“Andy Rankin had sideburns which simply oozed class. He was hip and trendy in a way that the man he replaced – the no-frills, crew-cutted Mike Walker – could never hope to be. Walker’s sad attempts to ape his successor’s cred by growing a comedy moustache and letting his hair down an extra inch or two failed to move me (or, slightly more crucially, the Watford manager).”
“He’s got so much experience and that counts for a lot. He is a very calm person and doesn’t get ruffled.”
Mike Buxton, Huddersfield Manager in Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 31st December 1979
Andy's arrival at Watford in mid-November was heralded in the national newspapers as "the bargain of the century", with the transfer fee being variably reported as £15,000 to £20,000.
He made his debut at Vicarage Road on Saturday, 20th November against Burnley. Watford won 2-1 to record their second successive victory for the first time that season to haul themselves off the foot of the Second Division.
Watford lost their next two games - 2-0 away to Preston North End and 1-0 at home to Orient. Andy was Watford's star performer against Preston, making two brilliant saves and one that was described as world class.
On Saturday, 11th December, Watford drew 1-1 with Norwich City at Carrow Road to end their run of nine successive away defeats. Andy was credited in the local match report with preventing Norwich running up a large score.
They then had a sequence of nine consecutive defeats, including a 4-1 defeat at Vicarage Road by Notts County in the FA Cup. During that terrible run, they conceded 23 goals, scoring only two in reply. Whilst they suffered some heavy defeats in those nine games, clearly the failure to score goals was the real problem, particularly as three of the defeats were by the only goal of the match.
Andy played in all of those defeats. He was certainly not blamed for the failure to record a victory and actually received some excellent reviews.
Following a 2-1 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on the 19th February, Andy missed six league games as a result of an injury. During his absence, Watford lost four and drew two of their six fixtures.
He returned to the first team on the 3rd April when Watford drew 2-2 with Portsmouth at Fratton Park. He then played in the final six games of the season, in which Watford won one, drew one and lost the remaining four, conceding 12 goals and scoring only two in reply.
The 1-0 victory over Preston North End on 15th April was Watford's first win for five months and it was also the first time that Andy had kept a clean sheet since joining the Club. The two points meant that Watford avoided being remembered as the Club with the lowest points total in the history of Division Two.
In the final game of the season, on Saturday, 29th April, Watford earned a 1-1 draw against Norwich at Vicarage Road. The point won by Norwich was enough to clinch the Division Two championship. Watford's team for that final game was:
Rankin; Welbourne, Williams, Lees, Franks, Eddy, Wigg, Kenning, Jennings, Lindsay, Farley.
Watford were relegated to Division Three along with Charlton. Of their 42 games, Watford had won only five, the lowest ever number of victories in a season in Division Two. They also set the record for the lowest number of goals scored in a season - 24, whilst conceding 75.
Andy had played 19 league games and one FA Cup tie. He must have wondered what he had let himself in for. In twelve months, he had gone from playing for Everton in Division One to facing life in Division Three with Watford.
Watford, hopeful of an immediate return to Division Two, started the new season well with two wins and a draw, including two clean sheets.
Andy distinguished himself in the goalless draw at Shrewsbury on Tuesday evening, 29th August, with a magnificent penalty save in the second half. He dived full-length to his right to turn the ball round for a corner. It was his third penalty save since joining the club. Even former Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg, the Shrewsbury manager, was quick to applaud the save.
After a defeat at Grimsby on 2nd September, Watford had an unbeaten run of five games - two wins and three draws. But their problem of the previous season - a lack of goals - was still apparent. In those five games, Watford scored only four goals, whilst only conceding two. It was Andy's excellent goalkeeping that won Watford a point in the goalless draws against Blackburn and York on the 16th and 18th September respectively.
The five match unbeaten run came to an end at The Valley on 30th September when Charlton scored three minutes from time to earn themselves a 2-1 victory.
Following a 1-0 loss in their next game, away to Rochdale, Watford had a sequence of 12 matches between 10th October and 23rd December, in which they suffered only one defeat.
Rotherham were the team that ruined an otherwise unbeaten run on 4th November at Millmoor. Rotherham got the only goal of the game in the 57th minute and, afterwards, Andy was called upon to make three full-length saves to keep Watford in with a chance, but his side could not take advantage.
Andy put in some excellent performances during that series of 11 wins and one defeat.
The Boxing Day match, a 1-0 defeat at Notts County, in which Andy won the Man of the Match Award with four first-class saves, was also the start of a sequence of eleven losses.
Andy actually missed three of these eleven defeats at the end of January and beginning of February. His recently born daughter had a heart complaint and he was left out of the team on compassionate grounds, but then suffered from flu, which delayed his return.
He came back to face Blackburn Rovers at Vicarage Road on 10th February. Blackburn won 3-1 and Andy was blamed for the second goal, coming off his line too early and allowing one of the Rovers' forwards to chip the ball over him from the edge of the penalty area. However, he had no chance with the other two goals.
Watford lost their next two games, away to Tranmere Rovers and at home to Swansea, both by the only goal of the game.
In the return game with Swansea on Tuesday evening, 27th February, Watford lost 2-1 after taking the lead. Andy's faultless handling of crosses and three superb saves won him the Man of the Match Award.
Watford's 11-match run of defeats came to an end on Friday night, 2nd March, in a goalless draw with Rochdale at Vicarage Road. Andy made two first class saves in the opening period, preventing Rochdale from taking a shock early lead. In the end, it was Watford's failure to convert their clear-cut chances that cost them a win.
However, Watford found their shooting boots the following Tuesday evening when they beat Scunthorpe 5-1.
Four draws followed the win against Scunthorpe. Three of them were goalless - away to Southend and at home to Wrexham and Chesterfield. In the other, a 1-1 draw away to Brentford on 19th March, there were some fine performances by Watford players. Topping the lot was Andy, who made three incredible saves in the first half.
Watford were brought back down to earth by Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on 24th March when they were beaten 2-1, with Rovers' winner coming five minutes from the end. Andy made a string of fine saves throughout the 90 minutes and was chosen as Man of the Match. However, he suffered from concussion for most of the game and was receiving regular doses of smelling salts from trainer Mike Baxter, who sat behind the goal.
Following two home victories over Halifax and Walsall, Watford travelled to face Bolton, the Division Three leaders, on Saturday, 7th April. The first half was goalless, primarily because Andy brought out another string of spectacular saves. Watford took the lead in the 69th minute, but Bolton equalised from the penalty spot when Francis Lee sent Andy the wrong way.
Home draws against Brentford and Charlton were followed by a 1-0 defeat away to Scunthorpe United on Saturday, 21st April.
In the penultimate game of the season, Watford gained a point from a 1-1 draw away at Plymouth. Their final game, at home to Shrewsbury on Saturday, 28th April, saw them slump to their first home defeat for ten games by the solitary goal of the game.
Watford finished 19th out of the 24 teams, escaping relegation with a better goal average than their rivals.
Andy had played in 43 of the 46 league games and the three FA Cup ties. For the first time, the local weekly newspaper, the Watford Observer, introduced a Player of the Season Award, voted on by the fans. Andy won the inaugural Award.
Watford's opening Division Three league fixture of the new season, at home to Huddersfield Town on Saturday, 25th August, ended in a 1-1 draw. Watford's team was:
Rankin; Butler, Williams, Keen, Lees, Welbourne, Jennings, Bond, Morrissey, Lindsay, Farley.
The following Tuesday evening, Watford drew 2-2 with Reading at Elm Park in the first round of the League Cup. When the draw for the next round was made, Andy was pleased to learn that he would face Everton, provided Watford beat Reading in the replay. It was not to be, for a week later, Watford lost 3-2 at Vicarage Road after extra time and after being ahead twice.
Back in the League, Watford beat Southend 3-2 on Friday evening, 31st August, to record their first away win for 13 matches. Watford's next two games were at home. The first was a 1-0 defeat by Oldham, in which Andy won the Man of the Match Award. In the second, the side recorded their first home victory of the season with a 2-0 win over Wrexham.
