In the wake of Kris Boyd’s retirement, Aidan Smith looks back over the career of the former Rangers and Killie striker and asks an important question.
It’s been ten years since Kris Boyd’s fondness for Monster Munch first made me smile and I must admit to having mentioned it at every available opportunity since.
It seemed like he had big magnets for attracting the ball strapped to both of his muckle thighs
In the wake of the goal demon’s retirement I hope we might now get an answer to the question which has been puzzling me: what was his favourite flavour?
Was it Roast Beef, the preferred option of the pink gender-fluid monster? Was it the yellow cyclops monster’s corn-based snack of choice, Pickled Onion? Or was it Flamin’ Hot? Boydy, who was flamin’ hot throughout his career or at every second club he hung his hat at least, might have reckoned this monster to be most like him, not because of the floppy ears especially or indeed the four arms but because of the blue hue, the colour of Kilmarnock and Rangers. He was always flitting between the two, wasn’t he? Nine separate stints at Killie, five with the Gers. Something like that anyway.
You’ll remember I’m sure how Boyd’s mass-produced maize-and-monosodium glutamate combo became big news. Rangers’ French manager Paul Le Guen, appalled that his players weren’t sitting down en famille for five-hour lunches over boeuf bourguignon complete with animated discussion about politics, New Wave cinema and mistresses, completely banned junk food, although it was “le Munch” which was the most comical and a gift for headline writers.
What I can’t remember is whether Boydy went on hunger strike in protest at the crackdown. You might be wondering if he went on a goalscoring strike when he was with Rangers in the Championship as his figures weren’t up to his usual prolific standards.
It was Killie fans who were quickest to hail him as a legend after last week’s announcement. Who can forget how, after he collected his boots from Ibrox in two hands and used his other two hands to grab a cash ’n’ carry box of Flamin’ Hot which he’d hid in the trophy room, no one at the downgraded club having had cause to clear space in the display cabinets for a while, that he was once more fitted for Killie’s stripes, a bit more billowy this time, and banged in 22 goals to save the Ayrshire men from relegation.
Certainly the Hibernian defence couldn’t forget his coup de gras in 2014-15 (what’s the French for coup de gras?) when he instead sent the Leith team to the relegation playoffs and three seasons of purgatory and Sportscene “ … And finallys”. As the green-and-white backline wet their knickers Boydy stayed cool and composed, concentration etched on his big pasty napper. The cliche here would be to say that he had ice in his veins. Boydy had ice in his Irn-Bru, which was also banned by Le Guen. He was too quick for the Hibees and too quick for their fans, making fun of his generous proportions in the goal celebration before they could, outlining a gigantic belly with some Lindsay Kemp Grade I mime – a belly which, in the words of Rugby Park slogan, gave the impression it would always say aye to a Killie pie.
Pies? Monster Munch? Irn-Bru? Lest we forget in this gentle send-up, the man knew where the goal was. If the cluttered penalty boxes which he inhabited were photographed in the style of half a century ago then in the captions he would be one of those players “awaiting developments”. It seemed like he had big magnets for attracting the ball strapped to both of his muckle thighs and only a hard-hearted cynic would suggest that Boydy ran as if he was that way encumbered.
At other times defenders unnerved by his skulking presence appeared to spoon or sclaff the ball in his direction, as if offering themselves for sacrifice in order to be put out of their misery as quickly as possible. It was a terror reign, all right, similar to that of John Robertson at Hearts. It would be unthinkable, I reckon, that guys like Robbo, pictured, and Boydy ever woke up on a Saturday and quietly murmured to themselves: “Something’s not quite right – maybe I won’t score today.”
Ah but he should have scored more, should have been even deadlier. Such mumps in football are typical and very typical in Scotland. No Kilmarnock fan says this, by the way, and no Rangers fan solely remembering Boyd’s first spell at Ibrox says this. If you support anyone else you might damn the player with faint praise because of the apparent ease with which he scored his goals, how he was never lightning-quick but knew exactly where to loiter and how the ricochets might play out to his advantage.
There’s an art to this, although it isn’t widely acknowledged. Boyd loved an overcrowded goalmouth, the bigger the melee the better. I always thought that a clip of a penalty-box kerfuffle leading to some typically dead-eyed decisiveness from our man was like CCTV footage from outside a pub with a “lively” reputation. Hardened detectives used to examining the latter could easily apply their powers of perception to a spot of punditry. They could freeze some frames and the inspector would point at Boydy hanging around the six-yard line and say: “That’s him – that’s the troublemaker.”
Yes, he probably should have done better in his career. It’s bizarre that in the whole of 2014-15 the likes of Cowdenbeath, Alloa Athletic and Dumbarton were able to restrict him to only three league goals. The opportunity to shine in England wasn’t seized. And he only won 18 Scotland caps. That was partly of his own design, Boyd withdrawing his services when George Burley was the national coach. It seems ridiculous to say about the man in summary, “Is that all there is?” when he has been a poacher supreme, a top goal-hanger and the SPL’s record scorer. That’s because more, much more, is expected of strikers these days. Aside from banging them in regularly they need to be able and willing to tackle back, drive the team bus, play a musical instrument, survive on nuts and berries, quote Shakespeare and right now voice erudite opinion on the Tory leadership race. Boydy on the other hand has been a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma hidden in an empty Monster Munch packet blowing in the breeze, but nearly always coming to rest in the right spot at the key moment, big thunder thigh ready to swing and do the needful.