Do You Remember ?
Alan Robertson played in 607 matches for Killie, to
become Killie's all time appearance leader. Here's a brief fact-file
Clubs: Troon Juniors.
Position: Right Back
Debut: Sept 30 1972 a 2-1 home win Vs Rangers.
Last Match: Oct 29th 1988 a 0-2 loss to St Johnstone
Goals: Nine of them.
Promotion winning Seasons:
1975/76, 1978/79, 1981/82,
Today: Is Killie's youth team coach and in 2004 led them to the Scottish
Youth Cup Final, where Killie beat Rangers
1-0 to lift the cup.
Dec 14th 2012 Kenny Shiels on Alan Robertson & Killie's Youth Development Program...
When Michael Johnston gave me the manager’s
job we never spoke about the youth development aspect. But I’ve always
been mindful of it in my coaching career.
Good management is leaving behind stability
and a legacy of players coming through. That’s exactly what I want for
So when I get fired, or whatever else happens to
me, the next man coming in inheriting something good.
Alan’s done a magnificent job with the
youths. He’s been given more of a key role while also being involved
closer with the first team players.
I need to utilise Alan’s skills. I don’t
know if that’s been done in the past.
But he’s a good judge of a player and also
has a good knowledge of the game.
Alan, of course, is also a great Kilmarnock
His association with this club as player and coach
speaks for itself.
He has massive integrity in how he works with young
players — and for me that’s a great attribute. I know he is someone I
can trust and that’s the key to any successful youth programme.
We have to manage our young players in a way
that makes them feel wanted. If they feel wanted then they express
themselves much more freely.
And these boys are expressing themselves at
Scotland under-16s: Devlin McKay, Dylan Poolar, Adam Hodge, Greg Kilte;
Scotland under-17-18: Matthew Kennedy, Robbie Muirhead, Mark O’Hara,
Chris Johnston, Rory McKenzie; Northern Ireland under-19,21: Rory
McKeown, Jude Winchester; Scotland full: Cammy Bell, Liam Kelly.
Extracted from The Killie Exile fanzine 1999
With the appointment of Alan Robertson to the full time position of youth
team coach, it is only fitting that we look back on a remarkable career,
which spanned seventeen years, from 1972 until 1989. During that time,
Alan set a record by making an amazing 607 appearances for the Club.
Alan was born on the 22nd September 1952 in Irvine. His football career
began with Eastercraigs Boys Club, before moving to Troon Juniors in May
1971. One year later, Alan joined Killie.
Little did he realise at the time, but his first season at the Club would
be dramatic. Still in the Killie squad were such famous names from the
glory days like Jackie McGrory and
Billy Dixon, as well as younger guys
like Eddie Morrison, Ian Fleming,
Ross Mathie and Jim Cook.
Alan Robertson had a dream debut for Kilmarnock on 30th September 1972.
Taking over from the injured Billy Dixon,
(left) Alan played his part in an
excellent 2-1 home victory against Rangers, with Eddie bagging a brace.
The Killie team that day was: Stewart, White, Robertson, Gilmour,
Rodman, Maxwell, Stevenson, Smith, Morrison, McSherry, Sheed and Cook.
Coincidently, it was also Jim Stewart’s first game for Killie.
Oddly, the Club sold Ally Hunter to Celtic for £40,000 at this time. Soon
after, Ross Mathie was sold to Dumbarton for £5,000. The decision returned
to haunt Killie, as one month later, the Boghead Battlers beat Killie 4-2
with the boy from Cambuslang scoring twice. Killie struggled through this
season of 72/73. Indeed many people still remember, the 2-2 draw with
Falkirk at home. This result meant that Killie plunged into the Second
Division for the first time in nineteen years. It was only eight years
since Killie had won the league.
