It’s not everyday you have a beer in a bar in Bali with an ex EPL goalkeeper. I first met Andy in Manila when he was the goalkeeping coach for Ilocos United FC. Coincidence that we were both in Bali over the festive holiday.
So Andy how old were you when you first started to play football and were you always goalkeeper?
I was 6 years old when I started playing and pretty much went in Goal straight away and never moved from that position. Not sure why it happened but it worked out well for me.
Who were you idols growing up?
Back in those days the only Football you got on TV in Australia was Match of the Day on a Monday night. Liverpool where one of the dominant teams then and I was a big fan. My relatives in the UK used to send me all the Kits for my birthday and Xmas so my Idols were Liverpool players like GKs Ray Clemence and then later on Bruce Grobbelar, but I also loved Kenny Dalglish and with his Australian Roots Craig Johnstone.
I was lucky enough in the end to Play against Newcastle United when Dalglish was Manager there and also play with ex Liverpool Legend John Barnes at Charlton.
When did you know you were going to be a pro?
I don’t remember when it actually hit me I wanted to be a Pro footballer but I remember at about 13 years old being asked by my teacher what I was going to do when I grew up as I wasn’t really focused in school to which I answered “go to England and play football” they told me that no Australians have done that and I was better to concentrate on my studies.
Maybe they were right that I should have concentrated a little more academically but my dream was to play Professional Football and I guess that’s what I put in my head and set out to do. I never really had a back up plan but I was lucky enough to not need it.
In 1988 you decided to go the UK and play for Luton. Was that all arranged before you left Australia or did you take a chance and fly over to see what your options were?
I was at a place called the Australian Institute of Sport at the time which was like a center of Excellence based in Canberra. Basically it was like being a Pro footballer there training twice a day which set me up nicely in my pursuit of being a Pro Footballer. Anyway back then the internet did not exist so basically once I decided I wanted to go to England I wrote a letter to about 5 clubs I think….Tottenham, West Ham, Ipswich, Coventry and Luton Town saying I was paying my on way to come to England and could they offer me a trial.
I got replies from them all but it was only Tottenham and Luton who said “Yes, please get in touch when I arrived” So really I was just heading to England as a 18 year old to try my luck! At the time both Tottenham and Luton were in the old 1st division which is now better known as the Premier League so I was excited at the chance to trial at such big teams whom I had watched on Match of the Day on TV in Australia every Monday evening.
In the end I contacted Tottenham 1st but they had just signed a Norwegian International GK and had 5 Pro GKs on their books so they couldn’t offer me a trial so next was Luton Town who were happy for me to come in and train. It was a great experience, I remember the 1st day I was there…I trained with the reserve team squad at one end of the pitch and the 1st team were training down the other end. Anyway after a couple of weeks training I was offered a Professional contract till the end of the season and I guess the rest is history as they say.
How did it feel to sign for a club?
To say I was thrilled was an understatement..I was the 1st player from Western Australia to gain a Pro contract in England. There would have only have been about 4-5 Australians total who had ever signed Pro over there at the time so it was ground breaking stuff.
But to be honest like a lot of things I needed some luck and was in the right place at the right time. Luton only had 2 Senior GKs at the time and were looking for a young 3rd choice keeper for the squad. I ended up spending nearly 6 years at the club and have some fantastic memories.
You ended up playing for over 20 clubs. Did you have a favorite club you played for?
Ha Ha yes as a GK you have 2 choices when your not playing in the 1st team..you either just sit there take the money and don’t play or you go out on loan to other clubs and get match time under your belt. I choose the latter and hence have a few clubs to my name. As for a favorite well its hard to single any club out.
Luton will always be special as they gave me my 1st contract and my English League Debut and also my 1st Wembley Stadium experience as a substitute in a FA Cup Semi Final against Chelsea. At Charlton I won promotion to the Premier League in 1998 and was Player of the Year at the Club the season before. Portsmouth have some the loudest supporters in England a the atmosphere at Fratton Park is amazing no matter what Division they are playing in.
Even at West Bromwich Albion we won Promotion to the Premier League whilst I was there after finishing 2nd in the Championship.
But like I said each Club has a place in my heart in their own special way.
How about players who did you enjoy playing with and who did you not enjoy playing against?
I have played with some great players, players who have played at World Cups and big clubs. 3 come to mind… John Barnes, England and Liverpool legend who was with Charlton during our first Year in the Premier League.
Robert Prosinski, this guy played for Red Star Belgrade and both Barcelona and Real Madrid and was voted one of the best players at 1994 World Cup. Again he was at the end of his career when he joined Portsmouth but the things he could do with a ball were amazing. It was like it was stuck to his foot.
Peter Crouch, again at Portsmouth. For such a tall and lanky player his touch was superb.
Playing Against…there were a few I had a hard time playing against, Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand at Newcastle – David Ginola and Sol Campbell at Spurs – Gianfranco Zola and Gus Poyet at Chelsea.
You ventured into Philippine football. How did that come about and what did you think of the standard of football in the country?
I really had no idea about Filipino Football when I was offered a role with Ilocos United in the inaugural season of the Philippines Football League. Ian Gillan called me in Perth and said he was going to be Head Coach for this new start up club and wanted to work with me (I had worked with Ian during his time at Perth Glory in the A League).
At first I wasn’t sure but after meeting with the club owner Tony I decided that I would get involved. I had no expectations of the standard and when I arrived it maybe wasn’t as high as I had hoped but you could really see he potential in the Philippines for Football.
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