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Dave: it was the pinnacle

13 June 2016

Former Dons manager on his retirement from the game

Dave Anderson today hailed his time at AFC Wimbledon as the undoubted highlight of his managerial career after he announced his retirement from football.

Dave played a major part in AFC Wimbledon’s rise, including winning the Ryman League Division One title and the Surrey Senior Cup, in 2005, before departing two years later with the club in good shape for Terry Brown to take it on even further.

Despite his reign at Wimbledon ending on a sour note with the second of two frustrating play-off Ryman Premier League semi-final defeats against Bromley, Northern Irishman Dave is still hugely proud of his achievements here.

Of course, Dave’s tenure as Dons manager also included helping AFC Wimbledon to set that memorable 78-game record for the longest unbeaten league run in senior football, building on the work of Terry Eames and Nicky English.

During an extensive interview with the official website today, Dave said: “I was lucky enough to be a manager for over 30 years and the pinnacle was at Wimbledon. I will never forget my time as a manager before then too as it gave me the chance to go to Wimbledon. Without a doubt, it’s the job I will be remembered for and I have great memories of my time at Wimbledon.

“Winning the league and Surrey Senior Cup meant that I was in a job for the next season! Part of the deal was to get promotion in my first season. Not too many managers get to win a league title at any level of football and it was a brilliant day for me when that was achieved. It also showed that the club was moving in the right direction.

It was a big thing in my life and if I am getting stick from my mates in the pub I can always chuck that back at them!” and that tells you what I think of it!@daveanderson78My Twitter handle is “The unbeaten run was very stressful as I did not want to let anyone down! It was a bit of a weight around my neck, but it was brilliant to extend it after I took over because we were playing at a higher level. 

The picture above shows Dave Anderson (centre) with the Surrey Senior Cup, alongside friends Stephen Moore (left) and John Roache (right).

That success meant so much to him, particularly because it was watched by 3,809 supporters – a remarkable attendance for a Surrey Senior Cup Final. They included school friends Stephen and John.

“The scenes at Woking with a stand full of Wimbledon supporters will live with me until my dying day,” added Anderson. “It was unbelievable and it made the hairs on my neck stand-up. It was awesome to see all those fans supporting us.

    Birthday when I was in charge of Harrow Borough. I was sorting them out with tickets for Harrow, but they said that they would sooner go and watch Wimbledon!”th“My old mates used to come over and watch a game at every club I managed and six or seven of them visited to mark my 50

Dave later revealed that he would even show the video of the Surrey Cup Final to potential new recruits as an incentive for them to sign for the club.

Though Dave just came up short in his efforts to initiate further progress – his side were beaten by Fisher Athletic and Bromley in successive play-off semi-finals – his time at Wimbledon is still fondly remembered by Dons supporters.

“In the first Ryman Premier season we had a lot of injuries and when we played Fisher we had five or six of the team sitting in the stands,” added Dave. “That was just the luck of the draw and in the second season we had points deducted and ‘Darlogate’ hanging over us until near the end. On the night against Bromley I thought we played well, but we had Wes Daly sent off, and even with 10 men I thought we had a real go.

“You have to learn to live with the lows in football as well as the highs. I thought I handled it quite well. I remember saying to Erik that he should appoint Terry Brown as manager. I don’t want to take credit for that though as Terry got it on his own merit through an interview.

“It is not about the Wimbledon supporters liking what I did or the players I brought in, but they appreciated that I gave everything for them. I felt I changed AFC Wimbledon into a semi-professional club and the fans knew that my want for the club was an honest one. It’s still the first result I look for on a Saturday.”

Indeed, Dave attended the play-off final at Wembley and celebrated with Dons fans afterwards in the Green Man pub.

Following a managerial career that spanned over 1,800 games, starting with North Greenford in 1986, Dave admitted that he had lost his appetite to pursue a route back into football at the age of 54 after leaving Harrow Borough last year.

Pinging balls down the fairways at Northwood Golf Club will become a more regular pursuit for Dave, but he’s sure to be back here as a fan in the near future at AFC Wimbledon.

And following on from his success as co-presenter on the Non League Show, there could even be a long-awaited return to the airwaves for Dave! However, he is keeping details of that close to his chest for now.

“Everyone you are up against in management are working 24/7,” said Dave. “They have that hunger and desire for the job and I had that too. I managed between 1,800 and 2,000 games so I am proud of that record.

“I helped Hendon to their best finish in 30 years with third place in the Ryman Premier at a time when that division led into the Conference. I also won the Middlesex Cup three times with Hendon, won a double with Wimbledon, and guided Northwood to their longest run in the FA Trophy. I had great times in my career.

“One of my mates at the Golf Club said that I would get sick of playing golf with the way that I’m going and that will be the aim now! I’ve always had a great relationship with Terry Brown, Neal Ardley, and his current management team. Hopefully, we can arrange a game of golf before things really get going again for them with the football.

 “I’m hopeful that I’ll be back on the airwaves soon, but if not I will be after the jobs of your Radio WDON team! I love coming to watch games at Wimbledon and it is moving how well I am treated by everyone when I return.”

    For a season or two, Dave was a more than useful contact for the author of this article when working on the sports desk at the Uxbridge Gazette and Harrow Observer! Calls to find out about news at Northwood and Harrow Borough were particularly entertaining with Dave on the other end of a phone. The odd ‘scoop’ about a seven-day approach (remember them!) for a rival club’s player was often a treasured reward for giving Dave a call.  Editor’s note:


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