ALLAN MacKENZIE - 200 GAMES

 

To some of the current team 1994 was the year that they were still in nappies, looking forward to their first year at primary school or gutted that Anthea Turner had been replaced on Blue Peter by Stuart Miles (who ?).

 

For Allan Mackenzie it was the year that he made his debut for the Club on Thursday 15th September against Cathcart Sweepers in a 4-1 win over rubbish opponents.

 

Alan Raeburn takes the blame, sorry, up the story, "I'm afraid I have to put my hands up - it was me who brought Allan along to play his first game for Queen's Park Supporters Team in Sep 1994 in a glamour tie against Cathcart Sweepers. In case anyone is thinking what an unusually good memory I have this info was of course gleaned from Mr C's stats on the website. I had forgotten till I looked at it that Gary Anderson also played for us for first time that night so presumably (as usual) we were short of players.

 

I also can't remember how I managed to persuade Allan to come along - no doubt the excuse of a bevvy afterwards had something to do with it. I do remember myself and Allan being a two-pronged attack at some point in the game - an experiment that was thankfully never repeated.

 

After that Allan would play on and off for a few years although he would often play against us for Arden. It’s just a coincidence that about half my total goals came against them.”

 

 Twenty years on and Wee Al will make his 200th appearance for the Club on Sunday against Ormond Saints in Perth.

 

It’s been a long career and Al is the only player from the 90’s still playing regularly, but why has it taken so long for him to reach the milestone ?

 

Well, Al was a regular in the team up until 2002 when he injured his knee in a game at Barlia exactly eight years to the day of his debut. On doctor’s advice he was told to stop playing but his story doesn’t end there.

 

However, back to the start and Al came into the team after a “career” with Arden and Cowglen and was happy to play anywhere on the left as long as it wasn’t midfield or on the wing ! He claimed that he couldn’t play football which probably explained the fact that he used to put his hand up for offside every time the ball went over his head.

 

Thankfully he learned the game and became a fixture at left back with the laconic Fitzy being at sweeper to talk him through the game. In fact on one occasion Al remembers, “not thinking what I was saying as I sprinted off the wing and shouted to Fitzy, "I'm coming inside you", the whole pitch opened up as Coasters players pished themselves !”

 

Talking of Coasters, Al isn’t known for his goal scoring but scored an absolute cracker on Mossfield in Oban when he hit the ball from 35 yards from the left into the top right hand corner. We were two up in that game until Coasters realised Dougie was in goals and decided to shoot on sight, it worked.

 

This wasn’t his first goal though as he had scored against St.Johnstone at Cardonald in a pulsating 7-0 win with a long range effort, another career highlight for him.

 

It wasn’t just Al we got when he joined the team, we also got his wee brother Donald, who played four games for us, as well as cousins Neil and Geordie Skinner. Al and the Skinners joined up last season to play in their home village of Tain, the furthest away game we’ve played in Scotland.

 

  Donald played in our first game in Argyll when we defeated Appin 5-0 at North Connel and we fielded three sets of brothers that day (Raeburn and Stormonth as well) which I’m sure must be a record. That was the weekend of the overnight stay in the Duror Hotel which featured aborigines and drunken escapades that are probably best forgotten !

 

In the early days Al remembers, “curling a shot past Martin Harvey from 20 yards for my first own goal”, but we’ve all done that and it’s always the keeper’s fault !

 

In 97/98 Al was our Player of the Year as he excelled at left back and the next season he became Club Captain and skippered the team to a Meadowbank trophy victory over Edinburgh City and the University pitches at Peffermill, another excellent day out.

 

 And further afield  “there were also a couple of trips to London enjoy, especially Dave Knight’s class A rehabilitation centre !”

 

So to the game in 2002 at Barlia was against Calders and Al injured his knee on the surface when nobody was near him (much as Davie Nisbet had done a few years earlier) and that appeared to be the end of his elevens career.

 

But there were still Sixes to enjoy, “every Sixes but mostly the Cowglen ones”, whether playing for QP, Ross County or Registers, and he eventually managed to play fives with his work as his knee gradually got better with rest.

 

When the “Class of 2009” arrived so did Wee Al and the second part of his career began as he now became one of the old heads in the team.  To those who didn’t know him they might have thought he was away in the huff when he occasionally subbed at half time as he stormed off to the dressing room. But it was really “away for a puff” as he was only going to get his fags so he could enjoy the second half !

 

One of his best games in recent seasons has been the 3-3 draw against Clyde when we were under the cosh for 90% of the game but Al stood firm at centre half along with Martin Kelly who had his best game in goals.

 

Talking of keepers, like most people Al has taken his turn between the sticks although it would be fair to say that he didn’t do that well in an 8-0 defeat to St.Johnstone at Holyrood way back in 2002. Obviously the defence was terrible !

 

He did a lot better when he played in goals for Registers against us though and enjoyed, “Andy McNaught scoring against me”, a lob from miles out.

 

Now one of the stalwarts of the defence either at left or in the middle, he even found time to get up the park to score the Goal of the Season in season 2011/12 against Garrowhill, a superb team goal. And talking of Garrowhill, one of Al’s favourite moments was “hearing a Garrowhill player threaten Adam with "I'll have your maw !"

 

Al has been one of the true greats that we have had and some of the current squad have kindly given their thoughts below:-

 

Alan Galindo - An honour to play beside a fellow Al at the back. Hopefully he will still be kicking a ball and playing alongside me when I make 200 games. Brilliant player and if I make it to his age with his ability then I’ll be doing well. Roll on another 200 games for a true legend.

 

Sean Connolly - A silver haired legend

 

Andy Dick - A superb player and a great guy. Pretty much the only guy in the team i never shout at during the games which tells you how good he is!

 

Andy McNaught - A brilliant football player but more importantly a lovely, modest guy and it's been a pleasure to play with and to manage Allan over the last four and a half years. He always has the team at heart, and his enthusiasm and talent have not waned over the years.For me, he's been our best player this season in an unfamiliar position and that speaks volumes for his ability. Here's hoping there are plenty more miles in a Club Legend.

 

Craig McKenna - Great player and a great guy. The best left back I have played with and against. Our very own silver Lizarazu!!

 

Gary Duncan - Awesome player for his age he's my Al! Love the guy on and off the field! Pleasure to be around n a complete gem of a man! Can't wait for his 200th game !

 

Calum Colquhoun - A great player and a great guy. Someone everybody can look up to. Always a privilege to substitute while you go on your fag break. The same way Phil used to understudy to Dennis Irwin. I'll buy you a pint in Perth

 

Ally McNaught - A fantastic player and a great guy a pleasure to have played alongside him over the past few years, long may it continue.

 

David Blair - I think we've ran out of superlatives for Al. Goes to show how important he is to the team.

 

Alan Raeburn - I know Allan is an inspiration to a lot of the younger guys in the team now but not sure if this is for his activities on or off the pitch. Anyway all the best Allan - hope you have a good day on Sunday at Perth. Would love to be there but depends how quickly I can get away from church. Hopefully see you in evening at Langside but doubt that you will be in a state to see me.

 

On Sunday it’s fitting that we are playing in Perth as Al has always enjoyed “having a mince roll in Ormonds and being disappointed when they put on Indian and Chinese.”:)

 

Unfortunately he’s going to be disappointed on Sunday as it’s haggis, neeps and tatties in Ormonds ! But this will be the only “disappointment” as we celebrate the career of a lovely man and great player.

 

 

 

 

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