ADAM BOURKE: 200 senior games for Golden Square, club life membership and three premierships. What does all that mean to you?
CLAYTON ANDERSON: It means a fair bit. When I first came to the club from Cohuna, a lot of the boys at Cohuna told me I wouldn’t get a game in the seniors at Golden Square.
I was just happy to get a game to start with. Now I’ve probably hung around for an extra couple of years to get to 200.
AB: Considering you were told by a specialist in 2009 never to play footy again because of a serious neck injury, it’s been an amazing effort to get to 200 games.
CA: I missed out on playing in the 2009 and 2010 flags, so all I wanted to do was get back and play in one flag.
Once I won the first premiership in 2011 I caught the bug and kept playing. Hopefully, I can get another one this year.
AB: How close did you get in 2009-10 to not playing again?
CA: The specialist said he didn’t want me to play again. Once I had the surgery the surgeon was really happy with the way it went and he said that I might be able to play again in 12 months.
I couldn’t run for six months and I couldn’t lift more than a kilogram for six months after the surgery. It was a long way back, but I always had it in the back of my mind that I’d have a crack to get back. With the team going so well at that stage I really wanted to be part of it.
AB: When you did get back in 2011 you played in a Golden Square side that went through the season undefeated and won the grand final by 135 points. That was as good a side as we’ve seen in the BFNL.
CA: The 2011 team was a very good side. I’d love to see how that team would have stacked up against the Gisborne teams that I played against when I first came to Golden Square.
Those Gisborne teams were so ruthless. They were hard at it, hungry and very intimidating. They had a lot of sides beat before the first siren sounded.
AB: That was similar with the Golden Square 2011 side. It must have been a good feeling going to the footy each week knowing that you were going to win.
CA: Opposition teams would take it up to us for the first quarter or first half and then we’d take over after half-time. There were some days when us backmen wouldn’t see the ball in the second half. Eaglehawk gave us a good run in the second-semi and then they kicked the first three goals of the grand final and I remember feeling pretty nervous. It turned out alright.
AB: You’ve been arguably the best small defender in Bendigo footy over the past decade or more. Is that where you played your footy in Cohuna?
CA: I was always a midfielder changing in the forward pocket. I never played in the backline until I got to Golden Square. (Coach) Brian Walsh made me tag Gisborne’s Matt Fitzgerald in my second game. When Fitzy changed off the ball into the forward line I went with him and I did ok. Walshy kept me in the backline after that.
15 years later I’m still in the back pocket.
AB: You’ve played on some great small forwards in your time in Bendigo footy. Who’s been the hardest match-up for you?
CA: Obvioulsy, Stephen Milne was a great player, but I always found (Gisborne’s) Darren Farrugia the hardest to play on.
He pulled my pants down two or three times. He had good goal sense, quick on the lead, good in the air and he didn’t miss.
(Gisborne’s) Shane Davis was hard as well. He was a bit the same as Farrugia – good hands and hard to stop on the ground.
(Strathfieldsaye’s) Lachy Sharp is a very good player. (Kyneton’s) Ben Weightman I’ve only played on once, but he was really hard to stop.
When I first started I played on Sean Smith a couple of times and he was a good player. One day when he was playing for Eaglehawk I think he kicked 10 against us. (Older brother) Dillon (Anderson) started on him and then I got moved on to him.
The Gisborne boys were the ones I’ve found hardest to play on.
AB: As much as you’ve been a great defender, numerous times you’ve told me that you’d be a better forward. You have snuck forward and kicked a couple of bags.
CA: Nick Carter swung me forward a few times when I didn’t have a match up down back. I kicked seven twice, mate. Two weeks later I was back in the backline.
AB: Your older brother Dillon loved going down media street in his playing days. In fact, I recall him phoning the Addy requesting stories and photos. You’re the total opposite. Even after premiership wins you wouldn’t do interviews.
CA: I’m not a big talker. I don’t like doing media.
AB: You must like to talk on the ground because it seems you have a happy knack of getting under the skin of your opponents.
CA: Because I’m small there’s a few guys out there that like to try and intimidate me and I don’t like to take a backward step.
When you’ve won a few premierships you can always use that to go back hard at opponents.
AB: No-one in Bendigo footy calls you Clayton. Team-mates and opponents call you Simpson. Did that nickname originate in Cohuna?
CA: No, it started in 2003 at the National Hotel thanks to Christian Carter and Matt Dillon.
I had spiky blonde hair and they reckon I looked like Bart Simpson. They started calling me Simpson and it’s stuck. Even the umpires call me Simpson. New players who arrive at the club usually don’t realise what my real name is until they read it in the paper.
AB: I hear you have a new hobby that keeps you busy off the field. Is it right that you fancy yourself as a brewer of alcohol?
CA: I might have supplied the boys at the club with some drinks over the last year or two.
AB: As potent as rocket fuel I’m told.
CA: I like to make whiskey and bourbon. The boys enjoy it.
AB: You might need to double your order if Square can win the flag this year. At the age of 33 you’re still playing good footy, do you have another couple of years left?
CA: I’d say this will be my last year. I probably should have finished last year. We’ll see how we go at the end of the year, but I think I’m probably done.
AB: Last question, if all the players you’ve played with at Golden Square were lined up against the wall and you had first pick to start building your own team, who would you pick?
CA: That’s very hard. Maybe Corey Jones would be first pick because he could play anywhere.
Then there’s Simon Rosa as well. He was unbelievable. It’s a real hard one. There’s Matt O’Toole, Grant Weeks, Mark Lloyd, James Bristow and I’d have Jason Griffin right up there as well.
AB: It would be a tough gig just to name your best Golden Square 18. Some good players would miss out.
CA: Even when I first started at Golden Square there were players like Darren Walsh, Ben Doherty, Tony Plim, Matt Dillon and Marty O’Rielly.
AB: What about your brother, Dillon?
CA: I couldn’t find a spot for him. Maybe he’d get a job on the pine.