Wednesday, 6 October 2010

156 Andy Milner

Position : Winger

Played : 1989-90  to  1993-4

Appearances :  127

Goals : 25

The great FA Cup run of 89-90 produced enough money to allow Terry Dolan to spend £20,000 on Andy from Manchester City in January making him the first signing of the new decade.

City had bought him the previous year from Netherfield which paid for their ground improvements but he hadn’t played in the first team.

Andy made his debut in the famous win at Burnley where he immediately started roasting the left back though he later had to play at the back when we lost two of our players. Andy took his time to settle in and was reputedly a bit of a loner in the dressing room. There were also rumours he was carrying a serious pelvic injury ; whether that was true or not he had the strange habit of getting up holding his ear after being clattered. However he proved his worth in the final home game against Hereford where he became the first Dale player since Micky French in March 1983 (against the same opposition) to score a hat-trick , all of them more or less solo efforts.

Andy didn’t have the greatest of first touches but if he still had some space after getting it under control the opposition were in serious trouble. He was a true match-winner who could conjure a goal out of nothing by running at the defence at such speed that the defenders simply didn’t dare put their foot in; sometimes they even moved out of the way hoping he’d over-run it rather than risk a penalty or red card. Obviously he didn’t do it every game or he’d have been a Premier League player and he was often the first accused of letting his head drop but it was always foolish to leave him out. We put him forward for the 1992 sprint challenge where he unfortunately tripped in the North West heat but still beat United waster Danny Wallace.

Andy’s career suffered a setback in January 1993 when he picked up a bad injury away at Doncaster and missed the rest of the season. Many reckoned that moment ended our play-off challenge that year. Andy returned early in 1993-94 but looked to have lost a bit of pace. On the other hand he seemed a bit more robust physically and so being a six-footer was often played at centre forward instead.

Andy seemed to have been retained for the next season but at a Fan’s Forum in July Dave Sutton blurted out that Andy had “a heart the size of a pea. So I’ve just given him a free transfer . I don’t care ! “ . Everyone was a bit taken aback , even more so when Andy signed for Chester and then we paid them £10,000 to bring back Dave Thompson who was older, slower and had a much inferior goal record. For me that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and put me in the Sutton Out camp. I’m ambivalent about that now but it was still an utterly crazy decision. Andy had three good years at Chester scoring 24 goals in 125 games (including 4 in a 6-0 demolition of Doncaster) before going on loan to Hereford in their first Conference season. Despite scoring 5 in 8 games, Andy declined a permanent move going to Morecambe instead where he scored 9 in 28 games between 1997 and 2000 , being dogged by injury. After 4 games for Northwich in 2000 he retired and is now a driving instructor.

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