While former team-mate Kasper Schmeichel was out celebrating with his fellow Leicester City players having just been crowned Barclays Premier League champions on Monday night, Bonnyrigg Rose goalkeeper Michael Andrews was preparing for their Super League match away to local rivals Newtongrange Star.
Their paths could not have been more different since they spent the early days of their careers together at Falkirk. A 20-year-old Schmeichel spent six months on loan at the Falkirk Stadium from Manchester City while Andrews was serving his footballing apprenticeship with the Bairns.
After six years with Falkirk, Andrews has gone on to span a career in the lower leagues of Scottish football, appearing in the colours of Montrose, Brechin, East Fife, Berwick Rangers and Cowdenbeath before he made the move to the Juniors in September.
Although their careers have taken entirely different routes, Andrews is aiming emulate his former team-mate by ending the season as a title winner. Rose are in control of their own destiny at the top of the table and need just six points from their remaining four games to lift the championship.
“It was hard to play when Falkirk had boys like Tim Krul, Kasper Schmeichel and Shane Supple on loan,” said Andrews. “They were there when I was there, so I was learning off a [future] Premier League champion, I can’t complain at that. It was hard for me to get game time with that sort of standard of goalkeeping – I went out on loan to East Stirling for a year but unfortunately I never got a chance when I came back to Falkirk.
“I was only 17 or 18 at the time, Kasper and Tim were only in their early 20s. It was different class training with them every day and you look at them now – Tim is doing well and Kasper has just won the league, it’s unbelievable.
“I’ve not spoke to him since they won the league, he’ll be a busy man – his phone will be going off the hook. I don’t keep in touch with him as much as I’d like too – you get the odd tweet and a bit of contact now and again. I’ll see if he can send me up some gloves or something!”
Having joined League One Cowdenbeath in July, Andrews was set to continue his journey around the lower leagues of Scottish football. He featured in the Blue Brazil’s opening four league games under Colin Nish, but when the former Hibs striker told Andrews of his plans to bring in another keeper, he knew he wouldn’t play as much as he’d like.
Instead, he jumped at the chance to link up with Robbie Horn at Bonnyrigg, having played under the former Berwick assistant in his time at Shielfield Park. He admits it was a tough decision to make in stepping down to the Juniors, but feels he has been vindicated, as he is just two games away from securing the first title of his career.
“I think Robbie had chased me for the last few years since I’ve been floating around different clubs,” said Andrews ahead of tomorrow’s match at home to Hill of Beath.
“I always kept in touch with him and it was easy enough for me to come here when I’d left Cowden, I had a couple of other offers elsewhere, but I knew Robbie well and I knew I would enjoy playing for him – I know quite a few of the lads so it made it easy for me to slot in and play.
“I played most of the opening games in the cups and league at Cowden, but it just didn’t suit. They thought about getting a loan goalkeeper in and when that happens you kind of think you’ll be on the bench and there’s a lot of travelling to be a bench goalkeeper in that league. I don’t want to sit on the bench and watch someone else play, I want to be playing myself.
“It was a hard choice [coming down to the Juniors], but there’s boys in there that have done the same – Jonny Stewart, Moyesy... in fact everyone, they have all played senior football and they’ve all come down to the Juniors. To be honest it is not that much of a difference and it’s a lot of less travelling.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything really, we’ve had a great season. We’ve got four games left now and we want to go and win them all and finish top of the league with the highest possible points. It will show that we’ve been the better team all season.”