Stan Anderson – The great entertainer and deep thinker that got Doncaster Rovers firing

Stan Anderson at Belle Vue in 1977
Stan Anderson at Belle Vue in 1977

Stan Anderson was one of the first managers I got to know really well during my time reporting on Doncaster Rovers.

He could be quite a morose character at times but his demeanour camouflaged an intelligent soccer brain and a man who thought deeply about the game.

There was certainly nothing dour about his teams.

While Stan was in charge Rovers placed the emphasis firmly on attack and played with a freedom and flair matched only a few times since.

He was an outstanding footballer himself, playing in midfield for England and is the only man to have captained the three North East giants Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

Stan had already manged at Middlesbrough and Queens Park Rangers and had a spell in Greece in charge of AEK Athens before arriving at Belle Vue in February, 1975.

Rovers were struggling badly at the time after sacking Maurice Setters and had just conceded seven goals at Shrewsbury.

But Stan made an immediate impact and they won their first five games under his leadership to pull clear of the bottom four.

The following season he made the inspired signing of winger Ian Miller in the swap deal that took Terry Curran to Nottingham Forest.

Miller joined Peter Kitchen and Brendan O’Callaghan up front and the trio became one of the most fearsome attacking forces Rovers have had scoring a bagful of goals.

Not content with that he later signed future European Cup winner and England striker Tony Woodcock on loan to play alongside them!

The only problem during Stan’s reign was that the defence didn’t quite match the attack epitomised by their 7-2 fifth round League Cup defeat at Tottenham in 1975 when they took the game to their opponents and snatched a shock lead before a second half collapse.

Stan eventually had to sell players with the feared attacking trio moving on and he left to become assistant manager at Bolton in November, 1978.

But he was settled in Doncaster and after his retirement became a familiar figure on the golf course.

His time at the club will be remembered as a period when Rovers played cavalier football and always tried to entertain.

Rovers are currently looking for a new manager with the ability to develop a team that can play in an attractive style.

If we rolled back the years - and Stan was just returning from Greece - they would need to look no further.