IT COULD be too much to expect Rory Loy to be included in the Falkirk starting line-up for Saturday’s Scottish Cup final. Having just completed a full 12 weeks rehabilitation following a leg stress fracture, it could be that the best the departing striker can hope for is a place on the bench.
That was an all-too-familiar scenario for Loy when he was at Rangers as a teenager. Indeed, memories of being an outsider in the thick of big occasions could account for the 27-year-old’s willingness to plunge himself straight back in the deep waters of the Hampden decider if his manager Peter Houston will allow.
He may have signed a pre-contract with Dundee, but he has no concerns about long-term fitness going on the line for his final hurrah with Falkirk.
“I’m the type of boy who just wants to play football,” he said. “I’ve missed too many games through injury and spent too much time on benches to take my time. Maybe I’m a bit naive in rushing back from an injury, but I wanted to get back playing and there was so much to play for – there was a Scottish Cup semi-final and I wanted back as soon as I could, but unfortunately I wasn’t physically ready and I couldn’t do it. Maybe that was a blessing because if I’d tried to push through it I might have been unavailable for Saturday. I hope Saturday can see the end of a long process and it’s all smiles come 5pm.”
Loy sustained his injury in the Scottish Cup quarter-final victory away to Queen of the South on 6 March. A month later, he tried to start running again in the build up to the semi-final with Hibernian, only to discover that what he thought was a “stress reaction” in his leg was indeed a cracked bone.
In the lead-up to his injury, Loy’s popularity at the Championship club was demonstrated by the Falkirk faithful’s refusal to pick a bone with the forward when it emerged he had elected to play Premiership football at Dens Park. League status proved the clincher for a player who will leave his current employers with a heavy heart… and, he hopes, a winners’ medal.
I hope Saturday can see the end of a long process and it’s all smiles come 5pmRory Loy
“I can only speculate as to why they’ve been so good with me,” Loy said. “I think they appreciate how hard I’ve worked to try to help the club.
“Whether you score one goal or 20 goals, fans – across the board – will always respond if they can see you are trying your best. I’ve missed a lot of game time so every minute I’ve got out on a pitch somewhere, I will be trying my hardest, so maybe it is that.
“I think they understand that I’m 27 now and want the opportunity to go and play in the top league. I would have loved for that to be with Falkirk, but it wasn’t to be.
“I just want to kick on. Had this been three, four, five years ago I would have signed on the dotted line for Falkirk months before any speculation came up.
“The club has been absolutely brilliant with me since day one, injured or not injured. It’s the best run club I’ve been at in so many respects. It has been an absolute pleasure to be a part of it.”
There were also moments to treasure at Ibrox, despite the fact Loy made only two senior appearances as substitute.
“You can look back on your career and wish and want things to have been different,” he said.
“I sat on the bench a lot, at Rangers mainly, but picked up experience that most players will never get – travelling with the club to Europe, sitting on the bench in those games and just being part of a Champions League night. Playing and training with the players who were there.
“So Rangers were good for me and I met a lot of good people there. But it gets to a stage where you want to play and Rangers appreciate that. I was 22, almost 23, and I wanted to play. I have been back since and they’ve helped me out with rehab for previous injuries.”
Loy’s sampling of the Champions League does mean that he feels he has truly experienced a major occasion such as the one in which he will hope to play a significant role two days from now.
“It’s different because I knew I wasn’t starting in those games, whereas with this one I don’t know what’s happening – if I’ll start or be on the bench,” he said. “I wasn’t on the bench for any cup finals for Rangers but was in an Old Firm match. I sat on the bench and came on in a Scottish Cup semi-final  when I was on loan at Dunfermline. I got the last half hour but we were beaten 2-0. By Falkirk…”