On Saturday, 15th September, their game away to Hereford ended 1-1. Two days later, Watford thought they had earned another away point, this time against Cambridge, only to concede an injury time goal and lose 3-2.
In their next four games, Watford drew 1-1 at home with York City; beat Brighton 1-0 away from home; got their revenge over Cambridge when they thumped them 3-0 at Vicarage Road, and then earned a goalless draw against Bristol Rovers again at Vicarage Road.
After three successive clean sheets, however, Watford's defence fell apart on Saturday, 13th October, conceding three goals at Chesterfield. The team was:
Rankin; Butler, Lees, Woodfield, Welbourne, Bond, Keen, Lindsay, Jennings, Jenkins, Morgan.
Watford conceded another three goals the following Saturday to Plymouth Argyle in what was their biggest home defeat for 20 months. After the game, Tony Waiters, the Plymouth manager and former Blackpool and England goalkeeper, said that he did not blame Andy for the defeat.
Watford also lost their next two games, away at Wrexham and Bournemouth, and both by the only goal. At Wrexham, where Watford squandered numerous chances, Andy's faultless display earned him the Man of the Match Award.
Watford returned to winning ways on Saturday, 3rd November, when they defeated Aldershot at Vicarage Road by two goals to one. They triumphed again the following Saturday at Rochdale, winning 3-1 and drew 0-0 with Halifax Town in a dreary home fixture on Monday, 12th November. The only event of significance in the Halifax game was Andy's penalty save.
On the Saturday, Watford suffered their biggest defeat for 18 months, 5-0 at the hands of Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Despite the score, Andy was awarded the Man of the Match Award and, according to the match report, it was often a case of Rankin v Blackburn.
Saturday, 24th November, was the first round of the FA Cup in which Watford beat Chelmsford City 1-0 in a poor game. Watford's team was:
Rankin; Butler, Lees, Markham, Welbourne, Bond, Morgan, Lindsay, Jennings, Morrissey, Farley.
Watford's next game was at home again, but this time they were well and truly beaten 3-1 by Charlton Athletic on Saturday, 8th December.
The following Saturday, Watford were knocked out of the FA Cup at Vicarage Road when Bournemouth scored the only goal of the game in the 56th minute. They then beat Brighton and Hove Albion by the same score in the League on Saturday, 22nd December. That victory moved Watford five points clear of the relegation zone.
Watford's festive programme started badly when they lost 3-2 at Shrewsbury Town. However, they recovered to take maximum points from their next two games. They defeated Oldham Athletic 3-0 at Boundary Park on Saturday, 29th December. Only some spectacular goalkeeping by Andy at key moments kept Watford in the game. Then, on New Year's Day, Watford beat Southend 1-0.
Following a 1-1 draw at Southport on Saturday, 5th January, Watford had two 2-1 wins - the first over Hereford and the second at Huddersfield. Against Huddersfield, Andy ensured victory with a number of superb saves. These results took Watford to 10th place in the League.
On Saturday, 26th January, Watford lost 3-1 to Walsall at Vicarage Road and the following week, again at home, beat Tranmere Rovers 4-2.
Watford did not have a game the following week, but the next weekend they played their first-ever Sunday fixture on 10th February, away to York City. They drew 2-2, despite being in the lead twice. The Watford side was:
Rankin; Butler, Williams, Craker, Lees, Keen, Farley, Bond, Jenkins, Scullion, Jennings.
During the following week, Andy suffered a gash on his knee in training but he was able to take his place in goal for the 2-1 home win against Chesterfield.
Watford lost their next game 1-0 away to Bristol Rovers. Their victory over Shrewsbury with the only goal of the game was followed by a 1-1 draw with Bournemouth at Vicarage Road.
On Saturday, 16th March, Watford lost 2-0 away to Plymouth Argyle. The most memorable moment of the game was when Plymouth defender Hore brought the ball over the halfway line, looked up, saw Andy was standing on his six-yard line and hit the ball over Andy from 35 yards into the net. Andy admitted after the game that he thought that the ball had been going over the crossbar.
Watford won the following two games, both at home and both by a margin of 4-0. The first was against Rochdale, the second against Southport.
Andy then won the Man of the Match award in the 1-0 defeat at Aldershot on Saturday, 30th March, and this was followed by two away draws - 2-2 at Walsall and 0-0 at Halifax.
On Monday evening, 8th April, Watford lost 1-0 to Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park. Ron Yeats, the former Liverpool player and Tranmere's player-manager, scored the winning goal in the final minute when he headed in from a corner. Until then, Andy had kept Tranmere at bay with a string of fine saves.
The 0-0 draw at home with Blackburn Rovers on Monday, 13th April proved to be Andy's final game of the season. He finished the match limping and did not play in the last five games because of his injury.
Watford finished 7th in the League, 12 points behind the champions Oldham Athletic.
Probably Watford's most important recruit that season was Elton John. He was appointed as a vice-president and a member of the Board.
Watford's team for the opening League game of the season at Colchester on Saturday, 17th August was:
Rankin; Butler, Keen, Goodeve, Williams, Craker, Bond, Scullion, Morrissey, Jennings, Downes.
The match ended 1-1, after Colchester had taken the lead in the 37th minute.
In the first round of the League Cup at Vicarage Road the following Wednesday, Watford drew 1-1 against Crystal Palace. However, they then lost 5-1 in the replay at Selhurst Park on Tuesday evening, 27th August. Andy had a busy evening and, despite the score, picked up the Man of the Match Award.
On the Saturday sandwiched between these two games with Palace, Watford faced Preston North End, managed by Bobby Charlton, in their first home League fixture of the season. Having established an early three-goal lead, they had to hold on at the end to win 3-1.
Watford's next two games were away from home. They lost 3-1 to Huddersfield on Saturday, 31st August, when Andy was again named Man of the Match. On the following Wednesday, Watford beat Hereford with the only goal of the game. Andy provided his usual handful of saves to earn his side both points.
Watford faced Halifax at Vicarage Road on Saturday, 7th September, and had to settle for a point in a 2-2 draw. Andy had to take some of the blame for Halifax's second goal as he allowed the wind to carry an attempted cross over his head into the net.
Despite having at least 13 good chances to score, Watford lost 2-0 at Brighton the following Saturday and, then, three days later drew 2-2 at Grimsby when they fully deserved to win.
On Saturday, 21st September, they defeated Division Three leaders Southend at Vicarage Road, and then drew their next three games - 0-0 at home to Gillingham; 2-2 away to Swindon Town; and 1-1 at home to Hereford. In the first half of the Swindon game, Andy required treatment when he made a brave save at an opponent's feet, but the injury did not prevent him from keeping goal against Hereford.
Watford then beat Bury 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday, 5th October. Their old weakness in front of goal was apparent in their next two games - a 1-0 defeat at Peterborough and a home win over Bournemouth by the same scoreline.
Then, on Tuesday evening, 22nd October, they were at The Valley, where Charlton tore them to shreds, eventually losing 4-1. Andy stood between Watford and an even bigger defeat, with some spectacular saves, and was chosen as Man of the Match.
Four days later, Watford conceded another four goals away to Chesterfield although, on this occasion, they managed to score four themselves. According to the match report, it was Andy who preserved the point for Watford when he made two amazing saves.
Andy won the Man of the Match Award in the next two fixtures, both at home - a 1-1 draw with Aldershot on Saturday, 2nd November and a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Charlton four days later. In an interview after the match, the Charlton manager told the reporter that he thought Andy was the best goalkeeper in the Third Division.
Watford gained a point in their next outing, away to Plymouth and then beat Port Vale 3-2 on Saturday, 16th November.
A week later, Watford's FA Cup hopes ended for another year when Colchester defeated them 1-0 at Vicarage Road.
