If you are reading having clicked through from social media, I sort-of apologise for the slightly misleading headline. However it’s worth it to celebrate the career of a player who helped define Bracknell Town in the early 2000s, and also my own career in the media.
For those of you just popping by, former Bracknell Town defender and Non-League Paper editor Stuart Hammonds is set to join Sky Bet League 2 side Luton Town in the summer as press and communications manager, as well as programme editor. You can read the full article on the Luton website here.
Now.. my bit.
When Bracknell signed ‘Hammo’ permanently in the summer of 2002 from Sutton United, ahead of the Robins first campaign in the Ryman League it was along with marquee signing Paul Harford – the son of the ex-Fulham and Wimbledon manager Ray.
There was quite a bit of fanfare around the signing of Harford, I seem to remember them both stood for a PR picture outside Burtons in Bracknell – but it was Hammonds that made the bigger impact on the club in the long term.
As well as being the chief-reporter of the popular Non-League Paper, he formed part of a solid trio of defenders alongside Jon Underwood and Neil Baker – now the joint managers at Slough Town.
This was a bit of a PR coup for the club, meaning it got a good few mentions in the paper itself gave me my first opportunity to work in the media when I asked the man himself if they did ‘work experience’ – leading eventually to the creation of this very website!
“Stick that one in your column Hammonds”
At the club, Hammo was very popular with the supporters, particularly the opposition. I remember a Marlow supporter regularly shouting ‘stick that one in your column Hammonds‘ – hopefully referring to his weekly page in the NLP rather than anything more sinister.
He was also the go-to goalkeeper whenever called up, there was a particularly tasty derby against Windsor & Eton that saw Martin Hutt stretchered off with Hammo picking up the gloves. As far as I am aware he was never beaten between the sticks, and Bracknell won that game courtesy of a late Gavin Smith penalty.
He played in the famous FA Cup fourth qualifying round against Barnet when the Robins were beaten 3-0 as well as the brilliant day out that was the Berks & Bucks County Cup Final against Chesham United.
Hammo ended up leaving when budget cuts meant Bracknell could no longer afford to put towards his travel costs from Hertfordshire – but I’ll always admire his commitment to the club that extended to regular journeys out west to the likes of Evesham and Taunton before heading home again.
After Bracknell, he went on to play for Ware and Hitchin Town but did return to Larges Lane for Ben Edwards testimonial where if memory serves he was given the run-around by a 40-odd year old Mark Franks.
Good luck in the new job Hammo!
Any memories of Stuart in his Bracknell Town days? Feel free to share below in the comments.