Photo: Lancaster City FC

Away from the rigours of a football season, and a day job that is nothing if not demanding, Andy Teague has found enjoyment and release in some of the physical challenges the great outdoors has in store. The experienced defender has made it to the mountain top more than once just lately, and with the 2020/21 season in sight, he is out to reach the promotion summit again, 15 months on from play-off glory with Chorley.

He starts the upcoming campaign in new yet familiar surroundings, having rejoined former club Lancaster City after the conclusion to his near-decade stint at Chorley. The former Magpies skipper took some time out here to share his thoughts on a mixed bag of matters…

 

Coming back to Lancaster City, you know the club already, but tell me about those conversations with (manager) Mark (Fell) about joining this time around.

Yeah, he touched base just before we knew what would happen with the season with Chorley. He expressed his interest in bringing me back to the club, saying he wanted to go for promotion this season. Obviously they did well last year, 5th in the (Northern Premier Division), so they just wanted a few more experienced players and people who’ve been there and done it. He just sold the club to me. I knew a lot of the players as well already, so it was a no-brainer really, once I realised what was going on at Chorley.

On that point, you said it was probably the right time to leave Chorley. Even with the budget cuts and the club going in a different direction next season, was there still a slight thought of ‘maybe I’ll stick around anyway’? Or was it not feasible?

I probably could have stuck around but I didn’t just wanna be a bit-part player. I think the role Vermo (manager Jamie Vermiglio) wanted me to have was more of a player-coach and to be in the team when needed, but I’ve still got a lot to give, so I feel like I can help Lancaster. I’m not just going there at the end of my career just to pick up money, I wanna go there to carry on winning stuff, like I have done at Chorley. That was one of the key reasons I’ve gone there, because I feel like they’ve got a squad that’s capable of challenging for the title.

With the season shutdown and everything else, what have these last few months been like for you? How has it impacted on your overall routine etc.?

For me personally, being a carer, not a lot has really changed, apart from just not training on the football side. I’ve been working six/seven days a week, so that aspect of work life has been the same. It’s just good now getting back out playing footy, going to training, playing matches. Not a lot’s really changed. I’ve been doing a lot of bike riding, a lot of fell running, just doing different activities that I can do, with the gym being closed.

Last season with Chorley, how much could you enjoy being with the club at that level (National League), having worked so hard to get promoted, when it’s such a slog to try and compete? Could you still enjoy it?

It was enjoyable because it was the same nucleus of lads that have been there for three/four years, so we got up there together. It was an experience, it was just a shame that we couldn’t get the results that would have took us from the bottom to a mid-table team. We were always in the games, it wasn’t that we were out-battled or outplayed, we just sometimes lacked that killer instinct and I think that was our downfall in the end, but we did ourselves proud. At one stage, it looked like the league was gonna be void, so Chorley would have stayed in the league, but it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve no doubt Chorley next year will crack on with the new players and be challenging for promotion again.

How have you approached being a captain over the years? Will you have a lot of conversations with the lads, what’s your style?

My style was always I’m there for the lads whenever, but if someone’s not pulling their weight, I’ll say my piece in the dressing room. Then afterwards, when it’s all calmed down, I’ll pull them aside and see if they realised why I’ve said that and try and learn from the mistakes as a team. It seemed to work throughout the years and we’ve always had a good squad. That’s a reason why Chorley’s done so well for all those years; due to having a good team spirit and a good nucleus of players.

Thinking back over the managers you’ve had so far, what sort of approach has worked best for you personally? Obviously some players work better than others from a manager riling them up etc.

Personally for me, if you can’t get yourself up for a football game then I don’t think anyone can get you up for it. Garry Flitcroft brought me to Chorley and he had a big influence on me enjoying football again and making me become a winner. Matt Jansen took over, he played for Chorley and then he was the assistant, and he had a more gentle approach to the game but got his point across; Garry was more of a dominating figure.

