Hard to think our recently-departed boss was playing as far back as April 1981…
It’s been a little bit strange, just over a day since Glyn Hodges was released from his AFCW managerial duties.
When we’ve been in this position before in the last couple of years, it’s always had more of an impact.
Ardley went and there was a sense of overwhelming relief. Walter signed his own P45, which managed to send a few into absolute horror.
But after the guy sometimes known as Hodger left after Franchise walked over us, it felt a bit low key.
Maybe it’s because we’ve been here a couple of times in recent years, and we’ve almost become blase about it?
Managers have a shelf life of about eighteen months these days, give or take, and GH was in charge for about sixteen.
So we might as well start getting used to this a lot more from now on…
This piece you’re reading right now won’t be a reflection of Glyn Hodges the player. You could write a fair bit of that yourself.
Instead it’s going to be about Glyn Hodges, the AFC Wimbledon manager from September 2019 to January 2021.
In the post-sacking writeup SW19 did on Sunday, I said writing something like this would be tricky.
By the time you read further down, you might get a sense why I said that. But I’ll explain what I mean in due course.
Anyway, GH leaving is another former Wimbledon hero leaving on negative terms.
There was no escaping that the form of his last couple of months was horrific, and the writing was on the Plough Lane walls before the final act against Franchise.
We’ll start with when he arrived, as part of the Wally Downes juggernaut. He always seemed the more thoughtful of the pair during the initial Meet The Manager sessions, certainly.
He played no little part in the whole Great Escape (TM) thing that will be talked about for many years to come, and justifiably so.
The rest after that is history in terms of what happened to Walter, but in his last Meet The Manager he said two things about the man who was to replace him.
The first was that GH had just become a grandfather, but the second thing he said might have contributed to the events of the weekend just gone.
On Glyn Hodges, it was easy to get him to come last season, but it sounds it wasn’t quite so straightforward this time around, being away from his family and all that.
It was no secret that GH had the family home up north, and something I think might have played just a little part in his departure.
Not because it was a problem per se, but that journey starts getting a lot longer each time you do it when you’re doing badly…
Those who remember GH the player will know he became one of our first internationals (perhaps the first) of the WFC era, and with good reason.
Manager wise, he was caretaker at Barnsley (twice), before taking over at Stoke u23s for a good while.
So he had some experience, although perhaps not at the level we needed.
Hodges got thrown in at the deep end when Walter decided to put a couple of bets on, and it seemed him taking over lifted things for us.
We lost at Peterborough in his first game as caretaker boss, but following it up with wins against Rochdale (3-0 up, before it became 3-2) and Southend seemed to make that decision for the club.
Walter got banned, we fired him, and Glyn Hodges was the no-brainer.
True, we weren’t very good it has to be said, but even with Kwesi Appiah as our star striker, we were doing OK.
Up until Xmas 2019, when for some reason it started to go sour.
Only drawing against Southend , who were beyond shite, on New Year’s Day 2020 seemed to set a tone for the rest of the year.
There were some credible draws, to be fair – a last gasp equaliser at Rotherham, and your editor’s last ever match at KM against Ipswich spring to mind.
But under GH we seemed to lose something. I don’t know what, and having to rely on the strikers we had was always going to be difficult.
The first signs that we were in trouble in 19/20 started at the Kassam, I know I shouldn’t really requote stuff I’ve written before, but here’s a comment I made in the SW19 report:
Our attack has long been an issue, but now our defence looks ever more brittle. While we won’t play teams with a point to prove (like Oxford) every week from now on, we’ve still got some toughies ahead.
True, I’m writing this after our previous two games yielded two points (against two of the top six, no less), but results like these can damage a club’s confidence quickly – and possibly fatally.
I could have written that back in November. Or December. Or maybe even October.
I will remain convinced until the time I’m worm food that CV19 saved AFCW from relegation in 2020.
We just seemed to be drifting ever downwards, and we started to look like one of those teams who didn’t realise they were declining until it was too late.
GH had his hands tied with some awful contracts given out to some lousy players, and there was much rejoice when the season finally got truncated.
Even if we did make an enemy out of Tranmere fans for life.
True, NPL’s continued construction and the whole Corona stuff tempered our ability in the transfer market.
But we started off quite well this season, scoring goals but leaking them as much in the process.
Indeed, up until November we were still winning games, and GH became the first manager to lead us out for the first home game in three decades.
It was a shame there was no crowd in to see it.
I was going to say that the decline and ultimate departure of GH was down to the enforced Corona isolation soon after the Doncaster 2-2.
But our first game back was Rochdale, which we won 1-0 in the last minute, and we beat Barrow and Peterborough after that anyway.
The rot seemed to set in when we played Crawley. We went ahead, they equalised, and there only was one winner after that.
GH never quite knew how to remedy us doing that after that game.
And even now, nobody seems to know why we went from looking OK to next season’s relegation favourites from League Two.
