Craig Brewster inducted into Raith Rovers’ Hall of Fame

Raith Rovers Hall of Fame 2017: Inductee Craig Brewster with ex-Falkirk manager, Peter Houston (Pic: George McLuskie)
Raith Rovers Hall of Fame 2017: Inductee Craig Brewster with ex-Falkirk manager, Peter Houston (Pic: George McLuskie)

He was one half of a prolific goalscoring machine which drovee Raith Rovers into the Premier League.

On Monday, Craig Brewster was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame.

Raith Rovers Hall of Fame 2017: Peter Houston and inductee Craig Brewster  (Pic: George McLuskie)

Raith Rovers Hall of Fame 2017: Peter Houston and inductee Craig Brewster (Pic: George McLuskie)

He drove from Plymouth to attend Monday’s show, and returned straight afterwards to take training with his club – a remarkable journey to be part of a special night.

Craig was a prolific goal scorer in his time at Stark’s Park, bagging over 30 goals in just two seasons.

Now assistant manager at Plymouth Argyle, he remembers his time in Kirkcaldy as “absolutely amazing”.

Before Raith Rovers, Craig made his name as a goal scoring midfielder with Forfar Athletic.

Raith Rovers Hall of Fame 2017 - Ray Parlour, Craig Brewster, Chris Kamara (Pic: George McLuskie)

Raith Rovers Hall of Fame 2017 - Ray Parlour, Craig Brewster, Chris Kamara (Pic: George McLuskie)

He signed for Dundee United on schoolboy forms at the age of 13, and was there until the age of sixteen and a half, when the released him … telling him he wasn’t fast enough!

Brewster said: ‘’I got myself a job and played for just over a season with Stobswell Juniors. I really enjoyed my football there. I then had a couple of trials with Forfar and St. Johnstone. I played for Forfar reserves against Arbroath, scored, signed after the game on the Monday night and played for the first team on the Saturday.’’

He recalled: ‘’ Forfar were a good side then, better than St. Johnstone at that time in 1985 and I was very impressed by Doug Houston, their manager. I played for the first team a month before my 19th birthday and I stayed at Station Park for six and a half years.

‘’The first season, we had to win the last two games to win promotion to the Premier League, but we lost the second last one at Morton and then drew the last one at Alloa. ‘’

Time flew at Forfar and Brewster was keen to play at a higher level - he’d made 191 appearances scoring 37 times.

He had a week’s trial with Sheffield United, under Dave Bassett; and went to Germany to do a pre-season away trip to an Army camp.

‘’It was one of the worst places that I’ve ever stayed in, the food was a disgrace, it was a long week and after that I didn’t get the chance to sign.

And then Rovers came on his radar.

‘’I spoke to Jimmy Nicholl at the end of the season. He said he wanted me to bring me to Stark’s Park, but I told him I wanted to find a club down south. He said he’d would wait, and called me a month later. We negotiated a part-time contract. Rovers were in the process of going full-time, but I felt I couldn’t afford to switch.

‘’It was the best two years of my life football-wise. The whole atmosphere at the club was tremendous, there was a great group of guys and I’ll always remember my time at Raith Rovers with a great deal of affection.’’

Brewster started at Stark’s Park in a midfield role before Nicholl turned him into a striker.

‘’From about the December of that year right through to May we lost only a couple of games. We had some great wins - we beat the Scottish Cup holders 4-1 in the League Cup in a game where we may have scored six or seven.’’

He pinpointed the arrival of Peter Hetherston as a key moment.

‘’He came in halfway through the first season and that was when we started to pick up. Gordon Dalziel’s goals spoke for themselves. He was a fantastic goal scorer. We complemented each other, -he was a penalty box striker whereas I wasn’t. We blended well.

‘’There was a good also blend of youth and experience, Ronnie Coyle at the back, Ian McLeod, John McStay, Shaun Dennis, Sinky and Jimmy Nicholl himself. We then had the young players coming through into the first team, Stevie Crawford, Colin Cameron and Jason Dair were brought into the first team and they flourished and all went on to have great careers. It was great to play with such fantastic people.’’

That season started with a bang - a seven goal rout of St Mirren on the opening day.

‘’They had just been relegated from the Premier League. I managed to get two and Ronnie Coyle scored a brilliant goal, Daz got three. He went on to score 33 goals that season - probably 33 rebounds from my shots! Winning that first game gave so much confidence. Remember that it was still two points for a win and we beat Dumbarton to clinch the league with six games to go and won the league by 11 points.

‘’We were a team who worked hard, played hard and partied hard. We had some great afternoons. We were a real mix of young guys, older guys, married guys, single guys, we would go out twice a month, which was all about us bonding as a team.

‘’The management of Jimmy and Martin Harvey was superb. It was a great family atmosphere at Kirkcaldy.’’

Brewster went on to win the Scottish Cup with Dundee United before moving to Greece to play with Ionikos, returning to Scotland for successful times with Hibs, Dunfermline, Inverness Caley Thistle and Aberdeen as well as spells in club management with ICT (twice) and Dundee United.

In recent years he has had a successful time in English football, first as first team coach with Crawley Town and then as their caretaker manager who saw them over the line to win promotion.