After being told he had no future with Morton, the last thing ex-Dumbarton striker Paddy Flannery wanted was a move to the Sons.

The striker, who went on to become Dumbarton’s sixth all-time top goalscorer, was adamant at 21 he still had a future in full-time football.

New Cappielow manager Billy Stark however told Flannery he was surplus to requirements at Morton, and organised a meeting with Dumbarton manager Ian Wallace at Boghead.

But the forward never showed up.

After being blasted on the phone later by Stark, Flannery went with his tail between his legs to meet Wallace - and it turned out to be one of the best decisions he ever made.

He said: “The whole move, I didn’t want it. I was in denial.

“It was nothing against Dumbarton, I believed that I was good enough to play at that level.

“Once I had taken everything on board and really taken stock, I did a bit of research and saw what Dumbarton were all about, then I started to see it as a really good opportunity.”

“Now I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.

“The seven years I had at Dumbarton were by far the, that’s what’s made me not just the player but the person I am now with the people I met and the people I associated with there.”

It was the small things that made the difference for Flannery.

From Dick Campbell putting his arm round him telling how much he loved the club, to the people working at the reception and the fans.

He explained: “Dumbarton’s a family, first and foremost. That became really evident early on.

“It instilled some real values in me and it’s shaped me. Not just as a player but as a person, and I’m thankful to them for that.”

That family vibe was present both on and off the pitch, with the players becoming a tight knit unit.

It began to show on the park, as Flannery’s and Dumbarton’s fortunes imprved.

After finishing midtable for several seasons, Tom Carson as manager Dumbarton were in with a chance to gain automatic promotion, they needed a draw against Queen’s Park to finish ahead of Albion Rovers.

Flannery scored, but they were pegged back by a Johnny Whelan goal.

Heading into extra-time, the Sons looked safe, until they conceded a last minute penalty.

But John Wight was able to produce a terrific save, and ensured that Dumbarton were promoted.

He said: “It was an edgy game, it was so nervous, I get goosebumps just thinking about it. It was pretty special, I remember him saving the penalty well.

“There were so many things that happened in that season, we nearly lost our captain Davey Stewart that year, he was in a horrific car crash.

“Things like that give you an extra bit of momentum to get over the line the season we won promotion were pretty special.”

From there the club looked to push on. But with the departure of Tam Carson, things changed quickly.

David Winnie came in, and Flannery’s times with the Sons looked like it would come to an end.

He added: “It was one of those ones where all good things come to an end.

“I wanted to finish my career at Dumbarton – I had been there for seven years, and I could see myself there.

“But I’d learned my lesson from the Billy Stark situation, that if the manager doesn’t want you in then you’re not going to convince him otherwise.

“I’m not saying I settled but I had opportunities to leave Dumbarton and there were other clubs and part-time teams that year in year out were trying to sign me and offer me more money than Dumbarton were offering me.

“But I was in love with the club and I wanted to finish my career there.”

Flannery moved to Cowdenbeath, and then moved into the Juniors in 2005.

Since retiring as a player, he’s tried his luck as a manager in the Juniors, becoming a co-manager of Cambuslang Rangers along with John Doyle.

From there he moved to Ardrossan Castle Rovers, and after moving to the borders in 2015 took up a coaching role with Gretna 2008.

After the managers left in 2016, Flannery applied for the manager role with the Lowland League side, but former player Matt Henney was picked.

The former striker moved to Mid Annandale, where he is currently manager of the South of Scotland League side, one tier below the Lowland League.

And he hopes to one day move into full-time management.

He added: “I’d love to get into management in a full-time basis. Where I live the options are quite restricted. I’m ambitious, and I’m a winner, whether its in sales or in football or any walk of life.”