After a year of planning, preparation and hard work the Raith Rovers Hall of Fame 2014 is now just days away.
The sold out event at the Adam Smith Theatre on Monday will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Raith Rovers’ historic Coca-Cola Cup victory over Glasgow giants Celtic, with a glittering array of star guest lined up including speakers Charlie Nicholas and Jeff Stelling from Sky Sports.
With just days to go, the organising committee of Allan Crow, Ally Gourlay, Will Macgregor and Alistair Cameron are busy making some last minute tweaks to the show, including the guest line up.
Alistair said: “Unfortunately SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has had to pull out.
‘‘He has to go to a meeting in London. He has sent his apologies and hopes we have a good evening, but his colleague Stewart Regan will still be joining us.
“Craig Brown has also had to pull out to attend a testimonial dinner - again, we knew that and there will no doubt be other changes all the way through.”
The Coca-Cola Cup team will be on stage where they will be joined by the Ramsdens Cup winners of 2014 - complete with their famous silverware.
With the format of this year’s show changing from the individual inductions of the two previously successful events, Alistair said the committee had a different approach.
“For the Row A guests we were looking for different people.
‘‘We have our dignitaries, but then we looked at what happened in 1994, who was there, who was involved and tried to make up a list from there.
“Alex Penman, who was chairman of the club at the time will be there. He has been a supporter of the Hall of Fame from day one.
“We have the two goalscorers from Celtic on the day, Andy Walker and Charlie Nicholas, ex-Scotland and Rovers manager Craig Levein is coming and interestingly we also have Hamish McAlpine.
“Our reasoning was that the goalkeepers played such a huge part in the Coca-Cola Cup, both in the semi and in the final, so we thought it was really appropriate that we should have one as a special guest and Hamish was our first choice.”
Alistair revealed that the committee also extended two very poignant invitations a they pay tribute to the late Ronnie Coyle and Iain Redford - two members of the cup winning squad.
Members of their families will be in attendance as they duo are formally inducted.
And with confirmations coming in over the weekend of more well known faces, Alistair added: “We might very well have one or two surprises on the night!”
Preparing for the event begins early on Monday and continues throughout the day, while there is also a private meal for the sponsors and VIP guests before show time.
And with all the strands coming together Alistair admitted to some nerves.
“The four of us are extremely nervous as always,” he said, “but we met with our host Bill Leckie this week and he’s such a professional.
“He’s the one who pulls together what we have given him as a structure. He understands what we’re trying to do and he does a great job.
“We held a dress rehearsal last week and that went very well I think the opening will put a few smiles on a few faces!
“We’re delighted with how it’s looking and with the guests that we have.”
Great shows, but cup final was a dark day as a Celtic fan!
Andrew Watt of Fife estate agents Delmor is a proud sponsor of the Hall of Fame.
But as a lifelong Celtic fan, his recollections are very different!
He admitted: “It was the darkest day of my Celtic supporting life!
“I come from Buckhaven originally and from an early age I knew Shaun Dennis well, who was Rovers’ centre half on the day of the final.
“I made my own way through on the Saturday and stayed at the Grosvener Hotel the night before.
Celtic hadn’t won a trophy in six years at that time, so going to the match I was very nervous about it. The vast majority of the Celtic support was confident we would win because Rovers were in a lower league - but I don’t think like that.
“Of course they scored first - I remember they were very good in the opening part of the match - before Andy Walker equalised for us but we were still on tenterhooks and then around 84 minutes Charlie Nicholas put us ahead. I thought, we should do it now, but Dalziel scored. I turned to my mate and said Rovers would tire in extra time. It was the first time I felt confident that we would win.
“But my memory of extra time is that Rovers actually strengthened and they were better than Celtic. When it went to penalties, Dennis scored the first and I didn’t watch another one after that.
“When McStay went up, I actually turned around and faced away then heard the roar from the Rovers fans. It was like someone putting their hand into your stomach and wrenching it out.
I was so dumbstruck I left the car at the hotel and went home, I forgot all about it!
Despite giving him his worst every football memory, Andrew says he’s developed a real affection for Rovers: “It began through Willie MacGregor. We had a business connection. He’s a fanatical Rovers fan so I went to a few matches with him and found myself cheering them on. They’re my second team now.”
Andrew says the previous two Hall of Fame evenings are “probably the most entertaining football events I’ve ever been at”.
“The guests have been good,” he said. “I enjoyed Souness and Brady last year and I’m looking forward to seeing Charlie Nicholas, while Jeff Stelling will bring something different.’’
Michelle plans a reunion
Hall of Fame hostess Michelle Fairful says there is one guest on the night she’s looking forward to meeting with again.
The 20-year-old, who will assist with the trophy presentations, wants to catch up with Rovers Coca-Cola Cup goalie Scott Thomson who she had her picture taken with when she was a baby and once again as a 10-year-old.
She said: “It’s quite funny but the picture I got taken with him 10 years ago was when he was at Dunfermline!
“My dad, Brian, was formerly the chairman of the supporter’s club so I’ve been part of that all my life.
“Ally Gourlay has known me all my life and asked if I would act as hostess on the night and I said yes straight away.”
Michelle was at the cup final and says she’s now looking forward to Monday night.
“It should be a great night and I’d love to get another pic taken with Scott! I’m sure he’ll be floating around somewhere!”