Formed in 1869 by a group of cricketers seeking a winter pursuit, Kilmarnock originally played a code more similar to rugby, hence the name of their ground. The growing influence of Queen’s Park persuaded them to switch to association football.

They joined the Scottish League in 1895 and won the Scottish Cup in 1920 and 1927, but the real golden moment was the dramatic final-day league title triumph of 1965.

Killie, who have competed in all three major European competitions (they made the Fairs Cup semis in 1967), won the Scottish Cup again in 1997, and last season, lifted the Scottish League Cup.


The current Rugby Park has been home to the club since 1899.

Like many Scottish grounds it was originally elliptical, and made up of a main stand and large swathes of terracing, with a record attendance of 35,995 recorded for a Scottish Cup tie against Rangers in 1962.

Eintracht Frankfurt and Real Madrid both visited for memorable European ties and the proceeds helped with ground upgrading in the sixties.


Killie considered moving to an out-of-town location before embarking on a Rugby Park rebuild in 1994, with the main stand being upgraded and three new ones built. The stadium now all seated and holds 18,128.

Killie are working to a tight budget, and while four players have left this summer, only one – St Mirren’s out-of-contract Dutch defender Jeroen Tesselaar – has come in.

"Kilmarnock play a Dutch style of football that suits me," he explained.

Italian centre-back Manuel Pascali has provided a double boost by signing a new three-year contract and proving his recovery from a broken leg which kept him out for the second half of last season.

The Killie squad includes two ex-Town players, winger Danny Racchi, who came through the academy, and midfielder Gary Harkins, who played on loan from Blackburn in 2004.

And Town fans will also recognise former Hartlepool, Norwich and Scunthorpe defender Michael Nelson, one-time Yeovil and Bristol City midfielder Lee Johnson (the son of manager Gary) and ex-Doncaster striker Paul Heffernan, who notched 15 goals last season.


Kenny Shiels spent his entire playing career and cut his managerial teeth in his native Northern Ireland.

He bossed Ballymena and Larne as well as the national Under 17 side, then had three years as head of youth at Tranmere.

He became assistant manager to Mixu Paatelainen at Kilmarnock in June 2010, stepping up when the former Bolton striker became Finland’s national boss a year later.

Shiels, 56, whose son Dean looks set to leave Rugby Park after signing a short-term playing deal last season, has signed a new two-year contract after leading Killie to their first trophy in 15 years, the Scottish League Cup, last season.


Town’s slide during the seventies is well illustrated by the attendances for their two previous friendlies against Kilmarnock, both of them at Leeds Road.

While 11,335 watched the 0-0 draw in March 1967 (Town were in the original Division II while Killie had been Scottish champions two seasons earlier), there were just 1,275 there in August 1978, when the visitors won 1-0.

Town were in the basement division at that time, having started the decade playing in to top flight only to suffer three relegations between 1972-75.

Tom Johnston was at the Town helm for each game, although he had been at York for in between.