On This Day | 18th March

On This Day | 18th March

in #KillieStories March 18, 2017

Our Club historian, John Livingston, will be taking us back in time to important Killie matches over the years..

Today we look back on two Killie matches from March 18th:

Saturday, 18th March 1967

Scottish League Division One – Falkirk 0 Kilmarnock 1 (McLean 60)

Attendance: 3,241

Falkirk: Connachan, Lambie, Hunter, Markie, Baillie, Moran, McManus, Smith, Vincent, Graham, McKinney Sub not used: Gibson

Killie: Ferguson, King, McFadzean, O’Connor, McGrory, Beattie, McLean, McInally, Queen, Murray, McIlroy Sub not used: M. Watson

Referee: W.J. Mullan (Dalkeith)

Although they were not in the title race, Kilmarnock still harboured slim hopes of finishing in a high enough position to qualify for a place in the Fairs Cities Cup. They had not played a league game for a fortnight, as the previous Saturday’s fixture at home to Dundee United had been postponed due to the visitors playing in the Scottish Cup. However, manager Malcolm MacDonald had quickly arranged a Friday evening friendly with Huddersfield Town in Yorkshire, a game which ended in a goalless draw. Falkirk had enjoyed a 2-1 away win over St. Mirren the previous week, which helped ease their position down the lower end of the table.

The Bairns took the initiative right from the start, and Bobby Ferguson had to dive full length to push away efforts from both McManus and Vincent. Brien McIlroy went close for Killie, whilst Jim McFadzean had a good run down the wing before sending in a cross towards Gerry Queen, but as the centre forward rose to attempt a header, he seemed to be impeded by a couple of the home defenders, but the referee waved away Killie’s penalty claims. The second half saw Killie the much livelier in attack, and both Jackie McInally and Eric Murray had goal-bound efforts blocked. The Bairns went close on a breakaway raid, with Jim McFadzean sliding in to make a terrific clearance as Graham raced into the penalty area. However, on the hour mark, Killie went ahead with a brilliant piece of skill by Tommy McLean. He took possession of a high loose clearance some 25 yards from goal, bringing the ball under control with his right foot, and as the home defence sat back expecting the winger to pass, he side-stepped an attempted tackle on him by quickly switching the ball to his left foot, and as he made a single step forward , he then let fly with a tremendous shot that flew high into the top corner of the net.

It proved to be the only goal of the game, although Killie did have several other chances in the closing stages, but failed to convert any of them. The win put Kilmarnock into 6th place with 32 points from 27 games, whilst Falkirk remained in 15th place with 17 points from 25 games.

Sunday, 18th March 2012

Scottish League Cup Final – Hampden Park – Celtic 0 Kilmarnock 1 (van Tornhout 83)

Attendance: 49,572

Celtic: Forster, Matthews, Mulgrew, Rogne (Ki-Sung Yeung), Wilson, Wanyama, Forrest, Brown, Hooper (Samaras), Ledley (Commons), Stokes Subs not used: Cha Du-Ri, Zaluska

Killie: Bell, Fowler, Gordon, Buijs (Johnson), Nelson, Sissoko (Kroca), Kelly, Shiels, Heffernan, Harkins (van Tornhout),Hay Subs not used: Dayton, Letheren

Referee: W. Collum

In the 66th season of the Scottish League Cup, Kilmarnock F.C. reached the Final of it for the 6th time. They had lost on all the 5 previous occasions they had reached the Final, and had a huge task on their hands in this one against a Celtic team that were red hot favourites to lift the treble. The previous defeats in the Final at Hampden Park to Dundee (2-0 in 1952-53), Rangers (2-0 in 1960-61), Hearts (1-0 in 1962-63), Celtic (3-0 in 2000-01) and Hibernian (5-1 in 2006-07) were deeply embedded in the memories of the different age groups of the clubs supporters. Each defeat had a story of hard lines or bad luck and even controversy attached to it, with perhaps the exception of being the last one, which was a very major and deeply embarrassing disappointment. It almost felt Kilmarnock F.C. was never, ever going to win this competition.