73-74 Kilmarnock FC
As Killie began life in the Second Division, they still found it difficult
to find any consistency. After seven games Killie had won only three
times. The final straw was the 3-2 home defeat by Berwick Rangers. This
turned out to be Walter McRae’s (right) last game in charge. Walter had been
manager for five and a half years and attached to the Club for seventeen
years, which of course included being Killie coach when the Club won the
Championship in 1965. In the 3-2 home defeat, many fans still remembered
the glory days vividly and couldn’t accept the further indignation of the
home defeat. Scarfs were thrown onto the pitch as the fans made their
(left) took over the hot seat and no Killie fan will ever forget
his first game in charge. Alan Robertson was now a regular and had made
the left back position his own with a series of consistent reliable
performances. Fernie’s first game in charge against Airdrie set the tone
for the season; open attacking football. Eventual champions Airdrie were
over run 4-0, with some outstanding individual performances, most notably
from Jim McSherry.
The Killie team that day was: Stewart, White,
Robertson, McSherry, Rodman, Maxwell, Cook, Fleming, Morrison, Sheed and
Smith. The goals were scored by Maxwell, Fleming, McSherry and
Amazingly, Killie went the next fifteen games unbeaten, winning ten and
drawing five with Alan Robertson an ever present. In this run, Killie
Hammered Forfar 5-1 and Alloa 8-2! During this spell Killie were still
involved in the League Cup. They won their section, which included two 4-0
victories against Hamilton and East Stirling. In the next round they
defeated St Johnstone 3-1 after extra time. Killie met Albion Rovers in
the quarter finals.
On the 24th November 1973, Alan Robertson scored his first goal for
Kilmarnock. Killie came back from a 2-0 first leg defeat to hammer the
Lanarkshire outfit 5-2.
Eddie and Ian Fleming were also on the score sheet
as they continued their amazing prolific partnership.
Killie then met
Dundee in the twice postponed semi final, before going down to a Tommy Gemmill goal. Dundee would defeat Celtic in the final.
Killie’s fifteen game unbeaten run came to an end with a defeat from Raith
Rovers. No other team however, were able to stop the Rugby Park roller
coaster hurtling towards the First Division, as Killie remained unbeaten
until the end of the season. In the six game period between 27th March and
16th April Killie scored 22 goals, with Ian Fleming scoring two hat-tricks
and four braces! On Saturday 27th April 1974, Killie won promotion back to
the First Division with a 2-1 victory at home to Stirling Albion. Probably
no need to mention that Ian Fleming and Eddie Morrison
(below right) scored the goals.
So despite getting off to a poor start, Alan and his mates turned the
season round in impressive style. Willie Fernie’s men gained a reputation
for exciting attacking football. Indeed in the twenty seven league games
managed by Willie Fernie in his first season, the team suffered only one
defeat. Equally remarkably, the Morrison Fleming double act scored 65
goals between them. Would this open attacking football be found out in the
As the triumphant Killie team prepared for life in the First Division,
they did so realising if they didn’t finish in the top ten, they’d again
find themselves out of the top league. Scottish football, by way of
cutting out ‘meaningless matches’, decided to set up an elite and highly
competitive top league of ten teams.
In this season of 74/75, Alan Robertson, who had assisted in many of
Killie’s Second Division victories with his lung-bursting overlapping
runs, played in every game bar one, an excellent record of consistency.
Killie bounced back after a heavy opening day defeat at Parkhead to stuff
the Honest Men 3-0 at Rugby Park. Killie would go on to hold their own,
finishing mid table. Alas it was not enough to gain entry into the elite
league. Killie had to defeat Jim McLean’s Dundee United at Rugby Park in
the last game of the season to have any chance of qualifying.
Killie couldn’t live with Paul Sturrock and Co. Killie finished the season
in twelfth position. Killie were in effect relegated to the middle
‘league’ or First Division. One of the most memorable games from this
season was probably the 3-3 League Cup televised draw with Hibs. The
Killie team that September evening was: Stewart, Maxwell, Robertson,
I.McCulloch, Rodman, McDicken, McSherry, Fleming, Eddie, Sheed and Smith.
