Monday, February 20, 2017

The Terry Fenwick Interview

Our latest interview is with former QPR defender Terry Fenwick. A mainstay of the back four through the 80’s Terry enjoyed many highs during his time at Loftus Road, including a fantastic promotion and three Wembley cup finals.

QPRnet: You joined QPR from Crystal Palace, following Terry Venables across London. Was it mostly Terry’s influence that helped you decide to make the move?

TF: Absolutely yes, he was the biggest influence in my career to be honest. I’d come through the youth set up at Crystal Palace, it was a terrific development scheme they had under Terry and Malcolm Allison. We got to two consecutive FA Youth Cup finals, won them both and I actually scored the winning goal in both finals too. So yes, Terry was a massive influence for me and I was more than happy to follow him to QPR.

QPRnet: You spent three years in division two with QPR but the club progressed each term, we really were a team on the up weren’t we?

TF: It was a great set up at QPR. Jim Gregory was one of the all time great Chairman and he put his money where his mouth was. Jim and Terry worked very well as a duo and we had a great side in the end as a result. We had a few years in Division Two but once Terry put it all together it was a fantastic team and we romped home to promotion followed by a few good years in the top flight too before Terry left for Barcelona.

QPRnet: With Terry Venables managing and Jim Gregory as owner it must have been a really colourful place to be around as well?

TF: It was a strange one, they were both such big characters you know they’d get on great most of the time and they were funny together but there were plenty of feisty moments where they both wanted their own way!

QPRnet: Before the promotion of course we reached The FA Cup in 1982. That must have been a great occasion to be a part of. We might have been beaten but there was no shame in it for us as a second division side was there?

TF: Not at all no, I thought if we had been beaten on the Saturday that would have been fair enough actually because Tottenham had played very well against us. But for the replay on the Thursday night I thought we were the better side on the evening and we very unfortunate not to win it. That was at a time when The FA Cup was the biggest cup competition in the world too.

QPRnet: And of course you scored the equaliser that earned us the replay, what do you remember of that?

TF: I remember it very well, it was something we’d worked on in training and had success using over the course of the season. I managed to get in-between a couple of players but the ball came in so fast from Bob Hazell’s flick on that I couldn’t really direct it properly so I just tried to get power on it and fortunately it went straight through the centre of Ray Clemence’s hands.

QPRnet: Did the performance in the cup final convince the team that they were good enough to play at that level and help us going into the promotion season?

TF: I think it did a lot yes, we were quite a young side too so it certainly gave us a boost. There were changes after the final as well. For the replay I’d moved into centre back to replace Glenn Roeder who was suspended and Warren Neill came in at full back. Really that was pretty much how things remained the following season too. I’d played centre back at youth level quite a lot so it was a fairly natural change for me.

QPRnet: We romped the league, finishing ten points clear of second place to win the title and promotion. That must have been a pretty special feeling?

TF: Like I said earlier we had a really good side, we were all good footballers, the plastic pitch was a help but don’t let that take away from how good a team we were. Funny enough when the plastic went down we got beat in the first game against Luton which done us a little favour I think because it took some of the pressure off us and after that we beat pretty much everyone hands down.

The whole thing was just fantastic though, we’d assembled a very good side with names like John Gregory, Simon Stainrod, Steve Wicks and Clive Allen. Plus Rangers had an excellent youth policy with the likes of Peter Hucker, Gary Waddock and Warren Neill all stepping up too. There were very few teams that could live with us that year.

QPRnet: How did you find the plastic pitch as defender?

TF: I thought it made you into a better player actually. It was very quick, the bounce was quick and if you passed it the ball wouldn’t slow down so you had to be accurate otherwise it just ran out of play. It made me a big believer in synthetic pitches actually. I think they provide you with a perfect surface, everything runs true and it’s playable in all conditions.

QPRnet: Rangers didn’t struggle to adjust and flew into their first top flight season finishing fifth, was that a case of carrying the confidence along with them?

TF: I thought defensively we were granite. We worked very hard on our game and gave very little away, both in the promotion season and our first season in the top flight. We gave so little away home and away and on top of that we had good offensive players creating chances and the likes of Clive Allen banging them in.

