Jimmy Andrews, who has died aged 85, was Cardiff City’s manager when the Bluebirds slipped into the third division in 1975 for the first time since the 1940s. Yet he led the club straight back up, and also presided over an enthralling FA Cup run with stunning victories over Spurs and Wrexham. (I blogged about City’s 1977 FA Cup run during our even more remarkable 2008 campaign.)
I started going to Ninian Park regularly during that promotion season of 1975/76. Cardiff struggled in early games against the likes of Halifax and Bury, but I was hooked with a series of thrillers – especially a 4-3 Friday night win against Chesterfield on my 12th birthday and a 2-0 victory against league leaders Hereford. (I was one of 35,000 who watched that one!)
Jimmy Andrews deserves credit for the success he enjoyed during his time as manager. (The 25 years that followed proved bleaker, with long years in the old third and fourth divisions.) He showed he was ready to take a gamble, signing Robin Friday, one of the most exotic players to wear City’s (old) colours. I saw Friday on his debut on 1 January 1977 against Fulham. I went mainly to see George Best, who was then playing for Fulham. (I should have known that Best would never have turned up on New Year’s day…) But I saw Friday score two against Bobby Moore’s team. Friday soon proved too wild for Andrews to tame – as he may have suspected when his new player was arrested on his way to sign for Cardiff for travelling using a platform ticket.
I didn’t realise back then that Jimmy Andrews was a former West Ham player. Until his death this month he was the oldest surviving former Hammer.
PS: the cutting below refers to a league game with Chelsea, then in the old second division. Not easy times for the future European champions!