Welcome to volume two of my blog paying homage to the football clubs I've visited all over the world and the wonderful people responsible for keeping them going and looking after the stadiums, and in some cases basic grounds.

Since I was a little lad I've been fascinated in football and more so where games are played. With my love of travel and curiosity of the game I wanted to visit as many grounds and see games wherever possible. I was lucky that my Dad also loved the game and spent so much of his spare time taking me to matches. As I got older the boundaries widened owing to my location and increased wages to Europe and indeed the world. The sight of a stand or a floodlight pylon in the distance immediately hightens my senses and eagerness for a closer look.

I hope this site gives you the chance to share in my pleasure and experiences and maybe one day set you on the road to adventure. If you get half as much out of the hobby as I've done I can guarantee some great memories, good friends and stories to pass on to future generations.

Give your local club a go today. They'll be pleased to see you!

Everlasting thanks primarily to my late and very much missed and dearly loved parents; my Dad Bob Bernard and my Mum; Ann, who put up with endless years of football chat and my brothers Nick and Paul who gave me the chance and encouragement to do what I have. Thanks to all my friends who offer encouragement and Sally and Stan who inspire and give me great pride. Young Stan is showing a keen interest in my hobby!

Please feel free to post any comments (please use sensible language - I want everyone to be able to enjoy reading) or ask any questions relating to visiting grounds or events. If you want to see any ground reviewed please let me know. It will take quite some time for everywhere to appear, but make sure you keep having a look as the site is continually updated.

If you click on a lot of the pictures you will get a larger version on your screen.

I have also added links to video clips on youtube where appropriate for those of you who are bored of reading or are filling in time at work. I haven't always gone for the most obvious choices, but items that will be in some cases unusual but always historically interesting.

Click to see volume one of HAOTW.

Rob Bernard

London

September 2015

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kilmarnock


Kilmarnock FC is a professional football club from the town of the same name, which is located in south Ayrshire in Scotland. The club was formed by a group of cricketers wanting a winter pursuit at the towns’ Robertson Temperance Hotel on Portland Street on the 5th January 1869.

Initially the club played a game closely connected to rugby, but they soon adopted the association football code playing early games at Holm Quarry, the Grange on Irvine Road and a ground near to Rugby Park.


In 1873 Kilmarnock became one of eight founder member clubs of the Scottish FA. That same year ‘Killie’ played in what is believed to be the first ever Scottish Cup tie when they were defeated by Renton.

Kilmarnock joined the Scottish League in 1895 with Charlie Smith as manager before going on to Division Two in 1897-98 and 1898-99 to win promotion to Division One. Killie were beaten in the final of the Scottish Cup in 1899 at the second Hampden Park by Rangers.


In 1919 Hugh Spence was appointed as manager and in the following year the club lifted the Cup for the first time following victory against Albion Rovers, which was followed up by a second success in 1929 with a win against Rangers at Hampden Park in front of a crowd of 114,780.

In 1932 Rangers avenged that defeat in the final of the Scottish Cup with a win after a replay. Celtic hero Jimmy McGrory took over as manager in 1937, with Killie reaching the Cup final a year later. East Fife proved victorious after a replay.

Tom Smith took control, of team affairs after World War Two as Killie were relegated in the first season in peacetime. Tom Mather and Alex Hastings had spells as manager before Malky McDonald arrived at Rugby Park in 1950. He took the side to promotion back to the top flight in 1953-54 after Killie were runners-up in the League Cup of 1953; losing out to Dundee.


Another appearance in the Scottish Cup followed in 1957, but Kilmarnock finished runners-up after a replay once again; this time to Falkirk. Former Rangers winger Willie Waddell became manager of Kilmarnock in the summer of 1957 to herald an unparalleled period of success.

Killie finished as runners-up in the Scottish League in 1959-60, 1960-61, 1962-63, 1963-64. The team also reached the Scottish Cup final of 1960 before being defeated by Rangers. Kilmarnock were also League Cup finalists in 1961 and 1963; going down to Kilmarnock and then Heart of Midlothian.


However, the greatest day was to come on the final day of the 1964-65 season.

Kilmarnock headed to Tynecastle Park requiring a 2-0 win to take the title from hosts Heart of Midlothian on goal average. Killie achieved their target to become champions of Scotland for the first time.

Waddell departed following the triumph to be replaced by the returning McDonald who took the team to the semi-final of the European Inter City Fairs Cup in 1966-67 with wins over Royal Antwerp, K.A.A. Gent and 1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig before bowing out to Leeds United.


Walter McCrae was the new manager at Rugby Park in 1968 as the club gradually fell from their height before being relegated in 1972-73. McCrae paid for the demotion with his job as Willie Fernie replaced him as full time boss.

Killie finished as Division Two runners-up in 1973-74 to reclaim their top flight status. 1974-75 was the final season of the two division structure, and with the team finishing in twelfth spot, they were placed in Division Two for 1975-76. A runners-up spot saw the team promoted to the Premier Divison.


