Mar 2012: Alan Mahood is well used to talking to the youngsters of Kilmarnock. However, the former midfielder may just find himself sought out by the first team members of the Rugby Park squad this week as they prepare for The Scottish Communities League Cup Final against Celtic.
Mahood, who wore the Killie blue and white jersey with great distinction for six seasons and played more than 150 games for the club, now works in the Ayrshire club’s Community Department that is situated right next to the home dressing room at Rugby Park.
If any Killie player wants to know what it is like to play in a League Cup Final, they can pop in and ask the now 38-year-old who started his career at Morton in 1988 before he went from Greenock to Nottingham Forest and then back before joining Kilmarnock.
“My career started off really well at Morton and I had the chance to join Rangers or Nottingham Forest when I was still very young. I opted to try my luck in England but the move and working under Brain Clough simply never worked out.
“I thought it was the better option at the time however, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I went back to Morton and started again. We won the Second Division Championship and were just pipped to the First Division the following season in a great three way fight with Dunfermline, who won it, and Dundee United who went up via the Play-Offs.”
The Greenock club was a breeding ground for talent at that time with Mahood saying: “We had guys like Derek Lilley, Craig McPherson and Derek McInnes playing for us. The Ayr United Manager, Brian Reid, had started out there as well but he had joined Rangers at the same time as I joined Forest.”
Mahood’s form saw him make the step-up to the SPL with Kilmarnock in 1998 for a six year spell and half-way through his time there, he made a Hampden appearance in the League Cup Final played in March, 2001 against Celtic.
“I had joined Killie the year after they had lifted the Scottish Cup against Falkirk at Ibrox,” said Mahood before adding, “So this game was a really big moment in my career.”
Unfortunately for Mahood and his team-mates, Celtic striker Henrik Larsson decided to make it a big moment in his career as well with Martin O’Neill winning the first trophy of his managerial reign at Parkhead when the Swedish striker hit a hat-trick.
Many observers at Hampden reckoned that Kilmarnock’s bright opening to the game ended when Ian Durrant (right) was substituted after picking up an injury during a goalless first half. Larsson netted from close range to open the scoring three minutes into the second period and Celtic recovered from the dismissal of Chris Sutton for a tackle on Gary Holt to score twice more. A deflected goal 16 minutes from time doubled Celtic’s lead and Larsson’s treble was completed by a solo effort with nine minutes left.
Mahood said: “We had a good experienced squad at the time but we lost something when Ian went off. We had been playing well and giving it a real go but it never worked out for us in the second half.”
Despite the scoreline, Mahood looks back on the day with some satisfaction as he said: “I will tell any of the players that ask this week to go out and enjoy the experience. Pay attention to what is going on as it goes past really quickly. You are training for the day and then before you know it, you are at the game and then the game is over. We took a big support up with us for that Final and it is not every day that clubs like Kilmarnock get to Finals so make the most of it.”
Mahood has other advice to give out as he said: “I will tell any of the players to ensure they do not come off the pitch with any regrets. You have to give it your all no matter the score. Enjoy the occasion as you never know if it will be your last Cup Final appearance.
“I played my first and last League Cup Final on the same day and players should treat it like that.”
Mahood left Rugby Park in 2004 and played one more season of football with a brief spell at St. Johnstone before returning to Morton for a third and final time before taking on a community role at Kilmarnock in 2007.
Alan as of 2016 now works along side Gus at Queens Park!