Stan Anderson Spectacular Part One - "No Family Ties To Football"

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Last week, we brought you a must-read Charlie Hurley extravaganza in the form of an entire chapter of the authorised biography 'The Greatest Centre Half The World Has Ever Seen' courtesy of the brilliant authority on Sunderland AFC published history, Mark Metcalf. If you were silly enough to miss that, then shame on you! But season of good will and all that, and we'd hate to see you miss out on a chance to raid the remaining dwindling stocks of the book, so you can check it out in full glory via the links below

Part One - He Was A Colossus In His Time

Part Two - Was He Worth It?

Part Three - What Charlie Was Getting Into

Part Four - Oh No, What Have We Bought Here?!

Part Five - This Boy Is Going To Be The Greatest Centre Half Of Them All

The giving doesn't stop there, though, and today we begin our Stan Anderson Spectacular, again courtesy of Mark Metcalf. For the next three days we'll be taking you through the first chapter of Stan's Autobiography (co-written by Mark) 'Captain Of The North', each time with an introductory foreword by a genuine legend of the game. We are sure you'll want to get your grubby little mitts on it, and our friends over at A Love Supreme will be more than happy to help you out.

Foreword From Jimmy Montgomery

I didn’t really get to know Stan until I became a regular in the Sunderland first team towards the end of the 1961–62 season and as such didn’t know he had been pushing Alan Brown to select me much earlier. Stan was constantly encouraging you to do your best and if I made a mistake he’d remind me about the earlier good saves I had made as a way of helping to maintain my confidence.

On the pitch Stan had a calming authority. He never seemed flustered and could create space in which to deliver a perfectly weighted pass. Stan was one of those players ‘who could make things happen’. He wouldn’t shout and bawl at other players and gained respect through his willingness to always put the needs of the side above his own. Off the field I have always enjoyed Stan’s company, probably more so when playing golf than watching a football match when he can get very frustrated if a pass goes astray.

No family ties to football

There is no particular reason why I should have made football my career. Certainly there was no precedent within my family, although no one brought up in the north-east can be immune from the passion of its people for the game, as I was to discover in my own unique way by going on to play for – and captain – Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

However, until I came along the nearest most of my family ever got to a football pitch was when they went on Saturday afternoons as spectators to Horden Colliery Welfare’s ground, which nestled little more than a mile from the North Sea with its winds and rain.

As a kid I used to go with my dad, and occasionally some pals. My favourite player was an inside forward named Jackie Price. Today he’d be called a midfield player. What I liked about him was that he was really good on the ball, was a good passer and could score goals. He also had the knack of being able to create space for himself. His presence on the ball always lifted the crowd.

Others liked the hard men, the storming centre-forwards or the wingers who took on opposing full-backs, but Price had the qualities I have nurtured all my footballing life. I liked watching Jackie Price just as in later years I liked watching, playing with and competing against players who were a step up in class; men such as Len Shackleton, Charlie Hurley, Bobby Charlton, Duncan Edwards, Billy Wright, Denis Law and Bobby Moore and, as you will discover, a whole lot more.

There was an additional pleasure when watching Horden Colliery Welfare. Beforehand, at half-time and after the match, we used to kick our own ball around in the goalmouth. It made us feel big to be treading the same soccer pitch as grown-ups.

More often than not, however, our football ‘pitches’ were the back streets of Horden. We spent hours and hours playing ‘kicky in’, defending with our lives our own back gates in Tenth Street. This was built as one of a job lot of thirteen streets when the colliery opened in 1900, and homes were needed to house those who wanted to work there. My father, James Hall Anderson, was one such, having moved the twenty miles down the coast from South Shields, where he was born in 1901. My mother, a wonderful woman, was Elizabeth Carling from Wheatley Hill. She was also born in 1901 and married my father in 1920 before they moved to Horden.

My gate was number 39 Tenth Street, and when I was born I was one of five brothers. You couldn’t describe our house as luxurious. There was no inside toilet and we had to make do with a tin bath, which was filled from a hot water boiler kept hot by a coal fire below it. Sadly, when I was around two or three my sister Shirley, who’d been born a year after me, fell into the boiler and scalded herself to death. There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of her – she was a bubbly little thing and seventy years later I still miss her.

