STARK’s Park paid a fitting tribute to one of its all-time heroes on Sunday as 2700 fans turned out for Ronnie Coyle’s star-studded benefit match.
Organised to raise funds for the former Raith Rovers star in his battle against leukaemia, the match was a re-run of the 1994 Coca-Cola Cup final between Raith and Celtic, only this time, after a 3-3 draw, it was the Hoops who claimed victory on penalty kicks.
Most of the Rovers cup-winning line-up featured along with some special guests including Manchester United legend Denis Irwin, current Rovers boss John McGlynn as well as the generous fan who coughed up £1600 to play, auction winner George Wilson from Newburgh.
There were also a number of famous faces in the Celtic line-up, none more so than former captain Paul McStay, who flew in from Australia to be part of his friend Ronnie’s special day.
Match organiser Ally Gourlay, chairman of the Raith Former Players Association, said: “It was a perfect day and a fitting tribute to Ronnie.
“We had a great crowd, a great atmosphere and a great bunch of guys on the pitch. For the game to go to penalties, and Paul McStay to score one, it couldn’t have been scripted any better.
“People asked if we fixed the result, but we didn’t. It just all fell into place and it was great that Ronnie presented the winning trophy to Paul at the end. They’ve been friends since the age of 11 so it was very emotional.”
After the match, the fundraising continued at a dinner at Gilvenbank Hotel in Glenrothes.
It proved to be a night of incredible gestures, from Davie Kirkwood putting his 1994 League Cup winners’ medal up for auction, to the Celtic man who bought it for £1800 and handed it straight back to the ex-Rovers star. There was also a staggering £2500 winning bid for Paul McStay’s Coca-Cola Cup final shirt as the auction raised almost £18,000 in total. Ally added: “There was a real family atmosphere and some of the gestures were just amazing.”