Watford's next League game, away to leaders Blackburn Rovers, ended in a goalless draw, but they then suffered two defeats - 2-1 at home by Crystal Palace and 5-1 away to Wrexham.
They started their festive programme with a 1-1 draw with Brighton at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day, avoiding a third successive defeat, and drew again on Saturday, 28th December, away to Tranmere Rovers, who were rooted at the bottom of the table. They then enjoyed their first win in seven games with a 3-2 victory over Grimsby at Vicarage Road on Saturday, 4th January 1975. Andy was one of the stars for Watford.
Watford failed to score in their next two games, losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, and deserving more than a 0-0 draw at home to league leaders, Blackburn Rovers.
They then slumped to three successive defeats. After the first of those losses, 3-1 at home to Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, 1st February, Tony Waiters, the Plymouth manager told a reporter that Andy was one of the best goalkeepers in Division Three.
A goalless draw with Port Vale away from home was followed by a 1-0 win at Vicarage Road over Huddersfield Town, their first success for two months. Watford's goal came from the penalty spot and three fine saves by Andy, who won the Man of the Match Award, ensured his team got maximum points.
Watford lost eight of their last 13 games of the season, drawing three and winning the other two, a poor run which saw them finish next to bottom in the Third Division. In fact, they only needed seven points from their last 11 games to avoid the drop but they could not even manage what was a very achievable total. In the end, they were relegated to Division Four along with AFC Bournemouth, Tranmere Rovers and Huddersfield Town.
Whilst Andy must have been extremely disappointed to find himself in the lowest of the Football Leagues having played in the top Division only four years earlier, he must have been pleased with his own performances. He was an ever-present in the League and Cup, a total of 49 appearances, and he was voted Watford Observer's Player of the Season for the second time in three years.
The first match was away to Barnsley on Saturday, 16th August, and the team was:
Rankin; How, Garner, Goodeve, Akers, Bond, Joslyn, Mayes, Greenhalgh, Jenkins, Downes.
But, it was the same old story. Although Watford outplayed Barnsley for much of the game, they could not score. A Watford defender then gifted Barnsley a goal when he passed the ball straight to one of their players, who had no trouble beating Andy for the only goal of the game.
Watford then beat Northampton Town 2-0 in the League Cup at Vicarage Road on the Monday evening. Andy won the Man of the Match Award with an evening of exceptional saves and capped his display with a penalty save 18 minutes from the end.
The following Saturday, 23rd August, Watford lost 2-0 at home to Huddersfield Town. Andy made two or three excellent saves to maintain his fine start to the season.
In midweek, Watford drew 1-1 at Northampton to go through to the second round of the League Cup 3-1 on aggregate. Andy was again named Man of the Match and had started the season in tremendous form.
A 1-0 defeat away to Darlington on Saturday, 30th August, meant that Watford had lost their first three League games, conceding four goals and failing to score in reply. However, they managed their first League win the following Saturday at Vicarage Road when they beat Hartlepool United 2-1.
Watford's next game was the second round League Cup tie with Spurs at Vicarage Road the following Tuesday evening. The teams were:
Watford: Rankin; Butler, Lees, Goodeve, Akers, Joslyn, Bond, Downes, Scullion, Jenkins, Mercer.
Spurs: Daines, Pratt, Naylor, Chivers, Osgood, McAllister, Neighbour, Perryman, Duncan, Jones, McNab.
The Watford fans in the crowd of almost 15,000 were disappointed to see their side lose 1-0.
Watford lost 3-0 away to Reading on the Saturday but defeated Doncaster Rovers a week later at Vicarage Road by two goals to one. After the match, the Watford manager, Mike Keen, was full of praise for Andy's performance.
Watford lost their next two games, which were both away from home, 4-1 at Cambridge and 1-0 to Bradford City.
The old story of a failure to put chances away continued to dog Watford. They won four of their next eight games, drew two and lost two, scoring only ten goals, little more than an average of a goal a game, whilst conceding nine.
But things went from bad to worse as they lost four games in succession, conceding ten goals while scoring just one. The second of those defeats was 3-0 at home to Brighton in the FA Cup on Saturday, 22nd November. The last of the four defeats was again at Vicarage Road two weeks later, this time by three goals to one at the hands of Lincoln City. Andy was the only Watford player to emerge from the match with any credit and won the Man of the Match award.
Watford were away from home on Saturday, 12th December and faced a Stockport County team that included George Best of Manchester United fame. He was just a shadow of his former self, but did score one of Stockport's goals in a 2-2 draw.
They opened their festive programme with a 3-1 win at home to Newport County on Saturday, 19th December. The team was:
Rankin; How, Lees, Garner, Akers, McCarthy, Joslyn, Scullion, Horsfield, Jenkins, Coffill.
On Boxing Day, Watford were twice a goal in front away to Swansea, but ended up losing 4-2. The following day, Saturday, 27th December, they returned to winning ways when they defeated Exeter City 2-0 at Vicarage Road. According to the match reporter, one of only two memorable moments in the match was a save from Andy, who received a standing and lengthy ovation from the crowd. Unfortunately, perhaps, the goal would not have counted if the ball had gone into the net, as there had been an earlier infringement by an Exeter player. Afterwards, manager Mike Keen said that it was the finest save he had seen Andy make.
It was a forgettable start to 1976 for Watford, losing 1-0 away to Torquay United on Saturday, 3rd January. Andy was one of only two Watford players to emerge from the game with any credit.
But things did get better, for Watford recorded seven wins in their next eight games. Their 1-0 win away to Scunthorpe United on the Tuesday 10th February was effectively decided by the two goalkeepers. An error by Scunthorpe's 16-year-old apprentice goalkeeper gave Watford a goal they didn't deserve, whilst Andy gave another outstanding display, with two magnificent saves.
A 4-1 defeat the following Saturday away to Bournemouth prevented Watford extending their unbeaten run. However, they did win their next two games, both at Vicarage Road, to equal a post-war record of seven successive home victories.
In their next match on Wednesday, 3rd March, Watford drew 2-2 with Crewe at Gresty Road. Following a miscued punch by Andy, the ball landed at the feet of a Crewe strikers, who promptly hit it into the net.
Northampton ended Watford's record sequence of home wins three days later. Ten minutes into the game, Andy could only parry a shot and a Northampton forward Hall headed the loose ball into the net for the only goal of the game.
The following Saturday, Watford defeated Workington away by three goals to one. Andy was chosen as Man of the Match, having produced two or three outstanding saves, whilst suffering some crude challenges, which were ignored by the referee.
The next three games involved a 3-0 home win over Rochdale, a 2-2 draw at home with Tranmere Rovers, followed by a 5-1 thrashing away by league leaders Lincoln City.
Watford then had a run of three victories without conceding a goal - 2-0 away to Newport County; 1-0 at home to Barnsley, and another home win by three goals over Bradford City.
Watford's next two fixtures involved a 2-1 defeat away to Hartlepool on Saturday, 10th April and, six days later, a goalless draw at home with Torquay on Good Friday. In the second of those games, Andy pulled a muscle in his rib cage when he was taking a goal kick and, as a result, missed the final three matches of the season, two wins and a defeat.
Unfortunately, manager Mike Keen's prophecy of promotion at the beginning of the season was not fulfilled. Watford finished eighth and it was Lincoln City, Northampton Town, Reading and Tranmere Rovers who moved up a Division.
Andy made the most appearances for the Club that season - 43 League games, three League Cup and one FA Cup ties.
Elton John's appointment as Chairman of Watford began an incredible football journey that was to take Watford from Division Four to runners-up in Division One of the Football League and to the FA Cup Final in the early 1980s.
Watford's two opening games of the new season were League Cup clashes against Brentford. Their home game on Saturday, 14th August, ended in a 1-1 draw, whilst two goals in the last minute of the second leg tie at Griffin Park saw Watford go through to the second round.
