My granddad used to take me, from age 9, to Roker Park for the home games. He was connected to the club so I got into the director’s box, which was awesome for a young un. Anyway, I got to see games like the local derby on Xmas morning when there was snow on the pitch (1950?). I only remember the two Robledo brothers, exotics from Chile, or so it seemed. Maybe it was a draw. Passions against the neighbours didn’t run so high then, but then it was Xmas. When did the hate really kick in? Anyone got a year? Serious question. I also saw the game against Arsenal when Shack dribbled round George Swindin in the Arsenal goal and stood on the goal line, foot on ball, wagging his finger in a taunting fashion while Swindin scrambled desperately towards him through the mud almost reaching the ball, at which point Shack tapped home. But Shack and the rest of the Bank of England mob were coming to the end and the player who really interested me was Stan Anderson, then 20 or so but already an England Under-23 player, although he got sent off early on for them, which may have blighted his later England prospects, sending off being such a heinous crime then. I don’t recall Stan as a dirty player, though.
Stan was right half in that halfback line of Anderson-Aitken-McNab (hard man, George Aitken and Jimmy was no soft touch), later Anderson-Hurley-McNab. He was never the quickest but boy did he have an eye for goal. He must have scored more from right half than any comparable player of the time – including, I imagine, SBR, who was later to deprive Stan of his England spot (1961, I think, after Stan had played against Scotland). It didn’t much matter. Both were too old for the ’66 World Cup and although they didn’t know it they were only keeping the place warm for Nobby Stiles (!!). Stan, though, was such a goal-scorer that they moved him to inside right (to accommodate Martin Harvey, I seem to recall - he was a good player although no Stan), and Stan kept on scoring. Was his high point the two goals he scored against Arsenal in the Cup in 1961 to take us through? That was some giant-killing. Pity we couldn’t repeat the feat against Spurs – the greatest ever Spurs – in the sixth round.
I suppose Stan is famous (infamous?) for joining all three Northeast clubs – in quick time, too. Is he unique in that? He left us to join NUFC – amid some acrimony – in 1964 just after he had played a big part in clinching promotion and then went on immediately to help them get promotion. Then he went on to manage the smoggies for a few years without doing anything, before Big Jack was put in charge.
I have been thinking of Stan while the furore around SBR has been raging. Stan is more or less an exact contemporary of Sir Booby, both born in 1933, and while Stan has slid into oblivion and SBR has – well, choose your own words - I would like to pay tribute to Stan’s talent as a player. For me, he lit up Roker Park in the years 1954 to 1964 even though there was a relegation in that time. He played cricket, too, as they used to in those days - in the DSL, for Horden, his home village.
Charley has become the idol, and I loved Charley too. But let’s remember Stan, the best of the local talent who made it. Someone like Barry Venison doesn’t come close. All respect, to one of the great ones.