Andy Holdsworth: “It was a huge relief to finally get promoted”

Simon Bullock chatted to former Lions captain Andy Holdsworth about his time with the club, leading the side to promotion and his move into coaching at Barnsley & Sheffield Wednesday.

Q: You made your debut for Huddersfield Town aged 19, making 39 appearances that season. What was the feeling like to make your professional debut and did you expect to play as much as you did in that season?

A: It was a fantastic feeling to make my debut and something that I had always dreamed of doing from a young age. To be honest no I didn’t. The club had just come out of administration, so experienced players were coming in daily to fill the squads to supplement us young lads who had just become professional, but to be given the opportunity was great.

Q: At the end of the 2007-08 season you won the award for Huddersfield Town Player of The Year, how proud of a moment was that for yourself?

A: That award isn’t not something you aim for, it’s a reward for the overall season. It’s always nice to given accolades for what you give to the team for a full season and to be noticed by the fans meant a lot.

Q: In total you played 231 times for Huddersfield, would you like to have stayed there longer or did you feel it was time to move on to a new challenge at the end of your contract?

A: It got to a point in my career where I needed a change. I’d been at the club since I was 11 years old and seen lots of friends and managers come and go. With football, it’s a short career and I wanted to see how other clubs worked, so I made the decision to move on. I was coming up to being 28 and time was running out.

Q: After spells with Oldham Athletic, Morecambe and Alfreton Town, Steve Kittrick signed you for Guiseley. How did the move come about and what made you feel like it was the next step to take in your career?

A: I’d just come back from Colorado Rapids. I was there after the season had finished to sign, but the conditions weren’t right for me and my wife at that time. I signed for Alfreton to get fit and play games, but it was on a non-contract basis. A year before, I’d just been out for 12 months with a knee problem, so I needed a little bit of security which Steve and Guiseley gave me with a contract. Training two nights a week was easier for me with my knee problem and helped me look at what to do after my career finished.

Q: At the start of the 2014-15 season you were made club captain. Did that make you personally, more determined than ever to get promotion, especially after the heartbreaks of previous years?

A: No, not really. I was a senior member of the squad, which meant I was a leader within the dressing room anyway. I said to Steve when I signed that the aim is promotion and won’t leave until it’s done due to the commitment, he and the club had shown me.

Q: By the end of the season you had captained the club into the play offs and scored the decisive goal at Fylde to put Guiseley through to the final against Chorley. What was that moment like for yourself to step up and deliver at such a crucial time?

A: It could have been any one of us who scored at that time within that game, due to us being dominant over the two legs.

Q: Then in the final, from 2-0 down to 3-2 up, when the final whistle went and you lifted the trophy above your head after the match, what was the overriding emotion for yourself to have played such a role in getting the club promoted to the National League for the first time in its history?

A: We had finally achieved what we set out to do. Football is a weird sport with so many different emotions, more low ones than high. It was a huge relief to finally get promoted after the heartbreaks. The final itself was strange because we turned up late, conceded two goals and I remember sitting in the dressing room at half time with Bosh saying we that we needed to score quickly. We kept banging on to the players that the next goal was crucial and thankfully we got it. What happened afterwards is history.

Q: Not long after, you retired from playing. Did it feel like the right decision to make, to bow out on such a high point?

A: Yes, I always said that as soon as promotion happened it was time to retire. The focal point from the moment I signed was to get promoted, it just took longer than expected. It was nice for me because it meant I started and finished my career with a promotion.

Q: After retirement, you took up the role of Youth Development Phase coach at Barnsley. Was coaching something that you had always wanted to go into and what did that role entail?

A: I always had a plan to stay in the game after retiring. Coaching was the route due to being connected to players daily. I did my badges and sports science degree whilst playing, to prepare myself. The role itself was to develop individuals from 12-16 years old to gain a scholarship with the club. I managed part time staff daily to develop the playing principles and positional criteria’s set by Barnsley FC to help players to progress through their system.

Q: After six years at Barnsley, you then moved on to local rivals Sheffield Wednesday to become Professional Development Phase Manager, primarily working with the U18s. What made the move come about and is your current job any different to the one you had at Barnsley?

A: I got offered the job at Sheffield Wednesday to work with the U18’s, which was the next stage of my development/career as a coach. The U18’s age group is there to prepare them to get a professional contract, developing them through their individual learning plan to improve strengths and weaknesses in line with the academy’s playing philosophy. I’m currently working with the U23’s which is similar, but now I help the U23 players work in a way that matches the first team manager’s playing philosophy and transition those players into a first team environment.

We would like to thank Andy for taking the time out to do the interview and wish him the best of luck for his future coaching career.

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