Ally McCoist

By Adam Robertson
 September 16, 2020

Ally McCoist - Bird-watching

Ally McCoist - Bird Watching

I believe it was Bill Simmons who offered the idea that a fan-base should be allowed a five year period of grace after a major triumph before returning to the norm and losing the plot in a manner satisfying to every sports fan. To invert that somewhat: It’s been six years since Ally McCoist’s time as Rangers manager. Let’s go! 

The problem with someone my age discussing Super Ally, sorry, Ally McCoist is that objectivity is a stretch. The poster was on the wall. The pictures in Match or Shoot were in a scrapbook. The bruised knees and the unfortunate elbow-on-doorknob injury were as a result of pretending to be (early) Ally McCoist. We may well have had better players in our history, and even occasionally forwards who were better finishers or offered things McCoist couldn’t match, but we’ve never had anyone with that level of charisma and that ability to write his own storylines. 

As was noted again just recently by his long-time accomplice and friend Ian Durrant, Coisty has rather more steel to him than the popular image may sometimes present. That’s not to say that the sheer delight and mischief that he brought to his playing years and successfully managed to exaggerate when it comes to his TV and Radio career is in any way a front but merely to point out that one does not become a two-time golden boot winner, or recover on at least two occasions from a reality where either the fans or those in charge of selection don’t care much for your cheeky coupon, without having something about you. 

A seat of learning in the west of Scotland should already have a module on how the mini-periods of Ally McCoist can best be explained and explored through the type of haircut he modelled (although let’s maybe aim higher than Opus Dei Cardonald College). Failing that, Ally was here long enough to fit into a wide variety of strips and I find my memories of him defined more by that than single seasons or even notable games. Early Ally in the pinstripes, Umbro, and CR Smith; middle period McCoist with the Admiral and Adidas; and spread Ally with the Nike swoosh at the end of the McEwan’s era. 

McCoist was a man who had occasion to celebrate and as such it’s no surprise that he tried out many a new move or gesture while adding yet another goal to the tally. Personal favourites include the robot dance after netting at Parkhead, and the leg slap in the monsoon 4-4 clash at Ibrox. But there’s something to be said for his first league goal against Celtic in 1983 at Parkhead; Ally gets on the end of a cross within the first minute and connects well with a shot that goes under Bonner and into the net. 

Beautiful and youthful, and with a little bit too much highlight in the hair, he runs off with a smile that could power the national grid, accepting acclaim from team mates as he expresses that joy and elation that never got old - that rush that rewards and drives goalscorers as they seek the high that only being prolific brings. Needless to say, Ally would later miss a sitter in the same game. But his ability to come back from those sorts of disappointments – placing the last shot behind you and focusing only on the next, advice that Ben Hogan famously instructed young golfers to follow – was 

His trademark almost as much as that grin, and the ability to score from every last part of the box, and with every available part of the body. 

Bobbywilliamsoncanfuckoff was one of my favourite, brief, Follow Follow message board accounts – he wrote only that phrase, in capital letters, as a reply to every post or thread he joined – and in the long and often grim history of Scotland we can scarcely have had a man so out of step with the times as the Kilmarnock boss who teased us with an Ally warm-up but then neglected to bring him on for one last Ibrox goodbye. Super Ally was a national treasure even before he retired. 

McCoist is now commonly sharing the best of his personality and unique bird-watching, travelogue instincts with a national audience and so long as he promises never again to defend (actually, let’s go with mention) those years as manager his status as favourite Ranger is unlikely to come under attack. It was a privilege to watch him, and a joy to watch his reaction to every goal.


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