The news this week yet another ex-footballer has been diagnosed with dementia has come as quite a shock. For me, and many others, it was particularly tough as it was one of our heroes. Terry McDermott.
It followed hot on the heels of a similar announcement from Denis Law. It almost feels as if the list of famous players from our youth is gradually getting ticked off with his horrible illness. Personally, little scares me more about getting older than the possibility of suffering from it. But I haven’t as much to be proud of and worth remembering as people like Terry or Denis.
I felt that way about Ronald Reagan. Whether you agree with his political or views or not, one cannot deny he was in power during some momentous moments in history. Yet spent his last days not aware of any of it.
Gerd Muller has just died. He’s another one whose final year on this earth was spent in a hospital unable to talk or eat, being fed by a drip.
Just seems so unbelievably cruel.
Terry McDermott was one of my first football heroes. Kevin Keegan was the first, Kenny Dalglish took over Keegan’s mantle. Yet all the while there was McDermott wearing the number 10 shirt and scoring stunning after stunning goals.
McDermott was actually one of the reasons I became a Liverpool fan. Having been captivated by the atmosphere and colour at Anfield, my love for the club was secured when he and David Johnson were interviewed on Football Focus. They were both very funny, in such a way I was hooked.
If you grew up watching Liverpool with Steven Gerrard in the team then you approached every match hoping to see him larrup one in from about 40 yards out.
That was what it was like watching Terry Mac. Only in that team of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s we also had Graeme Souness and Ray Kennedy who could larrup with the best of them.
What a time to be alive.
McDermott was born 8 December 1951 in Kirkby, Liverpool, southeast of Aintree. He supported Liverpool as a boy but his first club was Bury. He joined as an 18-year-old. After four years and 90 appearances, he moved to Newcastle United.
He made his debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford in March 1973. During his time at St.James’ Park he was in the team which beat Fiorentina in 1973 Anglo-Italian Cup Final. The following season he was part of the side which lifted the Texaco Cup, beating Burnley 2-1 in the Final at St.James’ Park. During that season he was an ever-present in the Newcastle side which reached the FA Cup Final, where his first appearance at Wembley was up against his boyhood heroes, Liverpool. During the week Newcastle centre-forward, Malcolm MacDonald, had been vocal in the press about what they were going to do to Liverpool. But he, McDermott and future Liverpool left-back, Alan Kennedy, looked on helpless as Liverpool gave them a lesson, winning 3-0.
It must have been a day of mixed emotions. He’d fulfilled what every boy dreams of, playing for the club you support, yet McDermott was clearly distraught.
Six months later he became one of Bob Paisley’s first signings as Liverpool manager, having taken over from Bill Shankly. The 1974 FA Cup Final was Shankly’s last game in charge.
He was straight into the first team for the Merseyside derby as Brian Hall was injured, but then he was in and out of the side as Jimmy Case was preferred. He scored his first goal for the club at Burnley in March 1975. His first goal at Anfield came two weeks later when he was on the scoresheet against, of all teams, Newcastle. Liverpool won the league and UEFA Cup in 1976 yet McDermott spent most of the season in the reserves. So much so, he hadn’t played enough matches to receive a league winners medal.
Just as he may have been contemplating a new club, 1976-77 was his breakthrough season. He came into the starting line-up in October and remained there for most of the season.
As Liverpool chased an unprecedented treble, McDermott announced himself on stage during the FA Cup Semi-Final against Everton at Maine Road, Manchester. Ten minutes into the game Keegan on the left played the ball to McDermott, who stood just outside the ‘D’. He controlled the ball with his right, waited for Mick Lyons to lunge in with a tackle, then cleverly switched the ball onto his left. He looked up and floated a lovely ball over the head of David Lawson in the Everton goal to give Liverpool the lead.
It was a stunning goal, only his third of the season., voted ‘Goal of the Season’ and graced the opening credits of Match of the Day for the following year.
