Obituaries: Alan Anderson, Hearts captain who moved into hospitality

Alan Anderson, footballer. Born: 21 December 1939 in Edinburgh. Died: 27 February 2022 in Edinburgh, aged 82

Hearts' skipper Alan Anderson at home in February 1966

Alan Anderson was an iconic Hearts’ footballer who played 537 games in total for the club between 1963 and 1976, captaining the team many times and rendering outstanding service to the extent that he seemed woven into the club’s fabric. A lifelong Hearts fan, he commented when signing, “I’d pull the jersey over my head for nothing.” Physically imposing as a central defender, he was dominant in the air, aggressive in the tackle, read the game astutely and played to win. His consistency meant he missed few games apart from when injured and in 2018 he was deservedly inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame.

Although his career was synonymous with Hearts, previously he played for Falkirk, Alloa Athletic, Millwall and Scunthorpe United, with appearances for those clubs bringing his total of senior games to 623, a remarkable achievement.

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Alan was unfortunate not to win any honours with the Tynecastle side, coming agonisingly close to claiming the old First Division title in 1965 only to lose it on goal average by one goal in the final day fixture against Kilmarnock. He also played in the 1968 Scottish Cup Final won by Dunfermline Athletic and three years later was part of the team which lost the two-legged Texaco Cup Final to Wolves.

Other highlights included playing in several European ties for Hearts and touring with the club to North America, Norway, the Netherlands and Ireland, while in 1967 he was a member of Scotland’s “World Tour”, when he played seven of the nine games contested, the highest number of appearances of any player. Latterly his involvement was recognised with the retrospective award by the S.F.A. of a full cap.

Once finished playing he enjoyed a successful business career, operating several licensed premises with wife Annette in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Arthur Alan Duncan Anderson was the elder son of Andy and Peggy, and older brother of Roger. Brought up in Trafalgar Lane, Leith, he attended Bonnington Primary and David Kilpatrick’s Secondary where he was Dux. His father was a plumber who had worked for a period in Saudi as a pipefitter when Alan was young.

His football talent was apparent early as he represented Leith Primary Schools and later Edinburgh Schools, then as a midfielder. He joined well-known Edinburgh Boys’ Club, United Crossroads, a springboard for many successful careers, and played for them before joining Junior outfit, Dalkeith Thistle, from whom he signed for Falkirk in 1958 under manager Reg Smith. While there he spent a loan spell at Alloa but featured rarely in the first team as he combined football with a compositor’s apprenticeship.

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In 1959 he signed for Millwall to link up again with Reg Smith, their new manager, to begin establishing himself in the team at centre half, while completing his apprenticeship at the Kentish Mercury. With Alan playing a key defensive role the team won the old Division 4 League title in 1962, leading to a £10,000 transfer after 79 games to Scunthorpe United, then in the old 2nd Division. He and the manager had difficulties, resulting in Alan playing only a handful of games before leaving for Hearts in late 1963 for £1,500, which was often referred to as “one of Hearts’ best ever investments”. Ironically, he was then considering an offer from Hibs before being asked, while spectating at Tynecastle, to meet manager Tommy Walker. Despite being brought up near Hibs’ ground he was, like his father, a lifelong Hearts fan and signing for his boyhood heroes was quickly completed.

After the 1965 League title disappointment there was the consolation of participation in European football, the “Fairs Cup” tournament, when after beating Valerengens of Norway, Hearts played Spanish cracks Zaragoza, the 1964 winners. Tied after both legs in which Alan scored two goals, the playoff match took place in Zaragoza, with Hearts unlucky to lose 1-0 as the Spaniards progressed later to the Final.

In his final season, 1975/76, he helped the team secure a place in the next season’s inaugural 10-team Premier Division and although he played in earlier rounds of the Scottish Cup he did not figure in the team for the Final, won by Rangers.

On 22 June 1968 Alan married Annette Campbell, a secretary, at St Andrews Church in Edinburgh’s Clermiston, the couple having met socially a few years previously. They went on to enjoy a long happy marriage during which they had three children, Alan, Gayle and Ross.

While still playing, Alan was grateful to Hearts chairman Bill Lindsay, a senior lawyer, for general business advice as he began looking to his future by acquiring his first pub, The Royal Oak, in the city’s Infirmary Street, shrewdly renaming it The Pivot because of the football connection. Thereafter, with his wife’s assistance, Alan developed as an entrepreneur in the licensed trade, operating several bars in Dalkeith, Leith and Edinburgh before he and Annette moved to Aberdeen in the early 1980s to take over the running of a pub/restaurant in Bridge of Don, Mains of Scotstoun Inn, and later an Aberdeen hotel, Inn at the Park. They also ran a hotel in Edinburgh’s Haymarket area and a pub in the city’s south side before retiring to live in Cramond.

Alan maintained his close interest in football and enjoyed being a match day host at Tynecastle, mixing with fans with whom he was always happy to talk. He kept himself fit, continuing training into his seventies, and played golf at Bruntsfield Links.

A "fabulous” father, Alan was widely considered a “lovely guy” who will be much missed by his wife, children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.


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