Paul Hartley reckons Cove Rangers’ Scottish Cup opponents Alloa Athletic are an example of how to run a part-time club.
The two sides meet in the Scottish Cup second round in Clackmannanshire this weekend, which will see Hartley return to the club where he delivered two league titles.
Hartley took the Wasps from League Two to the Championship, before leaving go take the Dundee job and guiding them back into the top flight.
Alloa have been a solid second-tier side in a division which is dominated by full-time clubs. As well as helping launch Hartley’s managerial career, they also helped propel Jim Goodwin into Premiership management with St Mirren.
— Cove Rangers FC (@CoveRangersFC) December 28, 2020
Cove have aspirations of climbing the divisions and becoming a full-time club in the future. However, they have made a significant impression in the SPFL since arriving as a part-time club in 2019, winning the League Two title at the first time of asking and starting League One in impressive fashion.
Alloa are a club Hartley retains huge respect for and believes they have set the standard for part-time clubs in Scotland.
“They gave me my first job in management and I worked with a great chairman there,” said Hartley. “I’ve got a lot of fond memories there.
“I’ve seen Alloa a few times this season. Peter (Grant) has got them playing a certain style and they’ve not really changed.
“They have punched above their weight for the last six or seven years. We took them up to the Championship and they stayed in there for a few years.
“They’ve got a really good group of players there and have always had successful manager. They’re a club we should look up to, being part-time. They know how to run their business well and have got an outstanding chairman.”
“I still keep in contact with the chairman and one of their directors. I always get made to feel welcome when I come back.”
Hartley was given the Alloa job in 2011, fresh from ending his playing career with Aberdeen, with the club having just been relegated to the bottom tier of Scottish football.
He guided them to the title in his first season in charge and made it successive promotions, earning the step up to the Championship via the play-offs in 2013.
A trip to the Indodrill holds no illusions for Cove, however, with a place in the third round at stake.
“We’re not favourites for the game,” he added. “Don’t underestimate Alloa, with where their position is. They’re one of the best football teams in the Championship.
“I’ve seen them a lot and they’ve got good technical players. They’re a hard-working team but with a lot of quality in them.”