By BLAIR MEIKLE
WHEN reflecting on times gone by it is natural to focus on how things could have gone better. Kris Boyd is no different to anyone else in that regard but he also feels blessed for the career that he has had, even describing it as a ‘fairytale’.
His time in football has featured disappointments. A lack of impact in European fixtures, on the international stage and down in England, but anyone who has scored the goals he has and become the record scorer in the Scottish Premier League can be pleased with their lot.
A career that has gone full circle – starting and looking likely to finish at Kilmarnock – had several stop offs along the way. He managed to experience different environments in Turkey and USA and he speaks particularly fondly of his time in the MLS.
Not quite as fondly, though, as two spells at his boyhood club Rangers, which you can tell are the periods he is most proud of.
He earned his first move to Ibrox by scoring 67 goals in 153 appearances for another club which became close to his heart in Kilmarnock, where he came through the ranks.
“I think I was 12 or 13 when a few of us went into Kilmarnock from the boys’ club I was playing with. It was totally different then from the academies – you just went and trained a couple of nights a week and played Sunday’s.
“One thing I will say is that back then you played with your boys club on a Saturday and your professional club on a Sunday so there wasn’t this issue of getting game time”, said Boyd.
Kris hints at one of the possible factors in our struggle to produce top quality players in Scotland nowadays and perhaps playing two 90 minutes’ in a weekend provided him with the platform to go on and score goals and be successful.
He said: “I left the school at 15 and went full time with Kilmarnock at 16. From there it’s been a fairy tale story to be honest. Everyone as a kid wants to play football and I’ve been one of the lucky ones to go on and do that.”
Boyd made his Killie debut in 2001 and after five years of rippling nets around Scotland he was ready for a move that he describes as being a giant step up and life altering. Signing for the club you support as a child is the dream of every football fan and moving from a provincial club to one of the biggest in the country amplifies the increase in demands.
“You know the history of the club and everything that goes with it but until you pull on that blue jersey you don’t know what it’s like. You go on a pitch and a draw is not good enough – you need to win games of football and win them comfortably so you’re put under that pressure to go and do that. I was fortunate enough to play with many international players at the time.
“I tasted the Champions League straight away but looking back that is one of the biggest disappointments of my career, that I wasn’t able to put more of a stamp on European football. I would have like to have played a lot more Champions League football but I can’t complain. I’ve scored a lot of goals and it was a dream to be offered the chance by Kilmarnock and a dream come true to play for Rangers.”
The Ayrshire born striker then moved to England to be part of Gordon Strachan’s ‘Scottish revolution’ at Middlesbrough which turned out to be not quite the revolution that was intended. It did not go to plan for either Strachan or Boyd, with the manager leaving a struggling side in October, just months after signing Boyd. The player only lasted a season on Teeside, with the final few months of it being spent on loan at Nottingham Forest. Six goals in ten appearances meant it was likely that he would stay at Forest, but manager Billy Davies left and so too did Boyd.
A short lived stay at Eskişehirspor followed and it transpired to be not the experience he had hoped. He only featured twice for the Turkish Super Lig team and his three-year contract was ripped up after five months, with Boyd initiating legal proceedings after the club due to unpaid wages.
A year was then spent playing in the MLS with Portland Timbers, which was more fruitful than his Turkish adventure but again not quite as rewarding as it could have been. Fellow Scot John Spencer lost his job as manager after which Boyd featured less. He scored seven goals in his one season at Portland and speaks highly of the MLS.
“When I left Middlesbrough I wanted to go and see something else in the world, to explore something else, but it (the Turkey move) wasn’t to work out due to scenarios.
“I was In Houston about to sign for them when I got the call to go to Portland. So I went across and it’s a fantastic place with fantastic people. The club was just new to the MLS and along with Seattle it’s probably the best supported. Again it was an opportunity to see the world and I went to places I would never have went on holiday to and it was a great experience. I was disappointed with the way it ended but these things happen.”
A return to where it all began produced his most prolific season in Kilmarnock colours. Despite the club only avoiding relegation through the play-offs he managed to plunder 22 goals, and his goals for Killie once again earned him a move to Rangers. It was a different club to the one he first played for, playing in the Championship on their way back from the wilderness.
Boyd was expected to fire the goals to take Rangers back to the top flight but all was not right at the club and Hearts obliterated them in the title race before they lost out to Motherwell in the play-offs.
Now back at Rugby Park, Boyd has one eye on coaching, but isn’t ready to call time on playing just yet.
He said: “I’ve never lost my love for the game, I want to continue as long as I can. I’ve not been one for having a lot of aches and pain in my body. The love, drive and determination is always there and until that goes away and I stop finding the net I’m loving playing football.”