Ally Gourlay - talking of the times, the love and the laughing

editorial image

Ally Gourlay, one of the most popular and loved people at Raith Rovers, passed away overnight aged just 53.

He was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given just six months to live in March 2014.

Declining further treatment, he enjoyed almost two years of special moments and memories, passing away in his sleep overnight on Saturday.

Ally was a lifelong Rovers’ fan who fulfilled many roles at the club, most recently working as their media officer where he was a popular and highly respected figure among journalists and visiting clubs.

He was Rovers’ historian - the custodian of the club’s landmarks, stats and anniversaries which he ensured were all properly acknowledged - and the founder of the Former Players Association.

Ally was instrumental in organising testimonials for several players, drawing on his huge network of contacts, and he was a member of the team which created the hugely successful Hall of Fame live shows now heading into their fifth year.

He not only brought together all the past players, he played a huge role on shaping. developing and co-hosting, what is now regarded as one of the most successful sports shows in Fife; one that, thanks to its theatre setting, is also unique within the UK.

Football, and Rovers, were one of his lifelong passions, and he was a hugely popular figure around the club, but music was a great part of his life too.

He hosted several shows on radio stations, most recently Art School Dancing on K107, where he championed numerous bands and formed long-lasting friendships with many musicians.

His initial cancer diagnosis was delivered just 48 hours before Rovers took part in the 2014 Ramsdens Cup final, and he insisted on working as normal as the club went on to enjoy victory over Rangers.

At the civic reception which followed, Ally was presented with his own cup winner’s medal by then manager, and close friend, Grant Murray.

Ally was inducted into the Hall of Fame in November 2014 - a show he was unsure he would live to see. The honour was kept secret until his name was announced, resulting in a standing ovation from players, legends and a packed Adam Smith Theatre.

Twelve months later, in November, he returned to co-host the 2015 show which featured Harry Redknapp, Joe Jordan and a host of football legends.

His determination to put life before his illness saw him enjoy many special moments with friends and, above all, his family, over the past two years.

He wrote openly, movingly and honestly about his prognosis in regular updates on social media which were shared by hundreds, possibly thousands of people, and he also spoke about living with cancer as he helped to host or co-host fundraising dinners and events.

His death has prompted countless tributes on social media and memories of many special moments from his dockyard days to the radio studios and his beloved Stark’s Park.

His own philosophy was to ‘‘talk of the times, the love and the laughing’’ - and he did so every day as he lived with cancer, and continued to do so in the company of the hundreds of friends who packed into his room at Victoria Hospital daily over the past few weeks. He never forgot the joy of living amid the fear of dying.

As his illness progressed last week, he was given just 48 hours more.

In the company of his son, Jonny, and brother, Ian, he left hospital to visit Stark’s Park and then tour the landmarks of his own youth around Kirkcaldy before returning to his bed several hours later.

He passed away overnight on Saturday.

Ally is survived by his sons Jonny and Matthew, and daughter Samantha who he was hugely proud of. He was loved by many. He loved them most deeply of all.

> A full appreciation will appear in this week’s Fife Free Press together with news of plans to celebrate his life.