TRIBUTES have been paid to one of the men who helped pull a North-East football club back from the brink of extinction.
Colin Henderson, the former chairman of Middlesbrough Football Club, died at the weekend, aged 75.
Mr Henderson played a pivotal role in securing the future of the club when it was minutes away from liquidation in 1986, by signing the forms that guaranteed its survival.
The present chairman of the Championship club, Steve Gibson, said: “During that period in the mid-1980s, I have no doubt Middlesbrough Football Club would not have survived without Colin Henderson.
“It was teamwork and everybody had to do their bit, but Colin went through barriers I thought couldn’t be overcome.
“I liked him and respected him immensely. It’s a sad day for all at Middlesbrough Football Club.
“He is a big, big part of our history. Colin was tenacious, he was a very intelligent man and worked tirelessly to find solutions to problems. He was a strong man, physically and mentally.
“They say ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ and Colin Henderson was exactly what Middlesbrough Football Club needed at that time.”
Before taking over as club chairman in 1986, Mr Henderson had already forged a successful 30-year career at ICI, where he was senior commercial manager at Wilton.
Henry Moszkowicz and Reg Corbridge worked alongside Mr Henderson and Mr Gibson to raise the funds needed to reassure the Football League that the club could cover its debts.
Another key member of consortium, Graham Fordy, described Mr Henderson as a big character.
“Colin was a big part of the rebirth of Middlesbrough Football Club in 1986,” he said. “Although Steve Gibson brought the group together, it was the money that Colin secured from ICI that stopped the club being liquidated. When it looked like the deal was all going to go pear-shaped, the £1.9m bond from ICI helped save the club.
“Like the rest of the consortium, Colin was a Middlesbrough fan and he used his influence with his employers to secure the funding for his beloved club. He was a big character and should be remembered for what he did for the club.”
Boro manager Tony Mowbray said: “I only have fond memories of Colin Henderson because we were at the club together in a very successful period of its history and he was the figurehead of the consortium that rescued the club.”
Mr Henderson’s public association with the club ended on April 30, 1993, when the fourman board of he, Mr Gibson, Mr Fordy and Mr Corbidge found itself without a chairman when Mr Henderson resigned from the role after months of internal wrangling.
He remained on the board until Mr Gibson took over the following season and it is believed he never returned to watch the club that he loved.
However, last May, any past differences were put aside as Mr Henderson, Mr Gibson and Keith Lamb were among the guests at a fundraising night at Yarm’s Tall Trees for former player, Thornaby-born Gary Parkinson, who suffers from locked-in syndrome.
His funeral takes place next Wednesday, at St Hilda’s Church, Whitby.