Emlyn Hughes, Terry Mac’s skipper said;
“We’d talked about Lawson’s tendency to come out a long way and Terry kidded him with that chip. We all thought Terry was going to blast it until he pulled it back and floated it in. That, for me, is the hallmark of an exceptional player”
Liverpool eventually beat Everton in a replay and McDermott was off to Wembley to make amends for the defeat he suffered three years before. But unfortunately for him he came away with another loser’s medal. But before he could dwell on his luck, he was Rome-bound for Liverpool’s first European Cup Final appearance against old rivals, Borussia Monchengladbach.
Midway through the first half with the game still goalless, McDermott produced a run which became his trademark.
Bob Paisley had made one change from the side which lost the Cup Final to Manchester United four days earlier, and went without a recognised centre-forward. He had Heighway and Keegan up front, but Heighway generally played wide and Keegan was all over the pitch trying to shake off his marker, Bertie Vogts. McDermott saw an opportunity to occupy the space the two created in the middle. Callaghan won the ball in midfield and found Heighway wide on the right. He moved inside and as the defence back-peddled, McDermott saw his opportunity. He ran into the space between the two centre-backs and Heighway played him in. McDermott hit it right-foot, first time into the corner of the net.
He only scored four goals that season. One in the FA Cup Semi-Final and one in the European Cup Final.
Liverpool had retained their league title, McDermott’s first as he hadn’t played enough games to earn a medal the year before. The European Cup Final success erased all memories of two FA Cup Final losses.
He was again on target against Newcastle at Anfield at the beginning of the new season, then a month later he received his first England call-up.
New manager, Ron Greenwood, decided seven of his first line-up against Switzerland were from the Liverpool side in Rome. Six from Liverpool, with Keegan having moved to Hamburg that summer. The game ended in a disappointing 0-0 draw.
Talking of Hamburg, in December 1977 they arrived at Anfield for the second leg of the European Super Cup. Hamburg had won the European Cup-Winners’ Cup the year before and it was Keegan’s first return to the ground he had graced for six years.
McDermott and Liverpool were superb that night, winning 6-0 with McDermott scoring a hat-trick. His first came five minutes before the break. Ray Kennedy played a lovely pass with his left to McDermott whose run had taken him in between the centre-backs. He controlled it on his chest and thumped it left-footed past Rudi Kargus.
He took just 10 minutes of the second half to register his second. This time it was all his own work. He picked the ball up just inside the Hamburg half. He looked to pass to Case on the right, instead turned to run towards the Hamburg goal. Space just opened up in front of him and from about 25 yards out, he fired a right-foot shot into the top left-hand corner of the net.
Liverpool were rampant now, 4-0 up. Barely 60 seconds later Kennedy again came marauding forward. Dalglish took the attention of the defence, allowing McDermott to run into space on the left edge of the area. Kennedy found him and his left foot shot went across the keeper and in for his hat-trick. In actual playing time it was three goals in 16 minutes.
He says that night was the turning point in his career at Anfield;
“Someone was injured, I think it may have been Ian Callaghan. I was moved in rather than be out wide on the right. I scored a hat-trick and I always remember John Toshack saying ‘That’s your position’. I got the confidence from him saying a thing like that. He probably won’t remember it, but I do”
In March 1978 he scored the third goal in a 4-1 win over Benfica in the European Cup Quarter-Final at Anfield. Three days later McDermott was back at Wembley for his third cup final, this time in the League Cup against Nottingham Forest. Forest, managed by Brian Clough, were riding high at the top of the table. McDermott again left without a winners’ medal as the game ended goalless. Forest won a controversial replay and he still searched for his first domestic cup success.
Liverpool ended second to Forest in the league, trailing by seven points. But McDermott was back at Wembley at the end of the season when they retained their European Cup title beating Bruges 1-0.
Four seasons into his Liverpool career and he now had two league titles, two European Cups and a League Cup. Things were about to get ramped up a few notches.
