Fans’ favourite Russell Anderson will forever be in the Aberdeen Football Club hall of fame for his 407 appearances in the number 4 jersey, making him presently sixth in the table of longest serving players. The former Aberdeen Grammar School pupil can also claim 11 caps for Scotland, albeit his debut was a cameo appearance as a sub for two minutes against Iceland in Reykjavik in 2004, when he never even touched the ball.
Notice the school he attended, much better known for producing international rugby players, notably two medics. Dr Donny Innes played for Scotland before and after World War II and, sweetest of all, captained a winning side against England at Murrayfield, and Dr Doug Smith was team manager of the only British and Irish Lions team to beat the mighty All Blacks in a series in New Zealand back in 1971.
That’s my first question to Russell, who retired from football in May 2015, and has trained himself to become an independent financial adviser with the ever-expanding Aberdein Considine law firm in Aberdeen’s Bon Accord Crescent. ‘Yes, it does seem odd to some people,’ says the 39-year-old, now quite at home in a business suit. However, outside of school, Russell played football with the King Street boys’ club and, later, with the Dyce equivalent.
Not only has the married father-of-two made an apparently seamless transition into the world of financial planning, he has also spearheaded the Russell Anderson Development School, an initiative bringing high-intensity, fun exercise sessions to primary schools in the St. Machar catchment area of Aberdeen.
Says Russell, ‘This all came about through the 1999 Open golf champion Paul Lawrie, a huge Dons fan, who has himself worked wonders in bringing on young golf talent. He arranged for me to meet Sir Ian Wood with a view to seeking support for a school football initiative and the pilot project was after school at Riverbank Primary in Tillydrone.
‘In our first year 2014/15, we completed 48 sessions for 227 youngsters but such has been the impact, at the last count, that figure had risen to 1,754, with most of the work done by eight coaches in school time.’ Russell is delighted that there is a good feedback from staff in schools who see healthier and fitter pupils. Monthly keep-fit sessions for teachers at Cornhill Primary have also been a success and more of the same is promised in other schools.
Russell pays tribute to volunteer Graeme Burnett for his hard graft in co-ordinating the scheme, backed by The Wood Foundation. Its success has also brought in a three-year sponsorship deal from Saltire Energy’s Mike Loggie, a huge backer of Aberdeen FC. However, funds are still needed and to that end, there is to be a first fundraising ball at the city’s Chester Hotel on May 26.
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Action man Russell also somehow manages to fit in being assistant manager for Formartine United in the Highland League and his older son, Jevan, 17, has signed a one-year contract with the club. Also at home with mum Claire is second son, Cole, 15. They must have to make appointments to see each other because, guess what, Claire is also a personal trainer at David Lloyd’s in Garthdee. Fit a fit family indeed.