Terry McCormick waves goodbye to Welsh football career
One of the Welsh pyramid’s most experienced goalkeepers has called time on his Welsh-career after more than 200 games across three different leagues.
But there is plenty to look back at for Terry McCormick, who has announced his departure from the Welsh leagues after 12 years, six different clubs and experience in the JD Welsh Premier, Huws Gray Alliance and Welsh National League.
As a youngster he started out in the English system, playing in the county leagues before being picked up by Tranmere aged 14. As he explains to Y Clwb Pel Droed, his chosen position in between the sticks wasn’t calculated.
“It just happened really – I used to play both in goal and upfront, and sort of stumbled into playing in goal for Tranmere, the counties and in Liverpool FC trials”
Leaving Tranmere aged 17 after learning a great deal from coach Alan Thompson, he went onto play for Merseyside and Wirral clubs Marine, Bamber Bridge, Skelmersdale United and Congleton Town.
His first Welsh club was Connah’s Quay Nomads under manager Steve O’ Shaughnessy, and it wasn’t a straight forward transfer.
“I was travelling in Australia at the time when Steve called at 3am local time asking me to join, so my transfer was completed via fax and I eventually made my debut in March 2009 at home to TNS”
McCormick cemented a place as first team goalkeeper in new manager Mark McGregor’s Connah’s Quay Nomads side, but when the top flight was restructured to just 12 teams, the Deeside club was demoted to the second tier.
Looking to keep playing Welsh Premier football, McCormick made a move to Bala Town where he was a mainstay of the Lakesiders’ team for 18 months.
“Playing for Bala was a good experience, when towards the end of my time we did well and began pushing for Europe, a well run club with some good people taking them forward. I am really pleased to see they now have the 4G and I’m sure they will be competing for a long time to come.”
McCormick was involved in one of Bala’s early attempts at European qualification, playing in their 2012 play-off final defeat against Llanelli. Although he never reached Europe, his highlight came with a trivial but impressive achievement at his next club, Conwy Borough.
“I joined Conwy as they were managed by a good friend in Chris Herbert and I was really enjoying my time there.
“One of my main career highlights is playing out five penalty shoot outs in the same season for Conwy, winning every time including the league cup final.”
McCormick’s long run of penalty saves helped Conwy to the League Cup and the Welsh Cup third round as he thrived for the Tangerines.
Such was his form, it didn’t take long for him to earn more Welsh Premier League time as he came back to original Welsh club Connah’s Quay Nomads.
It was there he noticed a change in the level of the Welsh pyramid as teams began to aspire to the level of the all conquering TNS.
“Coming back to the Quay was different as there had been a lot of organisational improvement off the pitch. From going to the game in just a jeans and shirt, we were now track-suited up for matches and Mark McGregor and Jay Catton were spot on in preparation with video analysis.”
McCormick eased back into the Nomads’ first team, and earned an accolade as the Daily Post’s Goalkeeper of Phase One after a series of good performances in the first half of the season.
He left Connah’s Quay as a fan favourite in 2015 and moved to near neighbours Flint, but only ended up playing one game before moving to Rhyl FC for more Welsh Premier League action.
McCormick’s final Welsh club saw a change of level, as he joined ambitious third tier outfit Brickfield Rangers in June 2016 alongside Welsh Premier League stalwarts Ben Collins, Nicky Ward and Michael Johnston.
“I work for gap personnel, a big sponsor of Brickfield, so it made sense to go and join the project with some really experienced players. They’re a good club going in the right direction and hopefully we’ll be seeing them in the Huws Gray Alliance soon.”
McCormick’s final game for Brickfield and indeed his Welsh career was a 4-2 Welsh Cup second round defeat to Ruthin which can do little to undermine a Welsh goalkeeping career met by only a few other high-end stoppers.
Looking back on his time in the Welsh pyramid, he praises the coaches that drove his game, from his time at Tranmere to two successful spells with the Nomads.
“As a youngster Alan Thompson at Tranmere was a big influence for me and his quality was clear as he ended up coaching England school boys. Moving into the semi professional game, Neil Ebbrell was the best coach I worked with, as he was my only real specified goalkeeper coach.
“From coaching kids to firsts he would always devote 100% to you and that was massive for me in the game.
“Sticking with Connah’s Quay, Mark McGregor’s organisation and tactical game was second to none and playing for the Quay under him was a great experience.”
And McCormick isn’t finished yet – he is off to North West Counties League leaders Runcorn Town where he will be reunited with Mark McGregor, Chris Herbert and Craig Jones.
With plans to retire for good at the end of the season in place, he is eyeing a league title to end an already impressive career on a high.
“I’ve always played best when playing with friends and enjoying my football, so joining up with the likes of Macca (Mark McGregor) makes sense as I come to the end of competitive football.
“It’s going to be an exciting run as we challenge for the title against some good sides, but I think we’ve got a good chance of doing it which would be a great end to my time as a goalkeeper.”
Whether Runcorn Town and Terry McCormick can clinch the title or not, he walks away from Wales as one of the best goalkeepers the semi professional Welsh game has ever seen.
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