Killie Manager History    


  Take a look back from Willie Waddell in the 50"s, who brought the Scottish League title to Rugby Park... to ... Bobby Williamson, who led Killie back into Europe, and a Scottish Cup win...... Kenny Shiels, who brought us a 2012 League Cup triumph and of course our present manager ... Gary Locke.  
  Hugh Spence Promoted to team manager in the early 1920's from club secretary. A selection committee had previously picked the team in those days. Hugh previously had been an assistant manager with Glasgow Rangers. He led Killie to the 1928-29 Scottish Cup. Was fired in Dec 1937 after a string of bad results.  
  Jimmy McGrory 1937-40 A former Celtic great who scored 410 goals in 408 appearances. Jimmy was Killie's manager from 1937-1940 (World War II shutdown). Led Killie to the 1937-38 Scottish Cup Final. Went on to manage Celtic from 1945-65. Jimmy passed away in 1982.  
  Tommy Smith 1945-47  Managed Killie from 1945-47, and resigned due to ill-health, and the pressure of building a team from scratch after WW II.  
  Tom Mather 1947-48 Previously secretary with Bolton Wanderers & manager of both  Newcastle & Leicester, prior to managing Killie from 1947-48. Made little impact with Killie. Tom's claim to fame was introducing Stanley Matthews, with his first club Stoke City.  
  Alex Hastings 1948-50  A former Scottish international that had won the English League while with Sunderland as a player. Alex became the 3rd straight "dud" and lasted only 2 years between 1948-50.  
  Malky McDonald 1950-57  The only manager to have been the manager twice. Appointed in May 1950, led Killie to the Scottish League Cup Final as a Division "B" team. in 1953 Led Killie to promotion at the end of the 1953-54 season.

Then led Killie to the 1957 Scottish Cup Final, where favored Killie lost to Falkirk (after a replay).

Left after the Cup Final to accept the managers position with Brentford, where Malky had no success.

Do You Remember Malky McDonald

Willie Waddell 1957-65  Willie was appointed manager in July, 1957. He was one of the greatest wingers of all time, playing for Rangers and Scotland, and he led Killie to their greatest-ever triumph, the 1964-65 League Championship.

It was Waddell who introduced full-time football to Rugby Park, and the 60s were great years for the club, as the famous blue and white stripes were known throughout Europe and the USA. The championship victory in 1965 was all the sweeter as the club had been runners-up four times in the league, twice in the League Cup and once in the Scottish Cup final.

Willie Waddell had a strong personality and announced he was leaving the club at the end of the season in October, 1964 after a 5-2 victory over Celtic at Rugby Park, to pursue a career in journalism. He returned to football as manager of Rangers in 1969 and later became a director of the Ibrox club.

  Malky McDonald 1965-68  Took over for a second time, from Waddell in 1965 and was boss until March 1968 leaving the Board of Directors to appoint trainer Walter McCrae as the new manager.  Led the club to the European Fairs Cities Cup Semi Finals in 1968 (Vs Leeds Utd).

Do You Remember Malky McDonald
  Walter McRae 1968-73  Walter joined Killie as trainer in 1956 and was also the Scottish International team trainer for many years. Walter's training duties were filled by Hugh Allen (pictured left) who still helped in that role thru season 2001-02.A strict disciplinarian he formed a fine partnership with Willie Waddell and Killie were always reckoned to be the fittest side in Scotland. Walter was unfortunate during his time as manager, the club due to financial pressures decided to go from full time to part time. Walter left the club in 1973 and returned in 1980 as Secretary, before retiring in November 1991. Walter was awarded an OBE in 1992. Walter passed away in Sept 2006, aged 77 years old.

Do You Remember Walter McRae
  Willie Fernie 1973-77 Replaced Walter McRae as manager. Willie who had enjoyed a fine career as a player at Celtic, St Mirren and Middlesboro and also played twelve times for Scotland. Willie was coaching at Celtic at the time of his appointment, and he was a great advocate of open attacking football just like he played himself. During the promotion winning season of 1973-74 Fernie's Killie scored 96 goals. Fernie was known as one of the finest dribblers ever, sadly this is an art we seldom see in the modern game. Willie was first manager to take the club into the Premier League but the attacking gun' ho style of play did not work and the side were on the receiving end of many defeats. Willie was manager at Killie four years leaving in October 1977, Willie turned his back on football and for many years worked as a taxi driver in Glasgow. Willie Fernie was replaced as Killie boss by Davie Sneddon who had been his assistant for four years. Willie sadly passed away in June of 2011, a little over 3 weeks after the passing of Eddie Morrison.  
  Davie Sneddon 1977-81 Davie had been a great player with the club, scoring with a header on that great day at Tynecastle when the league title was brought to Rugby Park in 1965 (Here)

