Rugby ace following in his father’s footsteps

Gavin McKenzie, Kirkcaldy Rugby Club, with his Fife Free Press Star Check trophy. Pic: Steve Gunn
Gavin McKenzie, Kirkcaldy Rugby Club, with his Fife Free Press Star Check trophy. Pic: Steve Gunn
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Gavin McKenzie was just two-years-old when father, Calum, was voted player of the year at Kirkcaldy Rugby Club back in 1992.

Fast forward to the present day and, Gavin, now 24, has emulated his dad by winning the same award, while also scooping the annual Fife Free Press Star Check trophy.

Calum McKenzie appeared in the Kirkcaldy first team throughout the 1990s, turning out for the Blues whenever he could as he balanced playing rugby with a career in the Royal Navy.

It was during this time that a young Gavin was following in his father’s footsteps, making his way through the Wee Blues junior system, becoming a Beveridge Park ball boy before eventually appearing for the first team, initially alongside his father.

Nowadays proud dad watches from the sidelines in his role as team manager, while son Gavin emerges as one of the stand-out players in a young Kirkcaldy side.

“I’ve got great memories of watching my dad playing,” Gavin said.

“He was a forward in the back row, whereas I’m a scrum half, so we’re different players.

“I always had a good pass growing up and that’s what you need to play my position - you need to be able to be the link between the backs and the forwards.”

The McKenzies are the only father and son combination to have played in the same Kirkcaldy team at senior level, with dad holding the record as the oldest player to represent the Blues in a competitive game, having been forced to play the last 15 minutes of a match in 2009 at the age of 46 due to injuries.

Gavin, a former pupil of Balwearie High School, has been playing senior rugby for eight years now and has over 100 caps for the first team - quite an achievement considering his age.

“Everything I did growing up was rugby related,” he said.

“One of the highlights was getting to play with my dad at first team level.

“Another was winning promotion to Premier Two during one of the season I broke through.

“I also got to play at Murrayfield in the Shield final - we got beat but it was a really good experience.

“There have been a lot of highlights and good memories playing for the first team.”

Last season proved to be Gavin’s finest in a Kirkcaldy shirt as he helped lead a young Blues side to the top six finish they needed to avoid dropping down a level due to league reconstruction.

This led to him winning both the club’s own player of the year title, as well as The Fife Free Press Star Check trophy, based on a point system scored after each match during the season.

“I knew coming into the season that I was fit and raring to go because I was finally injury-free,” he explained.

“I’d been carrying a groin injury for a couple of years and had an operation at the end of last season to fix it.

“It made a big difference and I’ve probably had my best season this year.

“I was shocked to get the awards but it’s good that other people think I’ve played well too.”

Despite still being only 24, Gavin is now considered one of the experienced players in a youthful Kirkcaldy line-up.

“A lot of older players retired at the end of last season,” he explained.

“I’m now considered one of the senior boys at 24, which is crazy considering just two years ago I was still one of the young boys.

“Everyone is now looking for me to be one of the leaders.

“We’re rebuilding so next season will be tough. Hopefully we can aim for a mid-table finish.”