Sunday, 2 January 2011
248 Andy Barlow
Position : Left back
Played : 1997-98 to 1998-99
Appearances : 68
Goals : 1
So we progress to Graham Barrow's second season in charge. I still had some optimism going into 1997-98. The last few games of the previous season had been excellent and Barrow had finally been able to release Docherty's dead wood in the summer. Unfortunately that's when he made his biggest error and set the clock ticking on his managerial career. Frustrated by failure to land his main transfer targets - most notably Mansfield's John Doolan who was supposed to come in exchage for Steve Whitehall but Barrow was outwitted by their boss Steve Parkin who ended up with both players - Barrow signed four veterans in their thirties instead and it proved a recipe for failure. By contrast he made , as we shall see, some very significant mid-season signings but it didn't prevent us from finishing three places below the previous year. We won enough home games , some of them very convincingly, to keep out of trouble but the away form was abysmal managing just 10 points on our travels.
The first of those veterans to discuss, 31-year old Andy was signed on a free from Blackpool. He made his name with Oldham where he took over the left back spot from John Ryan in 1984 and was ever-present in 1990-91 when they won promotion to the old First Division. Even before they got there there was speculation whether Andy would be able to handle the move up in class but he played 28 games the following season. In 1992 though Oldham signed Neil Pointon and Andy rarely figured after that. He played 2 games on loan to Bradford in 1994 before being released in the summer of 1995 having made 261 appearances. He went to Blackpool and had two good seasons there making 81 appearances.
Of the four "oldies" Andy was the youngest and still had something to offer. He was excellent at the start of the season looking like the best left back we'd had for years but as the season progressed started looking lethargic and offering "will this do ? " performances. He would jog rather than run on to the end of balls into his channel looking to block the clearance rather than exert himself to get on the end of them. He then gave an interview to a Blackpool paper in which he openly touted the idea of returning there which didn't endear him to fans. When he roused himself he could still be an asset. We played Torquay away in April 1998 and their winger Rodney Jack was looking lively in the first few minutes. Andy put him in his pocket with two firm (perfectly legit) tackles which nullified all Torquay's attacking threat and would have gained us all three points had a gilt-edged chance fallen to anyone other than Dave Bayliss. The following season Andy had to share the left back position with the oft-injured Dean Stokes but in his last game away at Brighton (well at Gillingham actually) following Barrow's sacking he played in midfield and scored the late equaliser with his last touch in professional football.
He retired as a pro to take up a coaching job with the PFA which he still holds althoiugh he had a short spell playing for Ramsbottom United.