The club were delighted to welcome a former player back to Stark’s Park recently, when our former reserve striker from the 1990’s, Graham Robertson, called in to the stadium to show his son Freddie where he used to work.

Graham joined the Rovers (when we’d just been promoted to the Scottish Premier League for the first time in the club’s history) as a 16 year old apprentice in 1993 from Balgonie Celts u16’s, having grown up in Glenrothes and attended Auchmuty High School. Prior to starting his apprenticeship at Stark’s Park Graham also had the chance to sign for Dundee United under Jim McLean having also been on ‘S’ forms with the Tannadice club.

In what would turn out to be his first of two spells at the Rovers Graham never actually made what would be counted as an appearance for the first team from 1993 to 1996.

Before the days of 7 subs being on every team sheet the young pros like Graham trained, travelled and warmed up with the 1st team for each match, meaning that they were involved in almost every game the season Rovers were in the Premier League and then the following seasons when the League Cup was won and the ensuing UEFA Cup campaign. As a young player Graham was learning his trade, and being around the first team environment was an education in itself under the inspired leadership of Jimmy Nicholl and Martin Harvey.

At reserve team level, however, was where Graham played some of his best football (scoring 22 goals in 18 games for the second string team when the Rovers won the Reserve League East as an 18 year old). He won Rovers Young Player of the Year at the club that season and still has the medal and trophy from that time.

A sign of how good that reserve team was shone through when the second string Rovers team beat the Pars first team at Stark’s Park in the Fife Cup, with a certain G Robertson nutmegging Ian Westwater to score the winning goal.

Graham was at Stark’s Park when we had what was easily the best team in the club’s modern history, and the most successful Rovers team of all time; he was competing for a place up front with experienced players like all-time leading Rovers goalscorer Gordon Dalziel and his strike partner Ally Graham as well as the finest group of home-grown players (and future Scotland caps) in a generation Stevie Crawford and Colin Cameron. Jason Dair was also ahead of him in the first team squad at that time. All of them League Cup and First Division winners.

Graham and his fellow apprentices really valued the way Jimmy Nicholl and Martin Harvey had things organised at Stark’s Park, with teenagers like themselves earning just £40 a week, but learning every day by training with legends of the Scottish game Gordon Dalziel, Dave Narey, Ian Redford; Rovers stalwarts John McStay, Shaun Dennis, Davie Sinclair, Ronnie Coyle and Danny Lennon…. as well as cult heroes Tony Rougier and Julian Broddle!

Graham experienced a lot of great times as a Rovers apprentice and reserve team striker and it ultimately led to Jimmy Nic having the faith to sign him as a 19 year old for Millwall in 1996 when he moved south to the Championship club.

His time at The New Den lasted 2 seasons in total where he played in the Millwall reserve team alongside emerging players Tim Cahill and Lucas Neill who would go on to have long and distinguished careers in England’s top flight and at World Cups for Australia.

When Jimmy Nicholl and “The Jocks” time at Millwall ended, Graham stayed on in South London after Sinclair, Dair, Crawford and Hartley returned to Scotland at the same time as Nicholl. Graham then found himself back at Stark’s Park with his former gaffer in season 1998 – 99 when Jimmy Nic returned to the Rovers.

In total, Graham played 6 games for the Rovers.

Season 98-99 was cut short by a bad ankle injury which niggled away for a year and led to Graham leaving the Rovers and signing for East Fife. It was a frustrating time for Graham who was now aged 22, as his ankle injury happened in a reserve game at Forfar that he had volunteered to play in to gain match sharpness early in the season.

During his time at Bayview, Graham played 40 games for our derby rivals, scoring 6 goals before moving back to England in 1999 to play non-league football for Dartford and then Tonbridge Angels.

A serious knee injury brought about Graham’s retirement from senior football at the age of 26, an age when most players approach the peak of their playing career.

Graham now works as Development Director for a charity called Project Scotland; a country – wide organisation that helps young people aged 16 – 30 to develop skills through volunteering opportunities so they can build a better future for themselves.

Speaking to Graham said “I just wanted to pass on a huge thank you to your Groundsmen Eric Swinley and Tony Coventry.

I was passing Starks Park with my 5 year old son Freddie and decided to stop in and take a couple of photos outside the ground.

It was an impromptu trip (as we now live in East Lothian) but a poignant trip for me – as I used to play for Raith both as an apprentice from 1993 – 1996 and for the first team in 1998 and part of 1999 under Jimmy Nicholl.

I’m from Fife originally and have always had such fond memories of my two stints as a young player at Raith, however it had been 20 years since I’d been to the ground.

I was therefore delighted when Eric spoke to me and Freddie – he was kind enough to give us a quick tour of the ground and even a sneaky shot on the new pitch – on which Freddie was delighted to get a chance to take a penalty on a real football pitch! He has not stopped talking about it since 🙂

It was such a nice gesture and really made my son Freddie so happy, and also made me very nostalgic and a proud daddy for the day!

Please pass on a huge and sincere thanks to both Eric and Tony from myself and Freddie.

It was so great to see that the family values and the genuine friendly and welcoming feeling that I remember from my own time at Raith, still lives on 20 years later.

Good luck for the rest of the season – hopefully I’ll manage to get Freddie along to a game at some point later in the season”

Back to News