I’ve played with Gary Linekar and for me, Clive Allen was the best finisher I’ve ever seen.  He had a great appreciation of where the goal was, where the keeper was and he could score all sorts of wonderful goals. He’d chip the ‘keeper, he’d take it round the ‘keeper, power it past. He was just a tremendous centre forward.

QPRnet: That summer Terry left for Barcelona, I guess you could understand him making such a big move but how much of a hole did his absence leave for you?

TF: It was so difficult for anyone to step into his shoes, Alan Mullery was the next one through the door and I think too many of the players just didn’t take to him. It was the void Terry left though, he was a huge miss. I think whoever had come in it wouldn’t have mattered to be honest, Terry was miles in front of the rest as far as coaching and management was concerned.

QPRnet: Jim Smith followed Alan Mullery’s short stint and he seemed to settle things down a bit?

TF: Yes, well Jim’s another character. He was very different to Venables. Terry was very tactical, knew the game inside out and recognised lots of little details whereas Jim was about honesty and character. He got the team working because we wanted to play for him. He was a nice old boy, you could have a bit of laugh but at the end of the day the players wanted to do well for him.

QPRnet: In the seasons that followed you were involved in a couple of really classic games too. The 5-5 with Newcastle is something fans still remember, being a defender you were probably steaming at conceding five though?

TF: Well luckily I played in midfield that day so I’m not taking the blame for conceding all those goals! It was an amazing match though and when you look back at the quality players in that Newcastle side it was incredible and they ripped us in that first half. Second half though we upped the ante and what a comeback. It was quite an amazing game to be a part of.

QPRnet: And then the following season we had the famous 6-0 win over Chelsea, you also played in that. Was that just one of those games where everything went right?

TF: Today Chelsea are such a big power in The Premiers League aren’t they, all that money behind them, it wasn’t like that all the time I was at Rangers though. They played second fiddle to us throughout that period. Sure they had one or two decent players but generally we were better all round, better organised, better players, we were just a better club.

The 6-0 was amazing, my god it could have been more than that too. We just played them off the park. We had good players in every position and on that surface if you couldn’t play football you were dead and they found that out.

QPRnet: The tail end of that season saw us back at Wembley for the League Cup Final, probably the first time we’ve been heavy favourites but it all went wrong on the day, what’s your take on that?

TF: That was a strange one because having beaten Liverpool in the semi final everybody expected us to win it hands down. Jim changed the tactics for the final though and I think that cost us.

I’d played centre back throughout the cup run with either Alan McDonald or Steve Wicks and for the final he played the two of them together and pushed me into midfield and I just didn’t think it worked at all. It ran against what we’d done before and really that’s what I think it boiled down to, we got our tactics wrong. Oxford weren’t as good a side us and changing our personnel around was our downfall really.

It was a major disappointment for me, I wanted to win badly. I was distraught not just because we got beat but because we were crap by our standards. We played good football wherever we went and we just didn’t get ourselves going that day at all.

QPRnet: Your career continued to progress though and of course you were selected for England at the ‘86 world cup whilst a QPR player.  That must have been a proud moment for you to represent your country at a World Cup.

TF: Absolutely, again I really think a lot of thanks has got to go to that synthetic surface. I was a decent footballer but it made me better. I wasn’t the biggest for a centre back but I was very competitive, I wasn’t frightened to put my foot in and I was decent in the air for a small fella. As I said earlier we were granite at Rangers, we gave very little away and Bobby Robson gave me my chance based on that form. It wouldn’t happen today, a player of my size wouldn’t get near a centre back position as you’ve got to be a giant which I wasn’t.

I thoroughly enjoyed the World Cup experience, but at the same time it wasn’t a good tournament for me personally as I actually played through the whole thing with an injury. During the tournament I wasn’t training too much because of the pain and issues I had with it and I didn’t really feel I did myself justice. I wish I could do it all again.