September 1978 Tottenham arrived at Anfield. They’d just come back up from the Second Division at the first time of asking and taken advantage of Argentina’s World Cup success by recruiting two of the squad. Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa had added some colour to the English First Division, but when they rocked up along with Glenn Hoddle, Peter Taylor and Steve Perryman, they were still looking to register their first win with their new club.
They left with their heads in a whirl. Liverpool were three-up by the break and when Phil Neal stuck his penalty away midway through the second half they were six goals to the good. With 15 minutes to go, McDermott scored one of the greatest goals ever witnessed in a ground which has seen plenty.
The move began with Spurs in possession with a free-kick wide on the right deep in Liverpool’s territory. McDermott took up a position almost on his own goal line. The ball into the box was headed away and the counter was on. McDermott, almost telepathically, started a surging run downfield. When the ball was played up to Johnson in the centre-circle, he can be seen just coming into view on the right. Johnson swept a lovely pass to Heighway wide on the left. The ball was weighted enough for Heighway not to have to break stride and his first time cross was all the way to the far post. McDermott had reached the Spurs box and headed it straight into the net. It was an incredible move, an incredible run from McDermott that people still talk about it.
“That must be the best goal Anfield has ever seen”
Writing in the Liverpool Echo, Michael Charters waxed lyrically;
“Have you ever heard 50,000 people purr with pleasure? Well, the Anfield spectators were doing that constantly as Liverpool stroked the ball around with one-touch moves of staggering accuracy. This display confirmed for me, particularly after the splendour of their wins at Ipswich and City the previous week, that the current Liverpool team is playing better, more exciting, attacking football than any side I’ve seen since the War.”
Liverpool were rampant that season, setting a points record, a goals scored record and fewest goals conceded record. They won the league at a canter and were denied ‘the double’ losing in the FA Cup Semi-Final to Manchester United after a replay.
If the rest of the league were hoping the summer break would give them a chance to catch-up with what was going on at Anfield, the very first game of the new season blew that theory out of the water.
In the Charity Shield against FA Cup winners, Arsenal, Liverpool continued where they’d left off. Seven minutes before half-time, McDermott put Liverpool in front with another trademark run into space. Ray Kennedy had the ball in the centre-circle with Dalglish to his left. McDermott, starting inside his own half, had the vision to see the space Arsenal allowed in the defensive midfield position and sprinted towards it. Kennedy found him and he hit it first time, left foot past Jennings right-hand.
Just after the hour, two minutes after Dalglish had scored a brilliant goal to extend their lead, McDermott finished the game off. Dalglish turned provider and fed him in on the right. McDermott’s shot was too strong for Jennings and Liverpool looked utterly dominant right from the first game of the season.
In November Tottenham arrived at the scene of their seven-goal humiliation the season before. McDermott was again on target with a double both of which were created by Dalglish. By now Dalglish was basking in the possibilities created by McDermott’s runs, as the number 10 was blossoming into a top-class attacking midfielder.
Towards the end of the season Liverpool beat Nottingham Forest twice in four weeks, once in the FA Cup Fourth Round and then in the league. McDermott scored in both.
In the FA Cup Sixth Round McDermott scored yet another stunning goal with Tottenham again the hapless opponents, this time at White Hart Lane.
Seven minutes before half-time with Liverpool threatening, Terry Yorath’s headed clearance fell to the left-back position where Ardiles picked up the ball. Under pressure, his aimless pass into space was immediately pounced on by McDermott. He judged the pace of the ball perfectly by flicking it up with his right foot, then immediately volleyed the ball with the same foot and it screamed into the top left corner of the net. He was 30 yards out and it was a goal worthy of winning any game, let alone a cup Quarter-Final. Once again a McDermott goal was voted ‘goal of the season’.