This tragedy, coupled with the death of my other sister Marjorie, who passed away before I was born, almost broke my mother’s heart. It left five boys – Bob the oldest, Tom, Jim who is still around, Frank and myself. My mother loved us but really wanted a little girl to bring up as well.

Our football games in the back streets never seemed to end properly. Either the ball would go through someone’s kitchen window or neighbours, whose gates we were using, would come out and chase us away, complaining that we were knocking their paintwork to pieces. Today we’d probably each have ended up with an ASBO!
When I got into the school team, our house was always the meeting point for most of the players before the match. Maybe my pals, Harry Dobson, Jackie Richardson, Louis Keighley and Frankie Aston thought the best ‘pitch’ in the alley was behind Tenth Street, and adopted it and our house as the headquarters.

Whatever the reason, I know my mother never complained. She just made tea, or told us off when the occasion warranted it. Because it was wartime when I was in junior school, we rarely had the facilities for a proper game. Not that we suffered too badly; a small place like Horden was never going to be a major target for the German bombers, although on one occasion they did deposit unused bombs from a raid on Liverpool just as they crossed the North Sea coast and a number of residents in the Grants Houses area, which was about three miles away, were killed. Once, though, we could see buildings on fire in Hartlepool about eight miles away.

It might have been this remoteness from the war that gave my parents the idea it would be fine for me to go to London for a week at the start of 1944. My mother’s great friend Ivy Williams had relatives there and offered to take me with her when she visited. The Germans had bombed London in 1940 and 1941 but when Britain retaliated the attacks had ended, only to restart in the last days of 1943.

But off I went with Ivy by train and when we emerged from King’s Cross Station I couldn’t believe my eyes. Buildings had been flattened and there were large craters everywhere. We walked to where we were staying but any chances of a good night’s sleep to recover were swiftly ended when the air raid siren went off and everyone scrambled into the shelter that had been dug out under the road. There must have been around a hundred people crowded inside; you could sit down but sleeping was impossible.

In the daytime I found myself with dozens of other lads and lasses searching on bombsites for shrapnel, shell casings and barrage balloons. We’d clamber over the rubble, in and out of areas that were out of bounds – which brought wardens to chase you away – to find these precious objects. I never, of course, saw anything of London. After a week of this it was time for home, and so we walked back to the station with our suitcases only to discover the authorities had decided to evacuate women, children and old people from the city as quickly as possible. Trains had been requisitioned to take them to Devon and Cornwall. We walked back to Ivy’s relatives’ house and it wasn’t until four days later that we finally left London for the north.

Back in Horden during the war much of my spare time outside of football was spent playing cowboys and Indians, and Tarzans in Horden Dene. Aged nine, and a member of Donkey Collins’s gang, I broke my right arm trying to show off. We were swinging on a branch overhanging a bank and I was the smallest and youngest and the last to try. I couldn’t keep a grip and I dropped right on to my arm. I didn’t tell my mam but she found out when I had to help her with the washing up and couldn’t hold the plates. It meant a trip to the hospital and a large plaster on my arm, which prevented me playing on any such swings for a while. It didn’t stop me going to the pictures, though. In those days Horden, despite its size, had three cinemas – there are none now. We lads would go together. Being only young we’d get to sit in the first six rows and it wouldn’t be long before we’d be pushing and shoving each other. This didn’t bother the courting couples in the back rows, but soon annoyed those in the middle who wanted to see the action on the big screen, on which Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy were the big stars. Often we’d end up being thrown out even though we were just messing around.

Although we lived less than a mile from the sea I rarely ventured down to the beach. Waste from the pit was dumped little more than a few hundred yards out to sea by overhead tubs and as a consequence the beach was black. There’d be a line of men from the water’s edge scouring for coal – the larger operators would employ men with shovels and once they’d filled a truck it would roar up a steep bank. One- or two-man bands also worked the beach and I have never seen harder toil in my life. After filling a couple of bags with coal they would haul them on to rickety old bikes and push the load across the sandy beach before straining every muscle, fighting against a steep bank. They would then drain every ounce of remaining energy going door to door selling what they had collected.

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Be sure to find your way back here on Wednesday and Thursday for the final two parts of our Stan Anderson Spectacular. And remember that the book itself makes a great Christmas present and can be purchased at A Love Supreme along with other retailers, and you can find details Mark's veritable treasure trove of football books HERE.

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