At the AGM in early 1975, chairman Bob Thyne announced the Club had
finished the promotion winning season £13,000 in the black. To stay in the
black, Killie would need to get out of the First Division, and fast! In
Killie’s first season in the new set up, Alan Robertson was again a model
of consistency. This was vindicated by the fact that he played in every
game of season 75/76. He played an amazing 42 League, League Cup, Scottish
Cup and Spring Cup matches. It was of course a successful campaign with
Killie finishing second to Partick Thistle.
The biggest game in this season was the Scottish Cup quarter-final against
Dumbarton at Boghead. The Sons beat Killie 2-1 with
John Bourke scoring
one of the goals. Ian Fallis scored the Killie goal. A few months earlier
Willie Fernie had done the unthinkable and sold
Eddie Morrison to Morton
for a small fee. Eddie’s last Killie goal was against Morton on December
27th 1975. Ian Fleming was sold to Aberdeen for £15,000! Stewart McLean
though, who had joined Killie the previous season, became Alan’s full back
partner. Big D began the season as centre half, before giving way to
Clarke, as the manager tried to find Brian Rodman’s central defensive
partner. We would need to wait a few seasons before Paul and Derrick
joined Alan Robertson and Stewart McLean as Killie’s legendary back four
The chairman was determined to keep Killie in the black in our first
season in the Premier Division. £30,000 was spent upgrading the
floodlights. Brian Rodman (left) was sold to Ayr United for £10,000, with Frank
Welsh taking over the central defensive role. Ground admission was
increased by 40% to 70p. Killie though would find it hard
going in the Premier League. Willie Fernie always said that part time
football was too big a handicap for Premier League survival. Killie’s
first ever Premier League fixture was against Motherwell at Rugby Park on
the 4th September 1976, watched by 5,163. The Killie team that day was;
Stewart, McLean, Robertson, Murdoch, Clarke, Welsh,
Provan, McCulloch, Fallis, Sheed and
Smith. Killie drew 1-1 with Paul Clarke
Killie’s first ever Premier League goal.
At the end of the season Killie would be relegated with only four league
victories. There were though a few high points from the campaign, most
notably the 6-1 annihilation of A*r United! Ian Fallis scored a hat-trick.
Alan Robertson scored two league goals in this season, one in a 2-1
victory against Hearts and the other in a fine 1-0 victory at home against
Rangers, watched by 8,037. Other high points was Alan Robertson playing in
every Killie game of this season 76/77. Jim Stewart made his debut for
Scotland in this season.
Season 77/78 would be remembered for being
both disappointing and
extremely sad. The popular Ian Fallis (left) was tragically killed in a car
crash. A benefit match was arranged with Rangers. The Ibrox club was
extremely helpful, sending Colin Stein on loan. Killie finished the season
in sixth place. The ‘Gordon Smith Affair’ occurred in August 77. The
selling of top Killie players continued to disappoint the fans as
McCulloch was sold to Notts County for £80,000 and a few months later
Stewart to Middlesborough for £100,000.
On December 10th 1977, Alan missed his first Killie game since Willie
game in charge on October 6th 1973! That’s 144 consecutive
league games spanning five seasons! Willie Fernie had been sacked after a
midweek home defeat by St Johnstone. Davie Sneddon
(right) took over in a
caretaker role, before the appointment was made permanent, although the
appointment was part time. In Willie Fernie’s 185 first class games in
charge, Alan Robertson would play in all of them, except one, the 2-2 home
draw with Arbroath on 30th November 1974. In the fixture congested season
of 76/77 he played in every game, all 47 of them.
Season 78/79 was the first season the legendary back four of McLean,
Robertson, Clarke and McDicken would line up together for a consistent
number of games. With Alan McCulloch recalled from his loan spell with
Alex Ferguson's St Mirren, the stage was set for a long and successful
season. Killie would return to the Premier League as runners up to Tommy
Gemmil’s Dundee. Of the forty-four games played in this season, the Killie
left back would miss only two of them.
Killie continued its selling policy when
Davie Provan (right) was sold to Celtic
for £125,000. Davie Sneddon was given money to spend though and he spent
wisely. Killie fan Jim Clark arrived from Stirling Albion and with John
Bourke arriving from Dundee United, Killie proved too good for their First
Division opponents. Remarkably, in Killie’s return to the Premier League,
Paul Clarke would again score in Killie’s opening fixture, this time in a
2-2 draw with St Mirren at Love Street.
