Arise Steve Clarke – the saviour of Scotland’s oldest professional football club?

By Callum Scott

THE DAWNING of a new era is emerging at Rugby Park.

Monday saw the appointment of Chelsea legend Steve Clarke as the club’s new manager on a two and a half year-deal.

It has appeased the club’s fans as well as figures all across the Scottish game – journalists and punters alike.

This comes as Scotland’s oldest professional club has had its fair share of lows in recent times. Firstly on the field, with Killie narrowly avoiding the drop into Scotland’s second tier on more than a few occasions.

Off the field has been equally as depressing with ongoing disconnect between the fans and the board of directors.

Although divisive director Michael Johnston stood down in May, the club struggled in the league cup – suffering a derby defeat to Ayr – and the league campaign itself – with a run of eight games without a win, ending in Lee McCulloch losing his job.

This left the club with the hunt for yet another new manager – their fifth in four years.

Whilst many within the Scottish media tipped the likes of Jim McIntyre and Peter Houston to take the reigns at Rugby Park, Billy Bowie and co. looked out with the managerial roundabout and went for an extremely shrewd and ambitious appointment.

Arise Steve Clarke.

The Ayrshireman who has assisted the likes of Jose Mourinho, Kenny Dalglish and Ruud Gullit over his 20-year coaching career, as well as being a manager in his own right with West Brom and Reading signed a deal at Rugby Park until the end of the 2019/20 season.

Clarke will be the sixth manager David Wren has worked with in his four and a half years as sports editor of the Kilmarnock Standard.

And he believes the Killie board have pulled off a masterstroke by bringing in the ex-Chelsea man:

“I think it’s certainly an ambitious appointment from Kilmarnock and it’s something that has caught the attention of the supporters. They had to get someone in who would excite the fans and get a bit of positivity around the club.

“His record speaks for itself, he’s a very successful manager and a very successful coach. You would expect he will improve the fortunes of Kilmarnock going forward.”

Wren highlighted the difficult start the new manager faces with trips to both Ibrox and Celtic Park in the coming weeks.

He concluded: “It’s a tough run they have coming up but he will be confident of securing a couple of results to continue the feel good factor.

“But it’s certainly a real coup for Kilmarnock.”

The editor of the ‘Killie Hippo’ fanzine Sandy Armour agrees.

Sandy, a life long Kilmarnock supporter, insists it’s the most ambitious move from the club in a generation:

“The (Tommy) Burns days were the happiest days as a Kilmarnock fan in my life, there was just a fantastic feel good factor around the place.

“He and the board were so charismatic, everyone was onside and everyone was singing from the safe hymn sheet, there was a real connection to the club.

“However that has vanished over the Johnston years. There’s been a total disconnect between the fans, community and the club.”

He concluded:

“It needed a big appointment like this to get it back.”

Link to clip with Sandy Armour: https://soundcloud.com/user-331460525




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