Andy Ritchie barely needs an introduction to any Morton supporter or, indeed, any Scottish football fan of a certain age. Widely regarded as the club’s most talented player of all-time, Ritchie signed for Morton from Celtic in October 1976 and delighted the Cappielow masses for 7 goal-laden seasons.
Ritchie’s first four seasons in particular were sensational, belying his apparently un-athletic physicality with a blend of skills, goals – he scored at least 20 in each of these seasons – and glory that earned him nicknames including “the Idle Idol” and “the King of Cappielow”. In his first full season, 1977/78, Ritchie guided Morton 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 u-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 with former Scotland goal-keeper Alan Rough, for whom Ritchie became something of a nemesis, being 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 Alex Ferguson was regularly on the receiving end of his magic too, most famously when Ritchie scored perhaps Morton’s best ever goal by twisting the legendary defensive pairing of Miller and McLeish inside-out before slotting past the helpless Leighton in the Sinclair Street goal at Cappielow. Ritchie finally left Morton for Motherwell for what now seems like the miserly sum of £35,000 in 1983 but by that time he had established himself as perhaps Morton’s greatest and most popular player ever.
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