A quiet, unassuming type of manager, Davie took the club back to the Premier League, and one of his greatest triumphs was winning, against all odds, the
Tennent's Caledonian Cup pre-season tournament at Ibrox, fighting back from two goals down with minutes left and eventually winning on penalties. Davie left the club in January 1981, and was later manager of Stranraer for a good number of years, before returning to Rugby Park where he now works on match days in the club's hospitality suite

Do You Remember (or ken as Davie would say!) Davie Sneddon
  Jim Clunie 1981-84 Former Aberdeen and St Mirren centre-half Jim Clunie was appointed his successor in 1981. He had previously been coach at Southampton, and a very successful manager at Love Street. Jim was one of the first Killie managers to have a no 2, working with him. Davie Wilson (left). Jim was unable to halt the slide, and the team was relegated only for him to lead them back to the Premier League the following season with players like Brian Gallagher, John Bourke and Alistair McLeod among the leading goalscorers. The next season proved a bad one for Killie, and back in Division One in September 1984, Jim Clunie left the club to work in the local fire station where he was for many years before retiring in 1998.  Jim sadly passed away in May of 2003.  
  Eddie Morrison 1984-88 Appointed Killie Manager in October 1984 to replace Jim Clunie. Eddie Morrison was a braveheart as a player - the kind of guy you always wanted in your team and the old but true saying "Playing for the Jersey" certainly applied to him. As a Manager he felt passionately about the Club. He just failed to gain promotion and then just escaped relegation on the last day of the following season. Eddie rated defeat at Inverness as a real low point in his life. He left Killie with a sad heart in November 1988 and later became Assistant Manager at Morton. Eddie Morrison was and will always be one of the great Killie Legends.
sadly passed away in May of 2011, at the young age of just 63.

Do You Remember Eddie Morrison
  Jim Fleeting 1988-92 Kilmarnock Football Club was at a every low ebb with gates as low as 1,800 when new boss, Jim Fleeting, was appointed. Jim had been a player with Norwich City, Ayr, Morton, Clyde, a brief spell in the States with Tampa Bay Rowdies and, of course, Knockentiber. He came to Rugby Park after serving a short apprenticeship in management with Stirling Albion which proved to be very successful. Fleets swept into Rugby Park with great enthusiasm and although the Club were fighting relegation early on in the season, it was a bitter blow to lose out on the last day of the season. How many of you can remember winning 6-0 at Queen of the South in the last game of the season and sill going down? The team bounced back the following season with that never to be forgotten last game of the season when Davie MacKinnon's penalty against Cowdenbeath took Killie back to Division One. The Club never looked back from that day. Full time football was back and the inspired signings of Tommy Burns, who played magnificently for the cause, and a centre forward - one Robert Williamson from Rotherham who exhibited the same commitment as Eddie Mo', were to prove a major part in the revival of Kilmarnock Football Club. Killie did not gain promotion to the Premier League! Jim Fleeting left the Club in April 1992 to be replaced by Tommy Burns and another great chapter in Killie Managers began.  
  Tommy Burns 1992-94 Tommy was appointed manager in April 1992 by Jim Fleeting who pulled a masterstroke by signing him while Killie were still in the Second Division (don't I just love Jim Fleeting?) Tommy proved to be a brilliant signing for the club, playing a major role in our revival. He continued to play and brought former player Billy Stark back to Rugby Park as his assistant. Promotion to the Premier League was achieved in season 1992-93 with a 0-0 draw against Hamilton at Rugby Park before a crowd of almost 13,000.The following season the club retained their Premier status on the last day of the season with another 0-0 result. Tommy Burns  Killie sides were based on hard work, with one Bobby Williamson at times being a one-man forward line. Tommy's contribution to the Killie cause should never be underestimated. He joined the club in the Second Division as a player and left the club as manager of a team in the Premier League. It was very sad that Tommy left the club in the circumstances he did. When he left to join Celtic in the summer of '94, the very experienced Alex Totten took over the reins.
After Burns took the Celtic manager's job in 1994.he went on to only lose once in the 1995-96 league campaign, but still couldn't live with Rangers. Unsuccessful at Reading, Tommy became Scotland's assistant manager, under Berti Vogts, and worked in the Celtic youth set-up.
Thursday May 15th 2008, will sadly be remembered as the day that Tommy lost his battle against skin cancer. To a generation of Killie fans he will be remembered as one of the best players they ever saw don the stripes...RIP TB. Please find David Ross's tribute to "TB" - Here

