With thanks to Richie Greenfield, this article is the first in an occasional series when we look back at the Wivenhoe career of a player who has graced the Broad Lane turf in years gone by.
During the 1990’s the chant of ‘There’s only one Julian Hazel’ was heard on a more than regular basis. He was a terrace hero who’s all action, (over) aggressive, goal scoring style endeared him to those of us who stood behind the goal.
He loved playing for Wivenhoe, the Club and the fans. His colourful career meant he was always in the action – scoring goals, getting booked, sent off or challenging authority. There was never a dull moment with Jules on the pitch!
Julian was originally a member of Colchester United’s successful Youth team set-up and was one of a handful of YTS boys who were loaned to the Dragons during the 1991-92 season. He made his debut on 22nd October 1991 coming on as a substitute in a 1-2 defeat at Chesham United. He played his first full game in a 2-1 home win against Hendon soon after as a fullback. Yes, unbelieveably the U’s played him as a defender in those days! It was only a short loan spell which ended the following month, but he was back a year later – on loan again for just 1 game, coming on against Dulwich Hamlet as a striker (Colchester had at last worked out his best position!) in October 1992. Six months later Steve Dowman had got him back again to lead our attack at Kingstonian, causing them no end of problems and he played in the remaining two games that season which saw the ‘Hoe avoid relegation. Having spent the 1993-94 season at Harwich & Parkeston, Julian turned out for us pre-season in 1994 before eventually deciding to stay at Harwich.
Steve Dowman finally secured his services on a permanent basis in the summer of 1995 and he scored the club’s first goal of the season in an opening day win at Saffron Walden. He soon established himself as a crowd favourite, but his aggressive approach to the game made him a target for referees with bookings being regularly collected, which along with misdemeanours playing in Sunday League football, meant he has suspended for the last seven games of the season – a sign of things to come! Despite this he still netted 14 goals.
The following season he was scoring goals for fun, attracting the attention of Romford who he eventually signed for – albeit only staying for 1 month, before returning to Wivenhoe to score against the league leaders Leatherhead. He stated that what the Club lacked in finances they more than made up for in terms of atmosphere within the club. He forged a partnership with Alan ‘Daisy’ Day which caused chaos in opposition defences for most of that season. His goal scoring abilities continued to attract attention, with Romford coming back in for him as well as Harwich, but it was finally Bedford Town that coaxed him away from Broad Lane, following a season (1996-97) which saw him score 29 competitive goals.
Despite a successful spell with Bedford (30+ goals in a season) he returned to Wivenhoe in the summer of 1998 to become the club’s player-manager with Steve Pitt, Joff March and Lee Neale. The quartet replaced the departed Steve Dowman with Hazel at 24 years of age believed to be the youngest player-manager in non-league football. Goals and controversy always seemed to surround his time at the Club, but it was in many ways a goalden era for the ‘Hoe with plenty of entertainment of one sort or another on the field of play.
Due to a restructuring of the Ryman League the 2001/2002 season was effectively a ‘dead’ season of friendly fixtures. This saw the departure of the whole management team and players, in search of competitive football. Julian left for Harwich & Parkeston ending finally, his association with the club.
During his time at Wivenhoe there are many stories that could be told about his on the field and off the pitch activities, most of which are not fit for print!
My own favourite memory was a coach trip to Leatherhead. Julian wasn’t playing, but as it was his birthday he came along for a’jolly’ let’s say. It all got very messy, even before the game had started – I’ll say no more than that, but it was a day me and Mr Blyth won’t forget in a hurry!
Julian Hazel certainly left his mark during his times here at Wivenhoe Town. Despite his disciplinary issues, his goalscoring abilities were never in doubt. He always gave his all for the Club and the supporters because he knew how much effort was put into running the club. What we would give for someone of his goal-scoring ability today!