IN 1976 VIV ANDERSON SIGNS FOR STYLO MATCHMAKERS. LATER IN 1978 VIV BECOMES the first black football player to represent England in a full international.
Anderson spent a year as a schoolboy withManchester Unitedbefore being released. He returned to Nottingham where at school he sat and passed three CSEs. He then worked for three weeks as a silkscreen printer that he described as “a glorified tea boy really. I’d get the tea, and get the sandwiches at lunch time. I was just a dogsbody.”Anderson had broken into theNottingham Forestteam during 1974 and became a regular after the arrival ofBrian Cloughas manager of theEast Midlandsclub, then in theSecond Division, in January 1975. He was part of the side that won promotion to theFirst Divisionin 1977, winning the title, along with theLeague Cup, a year later.
Anderson was one of the first black players to represent top English clubs at the time, and regularly suffered racial abuse from fans of rival teams. He was regularly pelted with bananas and targeted with racist chants.
When Anderson received the call-up for England in November 1978, for a friendly againstCzechoslovakia, coachRon Greenwoodwas insistent that no political issue was at stake, despite the ever-rising number of young black stars in the game, born and raised in England. There was no doubt that Anderson was playing outstandingly in a form team that season and got his call-up entirely on merit. A gangly, awkward figure, he was a much-admired tackler and was also quick going forward and occasionally scored vital goals. Vindication for his selection on merit was further supplied when Anderson was part of the Forest team that retained the League Cup and then clinched theEuropean Cupin 1979 with victory overMalmö.
All that said, Anderson found himself frequently up against equally competent right-backs when it came to getting regular international recognition.Liverpool’smuch-decoratedPhil Nealwas the first-choice right-back as the late 1970s became the 1980s, whileLeeds UnitedcaptainTrevor Cherrywas also regularly called up. Anderson had to be patient prior to winning his secondcapin a friendly againstSwedenin June 1979. His third appearance was his first competitive international as England defeatedBulgaria2–0 at Wembley in a qualifier for the1980 European Championships.
Anderson finally won an 11th cap, in April 1984, almost two years after his tenth. In the same year, he aimed to revive his career with a move toArsenalfor£250,000. This duly helped Anderson revitalise his international standing and he won six consecutive caps from 1984 and into 1985, including four qualifiers for the1986 World Cupin Mexico; in the first of which he scored his first of his two international goals in an 8–0 mauling ofTurkey. Then Robson gave a debut to the youngEvertonright-backGary Stevenswho was so impressive that Anderson found himself usurped again. Robson split his selection policy, but Stevens got slightly more appearances than Anderson as England completed their qualification for Mexico and though both were in the squad for the finals, it was clear that Anderson was again going as reserve.
Anderson won three caps at the end of 1986 as England began their quest to qualify for the1988 European Championshipsin Germany. In one of the qualifiers againstYugoslavia, Anderson scored his second and final international goal.
In 1987, he enjoyed some club success for the first time in seven years when Arsenal defeated Liverpool 2–1 in the League Cup final.
Later the same year, in a tribunal agreed£250,000 deal,he becameAlex Ferguson’s first signing since taking over as manager ofManchester United.
Meanwhile, Stevens had forced his way back in as England qualified for the European Championships and Anderson won his 30th and (what proved to be) final cap in aRous Cupgame againstColombiathough was again in reserve when the squad went to Germany for the finals. They lost all three group games and Stevens came in for criticism, but maintained his place. For the third time, Anderson had travelled to a major international competition without getting a minute on the pitch. Robson began to look to the younger end of the playing spectrum for competition for Stevens, and Anderson’s international career ended.
AtOld TraffordAnderson was a significant part ofAlex Ferguson’s rebuilding plans as he attempted to create a title winning side to end the wait that had started at the club in 1967. Following a dismal start to the1986–87 seasonthat had costRon Atkinsonhis job on 5 November, Ferguson had steered United from 21st to 11th of 22 First Division clubs in the final six months of the campaign. Anderson played his part in United’s continued improvement in1987–88, as they finished second in the league but never really looked like overhaulingLiverpool, who finished champions by a nine-point margin with just two defeats all season as well as a 29-match unbeaten start to the 40-game campaign.
Anderson remained first-choice right-back in1988–89, but United had a slow start to the season and despite an upturn in their form in the new year that saw them climb to third place by mid-February, a dismal final quarter of the season dragged them down to 11th place. Despite finishing 13th in the league in1989–90, United won theFA Cup– but Anderson was not in the squad for the final. He had managed 21 games in all competitions that season but Alex Ferguson had chosenPaul Ince– normally a central midfielder – as his right-back for the first match (a 3–3 draw with Crystal Palace) and also the replay five days later, which ended in a 1–0 win.
Anderson’s hopes of winning his place back in the1990–91 seasonwere crushed when Ferguson paidOldham Athletic£625,000 forDenis Irwin, who quickly established himself as the first choice right-back, while Ince switched back to central midfield. He played just three more games for the club, and on his final appearance for them in the Football League Cup second round second leg againstHalifax Townon 10 October 1990 he scored their first goal in a 2–1 win that gave a 5–2 aggregate victory.
Anderson joinedSheffield Wednesdayon a free transfer in January 1991, helping them to promotion from the Second Division, although he missed theLeague Cupfinal triumph over Manchester United as he had played for his old club earlier in the competition. Despite originally being thought of as a short-term signing, Anderson established himself in the Wednesday first team and captained the side on many occasions.He played an active part inthe Owlsteam that finished third in the1991–92First Divisionand seventh in thefirst seasonof thePremier League. He also helped Wednesday reach theFA Cupand League Cup final in 1993, but they were on the losing side to Arsenal in both finals.
Anderson’s manner on the pitch made him an obvious choice for management and in June 1993 he leftHillsboroughto be appointed player-manager ofBarnsleyfollowing the departure ofMel Machin.However, his first season atOakwellwas a disappointment as Barnsley narrowly avoided relegation to Division Two.
At the end of1993–94, Anderson quit Barnsley after just a year to become assistant manager ofMiddlesbroughunder formerOld TraffordteammateBryan Robson.
Despite retiring from playing football in 1994, Anderson was still officially registered as a player and following an injury crisis at Middlesbrough he played two games for the club in1994–95when they were promoted to the Premier League as Division One champions. After gaining promotion he finally hung up his playing boots.
Anderson helped Robson assemble a side that reached both domestic cup finals (both of which they lost) in1996–97, although they were relegated due to a three-point deduction for postponing a December fixture at late notice as a result of so many players being unable to play due to illness or injury. However, Boro won promotion at the first attempt and were League Cup runners-up once again. Robson and Anderson finally left Middlesbrough in June 2001 whenTerry Venableswas brought in with the club facing relegation. Despite never achieving anything higher than ninth place in the final table the duo had managed to establish Boro in thePremier League.