Terras Conference South Winning Legend Andy Harris joined Ben for Terras Podcast #11
You can hear the whole podcast also including Jason Matthews and Andreas Robinson HERE
Ben Ashelford: Andy, THE Nottingham Forest game, you scored the 51st minute headed equaliser, what are your memories of that day? Theoretically, whatever else you did in your career you could live on that goal for many a generation…
Andy Harris: I probably still do if I’m perfectly honest, and I like it, don’t get me wrong. Most times when I’m out in Weymouth or whatever, someone is happy to remember it, I’m always happy to remember it!
It means so much to the people that travelled up there and were at the game I don’t get bored of talking about it, I remember after the Cambridge United game when we’d won in the previous round, Hilly was talking to us and we heard a massive roar from the bar upstairs and we said “We’ve got someone big here” and Nottingham Forest was about as big as we could get in that first round, They’d been European Champions etc so as soon as the draw was made and we knew we were travelling up to The City Ground we were really, really looking forward to it. We were not daunted by it at all, we had lots of lads who had played league football and had plenty of games under their belt, we just saw it as an opportunity to go up there and to have a go and do justice to the two and a half thousand fans that travelled up there and took over trains and busses and all the places around Nottingham.
My memory of the goal is that they scored just before half time and it was sort of “OK lads lets not let it knock us, we are still massively in this game”. I remember Wilko taking a corner and I remember getting in between a couple of the Forest defenders and I just thought “This is right on my head here” and I remember making a great connection and then in slow motion I watched the ball go right into the top corner, then it was mayhem, the travelling fans went mad they were falling over each other I went over to them, then before I knew it Roy O’Brien jumped over my shoulders sort of leapfrogged me and then everyone else sort of piled on, I was always pretty disciplined when I was playing and straight away I was like “come on lads, let’s get ourselves back on it because we’ve got half a chance here”. It was a great day, I’ve lived in the town for 15 years now, and friends of mine who live in the town love to talk about there day and travelling up by train and I’m always happy to talk about it, it means so much to the people of the town and I’m always happy to relive it.
BH: We’ve heard it from Jason and some previous guests, were you surprised at the support and the size of the club when you first came to Weymouth?
AH: I was Ben, I was in League 2 with Chester and Id been on loan at Forest Green and I’d done quite well, they had offered me a contract. And it was Gary Calder who rang me, he said: “Andy, I know you’ve been offered a contract with Forest Green but would you would consider coming down to talk to us at Weymouth?”. I remember coming down and seeing the ground, I remember coming out into the stand up near the director’s box and thinking, this is a proper football club and what Garry & Kev were telling me about full-time training. Tied in with the fact that it’s a seaside town, I had two very young kids and it all seemed to make sense, I was 28 I still wanted to play full time, and when I saw the calibre of players that they were signing it became a no-brainer, I actually turned down a three-year contract with Forest Green in the end in favour of a 1-year contract at Weymouth but a proper football club with a really, really good fan base.
BH: You came back for a second stint after your time at Eastleigh, you obviously had a connection to the club, after all that has gone on and the board getting us back to being a serious club do you still follow what’s going on?
AH: My lad goes to the games Ben, he’s 15 now and attached to Bournemouth Academy but he stands behind the goal at Weymouth games with his mates. I don’t get to as many games as I’d like because of other things going on but I certainly keep an eye out for the results.
I’ve known Mark Molesley since I played against him when he played for Cambridge City, and we knew Aldershot were looking at him. He was a quality player and he obviously went on to have a good playing career. He’s doing brilliantly now and he’s doing it the right way, I also know Tom Prodomo I’ve known Tom for quite a few years and they’ve incorporated a real professional mentality into their approach and the way they go about their business, they squeeze every last drop out of what they’ve been given.
BH: You started out at Liverpool around about the time of the “Spice Boys” and the 96 F.A Cup final. Were you aware of many of the first team players?
AH: Yeah, I joined straight from school in 93 and was in the reserves after a couple of months when I was 16 playing with the likes of Jan Molby, John Barnes, Bruce Grobelaar was just on his way out, and Ronnie Whelan, absolute legends of Liverpool and sort of a new school had arrived, but in the reserves, Mark Wright arrived Nigel Clough, Tony Warnock was involved, he’s still a good friend of mine. Neil Ruddock, I was Razor’s boot boy, so I knew what was going on with him.
BH: Looking back at your playing days, do you miss it, you are still involved in football aren’t you?
AH: Until recently I was still working for the FA delivering level 1 & Level 2 Coaching courses for coaches. I am still Chairman of Weymouth Cougars Youth football so I am still heavily involved in Youth Football in the area, but any player there is no better feeling than having your boots on, training every day with your mates and then getting ready to go and tear it up a little bit on a Saturday. I don’t think you can ever really replace that.
BH: Would you advise players to keep going as long as you can?
AH: Absolutely, I know when you’ve had a few injuries etc it’s easy to look over the fence and think, I’m fed up with this, I cant be doing this anymore, but I would always advise someone to keep playing, it doesn’t have to be at the top level, Jase was just talking about going to Bracknell and playing at a lower level, I had a couple of great seasons playing for Portland and I loved it, won a Dorset Premier League with them had a great time with a great dressing room. But to play is THE best thing.
BH: Do you have a last message for the club or the fans?
AH: Only really that I had a wonderful time & I’ve lived in the town probably longer than I lived in Liverpool, so I thank the fans for always making us so welcome. And I want to see the club do really well.