Raith Rovers legends paid tribute to Ally Gourlay ahead of Sunday’s football match which is being held in his memory.
#Allysgame will kick off at Stark’s Park on Sunday at 2.30pm with two teams of players from Rovers’ past will lock horns for the club’s former media officer who passed away earlier this year.
Colin Cameron, Marvin Andrews and Paul Browne are among the 40 plus players who had no hesitation in signing up for the event, and spoke fondly of their former colleague and friend.
“It’s always good to come back to your old team and this occasion makes it even more special,” Marvin said.
“Ally was a great man who did so much good for Raith Rovers so it’s great to be able to come and pay your last respects, because I don’t think everybody had the opportunity to go to his funeral - I couldn’t - knowing what he did for the club.
“Yes, we’ll enjoy ourselves and it’ll be good to see old friends. I’m sure it’ll be a good laugh in the dressing room with the boys but the main thing is to remember Ally.”
Paul Browne said Ally was always generous to a fault. “About a year and a half ago I texted him saying my wee boy was spending his birthday here (at Stark’s Park).
“Within half an hour he’d sorted tickets, meeting the players and meeting the manager before the game. He was one of those guys who’d do anything for you.
“Every club has its legends and he was one of those.
He added: “I followed his journey over the last two years.
“The whole story was very sad but Ally lived it in a great way. He was so full of life and cheerful. It just shows you what you can go through in life and still be happy about it.
“He was a great guy.”
Colin Cameron called Ally and “inspiration” and said he was sure a big crowd would turn up to pay its respects in what was an unusual game.
“I think it’s down to the way he was and how he dealt with the disease.
“He hit it head on. He didn’t shirk from it, he accepted it and he dealt with it in the way that he wanted to.
“He had his blog and he didn’t want people to feel sorry for him. He was just letting people know that he was coping with it in his way.
“He didn’t broadcast it - you’d be in his company and you wouldn’t think there was a problem with him. That’s just the way he was and you could take a lot of inspiration from that and be very humble.
“I don’t know anyone else who could have dealt with it the way he did, I know I couldn’t.”
The trio say that they are now looking forward to getting out on to the pitch.
Paul said: “I’ve not played a game now for about four years.
“Even being a coach now it’s different than when you’re playing. You get a bit of a buzz back again. I’m really looking forward to it, but I’m dreading Monday morning already!
Colin added: “I’ve a hamstring injury so may only manage five minutes.
“It’ll be good for the fans to pay their respects because they used to see him around here all the time. He was Mr Raith Rovers, wasn’t he?
“There are some good players that are going to be in the other team but us experienced boys will give them a good game!”
Marvin said: “Yes, we’ll enjoy ourselves and it’ll be good to see old friends, but the main thing is to remember Ally.”
John McGlynn and Jimmy Nicholl will be in the dug-outs, and the man who has brought them all together, John Greer, now has the challenge of working out who plays in which team!
“We have about 40 guys coming,” he said. “The feedback from the players has just been phenomenal – we cannot thank them enough.
“I spoke to Christian Nade and he came back straight away, saying it’d be an honour to play at the game. That has summed up the response from them all.”
Both teams - the blues and the whites - will wear the number 53 on the back of their jerseys. It was Ally’s age when he died.
The organisers are hoping fans turn out to see their heroes and honour the only fan ever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Game worn and replica versions of the specially-made jerseys are on sale at ACA Sports in the High Street.
>> Organisers of #Allysgame are looking for ballboys and boygirls to help out at Sunday’s game.
As well as the usual ballboy/girl duties they will also be asked to help form a guard of honour as the teams come on the pitch.
If you are interested call Alistair Cameron at ACA Sports on 01592-561017 or 07969251765.