Sunday saw the fifth annual Ronnie Coyle Memorial Golf Day take place on a what was a dry, occasionally sunny but windy day at Gullane in East Lothian, host venue of the 2015 Scottish Open.

Once again, there was a tremendous turnout with a total of 28 golfers made up of players formerly and currently associated with the Rovers, life-long friends of Ronnie and sundry Rovers supporters while other special guests came along to spectate or participate in the prize-giving ceremony afterwards.  As well as playing for the Ronnie Coyle Memorial Quaich, we also had the second year of the Ally Gourlay Cup, an event restricted to current and past players.

A combination of pre-season training and holiday commitments meant the number of players was slightly down on past years but with Gordon Arthur, Stevie Crawford, Jason Dair, Lawrie Ellis, Jock McStay and Davie Sinclair all on hand there was no shortage of talent on show, although it soon became clear that some of those still involved in football perhaps don’t have as much time as they would like to hone their golfing skills. (That’s a polite way of saying that Craw and Jason were rubbish!!)

Following the obligatory coffee and bacon rolls and the ‘banter’ that naturally occurs anytime a group of footballers gather together, everyone headed to the first tee. In the absence of former club captain Peter Hetherston who was on holiday and missed the event for the first time, the duty of first shot fell to Sinky and he nailed it right down the middle, setting a high standard that was, for the most part, maintained by everyone.

The two events were played using the Stableford scoring system and the combination of the wind and some devilishly tricky pin positions put high scoring at a premium but it did make for a very close contest with the top sixteen players separated by a mere five points.  For the second year running, Iain Mackenzie (Man Utd fan) finished runner-up with his 38pts losing out narrowly to John Richardson (non-football fan but with a soft spot for the Rovers) on 39pts. John, who is a member at Gullane Golf Club and used his local knowledge to great effect, was making his debut in the event.

Once again however, the real drama was reserved for the Ally Gourlay Cup with four players separated by just the one point.  In the end, Sinky’s effort of 35pts pipped Lawrie, Gordon and Jock by the narrowest of margins with each of the runners-up ruing the chances they had let go begging.  It was a hugely popular win as Sinky is always the first to sign up for this event and he picked up his prize in front of his wife and young son, both of whom also come along and support the day every year.

There was as a lot of laughter afterwards as everyone involved enjoyed Coylie’s favourite meal of homemade steak pie on their return to the clubhouse where Ronnie’s widow Joan, along with his children Kevin, Briony and Georgia, together with Ally Gourlay, again did the honours at the prize giving.

The biggest cheer of all however, came with a surprise announcement when Ally took the opportunity to exclusively reveal that following a public vote, Jock McStay was to become the latest inductee to the Rovers ‘Hall of Fame’ later in the year.  Jock, nor indeed anyone in the room other than those involved with the Hall of Fame, had any inkling that this fantastic news was going to be announced and it was greeted with a roar as worthy as any goal scored in recent seasons.

The Ronnie Coyle Memorial Golf Day was, once again a tremendously enjoyable event, superbly organised by well-known Rovers fan John Greer, with all of the staff at Gullane making sure everyone was well looked after.  A donation of £240 will be made to the Maggie’s Centre, Kirkcaldy from money raised from the event. Plans are already in place for next year’s event.

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