Footballer, coach and manager

Footballer, coach and manager

Born: October 26, 1961; Died: August 17, 2014, aged 52

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Samuel "Sammy" Conn, who has died aged 52 after suffering Motor Neurone Disease, was a popular footballer with several lower division senior clubs.

He was never more than a journeyman player, but his all-action style, sheer enthusiasm and never-say-die spirit - not to mention a penchant for spectacular free-kick goals - made him a cult figure with the fans of his clubs. He was also the type of non-stop, box-to-box midfield player whom clubs were willing to bring back for a second spell after he left. He had two spells with Falkirk and Albion Rovers during his 17-year, 500-plus games senior career.

Lanark-born, he arrived at Brockville from junior side Polkemmet. This first spell with the Bairns lasted two years, before he moved on for his first spell with Albion Rovers.

From Cliftonhill he moved to Clydebank, before returning to Falkirk. He then went back to his home county of Lanarkshire, when he joined Airdrie. This was perhaps the most high-profile period of his career as he played some 150 games for the Diamonds in a good team that included such players as Owen Coyle, Jimmy Boyle, Sandy Stewart and Alan Lawrence.

There was still time for a second short spell at nearby Albion Rovers, before he completed his playing career with Cowdenbeath, a club he also managed.

He then joined Ayr United in 1998, acting as youth coach while manager Campbell Money took Ayr down the home-grown players route.

The highlight of his six-year spell at Somerset Park was when he coached the club's youngsters to the Scottish Youth Cup Final, where they went down to a Rangers team that included future Scotland caps Charlie Adam and Chris Burke. Conn's team included a future Scotland cap of their own in Craig Conway.

Conn, whose last day job was driving trucks, spent the last 20 years of his life in Ayrshire, living in Irvine. He submerged himself in the world of Ayrshire junior football, when, after they had tasted success together with an Under-21 team from Kilwinning, he and his friend John Garroch took over at Dalry Thistle.

Here, he linked up with Darren Henderson, going with him to Glenafton Athletic, as a coach, before he was struck down by Motor Neurone Disease. However, although needing a wheelchair, he was at Rugby Park at the end of last season to see Henderson's new club, Hurlford United, beat his old club, Glenafton, in the Scottish Junior Cup final.

Conn lived and breathed football. He was an obsessive and it was not unknown for him to leave the house on a Sunday morning, to collect the Sunday papers, and not re-appear for some two or three hours, as he had been side-tracked by a couple of boys' club games.

His cremation, at Holmford Bridge Crematorium, Dreghorn, was not a sad affair: his widow, Margo and their three children banned black ties and asked the many who turned up to say farewell to wear bright colours, because, in life, as in football, Sammy Conn always looked on the bright side.