(Club Capt for Season 2021-22)
(Club Capt for Season 2021-22)
June 10th 2021: Killie announce the arrival of defender, Chris Stokes on a two-year deal, subject to international clearance.
Formerly with Forest Green Rovers, the 30-year-old defender became a fans’ favourite during his initial spell with the club before returning to Gloucestershire to help Rovers to the League Two play-offs. As well as 170 appearances for Forest Green, Chris has enjoyed successful promotion pushes with Coventry City and Bury. Chris is a product of Bolton’s youth system,
Chris said on Joining Killie : “This is a new opportunity for me and it’s one I’m really excited about. My talks with the manager and James Fowler were really positive and I wanted to be part of what they want to achieve with the club. Most of the teams I’ve played for in my career have been pushing for promotion and I see this as an exciting new challenge. I’ve kept an eye on Scottish football over the years and I know quite a few players who have played in the league including Michael O’Halloran, Elliot Frear and Marc McNulty so while I haven’t experienced it myself, it was important to me to get an insight into what it is like. I’m a robust, physical player who likes to get stuck in and wear my heart on my sleeve. From day one, I will be giving my all for this club. That’s how I’ve gone about my game throughout my career and I can’t wait to get started now".
Tommy Wright on Chris: “Chris is someone I tried to sign a few years ago while he was at Coventry. He’s an experienced player, a leader and organizer on the field who will help the defence. I believe he will be vocal on and off the field and be a great help to the younger players in the squad. It’s not just about building a team but building a squad that can help this club grow again and we’re trying to get the right blend of players between ones who have tasted success and want more along with young players who are hungry to experience that. Adding those players along with the youngsters already at the club will hopefully allow the fans to see we’re getting the right mix to compete for positions and get the club back to where we want to be.”
June 24th 2021: “We’ve started well so far, we have got a good group, everyone is fresh and raring to go. I am looking forward to it, it’s a great club and one that wants to get straight back up. I want to be a part of that. The gaffer didn’t need to sell it to me, I’ve watched football all my life and I know how big a club Kilmarnock are. He has tried to sign me before, so I’ve already had that relationship. When I came up I met James [Fowler, head of football] and we had a good chat but again he didn’t have to sell it to me. You walk out and see the ground, see what the club is like, and it’s a club that want to go straight back up that is a big selling point. As a player you want to be a part of ambitious clubs and promotion pushes. Looking at the ground and size of the club I don’t know how they are in the second tier. But it happens. When I was at Coventry we were in League Two. I had it with Bury too, big clubs drop down. You just need to rebuild and recover quickly, teams will see us as a big scalp so we need to be ready straight away. The experience at those clubs will help me, I have always been fighting for promotion throughout my career. That’s all I know really, so I can take that forward and hopefully help the young boys.
“The aim is to bounce straight back and get promoted absolutely. We have to take it one game at a time, but the ambition has to be to get this club back up. We don’t want to fight at the middle of the table, we want to be up there and winning as many games as we can.”
“When I first heard about the interest I took a back seat to take it in. I had to assess things, it was a big move for me, coming from down south it was a big move for my family too. But I weighed up my options, I had options in England but this is a new challenge. I have never played up here before, I just thought this was probably my last chance to come up here. I don’t know anyone at the club at all which is a strange experience for me. Usually going to a new club in England I’d know some of the lads, and I’d know the opposition I’m playing against. So that will be different for me, but the lads all seem great and I’m sure it won’t be long before we all know each other well. We are all in the same boat, everyone is trying to get to know each other through team bonding.
“We are going to Northern Ireland soon, so it’ll be good to have that close-knit work together before the season starts. I think it helps that we are all in the same boat, no one is an outsider. You have to integrate quickly, we need that togetherness both on and off the pitch. The season is coming soon so we have to gel fast, hopefully when the football starts we will be ready to go. I am an intense player, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am always raring to go, I am always willing to put my body on the line. I always give 100 per cent when I am on the pitch that’s for sure.
July 1st on Being Named Club Captain: I’m absolutely delighted that the manager has put the trust in me to be captain. I can’t wait to get going and hopefully lead the boys to success this season. We’ve got people here who have been captains at their former clubs so they know the role as well and if they have to step in if I’m out then it will be a simple transition. Chris and Rory have been here for a long period of time and they know the ins and outs of the club, which is helpful. In a new group you need boys who know the club and the supporters and Euan was the captain at Dunfermline so I’ll be leaning on all three of them. Even though we’ve fallen back hopefully it is one step back and two forwards and we can get off to a good start and get the fans right on our side. I think when you have that disappointment of relegation then you are always raring to come back and find that bit of success and that’s what we’re chomping at the bit for.”
Aug 15th 2021: Chris pickes an injury at Hibs (A) in the League Cup that will side-line him for several weeks.
Dec 27th 2021: "Now I’m back I want to keep this going. I just took my touch and there wasn’t much on, sometimes you try your luck and it flew in the top corner. I’m never in the shooting drills because I’m a centre half, but I’ve played high up the pitch as a wing back previously in my career. It could fly into the top of the stand or the top corner and luckily for me it went in. I don’t know what was going with some of the handballs, even with ours I didn’t really see it. Being a defender, I don’t know how he can give that. You don’t want penalties for token handballs, you want the game to flow and lead to goals like mine and not just penalties and stupid decisions and that’s what it felt like. It wasn’t free flowing which was disappointing on that front. But we got the three points and we move on.”
On Hemming's Red Card: “It’s one of them our keeper has gone for the ball and he’s played the ball. I don’t know what he’s supposed to do. In this in age it seem if you make any contact it’s going to be a free-kick. If you go by the letter of the law he’s the last man and you send him off, but I don’t see how you can make decisions like that. You don’t want to see the game go like that – you want it free flowing and enjoyable and not getting keepers sent off and giving penalties left right and centre, it just became comical in the end. He’s saying he’s talking to the linesman. If he’s running back he’s making a snapshot decision. If you walk over and have a chat with the linesman and it’s a red card then alright – that’s your decision. But he’s running backwards, and he said he’s got a great view but the linesman has a better view. Go and talk to him, make him make a decision.”
April 21st 2022: "I had a good chat with the manager when he first came in. It was just about installing that belief in the players because you could see a few were feeling disappointed and had their heads down. But it wasn’t done and dusted then. It was the middle of the season and there was so much time to go. The main thing was getting the home form sorted. You are not going to win a league title if your home form is not very good. Since he’s come in, we’ve been fantastic at home and got the crowd right behind us in every game.
"You are going out on that pitch with a bounce in your step instead of thinking 'oh, it’s another game at home' and the pressure of everyone coming to watch. We are going out with a positive attitude. It’s a case of puffing your chest out and saying: 'Bring it on'.
"That’s been the main thing. Everyone is enjoying home games now, enjoying the added bit of pressure and the excitement. That’s what we’re going to need on Friday. These are the games you want to be playing in. You want to be enjoying these games so hopefully it will be a great one on Friday."
"Regardless if you are playing in front of five, 10, 15, 70-odd thousand this is a big pressure game because it’s the games that we are striving to get ourselves towards.
"When we all stepped into this building and came together as a group, we spoke about getting ourselves into a position where we are fighting for a league title and we’ve got ourselves into it.
"We got into Friday with a positive attitude that all that hard work now comes down to this one game."
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