Like Walter before him, often managers hit a brick wall and never recover from it. When that happens, there really isn’t much you can do.
In hindsight, that became obvious when we shit the bed against Brizzle Rovers, and fell apart again at Charlton**.
** – where your editor had his one and only dealing with GH. It didn’t end well, and I’ll leave it at that…
Our now ex-manager would still be in a job today if he’d known how to stop us falling behind so weakly after taking the lead in games.
But in truth, he didn’t know how to.
I’m sure somebody knows how many points we threw away from winning positions (hint: it’s a lot), and that’s ultimately cost us another manager.
We were helped at the beginning of the season by managing to score at the other end, but that too dried up and we started freefalling around Xmas.
When that happens, you need answers and quickly. And GH just didn’t seem to have them any more.
Losing 3-0 to Sunderland (which was a bit of an unfair scoreline) then 4-0 at Portsmouth (which certainly wasn’t) seemed to mark his card.
The swansong came with the only other point we’ve earned (at time of writing) since early December at Crewe.
It’s a bit surreal reading this from the Official Site, then realising seven days later he was collecting his P45.
The game at Gresty Road was a legitimately good performance, and one that made you feel GH could still turn it around.
It was probably Doncaster a couple of days later where we reverted to painful type. While I couldn’t be bothered watching his post-game comments, others pointed out how despondent he sounded.
Perhaps that was the time decisions were being made?
GH lives near to the Keepmoat, probably talked it over with his family, then awaited the little chat with Joe Palmer.
Which as we now know came at the full time whistle after Franchise. It was probably being arranged as soon as their second goal went in.
Hodges was getting a lot of brickbats on social media long before the weekend, and it was definitely getting noticeable even before Xmas.
There didn’t seem too many stories coming out about losing the dressing room, although one certain player did seem to enjoy posting on social media before the game.
We’ll never know if squad members went to the decision makers and suggesting all was not well.
If they did, it wouldn’t have been a surprise. Players have the majority of the power these days, even if you think they shouldn’t.
Could GH have gone before he did? Maybe, maybe not. There is an argument that letting him go after, say, Portsmouth might have been better.
It might have equally been premature, but I don’t think he would have got many more chances after losing to Franchise.
It’s not a nice way to bow out, especially to that particular set of opponents. But football is not a nice industry.
Reading through this, I ended up going over the results and performances, and this is why I’ve found this tricky to write.
I just can’t seem to put any identifying features on the entire Glyn Hodges tenure.
Go through most other managers of the AFCW era, and you’ll find moments that make their time instantly recognisable.
Walter had the Great Escape, West Ham in the FAC, and his betting slips. Ardley had Wombley, the other Great Escape and Ardleyball.
Terry Brown got us into the Football League, Dave Anderson got us into the Ryman Premier, and Terry Eames started the whole thing off.
What was the big moment that Glyn Hodges had with us? To be honest, I really don’t know.
Being the first Wimbledon manager to lead us back home? Even that is caveated.
And I think that was the problem with his time here – it was non-descript at best.
Of course, we’d kill for mid-table mediocrity right now, and he was clearly failing at his remit of keeping us in League One.
But even his very departure seemed matter-of-fact, as though it just went out with a whimper.
There’s no shock in his departure, just sorrow because it didn’t work out in the end.
It was pretty clear by Franchise that it wasn’t going to get any better under him from now on, and it’s best to make the break now rather than trash the memories any further.
And it’s the final underlining of the Crazy Gang era, which to be honest is no bad thing.
Unless you’re still dreaming of Dave Bassett as our current Director of Football, there is nobody left of that time who could take over now.
Only Ian Holloway, whose time with WFC was tenuous at best, and you might as well have the Chief Warden of Holloway prison in charge.
GH going proves that ending an era can often spring up without warning. I expected him to be in charge a lot longer than he was, but it wasn’t to be.
Maybe it’s the proverbial Football Gods telling AFCW to move on from those with us close to 40 years ago?
If it is, we should listen.
I don’t know if GH will get another job in football, at least as a Football League manager. He’s 57 years old and probably got a decent payoff from us.
He’ll be back home up north perhaps glad he’s out of it now, as it was getting harder for him.
In his last interview as AFCW boss, for the SLP, he said the following:
“Their second goal is the first time I’ve seen their actual heads go down. I’ve never sensed that before. They’re feeling sorry for themselves but we don’t need that. We need hard work and rolling your sleeves up.
That was a classic comment of a manager who had run out of ideas, trying to get through to players who know that.
Although I have to say, when I saw our players trudge off at the end against Sunderland, they looked disheveled back then too.
That’s now the past. I’m in no doubt that like all other managers, GH will be welcomed back by just about everyone, should he ever return to London SW17.
You can well imagine him doing some kind of “An Evening With…” shindig in the hospitality area at PL when normality returns.
I bet it would be a sellout.
Who knows what it might have been with him in charge and crowds allowed back in? We’ll never know.
Then again, after some performances this season, perhaps that was just as well…