Hull City

Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger: Andy Payton

21 March 2020
With the break from football continuing, we’re looking back at past programme features with legendary or cult Hull City figures. First up in the series is Andy Payton…

My transfer…
I left home in Burnley to join Hull City at the age of 16 in 1984. Brian Horton had just been given the job as Player/Manager back then and I’d been released by Burnley. I initially joined the club on trial and trained with the apprentices before being given a YTS deal. I worked my way up the ranks at the club after that before signing professional terms. However, when I signed my pro deal, I was actually £7 worse off than when I was an apprentice, which was incredible!

My debut…
I came off the bench in a 1-1 draw away at Stoke in April 1987. To be honest, I don’t really remember too much about that game whatsoever. When you come on as a youngster for your first-ever professional appearance, you don’t have a clue what’s going on and I was no different. I have fond memories of my full debut though, which came against Leeds United the following season, as I scored in the first minute! If I remember rightly, it was played on a Sunday and there were almost 15,000 fans packed into Boothferry Park that day to watch us win 3-1 with Richard Jobson and Alex Dyer scoring the other goals.

My favourite-ever game…
I scored a hat-trick in a 5-4 defeat away at AFC Bournemouth, which is a game I’ll never forget. Another one that sticks in my mind was a 5-2 win against Brighton & Hove Albion at Boothfery Park during the 1988/89 campaign – I only scored two goals in that game though!

My favourite goal…
In that 5-2 victory over Brighton – for one of my goals I picked the ball up on the right-wing and set off on a mazy run. I just kept going and going, beating about five men in the process before finally putting the ball in the back of the net. I know it sounds a bit unbelievable but it really did happen! I scored a few goals against Blackburn Rovers during my time as a Hull City player as well, which, being a Burnley lad, was always a great feeling.

The best player(s) I played with…
There were so many! Dean Windass was a great player and went on to have a fantastic career in the game. We were in the youth ranks together in his first spell at the Club. Flying winger Leigh Jenkinson was another superb player. Then there was Billy Whitehurst, who was an animal in every sense of the word! He was a battering ram of a striker and to get the chance to play alongside him up front was a fantastic experience. In my 20 years in the game though, Keith Edwards was the best finisher I ever saw. He could use both feet and scored goals for fun. He was sometimes branded lazy but boy could he finish. Keith was a big hero of mine as a youngster and someone that I really looked up to.

My best friend(s) at Hull City…
I got on well with Billy Whitehurst but you had to – you daren’t not! In all seriousness though, I would say Mike Smith, who came through the youth ranks at the same time as I did. We were great mates but sadly we’ve lost touch over the years.

My best Tigers memory…
Scoring 25 league goals in the 1990/91 campaign when we finished bottom of Division Two is one achievement that stands out. I picked up the Club’s Player of the Year award that season and almost won the Golden Boot for the Division as well, which would’ve been a decent achievement considering our final league position. Unfortunately, David Hirst scored 27 goals for Sheffield Wednesday that season to ensure it wasn’t to be.

I left Hull City when…
I left to join Middlesbrough in November 1991 but to be honest, I didn’t want to leave. I was more than happy to stay but the Club needed the money. I was basically told in no uncertain terms that I had to leave for the sake of the Club. It was disappointing because I’d just signed a new three-year deal and was more than happy to stay, despite us being relegated the previous season. I was just looking to score the goals to get us back up into Division Two. Dean Windass had just come back to the club and, as a team, we’d just started to click and were picking up some positive results. I’m sure we’d have gone on to win promotion but, unfortunately, the club needed the money so I was moved on. City received an initial £750,000 from Middlesbrough with a further £150,000 when Boro won promotion to the Premier League, which helped to keep the Club afloat.

What Hull City means to me…
Obviously, I’m Burnley through and through but Hull City are without a doubt my second team. Because Hull gave me my chance after Burnley had released me, I grew to love the Club and the city. I was only 16 when I first arrived and spent over eight fantastic years at the club. I scored 57 goals in a Hull City shirt, which wasn’t too bad considering I only started 136 games. In fact, it was good to put it bluntly! I love the Club though and have nothing but fond memories of my time there.

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