There are some players who are synonymous with a particular club irrespective of who else they played for before or after. Oldham’s most successful period in their history, between 1989 and 1994 coincided nicely with the inclusion in the side of Andy Ritchie who was signed by Joe Royle from Leeds United.
Ritchie wasn’t just a prolific goalscorer for the club, he had that rare quality – a footballing brain. On numerous occasions, Andy could turn a game round by seeing an opening that others couldn’t.
After playing for England Schoolboys (once scoring three goals against Germany) Ritchie started his career in 1977-78 with Manchester United. He scored a hat-trick against Leeds United while aged just 18 and another hat-trick against Spurs when 19, but was then surprisingly sold to Brighton
He later signed for Leeds until he was brought to Boundary Park by Royle who was building what was to turn into Oldham’s best ever side. He spent eight years with the club as a player reaching the FA Cup semi-final on two occasions, the Littlewoods Cup Final and was instrumental in the club becoming founder members of the Premier League.
Ritchie scored 250 goals for the club in 104 appearances with some of the more notable ones being in the Littlewoods Cup campaign in 89/90. He gained respect throughout the game for his sportsmanship and level of skill. Manchester United midfielder and Oldham Athletic fan, Paul Scholes once told foreign journalists in the 2002 FIFA World Cup that his all-time footballing hero was Andy Ritchie.
He struggled with injury later on in his Oldham career but even a half-fit Ritchie could turn a game on its head if he was used as a late substitute. With the current Oldham side sometimes missing that vital ingredient to finish off opponents, Andy Ritchie would be just the player to motivate the team.