He may have just turned 70 but goalkeeper extraordinaire Terry Nicholson says he made one of the best saves of his career in his birthday comeback match for Donacloney last Saturday.
The former Irish League star, who famously won an Irish Cup medal with Crusaders while playing with a broken nose, donned the gloves and boots one more time in the Mid Ulster league match between Donacloney Seconds and Dungannon Rovers and saved his team from defeat by saving a penalty.
The match ended 5-5, but Terry is only taking blame for one of the goals. “It was a great day,” said the former Glenavon manager.
“I let five in, but there is only one my fault. The penalty save was one of the best of my career - the cameras should have been there to capture it. There was a big cheer when I saved it, but I don’t think the young lad who took the penalty was too pleased at a 70-year-old stopping him from scoring.”
Terry, who keeps himself fit by playing each week at Banbridge Recreation Centre, approached Donacloney six months ago about marking his 70th birthday with a game.
“I was thinking about what I could do for my 70th,” he added. “I wanted to do something a bit different. It was a one-off but if they were ever stuck for a week or two I’d be more than happy to play again.”
Not many pensioners have a pair of boots ready for action and Terry is no exception. “I had to borrow gloves and boots, my old boots have steel toecaps and you can’t use those now because of health and safety rules.”
And what did the family think of his madcap idea? “The family were behind me and delighted I am still fit enough to play. The good news is I had no aches or pains the next morning so it all worked out very well. It would have been nice to get a win, but a draw against a team they lost 4-1 to just before Christmas can’t be that bad.
“I’d like to thank everyone at Donacloney at granting my birthday wish and remember if you need me again - just get on the phone.”
Terry began his goalkeeping career as a young 16-year-old with Portadown in 1961 before going on to play for Crusaders and Glenavon where he officially retired from before taking over from Billy Sinclair as boss at Mourneview Park in 1982. He remained in that post until 1991 when he was sacked - a decision that still upsets him today. His most notable success was the Budweiser Cup win in 1989, in the club’s centenary year, when they defeated Linfield 6-1.
“The sacking is something I was very upset about at the time. Glenavon was my team from a school boy and my heart was there and after being axed I never wanted to manage anywhere else.
“I was back as goalkeeping coach for a while under Colin Malone and Stephen McBride but I still keep an eye out for their results.”