All at Greenock Morton Football Club would like to wish Andy Ritchie a happy 65th birthday.
Widely regarded as the club’s most talented player of all-time, Ritchie signed for Morton from Celtic in October 1976 and delighted Cappielow crowds for seven seasons.
Big Andy’s first four campaigns in particular were sensational – he scored at least 20 in each of these seasons – and earned him nicknames including ‘the Idle Idol’ and ‘The King of Cappielow’.
In his first full season, 1977/78, Ritchie guided the club to the First Division title and carried his superb form into the next season when he scooped the Scottish Football Writer’s Player of the Year award.
Such was Ritchie’s form in those years that he was alleged to be set for a place in Ally McLeod’s squad for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina until the SFA decreed that it wouldn’t look good for a part-time footballer to be involved.
Sadly, Andy was only to gain a solitary Under-21 international cap and a Scottish League XI appearance as reward for his imperious talents and a reputation as Scotland’s finest player not to win a full cap.
Blessed with a sublime first-touch and ability to score from seemingly anywhere on the pitch, Ritchie is renowned for his stunning goals including a number straight from corner- kicks and free-kicks.
Andy became something of a nemesis for Scotland goalkeeper Alan Rough, with the Partick Thistle shot-stopper becoming a favourite target for some of his most spectacular efforts.
Rough wasn’t the only Scotland hero to be terrorised by Ritchie, though. The great Aberdeen team led by Sir Alex Ferguson was regularly on the receiving end of his magic as well.
Most famously, the big man scored perhaps the club’s best ever goal by twisting the legendary Dons’ international defensive pairing of Willie Miller and Alex McLeish inside out before slotting past Scotland goalkeeper Jim Leighton into the Sinclair Street goal.
Ritchie finally left Morton for Motherwell for the sum of £35,000 in 1983 having established himself as perhaps Morton’s greatest and most popular player ever.
Scoring 136 goals in 276 appearances, he was inducted into the club’s hall of fame in 2014 and became a frequent member of the match day hospitality team here at Cappielow over the last few seasons.
Most recently, the legend has been heavily involved with the live match stream as he gives his expert analysis, in his own distinctive fashion, alongside commentator Gerry McDade on ‘TonTV.
Happy Birthday Andy Ritchie – King of Cappielow! Thanks for the memories.