Terry Dolan was appointed Hull City’s manager on the final day of January 1991 to replace Stan Ternent, his former assistant at Bradford City. Dolan joined the Tigers two days after resigning from the manager’s post at Rochdale – it quickly emerged that Rochdale believed the Tigers had approached Dolan with a job offer without seeking prior permission from his current employer. This accusation was upheld on appeal in July 1991 and the rule contravention cost Hull City a £40,000 fine.
Ternent had left the Tigers marooned at the bottom of the Division Two table and Dolan’s arrival sparked a revival, winning three and drawing four of his first nine League matches. However an intense April 1991 schedule yielded no wins from seven matches and the Tigers were consigned to Division Three for the first time in seven years.
Dolan came to Hull City at a time when the financial largesse of Don Robinson was a distant thing of the past, and the club was operated on a tight financial leash by majority shareholder Christopher Needler, chairman Richard Chetham and his successor, local accountant Martin Fish, who took over in the summer of 1991 when Chetham stepped aside following a heart attack. Terry therefore had to make full use of his wheeler-dealing skills in the transfer market and often used his contacts in the West Yorkshire football scene garnered during his previous playing and managerial careers. In the 1991 close season Dolan signed goalkeeper Alan Fettis from Ards in Northern Ireland, young midfielder Gareth Stoker from Leeds United as well as returning Hull-born larkers Mick Matthews and Stuart Young. His masterstroke was to take a chance on another Hull lad, former City junior Dean Windass who was now playing for North Ferriby United and improving his physical conditioning working on buildings sites across the city. Windass’s signing, and subsequent departure, went on to define Dolan’s tenure at Hull City.
Dolan’s new look side struggled in the opening weeks of the 1991/92 season but four wins and two draws in the League during October and November 1991 lifted the Tigers into the top eight. However a winless run of nine League games in December and January, plus defeat to top flight side Chelsea in the FA Cup Third Round, saw City’s position decline considerably and by mid February the club had fallen into the bottom two of the Division Three table. A ten match run without defeat averted the threat of relegation and three wins at the end of the season saw the Tigers finish in 14th position. The 1992/93 season followed a similar streaky pattern of boom-and-bust football – City were second in the table after five matches, then a twelve match winless run saw the team drop into the bottom six by early December. A mini-revival in the New Year meant that despite losing all of the last four matches of the season, Dolan’s side avoided relegation by three points and one position.
In the 1993 close season Dolan signed an eclectic mix of new players – former Bradford City full back Brian Mitchell, his assistant manager’s son Chris Lee, former England striker Steve Moran and nippy winger Neil Mann. The resulting mix of youth and experience worked a charm, the Tigers started the season superbly and were top of the League Division 2 table when they beat Dolan’s former side Bradford City at the start of October 1993. The team struggled to maintain that form but stayed around the top six for much of the season before dropping to 10th place when they failed to win any of their last four matches. The 1994/95 season followed the reverse pattern – winless in the first three games, the Tigers won nine of the next fourteen games (including the finest Dean Windass goal of all time at Wycombe Wanderers) and were third in the table by the end of November. But again the challenge was not sustained by Dolan’s side and the Tigers finished eighth.
Hull City were now sinking into further financial problems and Dolan was forced to sell key players. The 1995/96 season started poorly and by December 1995 City were rock bottom and forced to sell their prized asset Dean Windass in order to balance the books. When it later emerged that Dolan was in receipt of a percentage of player sales the increasingly difficult relationship between the club’s management team and the fans became further soured. Alan Fettis followed Windass out of the Boothferry Park door in January 1996 and a season that yielded only five wins saw the Tigers finish a steepling 21 points short of relegation survival and dumped into League Division 3 – the final game of the season saw the fans of promotion chasing Bradford City handed the home stands at Boothferry Park with Tigers fans consigned to the away end, an act seen by many supporters as the final straw that sparked open warfare between fans and the club’s hierarchy, notably chairman Fish and manager Dolan.
City retained Dolan’s services for the 1996/97 season, this decision appeared inexplicable at first but when the season started City performed well and were entrenched in the play-off positions by the end of September. But another winter collapse of form saw the Tigers drop away to seventeenth place by the end of the season. The stench of decline and failure now pervaded the whole club and matchday attendances had crashed to an all-time low. When chairman Fish and major shareholder Christopher Needler sold the club to tennis star and gymnasium mogul David Lloyd in June 1997 the writing was on the wall for Dolan – he was dismissed two weeks later.
Terence Peter “Terry” Dolan was born and raised in Bradford and played both football and rugby union in his youth. At 16 he joined local Division Four club Bradford City as an apprentice and by January 1968 he was playing in the Bantams’ Reserves side. In December 1968 Dolan, still an amateur player, transferred to local rivals Bradford Park Avenue and within three months he was handed a senior debut, a March 1969 League match against Wrexham. Bradford were perennial strugglers during the late 1960s and finished bottom of the Football League at the end of the 1968/69 season, earning re-election that summer. With Dolan now signed to their professional ranks and playing regular first team football, Bradford again struggled in the 1969/70 season, finishing bottom of the table for a third consecutive season. The club’s inability to resurrect its fortunes tested the patience of fellow League clubs and despite a promised £20,000 cash injection from club chairman Herbert Metcalfe, Bradford Park Avenue failed to achieve re-election in May 1970 and were expelled from Division Four and replaced by Cambridge United. Terry was one of Bradford’s most promising prospects and he spent June 1970 on trial at Division One side Arsenal. However Dolan started the 1970/71 season playing for Bradford Park Avenue in the Northern Premier League before being sold to Division One side Huddersfield Town in October 1970, a £1,000 fee being paid – Dolan made 49 senior appearances for Bradford Park Avenue.
