Friends and fans unite for Raith star Ronnie

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INJURY meant Ronnie Coyle missed out on the greatest game in Raith Rovers’ history.

Now the 1994 Coca Cola League Cup final will be replayed as a benefit match in his honour as one of the club’s greatest servants fights for his life.

Ronnie, who made 327 appearances for the Rovers between 1988 and 1996, has been battling the devastating effects of leukaemia for the past two years.

Fans, friends and former team mates have rallied behind the former defender, culminating in a special fundraising match taking place at Stark’s Park on Sunday, March 27.

The game, organised by The Raith Former Players Association, will see every player from Rovers historic ‘94 team will take on a Celtic ‘94 side, with all proceeds going towards the Ronnie Coyle Benefit Fund. Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for under 16s and OAPs.

Legend

Ally Gourlay, chairman of Raith Former Players group, explained: “This game has been over a year in the planning

‘‘We’ve had support from lots of people, including the club itself, which shows just how much of a legend Ronnie is.

‘‘He has always been one of the first to volunteer for former players events, and he is battling the disease with all the mental strength he showed as a player.“

Rovers’ cup-winning manager Jimmy Nicholl will manage the ‘94 side while another legend, Frank Connor, will lead the Celtic team.

Special strips will be worn and auctioned off at a benefit dinner taking place on the same evening in the Gilvenbank Hotel, Glenrothes. The match will also provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a Raith supporter to be part of the squad via an auction.

The highest bidder will be included in the official team photo, and be guaranteed the last 15 minutes of the game.

Title winner

Ronnie won two First Division titles at Stark’s Park and played in Raith’s only season in Europe.

He even returned after hanging up his boots to show his support for the Reclaim the Rovers campaign, taking part in a fundraising walk in the Beveridge Park in the summer of 2005 as Rovers fought for survival.

Ronnie’s own fight for survival started in April 2009 when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.