FOOTBALL'S very own take on an often used saying goes along the lines of "Behind every great man stands a great No.2."

And one of the Junior game's benchmarks in this respect has to be the Auchinleck Talbot partnership of Tommy Sloan and Alan McLuckie.

That's because nobody holds the Talbot assistant manager in higher regard than Tucker himself who quite openly admits he could never have delivered an astonishing 10 years of trophy successes without trusted aide Alan by his side.

He said: "Alan is one of those unsung heroes who quietly carries out his role in the background and without any fuss. Yet what a lot of people don't realise is that his thoughtful input is every bit as vital as my own in deriving a winning formula ... some might say even more so ... myself included."

The duo first teamed up together in the legendary 1999 Kilwinning Rangers side whose haul of trophies included the Scottish Junior Cup, West of Scotland Cup and West Super League title but 48-year-old Alan was already an Abbey Park experienced hand by then and had previously played at right-back in a defence containing Tucker's older brother Danny.

The break-up of the Bobby Dickson steered Buffs team saw him move on to join Troon and it was while at Portland Park that he received a phone call asking him to meet up with his former team-mate.

He recalls: "Tommy had been at Auchinleck in a player/coach capacity and had taken temporary charge, assisted by another former Kilwinning Rangers player Ian Jardine, following the departure of Tam McDonald.

"Ian couldn't commit to the role (luckily for me) so Tommy and I met up at a building site in Dreghorn where he said the manager's job had been offered to him and he was keen to have me as his No.2.

"My immediate reaction was to ask if he knew what he was letting himself in for because trying to maintain Auchinleck's record of success and winning ways was never going to be an easy gig however Tucker simply oozed confidence about how things would pan out and he persuaded me to come on board."

Alan arrived on the Beechwood Park scene, accompanied by a handful of Troon team mates he had enticed into throwing in their lot with him ... striker Stevie Reid, Greg Henry, John Gallagher, Davie Wilson (nowadays the manager of Gibraltar) and highly- rated midfielder Stuart "Arnie" Davidson.

He said: "Arnie's hard-tackling style made him an instant hit with supporters and we went on to win the Ayrshire Cup that first season and the signs of a decent team coming together were given a significant boost during the summer months when highly-vocal pair Derek Anderson and Stevie Mallan were snapped up.

"Both were very influential types who took to the high work ethic approach favoured by Tommy and myself which helped us go on and claim our first Scottish Cup win against Bathgate Thistle despite our squad lacking in flair players.

"Tommy never loses the rag so I often took up the Bad Cop role in team talks back then but our approach did the trick, helped no end by the players identifying with what is expected of them at Auchinleck Talbot.

"You know, it really is a unique environment and one that spawns great loyalty as you can readily see most Saturdays on the terracing slopes where there is always a clutch or more of past players who still come along to support the team."

Alan owns up to many defining moments during his Talbot tenure such as Bryan Young's last-minute free-kick goal against Maryhill that clinched the 2006 Super Premier title, however the player whose name springs to mind from the past decade is one who spent only a season at Beechwood Park.

He insisted: "Kris Doolan arrived here with a willingness to listen and improve his game and it was no real surprise when he moved on to Partick Thistle.

"But he was just one another player who has made this job easy and in turn Tucker and I keep things simple in playing the Talbot way and that's why team talks never dwell overlong on opposition strengths or how to stop their best players.

"Games will be won or lost by what our own players do on the pitch and that positive approach has been instrumental in what has been achieved here."

TODAY (kick-offs 2pm): Euroscot Eng Central League Cup quarter-finals: Blantyre Vics v Carluke Rovers, Vale of Clyde v Cumbernauld Utd.

TOMORROW (kick-off 4.05pm): Dyslexia Scotland Junior Cup final: Auchinleck Talbot v Musselburgh Athletic (Rugby Park).