People probably won’t remember but the following season I missed the first few months and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. I was being treated for a tear in abductor muscle and it wasn’t until I went to see a rugby physio and he said straight away, it’s a hernia injury. At the time hernias weren’t a common football injury. He blew me away though and I was playing football again inside of two weeks. I was really worried about it for a time though, I thought it might be career threatening at one point.

QPRnet: And we can’t talk about Mexco ’86 without mentioning you know who….

TF: He was the best player in the world wasn’t he? Not just at that World Cup either, but the following ones, even up to USA ’94, he was the best player there before he was disciplined for the drug use.

What a player though, not very big, as wide as he was tall, really strong with an incredible touch of the ball. He had everything. When you analyse his career and see what he did for his club sides, he turned Barcelona from average into a championship winning team, went to Napoli and turned a mediocre side into a great team and then wins the World Cup with Argentina.

I still maintain England had a better eleven on the day but they had the best player in the world, simple as that.

QPRnet: Some of the players are still angry about the hand of god, does it still make you mad or can you laugh it off now?

TF: Well not really, it’s a different mentality. If England had scored a goal like our public wouldn’t have suffered it. Argentina turned it into the hand of God, which it wasn’t, it’s handball, against the rules but they don’t see it like that and he got away with it.

The referee and linesman were from Morocco and I just think it was too big a game for them, they were looking at each other waiting for the other one to make a decision and of course they didn’t. If you ever see the footage again you’ll see me chasing the ref back to the halfway line gesturing that it was handball and he goes for his pocket, I was already booked and I’d have been off so I had to quickly disappear.

QPRnet: Obviously Maradona’s second goal was brilliant but If you weren’t on a yellow would have you clobbered him before he scored?

TF: Absolutely, I’d have took him out. The nightmares I have about that even today, my God. People who remember me from Rangers will tell you I didn’t suffer much and I cleared a few players out now and again. Yeh, he’d have definitely gone if I wasn’t on a yellow.

To be fair my movement was really restricted because of the hernia and that was the basis of my defending really, once I got hold of them they generally didn’t get away. I reckon I’d catch him today easy enough though, the size of him these days!

QPRnet: You had one more season after the world cup with QPR but left for Spurs in 1987, was that a case of Terry winning you over once again?

TF: It was a strange day really, Terry had just taken over at Spurs and back then George Graham was the manager of Arsenal. I went into training one morning and out of the blue Jim Smith pulled me to one side and said they’d had an offer from Arsenal and George Graham wanted to see me.

George arranged to me at the Target pub in Northolt which is a McDonalds now. Of course that was a real old QPR pub and I walked in and let’s just say it didn’t go down too well at all. Here’s the Arsenal manager in QPR territory sitting down with the Rangers captain! It was buzzing all round the bar, Fenwick’s going to Arsenal!

While I’m talking to George my mobile rang, I had one of those massive brick ones, and it’s Terry Venables on the other line. George looked at me and he knew what the call was and I knew he knew. Terry said he wanted to see me that night so I was honest with him and said, look I’m here with George Graham I’ll call you before I do anything and I said the same to George too.

I ended up going with Terry again, but to be honest I didn’t enjoy my time at Spurs at all. Arsenal might have actually suited me better. I found it difficult to settle at Tottenham and the fans for whatever reason turned on me. I didn’t feel I played anywhere near my capabilities. It was a big club and a big move at the time though and I couldn’t afford not to take the chance. I wanted to see what it would be like but it didn’t turn out like I’d hoped it would.

QPRnet: You’re living out in Trinidad now, how did you end up there?

TF: Strange one, Bobby Robson brought Newcastle United over in the summer of 2000 and several local club owners approached him asking who he’d recommend as a manager and he threw my name in the hat. I got a phone call saying a club wanted to see my but really I didn’t have a clue where Trinidad was. I was only intending to go through the motions for Bobby so I came down for a week and had a look round. It was all very basic, I saw some talented young players but the structure and administration was poor and I really wasn’t sure. I decided to sign up for a year which turned into two. I went home for a bit for the Northampton job which was a huge mistake and came back here afterwards. I’ve been here for the best part of ten years now.

