Freed Hearts midfielder Kenny Anderson plots UK return

Kenny Anderson made a goalscoring debut for Hearts but found competition for places in midfield fierce. He played just nine times.
Kenny Anderson made a goalscoring debut for Hearts but found competition for places in midfield fierce. He played just nine times.
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KENNY ANDERSON has rejoined formative club RKC Waalwijk in the Netherlands after his release from Hearts.

He signed an 18-month contract upon returning to the Mandemakers Stadion on Monday, but insists his British adventure is far from over.

The Dutch midfielder plans to help Waalwijk reclaim top-flight status and, in the process, earn a move back to Scotland or England. A 22-month stay at Hearts brought only nine first-team appearances despite an impressive goalscoring debut. But Anderson is still just 23 and adamant he can adapt to football in Britain.

The son of a Dundee United supporter from Lochee, not to mention a Hearts-supporting grandfather, he had good cause to crave success in the country of his family’s roots. He isn’t about to give up after the first attempt. He set sail from Hull to Rotterdam last week after agreeing an early termination of his contract at Tynecastle. As the Humber Estuary faded into the distance, Anderson was already planning a return to these shores.

“That’s what I aim for. It’s maybe a step back for me just now but hopefully it helps me take two steps forward in the future,” he explained. “I really liked the football and the passion of the fans in the UK. If I get the opportunity, I would always consider it. Everybody wants to play in the UK so that’s what I’m aiming for right now. Hopefully I can climb back up that ladder.

“I expected more from my time at Hearts but, if I look back, it was a good experience playing for such a big team. The first half of my time there was good and was all positive. There were a lot of good players in my position and it never really worked out. It was a great experience and I would do it all again.

“If I could change it, I would make sure I got more game time. That just didn’t happen but as a person I expressed myself as best I can and I would never change that. It’s maybe just a bit of bad luck, I don’t know.

“I lived in Scotland for a year. I had only been there on holidays and it’s much different when you live there. I think I got to know Scotland better and got to know some people in my family better. Of course, on the football side, it was really disappointing that I was never a first-team starter at Hearts. You can’t really fail if you don’t try. I tried and it never worked out.”

An opportunity to join Livingston on loan and play regularly in the Championship didn’t appeal to Anderson. He trained three times in West Lothian last October before deciding to return to Riccarton and wait his time out despite knowing he was surplus to requirements there.

“It was going to be a loan deal,” he said. “I only trained with Livingston three times. The difference between Hearts and Livingston, in terms of organisation and facilities, was so big. It was never my intention to move to Scotland to go to a team like Livingston, with all due respect.

“I have made the same move now [to a second-tier club], only in Holland it’s easier. Moving country for a big club like Hearts is a good reason. I think it’s harder to accept if it’s for a smaller team. That’s mainly the reason. For myself, it never felt right to go there. I trained and I tried but it just didn’t feel good.”

Having played in the Waalwijk youth academy from age nine until his transfer to Edinburgh last February, returning to RKC wasn’t a hard decision. Anderson hasn’t played competitively since May 2 last year, when Hearts lifted the Scottish Championship trophy after a 2-2 draw with Rangers. He badly needs games in a familiar environment to get going again.

He is back home in more ways than one after moving back into his parents’ house in the southern Netherlands. It is a base from which to build again, hence the decision to sign a contract for only a year and a half at Waalwijk.

“I came home by car so I could fit in all my belongings. If that all went on the plane it would be a disaster, so I took the boat from Hull to Rotterdam. I’m just back at my parents’ house now because I’m not sure what’s happening in the future. I’m only 23 so it’s not a big deal.

“I was just looking for a team to play regularly. I have been with Waalwijk since I was nine and they gave me the opportunity to play first-team football when they were in the top league. The last two years have been really hard for them, financially and on the pitch.

“To go to the second division in Holland, I wouldn’t have felt good not going back to help my old club. I want to help them get back up where they actually belong. Waalwijk have been a top-flight team for years and they only came down because of mismanagement, the same situation as Hearts. They have always been a small team but, with small money and small crowds, they always managed to stay a top-flight team.

“I’m also looking to use it as a stepping-stone and try to give my career a kickstart. I think chances of playing regularly are big if you go back to your former club. I only signed for one and a half years and I hope to make a move after that.”