Father’s Day on Sunday 19 June saw the latest staging of a popular event that is now very much part of the close season calendar at Raith Rovers.  

The start of pre-season training the following day meant that none of the current squad could make it along but new manager Gary Locke put in a very welcome and surprise appearance beforehand to say hello and wish everyone well.  This gave a number of fans an unexpected opportunity to speak to the new gaffer and hear a little bit about his hopes and plans for season 16/17;  there is no question that he is excited about what lies ahead and like the rest of us, is itching for the competitive matches to come round in what is now less than four weeks.

And so to the main event, the sixth contest for the Ronnie Coyle Quaich and the third staging of the Ally Gourlay Cup.  Every member of the field is eligible to win the Quaich but only players and ex-players get to compete for the Cup.

John McStay receiving the Ally Gourlay Trophy from Briony Coyle and Pauline McWhinnie.

As mentioned earlier, the weather wasn’t kind.  It was almost as if Ronnie and Ally, together with all the other members of the Rovers family who are sadly no longer with us, were looking down from above and crying uncontrollably with laughter at some of the first tee shots which were, to put it mildly, a bit wayward or just plain rubbish. The initial nerves however, disappeared for just about everyone and the scoring became sensational in spite of the conditions.  Five golfers especially tore the place apart and scored better than their handicaps including three of our ex-players. In golfing parlance such players are known as bandits…..

In the end, the biggest bandit of the lot was Peter ‘Silky’ Hetherston with an unbelievable score of 45 points.  Right behind him was Jock McStay with 44 points which meant that had actually gone round the golf course in just 70 shots which the record books show is now the record low-score in all the years we have been playing.

It was somehow fitting that these two stalwarts took the 2016 silverware; Silky was more than just a team mate to Ronnie; he was a great friend and still keeps in touch with the family and was delighted to receive his trophy from Briony Coyle, Ronnie’s daughter who herself is now a firm Rovers fan. It was perhaps even more poignant that Jock won Ally’s Cup;  there’s been a running joke that Ally was the only guy who lived long enough through illness to present his own Memorial Trophy but sadly, 2016 was a year too far. Jock is one of the former players who was closest to Ally and he was honoured to follow in the footsteps of Ross Matthews and Davie Sinclair in being the winner. It’s worth mentioning  that Sinky scored 39 points this year which was four more than he managed in winning in 2015….as they say, close but no cigar.

Briony Coyle presenting the Ronnie Coyle Trophy to Peter Hetherston with Pauline McWhinnie

There was as a lot of laughter afterwards as everyone involved enjoyed Coylie’s favourite meal of homemade steak pie after drying off and before Briony handed over prizes to every participant.

There was one more surprise still to come and that was when John Greer, in his role as Chair of the Raith Rovers Former Players Association, announced that Silky was to be specially inducted into the ‘Hall of Fame’ later in the year.  Our ex-captain had no idea this was happening and he was genuinely moved as he said a big thank you to everyone for again providing a reminder of how special a club we are all part of.  There was some gentle rib-tickling during the speech as one unnamed heckler asked if the Hall of Fame recognition was for his achievements as a player or as a manager…..nobody laughed louder than Peter.

The Ronnie Coyle/Ally Gourlay Day was, as ever, a tremendously enjoyable event, superbly organised by John Greer, with all of the staff at Gullane making sure everyone was well looked after.  A donation of £150 will be made to the Maggie’s Centre, Kirkcaldy and plans are already in place for next year’s event, possibly a couple of weeks earlier in the summer to enable current players to take part.

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