At the end of last season, on a night out, I bumped into Derek McInnes and several members of his Kilmarnock squad in the Horse Shoe Bar. I thought I was imagining things at first.
The guy standing next to me at the bar couldn’t possibly be the former Aberdeen boss, could it?
I went back to the table I was at and the guys there said yeah, and pointed out that some of the players were dotted around the room too.
One of them stood out a mile.
It was big lanky Kyle Lafferty.
It was weird to see him close up, and no surprise that he tried to be the centre of attention all night.
We know what Lafferty is, after all.
We know what he’s always been.
For all that, I had clean forgot that he was at Kilmarnock until I saw him running out onto the pitch yesterday and I could not believe that. “Hasn’t this guy retired yet?” I thought.
There was a time when Lafferty loved playing against us and I hated us coming up against him. I never thought he was a great player or anything but he was one of those people who raised his game against us time and time again.
Yesterday he looked like somebody way overdue for hanging up the boots.
For the first time in a long time he played against a Celtic defence that was comprised of big bruisers like him, and they made easy work of him. He was reduced to grumpy, moaning, griping, sniping and hoping to win a penalty.
It was all pretty pitiful … not that any of us have much pity.
Lafferty hasn’t just been one of those players who is annoying to play against.
He’s another player who has got by for years on making his loathing for our club and for our fans perfectly clear. He was booed every time he touched the ball yesterday – which wasn’t often.
He was cheered for every mistake, which was nearly every time he touched the ball.
When he finally left the field he did so to mixed boos and sarcastic applause from our fans, having thoroughly wasted his manager’s time and offered exactly nothing to his club.
Why do these clubs persist on giving contracts to these over-the-hill has-beens?
Still it was a perverse pleasure to watch this particular one lumber about the pitch yesterday like some de-clawed toothless lion.
If this was his Last Dance then it’s fitting that it was we who got the Last Laugh.
It’s a fitting end for our story with him.