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Destiny of the Dudley dreamer! How Big Sam made it to the top

Coronavirus battle Sam Allardyce

HE’S now the man tasked with solving the complex problem that is the England national team but Sam Allardyce’s football career began in much more modest surroundings.

The 61-year-old was officially confirmed as Roy Hodgson’s successor on Friday after weeks of speculation and he’s certainly had to do things the hard way.

Born in Dudley, Allardyce grew up on the Wren’s Nest estate, dreaming of one day representing his boyhood club Wolves.

As a 14-year-old he followed in the footsteps of older brother Robert and played twice for his local club Dudley Town.

His brief spell with the West Midlands (Regional) League outfit was cut short after his school found out he was already lacing his boots up.

“As far we are aware, he only played twice for our reserve team but it’s great exposure for the club,” said Dudley Town chairman Stephen Austin.

“His brother played 14 times for us in 1969 and I believe he is still the youngest to have ever played for the club.


“I started watching Dudley in 1976 and there’s only one person still at the club that can recollect those days – 93-year-old club president Nevil Jeynes.”

Unable to earn a deal with Wolves, West Brom or Aston Villa, Allardyce was snapped up by Bolton at the age of 15 and was paid £4 a week to sweep the terraces as an apprentice.

Sam Allardyce played twice for Dudley Town in his teens

Sam Allardyce played twice for Dudley Town in his teens

The graft in his early years has certainly paid off following a playing career with Sunderland, Millwall, Coventry, Huddersfield, Preston and West Brom led him into management.

Starting in 1994 with Blackpool, he has climbed all the way to the top via Notts County, Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham and Sunderland.

Often derided for his direct comments and style of play, the ex-Dudley youngster is now, people hope, this country’s saviour.

“It goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your beginnings are, if you have the desire and the backing to do something, you can make it,” added Austin.

“He worked his way up as a player, then a coach and a manager and we wish him the very best of luck. We’ll certainly be sending him a letter wishing him every success and I know he’s the sort of person who will respond.

“You never know, he might pop down for a visit as England manager which would be absolutely brilliant.

“Anybody that is from Dudley that was connected to the club that goes on to achieve big things, it’s great for the whole town as well as us as a football club.

“Our current manager is called Andy Allardice but it’s a slightly different spelling so he’s definitely no relation!”

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