WELSH PREMIER FOOTBALL

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Andrew Rickard
Andrew Rickard (right) in action against Caersws [Keith Williams/Sportpixs].

UNTIL an untimely knee injury forced him to hang up his boots in late 2004, Andrew Rickard was neck-and-neck with Colin Reynolds of Caersws to become the first player to make 400 starts in the Welsh Premier League.
Sadly it was not to be and he left Afan Lido to take up the managerial reins with former League of Wales outfit Maesteg Park Athletic.
Signed from Caerau Athletic, Rickard was a mainstay of the successful Lido side of 1993-1994, which won the League Cup at Aberystwyth, beating league champions Bangor City in the final.
The following season, he made 37 appearances, as the Lido finished second in the League of Wales to clinch a place in Europe.
They played RAF Riga in the UEFA Cup and went down 2-1 on aggregate, despite holding the Latvians to a scoreless draw in the away leg.
Rickard spent two years at Inter CableTel after Lido were relegated to the Welsh League, but returned in 1998 when they regained their place in the top flight.
After 71 starts with the Cardiff club, he racked up another 206 appearances with the Seasiders, his last away to Llanelli on 2 November 2004, when he scored Lido's only goal in a 3-1 defeat.
Still aged only 34 when he finally accepted medical advice to retire, he could undoubtedly have carried on at least a couple of seasons had he remained fit to play.
Manager Mark Robinson, who had re-signed Rickard, says he was a passionate club captain who led by example on and off the pitch.
"We knew that Andrew would have to finish playing one day," he says.
"When the Maesteg job offer came up, I helped him make that decision. The doctor had advised him to stop playing and when the opportunity arose of managing his home town club, he had to take it.
"We are obviously bitterly disappointed to lose a player of Andrew's ability, because he has been a stalwart of Afan Lido Football Club for the best part of 10 years.
"With bags of experience, I see no reason why he will not do a good job at management."
Who knows? Perhaps he will return to Afan Lido one day in that role.

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28 May 2017

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