Occasional England player, West Ham legend, and even the namesake of a racehorse, throughout the 1970s and 1980s Alan Devonshire was a hero at Upton Park. Having made 446 appearances and scored 32 goals in all competitions during his 14 years in east London, the tricky winger was labelled ‘one of the most exciting spectacles in British football’, and was an integral part of West Ham’s victorious 1980 FA Cup winning side, and 1985-86 team which achieved West Ham’s highest ever league finish of 3rd. But what became of the man?
Devonshire was born into a footballing family, as his father, Les, was also a footballer, plying his trade for both Crystal Palace and Chester. Devonshire was bought by West Ham, from Isthmian League club Southall, for £5,000 in 1976 when he was 21, and made an immediate impact. After West Ham, Devonshire moved to Watford where he made 25 league appearances, scoring one goal. Devonshire’s senior playing days finished at Vicarage Road when he retired in 1992.
Since then Devonshire has been managing at non-league level. First, in 1996 he went to manage Maidenhead United, bringing success to the club in the form of County Cups and Divisional silverware. This was capped by guiding the Magpies to the Premier Division of the Isthmian League, before leaving the club in 2003 to seek pastures new.
In the summer of 2003 Devonshire signed a contract with Hampton and Richmond Borough, where he remains to this day. When he took the reigns at the club they were in Division One of the Isthmian League, but in his first season in charge, Devonshire took them into the Premier League and has since taken them into the Conference South. Twice Devonshire has nearly guided them into the Conference Premier, losing in the play-off final to Eastbourne Borough and Hayes & Yeading respectively. Under his guidance Hampton and Richmond Borough also reached the first round proper of the FA Cup in 2007 for only the second time in their history, losing to League Two side Dagenham and Redbridge.
Devonshire remains close to West Ham, and Hampton and Richmond achieved a then record crowd of over 3,000 to watch a pre-season game between the two sides before the 2008-09 season. Devonshire remains manager to this day, and although the side are currently towards the bottom end of the Conference South table, he is one of the most successful managers in their history.