Andy Cunningham

Few players outwith modern times have had a career and an impact both on and off the field on the Scottish, the English and then once more Scottish games as Andrew Cunningham. He played for twenty-seven seasons and well over five hundred league appearances and twelve caps from 1920-27. He then managed for a decade, until the beginning of the Second World War, and then already in his fifties turned to sports journalism. 

On field his senior career began in 1907 with two seasons at Newmilns but he was actually Galston-born in 1891. His father, William, was, like Davie Calderhead's and Bob Findlay's was a miner cum coal agent cum pitheadman, but one, like his wife, Andy's mother, Agnes, born in Ayr.   

Nor was Andy to be the only professional footballer in the family. His younger brother, William, would begin a career but step away on qualifying as a doctor. In fact both boys, still living at home, for four seasons from 1911, Andy, an inside-forward and bank assistant, having joined two years earlier, would be in the same now Kilmarnock team, Willie as a defender and medical student. So it was in 1915 as one brother went one way the other went another. Andy joined Rangers, at Ibrox making a little under four hundred appearances, scoring just under two hundred goals, winning seven League titles and in 1928, the Scottish Cup, the first for the club for a quarter of a century. It was followed the next week by the League, completing The Double.

But in the meantime in 1916 Andy Cunningham had married, and in Newmilns. His bride was Jessie Shields, a redolent name. She was the daughter of William Shields, lace manufacturer, younger brother of both John Shields, owner of the Newmilns lace-making firm, Johnston Shields, which had set up the factories in Gothenburg and Barcelona that had taken football to Sweden and Catalonia and of Tom Shields, the first manager of that Barcelona factory, La Escocesa. They would have one son, William, born in Pollockshields, Glasgow in 1925.

Shortly after the Scottish Cup victory Cunningham would leave Rangers for Newcastle. By then he was thirty eight, becoming the oldest player ever to make an English league debut. And at The Toon he would rapidly become player/manager, in 1930 manager and in 1932 would see the club to an FA Cup victory. But relegation would follow and he left the club in 1935, returning to Scotland to manage Dundee from 1937 to 1940. But that was to be his direct connection with the game over. At the end of World War II he turned to journalism, becoming a respected sports writer for the Scottish Daily Express.

Jessie Cunningham would die in 1964, the couple still living in Dundee at the time, with Andrew recorded still as a journalist. He would outlive her by almost a decade, passing in 1973 but in hospital at Park Circus in Glasgow at the age of eighty-two, to be cremated at Linn Cremetorium, Cathcart in the same city.

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