The latest in a series of profiles and interviews, Orginal Fat Bob gives his personal view on the life and career of a footballing guest, before sitting down for a chat and asking a few questions. Our Diasboro special guest this week is Andy Campbell.
1. The Overview – the man and his career
I must admit that of all the Middlesbrough players I have met and will meet and talk with, I probably know Andy the best of them all. Watching him grow from a little lad of nine years old, to the mature family man he is today with his lovely wife and two daughters. His brother Neil, was and still is, close friends with my youngest son. They played for local T.J.F.A club member Nunthorpe Athletic together for five years, before Neil signed as a professional footballer with York City. Andy used to come along to the Nunthorpe games to watch, but was already heavily involved over those years with the Boro at junior level.
Whilst working in London, I went to see the Boro play Wimbledon in a cup game one cold and miserable night in the 2001/02 season. At that time Wimbledon were using Selhurst Park as their home base and walking to the ground with my youngest son, we saw our team coach approaching. Andy saw us and gave us a wave through the window of the bus. It somehow made the match and supporting the Boro more personal even though the match itself was dreadful. He is a close friend of both my sons these days and they still play the odd game of football together for fun, or for charity.
Born in Middlesbrough, Andy started his career in 1995 with his hometown team and was signed as a professional by Bryan Robson who gave him his debut at the age of 16 against Sheffield Wednesday. I remember when the Boro were away against Liverpool and he was called on to play as a substitute. Unfortunately, no one had packed a team shirt for Andy and luckily enough a Boro supporter in the crowd gladly handed his over so Andy could play. Some of his career highlights include scoring against Manchester United in the FA Cup in a 2–0 win for us and also playing for England at under 21 level. That flame haired head could be seen storming with pace down the pitch leaving defenders struggling in his wake.
He left the Boro in 2002 when Steve McClaren had taken over as our manager, to join Cardiff city and Lennie Lawrence, initially on loan, before making the move permanently for £1million. His Cardiff career got off to an explosive start, scoring 6 times in his first 4 appearances. He scored once on his debut against Northampton, twice on his third appearance against Blackpool and a hat-trick in his fourth appearance against Oldham. Overall, he had two fairly productive years at the beginning of his spell at Ninian Park, including a fine lob over goalkeeper Chris Day at the Millennium Stadium to give Cardiff a play-off victory over Queens Park Rangers to put them into the Football League Championship. He is still revered by the Cardiff fans who keep in touch with him to this day.
He moved to Halifax Town in 2006 although his season was interrupted by a serious knee injury. He made a good start to the following season by scoring two against Altrincham in the second game of the season and then a hat-trick against Droylsden later in the month.
He departed Halifax after the club folded at the end of the 2007–08 season then later went to Bradford and Whitby. In June 2012 he was appointed as manager for Norton & Stockton Ancients where he was extremely successful using his contacts within the game to sign talented players. In June 2015 he was appointed as manager for West Auckland Town, but he left last year. His career now, is that of a highly regarded and respected teacher. He can also be found at the Riverside Stadium most match days, where he joined this season as a match day host and M.F.C. ambassador.
2. The Interview – a quick chat
OFB: What year did you join Boro as a professional footballer?
AC: I joined the Boro in 1995 although I had been with them as a junior since the age of 10, which seems a long time ago now.
OFB: Where did you stay? Did you rent, or did you live in digs?
AC: I was and still am, a local lad and lived in Marton just outside Middlesbrough, which as everyone knows is where Captain Cook the explorer was born.
OFB: Who was your favourite Boro player that you played with at the time?
AC: It was actually not just one, but two players that were my favourites. The first was Jan Aage Fjortoft and the second was the gaffer [Bryan Robson] whom I grew up watching him on TV and admiring his style of play and leadership on the pitch.
OFB: Who was the best trainer in the team?
AC: Robbie Mustoe.
OFB: How do you think the match day has changed from the time that you played professional football to the present day?
AC: Now, there is comprehensive and additional media focus and football is more of a business today than a sport.
OFB: When did the team travel for away games, how did they get there, by bus or by train?
AC: We generally got the bus, or if it was a long journey then we flew. We travelled on a Friday afternoon once training in the morning was finished.
OFB: How many players usually travelled and did the Directors travel with you?
AC: There were generally 20 or so players and 5 staff, no Directors travelled with us.
OFB: Did you have nice hotels or was it just bed and breakfast?
AC: We always had very nice hotels that we stayed in.
OFB: Who did you room with for away matches?
AC: I used to room with Mark Summerbell.
OFB: Who was the joker in the team?
AC: Oh, it was Gazza!
OFB: Can you tell us any amusing anecdotes or pranks that were played?
AC: There were far too many, Gazza had us in stitches every day!! [None of these incidents and stories can be published – OFB]
OFB: Who was in your opinion the best manager that Boro have ever had?
AC: Bryan Robson.
AC: Because he gave me my debut in the first team and my chance in professional football.
OFB: Who is your favourite Boro player of all time?
AC: Bernie Slaven.
OFB: Who is your current favourite Boro player?
AC: Stewy Downing.
OFB: Do you still follow the Boro and their results?
AC: Yes!!!! [Andy insisted on three exclamation marks – OFB] I have started this season acting as one of the hosts for the Boro on matchdays and really enjoying it.
OFB: Do you still live in Middlesbrough?
AC: Yes, I live next door to you and have done for the past thirteen years! [Yes, indeed he does – OFB]
OFB: A huge thank you Andy for taking the time to talk to Diasboro and our readers.