Season 2018-19

Season Diary

July 31st 2018... Here we go again! Not much to report on the signings front as Steve Clarke concentrated on consolidating the squad we had to give us a level of consistency. Ndjoli has been loaned in for six months and seems to have a bit of pace about him, and goals. Millen was brought in as cover for internationalist O’Donnell, but we have not really seen enough of him to pass judgement. Mulumbu remains unattached although he is rumoured to be training with Sunderland (who isn’t these days?) and the manager remains, quite rightly, tight lipped about anyone he is trying to sign, although midfielder Diego Poyet still seems to be training with us. We’ve had a slow start but topped our group in the League Cup and I remain confident that Clarke will continue to get good performances and results from whoever he selects. If you don’t have your season ticket yet now is the time to get it…Killie are back.

August 7th 2018... It has been nine years since we took all three points from our opening fixture and despite a slow start on Saturday we reversed that trend in style. The goal, as ever, came from Boyd, only it was defender Scott this time and not Boomer who stuck it away. Ndjoli entered play as a substitute late in the game and scored a sublime effort to seal the win but really it could have been more. We go into week two sitting fourth in the table…or joint top as I like to see it, only one goal off the pace. It looks like we will be signing Austrian goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann from Watford this week but so far there has been no other transfer news; he is only 24 so maybe Steve Clarke sees him as an understudy and not just a back-up to Jamie MacDonald. Remember if you sign up for the Trust or subscribe to TIK before the Hearts game you can win a signed Jamma top!

August 14th 2018... You know my mantra by now, any point away from home is a good point, whether it is a good game or not. If the Chris Burke effort had gone in we would be up there with Hearts, but it is still good to be second equal and undefeated going into next week’s cup match against that new lot from Glasgow. News of Lee Erwin heading to Iran came as a bit of a shock but understandable if the reported wage increase is true. He has a fantastic first touch and I think he still has unfinished business at Rugby Park, so if he leaves then it is with our best wishes and hopefully we might see him back one day. I hope Eamon ‘the Wolf’ Brophy now gets a more sustained run in the team…the wee man shoots on sight and seems liable to score at any time. That said, I have no doubt that Steve Clarke may still have an ace up his sleeve.

August 21st 2018... A bad day at the office on Sunday and as much as I feel that we held our own for the most part, we probably did not deserve to go through on the day. You can’t win them all unfortunately, and as tough as it is to take it on the chin from the new kid on the block, we just have to pick ourselves up and move on. Social media can be a great thing, the number of debates started and problems solved on the Kickback forums are too numerous to mention, but some fans just take it too far. The players will be the first to admit they didn’t perform as well as we know they can but they don’t need some muppet on Twitter telling them they are not even trying. Jordan Jones had two to three players on him all day, and the one time he got through the ball ended up in the net. Killie fans want him to stay, slating him on a public forum where he engages with fans will not help matters…how about showing some support when we’re down?

August 28th 2018... Saturday’s match must go down in the win Collum, for Willie and his ego. Having seen the Gary Dicker incident again I am still clueless as to how that could be construed as a red card offence, yet their goalkeeper lifting his hands and shoving a player over in the box was deemed only worthy of a chat. There are too many other instances to mention, for and against us to be honest, a draw would have been a fairer result in my eyes. In general terms we still seem to be lacking creativity in the midfield areas which is curtailing opportunities up front, the goals are drying up. We know we have the backbone of a good team but the addition of a Mulumbu type player could make a huge difference. Clarke has a real job on his hands persuading players to come here with our pitch and wage budget, we can but hope that his reputation will swing a few deals our way again.

September 4th 2018... What a difference a week makes as a refereeing decision goes our way, we have signings galore and we managed a win in the Granite City for the first time in years! With Kris Boyd benched, Eamonn Brophy led the line and was judged to have been impeded early doors, which saw us with a numerical advantage for the wolf’s share of the game. The wee man stroked home a free kick to put us one up and things never looked back. Aaron Tshibola, midfield controller, deputised well for the suspended Gary Dicker and fellow ‘new’ signing Greg Stewart doubled our advantage in the second half with a contender for goal of the season on the counter attack. Steve Clarke showed his contempt for the SFA and their disciplinary panel during the week and next in the firing line was our Aberdeen hoodoo, which was also blown away. A big up to the board, the manager, the players and the travelling fans…good to be a Killie.