Liverpool eventually fell short again in the FA Cup as they were knocked out in a Semi-Final saga against Arsenal lasting four matches. But the league title was retained, McDermott’s third.
16 goals was his first double-figure season. His next would see him break the 20-goal limit.
His performances were now recognised throughout the football world as he became the first player to be awarded PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers Footballer of the Year in the same season.
On an individual front, this was probably his greatest season of his career. He played 60 games scoring 22 goals. For Liverpool their league form had tailed off to finish fifth after leading at Christmas. But in Europe they won their third European Cup, beating Real Madrid in Paris. McDermott scored six times in the campaign in eight matches.
He scored the only goal in the Charity Shield against West Ham to lift another trophy. The first round of the European Cup pitted them against Finnish champions, Oulu Palloseura. McDermott bagged a hat-trick in a second leg 10-1 thumping.
The next saw them drawn against Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen, in what the media dubbed ‘The Battle of Britain’. Liverpool travelled north for the first leg and McDermott produced yet another moment of brilliance.
Aberdeen were unbeaten at Pittodrie going into this tie, but it took just five minutes for Liverpool to take control of it.
Ray Kennedy intercepted Willie Miller’s pass down the left and found Dalglish inside halfway into the Aberdeen half. Dalglish looked to his right and passed a ball square to where two Liverpool players were bursting forward, McDermott and Johnson. McDermott could’ve taken the ball on, but let it run on to Johnson as he carried on powering his way towards the Dons goal. His run was so well timed that Johnson just had to slip it through to him first time. It looked for a minute as though he’d overhit it as it took McDermott to the left of the goal. He was about six yards out as Jim Leighton tried to narrow the angle. In a moment of genius the Liverpool number 10 just delicately chipped the ball left-footed over the keeper and into the far corner.
Three weeks into October and already he had 12 for the season.
It silenced the crowd and allowed the visitors to take control of the game and defend their lead to take back to Anfield. They finished things off with a 4-0 win at Anfield.
McDermott scored the fourth in a 5-1 win over CSKA Sofia to take them into the Semi-Finals where they met Bayern Munich. The Germans gained a creditable 0-0 draw at Anfield and believed they’d done enough to see them reach the Final. But Liverpool produced one of their greatest European Cup performances away from home, with Ray Kennedy getting the all-important away goal.
His third European Cup Final was a dull affair on a ropey pitch. But Alan Kennedy’s goal nine minutes from time won it. Three European Cup Finals, three winners’ medals.
In the league they finished fifth, but they did win their first League Cup beating West Ham in a replay. That match saw Ian Rush announce himself to the world as a potential star.
A couple of weeks before the game against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, McDermott scored his first goal for England.
England were up against Norway in the qualifying campaign for the World Cup in Spain. Norway were considered the weakest nation in the group so goals could be important. With eight minutes of the first half remaining, Graham Rix floated over a free-kick from the left wing. It came to McDermott on the edge of the area, and he expertly met it right-footed on the half-volley and it curled into the top corner. In the second half he doubled his tally when converting a penalty after Paul Mariner had been brought down.
He scored his third for his country in a desperately disappointing 1-2 defeat to Switzerland, having come on as a sub for Trevor Francis.
McDermott’s eighth season in a Liverpool shirt saw him again reach the 20-goal threshold. 14 came in the league, his best ever return.
He scored four in three days at the end of September & beginning of October. Oulu Palloseura were again their opponents in the European Cup. The previous season had seen Liverpool win 10-1 with McDermott scoring a hat-trick. This time it was just a 7-0 win and McDermott scored twice.
Three days later they welcomed Swansea City to Anfield for the first time. Former Liverpool favourite, John Toshack, had guided them all the way from the Fourth Division. Tragically Toshack’s return was a sombre one as Anfield mourned the death of Bill Shankly.
The visitors were two-goals up before McDermott scored twice to earn a point.
