Sep 11 2009 by Clair Fullarton, Kilmarnock Standard
WHEN Garry Hay runs out at Tynecastle on Saturday he will make his 300th appearance for Kilmarnock in Premier League, League Cup, Scottish Cup and Uefa Cup competitions.
The defender, who turns 32 on Monday, has made 277 starts and a further 22 appearances from the substitutes’ bench since signing for the club in 1995, scoring nine goals during that time.
And it’s this unbroken stint of loyal service to Kilmarnock FC that has prompted the club to honour him with a testimonial year which gets under way within the next few weeks.
Hay joins a list of Killie heroes such as Alan Robertson, Stuart McLean, Ally Mitchell, Gus MacPherson and Ray Montgomerie who have had their commitment to the Rugby Park club recognised in this way.
Garry Hay grew up in New Farm Loch and played with both Crosshouse and New Farm Boys’ Clubs, as well as Valspar.
It was while he was a third year pupil at James Hamilton Academy that he put pen to paper, Killie’s manager at the time being the late Tommy Burns.
The teenager was recommended to Killie by the late Richard Thomson and later coached by former Killie star Jim Clark, himself a local guy who went on to play for his home town team.
Back in the early 1990s, Garry was also a target for Liverpool, Notts County, Dundee United and Ayr United, but there was only one team he wanted to play for.
A product of Kilmarnock’s youth system, Garry made his debut for Killie in a 2-1 defeat against Rangers at Ibrox on the opening day of season 1999-2000.
The following Saturday – August 7 1999 – he netted both goals in Killie’s 2-0 home win over Aberdeen.
In the early days, Garry was used more as an offensive player, but over the past few years he has made the left wing back position his own.
‘Hooky’, as he is affectionately known to fans and team mates alike, has also had several spells as Killie captain.
And four years ago, he also received international recognition when he was capped for Scotland in a ‘B’ international against Poland at his home ground Rugby Park, Scotland winning 2-0.
Garry’s testimonial year kicks off on Monday, October 5, with a BWA-sponsored golf day at Dundonald Links, which has already sold out. Another golf day will be held next spring.
A sportsman’s dinner, sponsored by Hamilton Tarmac, will be held in the Park Hotel on Sunday, November 1, chaired by radio and newspaper pundit Tam Cowan.
Speakers will include ex-Motherwell winger John Gahagan and former Liverpool player Alan Kennedy.
An auction will be conducted by Ally McCoist.
A Burns Mall-sponsored gala ball will take place in the Park Hotel on February 27 of next year, and tickets are already selling well for that.
Other events planned are a Burns supper, organised by the Kilmarnock FC Supporters’ Mauchline Branch, on January 24, 2010, and a casino night in the Park Hotel on a date yet to be arranged.