David Beckham backs Chertsey Town boss Anderson as he bows out a Wembley winner

Dave Anderson
Anderson played for Glentoran and Bangor before having to retire through injury

A World Cup qualifier at Wembley might seem an odd choice for a first date.

But it worked for FA Vase-winning Chertsey Town manager Dave Anderson, who took his now-wife to the 'home of football' in the early stages of their relationship.

The couple were not supporting the same team, as Belfast native Dave and Londoner Paula watched Northern Ireland secure a famous draw with England in November 1985 to qualify for the Mexico '86 World Cup.

"It was one of the first times I took Paula out," remembered Anderson.

"I was best mates with [late QPR and Northern Ireland captain] Alan McDonald - Paula and I met at his wedding. So I think that helped me persuade her to go along.

"I remember her not even wanting to open her mouth because she had a London accent and we were with the Northern Ireland fans."

A fairytale end

Chertsey Town beat Cray Valley after extra time at Wembley
Chertsey Town beat Cray Valley after extra time at Wembley

On Sunday, 34 years on, Mr and Mrs Anderson had another date at Wembley, with Paula and their son and daughter in the crowd as Anderson led Chertsey to FA Vase success with a final win over Cray Valley after extra time.

Anderson announced his retirement immediately after the victory that sealed a step-five double for the Surrey club, who last month lifted the Combined Counties League Premier Division title.

"It was a bit surreal - to win a trophy at Wembley is every schoolboy's dream," said Anderson, whose retirement brought the curtain down on a distinguished non-league managerial career that included spells at AFC Wimbledon, Hendon and St Albans City.

"The celebrations were amazing on the pitch and then back in the Bobby Moore suite with my family and friends who had come over from Rathcoole. After that it was back to Chertsey, where I think the whole town had packed into a pub - it was bouncing."

The Wembley win was a far cry from the despair felt by Anderson when he was forced to retire from playing at the age of 23.

"I was playing for Bangor against Crusaders when I came out to block a shot and their attacker caught me on the shin. It wasn't deliberate, but I never recovered. I took a bit of time out of the game completely after that."

'Game over - we've got a message from Beckham'

David Beckham
Beckham was one of a number of high-profile sportmen to wish Chertsey well for the final

When the Chertsey players ran out at Wembley, they did so with the backing of some of the most famous names in British sport ringing in their ears.

The likes of David Beckham, Joe Calzaghe and Lee Westwood all featured in a 20-minute motivational video, which was the end result of a competition between Anderson and his director of football, Mark 'Barney' Turner.

"We set each other a challenge of getting as many famous people as we could to record a 'good luck' message for the players," Anderson said.

"Royle Family actor Ralf Little, a former Chertsey player, got involved and we also had a message from Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley. I'd managed to get Lee Westwood, Jonny Evans, Carl Frampton and Norman Whiteside, and was quite happy with that.

"But then, four days before the final, I got a text from Barney that just read 'game over'. He'd only gone and got David Beckham. The players loved it - and it obviously worked!"

Lucky Wimbledon top worn all the way to final

Dave Anderson
Anderson displays the AFC Wimbledon top that he wore at Wembley

It may seem odd to see the manager of a team that has just won at Wembley displaying a T-shirt with the badge of one of his former clubs.

Anderson unzipped his Chertsey tracksuit top during the on-pitch celebrations to reveal an AFC Wimbledon shirt underneath - but explained it was for superstitious reasons.

"When I was getting ready to go to our Vase first-round match, I threw an old AFC Wimbledon t-shirt on under my tracksuit," Anderson explained.

"When we won, I wore it for every round after that. It became a lucky charm and I didn't want to risk not having it on for the final.

"I loved my time at Wimbledon and some of their fans had been kind enough to come to Wembley to support us. I spotted them in the crowd and just showed them my top for a bit of fun - I know nobody at Chertsey will have minded me doing that."

'Big Mac' was an inspiration

Alan McDonald
McDonald won the Irish Premiership as manager of Glentoran

Alan McDonald, the former Queens Park Rangers and Northern Ireland captain who died suddenly in June 2012, was a huge inspiration for Anderson - and the 57-year-old was thinking about his boyhood friend while reflecting on his trophy win.

"When Big Mac died I was a semi-professional football manager and driving a van for a living, and his death changed my life," said Anderson.

"It made me think about what was important in life. He was a big smoker and so was I, but I gave up smoking - that was my little tribute to him.

"There isn't a day goes by that I don't think about him and especially on Sunday, because I had watched him play at Wembley all those years ago. He was such a good guy and when I think about him it makes me smile."

While Anderson will no longer be on the touchline, his impact on the non-league game will continue through his role with BBC 5 Live's Non-League Football Show podcast.

He's hugely proud of his Northern Irish roots and says a long-overdue trip home to watch Michael O'Neill's side play is top of his list of things to do now he has more spare time.

Could Paula be set for a date night at Windsor Park?