At the beginning of the pre-season schedule, I sat down in conversation with new Dartford FC manager Alan Dowson.
The written article was published in the club’s Matchday Programme for the four friendlies played at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. For those unable to attend the games, here is the full article:
At the end of May, Dartford announced that Alan Dowson would be taking over the reigns of the First Team after the sacking of Steve King.
I had the privilege of sitting down in conversation with the new gaffer recently, and was pleasantly surprised by the immediate impact his presence has had since his arrival at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.
Having arrived at the club rather late, Dowson has settled in quickly despite his hectic schedule. With transfers ongoing, as he builds a squad to challenge in the National League South, the man from Gateshead isn’t under any illusions of the task that lies ahead. And, having built the solid nucleus of the side of which he’s delighted about, he can also be pleased with how his personality is rubbing off on others already.
With Dowson, what you see is what you get. He’s a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, and is a delightful, humorous, honest, yet humble man. His personality has reinstalled a more positive, buzzing energy around the club, as he’s working hard to bring that community driven philosophy back into Princes Park. As he rightly says, “If you don’t have the people, you don’t have a club” and “Dartford is full of great people, who should all be excited to come and watch their club play every Saturday”.
Yet, that philosophy isn’t just related to the First Team because, Dowson literally lives, breathes, and eats football. The sport is his life, including the women’s game, where he wants to help the Dartford FC Women’s team as much as possible, as well as our academy teams in order to lay solid foundations for the club’s future.
Upon meeting the man, you’d be forgiven in believing he’d just recently moved from Gateshead. Yet, he has lived in London since the age of fifteen, “but just can’t get rid of the accent”! His club history, both as a player and coach/manager, stretches back to that age when he first started at Millwall.
Despite describing football as being his life, Dowson is a family man with two teenage children, Ryan and Jess. When he’s home, he likes to spend quality time with his family, as well as attending church when time allows. He enjoys a bit of cricket and meeting the locals in the town centre and pubs. He also enjoys the theatre every now and again, yet, you’ll always find him wearing a comfortable tracksuit as he doesn’t have many other clothes!
On the pitch, Dowson’s philosophy is to include the young academy players alongside those more experienced lads. Afterall, he says that “Dartford is a massive club, you have to give these kids a chance. If they’re good enough, which is the main thing, we have to give them a fair chance… I’ll send them out, tell them to enjoy themselves and show us what they can do”.
Whilst Dowson is an open character, he also has a more serious side to him as a person. He admits that he can be rather set in his ways, but all he asks from his players is that they compete at all times, no matter what the circumstances. Punctuality is important to him, and he also expects everyone to remain later and mingle with fans, etc… after matches.
His philosophy includes a team who will “fight hard to win the ball, and fight hard to keep it… change tactics depending on certain situations on the pitch (for instance clear the danger immediately), I like to play football in the opposition’s half, and to have exciting players in their half“.
Dowson’s experience speaks for itself, yet he drew a lot of inspiration from the late, great Brian Clough who he studied back in the day, along with Sir Alex Ferguson. However, despite learning a lot and applying it to his personal portfolio, Dowson also changes with the times by picking up little bits and pieces from others around him. As time goes by, things in football change rapidly, and he likes to keep up-to-date with it all.
He’s a disciplinarian in some ways, especially with regards to keeping dressing rooms clean, etc… Yet, with an open-door policy and friendly personality, Dowson is always available for a chat. Being brought up as a Roman Catholic, he loves speaking to those with other religious beliefs and faiths, and is extremely open-minded and accepting.
As the start of the season beckons, Dowson is looking forward to seeing and meeting the Dartford faithful, “we all have the same ambitions, we’re in this together”, just don’t expect him to wear a suit!
By Chris Palmer