Killie entered the 1964-65 season having been runners up 4 out of the prior 5 seasons!! The 1963-64 champions were Rangers, and they were favorites to retain their title. How would Killie fair in season 1964-65? On their books were 18 full time professionals & 7 part-timers, managed by Willie Waddell (in his seventh season) and trained by Scotland trainer Walter McRae. Admission prices were 4 shillings (20p) for the terracing for adults and 1 shilling and six pence for children, although many back at that time got a "lift-over" the turnstyles for free.
Killie Pack Their Bags For Germany
Killie open Aug with League Cup action playing 6 cup matches, plus their league "opener". Killie finish 2nd in their group behind Celtic, with 3 wins, 2 draws and a loss. Killie are drawn against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Fairs Cities Cup (now the UEFA Cup). Killie did get their league campaign off to a winning start against Third Lanark 3-1, in what turned out to be their last visit to Rugby Park. They were to be relegated that season, and subsequently went broke.
Headlines Say It All About Killie!
To start Sept Killie make their European debut and get thumped in the Fairs Cities cup and lose 0-3 to the Germans in the first leg. Not the result manager Waddell was looking for, and he received much cricism for his attempted continental tactics. This European setback did not deter Killie's tremendous league campaign start. Four straight wins were recorded in Sept, all without conceding a goal. St Mirren (A) 2-0, Airdrie (H) 2-0, St Johnstone (A) 1-0, Dunfermline (H) 1-0. The Pars home win was notable for teenage winger Tommy McLean making his league debut, but only after he'd also played his part in what many consider to be Killie's finest win of all time, the 5-1 home leg demolition of Eintracht, after being 0-1 down (& 0-4 down on aggregate). Take a moment to visit the "classic match" report to capture the magic of Sep 22nd 1964!
Forsyth Plays For Scotland!
Killie went to Easter Rd to start the first of 5 league fixtures for Oct. A Ronnie Hamilton double helped Killie pick up a 2-1 win, which was followed up by disappointing home 0-0 draw with Partick. Still 13 out of 14 possible points (2 pt's for a win) was a dream start for Killie's title aspirations. A great comeback at Dundee, after trailing at the half, saw Killie win 3-1, was followed up with an all out attacking display in crushing Celtic 5-2 at Rugby Park in front of more than 19,000. Jackie McInally was to be the hero the following the week in scoring the only goal in a 1-0 away win over Dundee Utd. Before the Celtic game manager Waddell tells the club that he intends to retire from football management at the end of the season. Also in Oct Jackie McGrory (right) is called up into the Scotland team, and plays along side team mate Campbell Forsyth in a 3-1 World Cup qualifier win at Hampden.
At the end of Oct Killie were in 1st place with 19 points from 10 matches, 2 points ahead of Hearts in 2nd place.
Harvey Scores For Everton Vs Killie at Goodison
Killie start Nov hosting 3 straight matches. A 1-1draw at home to Motherwell was followed by a 0-2 loss to Everton in the Fairs Cities Cup. Then it was champions Rangers turn to come calling and Frank Beattie's only goal of the season helped Killie get a 1-1 draw in front of over 32,000. Jim Baxter had opened the scoring for Rangers. Killie were then held to their 3rd straight 1-1 draw up North at Aberdeen, then 2 days later Killie exited the Fairs Cities Cup in Liverpool 1-4 at the hands of Everton. Killie regroup to finish the month with an away win at Shawfield and go on to beat Clyde 2-1.
At the end of Nov Killie had fallen into 2nd place with 24 points from 14 matches, tied on points with Hearts and trailing by goal average.
Cruickshank Tips Over A Shot For Hearts
December got off to a bright start with McInally & Sneddon scoring for Killie in a fine 2-0 home win over Falkirk. The following week however was a different story as Killie come crashing down to earth with a 1-5 thumping at Morton. Jackie McGrory was missing and Ton's Allan McGraw ran riot netting 4 times. Next up would be front running Hearts who were still unbeaten, coming to visit Kilmarnock. The league leaders were well beaten 3-1 with the all important goals coming from McIlroy, Sneddon, & Hamilton. Hamilton's goal would also be telling coming the final fixture of the season when Killie needed overcome a 2 goal average deficit on their way to clinching the title. Hearts Rugby Park "hoodoo" continued having not won in Ayrshire since 1955!
Killie finish the year in fine form with a great Boxing Day 4-0 win over Third Lanark. (prog right)
Killie start the year in first place and with Rangers form being indifferent Killie were starting to emerge as fav's. But Jan & Feb were to change all that. Did they choke, was the pressure to much for them? After a 4-0 New Years day thrashing of St Mirren Killie hit the skids particularly away from Rugby Park! On Jan 2nd a 1-2 loss at Airdrie was followed up goal-less home draw with St Johnstone. Worse was to follow as Killie lost the next 2 at East End Park and Firhill both 0-1.
It was Scottish Cup time to open Feb, and Killie thumped Cowdenbeath 5-0 at home with McInally getting a "hat-trick". However the following week Killie crashed to their first (& only) home loss of the season 1-4 at the hands of Dundee. (Dundee also in Feb beat Hearts 7-1 in a game that helped Killie's goal av cause Vs Hearts) Killie did regroup and took care of Hibs at home in a cracking 4-3 home win, and reached the quarter-finals of the cup also, after dispatching East Fife 3-0, at Rugby Park in a replay of a goal less first tie. Two trips to Parkhead now face Killie, first in the league where we lost 0-2, and the cup to start March. This was Killie's 4th straight defeat away from Rugby Park!
At the end of Feb Killie had fallen into 4th place with 35 points from 26 matches, Killie trailed leaders Hearts by 2 points. The Pars & Hibs were in 2nd & 3rd also on 35 points.
Killie Crash Out Of The Cup at Parkhead
Killie lost 2-3 at Parkead in the cup, and something needed to be done to stop the rot!
Enter 2nd string keeper Bobby Ferguson. (right) Bobby played in the last 8 league matches of the season, having 4 clean sheets, and helped Killie collect 15 out of a possible 16 points. Dundee Utd were beaten 4-2 at Rugby Park, and then the rejuvenated Killie then won 2-0 at Fir Park (right), before succumbing to a late controversial penalty at Ibrox allowing the home team to pick up a point in a 1-1 draw.
Killie finish up March with 3-1 home win over the Dons.
McIlroy Scores The Championship Winner
Killie enter the home stretch trailing Hearts by 3 points, and there could be no further slip-up's for Killie to have any chance! Two tense 1 goal victories were picked up over Clyde 2-1 (H) & Falkirk (A) 1-0. Prior to the season finale (at Tynecastle) Morton had to come calling, and Killie riding a 6 game unbeaten streak were looking to avenge their earlier Cappielow result. A Bertie Black double helped Killie to notch a 3-0 win.
On April 24, 1965, Killie headed to Tynecastle with all the odds were stacked against them. They were two points behind their rivals on 48 pts to Hearts 50pts with goals average reading 1.81 and 1.91. The goal average was calculated on the number of goals scored divided by the number of goals conceded.
Kilmarnock had to win, and away from home, by two goals to take the league flag to Ayrshire for the first time.
Win they did, brilliantly, bravely, skillfully, as David Sneddon and Brian McIlroy scored the most vital goals in the history of the club. Then of course there was Bobby Ferguson's title winning save near the end....all magical!
Dreams had come true.
Kilmarnock Football Club were the champions of Scotland.