IT’S common knowledge Lincoln managerial duo Danny and Nicky Cowley traded in jobs as PE teachers to work their way up the managerial ladder – and Tom Pett is in a unique position to judge them.
As a former PE technician himself, Pett knows all about dishing out the discipline – but has found himself on the receiving end of two experts since joining the Imps last January.
Their background in education is something that has informed the Cowley brothers’ well-publicised rise – which includes leading Lincoln to the FA Cup quarter-finals as a Non-League side back in 2017 – and it’s a revolution Pett is proud to be a part of.
“You can still see it in them,” admitted the 27-year-old midfielder. “The way they warm up and take the sessions make you wonder if they still think they’re in teaching!
“You can tell the way they discipline us is from a teaching background and how they organise us for things like set-plays.
“I knew them from Non-League. I actually played against Nicky a couple of times – he was playing for Concord Rangers at the time.
“I’ve played against their teams enough and they haven’t changed – they used to be up and down on that touchline and they still are.
“Their love for the sport is so great, you can tell from the way they are in training every day. They’re the most enthusiastic pair of people I’ve ever met.
“It shows in the way we play and the way we train is exactly how they are as people. The amount of detail they go into is amazing and that can only help us to be successful as a team.
“Everything you hear about them is true.”
Like the Cowleys, Pett has come a long way since his days of setting up cones and handing out bibs at the back of the school field.
It’s a journey that has taken him from Sunday League to League Two via an England C cap. While the phenomenon of the ‘Non-League player come good’ is becoming increasingly common, Pett’s lack of a formal footballing education marks him out.
But now – with the former Stevenage and Wealdstone man the creative midfield fulcrum of a Lincoln side well-placed for promotion, sitting top of the table before the weekend’s action – Pett believes it’s something that has ultimately worked in his favour.
“So many professionals now say it and it’s true that you can be as good as you want technically, but if you don’t put the hard work in, it’s going to be tough for you,” he added.
“A manager wants to see players who, if it isn’t going right with their technique, can still roll their sleeves up and run themselves into the ground.
“A manager 99 times out of 100 would pick that player over a player with ability but the wrong attitude.
“I’ve always said to any young player that you shouldn’t worry if you aren’t at a club and my journey just goes to show that you don’t have to ever be at an academy – I was never at one myself.
“If you put the hard work in and keep believing, you will become a professional. I know Danny and Nicky don’t stop going on about it but they’d much rather hard work over ability.”
JOE LEAVEY / Photo: PA Images