in #KillieStories June 1, 2018
In a familiar tale on the road to fandom, being nudged in the right direction by family members was just the start with one trip to Rugby Park proving enough to catch a bug which would span a lifetime.
Cathy sat down at a gloriously sunny Rugby Park recounting her passion for Killie as well as discussing her new role after Trust in Killie reached their £100,000 target for a seat on the Board of Directors.
"It’s absolutely fantastic" she said.
"I’ve been a Killie fan since I was a kid in primary school and I don’t think there was ever a day when I thought I would become a Director. I’m particularly delighted because it is the supporters themselves who have decided they want me to represent them on the Board.
"For me it makes it more special because the fans have worked really hard. The Killie Trust has been around for a long time and involved in various initiatives but in the past year really pushing Trust in Killie to show that the fans can contribute a funding stream over an extended period of time. This is not a one off.
"We want to show fans can take a responsible approach to being part of the governance of the football club."
With supporters choosing to join the Killie revival in strong numbers, Cathy reflects on a remarkable 12 months for both the club and The Killie Trust.
"I think it’s a really exciting time for us to have a Supporter Director coming on board when Steve Clarke and the team around the club have really begun to turn things around and move things in the right direction.
"We are seeing a much better relationship between the club and the fans and we know that had dropped off for a period of time but we’re getting that back.
"For me quite often supporters’ trusts and supporters getting on board comes at a time of crisis at a club but this is unique for Kilmarnock FC and The Killie Trust. It’s a really exciting time to be doing this when things are looking up - we’re looking forward to the new season and expecting good things to be happening."
Born and raised in Kilmarnock, a young Cathy saw many of her peers drawn towards supporting Celtic or Rangers but an innocent question to her uncle Archie would ensure there was only one place she would watch her football.
"I can remember asking ‘how do you decide which team to support?’ He was just like ‘there is no question about what team you support, you support your local team’.
"He said this and it’s stuck with me that you can’t be a supporter if you don’t go to the games. Saturdays would come along and I was hauled in to watch the game and that was it. I was enthralled.
"My uncle was a season ticket holder and he used to bring me then I started going to away games and it went on from there. I’ve been there for the highs and the lows."
From creating a scrapbook covering her early heroes including Tommy McLean, which Cathy recently rediscovered, all the way to the Steve Clarke revolution - she has seen plenty in her decades following the boys in blue and white.
Highlights include our 1997 Scottish Cup triumph as well as watching Tommy Burns turn out in Kilmarnock colours for the first time.
Rooted in a sense of community and belonging, Cathy describes football as providing "90 minutes of sanity" during her high-profile and successful career as both an MSP and MP.
She said: "My seat over in the East Stand is where we’ve sat for years and there’s the same set of people about me that there has always been. It’s very much a family time for us, my son and husband come along and the folk we sit next to are very long-standing friends. It’s a good opportunity to catch up with them.
"Everybody knew not to disturb me during a home game because I just wouldn’t answer the phone or anything at all. I was there and absolutely focused on the game."
Having worked and represented the area during her time as Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Treasury Minister, few are better placed to judge the importance of the club's place within the community.
"I was born and brought up in Kilmarnock and I’ve lived in Ayrshire all my life. Being around the club and the town it matters to the local economy and it matters to the way people about the place if the club is doing well.
"When Killie is on the up there is that real feelgood factor which comes around the town. It’s also really important for the community involvement and you are seeing the players out at different events and the club forging those links so all in all I think that really helps the whole community to feel that something special is happening."
Last season's stunning form under Steve Clarke's leadership created a sense that "Killie Are Back" and Cathy looks forward to ensuring the views of the fans are represented at the highest level of the club.
Cathy added: "I’d always taken the view that I wouldn’t take a post in the Trust while I was still involved in the political scene but they asked if I would be interested in getting involved.
“I thought about it and they are a great group of people with a fantastic range of experiences, abilities and skills to offer.
"Although I’m the representative on the board, I’m there bringing that whole weight of experience of all the people who are involved and that’s brilliant."