Applause & laughter for #allysgame

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We promised to talk of the times, the love and laughing as we remembered Ally Gourlay at Stark’s Park today - and hundreds of fans turned up to do just that.

They packed the Turnbull Hutton Stand for #allysgame and enjoyed a match like no other.

Over 40 Raith Rovers legends took part, and it ended 5-5, with thousands of £s raised for Maggie’s Fife and Raith Youth Development in the process.

But, more than that, it was a smashing day.

The rain stopped bang on cue and the sun shone throughout, and the fans in the old main stand did something you don’t often hear at a football game. They laughed.

The pitchside commentary with on the spot interviews from players in the dug-out was simply wonderful.

It brought the humour of the dug out, the friendship, the camaraderie and the banter to the entire stadium. Ally would have loved it - he was proud to call everyone who played and officiated a friend, and today they did his memory proud by staging a game that reminded you how special football really is.

The match ended 5-5 in time honoured charity fitba’ fashion with both Matthew and Jonny Gourlay - Ally’s sons - netting from the penalty spot, but both teams were out to win it.

Jimmy Nicholl’s pre-game request for a flipchart to sketch out his formations and tactics set the scene - his team talk caught the mood of the day as he informed the Blues he was taking his inspiration from Craig Levein’s 6-4-0 line-up and flipping it, and going 0-4-6!

His counterpart, John McGlynn, had his trusty notebook to hand too as he marshalled his 20-plus players with rolling subs to give folk a breather.

The teams were packed with true Rovers greats - quite simply no-one we approached declined the opportunity to play or come along and support on the day - including Coca Cola Cup heroes, internationalists, and stalwarts from across the decades.

They all played for Ally, a man they loved, and whose friendship they enjoyed long after leaving the club.

The buzz in the tea room as they arrived spilled into the dressing-rooms and on to the pitch, and, by full-time, they were talking in terms of making this an annual event.

And maybe we should stop and talk of the times, the love and the laughing - and also remembering Ally, and all he did for the club and brought to the club through his passion for it, and his love of the team and the game.

He died too son aged 53. Today every player wore #53 on the back of their jerseys and in the 53rd minute referee John Rowbotham blew to signal the start of a minute’s applause.

The sound, and the love, which rang round Stark’s Park - from the centre circle to the heart of the main stand - summed up a very special day in memory of a much missed, much loved man,

Ally’s picture framed the doorway to both dressing rooms to ensure he was there, as he always was, with a welcome and a smile.

They did him proud.