September 11th 2018... It is good to be able to talk about our own players on what is usually an international break for us. Stephen O’Donnell featured in both Scotland’s matches, starting against Albania and was arguably one of the best players on the pitch. I will be very surprised if he has not done enough to retain his place for the Israel game. We had a lot of fans worried about the lack of signings during the transfer window but it would appear that the wealth of talent Steve Clarke now has at his disposal should dispel their fears. We have not even seen some of the new players yet, and both Jack Byrne and Bright Enobakhare come with impressive reputations. With Greg Kiltie, Dom Thomas and Rory Mackenzie also knocking on the manager’s door again, the competition for places is intense. We could struggle a wee bit for a centre half at times but I am sure Clarke will address that in January. It looks like the fears of Boydie's testimonial dinner turning into a Sash Bash were unfounded, which can only auger well for the match to follow. Fans were understandably concerned when the dinner was scheduled to be held in Glasgow and one of the nominated charities was a Rangers one, but reports coming in are favourable from anyone who was there.

September 18th 2018... We have complained that much about refereeing and decisions by the SFA of late that I am starting to wonder if we are becoming paranoid or they are all out to get us! Maybe we should not bother playing matches and allow someone at the SFA to decide who is getting the points…Saturday being a case in point. It was a great first half of football, full of highs and lows, but the outcome was settled by a dodgy penalty against us and then not getting a decision at the other end. Fair play to Hibs they are a good side and Mallan is quality addition for them, but we have enough quality of our own to be winning such matches and it is frustrating when we end up feeling cheated. We will win more games than we lose playing like that and it is great to be able to feel that Sunday’s game against Celtic is not a foregone conclusion. It will be tough, but I have faith that we have the players to get a result.

September 25th 2018... It appears that my faith paid off in no uncertain terms due to a manager who knows what he is doing and a squad that just won’t give in. We are now unbeaten against the champions in four consecutive matches for the first time since the sixties and for the first time in years the league is looking interesting. I had a good feeling when the ‘Trust in Killie’ History Board was unveiled before the match by Steve Clarke and Trust Chairman Jim Thomson declared that this was only the beginning and better was still to come. And so it did. Aaron Tshibola proved that the manager had opted for the right #27 to sign and Mulumbu blotted his copybook with our fans with a petulant display that saw our respect for him rapidly diminish. It hard to single out players when you put in such a good team performance but Chris Burke was also outstanding, what a work ethic he has, and Stuart Findlay could be the shrewdest signing Clarke made this summer. Their goals were just reward for the effort they put in and their determination to get a result for the mighty was an inspiration to their team mates and the fans watching as well. We saw the best and worst of the Celtic support as they joined with us in a tribute to Tommy Burns in the 51st minute, and then threw smoke bombs on that damaged the pitch and proceeded to wreck seats again. With shocking referees and no control over the so-called big teams…the SFA are a joke.

October 2nd 2018... (Killie Hippo Writes) In times gone by Killie's epic win over Celtic would have been followed by a disappointing result against a lesser team but our famous old club under Stevie Clarke is a different animal. Yet again we went a goal down but the spirit and belief is there for all to see and once Jamie MacDonald made a game changing penalty save the outcome appeared almost inevitable. Greg Stewart was a shining light and if he stays fit will play a huge part in what could be a season to remember for Killie fans. The squad seems as strong as ever and with guys like Ndjoli, Boyd, Dicker and Kiltie not even starting we have good quality competition for all positions. The fans have their part to play so I'd urge them to get along in decent numbers and support the best Killie team in many a long year.

