Stan Anderson Spectacular Part Three - "The Perfect Captain"

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They say that all good things must come to an end, and today we reach the conclusion of our Stan Anderson Spectacular. If you had the misfortune to miss the previous installments, or have a life or something, then fear not. You can catch up HERE and HERE.

It doesn't have to be the end, of course, as you could treat yourself to the whole book in all its glory by asking our friends over at A Love Supreme very nicely (and giving them money - they like stuff like that), or by visiting most reputable retailers. Or, you could buy it as a Christmas present for a loved-one then pinch it for a sly read yourself when they aren't looking, and if that isn't what Christmas is all about then I don't want any part of it.

Anyway, today's installment from Stan's Autobiography (co-written by Mark Metcalf) 'Captain of the North' is introduced by Bryan 'Pop' Robson. So I'll quit my yapping and let people who actually matter have the floor.

Foreword by Bryan 'Pop' Robson

Living just round the corner from Roker Park, I first started to watch Sunderland just as Stan was beginning to establish himself in the first team. In an era when Len Shackleton was the crowd’s favourite, I was more drawn, because of his great passing ability, to the young, dark haired wing half. I particularly recall the FA Cup game against Arsenal in 1961 when Stan scored two goals and largely ran the show. Like a lot of young lads I would wait to collect autographs and Stan was always happy to sign.

I hadn’t played a first-team match at Newcastle when Stan arrived but I can recall that he quickly made an impression in the practice games by showing what a good player he was. Eventually I ended up playing alongside him. I was wearing number seven and he was playing right midfield and he was always advising me about how to improve my game, including the need to constantly work hard.

After a match when we were travelling home on the coach or train he would make it his business to talk through the game with the younger lads like myself, Dave Craig, Frank Clark and Bobby Moncur. He had the ability to talk to the senior players and also help out the younger ones, which made him the perfect captain. I believe Stan was instrumental in me getting started in the first team, as I feel Joe Harvey might have preferred to play more experienced players such as Trevor Hockey. Stan thought if you were good enough then you were old enough. Having said all this he didn’t want to pay £15,000 for me in the summer of 1968 when Joe told him I was available! I worked really hard during the break and the following season I knocked home thirty goals for Newcastle and we won the Fairs Cup!

Captain of the North

I must have done pretty well as the next step was turning out the North against the South. This was played at Barnsley’s Oakwell ground on March 19 1949 with the following teams:

North: Taylor (Bolton); Eden (Prescott), Whitefoot (Stockport); Anderson (East Durham), Jackson (East Northumberland), Mitchell (Doncaster); Birkett (Newton-le-Willows), Viollet (Manchester), Levitt (Barnsley), Lydon (Sunderland), Luke (Newcastle).

South: Matthews (Aldershot); Bassham (Ealing), Bryan (Birmingham); Stevens (Finchley), Daniel (Edmonton), Devlin (Luton); Tracey (Gillingham), Charsley (Mitcham), Ames (Wareham), Bennett (SW Middlesex), Curtis (Swindon).

It proved to be a mismatch; three of our side had played for the full England team the previous season and the South defence were given a very hard time. Matthews was great in goal and I felt he was really unlucky when the first all-England schoolboys’ trial match was staged at Ashton Gate, home of Bristol City, on April 2 and he was part of ‘the rest’ against an England side containing Stanley Anderson at right half.

There was a crowd of 8,000, and of the South team only Tosh Chamberlain, later to play for Fulham, made the England side, although playing at inside left for the rest was Johnny Haynes, later to play 658 games for Fulham and fifty-six for England.

The score was 0-0 at half-time but two goals from Sunderland’s Michael Lydon settled it. Even though I was pleased with my performance and optimistic I would be picked for the match with Wales at Vetch Field, Swansea, the following Saturday it was still a special thrill when, after prayers at school assembly, the news was announced that I was in the team.

At that time there were only three teams in the Victory Shield; Northern Ireland did not take part because their school leaving age had not yet risen to fifteen to bring it into line with the rest of Britain. Everyone clapped and cheered when my name was read out. It was a really wonderful moment.

So I joined a select band that included greats such as Arsenal’s Cliff Bastin and Sunderland’s Raich Carter. Not that selection guaranteed a future in the game; hundreds of schoolboy internationals had failed to make it.

I travelled down on the train with my dad. We met up with Jimmy Jackson and his dad. They were from Ashington and although that was only about forty miles north of Horden we could hardly understand them, their accents were so strong.

The team were put up in a fantastic hotel in Mumbles Bay. For many it was the first time away from home without parents and of course such freedom was to be exploited. Frankie Levitt, from Barnsley, asked me if I fancied going to a party in his room. Once there he asked, ‘Fancy a fag, Stan?’ I didn’t, in truth.

