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Jack Henderson

Name: A.W. Henderson*
Born: 31 July 1844*, Dromore
Died: 13 July 1932, Natal (South Africa)
Position: Goalkeeper

Representative Honours: Ireland: 3 Full Caps (1885).

Club Career:
FA Cup
Ulster RFC

Jack Henderson was a founder member of the Ulster Cricket Club & Rugby Football Club in 1873. Shortly thereafter it became the Rugby & Association Football Club before becoming simply Ulster Association Football Club in 1882. Henderson was club captain from 1880 and as a rugby player was described as “an energetic forward, plays up hard and dribbles well.” He was approaching the twilight of his career when Ulster converted from Rugby to Association Football and he took to the position of goalkeeper.

A leading light in the early advancement of Association Football, it was perhaps more in recognition of that rather than his footballing ability that Henderson was selected for the three International matches in 1885. In his final match for Ireland, against Wales at the Ulster Ground, Ballynafeigh, the game was played in a very strong wind which assisted Ireland to a 2-0 half-time lead. In the second half Wales scored five goals in a ten minute spell, assisted by the wind and a “cavalier” goalkeeping display from the normally reliable Henderson. When, for the first time in the second half, he touched the ball in actual play to take a goal kick the crowd jeered Henderson so much that he left the field of play. Ireland played the next five minutes with ten men before their goalkeeper could be persuaded to return to play out the remaining minutes of the match.

Henderson’s international debut came at the age of 40 years and 212 days, only a few months short of the record set by Matt Wilson in January of the previous year. The records of both players as Ireland’s oldest players were finally beaten by Elisha Scott, who finished his International career at the age of 42 years and 200 days in 1936.

After retiring as a player Henderson continued to work with great distinction for the Irish Football Association in an administrative capacity. He later immigrated to South Africa where he died at the age of 88.

Ireland Cap Details:
28-02-1885 England. A L 0-4 BC
14-03-1885 Scotland A L 2-8 BC
11-04-1885 Wales... H L 2-8 BC

Summary: 3/0. Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 3.

* There are discrepancies regarding Henderson's exact initials. He was recorded simply "J. Henderson", as "A.W. Henderson" and even "T. Henderson" in various contemporary newspapers and annuals. His date of birth is also the subject of some conjecture.

By George Glass, with additional thanks to Cris Freddi.