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Hot-shot hero Gallacher looking forward to reunion

Ste B

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WHEN Kenny Dalglish wanted to sign striker Kevin Gallacher, he met him in Southport - well away from the building site that was Ewood Park at the time.

Kevin says: "I think he thought I might have been put off, but actually I was really proud to be part of that transition from the old to the new. We were building something at Rovers on the pitch as well as re-building the ground as well."

He signed from Coventry in the late March of '93 and featured in about 12 matches of Rovers' first season back in the top flight, when they finished in the remarkably creditable position of fourth spot.

His six years at Rovers brought striking stardom alongside Alan Shearer and Mike Newell, but were tinged with sadness when he broke his leg and was ruled out for what proved to be the Championship-winning season. He played just one game, scored and got another hairline fracture into the bargain!

But he's in the Championship side's line-up against Rovers Worthington Cup team for Simon Garner's testimonial match on Sunday, May 18th . . . and he can't wait to meet all his old mates.

Kevin says: "I only met Simon a few months ago but I felt I knew him already. He's a legend at Ewood Park. People always spoke of him in the same breath as all the other 'greats,' names like Clayton and Douglas. Simon is still the all-time record goal scorer and that's something to be proud of."

Kevin hung up his boots this year at the age of 36 and now concentrates on radio work, including doing the phone-in for Radio Rovers, and helping his wife Aileen set up her new home design business. He says: "We still live in Blackburn and we love it here. I see my old mate Colin Hendry quite a lot and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the boys on May 18th."

Following his years at Rovers, Kevin was Bobby Robson's first signing at Newcastle. "I was very flattered but it was a big wrench leaving Blackburn. Still, I had a magnificent two years at Newcastle and my top-flight career finished on a high."

Any worries about playing again? "Well, I've kicked a ball about in six a side games and I play tennis regularly. The brain thinks first and the feet try to follow. So let's see how it goes. It'll be good fun at any rate."

§ The Simon Garner Testimonial Match takes place on Sunday May 18 at Ewood Park. Kick-off is at 4pm. Tickets are priced £12 and £6 and available from the club ticket office or by calling 01254 671666. Corporate packages and boxes can be purchased by calling 01254 690909

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