Robertson’s legend continues to grow
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Living legend Andalusia coach Richard Robertson will add to his already staggering list of accomplishments when he is inducted into the 2015 Andalusia High School Football Hall of Fame class in August.
Robertson’s playing days began at Ralph Bunche High School, and he lettered in football three seasons.
Robertson started his final two seasons (1959 and 1960), and was captain of the 1960 team that went undefeated.
“When I was in high school,” Robertson said. “Segregation was still around, and we all went to Ralph Bunche High School. We had kids from Opp, Red Level, Florala and Andalusia. Our lives revolved around church and school. That old saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’ that is how we lived. If a grown up saw you out doing something you shouldn’t, they would chastise you like your parents would, and if a we were out in another part of town and an old man told us it was time to head home, we went home. We had to help each other out. We didn’t have transportation at school, so it was up the teachers and faculty to drive kids home. If we had an away game on a Thursday night, then the players who lived out of town would stay with the kids that lived in town. Even though this was during segregation, we didn’t think anything about it, because that was just the way it was. We still had white friends, and we would go watch their games and they would come watch our games. We would always hang out. Later in life as we got older, we’ve talked about what it could have been like if we could have all played together.”
In 1961, Robertson earned a scholarship to play football at Alabama State University.
“In high school, I only lost twice as a player,” Robertson said. “Then I went to college and we lost that many in the first two weeks.”
Robertson lettered three years at ASU, and was a two-year starter at center and defensive end, on the football team.
“In my day, you had to go both ways on the field,” Robertson said. “We would practice three times a day in the offseason.”
Although college wasn’t always easy, Robertson said he enjoyed his time there.
“I was in hog heaven,” Robertson said. “To be a college athlete was special. The only college games I had ever seen were on TV.”
Robinson said turmoil surrounding the Civil Rights Movement lead him to come back home after graduating.
“I was a World War II baby and a civil rights student in college,” Robertson said. “During the era of the Civil Rights Movement, school and everything was in such turmoil. It was one of my motivations to finish school quickly.”
During his time at ASU, Robertson played under a new coach each season.
“We had a new coach every year I was at Alabama State,” Robertson said. “I learned a lot of different coaching philosophies and systems, and I think that really helped me.”
Robertson graduated from ASU in 1965, and immediately became the head baseball coach at the former Woodson High School.
In 1968, just seven years after graduating high school, Robertson became the head coach of the football team at Woodson.
“When I was at Woodson, it was a lot like my school days at Ralph Bunche,” Robertson said. “We relied on faculty and teachers to take students home. That continued until I went to Andalusia in 1970.”
In 1970, the schools integrated and Robertson became the head baseball and assistant football coach at Andalusia High School.
“When they told me I would be coming over to Andalusia at the end of 1970,” Robertson said. “I was given a choice to be the head coach of the track team or the baseball team, and I choose the baseball team. I was the head track coach at Woodson, and we had a really good year the year before, so after awhile I started thinking maybe track would have been better for me.”
His first stint as assistant football coach didn’t last long, when in 1971 he was named the head football coach at Andalusia Middle School. Robertson coached at the middle school until 1994.
Robertson also spent 1973-1994 as an assistant coach for the varsity team.
Robertson is credited, by those close to the Andalusia football program, with laying the foundation for the success of Andalusia’s football program in the 1970’s. During which, the team won two state championships, two state runners-up and won a record-setting 58 consecutive regular season games without a loss.
He became the head football coach at Andalusia in 1995, and coached until 1998.
In 1975, Robertson got the job he is most famous for as the head basketball coach at Andalusia. He has amassed more than 750 wins in his basketball coaching career, and won a state championship in 1996.
“I couldn’t have done this without the help of a lot of people along the way,” Robertson said. “I want to thank all of my former players and their parents and everyone else that has helped me out along the way. I didn’t get into education for the personal accolades.”
Robertson said Andalusia is and will always be his home.
“I love the city of Andalusia,” Robertson said. “It’s always been my home and it always will be. I’ve had opportunities to go to other places, but this is where I belong. Honestly, if I would have gone anywhere else to teach, but Andalusia, I probably wouldn’t have been in education for this long.”
Andalusia High School will be honoring Robertson and the other hall of fame inductees on Aug. 15 at 6:30 p.m.