Tackle that ‘rattled’ an icon and proved why ‘little mongrel’ belonged in A-Leagues

Brisbane Roar v Western Sydney Wanderers | Match Preview

Henry Hore was almost lost to professional football more than once – now the Brisbane Roar attacker is making up for lost time.

Brisbane Roar are playing a Queensland NPL team, Lions FC, in a friendly four or five years ago and it’s meant to be a game for fitness and rhythm, not really too competitive.

Roar veteran Matt McKay is on the ball until suddenly he’s crunched in a tackle and left on the ground by a teenage Henry Hore who races off with the ball, counterattacks and almost scores for his team.

McKay is furious and makes it clear, as a nervous hush settles over the training ground, until Hore calls out: “I’ve got you rattled, hey Matty!”

McKay looks across at his close friend Warren Moon, then the Lions head coach, and they grin at each other.

This package – the bravado, the attitude but also the attacking drive and technique – is why Moon later fought so hard to make Hore an A-Leagues player, and why the attacking midfielder is thriving in Ross Aloisi’s remodelled Roar team this season.

But Hore almost fell through the cracks of Australian professional football a few times, with coaches across the country apparently unconvinced by his physique, and at 24 it almost feels like he’s making up for lost time.

Western Sydney will be paying close heed to Hore’s talent at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, in a season where Hore looks like he has come of age, as a career of immense early promise that threatened to peter out really gets going.


“He’s the old cliché, the first on the pitch at training and the last to leave,” Moon tells aleagues.com.au from the Soloman Islands where he is now head coach of the Papua New Guinea national team at the Pacific Games, having left Roar at the end of last season.

“It wasn’t just because he was ambitious to be a professional, which he was, but he just loves the game. He’s like a kid still, reminds of (former England star) Paul Gascoigne in that he wants to kick, he wants to play, do keepie-uppies, wants to be shooting at the end.

“He wants to be involved a lot, he just loves the game but he is ambitious as well and he is a competitor and a winner.”

Roar lost him the first time though, when Hore was part of an exodus of talent some seven years ago when the coaches in the club’s youth teams changed.

Moon, who had been working part time at the A-League club, made a call to a friend at Perth Glory to get trials for Hore, Jesse Daley and Dylan Wenzel-Halls and his reference for Hore was simple: “An outstanding talent, younger than the other boys at the time, physically not quite there, but just his ability to change games, his close control made him a winner, he was a little mongrel, he was annoying.”

Henry Hore playing for Perth in 2017.

Not even 18, it was a big and sudden move right across the country. “I wanted to get back in the professional environment so I knew I had to make a risky move, but looking back now it was one of the best moves I made,” Hore tells aleagues.com.au.

“We had a great little youth team and then the first team won the Premier’s Plate – I learned a lot playing with those guys. But after two years nearly, I didn’t feel like I was progressing, I couldn’t see a future.

“So I made the move to come back home (to Queensland’s NPL) and really just started enjoying my football again.”

In professional terms that’s where Hore nearly fell through the cracks again; Moon took him back to Lions FC, and a stint at South Melbourne followed. It was only when Robbie Fowler didn’t return to the Roar after COVID and Moon was promoted to head coach that his fortunes changed.

“There was a point there for a little bit when I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m going to get another opportunity’,” Hore admits.

Hore laying for Lions FC in the Queensland NPL Semi Final 2019.

“I was lucky that Warren Moon gave me a chance and I’d like to say I took it. Coming into the professional environment and training every day, it was always going to take time to adjust.”

For Moon there was nothing but vindication. “It can be difficult sometimes for young players from the NPL to come in (to an A-League squad) where senior pros maybe look down on the NPL,” Moon says now. “Some handled it, some didn’t. Henry handled it from the get-go straight away.

“He did not take a backward step when he first came in and sort of endeared himself to senior players straight away. It was a three month saga just to try and get him in and get him on a contract and otherwise I don’t think he would have got one.

“I genuinely believe he would have been lost to the system. I remember sitting in (Socceroos head coach) Graham Arnold’s office, all the A-Leagues coaches were brought in and there was a list of (potential) U23 players but no one knew much about Henry, who was at South Melbourne at the time.

“I said he’s one of the best players around and I knew then I was going to try and bring him for next season.

“Henry never gave up but he slipped through the cracks at the Roar and he slipped through the cracks at Perth. It would have been such a shame if he didn’t get an opportunity to shine on the national stage like he is now.

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“Physically he needed to mature in terms of his body and that might be one thing that people looked at him (as an issue). He’s very slight, very small, very skinny, looks like a bit of a chihuahua, nipping at your heels.”

Moon can see how much Hore is enjoying playing with technical artistes such as Jay O’Shea and Florin Berenguer. “But I would also give credit to Ross Aloisi this year as well,” he adds.

“The way they’re playing this year, I think an attacking brand of football gets the best out of Henry. From what I’ve seen so far in the early stages, this is the type of football that suits Henry.”