ALAN PARDEW knows a thing or two about hard work and striving for success.
He may be manager of Newcastle United with a multi-million pound team, a billionaire owner and aspirations in Europe.
But his grounding as a glazier and Non-League footballer has given him both a work ethic and a tough skin to help him survive in a cut-throat world.
It also makes him the perfect ambassador for Budweiser’s latest Non-League project but more of that later.
Wimbledon-born Pardew says: “My early football days helped shape my character. I used to love going to work and then going to training. You used to live for the weekends – you would get a real sense of what it meant for people to get their boots on.
“Like everyone I had to work. I was a glazier and I’m still really proud of one particular job we did – I helped fit the windows at the Sea Containers House in London!
“It’s that huge building on the South Bank with an eagle on the front, you can’t miss it. The windows are down to me! It was a bit nerve-wracking at the time but you do what you have to do. I wanted to play football and having a job was key to that”.
Pardew described himself as a ‘skinny rake of a man’ as he began climbing the football Pyramid and it took him seven years to really get noticed as he moved though four of the capital’s Non-League clubs.
Ryman League Whyteleafe is where it all began after Pardew’s school sports master managed to talk his protegee into a trial with them.
From there came two years at Epsom & Ewell before a season a few miles down the road at Corinthian-Casuals.
At Dulwich Hamlet in 1986 he got noticed by Conference club Yeovil, and was bought on the back of a number of impressive displays in south-east London.
It helped propel the 22-year-old midfielder on, and 19 games for Yeovil later, he moved to Crystal Palace for a fee of 7,500 pounds and played a starring role as the club won promotion into the First Division.
A year on and he scored the winning goal as Palace beat Liverpool 4-3 in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
It took Manchester United two attempts to beat the Eagles in the final but Pardew had arrived.
Four years at Charlton came later and spells at Barnet and Reading before he began a managerial career that has taken him to Reading, West Ham, Charlton and Southampton before Newcastle.
Pardew says he has drawn more on his experiences as a Non-League player in his management roles that at any other point in his life.
“Those years are certainly more often in my mind it’s the nuts and bolts of football” he says.
“The attitude and desire you have to show at all levels of the game I have drummed into my team at Newcastle. We needed that in the second half at Everton on Monday night!
“Sometimes football isn’t about technique or formations, sometimes it is about that winning spirit. I learned to keep that with me throughout my career and it started in Non-League football.
“You get put in certain situations, even as a Premier League manager, when I have to look back to my early days to help me cope. Defusing aggressive situations for example or lifting a dressing room and getting a team to respond.
“They are still with me, I always recall incidents that I had in Non-League football, whether I’m dealing with a French international or a Senegalise international! I lean on things I have picked up and draw on certain experiences to help me through.
“If someone had offered me the chance to go into pro football aged 17 or wait until I was 22 like I did, there is no question that I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Pardew was speaking at the announcement of his involvement in the Budweiser Club Futures programme.
The FA Cup sponsors will pump a one million pound investment into grass-roots football over the next two seasons with clubs at Steps 5, 6 and 7 encouraged to apply for a grant of 50,000 pounds.
And with the closing date for applications on October 31, the former West Ham, Reading and Southampton manager doesn’t want clubs missing the boat.
He added: “This is a golden opportunity, I’d say it’s unprecedented anywhere in the world.
“To win 50,000 pound and then for one lucky club to have the chance of getting an additional 100,000 through a facebook vote shouldn’t be ignored.
“The money can be used for a new stand or a new changing room. Every club’s facilities are vital to growth within the game so that’s why I am privileged to put my name to this campaign.”
Clubs wishing to apply for the grants should visit The FA website at www.TheFA.com/BudweiserClubFutures