Raith Rovers: Ramsden Cup boss Grant Murray is latest inductee into Hall of Fame
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But Grant Murray – who this week was named as 2023’s fifth and final inductee into the Raith Rovers Hall of Fame – famously defied the odds by managing the Kirkcaldy outfit to a shock 1-0 success over Rangers in the 2014 Challenge Cup (then called the Ramsdens Cup) final in front of almost 20,000 fans at Easter Road, thanks to John Baird’s winner just three minutes from the end of extra time.
"I think we were fortunate that the cup final we got was the perfect cup final,” current Queen of the South assistant manager Murray, 48, who also made 139 playing appearances for Raith in defence between 2009 and 2015, told the Fife Free Press. “Rangers had obviously been demoted down the leagues so were coming back through.
"To go and beat Rangers in a cup final at any point is a great achievement. It was a great occasion. I think everyone probably thought Rangers would win but there was great self belief in our team. We thought: ‘What was the point in getting this far without thinking we could go on and win it?’
"Don’t get me wrong, it was always going to be a long afternoon. But the players can look back on their careers and say that they took on an Old Firm team in a final and came out winners.
"It was a tough day but we more than held our own. Not just the goalie, Lee Robinson, who had to pull off some good saves, the defence were very strong, Paul Watson, Dougie Hill, Callum Booth and Jason Thomson who’s obviously getting inducted into this year’s Raith Hall of Fame as well.
"And up front the boys ran their socks off. John Baird and Calum Elliot were guys who had scored at a good level, we had Joe Cardle and Grant Anderson out wide.
"Rangers hit the bar and probably had a lot of the ball but we were always a threat on the breakaway. We knew if we could keep it close or keep a clean sheet that we always had a chance.”
Goalless after 90 minutes and still 0-0 in the dying minutes of extra time, Murray had begun preparing for penalties before Baird struck.
"When Lee made a save and Nicky Law (Rangers midfielder) hit the bar, I thought it was going to go right to penalties,” he said.
"The teams were tiring a wee bit and we had to make substitutions. The subs were fantastic for us because they just brought a freshness.
"And I think the longer it went, the longer the boys felt: ‘We can win this, Rangers can’t score today’.
"Bairdy then pops up after a slight error from a Rangers point of view and scores after the ball breaks to him.
"I remember then turning to the kit man and saying: ‘This is going to be the longest three minutes ever’.
"But we won it and after the game Ally McCoist (Rangers manager) congratulated us and said it was well deserved, brilliant for our lads and a great occasion for them.
"He spoke very highly of our players. Him and his assistant Kenny McDowall were very supportive of us.
"It was funny because we had played Hibs in the Scottish Cup that season and beaten them 3-2 at Easter Road and you just thought: ‘Is this going to be a lucky omen?’
"We were the away team when we won on Scottish Cup day so we were in the away dugout.
"But although we were the home team for the Challenge Cup final and had the home changing room, when we went out before the game Rangers had taken the home dugout.
"We had the away dugout but we were the home team, so we just said: ‘Just leave it, don’t say anything’, because that dugout had been lucky for us before."
Modest Murray also emphasised that the glory for that final win rested with his players, and outlined how the squad celebrated in the aftermath of that victory nine years ago.
He added: “Dennis O’Connell put on a function at one of his places in Kirkcaldy and it was tremendous.
"Seeing the players, their parents, girlfriends, wives, all together in that function suite was just great fun.”
Another highlight of Murray’s association with Raith, as a player this time, came when he was part of the 2009-2010 Rovers squad – then playing in the old first division – which saw off Peterhead, Airdrie United, Aberdeen and Dundee to reach the Scottish Cup semi-finals.
Rovers’ fine run eventually came to an end when they were defeated 2-0 at Hampden Park in a last four encounter on April 11, 2010, with United prevailing thanks to goals in each half by David Goodwillie and Andy Webster.
"I played in a Scottish Cup semi-final with Raith as a Championship team which is very few and far between, Murray added.
"We had a good run on the way there. We had beaten Aberdeen after a replay, we beat Dundee who were another premier league team and we were drawn against Dundee United in the semi-final.
"So it was a great occasion. Some guys had never played at Hampden, some guys had never played in a semi-final.
"I had obviously been involved in cup finals before so I knew how big a game it was.
"It was always going to be difficult. Dundee United were a very good team at that time.
"Big Craig Levein had just left to take the Scotland job so Peter Houston was in charge.
"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us in the Scottish Cup.
"Probably the unfortunate thing for us that we played Dundee United on the Sunday, the day after Ross County beat Celtic in the other semi-final.
"United knew that to win the cup, they only had to beat two Championship teams. It was a great Dundee United team and we were unfortunate on the day.
"No disrespect to us or Ross County, but Dundee United were the hot favourites as soon as Celtic were knocked out on the Saturday.
"So it probably gave them that extra incentive to go on and win it.
"One they scored the first goal we found it difficult. But it was still a great occasion. We were never out the game until the second goal went in.
"If we had won that semi-final we would have been very confident of beating Ross County in the final as I think we had beaten them in the previous games in the league."
Murray said he had fond recollections of Raith’s exploits earlier in the tournament.
He added: “The good memories were going up to Aberdeen in a replay and beating them 1-0.
"Then obviously playing Dundee in the quarter-final. I was actually on a booking going into the Dundee game and knowing that if I got booked I would miss the semi-final and how I never got booked I’ll never know. I had plenty of fouls.”
Murray is looking forward to being inducted into the Raith Rovers Hall of Fame at a ceremony in the Adam Smith Theatre on Monday, November 20 along with fellow inductees Danny Lennon, the aforementioned Jason Thomson, Tommy Hislop and Gordon Arthur.
"It is a great honour to me,” Murray said. “You look at the people that have already been inducted and the people that will go on to be inducted, you feel very proud because there are some great achievements that people have achieved with Raith Rovers over the years.
"The Coca-Cola Cup winning team, the team that got into Europe, players that have played in the past, and some special people.
"It’s something that my family can look back on and feel proud as well, because they’re the ones that had to travel on a Saturday and watch you when you’re good, bad or anything.
"Especially as a manager, putting up with that side of it, going on holiday and constantly on your phone. It never stops when you’re a manager.
"My wife will be attending the ceremony with me and my three boys – who all work now – will be trying to be there too.”