BRIAN RICE has thanked Alloa Athletic for a "brilliant 21 months" following his departure to take up a coaching position at Livingston Football Club.

The Wasps manager was confirmed to be leaving in a statement released by the club on Thursday evening.

He will be joining up with David Martindale as a first team coach with the West Lothian side, aiming to lift them up the Premiership table.

Rice departs Alloa after 21 months in charge, lifting the club from relegation danger in his first season to play-off semi-finalists in his first full term.

He sat down with Advertiser Sport to look back at his time with Alloa and explained how grateful he was for the opportunity.

He said: “First and foremost, it’s been fantastic. It’s been a brilliant 21 months that I’ve had at Alloa, I couldn’t have asked for anymore.

“It’s a fantastic club with great, loyal, honest people at it. It gave me a new lease on life, it gave me my hunger back.

“I have lots and lots to thank Alloa for and I think it’s a two-way thing as well. Where we were when I came in and where we are now, I think the club’s improved, I’ve left it in a better place.

“That’s all a manager can do is try and leave the club in a better condition than when they arrived there, I believe I’ve done that.

“But opportunities like this don’t come up very often, especially for someone at my age – full time football which I’ve been involved in most of my life and back in the Premiership.

“It was a really difficult decision to make but it was one that I’ve had to make and I’ve called it this way.”

Rice joined the club in February 2022, replacing Barry Ferguson as manager. With just two months left of the season, Rice had to immediately turn things around for the club.

He guided the Wasps to a fifth place finish in the League, before leading Alloa into the play-offs during his first full season.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: EXCEPTIONAL: Brian Rice praised Alloa for putting in their best performance all season.

Rice continued: “When I joined the club, they were struggling at third bottom of the league so we had to address that and make sure we stayed in the league.

“We did that, we created a really good atmosphere, we improved considerably on the field over the course of the season and a half.

“I think I’m leaving the club in a good place, it’s got a really good squad of players, they’re honest boys you can trust on the pitch.

“It’s a big wrench to leave but it’s a decision I had to make.”

Rice’s last game in charge was the 2-0 win over local rivals Stirling Albion, a performance that fans won’t be forgetting for a long time.

The Wasps clocked in their best performance all season, with goals from Steven Buchanan and Ally Roy sealing a memorable parting gift for Rice.

“It was a really good performance,” Rice said. “A dominant performance.

“We didn’t know any of this was going to happen at the time, this all happened very quickly this week.

“To leave on a high, with a win in a local derby and to play as well as we did – I’ll never forget that.

“I’m glad we won last Saturday, as I would be any Saturday, but to win the local derby and play the way we did is a very pleasing way to see off my tenure at Alloa.”

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: Brian Rice has left Alloa to join Livingston FC.

Rice will take up a different role at Livingston compared to Alloa, as he makes the change from manager to first team coach.

He will be working alongside Martindale as part of his coaching staff, but it is a change he insists he is more suited to and is looking forward to.

“My strength on the pitch is coaching,” Rice explained. “It always has been and I’ve been under no illusions about that.

“I speak about it all the time, I like on the pitch coaching, like preparing for games, I like thinking about training.

"Going back into full time is what everybody at football wants to do. I’ve been full time most of my life ever since I left school.

“I went part time at Alloa and I loved it but it’s the lure of football. Football is in my blood, it means everything to me.

“It’s not just my job, it’s my hobby. It just excites you and when you get presented with an opportunity like this – I had to think about it because Alloa have been so good to me.

“I think it’s the right decision I’ve made, both for me and I think it’s the right decision for Alloa at this time.

“The good thing is I get started right away, go in and get started straight away. Going into a new job, working with new people.

“I’ve not worked with David [Martindale] before but I know him, I see him at games and we talk the same footballing language.

“I’m excited to get started, it’s a new challenge, it’s a different challenge. I didn’t think going into the Premiership would come up for me again but I’m glad it has.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”

Alloa will now start the search for a new manager, with Paddy Connolly expected to take the game against Queen of the South tomorrow.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: DEFEAT: A strong Alloa performance was unravelled with three late goals.

As he departs, Rice bid farewell to everyone involved at the club, thanking them for their support throughout his time at Alloa.

He added: “At Alloa, it’s not just about the players or the staff – it’s about Joyce the tea lady, it’s about everybody, Geoff Kay, the groundskeeper, we’re all a team.

“I’ve said it to numerous people at the club that it’s not just the first team that win, it’s the club that wins and it’s the club that loses when we lose.

“We’re all as one, it’s about everybody. I greatly appreciated the help that I got from everybody at Alloa.

“Everybody has been fantastic and I can’t thank them enough.”