A versatile player who formed exciting partnerships with both Dougie Freedman and Sean Devine – not a bad entry on a CV!
Lee Leslie Hodges was born in Epping Essex in September 1973 and joined Tottenham Hotspur as a youth in 1992. he made 4 appearances in the Premier League for Spurs. “In May 1993 I came on as a sub for John Hendry against Arsenal at Highbury when Tottenham won 3-1 and played alongside Teddy Sheringham, very exciting”.
Unfortunately unable to sustain first team favour Lee spent time on loan at Wycombe and Plymouth Argyle before Ray Clemence approached him for the Barnet squad rebuild in the Summer of 1994. Clemence had secured the formidable services of Dougie Freedman and Mark Cooper for his assault on League Division 3, and Hodges would put the icing on the top of the cake.
Lee first pulled on a Barnet shirt for the opening fixture of the Endsleigh 1994-95 season when the following line up lost at home to Scunthorpe United 1-2 in front of 2,208, Mark Cooper with the goal:
Gary Phillips, Dave McDonald, Shaun Gale, Alan Walker, Mark Newson, Carl Hoddle, Micky Tomlinson, Paul Wilson, Lee Hodges, Mark Cooper and Dougie Freedman. Subs: Peter Scott, Linvoy Primus and Paul Newell
However it was in the very next game that the Underhill faithful knew that a rather decent player had arrived. The same line-up thumped a very decent Division 2 outfit in Leyton Orient four-nil. Freedman and Cooper scored the goals but Hodges had an outstanding game that evening alongside Carl Hoddle.
Hodges struggled with a few niggling injuries during the season but Barnet eventually finished a very creditable 11th in the table and improved to 9th the following season notwithstanding the loss of Freedman in September to Crystal Palace for £800,000. This was due in no small way to the partnership of Lee and Sean Devine as the deadly duo developed an almost telepathic relationship and hit a serious purple patch in April and May for the run in. Devine finished with 22 goals and Hodges with 17. From the terraces it felt like a return to the halcyon days of Gary Bull and Mark Carter five years earlier and that gloom of relegation in 1993 had been lifted. This period featured Lee's most awesome feat in amber and black when he scored all four goals in the win at Rochdale. He was simply unstoppable on that sunny afternoon and in the next fixture he grabbed a hatrick against Hartlepool at Underhill too. He was voted Most Improved Player for that year by the Supporters Association and would have won the covered Player of the Year award if not for Maik Taylor who had an majestic season in goal for the club.
Lee' final game for the Bees was against Colchester United 3rd May 1997 at Underhill. The following side lost 2-4 in front of 1,909, the Barnet goals from Hodges and Jamie Campbell.
Lee Harrison, Sam Stockley, Shaun Gale, Linvoy Primus, Lee Howarth, Warren Goodhind, Kieran Adams, Paul Wilson, Jamie Campbell, Lee Hodges and Dean Samuels. Subs Steve Coggen, Matt Brady and Phil Simpson.
Terry Bullivant,who had managed Barnet during this season but had moved onto Reading, was obviously a big Lee Hodges fan and made a fine offer of £250,000 to new Bees manager John Still for Lee in August 1997. It was frankly too good to turn down and the fee certainly helped finance Still's new signings of Ken Charlery and Greg Heald for Barnet.
Lee spent four injury hindered seasons at Reading, initially Elm Park and then the Madjeski Stadium before a move to an old hunting ground Plymouth Argyle in the Summer of 2001. Paul Sturrock 's free transfer deal was great business as Lee went on to make close to 200 appearances in seven seasons at Home Park and become a firm favourite with the Argyle fans in a deeper midfield role. A short spell at Torquay United in the Conference, in including a successful Wembley appearance in the play off final versus Cambridge United in 2009 was followed in 2010 by Lee's first managerial post at Truro City. Lee guided City to the Southern League Premier title in 2011.
Lee was a superb technician and indeed one of the clubs Mr Reliables as he didn't ever seem to have an off day. He was also another of the players from Underhill's past that was easily approachable and an extremely nice guy, he would always drop into and spend time in the Durham Suite after games to allow supporters to discuss the performance one to one – that could not be said of many believe me. On his last visit to Underhill with Plymouth in 2007 before returning home on the team coach he sought out a few faces in the bar just to say “hello” shake hands, and let us see that broad grin – yeah really nice guy!
Lee Hodges – Appearances 111 Goals 29