1934-2018: Stan Anderson

Club historian Rob Mason pays tribute to one of Sunderland's greatest players... 

Stan Anderson, one of Sunderland’s greatest ever footballers, has passed away at the age of 84.

Stan died at home in Doncaster on Sunday 10 June following a week where he had been hospitalized with chest pains.

‘’Stan was just a gentleman and a magnificent player,” said his former team-mate and club ambassador Jim Montgomery.

“I never heard him say a bad word about anybody. He was one of the best players I ever played with and he left Sunderland far too early.”

Monty, Victorian age goalkeeper Ted Doig and Len Ashurst are the only people to have made more appearances for Sunderland than the 447 games Anderson played for the club.

“I can see him now playing right to left diagonal balls for George Mulhall,” says Ashurst.

“That was his stock in trade. When I came into the team Stan was the captain and he nurtured me as well as Jim McNab and Cec Irwin, who debuted on the same day as me.”

He continued: “He brought us along so that we became players; he was a commanding captain who was a great player and liked a laugh.

“I was a great admirer of his and news of his death is tragic especially coming so soon after the other former players who have passed away recently, including George Mulhall.”

Stan Anderson was born in Horden in County Durham on 27 February 1934.

In 1949 he came to Sunderland as an amateur, signing as a professional on his 17th birthday in 1951 and debuting in October 1952 at Roker Park against Portsmouth.

A rare homegrown player in the era of the ‘Bank of England’ side of the fifties, Stan scored the first of his 35 Sunderland goals against Newcastle.

He played in two FA Cup semi-finals, but his greatest day came in 1961 when he capped a fabulous display with both goals in a famous FA Cup win over Arsenal, which watched by over 58,000.

Speaking to me for the book ‘Match of My Life’, Stan reflected on his 1963 departure for Newcastle United.

“Joe Harvey was desperate for me to sign for Newcastle and I was just as keen not to go.

“I knew there’d be trouble if I switched stripes and I was from a family of dyed in the wool red and whites – playing for the team I supported was always a privilege and a pleasure for me.”

He added: “I never wanted to leave Sunderland, but eventually Browny [Manager Alan Brown] bombed me out.”

After captaining Newcastle to promotion, he completed his north-east hat-trick by playing for Middesbrough who he later managed to promotion.

Anderson also managed AEK Athens, Doncaster Rovers and Bolton Wanderers where he was in charge of a young Peter Reid.

He also had spells as assistant manager with Manchester City and QPR.

The only Sunderland player to be capped by England during the 1960s, Stan had captained his country at under-23 level and also won an England B cap.

One of his two full England caps is on permanent display at the Stadium of Light. 

Always naturally fit, Stan was still a keen golfer right up until this year.

“He would complete rounds in 77 or 78 shots, which was under his age and quite remarkable,” noted Montgomery.

As a player, Stan Anderson would without question be a member of Sunderland’s greatest post-war XI, as a gentleman he was also one of the best.

Stan always had time to talk and his life-time love of Sunderland invariably shone through.

SAFC have lost an all-time great, but one who will never be forgotten.

Flags at the Stadium of Light and Academy of Light will fly at half-mast on Monday.
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