Their league campaign got off to a poor start when they were beaten 2-1 at Southend on Saturday, 21st August. The team was:
Rankin; How, Garner, Walley, Walsh, Joslyn, Bond, McCarthy, Jenkins, Mercer, Downes.
Things soon began to look more promising with three wins in succession. In the league, they defeated Hartlepool 4-0 at Vicarage Road and, four days later, on Saturday, 28th August, they beat Scunthorpe United 2-1 in another home fixture. Then, on the following Tuesday evening, they faced Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park in the second round of the League Cup. Their 3-1 victory was the upset of the round and the first time Watford had reached the third round for five years. Andy deservedly won the Man of the Match award with another incredible display of goalkeeping.
Andy suffered a depressed cheekbone in the Palace tie, which prevented him from appearing in the 4-0 league defeat at Cambridge four days later. However, he returned the following Saturday for the home game against Colchester despite not being 100 percent fit. Watford won 2-1.
After a 3-1 defeat at Rochdale on Saturday, 18th September, Watford faced Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough the following Tuesday in the third round of the League Cup. The team was:
Rankin; How, Garner, Walley, Walsh, Craker, Geidmintis, Joslyn, Bond, Mayes, Poole.
Wednesday were two goals up at half-time and, although Watford pulled one back after the interval, a third Wednesday goal ended Watford's hopes of getting to the fourth round for the first time.
Watford had a convincing 4-1 victory over Exeter at Vicarage Road on 25th September. Their next game, the following Saturday, was again at home, but this time they could only manage a goalless draw against Halifax.
On Saturday, 9th October, Watford slumped to their fourth away defeat when Crewe beat them 2-0 at Gresty Road. Andy was one of only three Watford players to emerge with any credit from the game.
They then had a run of five matches unbeaten, beginning with a home 1-1 draw with Bournemouth and ending with a similar result at home to Aldershot. Sandwiched between those two home draws were an away victory over Workington Town, a 2-2 draw away to Huddersfield Town, and a 1-0 home win against Barnsley. According to the Watford Observer's match reporter at the Barnsley game, Andy, who made several important saves to keep Barnsley at bay, deserved to share the Man of the Match Award with team-mate Geidmintis. Their unbeaten run ended on Saturday, 6th November when they lost 3-1 at Torquay.
On Saturday, 20th November, Watford faced Gillingham away in the first round of the FA Cup. The team was:
Rankin; Geidmintis, Horsfield, Garner, Pritchett, Bond, Joslyn, Coffill, Mayes, Mercer, Downes.
Although Watford were on top for much of the game, a draw seemed inevitable until Watford scored in the last minute following a mistake by a Gillingham defender.
Watford were away again in the next round of the Cup on Saturday, 11th December, this time to non-League Hillingdon Borough. Hillingdon caused a shock when they went ahead in the first minute when Watford defender Pritchett hit a back pass wide of Andy, whose despairing dive only knocked the ball to a Hillingdon player, who gratefully hit it into the empty net. However, Watford eventually secured a place in Round Three with a 3-2 victory.
Although Watford were drawn away for the third time, they must have thought fortune was on their side as their opponents were another non-league side - Northwich Victoria from Cheshire. The tie was played on Saturday 8th January 1977; Watford fielded the following eleven:
Rankin; Geidmintis, Horsfield, Garner, Pritchett, Bond, Joslyn, Downes, Coffill, Mercer, Jenkins.
Although Watford outplayed Northwich, they were made to pay for missed chances when Northwich scored the winner minutes from the end to cause one of the shocks of the afternoon.
In the five League games between the cup-ties, Watford were unbeaten with three draws and two wins. On Saturday, 27th November, they achieved a goalless draw away to second-placed Bradford thanks to two brilliant saves from Andy in the second half.
On Tuesday, 11th January, Watford had a welcome win at home after the Cup defeat by Northwich Victoria when they beat Newport County 2-0.
The win over Newport meant that Watford had suffered only one League defeat in their previous 12 outings. But that sequence ended the following Saturday, when they failed to score for the third successive away game and were beaten 1-0 at Hartlepool. The next two games resulted in a 1-1 draw with Southend at Vicarage Road and a 3-1 win over Southport at Haig Avenue.
Watford travelled to Scunthorpe on Saturday, 5th February, where the game ended in a goalless draw. The headline for the match report in the Watford Observer was "It's the Andy Rankin Show with full supporting cast" as he had made a number of superb saves to keep Scunthorpe at bay.
At Vicarage Road the next Saturday, Watford outplayed Cambridge, the Division Four leaders, to win by two goals to nil.
Watford's four-game unbeaten run ended on Saturday, 19th February when Colchester scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot.
The following Saturday, however, Watford got back to winning ways, defeating Rochdale at Vicarage Road by three goals to one. They then drew their next three games, which were all away from home. In the 1-1 draw with Barnsley, Andy was deceived by the flight of the ball from a free-kick and could only push the ball into his net.
Watford won their home game against Crewe by three goals to one. Two away defeats followed - 3-0 by Brentford and 2-1 by Bournemouth - before they recorded two consecutive home wins - 5-1 over Doncaster Rovers and 2-0 over Workington Town. They were now 7th in the League with only eight points separating the top seven teams. Promotion seemed a possibility.
However, their unbeaten run at home that had lasted for 25 games, came to an unexpected end on Saturday, 9th April, when Brentford beat them 1-0. An uncharacteristic mistake by Andy led to the goal when he came out for a cross, hesitated and allowed a Brentford player to beat him to the ball. Despite Andy's error, Watford should have won; they missed two penalties.
Watford were twice ahead at Stockport the following Monday but allowed the home team to equalise both times. Andy was at fault for Stockport's second goal when he stooped to collect a low shot and allowed the ball to bounce off his shoulder to a Stockport player who easily netted. Andy pulled a muscle in that game. The injury meant that he missed the last eight games of the season; Steve Sherwood took his place. Even without the injury, Andy might have been dropped as his form had slumped in recent weeks.
Watford were unsuccessful in their push for promotion, finishing seventh.
Andy had played in 37 of the League games, four League Cup and three FA Cup ties. He missed the fourth and the last eight League matches through injury.
Mike Keen left the club just before the end of the season after four years as manager. His replacement as manager was 32 year old Graham Taylor, who had guided Lincoln to promotion from Division Four and had been described by the then England manager, Don Revie, as the brightest young coach in the country.
Steve Sherwood started off as the first choice goalkeeper, playing in the first ten League games and four League Cup ties. Watford had lost only three of those games, the first leg of a league cup-tie with Reading and league games against York City and Barnsley.
However, Taylor decided to replace Sherwood with Andy for the away game against Brentford on Monday, 3rd October. The team was:
Rankin; How, Ellis, Garner, Pritchett, Joslyn, Bolton, Downes, Jenkins, Mercer, Mayes.
Watford won 2-0; Andy did not have a great deal to do on his return. Following the win, Watford moved to the top of the table. They then beat Swansea 2-1 at Vicarage Road with the same eleven that had faced Brentford five days earlier. Andy was called upon to make one magnificent save to earn his side both points.
Despite dominating most of the game away to Aldershot on Saturday, 15th October, Watford were beaten 1-0 when Sam Ellis deflected the ball into his own net with Andy appearing to have the ball covered.
Three days later, Sherwood was restored to the side in the 1-0 defeat in the League Cup by West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.
Andy was back in goal for the home league win over Newport County the following Saturday. Although Andy kept a clean sheet, he did not have a particularly good 90 minutes, mishandling the ball on several occasions.
After only four league appearances, Andy found himself back in the reserves. However, following a run of only one win in four games at the end of November and in early December, Taylor recalled Andy for the FA Cup tie at home to Third Division side Colchester on Saturday, 17th December. Watford scored a goal in each half to go through to the next round. The team was:
Rankin; Geidmintis, Garner, Bolton, Pritchett, Booth, Joslyn, Downes, Pollard, Jenkins, Mercer.
