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
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