DOWSON HOLDS ALL OF THE ACES
Cards boss passes first true test of character
BY his own admission, Alan Dowson is the worst loser in football.
“It was my daughter’s birthday,” the Woking manager said, speaking about last Saturday’s home defeat to Bath City.
“She had a sleepover and I think I was the worst father ever. I didn’t want to talk to anybody and didn’t even sing her happy birthday, how bad is that? She’s only 11.”
Bath’s 3-1 victory over the Cards made it five games without a win which saw Woking slip three points off the top.
Last Saturday evening, it would have felt like the world was caving in on Dowson, but three days is a long time in football.
“Tonight I’ll probably go back and snuggle up and sing happy birthday,” he added after seeing his side return to winning ways against Hungerford on Tuesday evening. “I’m a terrible loser, awful loser, the worst loser ever. Everybody says that [about me].”
It may have been only Woking’s third defeat under Dowson since his appointment in the summer, but the performance worried a restless fan base.
A home fixture 72 hours later against a lowly Hungerford side offered the perfect opportunity for a response, and Dowson knew he had to take the pressure off his players.
Before kick-off he stood alone on the pitch observing the warm-up. A statement, perhaps?
“It was to say, ‘Listen, I’m the manager, anybody who wants it, I’m standing here. Give me all your pressure’,” he explains.
“It was to put a point across that I’m not going to hide anywhere, that’s for certain and I don’t want the players to hide either.
“I said to the lads tonight to give all your fears to me. There’s a little bit of fear factor come in to the club to be honest. I thought the players felt it.
“I don’t think it could have got much worse on Saturday from the management to the players. I went into the bar on Saturday and I got heckled for the first time. You’ve got to come up here and talk when you’re winning games and losing games. I took my fair share of stick on Saturday and rightly so.
“I’ll walk in there and have a beer with them, I’d do that anyway. I got it wrong Saturday, tonight I felt I got it right.”
A brace from former Maidenhead striker Jake Hyde and one from centre-back Ben Gerring, a recent signing from Billericay, quickly put Woking back on track.
There were still some nervy moments in the first-half as Hungerford, buoyed by their win over high-flying Hampton at the weekend, forced two good saves from Craig Ross.
“It was quiet in the first-half. Some people probably come thinking, ‘If Dowse loses tonight what’s going to happen there?’ I wouldn’t get the sack but the pressure… I’m well aware of what football is about.
“We were beaten by a lot better side in Bath City. They left here on Saturday and everybody thought they were the best side we’ve seen all season; all of a sudden they drew tonight. Everybody’s telling us how great Torquay are and they drew as well. Welling got beat.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to do our job and I just saw signs for the first time this season that in the second half we played how we like to play.”
Perhaps, if it’s possible, Dowson cares too much. If he had the choice, he says he’d choose to die in the dugout doing something he loves.
The Woking job is one he has always wanted and thought he might never get. His passion for football, and winning, is as strong as anyone’s.
Despite fighting an uphill battle since the day he was appointed, building a squad from scratch and picking up the pieces of a National League relegation, and the promising start that has followed, Dowson still feel he needs to win over Woking’s faithful.
“I’m not a big name,” he says. “I think I’ve been quite successful in the game but I’m not that big name Woking Football Club has been used to in the past.
“They’ve had John McGovern here, Geoff Chapple, Glenn Cockerill. Proper players. I was a lower division player, not a big name. I put my record up against theirs as a manager and I’ve just got to make sure to keep winning people over.
“You’ve got to face people. I’ll do that win or lose.”
“I’M NOT GOING TO HIDE ANYWHERE, CERTAIN, AND I DON'T WANT THE PLAYERS TO HIDE EITHER" Alan Dowson – Woking manager
TURNAROUND: Woking got back on track with a 3-0 victory over Hungerford on Tuesday night BRING IT ON! Alan Dowson says he can handle the first period of pressure he has experienced as Woking boss