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Rory McAllister, the goalscoring great showing no signs of slowing down

Cove Rangers forward Rory McAllister celebrates opening the scoring.
Cove Rangers forward Rory McAllister

That Rory McAllister continues to find the back of the net in Scottish football should come as no surprise.

His name became synonymous with those watching Gillette Soccer Saturday down the years, due to the regularity with which it would appear on the scrolling vidiprinter at the bottom of the screen.

He rattled in 198 goals in eight-and-a-half years at Peterhead, on the back of 58 at Brechin City. McAllister holds the distinction of being the first person to hit 100 league goals since the formation of the SPFL in 2013.

When he moved from Peterhead to Cove at the start of 2020, it could easily have been seen to outsiders as a man on the decline. McAllister was 32 and had managed only three goals in 18 games for the Blue Toon that season.

Rory McAllister takes off during his celebration.
Rory McAllister takes off during his celebration against Montrose

But if anything, he looks to be rediscovering some of the old magic at the Balmoral Stadium, an artiste delivering a raucous encore to prove he is far from finished.

McAllister’s goalscoring record at Cove is steadily improving – he has scored in each of his last five games. Granted, four of them have been from the penalty spot but those opportunities still have to be taken.

But the most notable trait of his 18-month Cove career is he delivers in the big moments. He scored the winner against Edinburgh City in a potential title-decider in League Two last year and his first goal of the 20-21 campaign came against Partick Thistle, settling a scrappy wind-affected contest.

He scored against the same opponents in a pulsating post-split clash and looked to have sent Cove to the Championship play-off final with his extra-time goal against Airdrieonians, only for fate to conspire against them.

Cove's Rory McAllister (L) celebrates making it 2-1.
Cove’s Rory McAllister (L) celebrates making it 2-1 against Airdrieonians

McAllister has scored against Montrose and Falkirk this season, games in which Cove have been under pressure for periods against fellow promotion-hopefuls.

His partnership with Mitch Megginson has played a big part in not just his but Cove’s fortunes. Megginson has been Cove’s goalscorer extraordinaire since his arrival in 2016 but with McAllister up front he is able to fill a different role.

Megginson ostensibly plays off McAllister, collecting the ball in pockets of space and driving at defenders for shooting opportunities. It plays to his strengths, allowing him to utilise his movement, sharp timing of his runs and ultimately, his finishing ability.

McAllister occupies defenders, with and without the ball. Whether based on his physical presence or the mere knowledge a man of his goalscoring pedigree is on the pitch, he never fails to attract attention. But he has the knack of being in the right place.

He can be a pantomime villain at opposition grounds; his tendency to argue with officials makes him an easy target for home fans looking for a cheap laugh. Within minutes of him returning to his old club Peterhead last weekend there were a few sarcastic comments from the Balmoor regulars.

The 34-year-old plays on the edge and can be exuberant in his protests if things do not go his way. But he is far from the only player to possess such a trait.

The question always asked of McAllister is why he did not opt to give full-time football another go. He started his career at Caley Thistle but struggled to show any signs of the prolific records that were to follow.

His job as a plumber and a part-time football career have provided a more fruitful balance, rather than committing to a top-level club. The opportunity to join Dundee United in 2016 was turned down and since then, McAllister has continued to add to his reputation as an SPFL great.

Should Cove succeed in their ambition to get into the Championship then they too may well decide to go full-time. It would be fair to assume McAllister will have a big role in helping them get there.