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The Henderson Brothers Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 July 2008 20:15


by Greg Stock

Andy and Billy Henderson are what you would simply term 'characters' - two brothers who could quite literally talk the leg off a chair if you left them there long enough. As they held court in Andy's lounge room on a warm Sydney night they had me spellbound with their many stories of their respective soccer careers and of the people and events that shaped soccer in Sydney in the 1950's. Andy (the elder of the two) was the fiercely determined halfback, Bill the goalkeeper with the trademark red locks and cap.

Between 1949 and 1960 they played all their club football together until Andy's career was savagely cut short by a broken leg requiring two full months in hospital. The football pairing was broken but definitely not their enthusiasm for the game or their indelible reputation as two unique personalities in Sydney soccer circles.

The sons of Andy Henderson senior a former Socceroo player and coach, they grew up in Sydney's western suburbs with footballs at their feet. As teenagers they made the transition from junior to first grade club football with the now defunct Granville club. They became first team regulars in a side boasting internationals like Eric Hulme, Ken Vairy, George Sanders, Ray Marshall and Alan Garside, and kick-started the Granville dynasty of the 1950's.

Socceroo striker Alan Garside is one personal fan who still refers to the heroics of the Henderson brothers as one of the lynchpins of the side - Billy as his favourite goalkeeper and Andy the ever-reliable halfback.

Both Bill and Andy went on to representative careers with New South Wales but it was Billy who was selected for Australia in the early 1950's and went onto to being the choice goalkeeper in the Australian side in the 1950's with his lifelong friend Ron Lord. His finest moment came in 1956 when he was selected to play in Australia's first Olympic side under the captaincy of Bob Bignell. In the turbulence of the split between the association and the federation in 1957 the brothers transferred to the newly formed Auburn federation side where under the coaching of Maltese international George Azzopardi they won the inaugural federation competition.

It was here that they formed a close association with players like Englishmen Len Quested and Alick Jeffrey, Olympian Bruce Morrow and Dutch international Franz Van Gaalen.

To take them back to where it all started as juniors I started by asking Andy where it was he first learnt the game.

AH : "I started off at Kewpies with Alan Garside (Granville and Australian striker) who was about twelve months or two years older than me. I started at under fourteens and played right through to under eighteens then I went straight to the Granville senior club."
BH : "Kewpies was the feeding club for Granville. They were always winning the competitions with Kewpies no matter what age group it was and it was just a natural progression from fourteens to sixteens to eighteens to reserve grade to first grade."
AH : My prefered position was right half. When I went to Granville I played initially at inside right. Alan Garside was centre forward, Kenny Vairy at inside left, Ray Marshall on one wing and myself at inside right. They tried me at left half a couple of times. When I went to Auburn I was a right half and when Archie (McAllister) was there they put me at left half. It worked out okay and I played a bit of right back. I always prefered to play in midfield."

GS : So where did you start your junior career?
BH : "I started with Granville Waratahs"

GS : Always as a goalkeeper?
BH : "Much to my father's dismay. He tried every way he could to encourage me to go and play out on the field. The only time I ever played on the field was when I played with Arthur Philip High School because they felt I was more value to them because I was a soccer player. They put somebody else in goal because goalkeepers weren't regarded as real players (laughing).
AH : "And they're not! (laughing)"
BH : "Dad used to say field players with their brains bashed in (laughing)."
AH : "You were better out on the field than you were in goals."
BH : "I used to prefer in goals and it was a natural progression as I went through the different age groups. I finished up playing with Granville Kewpies under eighteen team and from there to Granville second team and then to firsts. I only had one year at Kewpies in the under eighteens. Dad was always encouraging me to play out on the field as I was quick and I could hit a ball. He used to say there was more chance of me doing well out on the field."

