RIP Andy Provan

Just fifty years after Southport Football Club won the Fourth Division Championship comes news of the death of Andy Provan’s the club’s leading scorer and one of the stars in that never to be forgotten season. Andy died on 11th May in Torquay after battling Alzheimer’s for a long time.

Andrew McKelvie Hughes Provan was born on New Year’s Day 1944 at Greenock. He gained two Scottish Youth International caps against England and Wales in 1960/61 having joined Port Glasgow Rangers whilst still at Mount Street School. Aged 15 Andy left school and took up a job as an apprentice engineer in the shipyards.

At the age of 16 Andy signed for St Mirren as an Amateur turning professional in 1961 before leaving on a free transfer at the end of 1962/63. He decided to try his luck in England signing for Barnsley in May 1963, but he was out for six months with a knee injury. He subsequently joined York City on a month’s trial and made an immediate impression. He was signed on for the season being an ever- present and second top goal scorer in their side which won promotion to the Third Division.

Andy moved to Chester in August 1968 before signing for Wrexham in April 1970. Andy fell out of favour and was placed on the transfer list at £5,000 and was snapped up by Jimmy Meadows after the transfer fee had been reduced. Hitherto Andy had been regarded as a lively, orthodox left winger, Meadows quickly realised that his speed would be better utilised by playing him alongside target man, Jim Fryatt with whom he built up a tremendous rapport. Just foot 5 inches tall, Andy was converted into striker, and this gave him a new lease of life. He began with a scintillating display in a pre- season friendly against Airdrie scoring three second half goals and Southport and Provan never looked back.

Showing good control and the scorer of some spectacular goals, Andy proved to be a firm favourite with the Southport supporters top scoring with 21 League goals ( a figure only exceeded by four other players in thirty-two post-war seasons in the Football League ). When Southport clinched promotion at Crewe with a 2-0 over the ‘Alex’ it was Andy who scored the first goal and laid on the second for Frank Lee. At the end of the same month Andy together with Jim Fryatt and Chris Dunleavey went to play in the North American Soccer League for Philadelphia Atoms. There he made a great impression alongside Fryatt , who were dubbed ‘Batman’ and ‘Robin’.

Returning from the States Andy was honoured by Whitbread’s as Division IV Player of the Year but he was not the same in 1973-74 having played football continuously for twelve months football without a break . He moved to Torquay united where he spent a further three seasons. In all he clocked up more than 400 Football League appearances and notched 120 goals. He went on to win a Southern League championship medal with Bath City in 1977-78. Andy settled in Torquay and worked as a psychiatric nurse in a local hospital. He played in the South Devon League for Totnes Birdwatchers and Windsor United . He subsequently played for local sides W.B.B, Hele Rovers and Waldon United before finally hanging up his boots in 1990 aged 46. The lure of the game was such that he continued to keep fit by playing five-a-side into his 50s and took up golf.

Michael Braham