Watford then faced four games in eight days over the festive season. They defeated Northampton Town 3-0 at Vicarage Road on Boxing Day; won 3-2 at Torquay the following day; beat league newcomers Wimbledon 3-1 on Saturday, 31st December when Andy made two fine saves early in the game to keep his team on level terms; and then, two days later, recorded a 1-0 win over Hartlepool United to maintain a hundred percent record for their festive programme.
It was back to the FA Cup on Saturday, 7th January 1978, when Watford put up a great display, losing only by a single goal to West Ham at Upton Park. The teams were:
Watford: Rankin; Geidmintis, Pritchett, Garner, Bolton, Booth, Joslyn, Downes, Blissett, Jenkins, Mayes.
West Ham: Ferguson, McDowell, Lampard, Bonds, Taylor, Curbishley, Devonshire, Robson, Cross, Brooking, Hales.
Watford then went on an unbeaten run of eight games, which included six wins. In that time, they only conceded three goals, all in the one game - a 3-3 draw away to Swansea - and scored 17.
Their unbeaten run came to an end at Huddersfield on Tuesday, 14th March with a 1-0 defeat. Andy was at fault with the goal. He went for a cross, missed his punch and, in the ensuing scramble, a Huddersfield player managed to prod the ball home.
That was Watford's last defeat of the season as they won six and drew seven of their remaining 13 matches. Andy featured in all of those games. His 250th appearance for Watford was the 2-0 away win over Northampton Town on 28th March. The week before, when Watford beat Torquay 1-0 at Vicarage Road, Andy had set a club record of keeping ten successive clean sheets at home. The previous record was six during the 1968-69 season.
On Saturday, 8th April, Watford clinched the Division Four championship with six games of the season left when they defeated Scunthorpe by the only goal of the game. Andy was Man of the Match.
Before the home game against Southend on Saturday, 15th April, the team were presented with their medals and the Division Four trophy, watched by almost 19,000 fans, Watford's largest crowd of the season. It ended 1-1.
The 10,000 spectators who turned up to watch the final match of the season against Southport at Vicarage Road on Saturday, 5th May were able to cheer a victory when their side won 2-0. Watford's team for the final game was:
Rankin; McClenaghan, Garner, Bolton, Pritchett, Booth, Bond, Downes, Pollard, Mayes, Blissett.
Watford finished 11 points ahead of second-placed Southend United, and 15 more than the other two promoted clubs, Swansea City and Brentford.
Although Steve Sherwood began the season as the No 1 goalkeeper, Andy played in 30 of the 46 League games, including the last 26, and two FA Cup ties. He was obviously thrilled to have won the Fourth Division championship and promotion for the first time in his career. He had asked for a transfer earlier in the season but after the Club's promotion he decided to stay with Watford and asked to come off the transfer list. He was now a veteran of 34 years of age and Watford's longest serving player.
Just as two seasons earlier, Watford's first two games of the 1978/79 programme were home and away to Brentford in the first round of the League Cup. Watford went through to the next round 7-1 on aggregate. Brentford put up a tough fight in the second leg at their ground. Although Watford won 3-1, Andy was forced to make five excellent saves, including one from a penalty when he dived low to his right to push the ball away.
Watford's first League match in the Third Division was away to Walsall on Saturday, 19th August. The team was:
Rankin; Stirk, Garner, Bolton, Pritchett, Booth, Joslyn, Pollard, Jenkins, Mercer, Downes.
Walsall took a 2-0 lead. After Watford had drawn level, Walsall were awarded a penalty just before half-time. Andy dived to his left to save the spot kick and then blocked the follow up attempt with an even better save. Watford scored twice after the interval to win 4-2. Watford were at home three days later and played Blackpool off the park to win 5-1.
Their run of four undefeated games came to an end the next Saturday when they Peterborough beat them 2-1 at Vicarage Road.
Watford were at home to Division One side, Newcastle, in the second round of the League Cup on Tuesday evening, 29th August. The manager fielded the same eleven that had turned out against Walsall. Andy made two spectacular saves within minutes of the start but could not prevent Newcastle going ahead before the interval. However, substitute Luther Blissett scored two goals in the second-half to see Watford through to the next round.
Watford came from 2-1 behind to beat Gillingham 3-2 away from home in their next League match on Saturday, 2nd September. The win put them in second place after seven games.
They were brought back down to earth the following Saturday, however, when Swansea beat them 2-0 at Vicarage Road. But, they were back to their high scoring ways in midweek, defeating Graham Taylor's former club 5-0 at Lincoln. Andy was called upon to make two superb saves early in the game.
Watford won their next two League games - beating Bury 2-1 at Gigg Lane on 16th September and defeating Oxford 4-2 at Vicarage Road a week later. They were now top of Division Three.
Watford were undefeated in 12 away games, the longest in the club's history, when they travelled to face Rotherham on Tuesday, 26th September. A 2-1 reverse knocked them off the top of the table, as well as ending their away record. However, on the Saturday, they had a convincing 4-0 win over Tranmere Rovers at Vicarage Road.
On Wednesday evening, 4th October, more than 40,000 fans saw Watford beat Manchester United 2-1 in the League Cup, in what was, according to Oliver Phillips writing in the Watford Observer, their greatest ever result. The teams were:
Watford: Rankin; Stirk, Garner, Bolton, Harrison, Booth, Joslyn, Pollard, Blissett Jenkins, Downes.
Manchester United: Roche; Albiston, Houston, B. Greenhoff, McQueen, Buchan, Coppell, J. Greenhoff, Jordan, McIlroy, Grimes.
United went ahead five minutes before half-time when Jordan hooked the ball over his shoulder past Andy into the net. Blissett equalised a minute after the interval and notched the winner with a header with 20 minutes of the match remaining. In his match report in the Watford Observer, Oliver Phillips wrote, "It was Rankin who preserved the first half hope with timely stops and confirmed them with a string of superb saves in the second period to give the Hornets their first-ever taste of the Football League Cup's 4th Round draw."
It was back down to earth for Watford on the Saturday when Chester beat them 2-1 at Sealand Road. However, they were soon back to their winning ways with four victories in succession, scoring seven goals in the process, whilst conceding only one.
The 2-0 win at Chesterfield on Saturday, 21st October, put Watford back at the top of the table, and this was followed by a 1-0 home win over Exeter City.
On Saturday, 4th November, Watford slumped to their heaviest defeat for over two seasons when Hull thrashed them 4-0. Andy did not have a good match, looking particularly vulnerable at corners.
Only eleven days after defeating Exeter at Vicarage Road by the only goal of the game, Watford travelled to face them again, this time in the League Cup. Watford won 2-0 in a hard fought game. Their team was:
Rankin; Stirk, Bolton, Garner, Pritchett, Booth, Downes, Blissett, Jenkins, Mercer, Mayes.
Watford completed their first double of the season when they beat Gillingham 1-0 at Vicarage Road on Saturday, 11th November.
An unfortunate accident that very evening meant that Andy did not feature in a first team game for four months. He slipped on the wet patio at his club house while fetching coal and broke his left collarbone. It was a huge blow for him. He had re-established himself in a successful Watford side, which was shortly to face Nottingham Forest in the semi-final of the League Cup.
Watford lost only two of the 19 games Andy missed. One of those was the first leg of the semi-final of the League Cup against Nottingham Forest; the second leg was a goalless draw at Vicarage Road. So, Forest went through to the final, ending Watford's Wembley dream.
However, after a sequence of five draws in the League, Graham Taylor recalled Andy into the side to face Chesterfield at Vicarage Road on Saturday, 3rd March at the expense of Steve Sherwood. Taylor said that Andy's experience would be invaluable as Watford entered the final third of the season. Watford beat Chesterfield 2-0 to go to the top of the table with 42 points from 30 games, two points more than Shrewsbury Town, who had played a game less. The team was:
Rankin; Stirk, Bolton, Sims, Pritchett, Booth, Joslyn, Downes, Pollard, Jenkins, Blissett.
