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An interview with Terry Hennessey

Terry Hennessey is one of the greats of Welsh and English football. He played for Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Derby County before injury cut short his playing career. He then had a successful career in management, particularly in the U.S., before he moved to Australia in 1984. Nigel's Webspace caught up with Terry recently and he very kindly agreed to give an interview for this website. Terry's career highlights and a number of football card images are available via the Terry Hennessey Player Page.

Playing career

Q:    Were you aware during your playing career that you were being featured on football cards?

A.    Yes, quite aware. I can't remember ever being approached about being on the cards, though I may have been, but I definitely remember being featured on them. It was terrific, a great thrill, to be recognised in this way. It was part of the publicity that came with playing at that level.

Q.    Did you collect cards at the time, and do you still have them?

A.    Yes, I did collect football cards, particularly when my son was old enough to be interested. I still have a trunk full of memorabilia, which my son now has possession of, which probably includes quite a few cards.

Q.    You played for three clubs, Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and Derby County. What memories do you have?

A.    They were all great clubs, and I have very fond memories of playing for them. I served my apprenticeship with Birmingham City before moving on to Nottingham Forest (November, 1965). I remember playing my best football for Forest. I was fully fit at the time and really enjoying every moment of it.

Q.    Did injury cut short your career?

A.    In my first year at Derby County I was fully fit. In my second season I was playing a pre-season friendly against Halifax when I went for a tackle and was caught across the knee. That injury was probably the one which shortened my career, as my knee was never right again after that. I still feel that if I hadn't got this injury I could have played on for many more years than I did.

Q.    When you were transferred to Derby County for 100,000 (February 1970) it was recognised as the first time Derby had paid this amount. Did this put added pressure on you?

A.    At the time I remember a lot being said about me being the most expensive defender of that time. I considered it a great compliment and used this to try to perform at my best. It spurred me on.

Q.    Nottingham Forest and Derby County were (and still are) fierce rivals. Did this make the transfer more difficult?

A.    They are both great clubs, and there was a very strong rivalry. I knew it was going to be difficult, but Derby had been chasing me for some years. I think that Forest thought that they had a ready replacement for me, in Liam O'Kane, but I'm not sure. The money on offer was significant, so perhaps that made a difference.

Q.    What was the highlight of your playing career?

A.    Winning the First Division championship with Derby County in 1972 (Terry made League 17 appearances plus 1 sub in that season, plus 21 the following season. His contract with Derby was cancelled in February 1974). The closest I ever got in the F.A. Cup was a semi-final (1967 against Tottenham, losing 2-1), but the excitement of the Cup could never compare to the feeling of winning the League.

Q.    What about after your playing career ended?

A.    I went into management. I would have liked to have been a manager in the First Division but it didn't happen. I knew that I had a lot to learn so I started in the lower leagues. I had a job as a salesman through one of Derby County's sponsors, which I enjoyed, so I was able to combine work and management. Then I went across to the U.S. and coached Tulsa in the North American Soccer League (in 1979 Hennessey would have enjoyed working with Colin Boulton, Roger Davies and David Nish, all ex-Derby). In 1983 we won the NASL Championship, which was a big deal back then.

Q.    And then you moved to Australia?

A.    I came here in 1984 because some of my family had moved here. I coached Heidelberg United in the late 80s.

Q.    And finally, do you still have an interest in football?

A.    Definitely yes. I love both Australian football, the A-League, and the English game which I can watch via Foxtel.

Terry was very generous with his time and we had a good talk about many aspects of his playing career. He is still working, as a salesman (aged 65) and is a keen golfer. Send your memories of Terry Hennessey to this email link.

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