Now, this is a Cult Classic piece we’ve wanted to write for ages. We just needed more time to do our research on Andy Hughes. In many ways, we still haven’t done that. But we certainly know a lot more now than we did. And what we do know is that Hughes is a bone fide cult classic for us. This takes us right back to the beginning of the Boro’ story too. So, let’s go back to a time before we ever had the likes of Bozzie, Bulman, Barrowcliff, or Brown treading our midfield boards. Hell – we’re going back beyond Graham Cox here too…
Andy Hughes: Why Is He A Cult Classic?
You can have plenty of conversations about Boro’s longest-serving players. Yes, we know all too well that Ronnie Henry and Mark Smith dominate that one. Of course, both of them built on the records that had already been set. As the club grew older, so did the need to play more times to surpass previous tallies. But when you’re a man in Andy Hughes’ position, you’re a pioneer – and being one of the first to set records that others will get in their sights for all time to come.
In his six years with the club, Andy Hughes was a familiar fixture in Boro’ colours. He ended up with at least 159 starts and nine sub outings to his name. There may be more to add from our gaggle of incomplete Boro’ line-ups. And there are definitely more to add to the final count from the 1979-80 campaign. That was Boro’s first as a senior club – although we had no competition to be part of, which is why we originally started our counter at the 1980-1 season.
In that first-ever squad was a young Hughes; representing the blend of youth and experience to lift Boro’ off the rocks encountered by Stevenage Athletic before us. There were, of course, some others who would graduate to the United Counties League. Hughes, however, was one of a select few to then go on to represent us at Isthmian League level too. On top of that, he was a versatile ol’ lad too; used occasionally in defence when the need arose. But midfield was his home.
A true Boro’ graduate
Andy Hughes is a player that definitely counts as “one of our own”. Not only was he there at the start of the Boro’ adventure (certainly in senior terms), but it capped his rise through the junior football scene in Stevenage. He wasn’t among the most regular performers in the 1980-1 season. But, by ‘regular’, we refer to the trio of players who started at least 30 fixtures (that we know of). To be fair, Hughes was still a young ‘un and learning his trade at another new level.
The 1981-2 season, for whatever reason, saw Hughes feature fewer times across the campaign. It isn’t something we can explain. Perhaps the management wanted something different from our midfield after promotion to the UCL’s Premier Division. Or perhaps it was recurring injury. There’s going to be people who know the answer. From what we can tell, though, he was never far away. The player would feature in despatches from the Reserve Team often enough.
If the first and reserve team wasn’t enough, he’d also represent the county on occasion too.
Either way, Hughes bounced back in 1982-3; turning out more times than any other player except Graham Cox. Again, that’s as far as we know.
For the next two campaigns, there were no signs that Hughes’ star was waning. He continued to feature frequently as we consolidated our presence in the UCL Premier Division. And then again as we kicked on into the Isthmian League. The midfielder rolled with it and kept his footballing odyssey going. But it would sadly come to an end in summer 1985. Hughes departed the club – moving south down the old London Road to Knebworth.
It was the end of an era. And exit stage left for one of our first