GS : Your father was former Socceroo player and coach Andy Henderson Senior and your uncle was Granville legend Bill Adamson. What sort of influence did the family over your careers?
AH : "Our uncle actually finished playing (with Granville) the year that I started first grade - Bill Adamson."
BH : "At the time he was regarded as the best player never to play for Australia because the Australian left half was a fella called Jimmy Osborne from Metters and he was always the selectors choice for that position and Uncle Bill, even though most people considered that he was as good as Jimmy Osborne, never got picked."
AH : "Jimmy Osborne used to give the ball a good old reef while uncle Bill was a technical player."

GS : So the whole family was very soccer minded.
BH : "Yeah, Dad especially. Dad being a former Australian player, coached Australia against Hadjuk Split in 1947 and in the team I played in,1955. You can see how well qualified he was on soccer and when we were single blokes at home sitting around the table, everything would be soccer. You'd play a game and we'd go over it again and again and he'd be able to tell you things. Most people wouldn't have that opportunity of having someone of his qualifications over the table. So he was a tremendous influence on both of us."

GS : Was he coaching Granville at that time?
AH : "A little bit but Matty MacGilvery was the coach mainly."
BH : " Dad passed on to us and a few blokes in Granville some of the knowledge that he had gained over the years. He came to Australia as a young man at 23 and he said he learnt his soccer here rather than over in Scotland. He played for Springburn Rovers near Glasgow before he came out here."

GS : Did you both go to Granville at the same time?
AH : "Bill actually played before me. In 1946 the goalkeepers were injured and they plucked him out of the district juniors at sixteen and put him in goals for three games. And then I went to Granville in 1947"

GS : Do you remember anything about those three games?
BH : "No - geez it was 1946 (laughing). Andy and I played together in second grade and then firsts and we played right through to 1956 then we transfered to Auburn. We both played first grade right through at Auburn till Andy broke his leg. Andy got into coaching in 1961 and he also did the soccer section on Rex Mossop's 'World of Sport' for a couple of years."
AH : "I did one year with Rex calling the soccer. When they stopped Seven doing the (Rugby) league they did the soccer."

GS : How was Rex at calling the soccer?

AH : "Alright. He knew a bit about soccer. When he went to England he played with Leeds for a number of years and soccer is the go over there so he saw a lot of soccer games and knew a fair bit. He didn't know the technicalities of it but he knew offside, throw-ins and stuff, enough to get through."
BH : "When dad died he used to be a judge for the Sydney Morning Herald best and fairest competition. A couple of days before he died he called Andy and I over as he wasn't well enough to go to a game and we went down and did it for him and that was the last time his name appeared as a judge. So Andy was invited to become a judge and Norm Conquest (former Socceroo goalkeeper) passed away and they invited me, so we were doing the best and fairest competition together and we'd do a bit of writing for the Soccer World, the green paper, and they used to have a judge go to games and allocate points for each player. Andy and I did that for a few years."

GS : Andy - Do you remember your debut club match for Granville?
AH : It was down the south coast against Corrimal at Memorial Oval. All I remember was there was a free kick 30 yards out from goal and I had a shot and hit the cross bar. We won 3-1. I only played one game in that first year 1947 when my uncle (Bill Adamson) was injured.

GS : Do you remember your Socceroo debut?
BH : Do I ever. Against China in 1953 at what is now Fox Studios the old Sydney Showground. A 3-3 draw. We were leading 3-2 with not long to go. They got an indirect free kick just outside the penalty area and we put a wall up in front of them. This Chinese bloke hit the ball, missed the wall and made me dive. I dived and got my fingertips to it and it went in and because I had touched it with my fingertips it was a goal. If I missed it we would have won 3-2. So I thought that's the end of my international career but luckily for me I was picked in the next Test. How I remember it is my father played against China in 1923 almost to the day 30 years before I played against China. Dad was a centre-half and he marked the centre-forward, a bloke called Lee, who came out as the manager of the Chinese team in '53. His son was centre-forward against me and scored the winning goal against me in the last Test in Newcastle when we got beat 1-0. So history repeated itself.

