Iain Dowie was appointed Football Management Consultant at Hull City in mid-March 2010, two days after Phil Brown had been placed on gardening leave by the club – the odd job title was constructed as a means of demonstrating that Brown’s role as first team manager was not yet terminated, though he never returned to the job. Dowie was handed the mountainous task of guiding the Tigers away from the Premier League relegation zone, a job that seemed vaguely achievable after two matches in charge – an unfortunate last-gasp defeat at Portsmouth, having twice taken the lead, and a good 2-0 win over Fulham. But that proved to be the tiny pinnacle of Dowie’s time at Hull City, four defeats in the next five matches consigned the Tigers to relegation and the final two matches of the season ended in draws – an entertaining 2-2 draw at Wigan featuring goals for City youngsters Will Atkinson and Mark Cullen, and a dreary 0-0 draw against a Liverpool reserves side. Any feint promise of Dowie retaining the job for the longer term was quickly extinguished and he left the club in mid-May 2010.
Iain Dowie was born in the Hertfordshire town of Hatfield to a father that hailed from Belfast in Northern Ireland. He had trials at Southampton as a teenager but was not signed up, so he elected to continue his educational studies at the University of Hertfordshire, achieving a degree in Mechanical Engineering and earning a job at British Aerospace. While studying at university Dowie played occasional non-league football for Isthmian League side Cheshunt, a side managed by his brother Bob Dowie. In the summer of 1985 Iain joined another Isthmian League side St Albans City and scored regularly, a year later he moved on to Hendon where he proved himself as a potent front man scoring a goal every two games. In December 1988 Dowie decided to give up his aerospace career and joined Division One side Luton Town, making his debut against Crystal Palace in a January 1989 Full Members Cup tie and scoring the consolation in a 1-4 defeat. Dowie remained on the fringes of the Hatters’ first team for the rest of the 1988/89 season, often featuring as late substitute. He had a loan spell at Division Three side Fulham in September 1989, scoring once in five appearances, and when he returned to Kenilworth Road he made more regular starts during the remainder of the 1989/90 season, netting eleven goals including eight in the top flight. Iain remained at Luton for the 1990/91 season and by March 1991 he had scored 19 goals in 78 appearances for the Hatters.
In March 1991 Dowie joined Division Two promotion chasers West Ham United for a £480,000 fee. He scored four goals in 12 appearances for the Hammers during the remainder of the season and helped the East London side win promotion to Division One, but was sidelined at the start of the 1991/92 season and switched to Division One rivals Southampton in September 1991 for a £500,000 fee. Dowie spent three and half seasons at Southampton and established himself as an effective big man up front with a good eye for goal. The Saints were perennial strugglers in the Division One, then Premier League, table but Dowie scored a useful 32 goals in 143 appearances.
In January 1995 Dowie transferred to Premier League rivals Crystal Palace for a £400,000 fee. His goals helped Palace reach the FA Cup semi-final, which was lost to Manchester United after a replay, but at the end of the 1994/95 season the club was relegated to League Division 1. Dowie scored twice against Barnsley on the opening day of the 1995/96 season but in September 1995, after 10 goals in 25 appearances for Palace, he returned to the Premier League and West Ham United. This second spell at Upton Park was longer-lived, in two and a half seasons he scored 11 goals in 83 appearances though nine of those goals were scored in his first six months with the Hammers.
By January 1998 Dowie was a peripheral figure at West Ham and joined League Division 1 side Queens Park Rangers, reverting to a defensive role, managing the reserves side and spending three weeks as first team caretaker manager in October 1998. He hung up his boots in the 2001 close season having scored two goals in 34 appearances for QPR and began a second career in football management. Between October 2001 and May 2002 he was assistant manager to Mick Wadsworth at Oldham Athletic and took over as first team manager in May 2002 when Wadsworth left. Dowie led the Latics to the League Division 2 play-offs at the end of the 2002/03 season, losing the semi-final to his former club Queens Park Rangers, but after battling financial constraints during the opening months of the 2003/04 season Dowie left Oldham in December 2003 – he led the Latics for 81 matches.
In December 2003 he returned to Crystal Palace as manager and took over a squad marooned in the bottom four of the League Division 1 table. Iain was able to transform this squad, undoubtedly the finest managerial achievement of his career, and lifted the Eagles into the play-offs by the end of the 2003/04 season. After squeezing past Sunderland in the semi-finals Dowie’s side defeated West Ham United 1-0 in the final at Millennium Stadium and rose to the Premier League. Palace were relegated back to the Championship in the 2004/05 season and again reached the Championship play-offs at the end of the 2005/06 season only to lose the semi-final to Watford. In May 2006 Dowie resigned from Crystal Palace after 123 matches in charge, citing a desire to return to his family home in Lancashire. So it was a considerable surprise a week later when he was appointed manager at Premier League side Charlton Athletic, another London club – it was an action that left Dowie around half a million pounds out of pocket once a legal case was settled. The move to Charlton Athletic was not a success and in November 2006 after 15 matches at the helm he was sacked.
After being linked with the vacant manager’s job at Hull City in December 2006, losing out to City’s caretaker boss Phil Brown, Dowie was appointed manager at Championship side Coventry City in February 2007. He inherited a Sky Blues side in the bottom six of the table and led them to a six match unbeaten run on his arrival, but results then declined and Coventry, while avoiding relegation, slumped back down the table. Four wins in the first five league matches at the start of the 2007/08 season promised much but Dowie’s side again slid into poor form and descended to the bottom six – he was dismissed in February 2008. In May 2008 he returned to manage Championship side Queens Park Rangers but after only 15 games in charge he was sacked in October 2008 despite winning eight of those games. Dowie spent April and May 2009 acting as assistant manager to Alan Shearer at Newcastle United but the pair were unable to guide the Magpies away from the Premier League relegation zone. Dowie had been out of frontline work for nine months when he joined Hull City in March 2010.
Following his short spell at Hull City Dowie was linked to several further managerial roles but was never appointed. He launched a media career, often undertaking pundit duties on radio and TV and regularly reporting from Premier League gantries on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday show. He also took other jobs outside football to earn his crust.
Dowie was a regular international footballer for Northern Ireland, qualifying through his father’s Belfast birthplace. He debuted in March 1990 against Norway and over the next nine years amassed 12 goals in 59 appearances, the last of which came against Germany in September 1999.
Nationality: Northern Ireland
Date/Place of Birth: 9 January 1965, Hatfield, England
Appointed by Hull City: 17 March 2010; 45 years, 67 days old
Left Hull City: 18 May 2010; 45 years, 129 days old
Tenure: 62 days
Queens Park Rangers (1998), Oldham Athletic (2002-2003), Crystal Palace (2003-2006), Charlton Athletic (2006), Coventry City (2007-2008), Queens Park Rangers (2008), Hull City (2010)
Hull City Record
Playing Record: Played 9, Won 1, Drawn 3, Lost 5, Goals For 7, Goals Against 14