February saw them defeat Ipswich in an important clash at Anfield, with McDermott opening the scoring. It was another typical McDermott goal. He made the run forward and Souness found him easily with a ball that allowed him to tuck it away in the corner of the net.
Liverpool bounced back from a disappointing fifth the season before to win the league. The fourth of his time at the club. They retained the League Cup, beating Spurs in the Final when another young star in the making, Ronnie Whelan, burst onto the stage.
McDermott’s season ended in disappointment. He’d scored 20 goals by the end of March but played out the rest of the season coming off the bench. This hampered his chances of a place in the starting line-up for Ron Greenwood’s England team for the World Cup in Spain.
He’d played in all of the qualifying matches, although two were as a sub. What proved to be his last appearance in an England shirt was in a friendly in Reykjavik against Iceland at the beginning of June.
He was in the squad for the World Cup but never got onto the pitch. In fact, as teams were only allowed to name five subs in those days, he was only selected on the bench for the Kuwait game in the First Phase.
25 caps doesn’t seem a fair reflection of how good a player he was. In 1980 and 1981 he was probably one of the best midfielders in Europe. By the summer 1982 he’d turned 30 and perhaps lost a yard or two of pace. In addition, the secret of his success at Liverpool was his runs into space in the opposition half. Players around him knew they could find him with a pass. Whereas with England he never played with players who were used to this. Added to the fact at club level he had Dalglish, who would often drop off to allow McDermott to take up the space. At international level other strikers were just too keen to get on the end of the passes themselves.
Kenny Dalglish talked admiringly about McDermott in his autobiography, My Liverpool home:
“What a player Terry was, blessed with unbelievable stamina. ‘You’ve got two pairs of lungs,’ I said to Terry and I’m sure he did. Terry could run and run and his mind shifted as quickly. As a footballer, Terry was a creature of instinct and intelligence, a killer mix. If I even hinted at darting into a particular area, Terry read my mind. The ball was waiting for me, almost smiling at me. Not only could Terry see a great pass, he could deliver it. Vision and execution are qualities found in only the very best of players and Terry had those strengths. Along with his keen eye for goal, what made Terry even more special was his full-on, committed attitude. Surrender was for cowards, not for men like Terry, who’d never give up.”
At the start of 1982-83 season it was clear he was surplus to requirements. Bob Paisley had been steadily rebuilding his squad. Young players such as Ronnie Whelan, Craig Johnston, Mark Lawrenson and Bruce Grobbelaar had either taken the place of older players, or were forcing their way into the first team.
He played four games in September and then decided to return to Newcastle United, where he was joined at St.James’ Park by an old Liverpool team mate, Kevin Keegan. The two inspired the club to gain promotion to the First Division two years later.
After a short spell at Cork City, McDermott ended his career in Cyprus with APOEL, winning the First Division and then the Cypriot Super Cup.
At Liverpool he’d made 329 appearances in all competitions, scoring 81 goals. He won the league four times (missed out on the fifth title as he hadn’t played enough matches), European Cup three times, League Cup twice and UEFA Cup and Super Cup once.
His professional career saw him make 464 appearances in all competitions scoring 102 goals.
After his playing career he moved into coaching, most famously with Newcastle United when he was Keegan’s Assistant in that exciting side which almost won the league in 1996.
He remains a favourite for many fans of the clubs he played for.
The news McDermott has developed early stages of dementia have been particularly hard for many to hear. His manager at Liverpool, Bob Paisley suffered with Alzheimer’s Disease. Another member of the famed Boot Room, Ronnie Moran, was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Many of England’s World Cup winning squad have been consumed with the disease. Sir Bobby Charlton has been diagnosed with it. His brother, Jackie passed away from the disease this year. Nobby Stiles, Ray Wilson and Martin Peters have all died from dementia.
These legends have left us with wonderful memories, which they were not able to recall. Whether there is a link to dementia and heading the ball, remains to be seen. But these are precious memories players such as Terry Mac, have made sacrifices to bring us.