GS : In your respective careers who was the best player you saw play?
AH : The best player I've seen would be Hanappi. He came out here with the Austrian Rapid team. Absolutely magical footballer who played at right half. Not only did he have good ball control but he could beat a man and swerve either way, tackle and shoot for goal.
BH : Back in those days England were always the top dog and every year England would play the rest of the world. They'd pick players from all around the world to play against England at Wembley and Hanappi would play in that world team against England, that's how good he was. He was the first bloke who I'd played against who could hit the ball with a bend.
I remember playing against him for New South Wales. I've got a photograph of it here where it says he was doing it all afternoon. I had seven belted past me and this Hanappi came with the ball on his knee, let it drop and half volleyed it. I dived and thought I've got this covered but the further I went the further away the ball went. They reckon I was one of the best players on the field that day and we got done 6-1."
AH : "They bend the ball a lot today but of course the equipment they have, with the footballs, the boots, you can do a lot more."
BH : I am amazed at how things have changed in the way football is now to what it was then. We got paid 50 pounds per year (at club level). You had to supply your own gear, they (the club) provided you with your socks and shirt. You had to provide your own shorts and boots, pay your own fare down the south coast to Corrimal, Woonona and Balgownie and up to Newcastle Wallsend, Cessnock, Adamstown, West Wallsend and Mayfield. And you got fifty quid for the year. When you look at today, that Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia where the boys were going to go on strike for more money. Okay they're professional and you can understand from that point of view but $40,000 for a week's work they got. I played for Australia and got five pound to play in a Test match. Five quid and they paid your expenses, fly you down to wherever it was three hours from Sydney to Melbourne. The plane left at 6 p.m. and got you down at 9 p.m. but that's the way it was. Five pounds to play against South Africa in Melbourne at the old Showgrounds. They paid us before the game and somebody broke into the dressing room and pinched the lot and the thirty quid I had in my wallet too. (laughing).

Another example was the fifth Test against Austria, the only game where we beat them 3-2 or 2-1. You know how the last person to get the ball in a game gets to keep the ball. Well I got the ball and Ronny Lord was reserve and he grabbed one of the balls from the sideline and they were only old balls, not like the kids have got these Mitres and you beaut ones. So I grabbbed this ball and shoved it up my jumper and Ronny got one and we stuck it in the bag. So that was against Austria and we had to play against South China the following week and we had to go to training. Tommy Tennant was the manager and coach and he said, 'fellas there are two balls missing from last weeks game. We know whose got them and if they don't return them they'll never play for Australia again'.

Ronny and I had to go like little boys and give them back. That's how things were and you didn't get to keep your shirt, you had to give it back. The only Australian shirt I've got is the Olympic Games ones because they were given to you for the period of the Olympics. I haven't got a shirt with the Australian emblem on it at all. I did scunge one from a South Chinese bloke and the South African one when we swapped jerseys. That was the only way I could get one. The team officials said where's your jersey and I said you'll have to go and get it off the opposition. You had to hand everything back in after the game. Your sweaty socks you'd hand them back in and they'd wash them up."

GS : Did the same thing happen for New South Wales too?
BH : "Oh yeah and even with the Ampol Cup and all the pre-season games like that they'd play you in different club colours provided by the federation and you'd have to hand all those back in as well."

GS : What about Granville or Auburn jumpers?
BH : "I never got one from Granville. With the goalkeeping one, the only one I have is one my mother knitted me. It was a white polo necked jumper. In those days it was a rarity to have something new and different (shows me a photo of it). My mother knitted it for me with a magpie in the middle."
AH : "There it is mate - the only shirt I ever got (Andy shows me an Auburn shirt). A for Auburn number 6. That was the first Auburn federation shirt in the first year with the club colours of green and gold. If you look at the quality its so much heavier especially when it got wet."

