Ex-cabbie has taken long road to top job

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Chris Dunlavy

JIMMY Dack may be in­ex­pe­ri­enced but if there’s one thing New­port’s new gaffer won’t lack it’s a bit of dress­ing room ban­ter. From his days as a Non-League player with Sut­ton United and Alder­shot to the nights spent driv­ing a black cab around the streets of Lon­don, the 42-year-old has never been short of a word or two.

“Chatty, bright, friendly – he’s a fan­tas­tic, en­thu­si­as­tic char­ac­ter who loves his foot­ball,” said Bruce El­liott, the Sut­ton chair­man who has known Dack for a quar­ter-of-acen­tury. “It’s hard to say any­thing more about Jimmy be­cause that per­fectly sums him up.”

Dack’s pop­u­lar­ity is not con­fined to his old boss. Widely re­garded as one of the nicest men in the game, team-mates at the U’s still re­mem­ber the mid­fielder drop­ping in for a pint and a chat long af­ter he’d left to join Gra­ham West­ley at Farn­bor­ough.

And for­mer Spurs de­fender Justin Ed­in­burgh was so en­am­oured that he ap­pointed Dack his as­sis­tant at Fisher Ath­letic, Grays and New­port. If ru­mours are to be be­lieved, the pair could link up again at Gilling­ham this sum­mer.

It’s all a far cry from Dack’s days of tour­ing the high­ways and by­ways of the Non-League game be­fore climb­ing in his cab to earn a crust.

Re­leased by Brent­ford as a youth, the mid­fielder played for Ep­som & Ewell, Dork­ing, Craw­ley, Car­shal­ton, Alder­shot and Farn­bor­ough, win­ning the Isth­mian League ti­tle at the lat­ter un­der West­ley in 2000-01.

But it was al­ways Sut­ton which held the great­est pull. Three times he joined his lo­cal club, the first as an 18-year-old in 1990, the last some nine years later. In all, Dack made more than 270 ap­pear­ances, crowned by Isth­mian League glory in 1998-99.

“He’ll al­ways be held in high es­teem here,” added El­liott. “We see him of­ten and he’s one of those who has al­ways kept in touch with his team-mates.

“When­ever Jimmy pops in to see a game – which he does reg­u­larly – ev­ery­one re­mem­bers him and he’ll al­ways stop for a chat. I hope he’d say he has fond mem­o­ries of us and it’s al­ways very nice when ex-play­ers come back. It shows you did some­thing right.”

In­deed, had El­liott got his way, Dack would have man­aged Sut­ton seven years ago. Forced to re­tire through a knee in­jury in 2003, Dack spent time on West­ley’s coach­ing staff at Farn­bor­ough and Steve­nage, help­ing Boro reach the Con­fer­ence play­off fi­nal in 2006.

He then re­turned to Gan­der Green Lane as care­taker-boss when Ernie Howe was sacked, only to turn down a per­ma­nent job be­cause it would in­ter­fere with his job as a cabbie.

Even dur­ing his time with Ed­in­burgh, Dack would bomb up and down the M4 to New­port in his Hack­ney Car­riage, only giv­ing up the day job in the sea­son the Ex­iles won pro­mo­tion to League Two. Fiercely loyal (in 1994, Craw­ley boss Ted Shep­herd was fired for let­ting his play­ers have a quiet drink on the eve of an FA Cup first round tie and Dack quit the club in sym­pa­thy), he has stuck by Ed­in­burgh for the last six years, help­ing him take New­port from al­most rel­e­ga­tion to Con­fer­ence South to the brink of League One.

And such was his pop­u­lar­ity in the dress­ing room that when Ed­in­burgh joined Gilling­ham last month, the Ex­iles’ play­ers suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned their chair­man (Les Scadding) to give Dack the top job un­til the end of the sea­son.

“It was an ob­vi­ous choice,” says New­port striker Aaron O’Con­nor, who also worked with Dack at Grays. “No­body knows the play­ers as well as Jim. He’s im­mensely popular, a bub­bly guy whose al­ways got a smile on his face. A lot of No. 2s are quite quiet and just tend to hide be­hind the manager.

“But Jim’s bright and loud, he’s one of the lads. He has din­ner with us, plays ta­ble ten­nis with the boys, has a good laugh.

“I think he was happy be­ing an as­sis­tant. Whether that’s still the case I don’t know. But if he goes well here, then it could be a new chap­ter for him.

“There have al­ready been a few dif­fer­ences. Be­fore it was a case of ‘We’ll do what we’re best at and see if other teams can deal with it’. It wasn’t a bad strat­egy but now there’s a bit more anal­y­sis of the op­po­si­tion, more work on coun­ter­ing their strengths. Tac­ti­cally, he’s spot-on.

“But the big­gest thing is still his per­son­al­ity. Win or lose, Jim is al­ways the same up­beat, en­thu­si­as­tic char­ac­ter.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

IN WITH A SHOUT: New New­port County manager Jimmy Dack

PLAY­ING DAYS: Jimmy Dack in ac­tion for Alder­shot

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.