ANDREW Teague has a reputation as “a nutter” on the football pitch – according to his own mother.
Team-mates would be inclined to concur, after the defender turned up for training with a handlebar moustache, for no other reason than he fancied a new look.
It is one that has stuck, and has since become a lucky charm for Chorley as the Evo-Stik Premier Division side chase the title, or at least promotion to Conference North.
Only if they are successful will Teague consider shaving it off.
But behind his madcap, hard-man image in non-league football – his professional career with Macclesfield was cut short by a leg break following a collision with a goalkeeper – the moustached Magpie has a much softer side compared to his on-field persona.
The Chorley captain is a fearless competitor on matchday. But on any other day a gentle nature shines through in his job as a dementia care worker at Lady Elsie Finney House, a care home named after Preston legend Sir Tom Finney’s wife, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and died in 2004.
It is feasible that centre half Teague could return to the professional game after overcoming a career-threatening injury.
Compartment syndrome – a limb and life-threatening condition – was the result of a horror leg break and meant Teague required extensive physio, enduring the painstaking process to learn to walk and run properly again, at Lilleshall National Sports Centre, before resurrecting his career at a semi-professional level.
But in balancing work with playing football, the 27-year-old believes he has the best of both worlds.
“I could probably try to get back into the Football League but I’ve got a job that I enjoy and at Chorley it’s like a professional club anyway,” said Teague.
“I’m happy to stay here as long as they want me.
“When I played professionally it was boring because I’d get home at 1pm and I’d just be sat there.
“I’d rather be active and doing something. I worked at Leyland Trucks until being made redundant.
“Now I look after people at different stages of dementia – either doing everything for them or just helping them with whatever they need. I even paint nails!
“It’s one of those jobs that you get so much satisfaction from.
“All the lads say ‘I don’t know how you can do that’.
“They wouldn’t expect me to do that kind of job. Even my mum says ‘I don’t like watching you play football because you’re a bit of a nutter on the pitch’. I just tell her once you get on the pitch you just want to win.
“But I try to do my best whatever I’m doing, whether it’s playing football or when I’m at work.
“It takes a certain person to do it.
“But I enjoy it and I get a lot out of it. The money might not be great but I’m lucky that I get money from football so it sort of balances itself out. I love it.”
So much so that Teague, who was released by Preston as a youngster, would have to think twice if the opportunity to go back to a full-time football career became an option.
But the pull of Chorley is just as strong, with the club currently in pole position for a place in Conference North ahead of this afternoon’s home game with FC United of Manchester, and going places under Garry Flitcroft.
“This is my third season at Chorley after coming in the February of Garry’s first season from Lancaster,” he explained.
“We got promoted that year and then the next season we won the Lancashire Cup.
“Last season was a bit up and down and we got rid of a few players, and then this year he’s got the team together and hopefully we can win some silverware again.
“As soon as pre-season started we all knew something special was going to happen.
“All Garry asks from all the lads is give 100 per cent and we’re bound to get results.
“We’re enjoying it as well, which I think is another reason why we’re doing so well.”
Teague, 28, added: “We’re a team. We don’t just come to training and that’s it. We’ll go for a drink together or food together so we’re really close knit. The gaffer’s sorted that out. The bond’s perfect.
“He always takes us for meals, or the club put food on after training on a Thursday and we’ll socialise for half an hour or so.
“He’s a massive presence, having been captain of Blackburn – he’s been there and done it so you take a lot of advice from him.
“I learn from him and then pass on the information that he wants me to give to the lads. I’m his leader and it’s a massive privilege.”
Having been unlucky not to reach the FA trophy quarter finals, Teague would love to cap this campaign by lifting the title.
And then perhaps the moustache must come off.
“Some of the lads keep asking me when I’m going to shave it. I just tell them when we win the league,” he smiled.
“They all shake their head at me about it. They’re just used to my weirdness now but it causes a bit of a stir every time I play, especially before a game because I have to go into the changing room with the referee and other captain and manager.
“They look at me wondering if it’s real and then they just start laughing. It’s become a bit of a superstition now.
“The table’s looking good so we’ve just got to carry on and win it.”