The Welsh side were not a bad outfit. They included Len Allchurch, brother of the legendary Ivor, up front and Johnny King in goal. King made more than 350 appearances for Swansea and although he was a goalkeeper once played centre-forward in a league match. He was to prove a stumbling block for me and Sunderland in a few years. But England had only lost three times in thirty-six matches against Wales, the last defeat coming a quarter of a century before, and we were confident. The teams were:

Wales: King (Ferndale); Thomas (Aberdare), Lloyd (Swansea); Samuel (Swansea), Williams (Merthyr), Chard (Swansea); Griffiths (Arvon), Denham (Flint), Davies (Newport), Jones (Mountain Ash), L Allchurch (Swansea)

England: Taylor (Bolton); Eden (Prescott), Whitefoot (Stockport); Anderson, Jackson (East Northumberland), Mitchell (Doncaster); Birkett (Newton le Willows), Viollet (Manchester), Levitt (Barnsley), Lydon (Sunderland), Chamberlain (Islington)

There was a big crowd – Wales had selected four Swansea lads. But they but should have gone a goal down in the first few minutes when Dennis Viollet shot wide after a fine ball from Cliff Birkett. We did, however, take the lead with a great shot by Tosh Chamberlain and I felt we were well on the way to winning.

My direct opponent at inside left was Derek Jones, who the papers said was a ‘vigorous whole-hearted player’. It was a fitting description: he was a right roughhouse and he scored the equaliser when Jimmy Taylor misjudged his long, dropping shot. Jones then showed he could play a bit as well when he darted past the England defence to make it 2-1 just before half-time. He ended up with a hat-trick and despite a late Birkett goal we couldn’t grab an equaliser and lost 4-3.

I hadn’t played well and as we came off Micky Lydon said ‘Well, we’ll be out next time’. He was right – we were both dropped for the match with the Republic of Ireland.
So you can imagine my mixed feelings as I watched from the Upton Park stands as England won 7-0. It seemed hardly likely that I would get back.

But Lady Luck was on my side. The next international was at St James’ Park, Newcastle, against Scotland. Presumably, the selectors considered the ‘local boy’ appeal to the football fans and both Jimmy Jackson and I were selected to play, although Michael Lydon was left out.

England had not beaten Scotland for twenty-two years and with special railway excursions from all over the north set to bring thousands to the match I was as excited as I had ever been. Around 19,000 tickets had been sold in advance and there was even talk of a 60,000 crowd – four times the number of people who lived in Horden! The teams were:

England: Matthews (Aldershot); Bassham (Ealing), Whitefoot (Stockport); Anderson, Jackson (East Northumberland), Young (Derby); Birkett (Newton le Willows), Vickers (Rotherham), Ames (Wareham), Viollet (Manchester), Chamberlain (Islington)
Scotland: Prasher (North Ayr); Ogilvie (Aberdeen), Bowman (Wemyss); Raeburn (Bategate), J Patterson (Edinburgh), Miller (East Ayr); Lennox (North Ayr), C Patterson (Glasgow), Anderson (Kilmarnock), Martin (Edinburgh)

As it transpired the crowd was 43,700, still, by far, the biggest I had played before. We again took the lead. It was slightly lucky, with referee W Lauder deciding the Scottish ’keeper George Hume had stepped over the goal-line when collecting Cliff Birkett’s centre. Thirteen years later I was to be on the receiving end of a dubious refereeing decision in an England v Scotland game.

We ended up easy winners, 4-0. Tosh Chamberlain got two although Jeff Whitefoot was the star of the show. He was a right half but was switched to left back to accommodate me. He was a very good right half but he fitted in just as easily at left back. He won two league championship medals with Manchester United and when he made his debut for them was their youngest ever player at sixteen years and 105 days.

It was a fine team performance and thrilling to play before such a large crowd. That should have been the end of my involvement at schoolboy level but England decided that for the first time ever they would play Wales for a second time in a season. The England team was the same as had played at St James’ Park while the Welsh fielded the team which had beaten us at Swansea.

The game was at Manchester City’s Maine Road and I really wanted revenge. There was another huge crowd – 52,000 – as people were still desperate for entertainment even though the war had been over for four years. It was at the time the largest attendance at a boys’ soccer match in England. Wales again took the lead just before half-time.

Just after the interval I hit a twenty-yard shot that Johnny King saved superbly and I was also disappointed when my well-placed free-kick was put wide by Dennis Viollet. Fortunately Ken Ames made it 1-1 on the hour mark, although four minutes later Griffiths put Wales back in the lead. Then, on sixty-seven minutes, Peter Vickers drove home the equaliser and five minutes after that England were in the lead when Cliff Birkett fired a powerful shot past King.

I nearly made it four near the end when I hit a left-foot shot that seemed certain to hit the net before Johnny King came from nowhere to tip the ball over – something he was to repeat thirteen years later to deny Sunderland promotion. We had avenged our earlier defeat and were given a real ovation as we left the field.

That England side had some wonderful players who went on to do very well in the professional game. As well as his medals with Manchester United, Whitefoot won a cup winner’s medal with Nottingham Forest in 1959; Jimmy Jackson played for Aldershot; Ron Archer for Barnsley; Cliff Birkett for Manchester United; Peter Vickers for Leeds; Geoff Ames for Portsmouth; Tosh Chamberlain for Fulham; and Dennis Viollet for Manchester United.

It was said that this was the best team to represent England schoolboys. What cheered me was reading a report afterwards that stated that, while it was clear that Viollet, Whitefoot and Birkett were going to ‘make it’ professionally, I had the best chance of the rest.

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And thus ends our Stan Anderson Spectacular! We'd like to extend our sincerest thanks to Stan and mark Metcalf.

A reminder that the book in all its glory can be found at A Love Supreme and most other reputable retailers. You can find details of Mark's veritable treasure trove of football books HERE.

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