Do You Remember Tommy Burns
  Alex Totten 1994-96 Alex had been manager of St Johnstone, assistant at Rangers, Dumbarton and East Fife. He first met with the Killie squad at the ground of Galway United on a pre-season Irish tour. He made various notable signings  including Paul Wright to add to the existing squad, and during his spell with the club, Rugby Park was transformed into the amazing new stadium you see today. Alex retained Premier League status for Killie during his first season, but was fired  in December 1996 after Killie went to the bottom of the SPL. Alex went on to join Falkirk whom he had managed previously. It was an amazing coincidence that Totten was to lead Falkirk to the 1997 Scottish Cup Final  the very same season, to be met by a Killie side led by Bobby Williamson. Some of the memories of that great day will be the sight of Alex in his kilt leading out his Falkirk players, and how their supporters made it a real family final.  
  Bobby Williamson 1997-2002 Bobby was appointed boss after a brief spell as caretaker. This was a popular decision with the supporters, and after only a short spell at the helm, the Scottish Cup returned to Rugby Park, European football was back Bobby went on to take Killie into Europe 4 out 5 seasons and a second major Cup Final appearance, the CIS in 2000-01. Kilmarnock also had several Scottish Internationalists during Bobby's reign: Ian Durrant, Ally McCoist, Gary Holt & Andy McLaren. By Feb 2002 Bobby was  the SPL's longest serving manager, and despite having signed a contract extension months earlier, he resigned that month to take the vacated Hibernian job. ..."Everybody has been saying that we have all got a shelf life in the game. Sometimes it is better moving on your own terms and I felt it was time to move on. Maybe the fans were getting fed up of my big fat face. It might be good to have someone new in. "... Bobby Williamson Feb 25th 2002.

Bobby subsequently left Hibs in Apr 2004 for Plymouth. Bobby was then fired after a few weeks of the 05-06 season, by Argyle. Has been managing in Africa most recently.

Do you remember Bobby leaving & JJ arriving?
- Here

Do you Remember Bobby Williamson ? Here  

Jim Jefferies 2002-2010 Jim was appointed along with Billy Brown (left) on Feb 28th 2002.  "We've all got the same aim, we're not all on different wave-lengths, we're all sharing the same cause and that's to get Kilmarnock up there challenging, making them a big club."

His first decision was to ask Ian Durrant to join his coaching team. His first match was a 3-2  come from behind win over Dundee, with Jim putting on super-sub Andy McLaren. to score two super goals ! In 2002-03 Jim led Killie to 4th place SPL finish & a record number of points...57.


Jim had previously brought an end to years of trophy-less disappointment at Tynecastle when he shrewdly-assembled Hearts won the 1998 Scottish Cup. That secured him a job with Premiership Bradford, but he has been most impressive when working within limited budgets. Prior clubs managed Berwick, & Falkirk.
In Aug of 2004 Jim was awarded a 3 year contract extension taking him through 2007, he then rewarded Jim Moffat's faith with a 1-0 win Hibs on the opening day of the 04-05 season. 
In Jan of 2006 both Jim &
Billy Brown (left) signed new contracts keeping them in charge, at Rugby Park through 2009. The management team that year (2005-06) guided Killie to a "top 6" SPL finish, and did not lose to a team below them all year in the league!

Jim celebrated his 2,000th day in charge of the Killie on Aug 21st 2007, with Killie tied for 2nd in the SPL after 3 matches of the 07-08 season -

Jim Jefferies won the Clydesdale Bank Premier League manager of the month for August 2008, after an unbeaten (& un-scored upon) start to the 08-09 season!


In Sept 2008 Kilmarnock manager Jim Jefferies has agreed a contract extension which tied him to the Rugby Park club until 2012.

Killie Chairman Michael Johnston said of JJ....  "It's been a great start to the season and hopefully this is more good news for the supporters, I'm a great believer in stability. I have never had any doubt about Jim and (assistant) Billy's (Brown) abilities to get the best out of the squad. They have shown that over the years since they came here in 2002. We had a bit of a blip last year but that was principally down to a succession of injuries, keeping out key players at important times. We strengthened the squad and we have had a good start, so everything is back on track."

