As a teenager I had number 8 printed on my shirt as homage to the man that in 151 appearances for the Sandgrounders scored 71 goals in the mid 1990s. Andy Whittaker was one of the most prolific marksmen in non-league football and became a firm fan favourite during his time at Haig Avenue.
Whittaker joined Bamber Bridge (of the North West Counties League Second Division) from District football scoring his first goal as a semi-pro in October 1990. Making a jump two steps up the pyramid he joined Netherfield at the start of the 1992-93 season. Scoring over 60 goals in a two season spell in the Northern Premier League First Division he attracted the attention of Barrow of the Northern Premier League. Another 36 goals later and Billy Ayre brought the hot shot to Haig Avenue….The rest as they say is history…
Can you tell us about how you ended up signing for Southport?
I was at Barrow at the time and I was having a few contract wranglings to say the least at the end of the season. I was then made aware that Billy Ayre wanted to take me to Southport Fc. I’d had a trial at Blackpool whilst at Kendal and Billy was the Manager, things didn’t work out for me to turn full time and Billy left at the end of that season to take over at Southport Fc. I must have made a good impression on him and I am forever grateful to him for giving me the opportunity to play at Conference Level.
Can you remember your debut?
I do it was Slough away of all places, I seem to remember Chivs (Stevie Haw) scoring a hat-trick with Gambo (David Gamble) scoring the other two. I remember my home debut was against Northwich Victoria because I scored and jumped into the crowd !!! I did like my celebrations of which Billy tried to curtail !!
What was your favourite moment in a Southport shirt?
I think this is an easy one, apart from the result this is playing at Wembley in front of my family and all them Southport fan’s will live forever in my memories. Even more so because I didn’t think I would make it due to a knee operation.
Who were your best friends in the dressing room?
Stevie Haw (Chivs, the social secretary), Derek Goulding (Degsie) and Peter Davenport (Dav)
What are you most proud of in football?
I am proud of all the things I have managed to achieve in Football, but the main one’s that stick in my mind are playing at the top of the non-league ladder with Southport Fc. The whole Wembley experience playing there the weekend and the tour of the town on the way back home. Also being selected to represent the England semi-professional team whilst playing for Lancaster City Fc.
Do you have any regrets from your time at the club?
I don’t believe in regrets, things happen for a reason. I enjoyed every minute of my time at the club ! That’s the beauty of Football it’s all about opinions !
Tell us an interesting story about your time at the club, something people might not have heard before…
I remember when we played Woking mid-week and I looked into my bag in the dressing room and my boots where missing ! Luckily for me my Twin brother had come to watch and he had his (half a size too big) in his car ! I went on to score a hat-trick that night of which John still tries to claim credit to this day !
What are you up to these days?
I am not involved in Football these days unless you count playing for Bamber Bridge vets every now and then (of which I can’t walk for a week after it ! Still manage a goal or two !) or the six a side team at work !! My son has also just started to play so he keeps me busy with that and my other job being a taxi driver for my daughter !!! So I don’t know where I could find the time anymore !
Thanks to Andy for taking the time to Catch Up with us.
What are your favourite Andy Whittaker moments? Let us know by adding your comments below. We’ll be sure to share the best ones with him.