FC Halifax Town: Jackson glad to be back behind-the-scenes
The comparisons are obvious, and Alan Jackson is well-placed to make them.
The kit manager has worked for Halifax Town old and new, serving as physiotherapist under Chris Wilder for two years and now forming part of Pete Wild’s backroom team.
And he says there are similarities between the two.
“Yeah, very much so, (they’re both) young, ambitious,” he said.
“Chris had been a player, he’d had a good career at various clubs. Pete’s a bit like me in that he’s never been a player of any note.
“But he started doing all his coaching at a much younger age, and he’s loads and loads of coaching experience.
“He does work for the FA as well, coaching coaches. He knows the game, he knows how to get the best out of people, a great man manager, the lads respect him, he respects the lads as well.
“He has a lot of trust. Trust is one of his bywords, you’ve got to trust the lads at this level to do a bit when they’re not here.
“It’s a great atmosphere to work in. There’s a very good team spirit, there’s no bad eggs in the dressing room, everybody’s singing off the same hymn sheet.
“That goes a long way when you’ve not got other things. That team spirit can just get you over the line.”
That was so nearly the case during Wilder’s reign at The Shay, as he guided Halifax to within 10 minutes of the Football League before losing the 2006 Conference play-off final to Hereford.
“Where the dressing rooms are now, the stand wasn’t even complete,” recalls Jackson of his first stint at the club between 2002 and 2004.
“When it rained, it came into the dressing rooms, the physio room was in a corridor down the back of the stand, none of the car park was built.
“It’s completely different now, but they were really good times.
“All the lads bought into what he was trying to do, everybody got on with what they had to do, no moaning and groaning.
“There was a really great team-spirit, which took us a long way.”
Wilder, like Jackson did, has now reached the Premier League with his beloved home-town club.
“It doesn’t surprise me in many ways,” said Jackson, “he was a good coach and a really good man manager.
“He’s a Sheffield lad, Sheffield through-and-through. He’ll be delighted to be there, his ambition as a coach will have been to manage Sheffield United in the Premier League, and he’s achieved that now.”
Jackson journey to the Premier League started at Bradford City under Terry Yorath and Norman Hunter in the late 1980’s.
“I worked there part-time for nine years as a physio for the youth team and the reserves,” he said.
“I went through various managers there - John Docherty, Frank Stapleton, Lennie Lawrence, Chris Kamara, Paul Jewell.
“He offered me a job full-time, I was kit man, physio, masseur, and I felt when they went into administration.
“Then I came to Halifax first time round, stayed with Chris a couple of years and then moved onto Oldham Athletic.
“Worked there first time round for a year with Brian Talbot and Ronnie Moore, by which time Paul Jewell had gone to Wigan and was going well in the Championship.
“I got a phone call asking me if I fancied going there if they got in the Premier League, which they did, so I had four years in the Premier League with Paul, Stevey Bruce and Roberto Martinez.
“I eventually left and went back to being a physio. I spent eight years at Huddersfield Town’s academy until it got disbanded a few years ago.
“Then I’ve done all sorts, half a season at Bradford, then went to Oldham with Frankie Bunn, who I’d worked with at Huddersfield.
“Then I left Oldham and came here. A contact I knew knew Jamie Fullarton, and then obviously my manager from Oldham’s followed me here!”
Jackson is fulsome in his praise of Wild.
“He’s brilliant. I don’t think there was anyone more pleased than me when he got the job, having worked with him at Oldham,” he said.
“I couldn’t wait. I had no problem with Jamie and I worked well with him, but when I found out Pete was coming I was made up. That was like getting all your birthdays at once.”
Jackson gravitated to the backroom after playing around the Bradford area and in the North-east Counties and Yorkshire Leagues.
“I got too old to play, started taking my coaching badges, but became more interested in the medical side of things,” he said.
“When I went to Bradford, I was encouraged to get qualified and I ended up with a diploma in management and treatment on injuries.
“I like that side of things, and it fits in better with being kit manager, having a dual role, helping out with a few massages and things.
“You can’t really do it like I do it, part-time, because every day, every week, there’e something new that comes in.
“It’s very difficult to keep up with all the new things that come through. It’s absolutely brilliant now where the boys are measured and have certain workloads that you can keep an eye on, it’s really good.
“But you’ve got to be on the ball, you can’t just dip your toe in and out.
“It’s people’s careers that are on the line so you’ve got to know what you’re doing.”
Thirty years behind-the-scenes in football has afforded Jackson some special memories.
“The day at Wolves with Bradford getting promoted to the Premier League was a good day, and a good night!” he recalled.
“I had some good times at Wigan. We got to the Carling Cup final against Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium.
“We got thrashed 4-0 but it was a good day, a good occasion and nice to be part of it.
“I was at Wembley when Bradford got promoted and Chris Kamara ws the manager.
“I’ve had a few really nice days in football, and some good trips as well.
“At Bradford, our first pre-season in the Premier League, we got invited to go to St Kitts by a lad called Ces Podd, who is a legend at the club.
“He was their manager, and we played in a little round-robin tournament against them and the Canadian under 23 team.
“A good place to go for a pre-season tour is the West Indies! I’ve been on worse, certainly a few army camps that don’t compare somehow!”