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Alfie Conn Sr

Footballer; Born October 2, 1926; Died January 7, 2009.

Alfie Conn Sr, who has died after a short illness aged 82, was the last surviving member of Hearts' iconic Conn-Bauld-Wardhaugh "Terrible Trio" line-up of the post-war era.

Hearts were emerging from nearly half a century of non-success as the canny Fifer Dave McLean recruited new young talent. Conn, the Prestonpans-born son of a miner, was just one of many. A Bevin Boy, he had caught the eye with juvenile side Inveresk Athletic before signing for Hearts in 1944, making his debut, alongside fellow debutant Johnny Urquhart, who died last month, against Dumbarton in August of that year.

Conn inherited the number eight shirt from the legendary Tommy Walker.

The "Terrible Trio" were first selected as a unit on October 9, 1948, the first of 242 appearances between then and their "encore" in the George Dobbie testimonial match in October, 1960. They immediately gave notice of what was to come: Conn bagging a brace and Bauld a hat-trick in a 6-1 demolition of East Fife.

The goals flowed, and Hearts' golden age kicked in during October 1954, when Motherwell were beaten 4-2 in the League Cup final, Hearts' first major trophy win since 1906.

Conn did not score that day, but he was on target in 1956 as Hearts beat Celtic 3-1 to lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in 50 years. Eleven days later he was back at Hampden to win his only Scottish cap, scoring his side's goal in a 1-1 draw with Austria.

Conn also won a handful of Scottish League "caps", but while two of the three played together in representative sides and all three won a grand total of six caps for Scotland, they were never selected as a unit.

By 1956, however, a persistent ankle knock and the promise of the likes of Alex Young and Jimmy Murray were threatening the positions of the trio. Conn was the first to depart, after more than 400 games, when he was sold to Raith Rovers for £2250 in September, 1958. He had, however, helped secure the league title in May of that year.

He had a short spell as player-manager of Johannesburg Ramblers in South Africa in 1960, before he returned to Scotland as player-manager with Gala Fairydean in the East of Scotland League. He then quit football for the paint trade, rising to become sales director with a Fife-based international paint company.

His footballing legacy was continued by his son, Alfie Jr, who was a teenage sensation with Rangers, before a big-money move to Tottenham Hotspur, with whom he won two Scotland caps.

The younger Conn then crossed the Old Firm divide, before donning the number eight jersey at Hearts, once worn so well by his father. Younger son Bobby was on Hearts' books as a boy, but handicapped by diabetes, never featured in the first team.

Away from football, Alfie Conn Sr was a keen golfer, holding a seven handicap at Kilspindie for many years.

He was devoted to his wife Betty over their 58 years of marriage, which produced his two football-playing sons and a daughter, Elaine.

# By Matt Vallance

Taken from the Herald

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