2022/23 Season

What is the Toon with Tom?

Ardent supporter Tom Harrison has been a Hanwell Town supporter for a number of years. Since January 2023, he's been regularly interviewing several of our players to find out more about them. Initially these have been published in our matchday programmes but given how well its been received by supporters, we thought it was time to spread the content wider and give our website readers to get in on the action.

Imran Kayani

Date: 10/04/2023

This week we caught up with new signing Imran Kayani who's joined the Geordies on loan from Slough Town and already scored on his debut against Swindon Supermarine. We had a fascinating chat about his career to date, his ambitions and also initiatives trying to increase British Asian representation in football.


Can you give us a brief summary of your footballing career before Hanwell?

Most of my youth consisted of playing for Chelsea Elite from the ages of 11 - 16. I also represented my county (Surrey), through which Royal Russell offered me a scholarship where I was able to train full time alongside getting my A levels. During this time, I was also selected to represent England Schoolboys where I scored on my debut aganist Wales. Upon completion of my scholarship I signed for Sutton United FC where I had a successful pre season with the academy earning myself my first team debut. However, covid struck, lockdown commenced and I suffered one of my first major injuries making this a difficult season for me personally. However, I worked extremely hard to get myself fit again and in the following season I made the switch to sign for Slough Town FC where I won goal of the season in my breakthrough year. I am currently on a contract with them until the end of the season.


What type of player are you?

I am a direct and tricky forward who loves taking players on and scoring goals. Strong minded, I pride myself on being the hardest worker on the pitch.


What was your debut for Hanwell and how did the match go?

My first game for Hanwell was a tough fixture against a strong opposition. Despite not getting the result we wanted I was happy to score on my debut.


What's the best thing so far about playing for Hanwell?

The best thing about playing for Hanwell is the sense of community surrounding the club. The players, staff and fans are all part of one family and I have already felt extremely welcomed into this family and for this, I am extremely grateful.


Who do you support?

I support Chelsea FC.


Do you study or have a job outside football?

I both study and work alongside football I am currently working towards a degree in computer science whilst working part time as a showroom host at Mercedes.


What do you do in your off time away from your study/work and football?

To be honest I don't get a lot of time away from football, studying and work. However when I do get a bit of free time I like to spend it with my family and friends. I enjoy going out to eat, trying new cuisines and experiencing different cultures!


British Asians are massively underrepresented in football, something alluded to on your LinkedIn. How has this affected your football experience to date?

I think being British Asian has definitely posed its challenges - people tend to judge you before you have even stepped onto the pitch. They see a lack of Asian representation at the top of the game so I think subconsciously people tend to take you less seriously. It just means you have to work twice as hard as your average player in order to achieve the same outcomes but I believe this has helped me become mentally strong and even more determined to diminish this false stereotype.


I understand you're currently observing Ramadan. Does this affect your training routine or the games themselves?

Yes, it is currently Ramadan so I am undergoing fasting. I take preparation very seriously in terms of what I'm eating before a game, staying hydrated during a match etc. so in that sense I am unable to do so during this period. Undeniably, it can be difficult at times playing without food and water but you slowly get used to it and your body starts to cope. Overall, it is a very humbling experience and I think it helps you to realise how lucky we are to have an abundance of food so readily available.


In 2022, the Premier League launched the South Asian Action Plan within the academy process, do you think things are changing for the better?

Yes, I think programmes like these are helping to slowly change things for the better. However, there is no denying that we are still a long way off where we should be in terms of representation and there is still prejudice/stigma towards south Asian players in the game. I believe it will take one player to be extremely successful at the top level to break that barrier and I hope to be that pioneer to inspire the next generation of British Asians and show that it is possible to achieve your dreams with immense hard work!

Tom McElroy

Date: 04/03/2023

This week we caught up with new signing Tom McElroy.


The striker scored 8 goals in only 14 appearances for Aylesbury United this season, and it's fair to say from the reaction on Twitter that their fans were disappointed to see him leave. He's already made an impact with his hard working performances up front and we look forward to many more.


Can you give us a brief summary of your footballing career before Hanwell?

I played for MK Dons Academy from the age of 12-16 until I was unfortunately released. From 16-18 I played for Tring and Buckingham Athletic before going to university. During my time at Leicester and Nottingham University I played for both the respective Men's 1st XI football teams. At Leicester, I also had a brief spell at Shepshed Dynamo (step 4) before the Covid 19 pandemic brought an end to the season. This brings me to now where I have moved from Aylesbury United.


