FORMER Dundee manager Barry Smith won the race to become Alloa Athletic’s new manager ahead of another ex-Dens Park boss, Alex Rae, and was appointed to the Recreation Park position last night.
Wasps chairman Mike Mulraney opted for the 39-year-old after narrowing his search for Paul Hartley’s replacement down to two candidates from over 60 applications. Ironically, Smith will begin his new role against Dundee tomorrow at a Dens Park ground where he was a player, coach and manager for over 15 years.
Smith led Dundee through the dark times of administration and a 25-point penalty in the First Division, before being dismissed last February. His dismissal came at a time when the Dark Blues were struggling after their late promotion to the SPL as a result of the financial issues faced at Rangers in the summer of 2012, however he has remained a popular figure at the club.
A return to football came through a spell coaching Ross County’s under-20 side and Smith has given that role up for the Alloa job. He said: “I have enjoyed my time at County but I wanted to be a manager again of a first team and have the chance to do that at Alloa. Alloa are a good club, who have progressed well over recent years and I will look to keep that progression going. It is exciting to be a manager again and I am looking forward to working here.”
Despite his ties with Dundee, Smith will take a back-seat role for the trip to Dens Park, with Hartley’s assistant manager Paddy Connolly continuing his work in getting the Recreation Park side ready.
Smith said: “I met the players for the first time on Thursday night and let Paddy do everything he had set up to do. He has prepared the team and he will take the lead for Dundee. Of course fate has played a hand with my first game being at Dens but it is not about me. It is about Alloa going out and getting three points.”
Mulraney was delighted with the appointment, saying: “I could not be happier and I see Barry as a perfect fit for the job at Alloa. We had a great couple of seasons under Paul and there is no reason why they will not carry on under Barry. It was important for us to get a manager with experience of this division. Barry has that and more from his time at Dundee.”
Mulraney added: “It would have been a great baptism for him anywhere, and some people will see it as being extra special because it is at Dundee. However it is only the same three points that are up for grabs.”
Dundee manager John Brown wished Smith a successful time at Alloa but only after the Dens Park meeting. Brown said: “It’s great for Barry. He’s a good lad and I wish him all the best – but only after Saturday. What it will do is give the Alloa lads a big lift. They’ll be working that bit harder for their new manager to impress him. They’ll have an extra ten per cent going into this game.
“That’s another dimension you’ve got to look at going into Saturday’s game. I think the Dundee fans appreciated not just what he did as a player here, but what we achieved as a manager after the effects of administration. They had a lot of admiration for Barry for his efforts and rightly so.”