Kilmarnock Football Club

Kilmarnock Football ClubFoundationsEarly competiti

A Football Report
Kilmarnock Football Club

Kilmarnock Football Club

Founded in 1869, and therefore the oldest professional football club in Scotland, Kilmarnock FC has enjoyed a colourful and successful history. Although recent years have not given the fans much to shout about, the club has enjoyed its fair share of trophies and epic victories on the way to establishing itself in the top flight of Scottish football.



The club was originally formed when the cricketers who played on Barbados Green decided that they needed something to keep them occupied over the long winter months. A football team was set up, but initially the style of play had more in common with rugby, giving the club’s ground its name of Rugby Park.

In 1873 the SFA (Scottish Football Association) was founded and the Scottish Cup was established. Although Kilmarnock were not part of the initial membership, it was this year that they established themselves formally by designating blue as the official team colour.

Early competitions

In 1895 they were voted into the Scottish League, and the very next year they scored their first triumph by winning the Scottish Qualifying Cup. But it was the 1897-98 season that saw them get their first real taste of success, outclassing their opposition in the Second Division to come top of the table.

Although missing out on promotion due to the voting system that was in place, they fought back the following year to win the title for the second season running, and this time their victory saw them all the way to the First Division.

Success in the Cup

The following years were relatively quiet, but on April 17th 1920, Kilmarnock confirmed that they were a force to be reckoned with. Playing at Hampden Park, and cheered on by 95,000 fans, they beat Albion Rovers 3-2 to win the Scottish Cup for the first time with the greatest triumph since their foundation.

After the retirement of Willey Culley, a hero at the club and the all time goal scorer with 159 goals in 317 matches, more quiet years followed. However, on April 6th 1929, they reached the final of the Scottish Cup once again, and this time went on to beat Rangers 2-0 to lift the trophy for the second time. On this occasion, there were 114,708 fans at Hampden Park to witness the victory. They did not know it then, but it would be 68 years before they would win the title again.

The war years

Despite their success in the Scottish Cup, the following years would see a long period of waiting for Kilmarnock.

When the Second World War arrived, football was inevitably put on hold. It was not until 1945 that things started to get back to normal, when Tommy Smith was given the task of rebuilding the club to something approaching its former glory. However, due to increasing ill health, he retired two seasons into the role.

In 1947 their failure to perform led to their first relegation into the Second Division, and a string of managers including Tom Mather, Alex Hastings and Malky McDonald all failed to make much of an impression.

Success and frustration

It wasn’t until the 1953-54 season that they fought their way back to second place in the table, winning promotion back to the First Division. The year was also marked by a number of notable events, including the introduction of floodlights to the ground, as well as their first ever European game – in a friendly against Admira Wien from Austria.

Perhaps the most significant event, however, was the arrival of Frank Beattie, arguably the greatest player to have ever graced the club. The team’s performances steadily improved over the next few years, culminating in a frustrating 1959-60 season when they got the runner-up position in both the Scottish Cup and the League. But, despite these near misses, all in all it had been a successful decade.

Further frustration

The 1960s began with yet more despair though, as they could only manage a runner-up spot in the Scottish League Cup final, losing to Rangers 2-0. They also came second in the League for the second year running.

They kept pushing every year, and again picked up the runner-up position in the League in both 1963 and 1964. Agonisingly, having been narrowly denied the championship on both occasions, they just couldn’t find a way to reach the peak of the game.

Success at last

The 1964-65 season, however, saw a change in fortunes. It was a year of comebacks, and one of their finest on record.

Having fought a tough campaign in the league, they required at least a 2-0 score in their final match of the season against Hearts to take the trophy. To the joy of the fans, they managed to pull it off, and finally the championship was theirs after three near misses.

Having qualified for Europe the previous year, they also tasted success in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the predecessor to the UEFA Cup. Having gone down 3-0 in the first-leg tie against Eintracht Frankfurt, and 1-0 down in the second, they somehow managed to fight back to a 5-4 victory, marking one of the greatest comebacks in their history.

Although they didn’t manage to go further in the competition that year, they did reach the semi-final in the 1966-67 season. However, in an all-British affair, Leeds United saw them off to end their hopes of European success.