October 9th 2018... I was offered the chance to accompany Director Cathy Jamieson to Dundee on Saturday due to several other people being on holiday, I’ve never accepted a freebie for Rugby Park but I was not going to say no to a ticket to an away match! It was a strange situation indeed but offered a slightly new perspective on the game and my immediate reaction is…what a fantastic travelling support we have! I can see how the players and directors really appreciate it. So Killie, not having to get out of second gear, win again. Steve Clarke has installed a winning mentality that the players and fans have all bought into. It was clear that Dundee tried to play the ball away from Aaron Tshibola whenever possible and the big man’s frustration led to the incident at the second penalty…not pretty, but to me it shows that everyone is just desperate to play their part. Jordan Jones has had a few critics this season but unfairly if you ask me. Think about it this way, he was a stand out in a poor team, now he’s just fitting in with a team who have improved to his level so he doesn’t’ stand out quite as much. He has not regressed, everyone around him has just got better! The third Kilmarnock FC Hall of Fame Dinner is this coming Friday (12th October) and tickets are still available. A table of 10 costs £500 with the event starting at 7pm. To book for more information please contact – The Killie Shop 01563 545310 or Thanks to Hippo for filling in last week…teamwork, it’s how we do things at Killie.

October 16th 2018... Gordon Simpson has provided us with some Killie related international stats which I thought worth sharing with no match this week…Joe Nibloe (1929-32) is our most capped Scottish player with eleven, he made five consecutive appearances twice. Bobby Ferguson played six consecutive, with Stephen O’Donnell equalling that last weekend. Ian Durrant made five consecutive appearances in 1999. The most Kilmarnock players capped by Scotland in a single match is three, Mitchell, Agnew & Templeton v Ireland (A) 1908. There is several instances of two: Orr & Campbell v Wales (H) 1892, Mitchell & Templeton v Ireland (A) 1910, Nibloe & Morton v Netherlands (A) in 1929, Forsyth & McGrory v Northern Ireland (H) and Finland (H) both 1964, Ferguson & McGrory v Portugal (H) 1966, Dickson & McLean v N Ireland (A) and Wales (H) both 1970 and McCoist & Durrant v Estonia (H) 1998. Alexei Eremenko played for Finland in nine consecutive internationals although technically he was a Metalist Kharkiv player. Josh Magennis made five consecutive appearances for Northern Ireland in 2015.

October 23rd 2018... Killie pick up where we left off prior to the international break with yet another league win. I am starting to think that we should just allow our opposition to score first every week as that is now four in a row of going behind and then taking all three points! Over 1,600 fans in the away end, some in hospitality (the Howard lot) and no doubt some in the home end sitting on their hands enjoyed the occasion to the max and were rewarded with a second half performance worthy of the win. Our fans really seem to be buying into the Steve Clarke effect as much as the players, and tickets were like gold dust as match day approached. Now we have to reach out to all those lapsed and potential fans to start coming to Rugby Park and getting the numbers at home up so we can get some cash in and give the manager options in the next transfer window.

October 30th 2018... I am trying hard to think of something nice to say about Hamilton, but they are a horrible lot and offer nothing to the league. I have seen Ross County bring more fans to Rugby Park! This may sound like sour grapes as our winning streak was halted, but fair play to Hamilton, they dug in and got the result they came for. They never even started time wasting until they scored half an hour in, which is twenty minutes later than usual. We huffed and puffed but never really looked like producing the goods as we have in previous weeks. The first five to ten minutes we looked lively but Jordan Jones and Chris Burke especially proved to be a big miss. I was preparing to go down at half time and give Rory Mackenzie money to get a ticket back into the game, he seemed to be getting constantly dragged inside and offered no width. Then he only goes and scores, from a central position, just shows you how little I know about football!

November 6th 2018... Well that answers the question of what happens when we score first! You win some, and every so often you actually lose some as well…and more often than not it is at home to Aberdeen. Frustration is the key word this week as we hammered the sheep and yet still came away with nothing for our efforts. Kris Boyd stroked home #135 from the penalty spot and celebrated with some aplomb, but despite almost total dominance we conceded from a deflected effort and a free kick at the death which Jamie MacDonald will not be best pleased at. We were robbed. That said, I feel that Steve Clarke (whisper it) was a bit too slow in making substitutions. Our lone striker was tiring and Aaron Tshibola went off the boil in the second half, both could have been replaced earlier in my opinion. Would that have made a difference, who knows? Also worth mentioning this week…Stuart Findlay’s solid performance…the decent support from the Dons putting Hamilton to even further shame…the fantastic contributions from the Killie fans to the FoodBank...a well fought point from Ibrox. And don’t forget to get your free tickets to the Trust’s Rail Seat Presentation and a chat with Trust and Club Director Cathy Jamieson at the Park Suite this Thursday.

