David McGurn has said a thousand farewells to teammates and coaches during his two decades in football. Dens Park on Saturday was the toughest of the lot.
“I’m just gutted it’s all over and I was a bit emotional,” said the Raith Rovers legend. “I’m really proud of the season we had and to have been part of that team, but I’m sad it had to end.”
Following 10 years and 256 appearances for the Stark’s Park outfit, spanning two spells, McGurn has finally taken his leave of Kirkcaldy, stepping back from his most recent role as goalkeeping coach/third-choice stopper.
The 1-0 win against the Dee — not enough to overturn a 3-0 deficit from the first leg — was the last time he’ll pull on a Rovers tracksuit; the club’s impending move to full-time status is simply unworkable with his day job at Glasgow Clyde College.
“I would love to go back to Stark’s Park and say a proper goodbye to the fans,” added the 40-year-old. “We had lots of ups and downs together, and the club means the world to me so — absolutely — I’d love to get back there next season.”
To say he will be welcomed back with open arms would be something of an understatement — and Courier Sport thought it was only right to let McGurn pick out some of his favourite moments, saves and teammates from a wonderful career in the Lang Toun, in his own words.
Getting to the semi-final of the Scottish Cup in 2010, although we didn’t manage to get past Dundee United [2-0 defeat]. The whole build-up, and that ‘big game feel’ at Hampden was brilliant to experience.
I’ll cheat a little bit, because I’m including that whole Scottish Cup run. To beat Aberdeen away from home after drawing with them at Stark’s Park — and everyone saying our chance was gone — was amazing. Big [Greg] Tade doing the business up at Pittodrie!
Then beating Dundee 2-1 up at Dens Park. We overachieved through that whole run and we were all really proud of that.
There have been a couple, but that triple save up at Ayr United [1-1 draw in 2010] stands out.
🧙♀️ | Raith Rovers have announced they will hold a testimonial for legendary goalkeeper David McGurn later this month. His triple save against Ayr United in 2010 is arguably the finest piece of goalkeeping of all time – pic.twitter.com/BvIOqs5szS
— Tell Him He's Pelé (@tellhimhespele) September 4, 2018
It was an important moment — they were piling on the pressure — and it was a big game for us. Ayr were already winning 1-0 and fighting for their lives at the bottom, just like us.
I was able to scramble and get across and make a couple of key saves, and we managed to get the 1-1 draw and, in the end, stay up. Looking back at the footage, it was a decent effort!
MOST TALENTED TEAMMATE
Stephen Simmons. He was a fantastic talent. I still remember in the Scottish Cup game against Aberdeen we were trying to kill time and hold on to the lead — and he nutmegged someone in his own half. I’m shouting: “Just bloody clear it!”
That was just him, though. He would find time when there didn’t seem any, he could pick a pass and, most of all, when he didn’t play then you really noticed the difference. He kind of made us tick at that time.
You don’t come through and play in a really decent Hearts side — scoring against Rangers — unless you have something about you, and he was a top, top talent.
There are a few who think they are funny in the current squad — Dan Armstrong and Brad Spencer — but they’re not!
In terms of someone who lit up the dressing room, just with his personality rather than being funny all the time, it’s got to be Marvin Andrews.
He was just a ray of sunshine! When the game was on, he was all business; fight for everything; tackle everything. Then, afterwards, he’d be the happiest guy around and just full of positivity.
I’m really glad he went on to have the success he did, because he was just a brilliant guy to be around.
That would be Brian Graham and John Baird. A tie.
They would moan if you didn’t pass to them; moan if you did pass to them; moan if you passed to them at the wrong time. Honestly, it was incredible.
On the pitch, I try not to regret much. More generally, there’s always that wee part of me that says: “Could I have gone full-time? Could I have properly made this my career?” But you need to consider your life as a whole.
It was a financial decision more than anything else. It would have been a big risk — and probably not possible, at the time — to go full-time, but there will always be that bit of ‘what if’.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
That would be my induction in to the Raith Rovers Hall of Fame [in 2015].
I remembered being there the prior year and the Coca-Cola Cup winning team were being honoured, and you look at the list of people who are in there — it was incredible to be included among those people.
That’s never something I could have imagined.
I met so many wonderful people — teammates, coaches, the great people behind the scenes — at that club and to be in the Hall of Fame and part of that history, is a special feeling.”