Doncaster Rovers' top ten goalkeepers - #8 Andy Rhodes
Rovers have had relatively few local-born goalkeepers but Andy Rhodes was an exception to that rule.
Andy, who hailed from Askern, did not start his career with Rovers, opting instead to join Barnsley. He made his debut for the Oakwell club as a 19-year old in October 1983 and impressed so much that he kept his place for the rest of the 1983-84 season. However, the following year he lost the jersey to Clive Baker and by October 1985 his career appeared to be stagnating.
At that time Rovers were in some turmoil, with Billy Bremner having left to become Leeds United manager, taking his staff with him. Dave Cusack was put in temporary charge and had the immediate problem of sorting out a goalkeeper for a midweek trip to Swansea. Dennis Peacock was injured and his young deputy, Paul Allen, had not looked the part. Cusack signed Rhodes on loan, and he put in a brilliant display as Rovers won 2-0. Soon afterwards the deal was made permanent, and Rovers had signed one of their most able goalkeepers.
Rhodes stood six feet tall and was agile, brave, and spectacular, the last attribute sometimes leading him to make mistakes. He helped to make the Rovers side under Cusack a difficult one to beat and they finished 1985-86 in a respectable 11th in the old Division Three. Rovers had problems scoring goals, so a reliable goalkeeper was essential, and Rhodes did not let them down. His best moment was possibly a last-minute penalty save in front of a large crowd at Derby’s Baseball Ground which ensured Rovers came away with a draw.
Rhodes was established as the Rovers’ first choice and missed only five games (due to injury) in 1986-87. On loan Mark Prudhoe deputised and had the pleasure of seeing his temporary team-mates crush Bolton and Rotherham in successive games. These were highlights in a rather disappointing season with the sterling efforts of Neil Redfearn in midfield saving Cusack’s side from relegation. With Redfearn gone, sold to help pay off the club’s sizeable debts, Rovers struggled in 1987-88 and Cusack’s reign ended in December. New manager Dave Mackay made little difference and the club finished bottom of Division Three.
Rhodes was no longer with Rovers by the time they went down. He played in the first 35 games and was one of the few bright sparks in a dismal season. His bravery cost him when he fractured his jaw diving at a forward’s feet in the game at Wigan. He had to leave the field, Mickey Stead taking over in goal, but he was back three days later, playing against medical advice as Rovers scored a rare win over Blackpool. In March 1988 he was sold to Oldham Athletic for £55,000, a fee Rovers could not refuse. While with the Latics he played at Wembley in the 1989-90 Littlewoods’ Cup Final, but he missed out on Oldham’s FA Cup exploits - they played Manchester United in a thrilling semi-final that went to a replay - Jon Hallworth taking his place.
After Oldham, Rhodes spent much of his career in Scotland, playing for Dunfermline Athletic, St. Johnstone and Airdrieonians, although he did have a brief spell back in the Football League with Scarborough. He became a goalkeeping coach, working at Oldham, Ipswich Town, Preston North End and Sheffield Wednesday. His son, Jordan, has won 14 caps for Scotland as a striker. Andy Rhodes was a fine goalkeeper who was perhaps unfortunate not to play in better times at Belle Vue.
Name: Andrew Charles RHODES
Born: Askern, 23rd August 1964
Signed for Rovers: October 1985, from Barnsley (initially on loan)
Left Rovers: March 1988, transferred to Oldham Athletic
Appearances: League 106, Cup 19