A goalless draw with Exeter stretched Watford's unbeaten run in the League to 15 games. However, they were unable to extend that run further as they lost 3-2 at Swansea on Tuesday, 20th March.
After going a goal up in the ninth minute at Bloomfield Road on the Saturday, an error by Andy nine minutes later allowed Blackpool to equalise and secure a point.
Despite his mistake, Andy kept his place in goal and Watford won their next two matches, both of which were at Vicarage Road. They defeated Walsall 3-1 on Tuesday evening, 27th March and then beat Sheffield Wednesday by the only goal of the game on the Saturday.
At Roots Hall, on Monday, 2nd April, Southend deservedly beat Watford 1-0, but they won 3-0 at Mansfield the following Saturday.
Watford began their Easter programme badly when they lost 3-0 to Colchester on Good Friday, 13th April. They drew 1-1 with promotion contenders, Shrewsbury Town, at Gay Meadow, the following day, and completed their Easter programme on Tuesday, 17th April with a 2-0 home win over Southend. After the Easter games, Watford were still top of the table with 53 points from 40 games. The chasing group were Swansea with 52 points from 41 games; Gillingham 50 from 39; Shrewsbury 49 from 38; and Swindon 48 from 38.
Watford lost 2-0 at Swindon the following Saturday. They fell behind in the 15th minute but three saves from Andy prevented Swindon going further ahead before the interval. However, Swindon made the game safe with a minute to go. In an interview with the Watford Observer after the game, a Southend player, a former Watford colleague of Andy's, described one of his saves as "a world class save but then that's what you expect from Andy."
Watford lost again on Tuesday, 24th April, going down undeservedly at Carlisle when a curling free-kick was lifted over the wall with pace. Andy got his hand to the ball but could not keep it out.
Andy missed the last four games, more for tactical reasons than because of poor performances. A defender was taking his goal kicks as he was unable to take them on occasions because of a problem with his knee. The manager was unhappy with the situation as it meant his side were unable to push the opposition back as far as possible at goal kicks.
Watford won three and drew one of the four games that Andy missed. They were promoted to Division Two as runners up with 60 points, one point behind the champions Shrewsbury.
Andy played in 30 of the 46 League games and five League Cup ties. He started off as first choice goalkeeper, playing in the first 22 games, but then had an unfortunate accident at home in November 1978, breaking his collarbone. Steve Sherwood took his place for the next 19 matches, until Andy's recall in March 1979, after which he featured in 13 consecutive League games before being replaced by Sherwood for the final four fixtures.
Luther Blissett won the Watford Observer's Player of the Season, whilst Andy received the Best Display Award for his goalkeeping against Manchester United in the League Cup in October 1978.
Andy was in goal for the opening match of the new season, the first leg of a League Cup tie away to Colchester on Saturday, 11th August. Colchester went ahead just before the interval with a penalty and then scored a second five minutes later.
Andy had twisted his ankle against Colchester and missed the next four games; his replacement was Sherwood. In that time, Watford won the second-leg of their League Cup tie, but went out 3-2 on aggregate, and they lost one and drew two of their first three games in Division Two.
However, he was recalled for the home game against West Ham on a glorious, sunny Saturday afternoon, 1st September. The teams were:
Watford: Rankin; How, Sims, Bolton, Harrison, Joslyn, Booth, Train, Jenkins, Blissett, Downes.
West Ham: Parkes; Lampard, Brush, Bonds, Martin, Holland, Pike, Pearson, Cross, Brooking, Devonshire.
Watford recorded their first league victory of the season with a 2-0 win, despite being reduced to ten men for the last 19 minutes.
They drew 1-1 in the away game against Bristol Rovers the following Saturday. Watford took the lead on the hour but, eleven minutes later, Rovers equalised from a spot kick following a handball. Their next league game, was another 1-1 result, against Cardiff City at Vicarage Road and then, on Saturday, 22nd September, they suffered their second league defeat when Chelsea beat them 2-0. Andy had a good game and had no chance with the goals.
After beating Charlton 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday, 29th September, Watford had a run of three successive defeats - 2-1 at home by Queens Park Rangers, and then two 1-0 losses away from home to Swansea and Orient.
Andy was not to blame for those defeats. Indeed, the match reports mentioned that he had made a number of excellent saves and that the defeats were the result of Watford's failure to take chances.
Five days after the defeat by Orient, Taylor completed the £100,000 signing of 25 year old goalkeeper Eric Steele from Brighton and Hove Albion. Manager Graham Taylor said that he had not bought Steele because of a particular display by Andy, but that he was always seeking to improve his squad and that the signing of Steele strengthened his goalkeeping situation.
Andy kept his place for the home fixture against Newcastle United on Saturday, 20th October, which Watford won 2-1.
Surprisingly, perhaps, Andy was granted a free-transfer the following week, in recognition of his services to the club. He was fairly philosophical about the situation, telling the local paper that he would wait and see what turned up.
Andy's last first team appearance for Watford was a 3-0 defeat at Wrexham on Saturday, 27th October - hardly the ideal manner in which to step down after such a glorious career at the club. Eric Steele replaced him in the first team, whilst Andy featured in the Reserves during November.
The following month Andy joined Huddersfield Town, who were seeking promotion from Division Four, on a month's loan with a view to a permanent transfer. Huddersfield's manager was former Watford coach, Mick Buxton, and he knew Andy's capabilities well from his time at the Club. Watford paid up the remaining seven months of Andy's contract in recognition of his eight years' loyal service.
Andy had played 329 League and Cup games for Watford - 299 League matches and 13 FA Cup and 17 League Cup ties. He had clearly been a crowd favourite at Vicarage Road. The fans twice voted him Player of the Season and he also won their vote for the Best Display of the 1978/79 Season for his performance in the League Cup tie with Manchester United in October 1978.
Andy joined Huddersfield Town on a month's loan at the beginning of December. He made his first team debut on Friday evening, 21st December, at home against Rochdale. It was an easy 5-1 victory. Rochdale only had two shots, one of which was deflected wide of Andy for a consolation goal. Huddersfield's team was:
Rankin, Brown, Robinson, Stanton, Sutton, Hanvey, Laverick, Hart, Fletcher, Robins, Cowling.
In his second game, a 2-1 away defeat at The Shay by Halifax Town on Boxing Day, Andy was named "Man of the Match". The defeat left Huddersfield third in the Fourth Division table.
Huddersfield's final game of 1979 was away to Doncaster Rovers. Huddersfield were two up at the interval, but Doncaster reduced the arrears 20 minutes into the second half and then threw everything at the Town defence. However, Andy kept them out with a series of excellent saves.
On New Year's Day, Huddersfield defeated Darlington at Leeds Road by two goals to one. The day after the match, manager Buxton announced that he was trying to sign Andy permanently. Andy later signed an 18-month contract.
On Saturday, 5th January, league leaders Walsall maintained their season's unbeaten run at home with a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield. Walsall had two opportunities to secure both points. The first was when their player-manager Alan Buckley hit the post from the penalty spot with Andy well beaten. The second followed Andy's only error in the game. Racing 20 yards from his goal line, he totally missed his clearance, leaving a Walsall player with an open goal, only for him to send the ball wide. The draw meant that Huddersfield were second in the league, one point behind Walsall and one ahead of Portsmouth, but having played a game more than each of their rivals.
The following week, Huddersfield narrowly beat Lincoln City 3-2 at Leeds Road. Town's next three games were draws away from home - 2-2 with Newport County on Friday, 18th January; 1-1 at Hartlepool United on Saturday, 26th January; and 1-1 with Port Vale on Saturday, 9th February. These three games were memorable for Andy for different reasons. Against Newport, he gave a superb display, ensuring his team did not lose and earning praise from Newport's manager. Against Hartlepool, however, it was a sad day. He was booked for the very first time in his long career for disputing the award of a penalty kick when he threw the ball away in frustration. Hartlepool took the lead from the spot kick but Huddersfield equalised later. Against Port Vale, he gave another memorable display, rescuing his team with a number of fine saves until Vale's equaliser in the 83rd minute.