November 13th 2018... Ross Millen does a Rory McKenzie…spends the game constantly drifting inside and looking like a weak link…then fires up the park and scores a belter. Both showing me up for how little I clearly know about the game! At one stage the Hearts winger had so much room I thought he could have applied for planning permission, but there were indications later on that the lad was only doing what Steve Clarke had instructed, and the boss is not often wrong. The game was scrappy at times and with no Eamon Brophy or Greg Stewart creativity was always going to be a problem, but we held our own and the resilience paid off. Credit to each and every player for points well won. No less credit goes to the travelling support. Absolutely magnificent. Turned up in numbers yet again and heard above the home crowd the whole match; this is how it feels to be Killie right enough, and as the bold Samo sung on Saturday “Clarke doesn’t need Mourinho, he’s got Alex Dyer and the Killie Choir!”

November 20th 2018... There were legends aplenty at Rugby Park on Saturday, for the charity match organised by Kris Boyd’s testimonial committee. How good was it to see Alexei Eremenko, Gary Holt and Manuel Pascali back in the stripes? Alan Mahood, Andy McLaren, Garry Hay…there are a few medals in there for sure but, these guys will always have a special affinity with Killie and our fans like nothing more than players with real heart. The main man's goal-scoring record is nothing short of phenomenal and what he has done for us in his three spells has been really appreciated. Not long ago four and half thousand would have been a great crowd for a league match so the attendance figure should not be sniffed at. The match was good natured as you’d expect and it was only a cameo appearance by the lad Novo that stopped the boys in blue getting fecked 6-2 by the famous Ayrshire Killie! It is going to be a big test next week with the two form teams locking horns in Perth, the blue and white army will be on the march...see you there!

November 27th 2018... Back to league action on Saturday and it was a potentially tough trip to Perth to take on another form team in St Johnstone who had won five on the bounce, conceding no goals in the process. Well they didn’t lose any further goals but they did drop points for the first time in a long while as Daniel Bachmann claimed his second clean sheet. A draw was probably a fair result although Killie no doubt edged the second half and could have claimed another scalp on the road. You know what I say about a point away from home though. Looking forward to seeing Brophy back and getting the squad back to full strength, we miss his wolf-like tenacity and shooting from anywhere! We will keep plugging away and if will be fantastic if we can stay in the mix through a hectic December schedule. Keep backing the team and keep the faith.

December 4th 2018... Two points off the top going into Wednesday’s match against Livingston, and looking every bit like challengers, unbelievable from Steve Clarke and his squad. Saturday could have been a complete whitewash, if there hadn’t been a couple of blackouts! We took the game to Hibs from the outset and Eamon ‘Wolf’ Brophy did not take long to mark his return with a fine effort to put us in predicted last week. The industrious #25 doubled his tally from the spot and probably would have had a hat-trick had the manager not made a tactical switch and substitute him for Aaron Tshibola. Greg Stewart closed it out in the end and another clean sheet from Daniel Bachmann secured the win. The power cut, which obviously upset the rhythm on the game, was amusing at first, but there were a lot of anxious faces when the lights went out a second time. Ironically Alan Power was probably our man of the match, and it would have been very handy to have Bright on the bench under the circumstances!

December 11th 2018... Six points from nine is a reasonable return from the last three matches and I don’t think anyone will argue with that. We trounced Livingston during the week and then got the same treatment ourselves on Saturday. Taking on the current champions in their own back yard is never going to be easy but with no wins against us in four so far, they were definitely out to prove something. And so it was, they were pretty much unplayable in the first half and when Jordan Jones missed the chance to equalise and they ran up the park and score their second, it was a damage limitation exercise. Gary Dicker was performing well and SOD always looks like one of the best right backs in the league, but too many of our lads were looking a bit subdued. Steve Clarke made changes at half time and steadied the ship, managing to ‘draw’ the second half, but the damage had been done and sometimes you just have to take it on the chin. Down to second place, shocking eh! Steve’s after match comments were spot on as usual, we have a small squad who have been performing at a very high level, they could do with a wee rest but there’s no real let up until the winter break. The away end sold out once more, the fans were magnificent, bring on Dundee and we go again.

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