GS : Ron Lord and Bill Henderson always had a duel for the Socceroo goalkeeping spot at that time.
BH : "Yeah it was always either Ron Lord or myself. Sometimes if they went interstate they'd pick a goalkeeper from there because money was in short supply in those days. Ronny and I were always vying for the honours. (Bill digs out an old newspaper cutting from his scrapbook and quotes) This was after we played New Zealand - 'one of the first persons to congratulate Bill Henderson on his spectacular display last week was Australian goalkeeper Ron Lord. A grand pair of sportsmen this duo and it makes one sorry that you cannot play two keepers in a test match'. We're still good mates and play golf together and see one another regularly."
AH : "I had my leg broken when I played for Auburn and at that time our match fee was nine pounds per match. It was only the second game of the season and when I broke my leg I knew I was in for a long haul. with two months in hospital. Len Quested instigated it and what the boys did was put in a quid a week of their match fee and gave it to me to help me through. I was getting eleven quid a week and the others were getting nine pounds less one (for me)!"

GS : That was a nice offer
AH : "Thats the sort of blokes they were. Auburn people were terrific."
BH : "It was like a family Andy."
AH : "I enjoyed playing with Granville, we had a lot of fun, but I think I enjoyed more my five years at Auburn because of the atmosphere and camaraderie of the players. It was really good, and I'm not knocking Granville as we had some really good times. Whenever we won a big match we'd get into the sheds and sing Who were you with last night".
BH : "It was our unofficial team song."

GS : The coach at Auburn was George Azzopardi.
BH : "George was the greatest coach I experienced".
AH : " Tactically he was the best coach. One day we played APIA and Joe Marston was playing, Lenny Stedman and Ronny 'the hacksaw' Hawkshaw. George worked out a strategy how to beat them. He played two centre-forwards Bruce Morrow and Len Quested up the middle of the park. The two wingers came right back level with the half-backs and into our half so the fullbacks didn't know what they were doing. If the fullbacks advanced more into our half of the field (to pick up the wingers) that left a gap on the flanks. Everytime we got the ball we had to pass it to Bobby Hall. What that meant was the APIA fullbacks didn't know what to do at first so they started following the wingers down and it left Joe Marston with two centre forwards.
We'd just knock it into space on either flank behind the fullbacks and Quested or Brucey Morrow would run over to it and cross it back into the centre. We done 'em like a dinner and they were going to eat us for breakfast, APIA. George said he could hear the chants as he could speak Italian 'Look at these little mice we will eat them for breakfast'. It was a tactical victory for us."

GS : Crowd trouble was always a problem in the 1960's, especially involving teams like Pan Hellenic, APIA, Yugal and Croatia. As players for a district club like Auburn, did you strike much trouble from players or spectators?
AH : "I remember a night where Ron Iredale (referee) wouldn't come off Lidcombe Oval against Budapest. The crowd were waiting for him when we came off. We finished up surrounding him escorting him off and they were throwing punches trying to get the referee, kicking and spitting on the players."
BH : I remember the crowd invading the pitch at Lambert Park after referee David Buchan. He sent off one of the APIA blokes and he wouldn't go."
AH : He sent him off for a bad tackle and he just dropped him (the referee). Freddy, You, our fullback came over and got him in a headlock on the ground. It was Paul Turella and got off that. He was supposed to be suspended for life but he got off with a lighter sentence."

GS : The split between the federation and the association was a time of turmoil in New South Wales soccer. One of the reasons for the split was that the clubs controlled the players and had the final say in where they played. What were your experiences with the player transfer market?
BH : "Players in those days were loyal to their club. There was no such thing as transfer."
AH : "You signed for life."
BH : The clubs had what was called a retained list. If you were on that retained list you had to play for that club again. I am sure if Granville had have gone with the federation we would have stayed with the club and maybe things would have been different. The club was split up the middle the same as Auburn. Half the guys stayed with the Auburn association and the other half went to the federation so Auburn were in a worse position than Granville because they were split right up the middle. Ron Lord and Dougie Wendt stayed with Auburn (association) and that's why they got Andy and I to go over to Auburn."
AH : "They soon got Ronny Lord over to Prague."

