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Goalie Terry Nicholson still a safe pair of hands at age of 70!

BY JOANNE FLEMING

His football glory days may have been in the 1960s, but Terry Nicholson is still saving penalties at the age of 70.

The former Irish League star celebrated the milestone birthday on Saturday by donning his gloves and stepping back between the posts one more time.

Terry, former Glenavon manager and Crusaders player, played for Donacloney Reserves at home in their game against Dungannon Rovers Reserves on Saturday as a present to himself.

In what was an exciting game ending in a 5-5 scoreline, Terry found himself saving a spot-kick within the first 10 minutes after one of his opponents was taken down in the box.

"It was fantastic," Terry joked.

"In the Premier League it would have been in the highlights. It was a good game.

"There were five goals but I'm only accepting the blame for one of them." Terry, who approached the club with the idea of taking part six months ago, said he wanted to have the experience of playing for a team close to home, and that they were happy to have him on board for the Mid Ulster Reserve Division 4 game.

"I was thinking about what I could do to remember my 70th," he said.

"I wanted to do something a bit different. None of the goalkeepers or players took exception. They knew it was a one-off and there were no scouts there."

Describing Donacloney, based near Lurgan, as a "nippy wee team", Terry said: "I wasn't really sure what the standard was going to be.

"Donacloney was beaten by this team 4-1 before Christmas." Playing down his penalty save, the Magheralin veteran said he prepared with an early night on the Friday, which was his actual birthday, postponing the celebrations until Saturday.

Overall, he thinks his 70-year-old body has been pretty forgiving.

"I do not think it took much out of me. The game itself is not a problem, I do play every week at Banbridge Recreation Centre," he said.

"I am surprised I do not have any aches or pains."

Terry, who had a starring role as a goalkeeper in the 1968 Irish Cup final, when Crusaders snatched victory from favourites Linfield, said Saturday's match was a reminder of the goalie's lot in life.

And he is showing no signs of slowing down.

"I am looking forward to the next big game on my 80th, God willing.

"I am still going to play on a Wednesday night until the body can't do it any more.

"If I am going to go, I want to go with my boots on," he said.

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