When you think of iconic moments during derby matches you might think of tries like Tommy Martyn’s hat trick try at the, then, JJB or superhuman efforts like Keiron Cunninghams tackle at Knowsley Road.
But when you think of big, bone crunching hits you think of one man in one game in 2006. And we have been lucky enough to be able to speak to that man, Vinnie Anderson, exclusively for Redvee.
A popular figure at the club, Vinnie appeared 49 times for the Saints scoring 22 tries.
We’d like to put on record our thanks to Vinnie for taking the time to answer our questions and we wish him all the best for the future.
Redvee: First up can you give us a bit of background on how your move to Saints came about? You were meant to be signing for London, what happened next?
Vinnie Anderson: I was in London for a week or two but they were having trouble getting my contract registered due to financial issues. I had turned down an offer from Bradford a month or so earlier to go there and was now having doubts about whether or not I had made the right decision. I was genuinely worried that I was going to end up without a club.
London were great and reassured me that everything would eventually get sorted but during the waiting period, Paul Sculthorpe got in touch with me about coming to Saints. We had recently played a test series against each other and I had and still have, huge respect for Paul as a player and person, so his call carried a lot of weight. A few days later, a meeting in a small Yorkshire pub took place and I agreed to terms with Saints.
RV: You joined us in 2005 & were part of that 2006 Saints team – who was the best player you played with a Saints?
VA: That team was full of so many great players and a real honour to be a part of. It is not possible for me to pick a ‘best’ player, so I will just talk briefly about one whom I was fortunate to play next to on the right edge. Jamie Lyon. During those two seasons he was just on another level to everyone else. He had no weaknesses in his game. Fast, powerful, had a great pass, could offload and kick, and was a tough defender as well. Amazing player.
RV: How was derby day different to any other game?
VA: The importance of the derby was made aware to me in my first conversation with Eamonn McManus. He told me that Saints were about two things, winning trophies and beating Wigan.
The first one I played in was very early in my Saints career and was played at Wigan. The way we prepared during the week and on game day was the same way we would have prepared for a final. The stadium was packed before the warm up had even started and the cheering and singing from the fans created a truly electric atmosphere.
RV: What is your favourite Saints/Wigan derby day memory?
VA: In my first derby in 2005, Jamie Lyon, not far removed from an Australian summer, suffered from heat stroke and needed medical help in the changing rooms. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it makes me laugh now.
The 75-0 game is also a favourite. Everyone was on the top of their game that day and everything we did just seemed to work out.
RV: The tackle on Danny Tickle is still spoken about in St Helens – what are your recollections of that incident? What happened in the build up/what was said?
VA: We made a little break and I was pushing in support but just before the pass came to me, I was tackled from behind and unable to get a clean catch. The referee didn’t see it and awarded the scrum to Wigan. I was fuming and just decided that I was going to try and hurt someone (cleanly of course) in the following set. It was nothing against Danny. It wasn’t him who had made the early tackle on me. All I saw was a Wigan jersey close enough for me to shoot out on. I couldn’t tell you in any detail what was said. An incoherent tirade of expletives just flew out.
RV: How does Saints v Wigan compare with other derbies you have played in?
VA: No other game I have played in can quite compare to a Saints vs Wigan match. The intensity of the competition between the two clubs is really quite special.
I think how hard both clubs work at developing and retaining local talent is a key factor in that. The guys from St Helens that I played with, like Kez and Wello, were so passionate about the rivalry with Wigan that it inspired everyone else in the team to feel the same way. The more locally produced talent, the better, in that regard.
RV: What are you doing now and what does the future hold for you?
VA: I am currently playing and coaching in France. I thought I would retire from rugby league at 30 but its proving hard to give up. I’m 40 now and though it is tough on the body, I seem to take some weird pleasure from the pain of playing. I also love being a part of a team. Working with a group towards a common goal can be very rewarding and anyone who’s played knows about all the laughs and good times, you have together.
I manage a few French players, which along with coaching, is my way of helping the development of the sport in France.
Besides the rugby league activities, I have been a university student for a few years and have almost completed my studies in the worlds of political science and philosophy. I am slowly entering the wine industry in France and work constantly at growing my investment portfolio. I still have properties within short driving distance to St Helens and one of my houses in New Zealand is even rented by former Saints season ticket holders! Small world!
As far as what the future holds, I tend to focus on my short-term goals and not look too far ahead, but it will certainly include everything I can fit in which I think makes me a better husband and father.
Thanks so much for sending these questions through. It’s been nice reflecting on my time at Saints. I really enjoyed my time there. Thanks again and good luck this week!
RV: Thanks Vinnie and all the best.