WITHIN five minutes in the company of Peter Grant you can tell this is a man who loves football.

The Alloa boss has spent the best part of his 55 years in the sport and so it's easy to gauge how much he missed it during the Covid-19 lockdown, and it's even easier to gauge how much he's enjoying being back.

Grant told Advertiser Sport: "This has been an eye-opener; it's alright people telling you football is a short career, I'm hoping now players actually realise what they've got.

"I seen it so many times at full-time level, players used to come in as if it was the end of the world on a Monday morning, as if they're going into the gallows instead of in to do the best job in the world.

"Hopefully, they'll appreciate now what they've got. It's the greatest game in the world and it's not long in passing you by so while you've got the opportunity to play it and enjoy it you want to be able to do that."

Competitive football is currently entirely different to what it was the last time Alloa played a league match; however, you won't hear the manager or the players complaining.

Grant continued: "The fact that we're able to train and play now is fantastic, our game the other night [against Airdrieonians] was only our third game after two friendly matches, the first of which was September 15.

"I couldn't wait, when we got the go-ahead in August to go back to training, I was like a kid before the first day of school. It was great to get back in and see the boys, get the ball rolling and see them again.

"People ask me why I got into coaching and it's because I can never replace that feeling of playing or training. Getting out to training everyday, watching or playing football, wow: that is a special, special thing. It's fantastic to be back and long may it continue."

The biggest and most obvious difference nowadays is the lack of fans in stadiums.

Grant added: "It would be the icing on the cake if supporters could get back in because I know how much of a release it is for supporters.

"You love to live and breathe to support your club and see your team play and hopefully they get the opportunity to do that. For us, we're delighted to be back."

Grant looks back to the game away to Airdrieonians and likens it to his boy's club days getting ready at the side of the pitch and leaving your possessions there.

"It's surreal," he added. "But I've got to give the players great credit: not one of them has moaned about it.

"Our boys are different, it's not a full-time professional job so they're coming straight from work, changing into their kit in the car, then coming into the stadium, then straight back into the car without a shower.

"Their attitude has been first class: we know they're the rules and we have to abide by them."

The club has already made signings ahead of the season and one in particular has caught plenty of people's attention: Stefan Scougall.

The gaffer continues: "I'm delighted [with the signing]. I've been down in England for 23 years so I saw more of him when he was at Sheffield United than I did when he was at Livingston.

"He was always a threat, he was like this wee buzzbomb and he's exciting. I remember seeing him at Sheffield United and I liked the buzz he gave people. He's got a fantastic, sharp first touch."

Grant invited Stefan to train with the club before making him an offer and he praised the players for selling Scougall the club in the way they go about their business.

He added: "I was delighted that Stefan's decided to join and I think it's a real coup for the club, he's got the ability to play at a higher level there's absolutely no doubting that.

"Put it this way: am I surprised I had an opportunity to get him? The answer is yes."

When the Advertiser went to print, the club had already played two competitive matches and were getting ready for the third League Cup game last night against Edinburgh City before the focus turns to Saturday's league opener away to Greenock Morton.

With a shorter season and a severe lack of pre-season, Grant will be looking for his side to hit the ground running.