Had circumstances been different, Paul Smith could have been Raith Rovers’ manager six years ago.
But the 55-year-old is simply delighted to be back as number two after rekindling his partnership with John McGlynn.
Smith previously worked under McGlynn (inset) for six years and was offered the chance to replace him in the Rovers hot seat following his move to Hearts back in 2012.
However, Smith was unable to commit to the role full-time and the job instead went to Grant Murray, with ‘Smudger’ remaining as his assistant for two years.
“I was offered the manager’s job but the family company I worked with had just been sold, and I had a contract that I had to stay with them for two years,” Smith told the Press.
“I discussed it with Turnbull Hutton and they put Grant in charge with me as his mentor to see how it developed.
“Unfortunately for myself the club went more full-time and due to my job I wasn’t seeing the players week to week. It was only Saturday to Saturday, which made it difficult.
“I felt the set-up for myself and the players wasn’t fair and it was with a heavy heart at that time that I decided for myself, and for Grant and Laurie, that it was better to move on.”
Smith’s first tenure as Raith assistant was a successful one, featuring a Second Division title win, a runners-up finish in the First Division, a Scottish Cup semi-final, and a Ramsdens Cup final victory over Rangers – the latter coming under Murray.
Smith remained a part-time employee throughout those eight years, but he is now relishing the chance to work with McGlynn on a full-time basis.
“It’s taken me around 20 years to get back into full-time football since I jacked in playing at 35,” Smith revealed.
“John and I have always kept in contact, speaking at least once or twice a week.
“We both worked through the west and finished at five o’clock so it was usually a 45-minute conversation that got both of us back home to Edinburgh.
“I was actually meant to start a job on the Tuesday we started here, so I had to let someone down, but I always said I’d never go back into football unless it was working with John.
“The game has moved on with sports science and video analysis, and John has certainly moved with it.
“His coaching is fantastic. He doesn’t miss anything, it’s really in-depth, and the training is enjoyable as well.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be working with him again, and to come back to Raith Rovers was a massive pull for me.”
Smith’s affiliation with the club stretches back to the start of his playing career, where he made 127 appearances and scored 50 goals during a four-year spell before leaving for Motherwell in 1986.
The former striker said: “If it hadn’t been for Raith Rovers, I could’ve ended up playing junior football.
“I’d been at Dundee United as a youth but they had fantastic team at that time – the likes of Sturrock, Narey and Hegarty – and I wasn’t good enough to play in that team.
“I got released and came here with Gordon Wallace.
“The move from full-time to part-time was an eye-opener for me.
“Guys like Jimmy Marshall, who was working down the pit, To’ Houston, Elvis (Allan Forsyth), they were all part-time but they were so professional, and it gave me a kick up the backside that I had to get myself working harder out on the park on Saturday.
“We were some team. We scored a lot of goals but we lost a helluva lot too. Those were great times and a real learning curve for me.
“I was also lucky enough to play with good strikers here. I had a great partnership with Colin Harris and especially Keith Wright. We scored a lot of goals between us and after a few seasons I got the chance to go back full-time at Motherwell and I grabbed it.”
Raith have provided Smith with some “fantastic memories” over the years, and he hopes that there will be more to come in the months and years ahead.
“It’s been three weeks now and I’m really enjoying it,” he said. “The players have been fantastic and really responded to what we’re putting over to them.
“The fans have been absolutely fantastic too, from the Dumbarton game and all the way through.
“I was eight years here the first time and a similar stint would probably take me up to retirement age.
“I’m hoping that’s the case, because if you’re here a long time, it means you’ve been successful.”