Andy King sadly passed away last week following a heart attack at his home. He was aged just 58.
Michael Wale’s interview appeared in the Bristol City match programme on 27th September 1980:
‘Andy King is the Southerner who went to the North West and conquered Liverpool by playing for Everton.
He had come from a tiny village near Whipsnade Zoo called Markyate and played, until he was nineteen, for Luton Town, who then got into money trouble and started selling off their players. Andy was one of them who, at the time, had only played 27 games for the Second Division side.
“I had no time to think. You don’t at that age. I was suddenly going to the great Everton and I didn’t say to myself ‘the Scousers aren’t supposed to like Cockneys, and things like that’.
In fact I got on very well up there. They even claim I’ve lost my Southern accent, although I haven’t. I do use Scouse phrases for things, naturally having been up there for five seasons.”
It was on the Wednesday afternoon before the Newcastle home game that Andy King first knew that he might become a QPR player.
“I’d read in the papers that Arsenal, QPR and Coventry were interested in me, but the club had said nothing to me. I’d been in the reserves all season and was top scorer with three goals. Only the week before I had played in a big testimonial for our captain Mickey Lyons and I’d played in a friendly for the first team at Port Vale before that.”
“I was rung at home on the Wednesday by the club secretary who said I should get down to QPR who were interested in me. I decided to talk to them first and the chairman, Jim Gregory, rang me and I decided to come down to London.”
” I admit that at best it does scare you coming to a Second Division club from an important First Division club like Everton. Don’t get me wrong. In fact it was the chairman who proved to me that I was coming to a side in the Second Division that was a First Division club. I realised that he had built a new stand and was paying ¬£500,000 for me.”
“I’m confident that QPR will go up. If I didn’t think that I wouldn’t be here. Mind you I might not get picked for the team, nothing is guaranteed in this game.”
Down here you always hear stories about the great rivalry that divides Liverpool between the Anfield side and their Everton rivals. Andy says that this is exaggerated.
“When I first went there as a nineteen-year-old, my greatest pals were Phil Thompson and Terry McDermott. We always roomed together. Most of the players from the two sides know each other and go for drinks together. And if a store or firm want a player to do something for them they always have a player from each club.”
‘It’s only on the great day of the local ‘derby’ that friendship is forgotten for the 90 minutes of the game. I don’t think there is anything to rival it. I don’t think that the Arsenal-Spurs game has anything on it for the feeling. You get it when you arrive on the coach and you’ve been driving through all these crowds and whole families will be divided. The kids are wearing red and white and the parents blue and white.”
“There would be Phil Thompson and myself, being the best of mates before the game and going for a drink together after it, but during that match we’d both be shouting at each other. They were always my favourite matches to play in, especially when I got the winning goal for Everton after they hadn’t beaten Liverpool in seven years.”
“That did for me more than anything I’ve done in my career. It made me a folk hero up there, got me publicity, and people always mention it. They remember things like that, it is very important to them. Yet, to be honest, although I scored three goals in meetings between the two clubs I always had my best game at Old Trafford against United.”
Andy is no stranger to at least three players at Rangers. “Don Shanks always says that I was his apprentice at Luton, that I cleaned his boots! I think he’s going a bit far there, but it is true I was a junior. Then I’ve been in the England youth squad with Tommy Langley, and I know Wicksie, from the same team. As a footballer you tend to get to know a lot of other players.”
Before we talked Andy had already been training with his new team mates on the all-weather area opposite the White City Estate. I’m glad to see that players from the club are already benefitting from this co-operation between Rangers, Hammersmith Council and the Sports Council.
Reports were that he had gone quite well. He is fully fit, because he has been in regular training at Everton and playing with the reserves. “By the way”, he told me, “Bill Shankly is now a daily visitor to Everton training ground.”
Andy has been almost to the top with Everton. He got a Football League Cup finalists medal when they lost the third of three games with Aston Villa after a goal-less draw in the Final at Wembley. Then he narrowly missed out on a First Division League winners medal when: “One Christmas we were six points clear of the league only to finish fourth.”
‘It’s this that makes me think Rangers can go up. You don’t want to worry about the positions now. It’s at Christmas and Easter when clubs play several matches within the space of a few days that it really matters.”
And he had to admit finally that one of his lucky grounds in the past had been right here at Loftus Road. “I remember a few seasons ago in the First Division, Everton came here for the opening game and we won 4-1. Bob Latchford got two, and I got one of them. I just hope that luck has stayed with me.”
Watching tape of some of his best matches on Thames Sport the other week, so do I. Everyone at Thames was impressed that we had signed him. And they’re not even Rangers fans!’
Andy signed for the R’s from Everton in September 1980 for a fee of ¬£425,000. He made his debut at Sheffield Wednesday later that month and a year later he scored our first goal on the synthetic pitch.
After making 33 appearances and scoring 9 goals, Andy was transferred in September 1981 to West Bromwich Albion for ¬£400,000.
May he Rest in Peace.
(The above pic shows Andy King in action against West Ham in 1980)