Gifted young players do not always sign for the biggest club when it's time to take that important first step into professional football.

Dave Thomas, Willie Morgan, Ralph Coates and Leighton James were just a few outstanding wingers who chose the humbler surroundings of Burnley FC because of the clubs reputation.

Andy Kilner, England youth international, was another. Manchester United were desperate to secure his signature but Andy took the other option.

"Burnley were steeped in tradition and history and I felt privileged to have been given an opportunity at the club.

"They made me feel very special. Sadly for me, though, that soon changed. When I left school and reported for pre-season training in 1983, John Bond had arrived.

"As a young kid he was a very daunting character; I suppose if I had been a little older I would have been able to cope better but it got to the point where I was dreading walking into the football club because of the atmosphere he had created at the time.

My career had got off to flyer. I was on the fringes of the first team and cemented a place in the England youth squad. In fact, for the Iceland game at Ewood Park, the squad used Gawthorpe as a training base.

"Charles Hughes was the manager and he was always known as a route one specialist. He actually placed two yellow bibs in midfield positions and told our skipper Tony Adams to "By-pass the canaries and hit the flanks."

This was food and drink to me because I played in a left wing position and had pace to get on the end of them."

Andy had a laugh during one session when Hughes wanted to know how many corners he had practiced before breakfast. He lied '20' '20?' Came the reply 'it should be 120!'

Pace, power, strength and ability, Andy was often likened to another Burnley hero at the time, Steve Kindon.

"After we beat Iceland 4-0 we were due to play West Germany in the semi-final of the European Youth Championships, the 1st leg being at the Olympic Stadium in Munich. Full house, they don't come any bigger than that for a young lad and I was relishing the prospect.

"I got back to my digs really excited but then I picked up the evening paper and read that Bond was going to stop me from going.

He added: "He slagged off Hughes about his methods and couldn't allow a coach like that to impose his style on one of his players. I was gutted. I came into training expecting one of the coaching staff to explain the reasons but nothing happened.

"I rang the FA desperate to see what the position was but they told me their hands were tied. In those days if the club weren't prepared to release you, that was it. I was distraught and resigned to missing the game.

"I came in on the Friday before that Germany game and Bond said he wanted to see me. I trembled because of the manner he'd adopted.

"I walked into his office to find him with his feet on the table watching racing on the TV and smoking a huge cigar. I'll never forget what he said, expletives aside, you can .go tomorrow but you're playing in the A-team against Man Utd before you go"

"In the last minute of the game against United on the top pitch at Gawthorpe I got past full-back Kenny Scott whipped in a cross and landed in a crumpled heap. I was out for five months and eventually that injury had far reaching effects on my career.

"My dream was shattered and you can imagine what my feelings were towards John Bond.

"OK, I may have done the same injury in the Olympic Stadium but looking back would other club managers have treated one of their players like that if they had been chosen for International duty?

"When Bond left, there followed a succession of managers John Benson, Martin Buchan, Tommy Cavanagh and in an effort to get back to full fitness I signed for a Swedish club in Halmstad.

"I broke my leg in 89 and two years later Danny Bergara brought me back to Stockport. I then spent time in Norway but needed regular injections in the knee. In fact, the doctor over there told me my playing days were over, legacy of that Burnley injury. I was only 29.

"Kevin Glendon, who was regional director of the PFA Community Programme, got me involved in coaching with the Bolton Wanderers scheme and then Stockport came back for me to do a similar job at Edgeley Park.

"When Gary Megson took over as manager he installed me as the Centre of Excellence director so I had a duel role at the club."

Megson had a few run-ins with the chairman and when he left, Andy was offered the managers job. It was a tough call for him as he had built up both the community and centre programmes very successfully.

But it was an opportunity he couldn't turn down and one he has never regretted. Results were good- victory at Maine Road against Man City 2-1 and Wolves 3-2, saw Stockport edging ever nearer to a play-off position.

But then the club got the colly wobbles and started selling the best players.

"Tony Dinning went for £800,000 to Wolves, Colin Cooper to Wimbledon for £1m and Ian Moore to Burnley again for £1m. Keeper Carlo Nash broke a finger. Inevitably we stopped winning football matches.

"Since then I have set up a business partnership called Prodigy Sports Management Global' with sports lawyer David Chapman, representing a lot of high profile people in football.

"Agents have had a lot of bad publicity recently but with my experience on both the playing and management sides, I feel I have the knowledge to help both parties.

"We've been to South Korea and Japan to explore the business possibilities over there and it's very exciting. I also do all the match reports for Sunderland and player assessments and Mick McCarthy has been brilliant with me. It enables me to keep up to date with the game back here."

But if the right job came along to go back into management, would "Absolutely. I've learned a lot from my previous time and I'm itching to get back."

The question everyone would be intrigued to know. Would there be a role for John Bond in his management team? I guess we all know what the answer would be.