PETER Grant had just finished scolding Scott Taggart for being out of position when he turned and stormed back towards his dugout. He stopped, ran his hands through his hair, and suddenly headed in Paddy Connolly’s direction. 

Hands in pockets and eyes still firmly on the game, the Alloa number two chewed on the words of the gaffer before offering his own calming advice. 

It seemed to do the trick. Grant’s shoulders softened and all was well once again in the Wee County.  

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For those who spend their Saturdays devoted to Alloa, it’s the kind of scene which is much a part of match days as a Stevie Hetherington yellow card or Iain Flannigan flick of the hair; it can even be hard to remember life without Connolly at the club.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: A lot has changed since Connolly (right) joined the Wasps in 2011 with then manager Paul Hartley A lot has changed since Connolly (right) joined the Wasps in 2011 with then manager Paul Hartley

He took to the bench for the 400th time in Saturday’s win over Inverness but even he can’t quite believe nine years have passed since he first stepped foot in the Recs dugout alongside Paul Hartley. 

“You could say it is a rollercoaster ride but the majority of the time it has been absolutely fantastic,” Connolly, 49, told Advertiser Sport.  

“I have worked under six brilliant managers and every one of them has been a success in their own right.

“I didn’t even realise until someone sent me a text on Friday night telling me it was my 400th game.  It’s nine seasons and I couldn’t believe that at all.

“As I say, 99 per cent of the time it’s been really enjoyable and we have a great squad now.

“I am part-time and the guys are part-time and we are just competing to try and be that club in a full-time league punching above our weight.

“We have done that this season and a success is basically staying in this league. It can be hard when you go on a run where you maybe don’t win for eight or nine games, but the fans have been great throughout it all."

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Connolly added: “It was Paul who was still at Aberdeen playing and I think he maybe felt his playing career was coming to an end. 

“I was working for Fulham doing a bit of scouting for Fulham on a part-time basis with a friend and ex-team-mate, Billy McKinlay.

“Paul asked me to come in and give him a hand because I had finished playing two or three seasons earlier and knew League One and the Championship. He was an ex-team-mate from St Johnstone and he brought me in on that basis.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Connolly worked with Danny Lennon in 2015 Connolly worked with Danny Lennon in 2015

“The first two seasons were just so successful with back-to-back promotions, so in terms of me being here he got it off to a flying start. It’s great memories but it is frightening to think it is nine years.

“They are good times but I think there are still plenty of good times to look forward to.” 

In his time at the Recs, Connolly has outlasted Hartley, Barry Smith, Danny Lennon, Jack Ross, and Jim Goodwin - not to mention enjoyed several spells as caretaker - and now he remains as crucial as ever in the Peter Grant regime. 

He admits, however, he has always been prepared to stand aside during the changing of the guard - but must be doing something right as no one has wanted to get rid of him quite yet. 

“The chairman Mike Mulraney has been fantastic,” he said. “There have been times when managers have come and I have said I would happily step aside. 

“The chairman has been brilliant in those times in saying ‘look, we’ll see what they say’ but they haven’t kicked me out yet!

“I have learnt with them all and they have all been different in their own way. I won’t pick out names but some more driven by the will to go and win and some better coaches than others in getting their point across to the players. 

“But, the six managers all speak for themselves and many of them have gone onto full-time football. 

“Peter’s coaching credentials speak for themselves and he is coming from having coached the national team and a higher level. You can see that in his coaching.”

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: No matter the manager, Connolly (pictured with Jack Ross) has always been there to offer words of calm in the heat of the moment No matter the manager, Connolly (pictured with Jack Ross) has always been there to offer words of calm in the heat of the moment

What then would the man who has been a part of so much Wee County history pick out as his favourite moment from his time? There have been promotions, that famous win over Rangers, and last season’s miraculous survival. 

But, one day in Dumbarton stands ever so slightly ahead of them all. 

“If I was to stick my neck on the line, it would probably be winning the play-off final with Jim Goodwin at Dumbarton,” he said. 

“I didn’t have a great record against Dumbarton and they were our big rivals in the Championship over the years and they were in the Championship that year. 

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“They beat us here and I thought that I couldn’t take it again losing to them. The second leg was the same and we missed chance after chance until big Ross Stewart popped up in the last-minute. 

“The defining moment was probably that game but there are too many to pick.”