For the third time in the 66 seasons of the competition, the Final was going to be played on the same date – Sunday 18th March – and by a strange coincidence, both the previous occasions it happened, in 2001 and 2007, Kilmarnock were involved in the Finals, losing to Celtic and Hibernian respectively. Could it be 3rd time lucky in 2012? The team went into the Final without the injured club captain Manuel Pascali, but James Fowler wore the armband on the day, and what a day it turned out to be ……………………………………………

The game was less than 5 minutes old when Momo Sissoko, some 20 yards from his own goal, nonchalantly, but inexplicably slid a pass sideways into the path of Celtic striker Gary Hooper. It was “hearts in the mouth” stuff for everyone concerned with Kilmarnock. Fortunately, Hooper took a split second to adjust himself at being gifted the chance before moving into the penalty area with the ball, and that gave Cammy Bell in the Killie goal enough time to advance forward to cut down the Celtic striker’s view of the goal, and he blocked the effort – much to the relief of Momo Sissoko. It was a huge moment, and it served as a wake-up call to everyone else in the Kilmarnock team. It seemed to inspire them all, and even when Danny Buijs limped off with an injury in the 20th minute, being replaced by Lee Johnson, the team showed no sign of weakness. Celtic were putting a lot of pressure on them, but Killie were giving as good as they got. Cammy Bell made great saves from Scott Brown, Victor Wanyama and an unbelievable one-handed stop from Anthony Stokes, but Fraser Forster at the other end was needed as well, and he had to thwart goal-bound efforts from Paul Heffernan and Momo Sissoko.

Killie had a superb chance to break the deadlock early in the second half, but Dean Shiels rushed his effort after breaking through on goal, and the opportunity was lost. Celtic were struggling to break through the Killie defence, and when they did, they could not beat the outstanding Cammy Bell in goal. They brought on Ki-Sung Yeung for Thomas Rogne in 56 minutes to try and create more chances, but they still struggled to make a breakthrough, and a really frustrated Neil Lennon on the touchline was venting his displeasure at their lack of success. The Killie midfield, anchored by Liam Kelly and Garry Hay was in outstanding form, with Gary Harkins, Lee Johnson and Dean Shiels working their socks off.

Meanwhile, Killie began to grow in confidence. Manager Kenny Shiels was calm and assured, and in the 73rd minute made a positive change, sending on Dieter van Tornhout for Gary Harkins, who had put in a great shift in the midfield area. Just 10 minutes later, this was to prove a match-winning change. In 80 minutes, Neil Lennon sent on Georgios Samaras for Gary Hooper, before urging his team to try long balls into the penalty area. From one of the failed attacks, James Fowler, Garry Hay, Ben Gordon and Lee Johnson worked the ball forward from deep in the Killie half and into the Celtic half. Gordon eventually fed Johnson wide on the left, and just as the clock stated 83 minutes, the small, energetic Englishman sent over a teasing chest high cross that swirled out from goal and was met by the in-rushing Belgian substitute Dieter van Tornhout, and he gleefully headed Killie in front. Within a few minutes, Kris Commons came on for Joe Ledley as Celtic went for broke, and Kenny Shiels replaced the tiring Momo Sissoko with Zdenek Kroca.

The board went up for 4 minutes of injury time, and with less than 2 minutes to play, Anthony Stokes went down inside the penalty area and the Celtic backroom staff screamed for a penalty. Notably, only one or two of their players claimed for it, Stokes being the main complainer. Michael Nelson had pulled out of his tackle at the last moment, and gratefully, Willie Collum was well-placed to see it, and promptly booked the Celtic striker for diving. As the final whistle went a minute or so later, bedlam at the west end of Hampden Park, as the Kilmarnock support celebrated their club winning the League Cup for the first time in their history.pasting

Unfortunately, as the final whistle blew, and unknown to the majority of the celebrating crowd, Jack Kelly, the father of midfielder Liam Kelly, had collapsed in the lower section of the south stand. Sadly, Mr. Kelly died later in hospital as a consequence of the heart attack he had suffered at the game. This was a terrible tragedy, and everyone connected with Kilmarnock F.C. felt for the Kelly family. It was a sad end to what had been a memorable victory for the club.