Dolan was a Huddersfield Town reserve team player during the 1970/71 season though he did make his first team debut in January 1971 when coming on as substitute in an FA Cup tie against Birmingham City. He won a regular first team place in December 1971, scoring a goal in his first league start for the Terriers against Wolverhampton Wanderers, but the season ended with Huddersfield finishing bottom of the Division One table (despite reaching the Sixth Round of the FA Cup) and dropping into Division Two. Town suffered relegation again in the 1972/73 season as they fell into the third tier – Dolan was a regular starter in the first half of the season but was dropped in January 1973 after scoring a crucial own goal in an FA Cup replay against Carlisle United. With Huddersfield now in Division Three Dolan returned to the first team and scored eight goals in the 1973/74 season while playing in a more advanced position. But the 1974/75 season proved to be a third disaster in four seasons for the Terriers and Dolan, who joined a top flight side in October 1970, found himself a Division Four player less than five years later. Terry stayed at Leeds Road for the 1975/76 season as the Terriers’ form finally picked up and they fell just one position short of promotion back to Division Three. By the 1976 close season Dolan had scored 16 goals for Huddersfield Town in 186 senior appearances.
In August 1976 Dolan returned to his first club, Division Four side Bradford City, in return for a £10,000 fee. He quickly worked his way into the Bantams first team as an advanced midfielder and assisted the side to promotion in his first season. The 1977/78 season ended with City’s immediate relegation back to Division Four – Dolan’s fifth relegation in eight years – and he served the Bantams for a further three years in the fourth tier. He made his final senior start for Bradford City in January 1981, taking his tally to a very reasonable 50 goals in 224 appearances.
In July 1981 Dolan signed for Division Four side Rochdale and netted twice in 47 appearances in his only season at Spotland. Dolan then dropped into the non-league scene, joining Northern Counties East League side Thackley at the start of the 1982/83 season then a year moving on to become player-coach at Harrogate Town. In January 1985 he drew a close to his playing days, left Harrogate Town and was appointed youth team coach at former club Bradford City, in August 1986 he was elevated to the Bantams’ first team coach and when Bradford’s first team manager Trevor Cherry was dismissed in January 1987 Dolan was made joint caretaker manager alongside another ex-Hull City manager Stan Ternent – within three weeks Dolan was handed the manager’s role on a permanent basis with Ternent as his assistant.
Dolan guided the Bantams to 10th place at the end of the 1986/87 season then had a fine 1987/88 season fuelled by the goals of Bradford youngsters Stuart McCall and John Hendrie, plus 20 goals from experienced beanpole striker Ron Futcher. Dolan’s side was top of the table for much of the first half of the season and reached the League Cup quarter finals, but six winless League games in December and January hampered progress and the Bantams ended the season in fourth place, qualifying for the play-offs. Defeat to Middlesbrough in the two-legged semi-final, after winning the first leg 2-1, meant Dolan’s first full season at the Bradford City helm was a successful one that ended with a low point. That sense of disappointment was compounded when Hendrie and McCall were sold during the 1988 close season and by January 1989 the Bantams had slid to 18th position in the Division Two table. Defeat to Hull City in the FA Cup Fourth Round – after dumping out Division One side Tottenham Hotspur the round before – was enough for the Bradford City board to act and Dolan was dismissed. Terry led the Bantams for 118 senior matches.
Within six weeks Dolan had been appointed first team manager at Division Four side Rochdale, a post vacated by former Hull City manager Eddie Gray nine months earlier. He steered a struggling Rochdale into a mid-table finish at the end of the 1989/90 season and had piloted Dale to the top three by the end of October 1990 before the side experienced a drop in form. Dolan left Rochdale in controversial circumstances in January 1991 to take over the manager’s role at Hull City that had just been vacated by his former assistant at Bradford City Stan Ternent.
Dolan left Hull City in July 1997 but within three months he was back in a job, appointed reserve team coach at another of his former clubs, Huddersfield Town. He fulfilled that role for two and a half years until February 2000 when he was appointed first team manager at League Division 3 side York City, taking over from former Hull City player Neil Thompson. After no wins in his first six games in charge Dolan guided the Minstermen to five wins in the next nine matches and the threat of relegation to the Conference National was avoided. Dolan remained in charge at York for three more seasons and helmed the Minstermen to three mid-table finishes before leaving the club in May 2003 as part of a cost-cutting exercise – he led York City for 173 senior matches.
Dolan then fulfilled a number of roles over the next twelve years including an advisory role to the St Vincent and Grenadines international team as they attempted (and failed) to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals, a season in charge at Northern Premier League side Guiseley, a role for League Managers Association advising new club managers and a lengthy term as a referee’s assessor for the Premier League. He drew his career to a close in 2015 and was appointed a director at phoenix club Bradford Park Avenue.
Date/Place of Birth: 11 June 1950, Bradford, England
Appointed by Hull City: 31 January 1991; 40 years, 234 days old
Left Hull City: 14 July 1997; 47 years, 33 days old
Tenure: 2,356 days
Bradford City (1987-1989), Rochdale (1989-1991), Hull City (1991-1997), York City (2000-2003), Guiseley (2006-2007)
Hull City Record
Playing Record: Played 340, Won 106, Drawn 97, Lost 137, Goals For 377, Goals Against 447
Achievements: 8th in League Division 2, 1994/95 season