Slow decline

The next decade started badly, with the club finishing in the bottom half of the table for the first time in 13 years. Things got worse in 1973 when they were relegated, but they managed to spring straight back up with a second-place finish the following year, helped along by a 17-game unbeaten streak.

In the 1974-75 season, the SPL (Scottish Premier League) was formed. However, as Kilmarnock failed to finish in the top 10 teams, they missed out on the chance to qualify for the new top flight. It wasn’t long before they got their chance though, as in 1978 they took second-place in the First Division, which saw them enter the SPL for the first time. The top flight was not easy, but they secured their survival after the first year with an eighth-place finish.

Going down

The first three years of the next decade saw the club relegated, promoted and relegated once again.

This period of inconsistency was naturally accompanied by waning attendances, and the effect was felt by the whole club. As a result, a disastrous campaign in the 1988-89 season saw them relegated yet again to the lowly Second Division. It seemed that bleak times lay ahead.

However, the team buckled down and, the following year, they managed to return to the First Division, and by the end of 1933 they only needed a draw in the last game of the season against Hamilton to secure their place back in the SPL.

After a tense game, and a lot of nail-biting from the fans, they managed to pull out a 0-0 draw, which saw the crowd invade the pitch to celebrate the triumph of returning to the top flight of Scottish football. In 1993, new plans for revamping the stadium came into force. Unfortunately, that same year it was announced that the SPL would be going down to 10 teams, meaning three teams would now face relegation.

As they were not guaranteed a place in the SPL the following season, the work on the stadium was a huge financial risk to take. In the end, it came down to the last game yet again when, needing just one point to stay up, they managed a 0-0 draw against Hibernian at Easter Road, securing their long-term future.

Back to the Cup

On April 24th 1997, they finally got over their Scottish Cup drought by winning it for third time in their history, Paul Wright scoring the only goal to beat Falkirk 1-0 in front of 50,000 fans.

The year also saw them qualify for Europe in the Cup Winners Cup, the first time they had played in Europe for 27 years. They eventually came fourth in the competition to book a spot in the UEFA Cup, but they went out to Sigma Olomouc of the Czech Republic 4-0.

They managed to qualify once again the following year as a result of their ‘Fair Play’ award in the SPL, but this time they would go out to Kaiserslautern of Germany, losing 5-0 on aggregate.

Recent times

The last decade has not brought any significant success for Kilmarnock. Their best year arguably came in the 2000-01 season, when they managed fourth place in the SPL, qualified for Europe and made an appearance in the CIS Cup Final.

However, since then they have only managed the fourth spot once, which came in the 2005-06 season, leaving them to look ahead to the future trophies that will surely come to add to their long and distinguished history.

Club Honours

  • Scottish League Division One – Winners (1964-65)
  • Division Two – Winners (1897-98, 1898-99)
  • Scottish Qualifying Cup – Winners (1896-97)
  • Scottish Cup – Winners (1919-20, 1928-29, 1996-97)
  • Tennants Caledonian Cup – Winners (1978-79)
  • SPL Fair Play – Winners (1998-99, 1999-2000)

Contact Details

  • Kilmarnock FC
  • Kilmarnock
  • KA1 2DP
  • Scotland
  • Tel: 01563 545 300
  • Fax: 01563 522 181

For a detailed list of all of the specific departments on the official club website, click here.


West / East / Moffat Stands (Home Fans)

  • Adult: £20.00
  • Concession: £14.00
  • Children under 12: £5.00 (East and West Stands only)
  • Children under 16: £5.00 (Moffat Stand only)

Chadwick Stand (Away Fans)

  • Adult: £20.00
  • Concession: £14.00
  • Children under 12: £5.00

Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Concessions apply to people who are over 65 or under 18, and students on presentation of valid ID.

Travel Info

By road

From the A77, take the exit signposted Hurlford. If coming from Glasgow, take the fourth exit off the roundabout. If coming from Ayr, take the first exit. Continue to the next roundabout, then take the first left and follow signs to Ayrshire Conference & Banqueting Centre. At the mini-roundabout, follow Dundonald Road for about a mile until you reach the Park Hotel.

By Rail

The stadium is located less than a mile from Kilmarnock train station, so just follow the signs.