Midfielder Andy’s pivotal role in the Watford team has recently been rewarded with the team captaincy – with Nigel Gibbs remaining club captain.
“Glenn spoke to me pre-season to offer me the post, and I was delighted to take on the job,” says Andy, who turned 29 two weeks ago. “It’s not made a great deal of difference to me, because I’ve always been a bit noisy by nature – and the supporters will no doubt have seen and heard me geeing the players up.
“I see my role as helping build team spirit. In this division, that’s a vital ingredient. Yes, you need a good squad, but you can really go places if you’re all together and heading in the same direction. Look what sides like Wimbledon have achieved.
“I do feel we have an excellent team spirit at the club. Tommy Mooney and Derek Payne, who have just joined have helped that – they are both live wires and have helped create a good atmosphere around the place.
“If we’re going to do things this season, tonight’s match will be a good bench-mark. Wolves seem to be the popular favourites to challenge this season, so it will be a good test. They appear to have finance on their side, but that can never guarantee success.”
Off the field, apart from celebrating his captaincy, there’s been another reason for smiles in the Hessenthaler household in recent months. Andy and his wife Nikki celebrated the birth of Jake in April, to complete a ‘pigeon pair’ with daughter Jasmine.
“Signing as a professional with Watford in September 1991 was undoubtedly my biggest high in the game – so far,” says Andy. “I’d taken a long way round to the professional game since being released by Charlton as an 18-year-old.
“I subsequently played for Dartford when Peter Taylor was manager. Instead I went to Dagenham & Redbridge, but Peter kept tabs on me and when he joined Watford, he persuaded Steve Perryman to sign me.
“I knew Ipswich were watching me as well, but it was Watford who made an offer, and I was overjoyed to step up to League football. Now, being made team captain is a special bonus.”
“There’s no question that my low point came when I was rejected by Charlton as an 18-year-old. I had been taking a plastering apprenticeship before then, so I went back to that, but I was really down.
“Still, I suppose I’ve shown that you should never give up hope. It took me another eight years in the non-League game before the chance came round again.
“Now my managers in the non-League scene are both managing Football League clubs – Peter Taylor at Southend and John Steel, who was manager at Dagenham & Redbridge, is the boss at Peterborough.”
“I suppose I’ve had two beginnings in the game, but being brought up in Gravesend, I was first spotted playing for the Gravesham district side, and went on to play for the Kent county team.
“I started playing in the Kent Youth League for Dartford’s youth team and John Steel, who was there then, got me to Charlton for a year.
“When I wasn’t taken on by Charlton, I played for Corinthians (not the Casuals!) and then for Dartford and Dagenham & Redbridge.
“Signing for Watford was my second beginning!”