'No one deserves this honour more than Kevin McAllister' - Crunchie Initiative founder David McInally

The Kevin McAllister Stand is now just over a week away from becoming a reality, with South Stand at the Falkirk Stadium officially having its name changed next Friday when the Bairns take on Kilmarnock in a pre-season friendly.

By Ben Kearney
Thursday, 16th June 2022, 12:35 am
Updated Friday, 17th June 2022, 8:17 am

At an event organised by the Crunchie Initiative on Tuesday night, a group of 60 supporters who have sponsored the new lifelong lettering across the stand had the chance to see it in person before it is put in place over the coming days, with club legend Alex Totten and the man himself, Crunchie, on hand to pose for pictures.

The group, who recently raised over £4,000 for charity at a 1997 legends’ lock-in event, have campaigned for over two years to ensure Falkirk’s best-ever player would be remembered for what he did for the club, as well as being able to raise funds for causes close to Bairns supporter’s hearts.

Speaking to the Herald, founder David McInally admitted the generosity of the Bairns support had blown him away after coming to just over £31,000 in total.

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Sponsors pictured the 'Crunchie' and club legend Alex Totten in front of the soon to be Kevin McAllister Stand (Photos: Michael Gillen)

“It just shows you the true adulation the support has for Kevin because of what he has done for the club over the years,” he said.

“Our initiative has been going for two and half years now, and it has gone from selling T-shirts and baubles to this, which is remarkable.

“If it weren’t for the fans digging into their pockets, none of this would have been possible and I cannot thank them enough.

“The amount we have raised is staggering and I am just so proud of what this has turned into.

Founder David McInally with John McInally and Alex Totten

“Now seeing it come into fruition with the stand lettering here now and ready to go is just amazing. After such a long journey, to get to that final stage is an unbelievable feeling.

“To have sold all of the letters for the stand, which was around £16,000 in total, is some feat, and this has enabled us to start a conversation with the football club and the foundation about how we can put it to good use.

“Without the generosity of the supporters, we really wouldn’t have got this far.”

With a substantial amount of funds now left over, McInally is hoping to further continue the legacy of the initiative by funding a sensory room, to be housed within the stadium.

15-06-2022. Picture Michael Gillen. FALKIRK. Falkirk Stadium. The Crunchie Initiative, Kevin McAllister Stand. Sponsors with letters for the Kevin McAllister Stand. Alex Totten in attendance.

He says the idea is something now well in the pipeline, with the club fully on board with the project.

“The whole idea behind the money going towards the sensory project came a while back,” he explained.

“At that time we had so many other things going on to do with the stand signage possibly being dearer, but that went away luckily and everything fell into place.

“Feedback from fans about the project was just so positive that we felt the opportunity was too good to not make the most of.

Chelsea fan James Goodgame travelled up to meet McAllister

“Once again, the generosity of the support really has made this come to life and we have basically raised double what we needed for the actual stand legacy project.”

The occasion will be marked with a friendly against the Rugby Park club, in what will be a re-match of their 1997 Scottish cup final 25 years on, when McAllister starred for Alex Totten‘s side as they reached the showpiece event.

On the day, they narrowly lost out 1-0, but the run beforehand lives in the memory of the Bairns support.

Now, McInally wants the support to turn out in big numbers for his, and so many others’, hero.

He said: “It’s been 20-odd years now since Kevin last played for the club, so I understand that he isn’t in the mind of some of the younger fans, but if you speak to anyone that is older, they’ll tell you what Kevin meant to this football club and what he brought to the table.

“I only saw him in one spell at the club, so he was a little bit older then, but, as a kid, he was what got me hooked on Falkirk, and I know that story will be similar for so many others.

“Seeing a player like him week in week out was just unbelievable and we were so lucky.

“I can only imagine what it would have been like seeing him in his earlier days.

“Kevin is Falkirk-born and he is a Falkirk fan through and through. He played 360-odd times for the club and he really put his heart and soul into the Bairns.

“If you are a Falkirk fan, I genuinely think it is only right, if you can make it along, to be there on the night and celebrate the occasion.

“He deserves this honour and just to top it off, having met Kevin throughout this project, I have really found out just how nice a person he is too.

“Not only was he great on the park, he is a great person too. No one deserves this more than Kevin.”

Falkirk’s chief executive officer, Jamie Swinney, added: “We are delighted to see all the work over the last years come to fruition.

“The club would like to say a big thanks to the Crunchie Initiative for all their hard work to make this possible.

“It is a fitting tribute to Falkirk’s player of the millennium, a player much loved by all Falkirk fans.

“We look forward to welcoming Kilmarnock to the Falkirk Stadium to kick off what will hopefully be a successful season for the club both on and off the park.”

Former team-mates of McAllister will be there on the night including ex-Bairns and Kilmarnock managers Totten and Jim Jefferies.

Scotland boss Steve Clarke, who played alongside him at Chelsea, is also hoping to make it along.