Monday 11th Jan 2010: Kilmarnock FC released a press statement confirming the termination of both Jim Jefferies & Billy Brown's contracts by mutual consent. This came after a run of 9 SPL matches that saw Killie only win 1 match (including a home loss to bottom of the table Falkirk), and saw Killie slump to 11th position in the SPL. There also was the issue of club capt Kevin Kyle telling the press that he had been approached by Killie Chairman Michael Johnston to discuss team tactics (allegedly behind JJ's back) adding fuel to the fire.

  Jimmy Calderwood Jan-May 2010 - Jimmy accepted the Killie manager job on Jan 14th 2010, on an interim basis through the end of the 2009-10 season.
He won five of his first nine matches in charge of the club, including the memorable
1-0 defeat of Celtic on the evening Robbie Keane made his debut for the Parkhead men, but was unable to maintain that impressive early momentum. Kilmarnock managed just two more victories in their next 12 games under Calderwood, the last of them a crucial 2-1 success against Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the penultimate fixture of the campaign which proved critical to their survival.  His final match in charge of Kilmarnock, a 0-0 draw at home to Falkirk, where Killie preserved their top-flight status as they finished the SPL campaign two points ahead of their visitors. But while Calderwood achieved the minimum requirement made of him by Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston when he was appointed, his brief spell in charge neither damaged or enhanced his reputation. 

Calderwood confirmed
on May 31st 2010 he would not be returning to manage the club for the forthcoming season..... "I couldn't fulfill my ambitions under those financial limitations, To be honest, it was more to do with the budget and Sandy (Clark) leaving, To have a fighting chance of making the top half of the table, the budget wasn't enough. It would have made it very difficult to do that and take it on to another level."
  Mixu Paatelainen June 2010-Mar 2011 On June 23rd 2010: Mixu Paatelainen joined Kilmarnock as their latest manager, agreeing a two-year deal with an option for a third. He became Killie's first foreign boss! The 43-year-old former Finland international has been out of football for over a year, having left his post at Hibernian in May 2009. His first taste of management came with Cowdenbeath in August 2005 and he went on to win the Division Three title at the first time of asking. In October 2006 he resigned his post at Central Park to take over at TPS Turku and steered the Finnish side to a third place finish before moving again to Edinburgh.

As of Jan 3rd 2011 Mixu after a slow start had steered Killie all the way up to 4th in the SPL, taking 10 out 12 points in Killie's most recent 4 matches, with the only dropped points being at Parkhead, resulting in Mixu being named SPL Manager of the Month for Dec 2010.

On Mar 31st 2011
Mixu Paatelainen resigned from Killie to take the Finland National Team job. Chairman Michael Johnston then named his assistant Kenny Shiels as first team boss thru the remainder of the 2010-11 season. Johnston said.... "Seldom can a manager have achieved legendary status in eight months and the fans slogan "in Mixu we trust" says it all."   Mixu left Kilmarnock with the club sitting fifth in the SPL, and a first top 6 SPL finish in 4 seasons.

In May 2011 the SPL recognised Paatelainen's efforts by naming him 2010-11 SPL Manager of the Year.
  Kenny Shiels Apr 1st 2011- June 2013. Kenny Shiels left his post as head of youth at Tranmere Rovers to become assistant to Mixu Paatelainen in June 2010. When Paatelainen moved on nine months later, Shiels was promoted to the manager's post on an interim basis before being given the post in the summer of 2011, bringing in Jimmy Nicholl as his assistant.

In Shiels' first full season in charge, Kilmarnock finished seventh, and had
his biggest achievement when Killie stunned the Hoops with a 1-0 win to claim the 2012 Scottish League Cup. He then led the club to back-to-back victories over Rangers in 2012 and secured the club's first victory at Celtic Park in 57 years in October of that year.
However, a clause in a contract agreed with chairman Michael Johnstone allowed the club to dismiss him if they failed to finish out of the top flight's bottom four, which happened at the end of Season 2012-13, where Killie finished 9th losing 4 of their last 5 SPL matches. Chairman Johnston also cited difficult relationship between Kenny and the Scottish FA which resulted in several touch-line bans.
Kenny said upon his departure from Killie... "I'm heartbroken but that is football. It's hard to take but I will just have to get on with it and try and get another job somewhere. I think I've left Kilmarnock in really good shape. We have got stability and I've built the foundations. But I feel that I've been the victim of falling in love with the football club. I tried to over protect the club and that was my biggest weakness. I just want to apologise to the supporters for that. I treated the club like my family and I love my family. I loved the football club too. I didn't set out to harm the club but as I tried to protect it from what I felt where injustices, I became a victim of that. The chairman was good enough to give me the opportunity to manage the oldest club in Scotland and it was an honour to manage a fantastic club. It's been something I will treasure the rest of my life. I feel in love with it too much and that was my weakness. I want to thank Michael for the opportunity to manage the club because without that opportunity I wouldn't have had some great experiences."

