Raith Rovers are to host a special charity match devoted to the memory of the late Ally Gourlay.
’Ally’s Game’ will see a Raith Rovers Select take on a team of club legends at Stark’s Park on Sunday, April 10, paying tribute to the club’s media officer who passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer last month aged just 53.
A lifelong fan, Ally was also the club’s historian, formed the former player’s association, hosted the clubs matchday hospitality and was on the committee for the Hall of Fame evenings - the remaining members have helped organise the tribute match in conjunction with the club.
It will feature players from the club’s past along with special guests, and promises to be an afternoon to remember.
Ally’s three children, Jonny, Samantha and Matthew helped launch the match, which Jonny called “immense”.
“We’ve had so many messages of support, from the club here and other clubs too, and just in general,” he said.
“Dad touched so many lives with his radio show ‘Art School Dancing’ and so many people have been in touch showing their support and giving condolences, so it’s been wonderful.
“We’ve never quite felt alone during this because there’s always been a rally of people behind us when it’s been difficult.
“It was always the same with my dad during his illness. He never once looked for any sympathy but at the same time he was never short of people willing to help him out and this game is just another showing of the love Raith and the Hall of Fame guys had for my dad.
“Raith was his life. He was coming down here since he was four years old.
“Some of our best memories with dad are when we were little.
“We would go to my grans and get a pick and mix, then come down here for the football. That was family Saturday for us so it’s wonderful that the club and the Hall of Fame have taken the time out to organise this.
“You just don’t imagine it ever happening, a tribute match to your own dad who was never a footballer!”
Names of those taking part and more details will be announced in the next few weeks, but the organisers have designed a special dark blue strip which the Raith XI will wear.
Ally’s name will adorn the back of each strip and each will be numbered 53.
The front has the words ‘talking of the times, the love and the laughing’ - a song lyric which Ally used to embody his fight against cancer - and is sponsored by the Hall of Fame and will carry its logo.
A special souvenir programme will be produced for the match, which kicks off at 2.30pm, and all proceeds raised will go to Maggie’s Fife at Ally’s own request.
Jonny said: “Maggie’s did so much to support my dad throughout his illness and for us, both throughout and afterwards,
“He would probably look at us now and say ‘You’re being silly - just get on with your Sunday, don’t bother about me!’ but if he was to support any charity, it would be Maggie’s.
“He was always very supportive of them.”
Fans are being asked to use the hashtag #Allysgame to help promote the match on social media.
Eric Drysdale, Rovers’ board member, said: “I’m sure it will be very popular with the supporters who will get to see their heroes of yesteryear, perhaps slightly larger than when they used to play for us, so I hope the strips are larges and extra larges!”
“It should be an entertaining game and I’m looking forward to the occasion.
“When we spoke about it before he died, Ally’s immediate reaction was he was gutted that he was going to miss it!
“He would have loved this obviously and I think the current incumbents of the dugout who think they know how to play football might be tested on the field of play!”
“I’m fair looking forward to it so hopefully we’ll get a good crowd.
“Ally personified what Raith is all about. He just got mucked in and got involved and was extremely useful in a number of different ways for the club.
“He was a great Rover.”