The ACSOM Video Club – Exclusive Andy Payton Q&A

Tim Burgess’ Twitter Listening Parties have been one of the most creative concepts since lockdown robbed us of live entertainment or even small gatherings with friends. The parties are a simple enough idea, but they have been so well received that Twitter have even produced their own emoticon of an Andy Warhol-esque Charlatan wearing headphones whenever the hashtag #TimsTwitterListeningParty appears on the site.

The Charlatans frontman selects an album, gets one or more of the band involved, and we all listen to the same record at the same time. Then the Twitter chat ensues, with insight from the band or artist on a track-by-track basis. It’s a work of pure genius.

Inspired by such creativity, ACSOM are now hosting Celtic video parties. The first video that we featured was 1994’s Return to Paradise: The Tommy Burns Celtic Story and this was followed up last night with Volume 4 of the short-lived Celtic Collection from 1992. Joining us for the second ACSOM Video Club was ex-Celtic striker, Andy Payton, who got involved on social media to answer questions from fans who tuned in.

Six prolific seasons at Hull City made Payton The Tigers’ record sale when he joined Middlesbrough for £700,000 in 1991. By the time that Celtic travelled down to Ayresome Park for Tony Mowbray’s Testimonial on 25 July 1992, Payton had failed to make an impression on Teesside and it wasn’t long before Liam Brady made his move for the sturdy, strong-running striker. With just three goals in Celtic’s first three league games, it was clear that Celtic desperately needed more firepower, so Payton was a welcome addition to the squad with Chris Morris moving the other way in a swap deal.

Although Payton added much-needed depth to the strikeforce, the loss of Morris left Celtic short of cover at right-back. Tom Boyd was by that time the first-choice in that position, but he often had to deputise on the left for the then injury-prone Dariusz Wdowczyk, leaving Mark McNally as Brady’s backup number 2. It seemed that Brady was blinkered in his pursuit of his West Ham protégé, Stuart Slater, and, with one eye on his vastly inflated price tag, he opted to save some cash by offloading a player in Morris who we could ill-afford to lose. It transpired that a mooted £500,000 move for Tommy Coyne to Manchester City failed to materialise and Brady was left short at right-back and top-heavy upfront with Payton, Coyne, the much-maligned Gerry Creaney and an overweight Charlie Nicholas at his disposal.

Brady’s second season in charge was another unmitigated failure and Celtic finished third for the third successive campaign – that’s how Celtic did trebles back in the nineties – but the fans took a shine to Andy Payton, who proved himself to be a hard-working, prolific goal-scorer in a struggling side. A change of management, and the arrival of Lou Macari, brought an abrupt and premature end to Payton’s time in Glasgow. Andy covers his departure and more in this exclusive Q&A for ACSOM’s Video Club, where he answered questions from ACSOM’s social media followers…

Listen to KEVIN MILES with A Celtic State of Mind here:

How did the move to Celtic materialise?

I’d scored 25 league goals in a season in the Championship for Hull City on the back of 18 goals. I was young and a lot of clubs were interested in me. I went to Middlesbrough for a record fee, scored on my debut, and we got promoted to the Premier League. Celtic came in for me and I didn’t hesitate to move to a club with such a history and support.

You signed on 14 August 1992, a few weeks into the new season, and made your debut against Dundee United the following day. What are your memories of playing your first match at Celtic Park?

It was a shock for me to go straight into the starting line up, but remember I had a decent start upfront with Gerry Creaney. Although I didn’t score, we won 2-0 and I was pleased with the result and my performance. I was also so incredibly proud to play for Celtic.

What was your favourite Celtic goal?

Had to be the winner against Rangers (20 March 1993 in a 2-1 victory).

Who was the biggest character during your time at Celtic?

I think, obviously, Charlie Nick and Frank McAvennie – great characters and tremendous players.

How good was John Collins to play with?

John was quality, technically gifted but also a great athlete.

What are your memories of that famous European night against Cologne, when we fought back from a 2-0 first-leg defeat to win 3-0 at Celtic Park?

It was a fabulous night. We were obviously 2-0 down from the first leg, I hadn’t played in Germany but got the chance in the home tie. The jungle was in full force – the noise was deafening and we turned the tie around to win 3-0. I’ll never forget that night, it was a fantastic experience for me.

Who was your favourite strike partner at Celtic?

I’d have to say Frank. I was fortunate to play alongside Charlie Nicholas, Frank McAvennie and Gerry Creaney – all different but all great players. I’d say the partnership with Frank was decent and he set a lot of my goals up, Gerry was excellent as well and Charlie was an absolute Celtic legend.

Stuart Slater looked like a real talent. Why didn’t things work out at Celtic for him?

Good question because Stuart was a really gifted, quick player with international experience. Maybe it was the fee or the expectations that every Celtic signing had to overcome, myself included. A great lad, though.

Do you still keep in touch with any of your ex-Celtic team-mates?

One or two on social media but it’s strange that, since the day I left Celtic, I’ve never been back up… obviously I had other clubs, especially Burnley, where I played a large part of my career and where I live and am from.

What are your memories of Charlie Nicholas?

Charlie was a class act on and off the field. He was obviously coming to the end of his career, but I had absolute respect for him because of his achievements of playing in World Cups and his goal-scoring records. He was a legend to me.

What was the toughest Scottish ground to play at?

It’s got to be Ibrox. The games back then were extremely physical and the Glasgow Derbies are incredibly tough games to play in with so much at stake for both teams and their supporters.

What are your memories of the great Neilly Mochan?

Neilly was a tremendous character, Celtic through and through and a Lisbon Lions’ Coach. He was so funny, so down to earth, but knew everything about the game. All the lads loved him and he would put everyone straight.

You had a good scoring record at Celtic, why do you think Lou Macari wasn’t a fan?

I’d scored 20 goals for the club under Liam Brady, which wasn’t too bad, but every player knows when a new manager comes in you’re either in their plans or not. Lou had his own ideas and that’s the way it goes. In hindsight, I should never have left but I’d gone a couple of months playing reserve team football and went back down to the Championship for first-team football and my goalscoring record at Barnsley was good.

When you were at Northwich Victoria, do you remember me shouting “Mon the Hoops” at half-time?

Ha ha… I do, actually.

Do you think we give you the respect you deserve for your service to our cause?

I was extremely grateful to play for such a great club. I thought the support was magnificent and I was made to feel so welcome by everyone.

Watch Sophie Millar’s stunning rendition of ‘Come Back Paddy Reilly’:

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