Aidan Smith: Kris Boyd should get his mojo back

It DIDN’T take them long to update Kris Boyd’s Wikipedia page yesterday. In the roll-call of his clubs a new one was added, or rather a new-old one, for he’s just gone back to his sixth team, who were also his very first team.

Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke welcomes Kris Boyd back to Rugby Park for a third spell as a Kilmarnock player. Picture: SNS
Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke welcomes Kris Boyd back to Rugby Park for a third spell as a Kilmarnock player. Picture: SNS

But don’t you think that 0 and especially (0) next to his name look odd? The first zero refers to appearances, the second to goals. Obviously the table is blank because Kilmarnock’s season hasn’t yet begun, but still, Boydy and (0) just doesn’t seem right.

Think back to his second spell at Rugby Park, the season before last, when his goals saved Kilmarnock. Football folk are loath to ever admit that a player single-handedly did this or that and even the one-man-bands will say, ach no, this is a team game and I couldn’t have achieved what I did without the other guys. Make no mistake, though: in Scottish football in recent times there has rarely been an individual contribution quite like those 22 goals.

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Ah, but Rangers fans will tell you that Boyd and (0) isn’t the unlikely juxtaposition it might seem. Last season they thought they were getting a striker who’d rediscovered his oomph after failed sojourns to England, Turkey and America. A striker more like the Boydy they knew from his previous spell at their club – 143 appearances, 101 goals. A striker who would enable them to tell the lower leagues “So long, 
suckers” as they romped back to the upper echelons. So what did he give the Ibrox club? Three piddling league goals.

Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke welcomes Kris Boyd back to Rugby Park for a third spell as a Kilmarnock player. Picture: SNS

Kilmarnock supporters will believe they’re getting the footballer they know and love when the new campaign begins. The frustrated denizens of Govan, sentenced to at least another year of the Petrofac Training Cup and Alloa awaydays, will say: “The best of luck with that.” But few in our game will be surprised if Boyd doesn’t pick up where he left off in his last appearance in 
Kilmarnock’s stripes.

That was at Easter Road in a high-tension encounter to decide who was about to tumble into the relegation play-offs and only our man seemed utterly sure it would be Hibernian and not Killie. A cross was flung over from the right, a low, squirty affair which brought panic to Hibs’ central defenders, jittery fellows at the best of times. Boyd slipped between them and flashed his thick right leg at the ball to make a mockery of the degree of difficulty and the size of the stakes and put the Leith team out of their misery with a jab of a chunky blade.

His celebration was the usual one from that campaign – running to the opposition fans who’d baited him about his generous build and apparent fondness for Kilmarnock’s award-winning pies, then putting a hand to his open mouth in an expression of mock disbelief. “Goodness me,” would be the polite interpretation of this gesture, “did I score just there?” The shape he made with his mouth was a 0, but these were the only zeros Boyd delivered in 2013-14.

At Aberdeen, after another example of his routine deadliness, he gave them the 0, then filled his cheeks with air and thrust out his arms to exaggerate his bulk. Here he was saying: “Not bad for a sumo, eh? And just you watch – I’ll to score in the second half as well.”

A compilation of his season’s work can be found on YouTube. There were right-foot goals and left-foot goals. Sclaffs and in-offs and toes stuck out instinctively but also moments of deftness and delicacy and one against Dundee United which was almost balletic and would be difficult if not impossible if you regularly went for the mince and nabbed the steak option as well. There were also four headed goals, each more beautifully-angled than that which went before, and any of the hotshots in the all-time top-flight goalscoring league would be be proud to have called them their own.

This is the company Boyd keeps. He’s currently sixth on 189 goals, sandwiched between Joe Harper and John Robertson, two guys who suffered their own share of terrace taunts but Robbo’s riposte would do for all three: “It’s not over ’til the fat striker scores.” All of which makes last season’s dismal form so much more baffling.

Boyd was back at a place he knew, he was stepping down a division, he should have scored for fun. He was poor and the first to admit that. But he was playing in a poor team and then he wasn’t playing, bench life not suiting him, and he looked progressively less leaner, meaner and keener on those occasions he was asked to be an impact sub.

Certain aspects of being a Ranger have never suited him. First time around at Ibrox he was scintillating in the box, 
sullen away from it, mistrustful of the media, unnerved by the Glasgow glare and rarely spoke. Second time around at Killie he was an older, wiser, happier soul with the beginnings of a “meeja” career. But back at Ibrox we hardly saw him smile, far less make an 0 with his mouth.

Now, at Rugby Park again, he will probably be hosting Question Time by October. Well, if Barack Obama can become a chat-show host, why not? Here’s what will happen, though, he’ll have scored at least four top-flight goals by then, taking his top-flight tally to 193 and bumping Robbo down the charts.

Then there will only be four men ahead of him. Ally McCoist may be out of reach on 260 goals, but who’s to say Jimmy Wardhaugh (210), Joe McBride Sr (221) and Willie Wallace (223) can’t be overhauled? Not those Ayrshire diehards who’ve always rated him, I’ll bet.