Alloa: Stephen Simmons hails boss Paul Hartley after promotion

Paul Hartley celebrates

Stephen Simmons has hailed the achievement of his friend and manager, Paul Hartley, in leading part-time Alloa Athletic to Division One.

The Wasps beat Simmons' former club, Dunfermline Athletic, .

"Two back-to-back promotions, first two years of management, you can't ask for any more," said midfielder Simmons.

"He's my mate first of all, he's my gaffer and I'm absolutely delighted for him."

Simmons, also previously of Hearts and Raith Rovers, joined Alloa last summer from Queen of the South, to whom the Wasps finished second in Division Two.

"I wasn't here last year, but it is the same bunch of boys and he's added a couple of experienced players and look where we are, we're up to the First Division," the 31-year-old told BBC Scotland.

"It's fantastic to come into training.

"You would not believe some of the stuff we do - fittest team in the league.

"We do hundreds of stuff you wouldn't even see and the hard work shows in the end."

Simmons said he was never concerned that a young Dunfermline side would be able to claw their way back from a heavy first-leg defeat at Recreation Park.

"We could have scored a few goals, but we were happy coming into the game 3-0 up," he said.

Manager Hartley admitted that nerves had kicked in when Dunfermline's Allan Smith pulled a goal back with more than 15 minutes remaining.

"But they were fantastic," he said of his players. "We could have scored a few goals, we were resilient, we threw our body on the line and they were different class."

Hartley played for Hamilton Accies, Millwall, Raith Rovers, Hibernian, St Johnstone, Hearts, Celtic, Bristol City, Aberdeen and Scotland before player-management with Alloa.

The 36-year-old's experience of the lower leagues as well as the Scottish Premier League and playing for Scotland has stood him in good stead.

"This season, we weren't quite sure how it was going to work out," admitted the former midfielder.

"But football's a great game. You get your rewards the harder you work.

"I've got a fantastic chairman, I've got a great group of players and I'm very proud of them.

"We know we work under limited resources. We've not got a lot of money, but it's not about money for the guys - it's about enjoying their football and seeing the club progressing and the players progressing.

"We try to pass the ball, we've got a good group of players and I'm proud of the club and the achievement of the players."