Salford City striker, Ian Henderson, will have delighted more than just the Ammies supporters with his performance at Blundell Park on Saturday.
The former Rochdale man scored a hat-trick as his side beat Grimsby Town 4-0 but no-one may be happier to see him bring home the match ball than his young son.
Henderson said: “I’ve got a little boy, 18 months; he’s found all of the footballs in the house, so he’ll be kicking it around!”
The 35-year-old arrived at Salford in the summer, following his release from cash-strapped Rochdale. He is The Dale’s second highest goal scorer and is already reproducing that form with five goals from his opening four games for his new team.
And the front man looks like he is set to have even more tales to share back home from his time in a red Salford shirt.
“I can tell him stories, as he gets older of what the balls mean and what they represent and it’s always nice to score a hat-trick,” Henderson added.
𝗛𝗔𝗧-𝗧𝗥𝗜𝗖𝗞 𝗛𝗘𝗡𝗗𝗢 🎩
— Salford City FC (@SalfordCityFC) September 21, 2020
Evergreen Henderson was rewarded for a tremendous work-ethic against a young Grimsby side that asked questions of a team that had kept ten of the eleven that started in the 3-0 defeat at Everton on Tuesday in the EFL Cup.
Salford’s Manager, Graham Alexander, had said before the game that he backed the fitness of his squad and the oldest player on the pitch was exemplary and was rewarded for his efforts.
The striker won and converted the first penalty himself, after being tripped on 32 minutes. What followed was a second spot kick in the 63rd minute, after a somewhat dubious foul on Brandon Thomas-Asante.
After twice calmly slotting past goalkeeper James McKeown, he sealed his treble with a glancing header from point-blank range, following a lofted cross by Ash Hunter from the left-side.
If there were any questions of Henderson slowing down with age, it was certainly not on display and he added: “I’ve looked after myself incredibly well throughout my career and you’re a long time retired, so I want to play as long as I can.
“The hunger, the desire and determination is still there and I don’t think I’ll ever lose that.”
With fans yet to be allowed into stadiums, Henderson received muted applause when substituted on 90 minutes and he may have been disappointed to not grab another goal had he remained in play.
In stoppage time, Richie Towell wriggled free from defender, Ludvig Öhman, only to be pulled back as he shot from 8 yards out. The referee saw the infringement and Towell sealed the win from 12-yards with Öhman receiving a 93rd minute dismissal for his troubles.
On paper this was a convincing win for the Ammies but their SkyBet League Two opponents had threatened throughout the first half. They twice had shots cleared off the line by Salford captain Ash Eastham, with goalkeeper Václav Hladký to thank for a 1-0 lead at the break.
The Czech stopper pulled off a fine save after half an hour, diving to his right to push away a strong header from ex-Ammies poacher, Matt Green, and had an assured second half for a first clean sheet of the season.
This was Henderson’s day however and he will no doubt be hoping that his son has a few more footballs to play with over the course of the season and perhaps a story of promotion to share by May.
City host Forest Green Rovers in League Two next Saturday at the Peninsula Stadium and are fourth in the table with 4 points from their opening two league games.