Jimmy Nicholl and Paul McStay return for 1994 re-run
By SEAN GRAHAM
Ronnie Coyle is one of Raith Rovers’ greatest servants, playing 327 games and scoring 13 goals between January 1988 and March 1996. As most fans will know, Ronnie, who also played for Celtic, Middlesborough and Rochdale, has been battling the devastating effects of leukaemia for the last two years.
Raith Rovers Former Players Association, with the kind permission of Raith Rovers FC have arranged the above match with all proceeds going towards the Ronnie Coyle Benefit fund.
On the day the Scotland take on the Samba stars of Brazil in London, this match for Rovers legend Ronnie will take place and for fans who are not making the trip to London, then what better way to spend your Sunday than to head to Stark’s Park for such a worthwhile cause.
All of Raith Rovers historic 1994 Cup Final squad have agreed to take part and will be managed by the legendary Jimmy Nicholl.
The squads are as follows
RAITH ROVERS - Scott Thomson, Jason Rowbotham, Julian Broddle, David Narey, Shaun Dennis, David Sinclair, Colin Cameron, Gordon Dalziel, Ally Graham, Stevie Crawford, Jason Dair, Danny Lennon, Craig Brewster, Peter Hetherston, John McStay, Colin Harris, John McGlynn, Paul Smith, Brian Potter, Gordon Arthur + Auction Winner
Manager - Jimmy Nicholl
Physio - Gerry Docherty
CELTIC - Gordon Marshall, Jackie McNamara, Tom Boyd, Mark McNally, Simon Donnelly, Andy Walker, Willie Falconer, Tosh McKinlay, Joe Miller, Raymond McStay, Gerry Britton, Stephen Donnelly, Chris McMenamin.
Also in the Celtic squad will be the Celtic captain from the 1994 Cup Final, The Maestro-Paul McStay.
Manager for the Celtic side will be, ex Raith and Celtic legend Frank Connor.
The Ronnie Coyle Benefit Match takes place at Stark’s Park on Sunday 27th March with Raith Rovers’ team of 94 taking on Celtic in a re-run of Rovers’ Coca Cola League Cup final of 1994.
The organisers of The Ronnie Coyle Benefit Match were given a massive boost when it was confirmed that three former Internationals, two of whom previously starred for Manchester United, will play in the big match.
Former England international Gary Pallister, who played with Ronnie at Middlesbrough, later went on to star for Manchester United, and during his time at Old Trafford, he won the FA Cup in 1990, 1994 and 1996, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1991, Football League Cup in 1992, and the Premier League title in 1993, 1994, 1996 and 1997.
Pallister will feature in the Raith Rovers side along with Dennis Irwin, the former Republic of Ireland international who is best known for his long and successful stint at Manchester United, where he established himself as one of the most important players in the United team that won a host of major trophies during the 1990s and at the start of the 2000s.
Earlier in his career Irwin played for Leeds United and Oldham Athletic, and it was whilst he was at Oldham, and Ronnie was at Rochdale, that they shared a flat.
Also confirmed that a further addition has also been made to the list of players in the Celtic side with another former Republic of Ireland international agreeing to come along in support of a great mate.
Bernie Slaven started his career with Greenock Morton in 1980, before moving on to Airdrieonians, Queen of the South, and then Albion Rovers in 1983. He stayed with Albion Rovers until 1985, when he signed with English Football League club Middlesbrough, and it was whilst at Ayresome Park that he became friendly with Ronnie.
A career that has taken Ronnie from Celtic,Clyde,Middlesbrough,Rochdale,Raith Rovers, Ayr United, Albion Rovers, East Fife, Queen’s Park and also time with the Scotland youth squad before quitting the game to work in sales and marketing.
Ronnie is one of life’s decent guys and has never hidden his love for the club that he spent most of his career at and that was never more evident than when he gave his support to a fundraising walk in the summer of 2005 to the “Reclaim the Rovers” campaign.
Ronnie is going through a hard time at the moment but he is a fighter and he is held in high regard by everyone at Raith Rovers and beyond as the names of the players who want to appear in this Benefit match for him shows.
He has made many friends in the game and has given the Raith Rovers supporters plenty to smile about especially during their run to the Coca Cola Cup Final and venture into Europe and the Bayern Munich adventure.
Ronnie describes the two First Division titles with Raith, The Coca Cola Cup win and the journey into Europe with the club and the supporters, as his highlights of his career.
Although the Coca Cola Cup Final was a bittersweet day for Ronnie, delight to see his club win a domestic cup especially as they were huge underdogs to Celtic but despair for his best mate, Paul McStay as he stepped up to miss the decisive penalty.
Even in the club’s time of glory, Ronnie had a thought for is mate and what he must have been going through, just goes to show you what type of guy this man is!
With the club winning the cup, this meant a shot at Europe for this little club from Kirkcaldy.
“The positive was of course the result for the club and the supporters and what it meant to a small club like the Rovers. We also had some party afterwards!!! The European venture that followed was a major high for everyone involved at the Rovers and we enjoyed every moment as one big team with the staff and supporters(apart from me slipping at the wrong time and allowing Bayern to equalise!!)”
But the life of a footballer is not always about fame and glory, especially when you have problems with your health and dealing with something like leukaemia is never going to be easy.
“ Dealing with Leukaemia has been a life changing experience obviously and you appreciate how precious your life and family are to you as well as appreciating and enjoying life to the full as you just don't know what's round the corner for you. Don't stress the small stuff as you don't know how long you may have left to enjoy your life and family.”
“Helping others is a case of living life as normally as possible while treating the illness with the seriousness it deserves while trying to make the most of everything you have at the time.”
After everything that you have gone through in the last couple of years, what does this Benefit match mean to you?
“EVERYTHING!!! Words cannot express how I feel towards the people behind the Benefit match and Dinner as well as the Club for their support, they have all been amazing!!”
“My heartfelt thanks go to all of the players for making the effort to participate in the day, I am truly humbled by their response!”
“To my family at Raith- well they all know exactly how I feel about them, I don't need words!!”
RONNIE COYLE BENEFIT MATCH
RAITH ROVERS 94 v CELTIC 94
COCA COLA LEAGUE CUP FINAL RE-RUN
PLUS SPECIAL GUESTS
SUNDAY 27th MARCH 2011
STARK’S PARK, KIRKCALDY
KICK OFF 3pm
TICKETS: ADULTS £10.00, OAP & UNDER 16 £5.00
Get along and support a great cause and pay tribute to a Rovers legend!