Wally Downes

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Wally Downes
Downes with West Ham United in 2011
Personal information
Full name Walter John Downes[1]
Date of birth (1961-06-09) 9 June 1961 (age 58)[1]
Place of birth Hammersmith, England
Playing position Midfielder[1]
Club information
Current team
AFC Wimbledon (manager)
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1979–1988 Wimbledon 207 (15)
1987Newport County (loan) 4 (2)
1988 Sheffield United 9 (1)
1988 Hayes
Total 220 (18)
Teams managed
2002–2004 Brentford
2016–2017 Kerala Blasters (assistant)
2018– AFC Wimbledon
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Walter John Downes (born 9 June 1961) is an English professional football manager and former player who played as a midfielder. He is the manager of League One club AFC Wimbledon.

As a footballer, Downes played the majority of his career for Wimbledon as well as shorter spells with Newport County, Sheffield United and Hayes. He was the manager of Brentford between 2002 and 2004.

Early and personal life[edit]

Downes was born in Hammersmith, London.[1] He is the nephew of former world middleweight boxing champion Terry Downes.[2]

Playing career[edit]

Downes started out as an apprentice with Wimbledon and was their first ever full-time Football League apprentice.[3] He is often cited as being the main instigator of the Crazy Gang spirit at the club,[4] as it rose from the Fourth to the First Division inside a decade. In 1979, aged 17 he scored on his league debut against Barnsley and went on to make over 200 appearances for Wimbledon, usually as a midfielder.[3]

In 1988, he left to join his mentor and former Wimbledon manager Dave Bassett at Sheffield United, but his career for his new club was severely limited by a number of serious injuries.

Coaching career[edit]

Crystal Palace[edit]

Following four broken legs he retired through injury.[3] Downes took a coaching position at Crystal Palace, and spent 12 years at Selhurst Park, most of these under Steve Coppell.


Downes then once again rejoined Coppell, this time at Reading, initially on a casual basis, but quickly proved himself invaluable, and took on the job of coaching Reading's defence. As a result, Downes was a major reason for Reading's impressive defensive display in the 2005–06 Championship season, where Reading had the best defensive statistics in the entire English football pyramid, and were promoted to the Premier League with a record 106 points.

In January 2007, Downes was involved in a touchline scuffle with Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock after he accused Warnock of telling his players to 'break legs'. However Warnock said: "I made the kicking gesture to tell the referee that Steve Sidwell's tackle on Chris Armstrong had been the worst of the game. Fortunately for me, the referee heard exactly what was said and confirmed that." Downes was charged with improper conduct for his role in the affray.[5]

On 14 May 2009, the club announced that they wouldn't renew his and Kevin Dillon's contract after Reading failed to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt after getting knocked out of the play-offs by Burnley 3–0 on aggregate and the departure of Steve Coppell. This was officially announced on the day of Steve Coppell's press conference and was first seen in an article in the Daily Mail saying he has been "sacked".


On 7 September 2009, Downes was appointed to a position within the backroom staff of League 1 club, Southampton. He was dismissed along with Alan Pardew on 30 August 2010.[6]

West Ham United[edit]

For a few weeks in October and November 2010 Downes was hired as a part-time defensive coach for League Two side Gillingham. Then on 23 November 2010, Downes was appointed as a defensive coach at West Ham United under manager Avram Grant. His appointment came hours after the West Ham board sacked assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic.[7] In May 2011, shortly after West Ham were relegated from the Premier League, Grant was sacked however Downes kept his job and was named first team coach when new manager Sam Allardyce took over.[8] On 11 December 2012 Downes' departure from his role with West Ham United was announced.[9] He went on to spend some time working under Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers.


Prior to the 2017–18 Indian Super League season, Downes joined Steve Coppell at Jamshedpur.[10] He subsequently coached at other Indian clubs, Kerala Blasters and ATK.[11]

Managerial career[edit]


Downes left Crystal Palace in 2000 and joined Brentford as assistant manager.[12] After Ron Noades stepped down as manager, he carried on in the role under Ray Lewington and Steve Coppell.[12] When Coppell left Brentford in June 2002, Downes was appointed manager.[12] He had an unbeaten start to his reign in August 2002, winning the Division Two Manager of the Month award.[13] Downes led the club to 16th position in the Second Division in 2002–03, but was sacked in March 2004 after a run of poor results and the club near the bottom of the table and facing relegation.[14]

AFC Wimbledon[edit]

On 4 December 2018, Downes took over after Neal Ardley left by mutual consent.[15] His assistant manager is Glyn Hodges.[16] When Downes took over, Wimbledon were six points from avoiding relegation from League One. They had slipped further behind to be nine points below 20th place in early March. Under Downes they won 21 points from their last 12 matches to successfully avoid relegation on the last day of the season.[17]

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of match played 24 August 2019[18]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record
P W D L Win %
Brentford 28 June 2002 14 March 2004 97 29 22 46 029.9
AFC Wimbledon 4 December 2018 Present 36 11 11 14 030.6
Total 133 40 33 60 030.1


As a manager[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d "Wally Downes". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Banter latest – Lita's song choice, the Doyle's family 10k bet and more!". www.readingfc.co.uk. 29 September 2005. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Wimbledon Old Players Association". www.wisa.org.uk. Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  4. ^ "Whatever happened to the Crazy Gang?". www,mirrorfootball.co.uk. 18 March 2010. Archived from the original on 1 April 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Warnock denies claim over gesture". 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  6. ^ "BBC Sport – Football – Southampton sack manager Pardew". BBC News. 30 August 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  7. ^ Skerry, Steve (24 November 2010). "West Ham go for Wally Downes after sacking assistant boss Zeljko Petrovic". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  8. ^ Lewis, Darren (1 July 2011). "The season starts here". London: whufc.com. Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  9. ^ Mokbel, Sami (11 December 2012). "Downes leaves post as West Ham first team coach in Upton Park shake-up". www.dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Tata group-backed Jamshedpur Football Club to Jam Ke Khelo in ISL Season 4". tata.com. Tata. 5 October 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Wally Downes: AFC Wimbledon appoint former Brentford boss as manager". BBC Sport. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  12. ^ a b c "Brentford | News | Latest News | Latest News | WALLY DOWNES CONFIRMED AS NEW BRENTFORD MANAGER". brentfordfc.co.uk. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Brentford | News | Latest News | Latest News | WALLY GETS HIS REWARD". brentfordfc.co.uk. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Brentford | News | Latest News | Latest News | CLUB STATEMENT". brentfordfc.co.uk. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  15. ^ "Neal Ardley: AFC Wimbledon boss leaves after more than six years in charge". bbc.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Wally Downes appointed as AFC Wimbledon's new manager". AFC Wimbledon Official Site. Retrieved 4 December 2018.
  17. ^ "Wally Downes adds another chapter to his AFC Wimbledon legacy as he returns to keep club in League One – South London News". Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  18. ^ "Managers: Wally Downes". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 9 June 2019.

External links[edit]