Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire born right half Willie McAndrew began his senior football career playing for Glasgow amateur club Queen’s Park from 1907 to 1910, making his Scottish League debut in a 2-2 draw at Clyde in March 1907, making 122 appearances for The Spiders before joining Clyde, with whom he turned professional. During his Clyde career, he played for the club in the 1912 Scottish Cup Final where they lost 2-0 to Celtic at Hampden Park, and he represented the Scottish League three times between October 1911 and October 1912, both October games being against The Southern League, having played against The Football League in February 1912 in a 2-0 defeat at Ayresome Park.
He served in the First World War as an army lieutenant and was held as a prisoner of war while serving with the Glasgow Highlanders. In March 1920, after 158 appearances for Clyde, he joined Third Lanark and the following year he was selected for the SFA’s unofficial tour of North America when, in just under nine weeks, the Scottish Select team played nineteen matches in Canada and six in the USA. McAndrew appeared in around twenty of these, scoring four goals, alongside Dunfermline’s Andy Wilson, Jimmy Gordon, John Low and Tom Maxwell. The legendary Wilson played in every one of them, scoring an incredible 62 goals in the process!
After 57 appearances for The Warriors, he subsequently joined Dundee Hibernians (Dundee United as we now know them), in December 1922, making 2 Scottish Alliance appearances the following month. After a spell as caretaker player-manager (from March 1923 to the end of the 1922-23 season) while with Dundee United, McAndrew got his first permanent appointment as a manager with Hamilton Academical in 1925 and remarkably successful he proved. He remained in the role for 21 years, taking the club to the 1935 Scottish Cup Final where they were beaten 2-1 by Rangers, as well as a fourth place League finish in the same season.
Despite being responsible for bringing many of the Accies’ greatest players to the club, he missed out on what could have been his best signing ever. Matt Busby had spotted Townhill’s Billy Liddell playing for Lochgelly Violet and recommended him to McAndrew but Liddell’s father, determined that Billy would not follow him down the pit, insisted that he had a career to fall back on. The Accies boss wasn’t in a position to find him part-time work so Liddell ended up joining Liverpool instead and the rest is history.
He briefly managed Dunfermline Athletic in 1947. McAndrew took over at Dunfermline on 13th February 1947 on a salary of £500 per annum plus the free tenancy of a house in Shamrock Street. The final half-dozen matches of the season produced mixed results, a couple of home wins offset by four away defeats, including the record 10-0 thrashing at Dundee. During the summer he brought in several new players, mostly defenders, including goalkeeper Jimmy Michie and half-backs Dougie Roberts and Andy Whyte. However, the early part of the 1947-48 season saw no real turnaround in fortunes and following a 6-1 League Cup defeat at Stark’s Park on 30th August, McAndrew was asked to resign. His six-month tenure saw him oversee only twelve matches, eight of them defeats, the lowest number of any manager in the club’s history.