Next up in our series of Meet The Player Interviews we caught up with multiple Goal of the Season nominee (and Southampton fan), Andrew Harland to talk about his Football Aid experiences so far – and reveals his favourite goal.
There’s much to discuss so let’s get started ….
Firstly, as part of the warm-up, can you just tell us a bit about yourself and an overview of your football background?
"Firstly, thanks for having me! I’m joining a collection of Football Aid legends (and Mark Feehan) who’ve been interviewed so far. My football background has been fairly ordinary but enjoyable. I’ve been playing competitive football from the age of 8 (it’s been a long game), mainly for junior and school teams, then I stepped up to men’s football at 16, which was a bit of a shock to the system to say the least! This was mainly in and around the Southampton area in Hampshire with a short stint up in Southport Merseyside in the early 90’s. I’ve represented college and university teams at a reasonably high level in their respective divisions and I currently play in the Kingston and District League, where I now co-manage and play."
Similarly, can you tell us which footballers you loved to watch when you were growing up? Also, are there any players in the modern game that you particularly like to watch?
"There’s one that comes to mind right away, the mercurial talent that is Matthew Le Tissier. My first visit to the Dell was in early 1990, we beat Swindon 4-2 in a league cup replay and Matt scored a magnificent free kick from parallel to us in the stand. I was hooked at that moment and I suspect I frustrated a few managers of mine down the years, especially growing up as I was attempting to emulate ‘LeGod’ in my own games by flicking the ball over players and scoring goals from silly distances. He was quite the idol. I’ve bene really lucky as a Southampton fan in this era as we’ve produced and signed some fantastic players, many of which are about to win the Premier League with Liverpool… but if I we’re to choose a few more recent players that I admire, I’d have to have added Ricky Lambert, Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane to that list. James Ward Prowse is a fantastic and underrated player as is Jay Rodriguez. Adam Lallana was a joy to watch, as was Rod Wallace, Alan Shearer, Jimmy Case, Kevin Moore, Kevin Davies and James Beattie. I’ve been reasonably well spoilt. Oh and Ali Dia."
Moving on to your experiences with Football Aid, you have made 33 appearances (scoring an impressive 40 goals!) and made your debut back in 2009. How did you first hear about Football Aid and what are your early memories?
"I think I first found Football Aid in and around 2006, I had seen that the first Football Aid game was at the Dell and as I was unfortunately late to that opportunity, I wanted to get involved as it was a great opportunity to raise money for good causes and play at Southampton. The chance came up in 2009 (sadly just after we had gone into administration), but my earliest memories of the event was a mixture of nervousness and excitement, trying to work out what to wear to the match (!) and trying to ensure I absorbed the day as best as possible. I also remember it was a good group of players and well contested game, even I had run out on the losing side that day.
Other early Football Aid memories would have to include Bolton Wanderers in 2010 as it was boiling hot (and I scored my first two goals), but also that was the day that Blackpool were promoted to the Premier League (I recall the ref signing about it midway through the second half). Blackpool in 2011 (I think that was the first event at Blackpool) was great as my dad and I travelled up together, enjoyed a few days at the seaside and I met a number of the Football Aid regulars for the first time too. I should also mention Stoke City in 2013 as my dad played in Goal that day (in a 2-1 defeat) and pulled off an outstanding reflex save for moment of the match, (he definitely hasn’t told me I had to mention this)."