I thoroughly enjoy it here, it’s a wonderful climate, the people are very nice and it’s a wonderful lifestyle. The football is getting better and better, the facilities are pretty good and there are new stadia now. It’s a great destination for a pre-season tour too actually Neil Warnock came over once with Sheffield United and enjoyed himself, I’d love to see him come back with QPR.

QPRnet: And you’ve been coaching a side called San Juan Jabloteh out there, you’ve won a league title with them are you still in charge there?

TF: No I moved on this summer, you’ll not believe this actually, the biggest sports club in The Caribbean is a club called Queens Park.  At the end of last season I left Jabloteh and joined Queens Park to set up and develop a new football club for them. We were looking for a name for the football side and the first thing I suggested was changing the name to Queens Park Rangers! I thought maybe we could build some kind of affinity with QPR as we are producing some good players over here.


Terry taking training 

QPRnet: You’ve mentioned the Northampton job didn’t really work out, would you ever consider a return to management here?

TF: I would have loved another chance, I think I’m a good coach and I think I’ve learned a lot from two really great managers in Terry and Bobby Robson. But the sharp end of British football management isn’t really what I want at my age. I love what I do now and there’s not nearly the same pressure. I’ve been successful out here, we’ve won cups and leagues but for me real success is getting players out of Trinidad and into bigger and better leagues around the world. That’s what drives me now.

QPRnet: Obviously today’s QPR have just replicated your sides success and got themselves promoted, how well do you think this team can do in today’s Premier League?

TF: I’ve not missed a game yet, I watch every one over here. I have to say I was very worried about us for the first couple of matches as I didn’t think we were anywhere near strong enough.

Neil Warnock is an old warrior, he knows his football and knows what it takes. He’s needed new blood in and thankfully he’s got some but I’m not sure if it’s quite enough yet. We’ve had a couple of good results but the Villa game was a bit of a struggle. When you’re in the top flight and you get chances you just have to put them away. For all the players Neil has brought in I just wonder if we’ve really got anyone top class, top international quality for certain positions that are necessary. That’s a question mark for me. I’d love to see us to step up though and I want us to become a power again.

Ownership of football clubs always concerns me though. I was only saying to one or two people over here that we get these very wealthy people involved in English football because of the gloss and glamour of the Premier League but when they’ve been in a little while and the gloss wears off they recognise how expensive it is to try and compete a lot of them want to get out.

On top of that there’s Loftus Road. As great as it is, and I love it to death, it’s not really big enough for a Premier League outfit and that puts huge pressure on the owners to keep on coughing up financially. That makes me worry how long it will last.

Rangers always had a great youth development policy when I was there. We churned out lots of good players over the years. We’ve seen players like Gerry Francis, Alan McDonald, Clive Allen and loads of others all come through and I’d love to QPR get that kind of set up back again.

QPRnet: It’s difficult isn’t it because what manager can go into a Premier League job and say I’ll set up a great youth department give me ten years and you’ll see results. They just don’t get that time so they don’t bother because it won’t benefit them.

TF: That’s right, it’s one of the things I like out here. I’ve had a lot of time to develop good teams full of good young local players. That’s a luxury though and managers in England just don’t get the chance and don’t get the time to develop something like that.


Terry and sons today

QPRnet: When you look back on your QPR career what was your proudest moment wearing the blue and white hoops?

TF: Two fold for me really, walking out at Wembley was just amazing. It was the biggest cup competition in the world and here we were as a second division team up against Spurs who had been there the year before. It was incredible, an absolutely incredible day.

Secondly was when we knocked out Liverpool in the League Cup semi final in 1986 at Anfield. We won 1-0 at home, I scored the goal in that then we got a 2-2 draw up there with them scoring two own goals. They were the biggest team in the land back then and we put them out. We took a huge following up to Liverpool and all the way back down the motorway our coach was surrounded by the supporters buses and cars, what a feeling that was, amazing.

Mainly though I just loved being the captain of QPR. It was a really big thing for me, I loved it, I really enjoyed everything about the club. I loved  the supporters and had a really good rapport with them and I was incredibly proud to represent them as captain.

We’d like to thank Terry for his time in doing this interview and also for sending us the photographs to use in this article.

 

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QPRnet Interviews