Most people haven’t, but he is a man who can teach you a thing or two,
Ronnie was a footballer (or Soccer Player for you yanks) who started his career at Glasgow Celtic 1984 and left in in 1987 having played only played two games for the club. He then traveled south to play for Midlesbourough and Rochdale. He eventually joined my favorite team – Raith Rovers – playing in 253 games between 1988 and 1996.
Ronnie was a good player, never truly ‘brilliant’, but he always performed. In every game in which Ronnie played you knew we would have a chance as he always put in a full shift. He was part of the team that got Rovers promoted and subsequently won the Coca-Cola cup. It was a tragedy that he didn’t play in the final (due to injury) as he would have been one of the select few that you would say should have been guaranteed a starting spot due to his commitment alone.
Well, when we won the Coca-Cola cup we got into the Uefa Cup… which was a bit ludicrous, a wee team like us playing the cream of European talent. Ronnie played in the two most amazing games in our history – against Byern Munich. It was not until recently we found out that Ronnie blamed himself for a Jugen Klinsman goal – something that played on his mind for years afterwards. of course, all of us thousands of fans thought this was ridiculous.
I spoke to Ronnie a number of times. He didn’t have a clue who I was, but he always gave me 100% of his attention (no matter the drivel I spoke). He was a true gent.
Time came, and Ronnie left Rovers and went on to play for a few other clubs. But when Rovers had a major financial problems, he was back joining in a copious number of fundraisers. He proudly (along with his son and daughter) pulled on the blue shirt to aid in our fight for financial survival.
Sadly, in the 1990’s Ronnie was diagnosed with Leukemia – a battle which we all thought that he had won. Unfortunately, it came back. It was worse. He continued to attend games with his son when he could, even addressing fans on occasion.
In 2011, a benefit match was arranged for Ronnie – to aid his family in the financial nightmare this must have been. Now, if you don’t understand how special this guy was, the match was arranged against Celtic – the team that were deeply embarrassed in the Coca-Cola cup final – their players signed up with little hesitance. This was such a dark spell in Celtic’s history – a time they wanted to forget and they turned up for Ronnie! John McStay even flew from Australia for the match! Take a look at http://www.raithroversfc.com/cgi-bin/features.cgi?id=206 for match details.
Sadly, Ronnie died 16 days after this match. It was so sad, but fitting that he died after we all had a chance to let him know how much he was appreciated.
At his funeral a silly number of great players attended – including Ally McCoist (a Rangers legend…). http://www.thesun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/3536418/Legends-in-farewell-to-Ronnie-Coyle.html
His kids and wife still attend games at Starks Park at times, and are always very warmly welcomed.
I have rambled somewhat in this post & have become quite emotional at times. The message here is simple – you don’t have to be a super-star to be loved and appreciated. Be honest, decent and caring and your legacy will out-live anything you can imagine.
Thanks for the memories Ronnie.