Airdrie's Greatest Striker - Owen Coyle
8th April 2016
With 44% of the overall vote, the first striker in our Greatest XI is OWEN COYLE.
1990-1993 / 2001-2002 / 2003-2005
When Owen Coyle signed for Airdrie in 1990 for £175,000 he was 24 years old and already attracting attention from a number of top teams in the country, having scored 69 goals in 166 games whilst playing for Dumbarton and Clydebank. He would make his debut for the Diamonds in a 6-0 victory over Ayr United, with Coyle scoring the first of his eight hat tricks for the club. Despite only making ten starts for the club by the end of the 89/90 season, Coyle would finish top League goalscorer for the season with ten goals.
The 1990/91 campaign is a season most Airdrie fans will never forget with the club winning promotion to the Premier League, but also because of the start Owen would personally make that season. In the first seven league games of the season he would score an incredible 17 goals. By the time he scored all four goals in a 4-1 win over Clyde he was regularly making appearances on the back pages of the nations newspapers due to his "Roy of the Rovers" style exploits. Tragically Coyle's season looked to be in doubt after suffering a broken leg in October with the club having sat top of the First Division for most of the season. By the time Coyle made a speedy recovery to the team in late January, the club had slipped to third in the league. Coyle perhaps unsurprisingly never found his earlier form but did score another three times to help the club to promotion and see him finish Scotland's top league goalscorer with 20 goals.
Coyle was seldom the scorer of what could be described as "wonder" goals, but this was mainly due to the fact he didn't have to. He always seemed to know where to be on the pitch to give himself goal-scoring opportunities. His finishing was clinical and made him the envy of many opposition managers, he had an uncanny ability to simply place or pass the ball beyond goalkeepers. He would play the next two seasons in the Premier League, finishing the club's top goalscorer on both occasions, and again attracting the attention of other clubs. When Airdrie were relegated in 1993 he would eventually join Bolton Wanderers in the English First Division for £250,000. He would go on to help them gain promotion to the English Premier League, scoring in the play-off Final against Reading at Wembley.
Coyle would return to play in Airdrie not once but twice, firstly in 2001 with the club in administration and struggling to field a team he would help the club avoid relegation, scoring six goals in the final ten games of the season. The following season would see the club challenging for promotion and winning the Challenge Cup Final, with Coyle scoring 27 goals in all competitions. With the club declared bankrupt at the end of season he would go on to join Falkirk. Aged 37 Coyle returned to Airdrie United in 2003, his experience proving invaluable as he helped the club to win the Second Division Title. He would play one final season in the First Division, scoring regularly as well as helping youngsters like Alan Gow and Willie McLaren with his experience and knowledge. He left to become player/manager at St.Johnstone and has continued in management in England and currently the MLS in America. In his time at Airdrie, Coyle finished top goalscorer in seven of the eight seasons he played. He won promotion to the Premier League, played in the 1992 Scottish Cup Final, League Cup Semi-Final, played in both legs of the European Cup Winners Cup matches, won the Challenge Cup in 2001 and the 2nd Division Title in 2004. He was inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame in 2002.