’s definitely right up there.
‘I’ve been lucky to have scored some important goals - once (in 2009) I scored a last minute winner for Cambridge against Stevenage in the play-off semi-final. That was the same kind of feeling (as scoring at Norwich).’
‘It went wild afterwards (win at Carrow Road) - I had phone calls from Sky Sports and various papers.
‘Now I’ve got kids, it will be nice to be able to show them that their dad wasn’t a bad player, that he did score some goals now and again!
‘It’s a nice one to have in the memory bank.’
Prior to that, Rendell was almost an FA Cup hero for another non-league side, Cambridge United. His penalty gave the U’s a half-time lead at three tiers higher Wolves in the third round - the hosts eventually winning 2-1 in the 87th minute.
Rendell’s spot-kick in the previous round had been the only goal against Weymouth.
The striker has never lost his happy knack of scoring in the FA Cup. During his sole season with Eastleigh in 2019/20 he struck four times in five ties, including three penalties - two against Welling in the fourth qualifying round and another in a first round replay against Stourbridge.
His first FA Cup goal for Hawks couldn’t have been better timed either - a close range header against former club Torquay putting his side into an 82nd minute lead, not long after coming off the bench for injured striker Alex Wall.
‘I’ve been quite lucky to have had some good runs and played some big teams along the way,’ he recalled.
Rendell arrived at Hawks - his 15th club of a peripatetic career - as one of Paul Doswell’s last pre-season signings. He had been unable to agree a second year deal at NL South rivals Maidstone, so jumped at the chance to return to Hampshire (he lives in Basingstoke).
‘It was an easy decision for me,’ he recalled. ‘I think it was all done within an hour of walking in the building.’
Rendell started Hawks’ league opener against Welling up front with Tommy Wright and was one of the team’s standout performers in a 3-0 win.
More recently, he has been on the bench as Doswell has preferred to partner James Roberts and Wright up front.
But Wright’s three-match ban, for a red card against Slough, and an injury to his former Luton colleague Alex Wall will see Rendell partner Roberts up front in his first-ever game at Charlton’s Valley stadium.
Injury aside, that will be the case again next Tuesday when Hawks return to league action at Tonbridge Angels.
‘It’s a very talented squad,’ he commented. ‘We’ve had a few slip ups but it’s still early, you have to remember that. There’s a long way to go and we’ll only get stronger. We just need to go on a little run up to Christmas.
Having celebrated his 35th birthday last month, Rendell is well aware he hasn’t got too many FA Cup runs left in his career.
With an eye on his future, he has been taking coaching sessions at Hawks for the strikers - ‘finishing drills, individual work.
‘It’s something that excites me, the coaching side, the management side. I’ve been in the game for 19 years ever since I left school at 16 - it’s something I definitely want to progress in, but only when the time is right.
‘It’s something I did when I was at Aldershot, I helped (manager) Gary Waddock out when I was captain.’
Rendell was a prolific scorer in the National League for Woking (2013-16) and Aldershot (2016-19). His best season was 2014/15 when he struck 24 league goals, the third highest in the top flight of non-league football that season.
On joining Eastleigh ahead of the 2019/20 season, he failed to score in his opening 17 appearances for the Spitfires - before then netting 10 times in an 11-game league and FA Cup purple patch.
Almost fourteen years on from his first FA Cup goal, what Hawks would give for another one at The Valley ...