From 29th December 1979 until April 5th 1980, Alan suffered his first long
term injury. He did however play in the epic 5-5 agg. (aet) draw with
Greenock Morton in the League Cup quarter final on the 24th November 1979.
In this season Alan played in the two home victories against Rangers. The
team set a record when they successfully maintained their Premier League
status, an excellent feat considering the Club was part time. The Club
wouldn’t repeat the feat for 13 years.
The following season Killie’s part time status would again prove too big a
handicap. Coupled with a lengthening injury list survival was too tall an
order. Indeed Killie never won a home game until 20th January 1981. Alan’s
name was added to the injury list on 29th November and he played no
further part in the season. Davie Sneddon was replaced as manager by Jim
In the new manager’s first season in charge, Killie would return to the
Premier League again for the third time in six years, finishing second to
Motherwell. Alan Robertson would play his part, playing in all 39 league
matches. Killie would enter the last game of the season one place below
Hearts and they needed to win by five clear goals, if Hearts
drew to win promotion. Killie won their game 6-0 against QOS, with Hearts
losing 1-0 to champions Motherwell.
Although entering the Premier League with confidence, the Premier League’s
elite clubs were arguably at their strongest, with Aberdeen, Dundee United
and the Old Firm all making an impact in Europe. Killie, again ravaged by
injuries, would only win three games all season, Alan, also injured, would
only play in one third of the league programme. Despite being such a
consistent performer, Killie was a part-time club and could hold no real
Premier ambitions unless they took the giant step forward to full-time
football. With little money, the Club continued to hold its own until the
fateful season of 88/89.
In October '84 Alan, in his eleventh year with Club, played under his
fifth manager when Eddie Morrison took over from Jim Clunie. He had now
played in one successful old Second Division and three successful First
Division promotion campaigns, totalling 321 games. On the 20th September
1986, in a league fixture against Brechin City at Glebe Park, Alan broke
through the Frank Beattie league appearance record when he made his 422nd
starting league appearance for the Club in a 2-2 draw.
Killie though began to struggle in the First Division. After only three
games of the 87/88 season, Alan’s testimonial year, there were
demonstration against the board. The board however had no money and
welcomed financial assistance if anyone was interested. A meeting was
arranged with supporters that attracted over 300 fans. Robert Maxwell was
approached but wasn’t interested (thankfully). Alan played in 27 of the 44
game league programme. He missed the last match with Partick Thistle, with
Killie winning 1-0 to avoid the dreaded drop to Division Two. Alan using
his wealth of experience, helped out as coach from May until December 88.
In August 88, Alan, one month short of his 36th birthday, had his
thoroughly deserved testimonial match. An excellent attendance of 9,649
turned out to pay tribute to a loyal servant. Killie played a full
strength Rangers side who won 3-1. An excellent testimonial sum of
£25,000 was raised. In the fateful season 88/89, Alan had a new manager,
his sixth, with Jim Fleeting taking over from Eddie Morrison. Alan’s last
match for Killie was on the 29th November 1988, in a league match against
St Johnstone. Shortly after he was freed. After an amazing 607
appearances, four relegations, four promotions, nine goals,
six managers, record league appearance holder, covering seventeen years,
Alan decided to hang up his boots.
The big man was an extremely reliable performer, who could play in either
full back position or central defence. He had excellent anticipation in
the tackle, always tackling strongly but fairly. He was always ready to go
on the overlap, providing Killie’s predatory strikers, especially in the
Fleming Morrison era, with lots of chances from his inch perfect crosses.
Many supporters always maintain that if the 79/80 side of
McLean, Robertson, Clark,
Maxwell, Gibson, Bourke,
Mauchlen and Street had the benefit of all the advantages that full time
football brings, Killie may have consolidated its Premier League position.
It wasn’t to be, but the era did provide some outstanding servants, none
more so than Alan Robertson.