In the time you had at Macclesfield, it coincided with Brian Horton being manager, as well as Paul Ince, Keith Alexander. For a young player at the time, was it ever intimidating being around these figures, or were you just taking everything in?

Yeah, you know you’re going into a man’s game; if someone can’t give you a telling-off or get their point across in an aggressive way then I don’t think you should be in the game. They always pulled you aside after and spoke to you and coached you, so as long as you’re always learning, I don’t think it can hinder you. I always learned as an 18/19-year-old coming into the first team, and I’m still learning now at 34, obviously with Felly as my new manager. I picked up a lot from each individual manager over time, and hopefully, one day, I can put them all together and become a manager myself.

Of the many characters you’ve been around in football, who are some examples who spring to mind straight away?

The best one who always stands out is from when I first joined Chorley, a lad called Dale Whitham. He was so quiet when I first signed but one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met, and crazy with it as well. Scotty Leather’s one of the funniest guys in football. There’s quite a few individuals; there’s that many I could be here all day naming them all.

Over the time you’ve been in non-league, we’ve seen football in general change in various ways, in terms of what surrounds it perhaps. Is it more or less enjoyable now?

It’s still enjoyable, it’s just adapted over the years; I wouldn’t say it’s like non-league now. The National League’s more or less a professional league, and lower down, it’s getting more professional. The standard’s getting very high because a lot of people seem to want to do a career outside of football while still playing, so essentially, a lot of very good players now wanna go to uni or get an apprenticeship but still enjoy the football side.

Growing up, which team did you support? Are you from Preston?

Yeah, I’m a Preston fan, unfortunately. I got released from Preston at 16 but I used to go to all the games with my dad; now my dad follows me everywhere when I play. But yeah, mad Preston fan.

In terms of individual opponents you’ve had, do any stand out for the test they gave you, verbal battles you had, whatever it may be?

To be fair, a teammate now, Matty Blinkhorn. When he was at Fylde, we always used to have good battles. We had a little battle the other day in training; I was like ‘this brings back memories, dunnit?!’ He started laughing and he was like ‘yeah, I’m staying away from you in training now, I can’t be bothered scrapping with you.’

Are there any players you’ve played alongside whose ability alone belonged at a higher level? Anyone who’d do things in training or in a game that had some of that real ‘wow factor’?

Yeah, players like Nick Haughton, for example, who’s still at Fylde now. Just recently as well, Alex Newby; he could win a game out of nothing. I think if you see his goal highlights from last season, 30 yards, all different volleys and stuff. He’s 24 now but he’s just got his move to Rochdale, so I can see him pushing on even higher now. There’s always players who’ve got that little bit of magic and those two do stand out quite a bit.

As a player or personality, have there ever been any misconceptions/myths about you? Or generally a fair impression?

Yeah, the way I am on a pitch is quite aggressive, quite angry, I don’t back out of tackles, so when lads come and sign, say at Chorley, a few weeks later they say ‘I never expected you to be like this, I thought you were a bit of a nutter.’ It’s just because I wanna win on a pitch, but off it, I’m like a gentle giant.

Being at Chorley for a long time has probably meant getting away with it, but have you ever had to sing for your teammates over the years?

Yeah, to be fair, I don’t mind singing; I’m not very good. I always rap DJ Pied Piper ‘Do You Really Like It?’ – that’s my song. We’ve been given a challenge at Lancaster now by Glenn Steel to do our initiation for the first game of the season, so I’ve got to start thinking and come up with something. Quite nerve-racking really, because obviously I’ve been at Chorley for so many years.

Finally, away from work, away from football, are there any other interests you have that help switch you off and bring a different enjoyment?

Work switches me off, it’s completely different to football, but I recently started doing a lot of fell running, and walking; I recently did Snowdonia, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike over the last six weeks. I do a lot of bike riding. Just those sorts of things to keep me busy and switch my mind off things.

Interview by @chris_brookes

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