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Nailing 'myth' must be Kris Boyd's No1 New Year resolution


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Nailing 'myth' must be Kris Boyd's No1 New Year resolution

Published Date: 01 January 2010

By Alan Pattullo

HE GETS the ball, he scores a goal. Has there ever been a striker who fits more accurately this description from the old terracing song designed to celebrate master marksmen than Kris Boyd?

It has been sung in tribute to strikers up and down the land, but Boyd is a player who, despite his recent attempt at a conversion from penalty-box predator to more all-round striker, thrives on the thrill of the finish, and the sight of the ball exploding into the rigging.

There are few strikers operating in the British game today who are as unwavering in their dedication to live up to their job title.

After his five goals against Dundee United on Wednesday night, Boyd has now struck 19 times this season. He has scored 25 times against the Tannadice club alone for both Rangers and Kilmarnock.

Few will bet on him not reaching 40 during this campaign, and as he homes in on another target – 200 Scottish Premier League goals.

Of course, the rush to anoint Boyd must also be put into context. Just as with the Premier League in England, there is in Scotland a depressing tendency to make out as if football did not exist prior to 1998, when the SPL came into being. Boyd is a great goalscorer, just as Henrik Larsson was. But both have challengers for the crown of finest-ever striker from days gone by.

Indeed, you do not have to go back much beyond 1998 to find one in Ally McCoist, although, tellingly, the current Rangers assistant manager was among the most conspicuous cheerleaders for Boyd on Wednesday night, as the goals rained in.

At one point McCoist took off his cap and quite literally doffed it to Boyd, whose six attempts to score had resulted in the remarkable return of five goals.

Boyd has done it in wind, sleet, snow and sometimes sun, for club and country.

Now that his international career – so far – has been defined by his walk-out, it is forgotten that his Scotland statistics are as impressive as those amassed with both Kilmarnock and Rangers. He has struck seven times in 14 appearances, although these goals have come chiefly in friendly matches. Except they haven't. Four were claimed in qualifying matches, although providing succour for his detractors is the double claimed in the 6-0 destruction of the lowly Faroes.

But Scotland need goals against the teams they consider inferior, too. Boyd's total time played under George Burley, prior to his temporary retirement in October 2008, was just 38 minutes. He argued that he never had the chance to distinguish himself against more stellar opposition.

The received wisdom that Boyd cannot cut it in the major games is now beginning to be a bore. But the player himself has the chance to nail what he and his supporters contend is a myth once and for all when he starts for Rangers at Parkhead on Sunday.

He had collected 99 SPL goals by the time he had scored just once against Celtic, with his first coming in May 2007. But the tactics employed by Walter Smith have not always helped him revel in these games, and such as he does against the likes of United and Motherwell.

With Kenny Miller often used as the lone forward, he has found himself a frustrated onlooker. Not even Boyd can score when his rump is planted on the substitutes' bench.

But his time has come now, and at the age of 26 there is still so much left ahead for him. The worry for Rangers fans is that such exploits as Wednesday night will re-awaken clubs in England to his talents. Birmingham City hoped to land him a year ago, and, given their current form, might now seem a more attractive option for Boyd.

There would, though, be uproar at Ibrox were this to happen, something which underlines the improvement in his game since even last year, when opinion was divided about whether his departure for England would represent a wise deal for Rangers. Many thought it would.

He has worked at his game in the time since, something he acknowledged was necessary. His decision to end his Scotland exile, Boyd has claimed, was sparked by a suspicion on his part that his game was in decline. He was simply swapping the bench at Rangers for the bench at Scotland. Boyd-does-humble might not fit with the image of someone whose sullen demeanour has often been interpreted as arrogance. But he is clearly adored by his colleagues, and is liked – and, more importantly, rated – by the new Scotland manager, Craig Levein.

Boyd's year has ended as it begun, deep in goals. He claimed a double against Inverness Caledonian Thistle on his first outing in 2009.

His aim for 2010 should be to rubber-stamp his quality with goals against Celtic – and for Scotland.

BOYD FACTFILE

1983: Born 18 August, in Irvine, Ayrshire.

2000: Signs professional terms at Kilmarnock.

2001: May – Makes first-team debut as sub in 1-0 victory over Celtic at Rugby Park.

November – Scores first senior goal in 2-0 win over Motherwell.

2004: October – Scores five goals in a match – four in the first half – as Kilmarnock beat Dundee United 5-2.

2005: December – Called into Scotland Future squad for match against Poland and plays in 2-0 win at Rugby Park. After scoring 15 goals in 18 SPL starts, Boyd leaves Kilmarnock to join Rangers. Signs a three-and-a-half-year contract after Kilmarnock accept an offer believed to be in the region of £500,000.

2006: May – Finishes season as his new club's top scorer with 20 goals, notching up 37 in total for both Killie and Rangers in the campaign. Scores twice on Scotland debut in 5-1 Kirin Cup victory over Bulgaria.

2008: March – Scores both Rangers' goals in League Cup final against Dundee United, which finishes 2-2. Rangers win on penalties to hand Boyd the first major trophy of his career.

May – Scores twice – including the winner – as Rangers beat Queen of the South 3-2 to lift the Scottish Cup.

June – Cardiff see a £2.5million bid for Boyd rejected by Rangers.

October – Boyd announces he will not play for Scotland again while manager George Burley remains in charge.

2009: January – Rangers agree a fee with Birmingham for the sale of Boyd, but transfer falls through.

May – Secures first SPL winners' medal as he scores in 3-0 win at Dundee United on the final day of the league season. Helps Rangers retain the Scottish Cup.

December – Reveals he is ready to end his Scotland exile under Craig Levein. Breaks Henrik Larsson's all-time Scottish Premier League scoring record, scoring five goals in win over Dundee United to set a new benchmark of 160.

A pretty positive piece there.

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