Kilmarnock Football Club 150th Anniversary

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 7th February 2019.

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Photo of George Adam George Adam Scottish National Party

I was rather disappointed that Mr Whittle bragged about the time that he worked in Ayrshire, but that he did not talk about the time that he upgraded to the position of sprint coach of the mighty St Mirren.

As has been said, both clubs have won the Scottish cup three times and the league cup once. Although Kilmarnock FC is Scotland’s oldest professional club, it was not a founder member of the Scottish Football League, unlike St Mirren. When the SFL was inaugurated on 30 April 1890, it included two clubs from Paisley, one of which was Abercorn, for which my great-great-grandfather played centre half. Among the other original members of the SFL that are still in business are Dumbarton, Hearts and Celtic. There are some clubs that were in the SFL in that season that are no longer with us. Kilmarnock was a founder member of something called the Scottish Football Alliance, along with Ayr, which became Ayr United, and Morton, before they all ended up in the Scottish divisions.

The history of football is fascinating. As Willie Coffey mentioned, back then, the rules were not in place. If we looked at some of the football games that used to take place, we would think that they were rugby games. Kilmarnock and St Mirren both started as what would be recognised as rugby clubs. That is why Kilmarnock’s ground is still called Rugby park. St Mirren have been playing football since 1877, but the club was originally founded in 1876 as a rugby football club. In the year that Kilmarnock FC was formed, Ulysses S Grant was sworn in as the President of the United States and the University of Oxford won the first boat race. That shows what was happening in the world while we were just kicking a ball around a field.

We must remember the other people who have been involved in our great game. Hugh McIlvanney, who recently left us, was another Kilmarnock boy. He did his apprenticeship as a journalist at

The Kilmarnock Standard

. With typical wit, he once said of Newcastle United:

“People talk about Newcastle as a sleeping giant. They last won the championship in 1927 and the FA Cup in 1955. They already make Rip Van Winkle look like a catnapper.”

The teams of Willie Coffey and I have won competitions a lot more recently than Newcastle United. Perhaps our teams are just having a catnap and the glory days are just beyond the horizon.