In the second part of our interview, Andy talks about his playing days.
Andy started his footballing career in the youth set-up at Nuneaton Borough before moving to Northumbria University to study Sports Science. While studying in the northeast Andy turned out for Newcastle Blue Star, where his impressive form lead to an opportunity with Wrexham’s reserves, followed by a six-month trial before finally signing professionally at the age of 23.
“Playing non-league football gave me a good grounding in competitive football that cannot be created in the same way at academies. When I got my chance at Wrexham I was older and hungrier than a lot of the younger players in the reserves and to some extent had already learnt my trade.”
Promotion, goals and a big move.
In the 2002-03 season, Andy scored a record-breaking 35 goals to fire Wrexham to promotion and take the honours as the leading scorer in all four top divisions. Unsurprisingly this attracted the attention of many clubs and during the summer, Andy made the move to Championship side Coventry City.
“I jumped at the chance to join Coventry, Gary McAllister was the manager and Highfield Road was a superb stadium with passionate fans. I had three great years there and it has been good to see their fortunes improving after some difficult recent times. When Micky Adams came in as manager, he told me during pre-season that I was welcome to stay but I would not be starting many games.”
Blackpool and Bury.
“Blackpool came in for me around this time and it was a good move because it looked like they were going to have a real go at League One. I was part of a great team there and winning promotion at Wembley against Yeovil Town was a highlight. A year later, I joined Bury, this was a good experience for me, and although we lost a play-off final, I learnt so much from the knowledge and experience of manager Alan Knill and his assistant Chris Wilder. It is awful to see what has happened at Bury recently and serves as a cautionary tale to other football clubs.”
Back to Wrexham
“After two years at Bury I was wary of going back to Wrexham in case it did not go as well as it did first time around. That summer manager Dean Saunders pestered the life out of me! Dean was a player that I greatly admired and tried to play like, hardworking and a pain in the backside for opponents. I was offered a two-year deal, which at 36 was not something I could turn down.”
A year later Dean Saunders left Wrexham to take over at Doncaster Rovers, giving Andy his first taste of management.