GS : So the two Australian goalkeepers for a time were playing with the Auburn clubs?
BH : "One for the federation and one for the association. Bitter rivals (laughing). The irony of the whole thing is I played with Granville from 1948 to 1956 around 180 games, my last year of soccer was with Polonia in 1964 in second division and we beat Granville by a point for promotion. You can imagine they used to give it to me (after that) and it carried on for that long. It made bad friends amongst guys that had played together for years and years and been so successful as a club."

GS : Did the association and federation turmoil have an effect on you international career?
BH : "The biggest disappointment of my international career was I was picked to play against Hearts of Midlothian but because I was with the federation I was outlawed and Ronny Brown took my place.
Joe Marston was with the association and I withdrew. Ronny Brown took my place while I went into the New South squad to play against Costa Rica. Ron Lord played that game and I was only reserve, that's what upset me. I sat on the bench and I could have been playing against Heart of Midlothian and against Blackpool. I was also picked to play there but I couldn't because I was with the federation. I would have loved to have played against Sir Stanley Mathews. We had a bloke in our team at Granville named Kenny Hawkins. He was one of those blokes who was really only an average player but he made one of the New South Wales or Australian teams to play against Blackpool and he had to mark Stanley Mathews. They bought him on in the second half. He said to me once 'The only kick I got all day was up the ass'."

GS : Training - How many nights a week did the club sides train?
BH : "Twice a week. One ball and one floodlight."
AH : "Lenny Walker at Granville used to say Don't give them the ball tonight, they'll be hungry for it on Saturday (laughing). I mean, what do you think about that for an attitude? Never mind ball control, shooting for goal or saving it, just don't give them the ball."

GS : So was training mainly physical? Even the goalkeepers?
BH : "There were no goalkeeper coaches, you just ran around doing all the physical stuff, exercising and running, and then they'd just have shots at you."

GS : What sort of equipment did you use?

BH : "The ball was a big round leather thing and if it got wet it was like a hunk of concrete. No gloves and shin-pads, goalies never wore any shin-pads or arm guards."
AH : With all the stuff that's built into their jumpers these days its so lightweight and takes the shock of the ball."

GS : Did you get reserves on match days?
BH : "When we played there was no replacements. If they nominated reserves they didn't sit on the bench like they do today. They didn't even strip down. Once the team went on the field that was it. If someone was injured you were down to ten men or nine men."
AH : "They'd put you out on the wing"

GS : With no replacements did it mean there were guys playing a particularly physical type of game to effectively knock you out of a game?
AH : Not really to put you out of a game but they'd still kick the shit out of you."
BH : "Today once a goalkeeper has the ball you can't touch him but in those days you could bounce the ball and take five steps and then bounce the ball. That could go on all day and it was part of the fascination of the game that a forward could come in and shoulder charge you and you had to be skilful enough to get into a position to clear it."

GS : The legendary Reg Date - what were your thoughts on him as a player?
AH : "Absolutely terrific and a good bloke. He had a bit of trouble with his legs. He should have gone to England (to play)."
BH : "You don't become a household word in soccer unless you've got some ability and he was before his time in my opinion. When you saw the footage of his funeral and the numbers of prominent people that were thereā€¦ It just shows you the esteem in which he was held, not only people from that era, but present day politicians and sporting greats and that's the type of person he was. If anyone said the word soccer back then it was always Reg Date. He was tall and solid, maybe even a bit too solid for his own good but he used to get around alright."
AH : "He didn't have much of a backlift on his leg when he hit the ball but geez it would go."
BH : "A great sport too with it. We (Granville) beat them in the grand final in 1952 and he was the first bloke to come and shake your hand. They beat us in 1951 and he was exactly the same win or lose and that's what I liked about Reg Date."

