We were really pleased at the response we got from our interview with the gaffer Russell Martin, the website views for a few days were off the scale, so of course we are very grateful to Russ for some excellent and honest answers.
So we thought don’t stand still, let’s talk to a few MK Dons legends and who better to start with than “MK’s Goal Machine” Dean Bowditch. So many thanks “Bowds” and good luck in your role as an Ambassador for the MK Dons SET. Before we start the interview, a few stats in Deans career.
Youth Career – Ipswich Town
Games Played – 490
Goals Scored – 95
MK Dons (2011-2017) – 227 Games 48 Goals
Clubs Played For – Ipswich Town, Burnley, Wycombe Wanderers, Brighton (Twice), Northampton Town (Twice), Brentford, Yeovil Town, MK Dons, Stevenage, Stowmarket, plus 19 games at U16,17, and 19 level.
So, what better place to start than at the beginning, how and where did your journey in football begin?
My first memory of football was when I was 6 years old and playing for my local team, Norman Booth. My Dad managed the team, and in most cases, ended up in me playing for that team.
Who would you say were the biggest influences in your career at the start and as you progressed in the game?
My biggest influences as a kid was definitely my Dad and my older brother, Ben. Ben played for England at youth level and played for Spurs as a kid, so I always wanted to be like him. My Dad would be the one pushing me to improve my game and I wouldn’t have achieved what I did without him. Later in my career it was my coach Brian Klug at Ipswich who really helped me develop. I learnt so much from him and he made me the player I turned out to be.
Can you recall your professional debut game against Norwich whilst playing for Ipswich Town and what you felt when you got the nod to play from the bench?
I was 16 years old and the week before the gaffer, Joe Royle, said to me that I was going to be training with the first team. That then led to me being in the squad, to on the bench, to coming on with 30 minutes remaining at 0-0 and I set up 2 goals to win 2-0. Not a bad start and on derby day as well. I didn’t know what I had achieved at the time until the next day when I was in all the papers. Then it sunk in!!
Can you recall your first ever professional goal?
Yes. It was against Kidderminster Harriers in the Cup and I scored in the first minute of extra time. I remember my teammates after the game saying why didn’t I do that in the 90 minutes as it would have saved them 30 minutes extra running!!
We believe you held a record at Ipswich Town that has never been beaten, do you know what it could be?
The youngest every hat trick scorer?? I think that’s it. Not sure if it has been beaten yet.
Another challenge for you, you played 227 games for the Dons scoring 48 goals, can you recall your first and last goals?
Wow that is a toughie and I am not even going to google it! I think my first was Exeter away, and my last was AFC Wimbledon was it?? I am going to google now…… Ah it was Charlton last goal!! Got the first one right though!
As we have mentioned you scored 48 goals for the Dons, is there one that really sticks in your mind?
AFC Wimbledon Pen. Reason being was it was our first league meeting and we had been on a poor run. I remember the game being terrible, but the pen made all the difference. Felt a lot of weight on my shoulders so was nice to see it go in.
In a similar vein, is there a Dons game that holds a special memory for you?
Yeovil at Home 2015. Promotion to the Championship! A lot of emotions that day after a tough season off the pitch. Let it all out at the end of the game. Think the pitch didn’t need watering for weeks after that.
Is there a football ground you always enjoyed playing at, and also one you never liked?
Never liked playing at Stevenage’s ground. Especially when they were flying. They were horrible to play against and the fans for them at the time were quality. Changed a bit now but back then it was tough! I always loved playing at Swindon. I know I am a bit biased but Stadium MK when I was the Home or Away team was a dream to play. Amazing stadium!
Who is the best player you played alongside?
Dele. No more to add than that.
Are there any players that you really didn’t like playing against?
Lewie! When I was at Yeovil I played on the right wing once against him. I hated every moment of it! When I signed, I thought he was going to be a horrible guy and it turned out he was the complete opposite. Ended up rooming with him for 6 years! Never liked being on the other team in training either.
It’s great that you are still involved with the club as an Ambassador for the Sports & Educational Trust (SET), can you tell us what that role involves?
I am privileged to be back at the club that I love, and as the Ambassador for the SET it is my job to promote all the great work that we do in the community. Many people don’t know what we do, and we are a bit of a hidden secret, however I don’t want it to be a secret anymore. Everyone needs to know about all the Sport, education, employment, health and wellbeing and general help that we give to our people in the community.
We notice you have played a few games for Stowmarket Town, is that an ongoing thing?
No I am now officially retired. I was never someone who wanted to come out with the big announcement I wasn’t playing again just to get a pat on the back for my endeavours. I don’t need recognition of what I have achieved. I am extremely proud of what I have done in football, if I had never played another minute after my debut against Norwich as a kid then I would have fulfilled my dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Do you have any plans to move into a coaching or a managerial role in the game?
I miss the game in many ways, but I don’t miss playing (too much running). So at some point in the future I would love to have an influence on a football club, whether that’s on the grass or in the background. I want the thrill again of having an input on a team that goes and wins games, wins cups, and wins leagues! So yes, one day I will be back in football absolutely.