Stephen Henderson: Charlton and Nottingham Forest were circuses - far worse than Portsmouth

Stephen Henderson has reflected on the ‘circuses’ of Charlton and Nottingham which far exceeded his Pompey woes.

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 11:22 am
Stephen Henderson returned to Pompey in February 2018 for a loan spell which was ended by injury. Picture: Colin Farmery

The Irishman suffered administration, a 10 per cent wage deferral and went three months without pay during an eventful nine-month stay at Fratton Park.

Regardless, he credits it as his happiest time in football.

Henderson later spent two seasons with Charlton, followed by three years with Forest – totalling 14 different managers.

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Stephen Henderson featured 16 times in three seasons for Nottingham Forest before joining Crystal Palace. Picture: Nigel French

And the current Crystal Palace keeper concedes the hierarchy at both clubs were as chaotic as he has ever seen in football.

He told The News: ‘I was training at West Ham with the kids because they didn’t want me with the first-team.

‘Then Charlton came in with a 60 per cent pay cut – and that was the biggest circus at the time. It made Pompey look great.

‘I had six managers in two years. Then, for the second season, the goalkeeping coach who I loved, Ben Roberts, left along with most of the players.

‘The way the owner Roland Duchatelet worked was he had a circle of managers throughout his clubs in Europe and rotated them. It didn't matter if one was doing bad or good, he just swapped.

‘We ended up getting relegated to League One, which was more than deserved considering how the club was run. It had been on the cards since before Christmas.

‘I came back for pre-season in the summer of 2016 and Russell Slade had taken over. I was one of the highest paid players at the time and they needed to get me out.

‘Forest showed interest and I signed a three-year deal. It ended up being twice the circus that Charlton was. I would have eight managers!

‘I went into the dressing room on my first day and thought “What have I done, again?”.’

Henderson made 54 appearances for Charlton, his most at any club so far, before departing for Forest in July 2016.

At Forest he suffered serious injury, while featured 16 times, before handed a free transfer in the summer of 2019 and joining Premier League Palace.

He added: ‘Philippe Montanier was the manager, while the owner who signed me, Fawaz al-Hasawi, was trying to sell the club, so wasn’t investing.

‘Dorus De Vries was the goalkeeper, so I knew I was going in as a number two. Then, during the first game of the season, he rolled his ankle against Burton and I came on with the score goalless.

‘It was a chance to make an impression in front of the home fans – we won 4-3 and I was poor. I didn’t do anything to write home about. That represented the beginning of the end of my social media career.

‘They were tough times, so many different managers, players you wouldn’t believe were coming in and out, in and out.

‘Then, in February 2017, Wes Hoolahan shot from the halfway line, I tried to back peddle to save it and heard a gun shot and fell to the floor. I had ruptured my Achilles.

‘When I returned the following season, Mark Warburton was manager and I pestered him for a chance, knocking on his door every day and he was getting the hump.

‘Eventually he changed it – Chelsea away in the Carabao Cup. We lost 5-1. I never played for Forest again.’

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