ONCE upon a time, the glasses raised in the direction of Pete Wild arrived with a request to pour another pint.
These days, the FC Halifax Town manager is earning his crust winning football matches as opposed to working behind a bar or chopping trees – and he is quickly becoming the toast of Calderdale.
The Shaymen sit proudly at the top of the National League with seven wins from their opening nine games and just one defeat. The Lancastrian’s impact has been seismic.
Not bad considering that the 34-year-old was more worried about paying the bills as opposed to winning football matches in early summer when he was out of work after leaving hometown club Oldham Athletic.
Wild, who was thrust into the limelight at the start of the year in an interim spell in charge of the Latics, when he orchestrated a famous FA Cup win at Fulham, said: “I always feel guilty if I am sat at home doing nothing.
“It is such a volatile environment that you know you can be out of work so quickly and those two months that I had out of work was the first time I have ever been in my life.
I have had the full set of what goes on – I seem to have experienced stuff in six months what most managers do not go through in a few years.FC Halifax Town manager, Pete Wild
“To be honest, it was tough as you do not know where your next tenner is coming from. It strives you on to to want to be better and succeed.
“I have got a young family and I need to support them. To be fair, a couple of my mates offered me some part-time coaching and that paid the bills. That uncertainty goes through you and luckily enough I managed to get back in.”
Being ‘back in’ saw him make the short hop a few junctions across the M62 from Oldham to Halifax with Wild proving the stand-out candidate to replace Jamie Fullarton following his shock resignation in July.
It is the latest development in a roller-coaster year for Wild, who was handed a crash-course in management – and not all of it good – in a brief spell in permanent charge towards the end of last term at Oldham, where dysfunctionality prevailed behind the scenes.
Lessons were learned, but Wild’s confidence was not knocked, quite the opposite, with his coaching prowess dovetailing well with some equally-adept man-management skills which have been honed during life on civvy street – notably working in the pubs of Lancashire.
Wild, whose side secured a fine 3-2 win at Chesterfield in midweek, said: “I had a landlord’s licence at one point and lived in pubs for most of my young life.
“It is one of those games which was very successful in the late Eighties and early Nineties, but that has all gone now.
“It made me grow up and become a good people person and it has had a lot of benefits for the career I have gone into.
“When I first went into coaching, I cut down trees for a living and was an apprentice mechanic when I left school. I would go home at night, get changed and then go out and do my coaching until I could afford to go full-time. I understand how hard it is.
“I was never good enough as a player and I know that quite early, so I started to do my coaching badges. I always thought I would get a chance and I am very driven and know what I want from life.
“Being brought up, my dad was a landlord for years and I knew how hard my mum and dad worked in the pubs and it gives you the grounding in life – being around people that work hard in that pub environment, you know what people want and it makes you grow up and gives you the values of life a little bit.”
As for his eye-catching start at The Shay, Wild continued: “It was a really rushed start and I only took over nine days before the start of the season.
“When you go into places where there has been that upheaval, you expect it to be a ‘car crash’, but it certainly was not. There are some really top lads in there and we have added to that with the signings we have made. We have got off to a good start, but we are under no illusions that there is a long way to go yet.
“I wanted to get back in as quickly as I could. I had a couple of interviews for Football League jobs, but they did not come off and this one just came out of the blue really and I thought: ‘right, I will ring the chairman and see where it takes me.’ Luckily enough, I am back in straightaway.
“Sometimes, the longer it goes on, the quicker you get forgotten about, so I was really pleased to get back in quickly.
“From this time last year to being appointed as the academy manager at Oldham and 12 months on be the manager of Halifax Town means that it has been a complete roller-coaster of emotions.
“I have had the full set of what goes on – I seem to have experienced stuff in six months what most managers do not go through in a few years.
“It is all a good learning experience and good for my career.
“I have learned quickly that you have to be strong-minded and a strong character from what happened (at Oldham).
“With modern management and young people and how society has changed, I actually believe that man-management is more important than the technical and tactical.
“Don’t get me wrong, that is important and plays a massive part, but if you cannot get the best out of players and manage them on a daily basis in a modern environment, you will really struggle.”