Boyd in­tent on re­dis­cov­er­ing his mojo back at Kil­marnock

Striker vows to pick up where he left off a year ago af­ter re­turn­ing for third spell

The Herald - Sport - - FOOTBALL - CALUM CROWE

WITH a to­tal of 92 goals for the Ayr­shire club across two pre­vi­ous spells, Kris Boyd is the most pro­lific en­tity to emerge from Kil­marnock since the McIl­van­ney broth­ers first thought it a good idea to pay at­ten­tion dur­ing English lessons. If Hugh and Wil­liam are the undis­puted word­smiths of the Ayr­shire town, then so, too, is Boyd its un­doubted goalpoacher ex­traor­di­naire.

Yesterday, af­ter sign­ing a two-year deal to re­turn to his child­hood club for a third time, Boyd an­nounced that he was home. You get the feel­ing Boyd re­ally meant it.

He cut a re­laxed fig­ure, shook hands and even ex­changed jokes with the as­sem­bled press pack at Rugby Park yesterday. You had for­got­ten what the whites of his teeth ac­tu­ally looked like. Not be­cause he had kept them hid­den away in fear of their colour­ing be­ing that of a sheet of ply­wood. No, they are per­fectly white. Du­bi­ously so, ac­tu­ally, but it had just been so long since we had seen Boyd smile wide enough to see them.

The pre­vi­ous 12 months have marked un­ques­tion­ably the most dif­fi­cult and most tur­bu­lent pe­riod of what has been one of the most pro­lific goalscor­ing ca­reers Scot­tish football has wit­nessed in a gen­er­a­tion.

They yielded just 10 goals in an ill-fated spell back at Rangers, which ended in cat­a­strophic fash­ion with a hu­mil­i­at­ing 6-1 de­feat to Mother­well in the SPFL Premier­ship play-off fi­nal.

The pre­vi­ous sea­son, dur­ing his sec­ond spell at Kil­marnock, Boyd had notched 25 goals – in­clud­ing the win­ner in a 1-0 vic­tory against Hiber­nian in May 2014 which saved the Ayr­shire club from a rel­e­ga­tion play-off. As the man him­self said: “You don’t go from scor­ing that many goals to sud­denly be­ing a bad player overnight. Last sea­son was a blip at Rangers and I want to prove my­self at Kil­marnock.”

In­deed, he will have to prove him­self once again, just like he did upon sign­ing his first con­tract in pro­fes­sional football with the Rugby Park club aged just 16. Boyd found the ro­mance of Rangers too much to re­sist when they came call­ing last sum­mer. And though they will cer­tainly be glad to have him back at the club, Kil­marnock fans might be for­given for with­hold­ing any of their own ro­man­tic ges­tures to­wards their re­turn­ing son.

Boyd left once be­fore for Ibrox, only to re­turn to Kil­marnock. The fans for­gave him and ac­cepted his rea­sons for do­ing so. But to do it again a sec­ond time? Only Boyd him­self can dis­pel any lin­ger­ing doubts over his de­sire for top level football. Quite sim­ply, he must earn his stripes once again.

“I’m de­lighted to get it fi­nalised,’ said the 31-year-old striker when asked about his de­ci­sion to re­turn to Kil­marnock for a third time. “It has taken a few weeks but the im­por­tant thing for me is to get back play­ing reg­u­lar football, and this will give me the chance to do that.

“It was a big de­ci­sion for me to come back to Kil­marnock for a third time but I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it and, hope­fully, I can kick on from where I left off in the sum­mer of 2014.

“I’m from the Kil­marnock area and I al­ways knew what was go­ing on at the club, so it was pretty easy to set­tle in when I met the squad this morn­ing. Even when I was at Rangers, I was still do­ing some coach­ing at Kil­marnock in the evenings, help­ing out with the kids and with the Un­der-17s on a Thurs­day night.

“I want to help take Kil­marnock in the right di­rec­tion. We’ve not been in the top six for a few sea­sons and ev­ery­one thinks we are go­ing to strug­gle next year, so I want to help prove them wrong. I’ve had suc­cess here in the past. I will never shy away from do­ing my job and try­ing to score goals.”

Boyd is a savvy char­ac­ter, far more in­tel­li­gent than many would give him credit for. Just ask any cen­tre-half ever to have had the mis­for­tune of be­ing asked to mark him over the past 15 years. He made a ca­reer of in­tel­li­gent, in­stinc­tive move­ment to of­ten leave the

You don’t go from scor­ing that many goals to sud­denly be­ing a bad player overnight. Last sea­son was a blip at Rangers and I want to prove my­self

afore­men­tioned de­fend­ers stricken in a crum­pled heap of em­bar­rass­ment.

That once-fa­bled move­ment must once again now come to the fore. But rather than it be any form of penalty-box de­cep­tion, Boyd’s first move­ment must be to win the Kil­marnock fans over and get them back on his side. He will know only too well that the quick­est way of do­ing this will be to start find­ing the net for the Ayr­shire­men on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Boyd’s last kick of a football for Kil­marnock was that win­ning goal at Easter Road in 2014 which all-but saved them from rel­e­ga­tion. The next time he kicks a ball in anger for them, how­ever, the con­se­quences will be just as sig­nif­i­cant.

It could sig­nal a chap­ter of re­demp­tion for one of Kil­lie’s most fa­mous sons; it could also sig­nal the open­ing chap­ter of his foot­balling obit­u­ary. It is time for the artist for­merly known as Scot­land’s most preda­tory striker to de­cide what kind of story he wishes to write.

SMILES BET­TER: Kris Boyd was re­laxed and jovial on his Kil­marnock re­turn

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