Ally McCoist showed that once you’ve got it, you never lose it as he grabbed a first-half hat-trick on Sunday – but it still wasn’t enough to sink a youthful Calderwood Blue Star.
The Rangers boss and local hero rolled back the years as he helped mark the official opening of K-Park’s 400-seater stand at Calderglen Country Park.
The match also supported former Calderwood Blue Star boss Graham White – who suffered a stroke last year – with proceeds from the contest going towards his care.
And there was plenty of action to warm the large crowd on a crisp, cold afternoon.
Punters lapped up a feast of football, with the EK Community Trust side showcasing the likes of ex-Celtic defender Jackie McNamara with former Ibrox stars Ian Durrant and Charlie Miller joining brothers Robbie and David Winters, who still ply their trade at Peterhead and Ayr respectively.
The Blue Star side had a youthful look to it, with many amateur players being joined by Queen’s Park striker Jamie Longworth and Montrose midfielder David Gray.
And the expectant crowd didn’t have to wait long for a goal as, who else, but Super Ally found the net within 30 seconds of kick-off. Robbie Winters found space on the right and delivered the perfect cross for McCoist to smash home in typical predatory style.
However, with the All Stars still celebrating, Calderwood hit straight back as Ross McDonald capitalised on a defensive lapse to score.
The frantic start continued and with only nine minutes on the clock, Calderwood edged in front when David Gray crossed for Ross Whiting to volley into the far corner. Three minutes later Gray then found the net himself with an easy side-foot finish.
Almost every attack looked like ending in a goal and in 16 minutes McCoist scored the goal of the game. Ex-Hoops hero Simon Donnelly’s ball across the edge of the box found McCoist and the 50-year-old left his marker for deadwith a neat turn before unleashing a powerful low drive into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
The goal rush continued two minutes later as the All Stars hauled themselves level. A perfectly weighted through ball by Miller found Robbie Winters bursting through and the former Aberdeen hitman unselfishly cut the ball back for Brian McFee to complete a fine move.
The sides appeared to take a short breather as it took eight minutes for the next goal, McDonald grabbing his second of the day with a great solo run and finish.
Ten minutes later, Queen’s Park ace Jamie Longworth made it 5-3 with a simple finish before McCoist completed his hat-trick just before half-time with a customary effort from all of six-yards.
Both teams began to tire in the second half and Chris Faulds exposed the All Stars’ lack of stamina as he breezed past several players before side-footing an easy strike into the net in 61 minutes.
Longworth’s cross in 75 minutes allowed Whiting to tap in Calderwood’s seventh of the day.
The All Stars got a late consolation 13 minutes from time, but Longworth had the final say as he fired in the last goal of the game in the dying seconds, completing a comfortable victory.
And after the match McCoist said his side were taken by surprise by Blue Star’s youth policy. He added: “I never need an excuse to pull the boots on and it was a pleasure to play a game in Graham’s honour as he sums up everything that is good about the football community in East Kilbride.
“Mind you, nobody warned me that Calderwood Blue Star were going to put out such a young team. We struggled a bit but, as ever, I enjoyed my goals and it was great day for a terrific guy.
“East Kilbride is in my blood and always will be so days like this make you proud to be part of this football community.
“It was great to see so many people turn up to support the game.”
by Paul Thomson, East Kilbride News