You Can't Take Carlisle From the BoyHow I Love Your Rancid Breath..........
If you ever find yourself with a spare four minutes and twelve seconds and You Tube available at the tap of a few keys you could amuse yourself by typing in 'Buxton vs Bradford PA.' On some search engines a simple searching of 'Andy Brownrigg + You Tube' will lead you to this same video. I first came across the legend that is Andy Brownrigg when someone fresh from laughing over the You Tube footage took the trouble to alert fellow message boarders at CUFC Online.
What you get for your trouble is some shaky footage shot on the terraces at Buxton's modest Silverlands stadium, the two teams appear to be fighting out an inconclusive and less than stunning semi-pro encounter, but the real entertainment is on the terraces, where a full-throated hymn to Mr Brownrigg is being unleashed. Praise doesn't come any more ironic than the torrent of abuse being poured out in a song listing the many unique qualities. The song in question owes an obvious debt to an ironic song of support once used by Stockport County supporters to 'encourage' their own Arthur Brownlow. Each verse gets longer as another item is added to the list of their 'How I love your……..,' items.
Amongst the things Buxton's fans 'love' about Andy Brownrigg are his: swinging tits, knobbly knees, beer belly, two left feet, rancid breath and squinty eye.
I've watched the video a few times and I'll confess, I've yet to spot any player obviously less talented and more-ugly than any other. The strange thing about the song and the moment it captures is that it represents something of a high point in the career of the wayward Andy Brownrigg. Brownrigg became a cult hero in football because of his habit of following hopeful transfers with spells in the reserves at his new club, and lengthy spells on loan to clubs way below the level of his official employers.
Career wise it started well, eight games for Hereford followed by a six figure transfer to Norwich City, for whom he never played first team football. Kettering Town got some benefit from a loan spell before Andy moved to Rotherham, and soon out on loan at Stalybridge Celtic. The glamour days were all but over before Andy was properly into his twenties. Put it this way, if they made a film of his life, it would probably work better in black and white. If we discount Conference level games Andy has made just 10 senior appearances, including two in an ill-starred spell with cash-strapped Greenock Morton at the start of the 21st century.
Honours wise Brownrigg played 20 games as Kidderminster Harriers romped to the Conference title in 1999-2000. Brownrigg had prospered under the management of another much maligned soccer star - Jan Molby - but after his team finished nine points above Rushden, and set off for five years in the professional leagues, Brownrigg's reward was that nightmare transfer to Greenock Morton. The irony is that the next time he would feature as a key player in a championship winning side, it would be at Buxton, which is where the You Tube clip finds him. As his Wikipedia page notes, Andy…..Was a virtual ever-present the following season when the Bucks won the NCEL Premier League title and was very popular with the supporters at the Silverlands.
These supporters had 46 starts and 5 substitute appearances to embellish the vivid descriptions in the song but - once the club were promoted - their cult hero was - typically - on his way again. Career wise it has been a trawl of places on the very edges of football reality - Ossett Albion, Maltby Main, Hallam and - when last heard of - Staveley Miners Welfare.
Don't feel too sorry for Andy, he is apparently working towards a Sport and Exercise Psychology BA so he is clearly no slouch in terms of brain power, and he has kept that playing career alive in the face of a mind numbing succession of minnow clubs, so you have to credit his staying power and resilience. Andy will be 33 this year, looking forward, presumably, to a year or two more of pleasing the crowds and enjoying his underground notoriety.
Watching Workington or others at that level from time to time I've come to find a grudging admiration for those players whose love of the game drives them on in the face of poor crowds and poor wages. If you write off those clearly young enough and talented enough to hope they can climb the ladder, and those with a glittering past behind them, you find plenty for whom the chance to shine for a few hundred die-hards is the nearest to glory they will ever know.
Their best moments reach a wider audience only on You Tube and when their names are mentioned over pints either side of a game those clustered in the pub would probably be insufficient to fill one level of a double decker bus. If Andy Brownrigg and the hymn of praise heaped upon him by the Buxton fans puts one of these players in front of an audience of several thousand, it isn't such a bad thing. For all the barbs in the song, there's a sense of celebration, almost love, in the voices as they egg on one footballer who can truly claim to be a living cult hero. Go Andy!
Neil Nixon is editing a book of stories written by supporters of Carlisle United, all profits will go to the Football in the Community scheme at Carlisle United. Your contribution is welcome. For details of how to get involved go to www.neilnixon.com and click on the books page.