Following an easy 5-0 victory over Stockport County on Saturday, 16th February at Leeds Road, Huddersfield crashed 4-1 in their top of the table clash with Portsmouth at Fratton Park the next Saturday. Huddersfield took the lead from the penalty spot after 19 minutes but were never in the game after that. Andy made several fine saves, but was at fault for one of Portsmouth's goals when he failed to collect a corner and the ball bounced into the net through a mass of bodies.
Town were back on the winning trail on Saturday, 8th March with a 4-0 away win against York City, only for the next three matches, against Peterborough United, Bradford City and Tranmere Rovers to end in stalemate 0-0 draws. The Tranmere match was Andy's 400th Football League appearance.
The next two games against Rochdale away and Halifax Town at home were comfortable 2-0 and 5-0 wins respectively.
The Fourth Division's "Match of the Day" on Saturday, 12th April, was the Leeds Road clash between the top two clubs Walsall and Huddersfield; Walsall were top, five points ahead of Huddersfield but had played a game more. Town's largest crowd of the season watched their side lead 1-0 at the interval, but they tossed away the chance to reduce Walsall's lead at the top of the table when they allowed their opponents to equalise in the 61st minute.
Huddersfield's 2-1 win over Scunthorpe United at Leeds Road three days later guaranteed them promotion to Division Three. However, they could still be champions as they were only three points behind Walsall with three games left.
Town won their last three games convincingly - 3-1 away over Hereford United; 4-2 at home against Torquay United and 2-1 at home over Hartlepool United; Walsall stumbled with two defeats and a draw in their final three games. So, in the end, it was Town who were crowned Fourth Division champions, being promoted along with Walsall and Newport County.
Having joined Huddersfield Town on loan in December and signing an 18 months contract shortly afterwards, Andy played 24 consecutive league games and gained promotion from the Fourth Division for the second time, having achieved it with Watford two seasons earlier. Whilst he had dropped down from the Second Division, he was now playing regular first team football.
Town's first two games of the new season were against Second Division Blackburn Rovers in the League Cup. The first game, at Ewood Park, was a goalless draw thanks mainly to three superb saves by Andy. Afterwards, Howard Kendall, the Blackburn manager and former colleague of Andy's at Everton, said, "The two centre-backs and the goalkeeper were tremendous. They stopped us winning."
Three days later, the sides draw again, 1-1 this time at Leeds Road. Rovers went through to the next round of the Cup on away goals, but Town held their heads high after two drawn games against Second Division opposition.
Huddersfield's league campaign began at Chesterfield, joint favourites for the Third Division championship, on Saturday, 16th August with a 2-1 defeat. The Town team was:
Rankin; Brown, Robinson, Stanton, Sutton, Hanvey, Laverick, Kindon, Purdie, Robins, Cowling.
Three days later, Huddersfield gained their first point in Division Three when they drew 1-1 with Carlisle at Leeds Road. Andy had little to do, but was called on to make an excellent save in the second-half to prevent an undeserved win for Carlisle. The following Saturday, they drew 1-1 again at Leeds Road, this time against Blackpool.
On Saturday, 30th August, Andy was named "Man of the Match" in the goalless draw with Rotherham United at Millmoor. One of Andy's outstanding saves was from a penalty when he dived full-length to his left to push the ball away. Afterwards, manager Mick Buxton described Andy as "one of the best penalty savers in football".
The following Saturday, Huddersfield secured their first win of the season with an impressive 4-1 home victory over Reading, the Fourth Division Champions of 1979. Andy gave a safe, confident display.
Huddersfield then lost their goal-scoring touch, only managing to score two goals in their next five games. These included two hard-fought home wins by the only goal of the game against Sheffield United and Gillingham; a goalless draw away to Gillingham; and two away defeats by the only goal of the game by Barnsley and Swindon Town, the bottom club in the league.
The defeat of Gillingham at Leeds Road on Tuesday, 30th September, was followed up with two further wins - beating Colchester 2-0 at Leeds Road and overcoming Oxford United away by a similar score. Andy was named "Man of the Match" at Oxford following three fabulous saves. Three successive wins in eight days pushed Huddersfield into sixth place, four points behind leaders Plymouth.
On Saturday, 11th October, Huddersfield recorded their second away win of the season, beating Exeter 4-1 at St James' Park. The following week, they beat Plymouth 2-0 at Leeds Road to leapfrog over them into second place on goal difference. A second championship in successive seasons was beginning to look a possibility.
Three days later, Andy was named "Man of the Match" in the goalless draw at home to Burnley.
On Saturday, 25th October, Huddersfield were beaten for the first time in seven games at Newport County by three goals to two. Newport were two goals up within the first eight minutes, but Huddersfield were back on level terms 13 minutes after the interval. Just when it seemed that they would get a draw, Newport scored again. Andy was not at fault for any of the goals.
Huddersfield defeated Chester 2-0 in midweek at Sealand Road, but then lost at home the following Saturday for the first time in eleven months - Charlton scoring the only goal of the game with 18 minutes to go. Andy, the hero against Burnley in the previous home game, was at fault for the goal. He was caught in two minds when a cross came into the penalty area and he allowed an opponent to steal in and prod the ball into the net. The win moved Charlton to the top of the table.
Three days later, Huddersfield were back on the winning trail with a 2-0 victory over Oxford United, recording their first double of the season but, then, suffered a 2-1 defeat away to Millwall the following Saturday.
On Tuesday, 11th November, Huddersfield managed a 1-1 draw away to Carlisle; Andy was by far the busier of the two keepers. The following Saturday, they beat Chesterfield 2-0 at Leeds Road. Chesterfield only managed two attempts at goal.
Huddersfield faced Northwich Victoria from the Alliance Premier League in the first round of the FA Cup on Saturday, 22nd November. They were just four minutes away from the second round for the first time in five years when a Northwich player, lying in the muddy goalmouth, somehow managed to divert a cross past Andy.
In the replay at Leeds Road, the Northwich part-timers were no match for Huddersfield, losing 6-0 after being 4-0 down in the first half-hour. Andy was virtually a spectator, his one and only save coming in the 72nd minute.
Saturday, 29th November, saw Huddersfield win 3-0 at home against Brentford, who had the best away record in the Third Division. Andy had little to do and did not even have to make a save after the interval. The win put Huddersfield in fourth place, five points behind leaders Charlton.
A week later, Huddersfield looked on the way to another win with minutes to go against Fulham at Craven Cottage, only for the home team to snatch an unexpected equaliser.
It was back to the FA Cup on Saturday, 13th December, when Huddersfield faced Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park. Huddersfield were leading 1-0 with 25 minutes of the game left when Andy pulled off a spectacular save from Tranmere's player-manager, Bryan Hamilton, formerly of Ipswich and Everton. It was a turning point, for Huddersfield then went on to score two further goals to secure a home tie against Second Division Shrewsbury Town.
Following the Cup victory, Huddersfield then had a run of three games undefeated. The first was a goalless draw with Portsmouth at Leeds Road, a match they should have won easily, but the forwards failed to convert their chances. They were then held to another draw on Boxing Day, 2-2 this time away to Walsall, and then signed off the old year in tremendous style against bottom club Hull at home, scoring five goals without reply.
Huddersfield's first game of the New Year was against Shrewsbury in the third round of the FA Cup. It certainly was not a "Happy New Year" for Andy - his team lost 3-0 and he was carried off injured in the 38th minute, when his side were already a goal down. Andy and a Shrewsbury player collided as they went for a cross and he failed to get up after falling to the ground. He was carried to the dressing room, clearly concussed with his left eye closed and swollen.
