In the days before the Kindle and eBooks, Burns published his first work, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, on the 31st July 1786.
Published by John Wilson, and commonly known as The Kilmarnock Edition it seems fitting that we create our own Kilmarnock Edition on our website as we head towards the weekend.
Let’s get the bare facts out of the way first. Killie are the oldest professional football club in Scotland. Established in 1869, that only gives them a ten year lead on ourselves. However, they also hold the honour of playing in the first ever Scottish Cup tie back in October 1873.
Whilst that match resulted in a 2-0 defeat, Kilmarnock FC have claimed the Scottish Cup as theirs three times so far - 1919-20, 1928-29 and 1996-97. They’ve reached the Final on another 5 occasions, of which the 1937-38 season will receive some further attention from us.
It’s a fairly impressive record, and a history to be proud of. But victories in the previous century are probably of little concern to those visiting Rugby Park this weekend. Of more concern should be their more recent history.
There has been a transformation at Rugby Park since Steve Clarke arrived back in October. 3 points from the opening 8 games of the 2017-18 season put Killie firmly on the back foot; defeats at the hands of Ross County and St Johnstone; draws against Hamilton Accies and Dundee. The Killie faithful must have felt they had little to look forward to.
Enter the gentleman from Saltcoats, and in his first match in charge he oversaw a 1-1 draw against the other Rangers at Ibrox. Three short days later Killie repeated the act at Parkhead. Scoring draws obviously weren’t enough for the Ayrshiremen … December 23rd - Kilmarnock 2-1 Rangers; and to complete their 5th home win in a row last weekend, Kilmarnock 1-0 Celtic.
Never let the desire for success at Dudgeon Park be underestimated. But also don’t underestimate the added boost it gives us all to have those we consider ‘local lads’ as part of that success. Zander is a firm favourite amongst the support as much for his Helmsdale roots as his devastating jinking runs. James Ross is about to find himself in a starring role in the BBC’s Saturday flagship football programme. These things matter in a small village like Brora.
We can only imagine that these things carry a similar amount of weight in Kilmarnock. Steve Clarke has accomplished much in his career, but from his early trips up the road from Saltcoats to Rugby Park to watch his boyhood heroes to now masterminding these latest results from the hotseat must derive a huge degree of satisfaction for himself, those involved with the running of the Club, and not least, those who stand where Steve himself once stood.
A Kilmarnock resurgance notwithstanding, this is the Cup.
It would seem fitting that in our Kilmarnock Edition we quote (or misquote) the Bard himself. And we’ll start with a quote which is possibly falsely attributed to Burns.
“There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing”
We feel that we ably demonstrated that at Stair Park, and again at Bayview Stadium. And Kilmarnock aren’t the only ones to find themselves with a talismanic manager.
Ross Tokely was a massive part of our back to back Scottish Highland Football League Champions seasons. In the short period of time where work commitments forced his departure as a player and his subsequent return it was not unusual to find Ross standing shoulder to shoulder with the Red Army in a Highland League terracing during his trips home.
If you’re looking for someone who can be part of Scottish Cup headlines, Tokes is your man. Before we were writing this season’s headlines and capturing the imagination of the media looking for the David and Goliath cup meetings, Tokes wrote himself into perhaps the best known headline of Scottish Cup history.
Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious
His belief and attitude very clearly rubs off on the squad. Training at the Highland Football Academy on Monday night had a feeling of anticipation rather than apprehension.
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, Gang aft agley, An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, For promis’d joy!
That can apply equally well to both sides on Saturday.