GS : Other best players you have played with or against?
AH : "Well Len Quested springs immediately to mind as the best I've played with. Those Prague players like Leo Baumgartner, Herbert Ninaus and Walter Tamandl. I shouldn't say it but it was a pleasure to be beaten by them if you know what I mean. If you were beaten by Prague well you didn't mind because they gave you a good game and they were a really skilful side. Another couple were Jock McMahon from Leichhardt-Annandale and Jackie Lennard from up in Newcastle. They were two good players. Goals were a bit easier to come by in those days because the half backs marked the wingers and the two fullbacks had to mark three blokes the two inside forwards and the centre forward so there was a biit more scope for scoring goals but it was the other way around when the third back game came in everyone was covered in defence the wingers were covered by the fullbacks and the inside forwards were covered by the wing halves and the centre half covered the centre forward so it cut down the oppurtunities for goals because there wasn't much space then."
BH : "Joe Marston. You could always rely on Joe to be there or there abouts. You were never wondering is he going to get this or head this or pass it back. Len Quested again. Some of the best players I played against were in the Olympic games against the Russians. Lev Yashin he was the goalkeeper. I saw him in a rest of the world game against England and Bobby Charlton hammered a ball and Yashin who had hands like dinner plates caught the ball and threw it back over half-way. When we were going onto the Melbourne Showgrounds to play in a trial game before the Olympics I was standing behind Bobby Bignell Yashin was there and he had the ball. The first time I had ever seen a bloke flick it with his feet to his knee shoulder head shoulder knee foot and this was how he was going and heres me I could hardly throw the ball up and catch it twice I was that nervous. I said to him you speak English and one bloke said I speak English. I said what do you fellas do for a living. Mr Yashin is a major in the army and this blokes a general and they were all professional people in the army. So where we were rank amateurs and we had to sign a statutory declaration to say we didn't earn any money from football while we were given five shillings a day while we were away, these blokes were all looked after by the army. People can't believe it when I tell them."

GS : So you had to sign a form before the Olympics, acknowledging you were an amateur?
BH : "And you had to get a stat dec you were an amateur and you also had to get a clearance from your doctor, a health clearance to say you were fit and weren't carrying any injuries before you were even selected in the side. They sent you a letter saying are you available for these dates and they were all the trial games touring Australia and if you are included in the olympic team are you available for these dates, four or five weeks in Melbourne. You had to say yes, yes and yes. I was lucky because I was working with Hoyts theatres at the time and they were a sporting minded organisation at the time. Theatres were going good in '56 television only came in during '56 and Hoyts theatres employed a guy named Tony Miller who was one of the most capped rugby union players Australia had ever produced and a fella called Dennis Donohugue who was a South Sydney rugby league international, so they had an international from the three football codes. I was lucky that I got paid for every minute I was off work from the time that I went around Australia for three weeks and five weeks down in Melbourne they paid me every week."

GS :In the leadup to the Olympics, what match preparation did you have?
BH : "We played Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria we whopped all those. Then back to our clubs, then up to Queensland back to New South Wales. We got done 4-3 that day. See most of the good players were in the New South Wales team and remember we had a few guys in our team from other states Tasmania, South Australia, etc. We played New South Wales again and they beat us 3-1 and then we played them in Newcastle and beat them 1-0. All that was to select the team and once that was done we played Russia at the Melbourne Showgrounds floodlit. I played the second half and we got beat 15-1. Ronny let seven in, we tossed a coin to see who would go on in the first half and Ronny won, so he let seven in. I was thinking poor Ron (smiling) and we got beat 15-1. You know I can still see this bloke, he broke away and I went out and dived at his feet got the ball and he put the boot into me and ball and screaming in his own language. He was obviously trying to impress his selectors that he was good enough to be in it and he nearly killed me. Then we played against Great Britian. I played in the second half there. We got beat 3-1 by them. At Campbell Reserve we beat India who beat us in the quarter final. These games were a couple of days apart. I even wrote down in that game that I saved a penalty that day. Another game against Yugoslavia at the Melbourne Showgrounds, we got beat 5-1. They made the final against Russia, and I played against Germany at the Village Green at the Olympic Village. Then there was an English boat in town H.M.S. Newcastle and we played them and beat them 7-1. When we got knocked out of it they decided that we needed retribution on India and we played them at the Sydney Sportsground and got beat 7-1. It should never have played that game. What happened the Olympics were over everyone goes home, back to work and their normal family life and then you assemble again a week after and we just didn't have our mind on the game. It was really a very bad choice I thought that."
AH : "It was just a one off game after the Olympics to give the Sydneysiders a little bit of the Olympic atmosphere for soccer".
BH : "So our warm-ups for the Olympic games was to play against all the state teams who with the exception of New South Wales weren't really competitive at all."