Jimmy Nicholl resigned his assistant role (to join the Hibs backroom staff) early June 2013 without being interviewed for the managers job.
  Allan "Magic" Johnston June 2013- Feb 2015 (Contract would have expired May 2015).

On June 25th 2013 Kilmarnock chairman Michael Johnston announced
Allan "Magic"Johnston (who was voted the PFA Scotland manager of the year while with QotS) would become Killie's next manager.

 "Allan's had a very illustrious career as a player.
One of the big attractions for me was the fact that he played 115 games at Kilmarnock over a five year period. Everybody's got good memories of his time here" said Michael Johnston. 

It took to two 1-0 wins (over the Buddies (H) & Hibs (A) thanks to Kris Boyd on both occasions) for Killie to avoid the dreaded relegation playoffs for season 2013-14.

Magic's No 2 was Sandy Clark
who had work with Magic at QotS. This was Clark's second spell at Rugby Park as a number 2 having previously worked under Jimmy Calderwood, some 3 years earlier. Clark resigned his position in May 2014, which allowed Gary Locke to return to Rugby Park in July of 2014.

On June 20th 2014 Chairman Johnston on Gary Locke Returning to Rugby Park ....
 "I'm delighted to welcome Gary back to Rugby Park. He was a  very popular figure and a great leader in the dressing room during his seven years as a player with Kilmarnock and those qualities, together with his recent management experience in the Premiership, made him our principal target for the post of assistant manager.
Allan Johnston and Gary have spent many years together as youth and senior players in the past and share a mutual understanding of what's required to bring success to Rugby Park. They are both winners by nature - every match will be a contest they want to win."

Despite losing Boyd (back to Rangers) Killie made a much improved start to 2014-15. Killie beat Dundee Utd (who were looking to go to the top of the table) in early Oct 2-0 at Rugby Park on a nationally televised Friday night match at Rugby Park, to go 4th! Magic was then named manager of the month for Sept 2014.

Unfortunately the Arabs home win was to be the "high-point" in Johnston's final season as Killie slumped from 4th to 8th taking only 11 points out of 14 matches with only a mere 4 points being picked up from 7 home matches.

On Feb 5th 2015 ... After Killie had sold Robbie Muirhead to Dundee Utd, right at the transfer deadline on Feb 2nd, (unknown to Magic) Johnston
 told the press that he would quit as Kilmarnock boss at the end of the season. Johnston made up his mind just seconds before his weekly press conference and he revealed he has yet to tell the players or chairman Michael Johnston of his decision. 

Magic said .."There is a new chairman coming in and it is important there is a freshness about the club and it is time to move on anyway. Until then I will give 110 per cent. It is a good club and it is important we finish the season strongly".

On Feb 6th 2015 ... Killie and Allan Johnston parted ways, with Killie appointing Johnston's no 2 Gary Locke as interim manager (with Alan Robertson named as Locke's no 2).

Do you Remember Allan "Magic" Johnston ? Here  
  Gary Locke Feb 2015 - Present,  On Feb 6th 2015 ... Killie name Gary Locke to succeed and Allan Johnston on an interim basis through the end of season 2014-15.  Locke then takes 10 points from 7 matches and  on Mar 22nd 2015 is named permanent manager ..."Im be over the moon to get it as it’s something I’ve worked hard towards.  I had a taste of it (management) at Hearts and really enjoyed it. I’m fortunate I was put into this position at a great club. It’s a fantastic opportunity".
Locke loses his first 6 matches in a row (7 in total, (as he lost his last match at Ross Co while interim manager)  the worst run in club history), before picking up his first win, at Partick 4-1, to ensure Killie's survival in Scotland's top flight for a 24th consecutive season.

  The final word of this feature is left to former manager Bobby Williamson, who said: ...."Every manager has played his part in the revival of this club in some way or another. So have the players, directors and, most importantly, the supporters." This is what makes Kilmarnock Football Club so special."  


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