Andy Peake

Former Player Remembers: Andy Peake

When Leicestershire-born former England youth international midfielder Andy Peake spoke to Club Historian & Archivist John Hutchinson, the conversation covered his career in football, which included 162 games for Leicester City between 1978 and 1985.
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He went on to play for Grimsby Town, and in the top flight for Charlton Athletic and Middlesbrough. Andy was promoted with both Leicester and Middlesbrough, where he scored some spectacular goals.

Born in Market Harborough, Andy was taken to Filbert Street by his father as a six-year-old: “I have always been a Leicester fan. I went down to my first game in 1967 with my dad, who used pass me over the turnstiles. You didn’t pay for youngsters in those days!

“I played for Enderby Juniors between the ages of 11 and 16, where I was spotted by Leicester City. In those days, you signed schoolboy forms at 14 and went to coaching sessions on Tuesday and Thursday nights but my dad decided not to let me go to those but to keep playing with my mates at Enderby. The same happened to Dave Buchanan and Neil Grewcock (two other youngsters who went on to play for City). I’m not knocking those coaching sessions but when we three became apprentices at 16, on £16 per week, the other apprentices on schoolboy forms hadn’t quite improved at the same rate.   

“Being full-time apprentices, getting fitter and playing with better players improved us dramatically. As an apprentice, I fitted in quite well. Sometimes manager Jock Wallace would send a couple of us across to play with the first team to make the numbers up. It was a massive step up but I really enjoyed it. I got included quite early on in a couple of squads as 13th man and got a feel for the first team.

“I made my debut on 6 January, 1979 as a 17-year-old against Norwich City at home in the FA Cup. We won 3-0. It was icy... Keith Weller (in his last game for the Club) wore his white tights. I was playing against household names and it was great. I was on £20 per week.

[Wallace] was writing at his desk. He looked up over his glasses and said: ‘Have a seat son. What’s on your mind?’ He carried on writing. I sat down, shaking in my boots. I told him I had played half a dozen games and that I thought I deserved a professional contract. His only response was a two-word expletive. Nothing else!

Andy Peake

“I played a few games. Eddie Kelly, a great player who was brilliant for me, took me under his wing. He told me to ask Big Jock, who petrified me, for a professional contract. I plucked up courage, made an appointment and walked into his office. He was at his desk. It was a long room with wooden panels and with pictures of Glasgow Rangers on the wall. He always told us that until we won something, our photo wouldn’t be up there. He was writing at his desk. He looked up over his glasses and said: ‘Have a seat son. What’s on your mind?’ He carried on writing. I sat down, shaking in my boots. I told him I had played half a dozen games and that I thought I deserved a professional contract. His only response was a two-word expletive. Nothing else! I said: ‘Okay boss. Thanks very much for seeing me’. And I walked out of the office. That was it!

“About two weeks later, he called me into his office after training. He said: ‘Right. There’s a contract for you. Take it or leave it. I’ll tell you when you get a contract by the way. You don’t tell me!’ I signed. I was on £75 per week. Big Jock was brilliant. A fantastic bloke. The best of managers and the best of men.

“At about this time, I was in the shadow squad for the England youth team as cover. We had played at Charlton. At about 11 o’clock that Saturday night, Big Jock phoned me. He told me someone had dropped out, and that I was to meet up with the England youth squad at Lancaster Gate to go to the Olympic Stadium in Rome to play Italy. I had to get to Filbert Street the next morning to collect my passport. They used to keep your passport at Filbert Street in those days

“I was 17. I had never been abroad or on a plane. My dad took me down to the ground. Big Jock gave me a train ticket to London and my passport. He told me not to get injured. On the train, I opened up my passport which I’d never seen before. There was £100 inside it. Absolutely brilliant man-management by Big Jock!

“I got 13 England youth and Under-20s caps. We won the European Championships in East Germany in 1980. We flew to West Berlin, went through Checkpoint Charlie and then down to Leipzig, where we were based. We won that tournament, and qualified for Under-20s World Cup in Australia in October 1981. We reached the semi-finals but then lost to Qatar.”

Andy, became an established first team player following his debut. The Club stayed in the Second Division in his first season (1979/80) and were promoted as champions in 1980/81, with Wallace famously predicting his side could win the First Division title.

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Leicester City 1980/81

Wallace's 1980/81 Leicester City side.

Back in the top flight, Leicester City lost their first two games and then faced league champions Liverpool, when Andy scored a goal that will always be remembered by City fans.

He added: “I scored that goal early on in August. I was full of confidence after scoring that goal. Playing in the First Division was a big jump. We beat Leeds in the next game and then played West Brom in the League Cup. In the replay at Filbert Street, I broke my leg in a tackle with Remi Moses. That came at a really bad time because I was absolutely buzzing. I was out until November. When you come back, you lose a little bit of confidence. I’d had a crack in the tibia which wasn’t put in plaster. I was only out for about eight weeks. I probably came back a little bit too soon.”

Later that season, after his comeback, Andy was a regular in the side which completed the double over Liverpool by beating them at Anfield.  