GS : So do you feel it was an adequate warm-up for, up until then, the most important tournament in Australian football history?
BH : "Well at the time you didn't know any different and we thought thats the way we do it. Look at the blokes today. They travel all around the world playing country after country and they'll have four nation tournaments. We were out and out rank amatuers. Train twice a week for an hour and a half and playing against the cream of the world."

GS : What was the training regime like on that tour?
BH : "Training twice a day. No free time. At the Olympic Village in Heidelburg we'd train in the morning and the afternoon then we'd have a shower and dinner in the dining room. Then we'd go up to the entertainment hall and they'd have shows on like Pick-a-box. There would be piano players and guys like Franky Lane, all world class enteratiners. We'd make our own way and play ping pong and snooker and stuff like that and as we'd walk up past the red square as we called it heres all the Russians juggling and playing with the ball. That was the difference between them and us. We'd done our training we'd thought and they had done theres but they were stilling working."

GS : The foreign born players who came to Australia in the 1950's and 60's, do you feel that the standard of soccer in Sydney benefited from them?
BH : "Oh yeah no doubt. Soccer was in a bit of a rut until the federation came along. You had all your local teams, your stronger and your weaker teams. We weren't improving internationally and weren't competitive and we weren't getting any bigger crowds and soon as this came in the atmosphere became electric not knowing which way a game would go. All the new players with better coaching skills all came and played and it had to help."
AH : "They bought a higher skill level to us than we had here. We had the endeavour but no the same skill level. Our skill levels since those days have just gone up and up and up. The kids of today are as good as anyone."
BH : "We also had to start thinking differently when these better players came here. When Lenny Quested came here first we couldn't understand his professionalism. If we'd do something wrong he'd really give you a blast and we weren't used to that. If Andy missed a ball or one went through my legs you'd get on with the game but with Quested he'd really get stuck into you."
AH : "Or you'd pass a ball to him and it wouldn't be in the right place and get intercepted and you'd say sorry Len. And he'd say don't say sorry just be more careful that was his attitude. He wasn't saying in a derogatory way it was just his professionalism."
BH : "He really fitted into our club. For a bloke of his ability being an English B international he was a great bloke. There was no heirs and graces with him."

GS : Did you ever get the oppurtunity to play together at representative level?
BH : "The only time we played in an international together was in 1955 for Metropolis against South Africa. The South Africans first game on tour was against a (Sydney) metropolitan side and Andy had a good game but when the New South Wales team was picked they prefered a guy from Gladesville. You've just got to be in the right place at the right time."

GS : Andy - your club career came to an end in 1960 when you suffered a compound fracture of the leg in a match. How did it happen?
AH : "It was at Drummoyne Oval and we had a Scotsman playing for Auburn named Gordon Clydesdale and he was running across the cricket pitch with the ball. I was running a couple of yards behind him to get into another position to take the ball. The ball hit a bump and went up and over his head and I bought it down and travelled a few yards with it and then this bloke came from behind. Just as I passed the ball I was standing on my left leg and I passed the ball with my right foot so all my weight was on the left leg and this bloke attempted a wild swipe from behind and wacked me right in the middle of shin and that was it. End of story. I looked down and could see it was bent at a thirty degree angle. It was only six minutes into the game too."