Davie Sneddon became team manager in 1977 with Killie finishing bottom of the table and being relegated. Kilmarnock fought back once again with another promotion in 1978-79. The team went back down to the second tier Division One in 1980-81.

Jim Clunie was tasked with engineering Killie’s return in 1981, which he managed in the 1981-82 season. However, the top flight return lasted just one season. Eddie Morrison replaced Clunie in 1984 before Jim Fleeting took over in 1988 with the club in decline.


In 1988-89 Killie were relegated to Division Two, but they returned to the second level as runners-up in 1989-90. Midfielder Tommy Burns became player-manager in 1992 and took the club back to the Premier Division.

The undoubted talents of Burns were spotted by Celtic who took him away in 1994, with Alex Totten becoming the new Kilmarnock manager. After a couple of years at the helm, Totten was replaced by Bobby Williamson.


In 1997 Killie won the Scottish Cup for the third time as Falkirk were defeated at Ibrox Park with Paul Wright scoring the only goal. The team reached the League Cup Final of 2001, but Kilmarnock were defeated by Celtic.

Jim Jeffries was appointed as the new manager in 2002 as his side remained in the Premier Division as well as reaching the League Cup final in 2007 where they ended up losing to Hibernian.


Mixu Paatelainen took the side to a fifth place finish in his only season in charge in 2010-11 before taking the Finland head coaches job. Kenny Shiels was his replacement as Killie lifted the League Cup with a 1-0 win over Celtic thanks to a goal from Dieter Van Tornhout.

Allan Johnston and Gary Locke had spells in the Rugby Park managerial hotseat as the club retained their Premiership status before Lee Clark took over in February 2016. Killie were fighting relegation when Clark was sacked a year later.


Former Scottish international Lee McCulloch took over for the remainder of the 2017-18 season as Killie finished clear of any relegation worries.

Kilmarnock FC will play in the Scottish Premiership in the 2017-18 season.


My visit

Kilmarnock 0 St Johnstone 1 (Friday 23rd December 2016) Scottish Premiership (Att: 3,056)


The football fixtures were kind to me as I finished for my long weekend off for the Christmas break on the Thursday evening. I could tick off the two biggest Ayrshire clubs within a few hours and still get back to London by 10pm on Christmas Eve.

I’d travelled up to Glasgow on an early train and then enjoyed a few afternoon beers in The Horseshoe, Pot Still, State Bar and Bon Accord. After my final pint I walked down North Street to take a train from Anderston to Glasgow Central from where I took the service south to Kilmarnock.


It was a cold, wet and windy evening as I alighted in the plain like town. It had the feel of a rugby league town in northern England with its terraced houses and large stone buildings with the floodlights of Rugby Park shining like a beacon as Kilmarnock’s main attraction.

The fifteen minute walk took me to the rear of the Main Stand where I paid £20 admission as well as £3 for an interesting informative programme. On such a cold evening it was a tad surprising and definitely disappointing that there was no Bovril at the tea bars.


I chose a seat in the spacious and lovely old Main Stand. I wasn't aware of discontent amongst the Killie faithful, but soon got the gist that they wanted the owner out as a section broke into chants.

As the game kicked off my attention was drawn to an obvious serious incident in the stand at the far side, as it appeared a fan was taken poorly. Stewards and paramedics attended the scene, and signs of CPR being carried out was visible. I hope whoever it was has made a recovery after being stretchered away.


To be honest the incident put a dampener on the first half that was struggling for excitement of any kind. Saints took the lead when shocking marking from a corner allowed Murray Davidson to slot home past motionless home defenders.

I'd consumed a Scotch and then a superb Killie pie during the first half. The kiosk had managed to find some Bovril at the break, which was most welcome on an increasingly raw night.


The second half was better fare. Killie huffed and puffed without creating anything too clear cut. I thought the abuse afforded to Kris Boyd when he came on off the bench was harsh; until I saw him trudge about. Overweight, overpaid and uninterested would be a fair appraisal.

Home keeper Jamie MacDonald pulled off a superb double stop before his woodwork was tested with a low shot. I departed just after the board went up; this missing Luke Hendrie's two yellow cards in stoppage time. Maybe he fancied Christmas off rather than the hiding his side took at Hearts a few days later? It certainly makes you wonder?


I caught the 21:57 back to Glasgow and enjoyed an hour or so in the excellent Bon Accord having a nice chat to the Partick Thistle supporting barman, who was most helpful in guiding me to the stunning Pixel Bandit from the Lawman Brewery of Cumbernauld.


I finished the evening with my first experience of a Scottish pizza supper; a battered half margarita pizza with a slap of fat home cut chips. Not particularly healthy, but bloody beautiful! A few hours later I was out taking the brunt of Storm Margaret on the Ayrshire coast as I headed to the match between Ayr United and Dumbarton.







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