Many happy returns to our first-team manager Glyn Hodges, who has played a big part in Wimbledon's history.
To celebrate Glyn's birthday, take a look below at a video that includes Dave Bassett, Kevin Gage, Wally Downes, and Alan Smith talking about our manager's playing and coaching career.
We've also reproduced a programme interview below, which was conducted shortly after Glyn's Wimbledon return back in December 2018. Glyn talks about his rise from playing locally with Mitcham Royals to Wimbledon's first-team and helping the club's remarkable progress from the old Fourth Division to the top-flight. His Wimbledon return - initially as Assistant Manager - helped spark the Great Escape - and he was appointed as Manager in October 2019.
A phone call to Mark Hughes put Glyn Hodges on the pathway to an exciting coaching career that now spans almost two decades.
Appointed as Assistant Manager at AFC Wimbledon, Glyn is aiming to utilise his wealth of experience from roles working at clubs including Manchester City, Blackburn, QPR, Fulham, Stoke City, and Barnsley.
However, life could have turned out very differently without the intervention in 2004 of Manchester United great Mark Hughes, who was then Wales manager and offered Glyn the role of Under-21 manager for the country he served as a player. Glyn had been about to accept a completely different coaching challenge in the USA.
“I’d left Barnsley because there was a takeover and a new manager had been put in place,” said Glyn. “I was then offered a coaching job in Pasadena, Los Angeles, and I’d agreed to take it. Plans had been made to sell the house over here, put stuff in storage, and I was ready to move to the USA. It was not an MLS club, but a club that the parents were in charge of running, a massive organisation where the parents chair it and they fund it. I hadn’t signed the contract, but I went over to sort out where I was going to live, and I even put the kids in a school.
“I needed to get an O VISA, and I was able to get this because I’d played international football. I had to get a reference from someone working at the FA’s of England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland. When I contacted Mark Hughes he said, ‘I’ve been trying to get hold of you!’ He said that he wanted to offer me the job as Wales Under-21 manager. I said I couldn’t because I was too far down the line with the job in America. When I put the phone down I had second thoughts. I called Mark back and said, ‘can you give me the weekend to think about it?’ I called him back and said that I wanted the job. I couldn’t turn down the chance to work at international level. I took the job and that was it from there really.”
Though Glyn’s role with the Welsh FA lasted less than a year due to Mark Hughes leaving the post, the former Wimbledon player followed him to Blackburn, where he was appointed as Reserve Team Manager. Glyn subsequently held various roles working with Mark at Manchester City, Blackburn, QPR, Fulham, Stoke City.
Glyn relished the opportunity to work with young talents aiming to reach the top as well as established stars who had won honours including the Champions League.
“When you look at my coaching CV it includes working for 13 or 14 years with Mark Hughes. I’ve also worked with Dave Bassett and Wally Downes, but it’s not just about who you know. If you can’t do that job, they can’t give you it. It’s nice to work with people who you trust that are on your side, but you have to be able to do the job. I just wanted to be the best that I could and it’s been good, I’ve enjoyed coaching with players at different levels.
“Working with the young boys is fantastic. They will listen to everything that you do. It’s great when you work with players who are making their way towards the top. I have had a part to play in coaching players that have played in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the World Cup. I was in charge of the reserves at Man City and Kieran Trippier was a player coming through at the time. It obviously wasn’t just me who helped him, but you take satisfaction in having an input and helping to make a difference in the careers of young players.
“Blackburn was Under-23s and reserves, but also working closely with the first-team. You would go to the games, be upstairs, and be in the dressing room, in amongst it. When we were at Man City I was with the first-team when I could get to the games. I was around the first-team all of the time. You do take sessions with the first-team squad and get involved with working with them.
“I’ve worked with Mark Hughes at Blackburn, Man City, and Fulham. I was first-team coach at Fulham and we finished eighth in the Premier League. Then we went to QPR and I was in charge of the academy. I set the whole syllabus and coaching programme. I set everything up when the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPP) came in. We had to get category two, which we achieved, so that was very satisfying. With Stoke City, I did the Under-23s, and I had a good relationship with Mark Hughes, Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. It was very much hands-on with the first-team as well. In one training session I was coaching five Champions League winners, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay, Bojan, Marko Arnautović and Jese Rodriguez all involved.”
Glyn’s first job in coaching came at Barnsley, where he was appointed as Reserve Team Manager and he also had two spells as Caretaker Manager. Following the end of his playing days, Glyn put his heart and soul into coaching and quickly worked his way through his coaching badges. After gaining his pro licence Glyn was invited to do the LMA's Certificate of Applied Management at Warwick University and it was a challenge he thrived upon.
“I was 36 when I stopped playing and I’d been lucky to play for so long. I couldn’t carry on playing forever and I wanted to stay in the game, so that I could build up my coaching career. I had four or five years of getting all my badges, doing all the modules and everything. I just thought, ‘I will go for it, and get it out of the way’. You have to revalidate your coaching qualification every three years. When I go now there are not so many of my age and they seem to be all up-and-coming coaches!”
Glyn, who was born in Streatham and played for Mitcham Royals as a youngster, said that being a part of Wimbledon’s success in the 1980s – the Dons earned successive promotions from the old Fourth Division to the First Division – was the perfect football education.
“I joined Wimbledon straight from school and left at the age of 24. The experiences and the beliefs that you had turn you into the person that you are today. The success we had showed that we had the right values. We were regarded as a long ball team, but I was brought up to play, I wasn’t that kind of player, but I bought into it. I thought, ‘this is the way that you win games.’ While people can be true to their philosophy, they can get relegated and lose their jobs. Sometimes it’s about winning games, and there are different ways to do that. With Wimbledon everyone had jobs to do, you trusted each other, and it was a great learning curve.
“The manager Harry Bassett was ahead of his time, and there was a unique bond between the players. Five or six players came through the youth team, but they were good enough to play at the top level. Every test that we had we stepped up to it, every time we went up a level we proved that we were good enough. When we got up to the First Division we stepped up to it. We just got better and better and confidence is massive. With the journey we went on and all the promotions achieved in such a space of time, it becomes more special as the years go by. No club has been able to repeat it.”
The former Welsh international footballer had no hesitation in accepting the opportunity to return to Wimbledon when he got the call from Wally Downes.
“There were a couple of jobs that I was really close to accepting after I left Stoke, including one I didn’t really want to do, but then this one came up. Wally contacted me and I said ‘yes’ straight away. I had no hesitation in accepting it. To come back here is brilliant.
“It is going to be very difficult. We are under no illusions about the job, we knew that when we accepted it, and the players know that. We just need to have that little bit of belief and if we can get a couple of back-to-back wins it would make a big difference. We are running out of games, but we have a busy period coming up, and we need to get wins on the board quickly. Sometimes you make your own luck, but we do need it. We have to make sure that we’re in a position to win games.”