GS : That must have been extremely painful.
AH : "It was a bit but the shock takes over and gets you over the pain. They took me away in the ambulance but it was funny. Just as the ambulance arrived to take me away there had been a headclash with a couple of other blokes and this other Gladesville player had a cut over his eye. So he came with me and we rode up to Ryde Hospital together. Two for the price of one."

GS : Did it take a while to heal?
AH : "I had two months in hospital and nine months off work. I had my leg in plaster for eight months. It was a compound fracture where the bone sticks out through the skin. They could have put a plate in it or pinned it but this particular doctor I had didn't think it was warranted and let it heal naturally."

GS : So, with the leg injury effectively bringing about an early retirement, you went into soccer administration.
AH : "I went onto the (New South Wales Soccer) Federations management committee for two years and in the last year I was on it I was the delegate to the Australian Soccer Federation at the time when we were trying to reunify the code in Australia and get back into F.I.F.A. We were successful with all that and got back into F.I.F.A. After I finished on the management committee I was immediately put onto the referees appointments board. They used to have three representatives from the referees and two from the federation to make five but it eventually got down to two of us, one from each group. I was fifteen years on that. Then I went to the disciplinary committee of the federation and had fifteen years on that too. I have been three years away from that."

GS : While you were on the management committee of the New South Wales Soccer Federation in the early sixties during the time of the F.I.F.A. ban. Were there any instances of player transfer problems at that time?
AH : "Jim Bayutti was president of A.P.I.A. at the time and they bought this scotsman out Willie Stevenson from Glasgow Rangers to play. We weren't back into F.I.F.A. then but the whole wheels of industry were churning towards that and out came this Willie Stevenson. Frank Parsons and I were authorised by the NSWSF committee to go to an A.P.I.A. game and if Willie Stevenson was to take the field A.P.I.A. was to be immediately suspended by the federation. We did our job and told Jim but it was funny because Bayutti was instrumental in getting us back into F.I.F.A. He became the president of the New South Wales Soccer Federation and was part of the driving force to get us back into F.I.F.A."

GS : You were also doing some work as a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald.
AH : "Oh yeah as well as being on the disciplinary committee. I did it right up until 1982 with the green paper too."

I concluded our chat by asking Billy a little about what he thought of the game today. The N.S.L. and the state leagues are still dominated by the many ethnic clubs.

GS: Do you have any thoughts on the status of the ethnic clubs in 1998?
BH : "People who aren't associated with the game think soccer is a game for new Australians. The kids are born here and are second generation but thats the image that soccer has got. When Australias is qualifying for the world cup and you see all the names of the team the guys at the golf club say all your new Australian mates are in there and it doesn't worry me because I played with and against them all the time. But its the crowd behaviour that they won't accept the fact that soccer should be waht they are interested in not their own ethnic image in my opinion."

GS : Do you watch the local product?
BH : " I've got a gold pass and can go and watch any game. I watch the Ericcsion Cup on television. I go to the internationals at the (Sydney Football) Stadium. I intend to go to club games more often and I've got a grandson whose a goalkeeper aged fifteen and I want to take him out to show him what sort of level he's got to get to."

GS : What does the standard seem like to you?
BH : "I think its gone down a bit at club level because we've lost so many players overseas. From a spectators point of view I really think it lacks that little bit of class it had a few years ago. We've got a hundred or so overseas and thats a tremendous drain on the talent still here. You do see some good games but a lot are predictable and uninspiring."

Bill and Andy Henderson are now enjoying their retirement in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Both swing a golf club regularly though Bill still maintains involvement and passes down the many tricks he has learnt as a specialist goalkeeping coach with some amateur clubs in the local area. His grandson Tim is also following in his footsteps and is currently playing youth league with Marconi. Andy has given up the administration side of things altogether and for all his many late nights spent with the federation he has turned it over to someone younger. About time too. For its all they're unheralded contributions that they do deserve a very relaxing retirement to watch the game they love, swing a golf club and be remember as federation pioneers over forty one years ago.

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