Surrey Club Head To Wembley - Dave Anderson Interview
Surrey club Chertsey Town are looking forward to their trip to Wembley for the Buildbase FA Vase Final. We catch up with Chertsey manager, Dave Anderson ahead of the tie.
Dave, you’ve had a lot of experience in the game over the years but is this your first visit to Wembley?
As a manager yes, absolutely. I’ve done everything at Wembley, the FA Vase semi-final draw on behalf of the Non-League Show, I’ve been in the Royal Box as a guest and been there with the press and media many times. I’ve watched [football] from every level in the stadium. I’ve done absolutely everything except sitting in the dugout.
Tickets seem to be flying, both for the National League sides and Cray Valley and your team, Chertsey.
I’m really delighted about that. The interest this week [following the semi-final victory] has been like going back to Wimbledon [where Anderson was previously manager]. It’s just on a different level. But to sell 2,000 tickets in the first week for a little club like Chertsey – I’m just over the moon about that.
What kind of attendances are you attracting to your normal home games?
I think when I first took over it was about forty, but now it’s about 150, 200. But I think we had 1,800-2,000 last Saturday [for the semi-final]. So it looks as though they’re all coming back.
So I suppose you’re hoping that football fans from across the county are going to come along to Wembley to get behind the team?
Yeah I hope so. It’s a great day if you want to take your kids to see the stadium or you want to see the stadium yourself, it’s the perfect day to do it. There are two games, so you get two for the price of one and you’re guaranteed to get yourself a good seat because the top tier isn’t open. It’s got lots going for it. Bring a blue and white scarf along with you as well if you want!
Okay, so talk me through the run to the final. Nine games, that has to be up there with one of the longest cup runs to get to a final!
My assistant manager Steve Hawkins can recite games from 1984, tell you the team and the goalscorers. I can’t recite it from last Saturday! Games pass me by quickly. I never really pay attention to the one before or the one after. I just try to focus on the one that we’re involved in. But it only starts to become noticeable [that the cup run is getting serious] when you hit the last 32 and when it became national and we had to go up north. Then you feel like you’re in a big competition because you’re travelling on a Friday.
Let’s talk about some of those trips up north.
We did Irlam away which is Manchester and then Northwich [Victoria], and in-between that we played West Auckland who were the favourites and had been to Wembley a couple of times. We played them away, and that’s Darlington way. So that was another Friday trip. To go up north three times, if you come through that you deserve to be in the final.
And ironically in the final, you take on more local opposition in Cray Valley PM.
Yeah, and it’s a competition that’s dominated by northern clubs normally. So I wonder when the last time there were two London clubs in it. That must be a long time ago! Obviously [Leyton] Orient are there in the FA Trophy, so there are three London sides at Wembley. Hopefully that will bring in more local interest. The more the merrier.
You’ve probably spent half your week talking about the game to people, but I have to ask you about the semi-final. Talk me through the game and then the shootout. How are you feeling as manager in that situation?
Well, I think that before the shootout my description of the game would be that I thought they were better than us in the first half. Both teams looked really nervous which is totally understandable. The first game was like that. The second half was much of a muchness until about the last 20 minutes. And I just thought we then created three or four great chances and their keeper pulled off three unbelievable saves in that period. Don’t get me wrong, my goalkeeper pulled of two or three great saves in the 90 minutes as well. I’m not saying it was one-way traffic at all. My fear then was that we’d sort of missed the boat. We’d had a chance and we hadn’t taken it.
Extra time was very even but in the last minute of extra time, they get in one-on-one. It’s the 119th minute and you’re thinking there just isn’t time to recover from this. Then Nicky Jupp [our goalkeeper] pulled off an unbelievable save.
When we went to penalties I was numb from the neck down with nerves. But if I am honest I was more comfortable at that point than at any other period in the game. Because we had practiced them during the week, I knew who the takers were and I knew tactically they’d be good. I knew the [Northwich] goalkeeper would have to make a save because I didn’t see us doing anything stupid [with our penalties]. I also would have put my mortgage on Nicky Jupp saving one. He saved the second one which is great, because it put the pressure on Northwich – even more pressure if that’s possible. I thought that was a massive moment. When it came to the last one I was confident Sam [Murphy] would hit the target. He’s an experienced player, he plays for England Futsal and the England 6-a-side team so he’s been in big games, international tournaments, has the belief in his ability and I just couldn’t wish for anybody better to be on it.
So he’s somebody to be looking out for in the final. Are there any other names for those coming along to the game that might not have seen Chertsey play before?
I think our front five players are good. Jake Baxter has had an exceptional year up front. I think the five at the top end of the pitch can all score goals and I feel [Cray Valley] are in exactly the same boat. So I think it will be a football match instead of a war. It’s on a surface which won’t cause any issues. We feel sometimes that bad surfaces slow us down a little bit and I know Cray feel the same. I feel that for the neutrals it could be a crackerjack. [But] I hope it’s the worst game in the world and we win, I’ll settle for that but [we are] both experienced teams so although there’ll be nerves, they’ll handle it. They’ll want to be there.
An amazing experience though. As we said earlier you’ve been in management for years and this is your first time in the dugout at Wembley, and you might not get another chance. The same goes for the players.
Yes, absolutely. I grew up in Rathcoole, which is a council estate in North Belfast and the game we played as kids was called was Wembley. If you are involved in football anywhere in the world it’s an iconic venue and to lead your team out there. I’m very pleased with my career, I’ve plenty of memories, but this really is the icing on the cake. It’s a tremendous honour to lead the team out there.
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