Raith Rovers return a "good surprise" for goalkeeper David McGurn

David McGurn celebrates a win over Rangers at Ibrox in 2015. Pic: Fife Photo Agency
David McGurn celebrates a win over Rangers at Ibrox in 2015. Pic: Fife Photo Agency

When David McGurn ended his eight-year spell at Stark's Park in 2016 he thought he had worn the Raith Rovers gloves for the last time.

Even when he returned for his testimonial game last year, there was never any inkling of a Rovers comeback for the part-time goalkeeper, despite his enduring popularity among the support.

However, following the decision to introduce a hybrid system for the forthcoming League One campaign, incorporating both part-time and full-time players, the door was open once again.

And McGurn, at the age of 38, was delighted to receive the call from John McGlynn asking him to return both as a player and a coach.

"It came as a surprise - but a very good surprise," he told the Press.

"I got the phonecall from John asking if I would come in as a goalkeeper coach, but to compete to play as well.

"I never thought when I left that I'd be back as a player, so I'm delighted."

The return of McGurn has thrilled the Raith support, most of whom regard the Glaswegian as the club's greatest goalkeeper since the late, great Murray McDermott.

"My family have shown my some of the reaction and it's been excellent," he said.

"The club and the fans have always been great to me, so it'll be great to hopefully give something back to them, and be part of the playing and coaching staff that gets them back up the leagues again."

McGurn will train with the squad on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as his day job as a sports and fitness lecturer at Cardonald College prevents him from taking up a full-time position in football.

His role will involve training the other goalkeepers, as well as battling with them for the number one jersey, and it's a challenge he is relishing.

"It will be an interesting situation but most goalkeepers have got mutual respect for each other," he said.

"Last year it was myself and Aaron Lennox at Cowdenbeath, he was playing and I was coaching him.

"When I got back into the team the attitude of the two of us didn't change.

"We were still working hard and helping each other. As goalkeepers that's the way you've got to be.

"You've got to respect the position and the man who's starting, so whether it's me or one of the other goalkeepers won't affect anything."

McGurn, however, still has a strong desire to add to his 241 Raith appearances, having featured in most games for Cowdenbeath over the last three seasons.

"I'm still looking to put myself in the gaffer's eyes and to get an opportunity to show what I can do, like every other player," he said.

"But as goalkeeper coach, whoever is playing I will try to develop them and get them better."

McGurn is particularly looking forward to working with McGlynn again, having been an integral part of his side that previously won the Second Division title in 2008-09.

"I can't wait to work with the gaffer again," McGurn said.

"He's very professional, a hard worker, he knows what he wants, and he'll demand the players all work extremely hard because it's a big year coming up.

"He was brilliant for myself in terms of my playing career and he's a very good manager so I'm sure we'll have a successful season with him.

"I also like the system of part-time and full-time players. It was proven to work well under John before and I can see it working well again."

Raith fans have fond memories of McGurn's saves from his first spell, particularly the triple save against Ayr and the flying one-hander in a derby win at East End Park.

His heroics earned him a place in the Raith Hall of Fame, but considering he will turn 39 when the season starts, is 'the Witch' still capable of making such jaw-dropping stops?

"I don't know ... we'll soon find out!" was his honest answer.

"I made a couple of good saves last year so we'll just have to wait and see.

"If you train hard and prepare right for games, then hopefully that will show on a Saturday, whoever's playing."