You've obviously played a fair bit of university first XI football, at Leicester and Nottingham. What are the main differences you've noticed with non-league?

Having spoken to a few of the lads about this, for me it seems that university and non-league football are almost entirely different sports. I would say this is mainly due to the level of physicality but also the style of play as well. At university level, the game tends to be a lot less physical which enables you to not only get the ball down more easily, but also to hold onto the ball for longer periods which is a luxury that you don't necessarily have in men's football.


What was your debut for Hanwell and how did the match go?

I came off the bench against Bracknell Town at home. Despite losing 3-2, it was a good experience to get my first minutes for the club, meet all the boys, the management team and the fans. In my first full debut I was involved in the 3-1 win at home against Yate Town. This was obviously a great result and a very enjoyable match to be a part of.


What's the best thing so far about playing for Hanwell?

I would say that in my short time at the club there are already a significant number of positives. The ground is fantastic, and the pitch is a quality surface. The fans are obviously very dedicated to the club, traveling to away days and showing up in large numbers for home fixtures. But for me I would have say overall it would be the people at the club. Everyone at the club has been extremely welcoming and supportive, from the management team and the players to the fans and everyone else behind the scenes.


What type of player are you?

I would say that I am an aggressive, direct, and hardworking player that will give his all to win. I would also like to think that I provide quality on the ball, and that I am not scared of running at defenders and taking them on.


Who do you support?

If you had asked me a few years ago I would've said Liverpool as all my family are from there. However, if you were to ask me now, I wouldn't say I necessarily support a team, I would much rather just watch a good game of football. I can't answer this question and leave out the fact that I am a massive Hanwell Town and Newcastle United fan though.


What was your initiation song at Hanwell?

I haven't done one yet, but I know a few people are keen for me to do a rendition of Gazza's Fog on the Tyne. I'm not sure if I could do it justice to be completely honest so l'll have to wait and see for when l'm made to do it in the next week or so.


Do you have a job outside football?

I have just secured a job as an analyst for a firm in London which I start in March.


What do you do in you off time away from your work and football?

Away from work and football I like to go to the gym, play golf, go out for dinner, and spend time with family and friends.

Jacob Gardiner-Smith

Date: 04/02/2023

This week we caught up with new signing Jacob Gardiner-Smith. It's fair to say he's had a fairly unusual background in football for a young English player, and we found out how he came to swap freezing Moscow and St Petersburg for the frozen pitches of the Southern League in January and February, via a spell at Wycombe Wanderers. The box-to-box midfielder has already made a big impact at Hanwell, winning man of the match in our brilliant midweek away win at Tiverton.

You've had a very interesting career before Hanwell. Firstly, you're probably sick of answering this, but how did you end up at SKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg?

My agent at the timegot me a trial. I went out at half term at school and played brilliantly. The coach after my second session came up to my brother and said he wanted to sign me. I spent a year there. It didn't work out but Zenit had seen me playing for SKA and took me on trial. Again I went out for a week and played brilliantly. It rained up with the Men's B team which was incredible at only 19. They then selected me in their 23 man squad to tour Spain to see me in some games. I played against Real Betis, Cadiz and Sevilla and from there the coach pulled me to the side on the last day and said he wanted to sign me.

What was the experience in Russia like? Was the style of football different to what you've experienced here?

The experience was incredible, I turned from a boy to man at 16 living on my own there. The style was very possession based and technical.

When you came back to England you signed for Gareth Ainsworth at Wycombe (great guy - brought an XIto Hanwell for a friendly). How was being at Wycombe?

The best changing room l've ever been a part of. It's the reason we got promoted. I owe everything to Gareth, he gave me my pro debut and developed me so much.

You've also got experience at some familiar names in non-league, do any of those experiences stand out?

Braintree on loan from Wycombe was brilliant. George Borg was great for me. Also special mention to Jimmy Gray at Hendon, he gave me my first chance in the men's game and trust me, I owe a lot to him.

What is your favourite position to play and what type of player are you?

CDM or box to box midfielder. l'm energetic, ratty and aggressive.

You made your debut for Hanwell in a friendly against Bedfont. How did the match go? Has the injury healed?

The game didn't goto plan getting concussion and 15 stitches in the first 15 minutes but that's life hey!

Who do you support?

Man United.

Did you have a favourite player growing up?

Ronaldinho, Herrera,Pogba, Rafael Da Silva.

What was your initiation song at Hanwell?

Talkin the hardest -Giggs

Do you have a job outside football?

I work for Smart Currency Exchange.

What do you do in your off time away from your work and football?

I like to go out and see friends and go out to eat and go to the gym.