From lies to broken promises: Paul Anderson tells the troubled tale behind his Cobblers return
In the intervening 24 months between Paul Anderson's two spells as a Cobblers player, he endured some dark and troubling times and wondered if his career would ever get back on track.
What goes on away from the football pitch is so often left unsaid but, following his second full debut for the Cobblers last Saturday, Anderson detailed the tale behind his return to the club and revealed just how awry things have gone over the past 12 months.
Prior to that, his career was going to plan. Upon leaving the Cobblers at the end of their 2016/17 League One campaign, the 31-year-old joined big-spending Mansfield Town and played 40 times the following season as the Stags just missed out on a play-off place.
But that’s when it all began to unravel. Frozen out under new manager David Flitcroft - he wasn’t even selected for the reserve team - and then his contract mutually terminated, Anderson made only four substitute appearances for Plymouth Argyle throughout the entirety of last season.
“I went to Mansfield and they were really pushing,” explains the former Ipswich Town man. “They had lots of ambition and I think they had a project to try and get into the Championship.
“I bought into that and it’s still my dream now to get back into the Championship. I know it was League Two but I bought into something that they were trying to do.”
After Steve Evans left for Peterborough midway through Anderson’s first season at Field Mill, Flitcroft took the reins and could find no place in his plans for the experienced winger.
Rumours inevitably circled as to why Anderson was so dramatically discarded but he maintains he was harshly treated.
“The manager changed and the situation changed and I got pushed aside and totally frozen out for things that were said that, for me, were lies and made up,” he says.
“But it is what it is and I ended up leaving there and I got a few months down at Plymouth Argyle. I was desperate to get back into football and they gave me an opportunity so I was very thankful to Derek Adams who was manager at the time.
“He gave me a chance and I got a few minutes under my belt so it’s been a long time coming to get back on the pitch but I’m just delighted to be playing again.”
The story does not end there. A free agent after leaving Plymouth in the summer, Anderson would not even be in the country, let alone Northampton, had things gone to plan.
“Certain things happened over the summer,” he adds. “I had been offered contracts elsewhere and I was promised certain stuff abroad that would have been amazing for myself and my family.
“The experience would have been incredible but in football you can’t rely on some people’s words and it left me with nothing.
“There were teams who expressed an interest, but no-one has budgets at this time of the year so it left me with nothing.”
Then along came Keith Curle, who invited Anderson to train with the Cobblers last month and a couple of weeks later he put pen to paper on a short-term deal.
“I know the manager here from when he was at Notts County and he let me come in and train at a time when I needed it,” he continued.
“He was brilliant with me and he got in touch and within 24 hours he said ‘you’re pretty local so come down, come and train and who knows what will come of it’ and here I am.
“I was probably here for about 10 days and prior to that I was doing stuff on my own.”
If nothing else, Anderson is proving to be a lucky charm: Cobblers have won all three games since he signed for the club two weeks ago. The latest of those came on Saturday when Anderson started at wing-back and helped Town to a third successive 2-0 victory, this time at the expense of Cambridge.
“The lads have been great with me since I’ve come in,” said the former England U19 international. “They accepted me into the group quickly.
“I loved my time here before. I wasn’t even here for a full season because I signed late on but I enjoyed my time and I met some great people.
“It’s still all the same faces and it’s great to see them all again and great to be back."