Born three years apart, brothers Tom and Joe Hindle have shared a lifetime love for the game of soccer. This season, they have also been able to share brief but valuable time together on the roster of San Marino High School’s varsity soccer team.
Theirs has been a trans-Atlantic, transcontinental journey that began in Kenilworth – a city 90 miles northwest of London and home to the 900 year-old ruins of Kenilworth Castle – to the sun-soaked foothills of Southern California. And though the scenery has greatly changed, one thing hasn’t moved a bit: their mutual love of soccer.
Actually, football, in the Queen’s English. Both Tom and Joe (well, Tom more than Joe) seem slightly put off by using the term “soccer.” Whatever word is employed, the response is enthusiastic and genuine.
“We both learned to play in England,” said Tom, a senior at SMHS. “My dad [Steve Hindle, Director of Research at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens] and his brother played a lot and are massive Liverpool fans so it wasn’t really much of an option. That said, our mum [Louise Hindle, Public Schools Specialist at The Huntington] took us out a lot as well. It was a case of going for a ‘kickabout’ in the early years.
We both started playing club at the age of 6 for the Kenilworth Wardens and from there, we grew into the sport.”
Allegiance to a club team is so rabid in England that Tom’s mere reference to his father being a Liverpool fan summons up similar comparisons, as if calling someone “a Raider fan,” or “Trojan” in this part of the country.
Following in the family footsteps, Tom grew up idolizing Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, and settled into the position of center midfielder. Tom describes Joe as “pacier” (Soccer-speak for “faster”) and has spent his time on the pitch as a winger or forward.
Joe began playing for the Birmingham City Football Club academy at the ripe age of 8 before the brothers Hindle were reunited as members of the Wardens until they departed for San Marino in July, 2011.
Upon entering the United States, Joe joined the Los Angeles Premier FC while Tom plied his trade at Huntington Middle School. Each were given a varsity cap as freshmen.
While Tom was able to win a couple of cup championships back in England, he told The Tribune his “best moment on the soccer field” took place last year, when he potted the fifth and final penalty kick that gave the Titans their first CIF playoff victory in more than a decade.
“Just being a part of varsity soccer as a freshman,” Joe said when asked his top soccer memory.
We decided to ask each brother to evaluate the other’s skill set.
“The best part of Joe’s game is his movement,” said Tom. “He’s an absolute nightmare to mark because he accelerates very quickly and has a knack of getting open to create opportunities.”
Joe countered by praising Tom’s “excellent passing.”
A valuable point of pride in the Hindle family is that neither Tom nor Joe have ever received a red card – a reprimand given by a game official for behavioral or tactical recklessness that is accompanied by immediate disqualification – during a contest.
“We were brought up by parents and coaches to play a clean game,” said Joe.
“That said, smack talk is imperative,” cheeky Tom added.
“Tom gets yellow cards, though,” Joe said with a smirk. “Frequently.”
With the sport now beamed around the globe, soccer-watching is a regular pastime in the Hindle household. Tom and Joe watch games every Saturday and Sunday with dad and Sophie, the dog.
Steve played soccer as a youngster all the way through high school then at college as both an undergraduate and graduate student. In 1986, Steve was a member of the Fitzwilliam College squad that won the Cambridge University Cup final, taking one for the proverbial team when he suffered a broken collarbone in the second half. In 1991, he was named the Fitzwilliam team captain. He continued to play for the Kenilworth Wardens senior team until Tom was born in 1999.
Louise was active in sports and these days “is an avid runner and does yoga as much as she can,” according to Tom. Her father played for Boys Welsh “years and years ago” and though she doesn’t care much for the sport, “I love to watch the boys play,” she told The Tribune. Louise is also the chair of the San Marino Unified School District’s Academics Advisory Committee.
But all agree that the “Hindle-to-watch” might be Olivia, a fifth grader at Valentine Elementary School.
“She is absolutely solid at gymnastics,” Tom said of Olivia, who competes for the Club Champion team and has excelled at the vault. Little sis has also dabbled in softball, basketball and soccer, but appears to have found her calling in the gym.
“She’s an incredibly athletic girl,” said Tom. “Freakishly strong.”
Just like those family ties.