Well, we did it. In true Ayr United fashion, we made it difficult for ourselves, but we still did it. 2017/18 Champions! That sounds pretty good.
I just want to take a moment and let you all know how thankful I am to be part of this club and the people who make it up. As I stood there on Saturday with about five minutes to go, I had a quick reflection on everything I’ve experienced in the last 31 years at Ayr. The main thing in my mind was how much I wished that my father had been there to witness what was unfolding. He would have loved it. Unlike me, outwardly he would have been calm, but just like me, he would have been freaking out internally.
I want to thank so many people who have made all of this possible. Firstly, to the Manager, the back room staff and the players. You’ve given us a season to remember and the entertainment value was high. It started with a win against Them which had the additional bonus of David Sargent’s iconic picture of Geggan celebrating in front of the Railway end. At that pointI couldn’t have known that picture would finish a distant second to some of the pics from Saturday between 5:00 and closing time.
Other highlights included some decent cup runs including a game live on Sky against Rangers where we gave ourselves some false hope after taking the lead only to succumb to a barrage of goals in the final 30 minutes. Incidentally, that was also the day that I learned the hard way that “Huns” is a bad word. I won’t be making that mistake again…
124 goals from double digits of players. Incredible! Lawrence Shankland who our Chaplain appropriately expressed “God loves everybody and everybody loves Lawrence Shankland” deservedly taking home the Player of the Year award at last night’s PFA dinner. The final whistle on Saturday and we could all see the players grouping together to wait for the final whistle. I personally found great joy watching Declan McDaid’s emotional roller coaster from panic inducing anticipation to unbridled joy when the final news came from Kirkcaldy. The next few minutes are a complete haze. The players went crazy, the Manager shot up the tunnel, the supporters stormed the pitch and I just paced back and forth by myself clapping like an idiot not knowing quite what to do or where to go.
Then the wait for the helicopter to arrive. Neil Doncaster told me when he got there that they decided to risk it and left Cumbernauld after we scored the second goal and headed towards Ayr. Thank goodness I didn’t know that at the time. I was having a tough enough time trying to avoid all of the people around me following the Raith game intently on their phones. I’m not particularly superstitious, especially by Scottish standards and certainly not by Scottish footballer standards, but I just felt that me not looking at a phone would somehow keep Raith from scoring. Obviously crazy, but hey, it worked. Sports people are weird.
To Bodog, I just want to say how much we appreciate their support as our main sponsor and the other various pieces that they have done to assist us. Also, the rest of our sponsors almost all of which come from our local community.
The Academy who in their 11 years of existence have produced a growing pipeline into the First Team and carry out so much work in the community on our behalf. The directors, the employees and the volunteers. You are the way forward for Scottish Football and I’m proud to be part of that organization.Davie White continues to do an excellent job as our Head of Youth and we are lucky to have him. The added bonus for me is I learn a new Scottish word almost every time we go out and the way he speaks about Cumnock is how most people describe Hawaii.
The people who work at the Ayr United Development Society (The Lottery). Your contributions over the last 20 years or so have been an important piece of the puzzle
The hardworking staff at the club. That’s ground staff, kitchen staff, office staff, security and maintenance etc. Tracy, Lewis and Graeme who run the club and make sure that all of the fun stuff and the not so fun stuff is all taken care of. A special shout out to Lynne. I get two real perks in my position at the Club. One is that I get to stand where I want for the games although part of that reason is that I can’t control my mouth at points and that is a requirement in the Director’s box and the other perk is that every time I am at Somerset I get a special chicken and haggis pie hand delivered by Lynne at halftime. To all of you, I hope Saturday in some way makes up for the fact that you are all overworked and underpaid.
To all of the volunteers at every level throughout the club. We are a club of the community and for the community. We couldn’t do this without you.
To the Directors. Thank you for doing all that you do. Directors traditionally are treated with disdain in football and you guys rarely get the recognition that you deserve. If it wasn’t for the time and effort that you put in volunteering for the benefit of the club, we wouldn’t be here. Lewis, you are one of my favorite people in this world. We’ve travelled to Scotland games in foreign lands and 99% of the Ayr games I’ve attended, you’ve been there working your socks off making sure everything is squared away and everybody is taken care of. There’s been a few rough patches both internationally and domestically but overall, it’s been a pleasure.
Finally, and most importantly, I want to express my gratitude to the Supporters. Managers, players, directors and staff come and go but the one ever-present element of a Football Club is the support. I genuinely love the fact that we are the size we are. Supporters of Clubs like ours are the life blood of Scottish football. Genuine congratulations to Celtic for winning yet another title, but I honestly think supporters of teams like Ayr, Montrose and St. Mirren have it better. The dark days are darker but the highs are higher. I wouldn’t swap the feeling I’ve had for the last two days for anything and the fact that it was a long road to get here makes it almost sweeter. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to win trophies every year, but the reality is that it’s not an annual event. Savor this moment and remember it forever.
I loved seeing all of the pictures and videos people put up on their social media accounts. Pictures of people like Jamie Garrett etc. with the Trophy and or individual players. That’s what I mean about a club our size. There is a real interaction between the players and the support etc. Standing on a bench in a pub laughing and singing with a few hundred folk huddled around and intertwined with the players is something I will never forget. Also, having my name sung at me while at the urinal in the men’s room is one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had and I can’t wait to try and explain that to my golf buddies in California when I get there
I also genuinely feel bad that there were possibly a few thousand people who weren’t there on Saturday because of our two previous results. It’s not the way I would have chosen to close the season but you have to admit, it was the most Ayr United thing ever. Those of you who were there will cherish that forever and to those who weren’t, I hope we can do this again in the near future. The season ticket holders, the ardent supporters, the hospitality supporters, the casual supporters and the past and future supporters, we love you all and just remember “We beat them in the Betfred Cup, we’re super Ayr and we’re going up”