Where's WALLY? (He's Here. and He's Primed to Save West Ham )

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN FRANCIS

WALLY DOWNES arrived at West Ham this week as No 2 to boss Avram Grant. But who exactly is the man charged with the task of lifting bottom-of-the-table West Ham against Wigan at Upton Park today?

Where is Wally from?

Born in 1961 in Hammersmith, Walter John Downes began his playing career with Wimbledon, where he became the club's first Football League apprentice, scoring on his debut against Barnsley in 1979 at the age of 17.

A founding member of the Crazy Gang then?

He is regarded as one of the instigators of the famous spirit that saw the Dons rise from the old Fourth Division to the top flight in four seasons. He was a tough-tackling utility player and made more than 200 appearances for the club.

His career ended in 1988, after he suffered FOUR leg breaks. Then what?

Now in his 22nd year as a coach, he spent 12 years at Crystal Palace, working under Steve Coppell, before following him to Brentford. When Coppell left in June 2002, Wally stepped into the hot-seat for the first time, making a good start by avoiding the drop in 2002-03. He was axed after a poor run the following season.

How did he earn his reputation as a top coach?

Reading had the best defensive record in English football as they won promotion to the Premier League in 2005-06.

What about that row with Neil Warnock? …