EVERYONE at Burton Albion was shocked and saddened by the news of the death of our former player Dale Anderson at the age of just 44.
The striker was a firm fan favourite at Eton Park in the early Nigel Clough years, famous for his mazy runs and ability to turn defenders inside and out with his dribbling skills.
Born in 1979, Anderson was a key signing by Clough at the start of his first full season in charge in August 1999.
The striker’s place in Brewers fans’ hearts was firmly cemented when he scored crucial goals in the 2001-2002 season when Albion won the Northern Premier League to win promotion to the Conference.
He scored in what Clough saw as a pivotal 2-1 away win at Barrow and the second goal at Vauxhall Motors as the Brewers memorably clinched promotion in a never to be forgotten night at Ellesmere Port. He contributed 15 vital league goals that season.
But no goal will be more fondly remembered than his superb solo effort against Hucknall that has been dubbed the best ever seen at Eton Park. Picking the ball up deep in his own half with his back to goal, Anderson turned his man and headed for goal, skipping over half a dozen attempts to tackle him, racing into the box before rounding the keeper and slotting the ball into the empty net. It was a marvellous highlight of one of the greatest seasons in Albion history.
Although injuries set him back at times, Anderson continued his Brewers career in the Conference and in 2006 played in both FA Cup Third Round ties against the mighty Manchester United. He was a sub in both matches coming on for the last ten minutes at home but played more than hour at Old Trafford after Jon Shaw came off injured.
But that was to be his last great contribution for the Brewers, heading out on loan shortly after first to Northwich and then Moor Green, signing permanently for the latter in the summer of 2006.
Brewers Chairman Ben Robinson said: “It was a massive shock to the club to hear that Dale had passed away.
“He is an important player in the club’s history, scoring memorable goals and playing a key role in our first ever league title under Nigel Clough.
“He will always be warmly remembered by everyone at the club and our deepest sympathies go to all his family and friends at this sad time.
"We will be inviting his family to a future game so that we can pay tribute to Dale's memory."
Nigel Clough said: “We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the news. First and foremost, Dale was one of the nicest lads who ever played for us off the pitch; and on the pitch he made a significant contribution to our success in those years.
“He had been released by Nottingham Forest and Steve Booth our scout spotted him playing for Hednesford Reserves.
“He went on to be probably the most important individual player we had in that team because of his effort, his running and what he could do on the ball. Away from home we could play with just him up front and be very solid. We used to say that he was so genuine and honest he would run until his legs buckled.
“We remember his incredible goal against Hucknall where he seemed to beat their whole team, some of them twice, and to score a goal like that at any level shows incredible ability.
“That was Dale. He never complained, just kept on going.
“He was a very engaging lad and often quite funny without really knowing it. That was part of what made him so popular.”