Tuesday, 16 November 2010

191 Andy Thackeray

Position :  Right  back  (also  played  in  midfield)

Played :  1992-93  to  1996-97

Appearances :  162

Goals : 13

We now move into the 1992-93 season which won’t detain us too long as most of the previous squad were retained and two of the additions , Shaun Reid and Alex Jones, were returnees who’ve already been discussed. It was a disappointing season where we slipped back to finish 12th , due, I think, to the curtailment of Andy Milner’s season and Andy Flounders’s off-field travails. I’d now been going for 10 years but changes were afoot. We were now in the re-branded Division Three after the establishment of that exercise in utter selfishness, the Premier League. Closer to home, the creation of the stadium company meant the closure of the old volunteer-run snack bar , replaced by a concession selling a much inferior product. Further post-Hillsborough restrictions also meant you could no longer walk between the Sandy Lane and the Wilbutts when the teams changed ends. It all made for a less friendly environment and when the season opened with news of Vinny Chapman’s enforced retirement and a dismal home defeat against Halifax (who finished the season being relegated to the Conference) a gloom set in which rarely lifted as the team struggled for consistency.

The main summer signing was 24- year old Andy for £15,000 from Wrexham to replace Malcolm Brown at right back. Andy started out as a midfielder with Manchester City, being part of their FA Youth Cup winning side of 1986, but didn’t make their first team. He moved on to Huddersfield but only played two games before moving to Newport County on deadline day 1987 for £5,000. That proved a very bad move as first County were relegated from the Third Division and then became rooted at the foot of the Fourth struggling to pay their players. Andy was there right to the end of the season then Wrexham rescued him for £5,000. They converted him to right back and he was a regular for four seasons scoring 14 goals in 152 appearances.

Andy was a nice bloke who always seemed to be enjoying himself on the pitch and for his first couple of seasons was quite an asset. Having the insurance of Alan Reeves as the right-sided centre half behind him gave Andy a licence to get forward and score some great goals , often from outside the box. He developed a very welcome habit of scoring at Gigg Lane. When Reeves departed, Andy’s defensive deficiencies became more apparent , most notably a chronic , almost comical, inability to clear his lines. No matter how much time he had, he seemed compelled to wait until the winger had got in a position to block. Andy’s cause wasn’t helped when Mick Docherty made him captain which seemed more to do with his enthusiastic attitude to training than any real leadership qualities he possessed. This made him a bit of a target for the EGP fanzine particularly after his disastrous decision to kick against the wind in the first leg of the Autoglass Northern Final at Carlisle in 1995. To his credit Andy was able to shrug off the criticism and perform in his own steady fashion.

In 1996 Graham Barrow took over and Andy was one of around half a dozen players who were contracted for the new season but unfancied by the new manager. Barrow brought in a new right back in Andy Fensome and Andy had to make do with captaining the reserve side to the Central League Second Division title (the memory of the presentation ceremony which we bungled with staggering ineptitude still causes my toes to curl). When he did get first team opportunities it was back in midfield. Andy plugged away and got back in the first team for the last few games of the season which saw a strong finish. That wasn’t enough to win him another contract and he joined Halifax in the Conference.

Halifax won the Conference the following season and Andy came up with them playing at right back once again. After playing in most of their games in 1998-99 ,he signed for Nuneaton and played with them for 4 seasons. His superior fitness allowed him to keep going and he had two years at Ashton United where he was Assistant-Manager for a time then another two years at Mossley where he won Supporter’s Player Of The Year in 2006 at the age of 38 , helping them win the Northern Premier Division title. He finally retired in 2007 and is now a chiropodist in Huddersfield.

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