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Do You Remember ?

Tom Black 1991-96

Tom Black spent five years at Rugby Park, helping the team gain promotion to the Premier League. Many fans were annoyed with the way the club dismissed Tom but from his comments below, he took it all in his stride.

When and how did you get your break into pro football?

I first signed for Airdrie in 1978 after having a few trial games with them; I also had a trial with Rangers. After I signed for Airdrie, a few days later, Rangers wanted me to play another game ironically against Airdrie. So my first senior game was a reserve game against Rangers, which we just lost 10-0. A game I'll never forget.

 Who were your biggest influences?

My father and grandfather, especially my grandfather who was a professional footballer also. He played for Arsenal under Chapman.

 You came to notice at St.Mirren, was this a high spot in your career?

Yes it was as it got me into the Premier League where I always wanted to play.

 Any top memories whilst a 'Buddie'?

A memory that I will never forget was my last pre-season game at Love Street against Middlesbro. I went to receive a pass from Billy Davies and as I went to stop I tore my knee ligaments. So instead of making my debut at Ibrox on opening day I was sitting in the Stand.

 And of your time at Airdrie?

A happy memory from my time at Airdrie was when we beat Aberdeen 3-1 in the League Cup, not long after they had won the Cup Winners Cup against Real Madrid. Our manager at the time was Ally McLeod and Aberdeen's was Alex Ferguson.

 How did the move to Kilmarnock come about?

Davie Hay had just arrived at Love Street and he was clearing the place out to enable him to bring in his own players. In my case he had brought Mark Reid in to play left back. Davie told me he was his first choice. There wasn't a problem with that as he was honest enough to tell me. All I wanted was for him not to mess me about which he said he wouldn't and he kept his word.

Did you consider it a step up?

It was a case of one step back to go two steps forward. Once I had spoken to Jim Fleeting I knew exactly what the club where aiming for and I wanted to be a part of the club's success.

 Your recollections on the state of the club and the squad at that time?

The club was a sleeping giant but I didn't know too much about the players at that time.

 What of the Management?

I knew Jim Fleeting from my time at Airdrie and everyone knew Tommy Burns and also Jim McSherry.

 How did you feel you fitted in?

To be honest I struggled badly when I first arrived, not with the players but the way Killie played. Also the league they were in I found it difficult to adjust from the Premier.

 Do you think the fans took to you and did they give you a fair chance?

I think they were a bit unsure to begin with and I couldn't blame them as I was struggling early on.

 What of the Tommy Burns era?

MASSIVE. His presence at the club was unbelievable. The players had 100% respect for his ability to manage the club.

 Was this an exciting time at Killie?

Yes it really was. All the players understood what exactly Tommy was looking for in terms of players' performance. 

The match at Easter Road (0-0) to stay in the Premier League any memories?

The best was when the final whistle went. The 35 games prior to this had all come and gone and it all depended on this last game. It would have been devastating if we were relegated.

 

You scored a very 'Vital' goal the previous week against Rangers: any recollections of that goal?

In terms of my Killie career this would go down as the most vital goal I scored due to the fact that it gave us the one point cushion going into the Hibs game.

 Also this was the last game at the old Rugby Park.

 Your thoughts of the 'Burns to Celtic' fiasco, do you think he let Killie down?

I don't think so. To be honest everyone was well aware of his feelings for Celtic and that he would go there at some point. I was on holiday in Turkey when I read of Lou Macari's dismissal and I knew that when I got back we would have a new manager.

 How did the arrival of Alex Totten affect the squad?

We were on a pre-season tour of Ireland when Alex arrived. It was a case of trying to impress the new manager in these games.

 What was your relationship with Alex like?

We got on O.K. As with most players if you are selected to play then you won't have a problem with the manager.

 You won a number of 'Player of the month' awards during a purple patch of scoring. Were these highlights?

Yes. It was pleasing to receive them and at the same time it helped that I was scoring goals that gave Killie some valuable points.

 There seemed to be internal rows at the club early in Totten's reign. Eventually resulting in a weekend away to sort things out. How bad was it?

Not as bad as was made out in the press. We all went away to have a talk about our poor performances and to clear the air and iron out some of the problems that the players' had.

 Do you feel you played your best football while at Killie?

I do feel that I played some of my best football at Killie. Also some of the most enjoyable I have had in my career.

 I, like many others, felt you got a raw deal at the end of your time here. What happened? Were you bitter?

Just very disappointed. There were players who were not being retained who had been told on the last day of the season. I was not one of them. I came into the ground on Tuesday morning and was told then. I did not get the chance to say goodbye to the fans or the players, more so the players as I had spent five years with them.

 Did you watch in horror as Killie struggled to fill your left back position?

Not really. I had to put all that behind me. What I did find strange was the player they brought in was coming from reserve football in England. I felt that the step up to playing in the Premier league would be too much for the young lad. Although at no time did I wish any misfortune on the player.

 You scored in the semi-final replay against Rangers, was this special? Do you think Hateley's header crossed the line?

Yes it was. I had always wanted to play against Rangers at Hampden. To score made it more special to me. As for Hateley's header NO WAY did it cross the line. 

Was losing the replay a low point in your time at Killie?

It was a very low point. We were so near to the final but the boys went a step further a few years back.

 You seem to have found a new lease of life at Stranraer. How are things?

I am enjoying my football at the moment. It was nice to win the Challenge cup in my first season. The second season was even better as we went on to win the league, this after being second bottom in February!

 What of the future for Tom Black?

Who knows? I would like to stay in football once I stop playing, in about 10yrs.

 Your favourite Killie games in a) league b) cup c) other

My favourite were-

a) league- is the game against Rangers second last game of the season when I scored the winner.

b) cup- is also against Rangers in the semi-final replay. Not for the scoreline but to play Rangers at Hampden, it felt like the final itself.

c) There have been many games I have enjoyed. But to pick one it would have to be the game against Hibs last day of the season at Easter Road. The importance of the game and the celebrations at the final whistle. There have not been many happier times than when the final whistle went.

 Any lasting regrets?

Not being with the boys on their Scottish Cup Final day.

 How would you like to be remembered by the Killie fans?

That I was a player who had a part in the team that got us to the Premier League. And helped retain that position the following season. When I played I always tried my best for the club.

Any closing messages to the Killie fans?

Many thanks for your support over the five years I spent at Killie. The club will always have place in my heart. Hope the club has many happy years ahead.

Interview By Donny Muir

Do You Remember... These articles were extracted from the "KTS" (Kissin' the squirrels) KFC fan magazine and are the ownership of ; KTS, baz, & Killiefc.com. Unauthorized reproduction is not permitted without prior consent !

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