AS a boyhood Burnley fan, playing for and scoring a bagful of goals for the Clarets is as good as it gets.
As the title of Andy Payton’s autobiography suggests, he was “LIVING THE DREAM!”.
And to make the launch of the Padiham Predator’s new book, Express Sport has some exclusive extracts to whet the appetite.
The book, written by Gavin Roper, will be launched at a special charity night at the Usha restaurant on Rossendale Road, Burnley on Thursday, December 15th from 7 p.m.
Tickets, priced at £18, include a three-course meal, comedian and Q&A with Payton, to raise money for the Alzheimers Society and Nelson Manor Care Centre.
For more details, contact Gavin on 07720 710325.
Books, priced £15m can be ordered from www.andypayton.com
Rejection at Burnley, and returning with Barnsley
Let’s get one thing straight. I’m a lifelong Burnley fan.
It was always my dream to play for them, and therefore when I was released by my beloved Clarets as a kid, I was devastated.
So imagine my feelings the day I finally got to play on the sacred ground of Turf Moor – but not as a Claret.
Instead I was in the colours of opponents Barnsley, and sure enough, I silenced the very fans I used to stand with on the terraces by grabbing the winning goal.
But I didn’t celebrate as a player normally would, and if you understand my feelings and emotions on that day, you’d know why.
Put it this way, I’d played in the Old Firm clash in Glasgow before I came to Turf Moor that day with Barnsley, and I felt more nervous than I did when I played for Celtic against Rangers in front of 60,000, and that’s a fact.
I can recall vividly the day I was released by Burnley. When I was told I was basically devastated, absolutely devastated.
I was 16 years old at the time, Burnley born and bred and went on every home game.
I had signed schoolboy forms with the Clarets and I had turned down Hull after I had also signed schoolboy forms for them when I was 13.
Burnley took on 10 lads that year on the old YTS scheme, which was free for them as all costs were paid by the Government.
If I had been taken on, I could have lived at home with my parents and it would have been great.
So when I was knocked back, it was a double whammy really.
Not only were they saying to me that they did not think I was good enough, but as I said the scheme was free for them and they still didn’t want me.
That made it worse and I can’t describe how devastated I was.
Ashley Hoskin was taken on that year, but he was the only one of that intake that made it.
All the others got released. Hoskin is the stand out one because he actually broke into the first team at Burnley when he was quite young.
Right at the end of training at Middlesbrough, as I was about to go home, I got pulled by the manager and he said Celtic wanted me and I was going up for talks at 9 a.m. the next day.
So I have got to get hold of my agent and find out what he knows and whether I’m doing his job for him?
So I called him.
“Hiya Eddie, it’s Andy Payton,” I said.
“Alright, son,” Eddie Gray replied.
“Have you heard owt about owt?”
“Because I’m going to Celtic in the morning for talks.
“And you’ve got to come with me because you’re my f****** agent.”
So he gave it a bit of flannel and tried to make out that he might have known about it, but he’d broken his wrist so he couldn’t drive and my dad ended up offering him a lift. It was farcical.
It just shows you don’t know what you are going to get with agents.
Anyway, I’d never even been to Glasgow, never mind Celtic, before, so we’d no idea where we were going.
We got to a mile away from Parkhead but couldn’t find the ground, even though we were frantically trying, and we eventually got there about half an hour late for talks, with Eddie Gray following behind us in a car driven by one of his other sons.
We ended up asking directions from these two drunken blokes.
“Oy, mate. Wheres’ Parkhead?” I said.
“Are you taking the p***?” he said, and I turned round and it was there over my shoulder, as big as Wembley Stadium!
Big Billy Whitehurst, the striker, was an absolute legend at Hull and the hardest man I have ever come across inside or outside football.
He was about 15 stone built like a brick s*** house and was rock hard.
I was s*** scared of him but when I played up front with him, it was great because he’d create havoc and make space for me and I’d pick up the pieces.
On this occasion, we’d had a really hard training session and I’d got in the big communal bath we used to use and I was just laid there.
Billy and a couple of the other players had got in and I had my eyes shut because I was just so knackered. Billy came alongside me and had a s*** right next to me.
I didn’t know as I still had my eyes shut as this big log floated up alongside me.
Everyone had got out of the bath by this stage and Billy was just sat there when I opened my eyes and turned to look at this log.
“What the f****** hell is that?” I shouted as jumped out of bath.
Billy was so hard I just had to laugh it off, because to be honest he would have t***** me if I hadn’t a started laughing.
Looking back now, it was quite funny I suppose but it just shows what it was like with Billy.
When I played alongside him, he was so hard if he made a mistake I always had to agree it was my fault.
When he went to Newcastle, he played in the same team as Paul Gascoigne and I think Gazza wrote in his book that he once nutmeged him in training and thought: “F****** hell, what have I just done?” because Billy was after lynching him for that.
He is a legend in Hull and he was a brilliant striker as well.
He was hard but 100% wholehearted and he’d get you goals.
He was a battering ram but brilliant for a young striker to play alongside.