Kilmarnock Football Club 150th Anniversary

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

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Photo of Willie Coffey Willie Coffey Scottish National Party

I congratulate Albion Rovers and all the community-based Scottish football clubs. They are usually very well run—in many cases better run than some of their bigger counterparts.

I was about to say that, on the fateful day of the 1920 final, one of the players in the Kilmarnock squad, Sandy Higgins, lost his father. Sandy senior was one of the great early players and he was the first Kilmarnock player to play for Scotland. A similar tragedy was to hit our club many years later, in 2012, which I will come to in a moment.

A second cup final victory was celebrated just a few years later, in 1929, when Kilmarnock beat the cup holders and league champions Rangers Football Club 2-0. Interestingly, one of the Kilmarnock heroes that day was the goalkeeper, Sam Clemie, who made save after save, even saving a penalty, to keep Killie in the game. At the celebrations later that night, big Sam was asked to make a speech. He told the audience that he could not make speeches but could save penalties, to a tumultuous roar from the fans. I fondly remember being lucky enough to see Sam Clemie’s medal from that day some years ago with my brother Danny and my dad.

For me as a young boy, the 1960s Kilmarnock team under manager Willie Waddell was a dream. Their first European match was against Eintracht Frankfurt EV in 1964 and, despite losing 3-0 in Germany and losing an early goal at Rugby park to make it 4-0 for the Germans, Kilmarnock went on to score five goals in what was one of the most incredible comebacks in European football. In that same season, Kilmarnock and Heart of Midlothian Football Club were fighting it out at the top of the league, and on the last day of the season, 24 April 1965, Kilmarnock won the championship. They had to beat Hearts at Tynecastle by two goals or more to win on goal average, and they did just that.