MAJOR tributes were paid to the all-conquering Kilwinning Rangers team of season 1989-99 on Saturday night, writes Stewart McConnell.

The club held a 20th anniversary celebration of the heroes at their annual player of the year presentation evening which was held in Woodwynd Community Centre.

That epic season saw them win not only the Scottish Junior Cup, but also the West of Scotland Cup, Ayrshire League, Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald Cup, Irvine Times Cup and Scarlett Cup.

They had an amazing will to win and their achievements are now part of junior football folklore.

Current Buffs manager Chris Strain paid tribute to the class of ’99 in a speech.

He said: “What the Kilwinning Rangers team achieved was remarkable. They brought so much joy to the town and were a tight knit bunch of boys which is why they did so well.

“I remember watching them and one of our players Ben Lewis was only nine at the time and he has great memories of it.”

Assistant manager of the team Jim Cockburn said: “At the start or the season we said: ‘We just looked at the team and thought we could do something. If somebody scored a goal against us we just knew we were going to win’.

“There was a great team spirit and a really good rotation in the squad. We only had about 16 or 17 guys.”

Skipper at the time Iain Gallacher said: “We were playing three game a week sometimes. Even after we won the Scottish Cup we still had games to play. It was a great squad. Everyone seemed to score that season.

“I remember us being 2-0 or 3-0 down in a semi-final yet we came back to win the game.

Added goal hero Gerry Peline: “It was great to score the winner in the cup final, we had a great group of players.”

Fellow striker Rusty Harkness said: “I came off the bench in the final and it was just great to be part of it.”

The current and past players sang club songs which have stood the test of time and enjoyed chatting and exchanging stories.

Meanwhile the 2018-19 award winners were honoured on the night.

Under-23 Player of the Year was David Syme.

Player of the Year was Sam McCloskey, while Ben Lewis won the Players’ Player of the Year accolade.

For more on the Buffs night see next week’s paper.

Strain also appealed to the community to pull together ahead of their move to Kilwinning Sports Club after 90 years at Abbey Park.