We are only three days into our countdown and already we come across a veritable Waltham Forest legend.
It may come as a bit of a surprise, but Jermain Hughes ’only’ has 80 starts for the club, though he has a fair number from the bench too.
His debut came on the 24th of February 2001, in the 1-1 home draw with Marlow, and despite only scoring five goals that season, he was key in keeping the side away from relegation.
He stayed with the club for the start of the 2001-2 season, and was part of a memorable Leyton Pennant side which included Neil Tilley, Matt Waldron and Jamie Richards.
That side ended up finishing sixth in the Isthmian League Division Two, securing promotion in a season which preceded a mass reorganisation of the pyramid. Colin Richards’ side also made it to the third round of the FA Vase, with Hughes chipping in with 20 goals that season.
During the 2002-3 season, Hughes made 5 appearances for Leyton Pennant under Danny Honeyball, before moving on to pastures new.
Hughes’ crowning moment undoubtedly came in the 2005-6 season, when he almost single-handedly won Waltham Forest the Essex Senior Cup.
In the County’s premiere competition, Hughes consistently performed, scoring in the third, fourth and fifth rounds helping Forest to the semi-finals of the competition, where Hughes would have the game of his life firing in two goals against Ryman Premier Division side Heybridge Swifts.
The other semi-final in the competition was played out between Braintree Town and Chelmsford City, but saw the match end in a mass brawl, resulting in both teams being ejected from the competition.
While Forest – and Hughes in particular – were denied the prestige of the final, the record books will always show Waltham Forest as winners of the 2005-6 Essex Senior Cup, thanks largely to Jermain Hughes.
Hughes left the club at the end of the 2005-6 season, but was back not before long, making four appearances under Ged Searson the tail end of the 2007-8 season, scoring once, in a 1-1 draw with Waltham Abbey.
Hughes completed the pre-season campaign for the 2008-9 season, and scored his only goal in four appearances with a sweet half-volley against Waltham Abbey.
After a falling-out with the management, Hughes left the club having only made four appearances, before returning for one last spell with the club playing under Tony Mercer at the start of the 2010-11 season.
Sadly for Hughes, he was limited to three starts under Mercer, in a squad which struggled all season, before finally being replaced by Wale Ojelabi.
Jerky may have only made 80 starts for Forest, scoring only 31 goals, but his personality, combined with the importance of some of his goals, will mean he will forever be classed as a Waltham Forest legend.