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Club News

ANDY RANKIN: 1944 - 2023

22 August 2023

Club News

ANDY RANKIN: 1944 - 2023

22 August 2023

Former Town goalkeeper passes away aged 79

- Andy Rankin passes away aged 79 years old
- Andy was part of Mick Buxton's promotion winning side
- Our thoughts are with his family and friends

Huddersfield Town is saddened to report that former goalkeeper Andy Rankin passed away on 21 August 2023 at the age of 79. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.

Andy, Heritage Number 511, was born in Bootle on 11 May, 1944 and had already enjoyed a fine career by the time he arrived at Leeds Road in December 1979, initially on a month’s loan from Watford. He was 35 years old and had played almost 400 games for Everton and Watford.

Believe it or not, Town had tried to sign him a decade earlier in 1968 with Ian Greaves agreeing a £25,000 fee with Everton. However, the deal fell through due to a 'medical problem'.

Rankin’s arrival at Town 11 years later was out of necessity following an injury to reserve goalkeeper Richard Taylor and with regular goalkeeper Alan Starling having a potential ban looming over him after being sent off against Hereford United in the tunnel after the match. Rankin jumped at the chance as he’d previously worked with Mick Buxton when the Town boss was a coach at Vicarage Road.

After Starling was ruled out through injury, Rankin made his debut on 17 December, 1979 in a 5-1 win over Rochdale. He was then ever-present for the rest of the season, playing 24 times as Town clinched the Fourth Division title in May 1980. Those 24 appearances yielded eight clean sheets as Town scored 101 goals and achieved 66 points (two points for a win in those days). Rankin made the No.1 jersey his own and Starling never played another game.

Going into the 1980/81 season, Rankin remained Town’s first choice between the sticks until he was badly hurt in an FA Cup 3rd Round tie with Shrewsbury Town in January 1981. He had suffered a fractured skull in a collision with Chic Bates and was out of action for a month before returning to reserve team football. Bizarrely, Town had three goalkeepers that day with Steve Kindon taking Rankin’s place before he himself was injured and replaced by Mark Lillis.

For the rest of 1980/81, Rankin’s place was taken by loan signing Neil Freeman except for a solitary match in April 1981 at The Valley against Charlton Athletic. It is a match that sticks long in the memory of Town fans as Rankin put in a fabulous performance to help Town to a 2-1 victory. His performance was even more heroic taking into account just three months before he’d suffered from a fractured skull.

At the time, Town were in the hunt for automatic promotion and were 3rd in the table, so a win was vital for their promotion hopes. Rankin’s goalkeeping performance was memorable and prompted Mick Buxton to say afterwards: “What Andy proved today is that he’s a very, very good goalkeeper and will be playing top level football for a long time”.

Despite those heroics, Neil Freeman returned to the side for the following game and Rankin played no further part that season as Town just missed out on promotion, finishing 4th in the Third Division.

He returned for the 1981/82 season and played in each of Town’s first 13 league matches and during the early stages of that season put in some decent performances but lost his place in November 1981 to reserve goalkeeper Richard Taylor.

He was recalled briefly in February and March 1982 for three games apiece but he never regained the form he’d shown before his injury and his final appearance was in a 2-0 defeat to Bristol Rovers at Leeds Road.

At the end of 1981/82, Rankin was released by the club on a free transfer and retired from the game shortly afterwards at 38 years old. He found work tarmacing roads before driving a mobile hospital clinic for the local hospital. His last job was 18 years as a forklift driver at a printers in Denby Dale before retirement.

Rankin settled in the area after signing for Town and lived in Thongsbridge after his career came to an end. He never returned to Leeds Road or the John Smith’s as he believed in leaving things in the past, but he did allow his medals to be put on show at Canalside in 2017 and there’s plenty of supporters that hold fond memories of a fantastic and popular goalkeeper who was a major part of a successful team that still have a special bond with the supporters. He was Andy Rankin, super goalie.

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