Andy had suffered a fractured skull and was expected to be out for three weeks, a surprisingly short time for such an injury. He had had a run of 51 league matches before his injury, including all 27 Third Division games that season in which he had kept a clean sheet on no fewer than 14 occasions.
Andy played his first game a month after his injury when he helped beat Preston North End's Reserves 4-0. He continued in the Reserves until Saturday, 4th April, a three months absence, when he was recalled for the top-of-the-table clash with Charlton Athletic at the Valley. Freeman, a loan signing from Birmingham City, had taken over as first choice keeper following Andy's injury, but had been recalled by his club that week. Despite being a goal down after 18 minutes against Charlton, Huddersfield won 2-1 with two fine saves by Andy helping them to hold on for a victory.
Two days later, however, Freeman returned on loan until the end of the season. Despite playing a crucial part in the win over Charlton, Andy was dropped to the Reserves with Freeman taking his place in the first team for the home game against Exeter City. Huddersfield won easily by five goals to nil. They were in fourth position in the league, three points behind Charlton, the team immediately above them in a guaranteed promotion spot.
Huddersfield then lost their next three games, including one against bottom club Hull City, and drew the fourth. Promotion was still a possibility as Charlton had had an identical run of poor results, still leaving them just three points above Huddersfield.
In the end, Charlton did not slip up and Huddersfield finished fourth just three points behind Charlton and Barnsley and five behind champions Rotherham. They were left to rue that sequence of three defeats and a draw in the final run in to the end of the season.
Goalkeeper Freeman returned to Birmingham City.
The first league fixture of the new season was at home to Exeter City on Saturday, 29th August. The Huddersfield team was:
Rankin; Brown, Burke, Stanton, Sutton, Hanvey, Lillis, Kennedy, Fletcher, Kindon, Cowling.
Huddersfield had achieved the double over Exeter the previous season with 5-0 and 4-1 victories. If the team had been expecting another easy win, they were soon shocked when Exeter went ahead in the first half. Huddersfield equalised with a penalty, and had to be satisfied with a 1-1 draw.
The following Tuesday evening, Huddersfield faced Rochdale from the Fourth Division at Leeds Road in the first leg of the opening round of the League Cup. They were 3-0 up at half-time but allowed Rochdale to pull a goal back in the second half.
Huddersfield lost their first away league game at Oxford United on Saturday, 5th September by a goal to nil. Andy's penalty save in the second half was not enough to win a point for his side.
Their next league meeting was at home to Third Division newcomers Wimbledon the following Saturday. Huddersfield found themselves behind in the 56th minute, but equalised nine minutes later. They were denied a victory by three fine saves by the Wimbledon keeper and two goal-line clearances.
On Tuesday, 9th September, Huddersfield were at Rochdale for the second leg of their League Cup tie. A 4-2 win put them threw to the draw for the next round, 7-3 on aggregate. Andy did not have a great deal to do, but was called on to make two superb saves in the second half.
Huddersfield were at Turf Moor on the Saturday for a league fixture against Burnley. Andy produced several excellent saves to keep a clean sheet and gain another point for his side.
Having drawn three and lost one of their first four games, Huddersfield had three points from a possible 12 - the system of three points for a win and one for a draw had been introduced that very season - and were lying fourth from bottom, seven points adrift of leaders Swindon Town.
Their next match, away to Preston North End on Tuesday, 22nd September, was yet another draw. Preston took the lead after 10 minutes but Huddersfield were back on equal terms on the half-hour mark. Preston were on top for almost the whole of the second half, peppering Andy's goal with shots from every angle, but he managed to keep them at bay.
The following Saturday, Huddersfield achieved that all important first league win at home to Southend United. They were two up just before half-time but Southend pulled a goal back just before the interval. Southend were back on level terms with a goal twenty minutes from the end when Andy was beaten by a deflected shot. However, with nine minutes to go, Huddersfield scored from a penalty to win 3-2.
Three days later, Town were deservedly beaten 2-1 at home by Chester, who had only managed to score one goal in their previous six games. Reading, joint leaders of the Division were expected to defeat Huddersfield at Elm Park on Saturday, 3rd October. However, the joint leaders found themselves 2-0 down at the interval. Reading did manage to pull a goal back in the 62nd minute when Andy was beaten from ten yards, but it was not enough to prevent Huddersfield from recording their first away win of the season.
On Tuesday evening of the following week, the biggest crowd of the season at Leeds Road, witnessed one of Huddersfield's greatest nights in the League Cup when they overcame First Division Brighton by a goal to nil. Andy was a spectator for much of the game and only had one save to make the entire evening.
On the Saturday, Huddersfield notched their second successive league victory with a win by the only goal of the game over Fulham at Leeds Road. They were unable to maintain their winning run the next Saturday, however, when they lost 3-2 to Gillingham at Priestfield. All Gillingham's goals were scored in the first 20 minutes.
Three days later, Huddersfield managed their third win of the season, defeating Carlisle United 2-1 at Leeds Road. Andy made two superb saves from Carlisle's Peter Beardsley.
As Huddersfield had just missed out on promotion the previous season, they were expected to be fighting for a place at the top of the table. However, after eleven games, they were only 12th in the league. One of the reasons they had failed to make an impact was their long injury list. Only five players, including Andy, were ever-present after 11 games.
Town faced Bristol Rovers at Eastville on Saturday, 24th October. Rovers were one up at half-time having scored as early as the sixth minute when a pass back to Andy was short, allowing the Rover's centre-forward to nip in and slip the ball past him into the net. Twelve minutes later, Andy produced an excellent diving save to prevent Rovers from going further ahead. However, they were two up three minutes after the break. Andy managed to beat away a tremendous drive, two of his defenders failed to clear allowing one of the Bristol forwards to smack the ball into the back of the net. Huddersfield scored in the 66th minute, but then conceded a third goal twelve minutes later. Huddersfield got a second but could not score again before the final whistle.
Town's next match was the much-awaited return leg with Brighton on Tuesday, 27th October. With their 1-0 advantage from the first leg, it looked as if Huddersfield would advance to the third round with the score at 0-0 with five minutes to go. But, the tie was turned on its head in those last five minutes when Brighton scored twice.
Huddersfield played their eighth fixture of the month the following Saturday, facing Millwall at Leeds Road. Despite going ahead on the hour, they found themselves on level terms a minute later and then Millwall snatched the winner six minutes from the end.
Andy was replaced for the game away to Chesterfield on Tuesday, 3rd November by 24 year-old Richard Taylor. Chesterfield won 1-0 with a penalty kick. Taylor kept his place for the next three months until he received an injury in training.
Andy was recalled to face Preston North End at Leeds Road on Tuesday, 9th February 1982. Huddersfield had suffered three successive defeats. Andy found himself picking the ball out of the net inside two minutes. He could not hold on to a free-kick from outside the area and a Preston player prodded the ball into the net. Within fifteen minutes, the home crowd was jumping with joy as Huddersfield scored twice to take the lead. However, Preston scored twice in the second half to take the three points. Any faint chance of promotion was now well and truly gone.
He kept his place for the next two games - a 6-1 home win over Reading and a 1-1 draw away to Walsall on Tuesday, 16th February. However, once Taylor was fit again, he replaced Andy in the match against Chester at Sealand Road on the Saturday. But, two weeks later, he was injured again in training and Andy stepped in to replace him for the home game against Gillingham on Saturday, 6th March. Huddersfield won 2-0, with Andy a virtual spectator.
Carlisle needed a win against Huddersfield the following Tuesday evening to move to the top of the league. However, the match ended 2-2. Andy was called on to make a fine save in the first minute, diving to hold the ball at the foot of the upright.
Andy made his final appearance for the first team in the 2-0 defeat away to Bristol Rovers on Saturday, 13th March. He appeared for the reserves until the end of the season when he was released on a free transfer.
Andy did not play for another club. Having finished with football, he worked as a fork-lift driver in Huddersfield.