Andy explained: “They hadn’t lost at Anfield for 85 games and we went up there and won. But we were relegated at the end of the season. We had probably been promoted a year too soon. Had we just missed out and become a little bit battle hardened, and then gone up the next year, I think that team would have been successful for a number of years.”

The following season Wallace’s young side reached 1982 FA Cup Semi-Final: “We had a great cup run. We started off against Southampton, beating them 3-1 at Filbert Street. Youngy (Alan Young) scored with a great header. Then we played at Hereford in the fourth round, which was probably the hardest game. We won 1-0. Larry May scored. In the fifth round, we beat Watford 2-0 at home. Then came the sixth round tie at home against Shrewsbury when we had to play with three 'keepers. Chic Bates put a hole in Wally’s (Mark Wallington’s) leg, causing him to miss his first game for seven years. Youngy went into goal, got injured, was replaced by Steve Lynex until Youngy came back. We won 5-2. This took us to the semi-final against Spurs, one of the biggest games I had played in. We were a good side and should have got promoted that season but we didn’t turn up for the semi-final. Ian Wilson scored an own goal and Tommy Williams broke his leg. Tottenham had some great players: [Osvaldo] Ardiles and [Glenn] Hoddle, with [Garth] Crooks and [Steve] Archibald up front. The reason we lost was because we froze. From that day onwards, I thought that whatever sport I’m playing in, if I fail it wouldn’t be because I was nervous.”

Wallace left at the end of that season, to be replaced by Gordon Milne.

I picked the ball up on the half-way line, ran with it and just let fly from about 25 yards at the Kop end. The second one was a half volley, after a bit of jinking on the edge of the box, at the Filbert Street end.

Andy Peake

Andy remembered: “Big Jock leaving was a real shock. Gordon came in. We went to Devon on a pre-season and I got a terrible injury against Plymouth. It was a bad scissors tackle. Apparently someone heard my ankle ligament snap about 50 yards away. I was out for more or less the season. The injury was very frustrating. Towards the end of the previous season, I had got an Under-21s cap against Poland at West Ham. I’d done okay and I was getting into that scene. The injury meant that I wasn’t really involved in Gordon’s first season when we got promoted again. Gerry Daly came in on loan half-way through that year and he was a brilliant player. 

“Towards the end of that promotion season, I went over on my ankle again at Oldham in the last five minutes so I spent all of the next summer trying to get right.”

Once he had got fit, Andy was a regular again in that first season back in First Division in 1983/84.

Thinking back, Andy was at pains to point out: “Everybody remembers my goal against Liverpool in August 1980 which was on the TV and was against Ray Clemence. But in April 1984 I scored a goal against Liverpool in a 3-3 draw at Filbert Street. I think was a better goal, but no one remembers it! I hit the ball on the half-volley from about 20 yards out. It went a yard above the ground and it was still going up as it hit the back of the net.”

A month earlier, Andy also scored a couple of memorable goals against Watford: “The game was on Match of the Day. For the first goal, I picked the ball up on the half-way line, ran with it and just let fly from about 25 yards at the Kop end. The second one was a half-volley, after a bit of jinking on the edge of the box, at the Filbert Street end.”

Andy then explained why he went to Grimsby Town in August 1985 for £100,000: “The following season I was a bit in and out. Gordon was an exceptional manager. He knew his stuff and had been a top player. The first team coach felt that I needed to get down and hurry and scurry more, but I am not that sort of player. I like to see a pass and play with my head up. So, when came Grimsby came in, I thought I would take a step back and get regular football again. We were pushing for promotion to the top flight at one stage.”

After a year at Grimsby, Andy moved to Lenny Lawrence’s Charlton Athletic, who had just been promoted to the old First Division.  

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Andy Peake

Andy enjoyed a successful spell at Charlton later in his career.

He continued: “I had four years in the top division at Charlton, but finances got the better of us and we got relegated. 

“That summer (1991), Lenny Lawrence went to Middlesbrough as manager. He came in for me in October. I am the only player he ever signed twice. Middlesbrough had some really good players. They were a top club. I must mention Steve Gibson, their chairman. A fantastic bloke. Middlesbrough born and bred. A real supporter who has done well in life.

“When I went there, I was about 30 and slowing down a bit so I developed into a holding midfield player, sitting in front of the back four. This helped improve our away form. We got promoted and played in the first-ever Premier League season (1992/93).

“We got off to a good start but petered out and we got relegated. Funnily enough, I had a good season. For the first time in my career, I got the Players’ Player of the Year award which meant a lot to me.”

By this time Andy was thinking about life after football: “I was at the end of my contract and Middlesbrough offered me another year or a free transfer, but Lenny had left. He offered me a coach’s job at Bradford. Northampton manager John Barnwell offered me a three-year contract. Terry Neill, the old Arsenal manager, asked me to go to Hong Kong. I was also offered an opportunity in Cyprus.

“However, I knew I would have to work after my playing days. I had to think about the next 25 years. When I was at Charlton, I had two friends in the Met. The camaraderie and team work of the police appealed to me. I had applied to the Leicestershire Police force the year before and I put it off, but they couldn’t keep it open forever, so I called it a day and joined. I spent the next 22 years as a police officer before retiring in 2016.”

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