Wally Downes is relishing Wimbledon’s testing run of fixtures at the start of 2019/20 and the opportunity to take the club forward next season.
In the opening month of the season, Wimbledon face two sides relegated from the Championship with matches against Rotherham and Ipswich, plus there’s a trip to League One play-off finalists Sunderland in August.
“It’s great that we’ve got our first game at home,” said Wally. “Rotherham have been in and out of the league above, so they will be strong and they will be looking to go straight back up. It will also be nice to renew the rivalry with Joey at Fleetwood that we had last year. We got beaten at home by them last season, but that set us off on a really good run, so they are two good opening games for us.
“Who would have thought six or seven years ago that this club would be playing against Ipswich and Sunderland in the space of four days? It’s a great challenge to relish. I thought we played well against Sunderland last season and Ipswich will be a strong team in this division. They will be looking to bounce straight back and both games will be tests for us.
“It’s absolutely critical that we build on the end of last season. The fans got behind us and when I think back to the Luton, Rochdale, and Bradford games the support we had was fantastic. We know the support is there and it’s our job to make sure that the performances merit the support that we get. I will be doing my best to ensure that we show the same spirit and fight that we showed towards the end of last season. That is basically what the fans want, and at any club. Mistakes can be forgiven, as long as you are prepared to work hard and try to get the ball back.”
Wally enjoyed recharging his batteries on holiday and meeting up with Crazy Gang members including Vinnie Jones, but an old injury curtailed his celebrations a little.
“I’d booked my holidays before I came back here so it would have been difficult not to have gone away. I don’t think the missus would have been too happy if I hadn’t have gone on the holidays with her! I had quite a hectic four weeks on holiday. I went and seen Vinnie over there (in America), I had a few rounds of golf with him. We had a golf day too earlier this week and a few of the old boys turned up at a club in Watford. It was a good reunion, but I had to hobble off after two holes, so I didn’t stick around for the party afterwards!
“There's no spring in my step because I’ve messed my knee up! I had an operation when I was 16 and it’s been fine up until now, but in the last four to six weeks it’s blown up completely and I’m trying to put off an operation at the moment.”