The team of ex-White Hart Lane favourites led 2-1 approaching the closing stages of a rare evening outing thanks to Anderton’s first-half strike and a Mark Gower penalty.
Mark Falco’s subsequent spot kick was well saved by the Herts goalkeeper – an incident that looked like it would prove costly as the Legends’ opponents snatched an equaliser with 13 minutes left.
But Anderton saved the day, capitalising on a defensive error to fire his team back in front on 90 minutes before completing his hat-trick in stoppage time.
The large crowd at Meadow Park saw a plethora of former Spurs stars on and off the pitch. Ray Clemence came in as guest manager for the Legends while John Pratt took charge of the Herts XI. Graham Roberts, Paul Allen and Pat Jennings were also on the sidelines.
The Legends have often found it tough going in their annual battle with the Herts XI and there were early signs of this year’s game going the same way as Dean Shuttleworth converted a cross from the right to open the scoring after only three minutes.
Anderton hammered wide moments later as he sought an equaliser with the Legends going closer still on 18 minutes after a melee in the box. Anderton couldn’t get a shot away so he teed up the arriving Falco, whose shot crashed off the bar. Stephen Clemence picked up the pieces but drove his effort over the top.
The Legends’ pressure finally told on 24 minutes as Kevin Watson chipped a delightful ball over the Herts back four for Anderton, running in behind. He controlled it with a sublime touch, evaded the goalkeeper and tapped into the empty net for 1-1.
Paul McVeigh and Falco (pictured, above) were willing runners going forward as the half drifted on, but were often frustrated by the off-side flag.
The Legends eventually took the upper hand three minutes into the second period as Gower converted from the penalty spot after a handball in the box. A second spot kick was awarded just after the hour mark when Gower was bundled over from behind but Falco’s drive towards the bottom corner was brilliantly kept out by the goalkeeper, diving low to his right.
The Herts XI took advantage on 77 minutes when Matt Tilbury finished off an incisive move to drill into the net and level the scores, with his side going close to snatching a winner on a couple of occasions in the moments that followed.
Time was running out for the Legends and when Anderton’s angled shot was palmed away by the goalkeeper in the 89th minute, it looked like they’d be forced to settle for a draw.
But 60 seconds later, Stuart Nethercott launched the ball upfield and it glanced off the back of a defender’s head, falling nicely for Anderton in space. He made the most of the opportunity, coolly slotting into the net to make it 3-2 in dramatic fashion. The midfielder then rounded off proceedings nicely by completing his treble in stoppage time.
Spurs Legends: Gareth Howells, David Kerslake, Mark Stimson, Kevin Watson, Stuart Nethercott, Justin Edinburgh, Darren Anderton, Stephen Clemence, Paul McVeigh, Mark Gower, Mark Falco. Substitutes: Andy Edmonds, Micky Southam, Micky Jarrett, Trevor Wilkinson. Manager: Ray Clemence.