Last summer Lee Clark embarked on one of the most bonkers signing sprees ever. Eleven players posed in a line at once. Not only was the whole thing mad, but it was completely scattergun. As an example, Lee Clark signed so many right backs that I propose a drinking game that can accompany this run through. Just take a drink every time you spot a right back and you’re in for a good evening.
I’ll do my best to cover them all but cannot guarantee that a) I’ve missed some b) I’ve made some up or c) I’ve dreamt some. If you’ve read War and Peace then you have a fair idea of how to approach this…
Jamie MacDonald – 6
Another solid season from MacDonald who is a safe pair of hands at this level. Despite scepticism from the fans he was correctly side-lined for the superior Woodman.
Freddie Woodman – 7
A few shaky moments aside, Woodman has lived up to his reputation as a goalkeeper with a big future ahead. He pulled off some spectacular saves and, more than that, important saves. Keeping out Rangers and Hamilton towards the end of the season were crucial points in terms of league survival.
Luke Hendrie – 7
Amidst the glut of right backs (drink!) Hendrie was the one that stuck. The Burnley loanee became a fixture in the team and performed well. Hendrie isn’t the fastest and his crossing needs work but defensively he was a steadying influence. The back four looked weaker in every game he missed. Killie are hopeful that Burnley might generously let us take him off their hands but he might fancy his chances somewhere in England.
Greg Taylor – 7
Lee Clark put faith in Taylor for the playoffs last year and his development has been fantastic this season. Taylor has pace, a desire to get up the pitch and a tenacious defensive style. Formerly a midfielder, he is also adaptable and has filled in at right back (drink!). There are still mistakes, but even then they tend to be hilarious, as Joey Barton can confirm.
Gary Dicker – 8
Player of the year and a man that has put in a huge shift. Dicker started the season poorly in a weak Killie midfield but his presence in the team grew. Defensive injuries eventually led to him filling in as a centre back and it’s there that he has flourished. Dicker has shown real, and perhaps unexpected, composure in the centre of defence. To that he adds the ability to play the ball out from the back and find a pass. Extending his contract was a smart bit of business.
Kristoffer Ajer -7
When Ajer arrived there was concern when it appeared that Killie was being used to test out a midfielder at centre back. Fast forward to the end of the season and Ajer was sending hearts fluttering with a shirtless wander along the East Stand. Ajer looks a class apart and commanded the Killie defence. There are still big areas of his game which need work, particularly not letting the ball bounce, and there are still still lapses in concentration. But if Ajer can smooth those out his midfielder past is a massive asset in starting attacks from the back. Desperate to keep him.
Scott Boyd – 6
“you’ll never guess who our best defender is just now…”
“an old, particularly ginger, loanee from Ross County”
“no chance mate”
But so it was for a while…
Miles Addison – 3
Oh Miles… where did it all go wrong? From the end of last season Addison looked like exactly the sort of strong, ball-winning defender that Killie needed. Injuries dogged Addison but his performances fell far short of last year’s promise. After a cameo performance against Aberdeen that left home fans shouting “oh the humanity” at the plummeting, burning wreckage of his Killie career he was gone never to return.
Johnathon Burn and Will Boyle – 4
I can’t quite remember which was which, but it matters not. Both fine, both inexplicably now with decent teams in England.
Karleigh Osborne – 2
Osborne was signed with the hope of him being everything that Addison had been the year before. It was reported that he arrived lacking fitness but when fitness did return we saw that he was a complete liability.
Dapo Kayode – 1
Dapo Kayode took to twitter to point out to me and friend of the Terrace Narey’s Toepoker that he shouldn’t be considered a bad signing due to injury and ‘circumstances out of my control which I am not allowed to speak about’. A strange and confusing saga and a player who never played a minute. Also a right back (drink!).
Jamie Cobain – 1
Lee Clark eventually admitted that he underestimated the quality of the Scottish Premiership when signing young players. Cobain didn’t even look at Clyde’s level when he played there in the League Cup. A real mistake and yet another right back (drink!).
Josh Webb – 1
A defender from Aston Villa’s youth ranks who you might have thought would have some promise. Played one game, disappeared and eventually left the club. I have no idea whether he’s any good but one of his positions was right back (drink!).
Stevie Smith – 5
To some the captain has had a decent season. To the bloke beside me at Fir Park last week: “how c**ting hard is it to f**king make a c**ting pass you ex Rangers c**t”. Fair to say opinion is split.
Rory McKenzie – 5
McKenzie has always been promising but his development has sadly flat-lined. Can’t beat a man and has no final ball whatsoever. In a Killie team with no bite in midfield he has done well pressing the opposition and running himself into the ground. I would imagine that new signings would push McKenzie to the fringes.
Martin Smith – 2
Martin Smith is one of the poorest players I’ve ever seen in the Killie midfield. It’s quite remarkable how anonymous Smith was when given the opportunity. For a midfield player to have such a woeful ability to pass the ball is almost impressive.
Mark Waddington – 1
Remember when I said that Martin Smith was one of the poorest players I’ve ever seen in the Killie midfield? Waddington was worse.
Dean Hawkshaw – 5
Hawkshaw has been something of a utility player covering the midfield and, for a period, right back (drink!). A bad injury put a halt on a strong run of games where he was making an impact. He struggled to get back in the team once back to full fitness.
Iain Wilson – 6
I’ve been really impressed with Iain Wilson. Towards the end of the season he was essentially relied upon as Killie’s defensive midfielder. In an ideal world someone that young shouldn’t have to shoulder that responsibility. But in the recruitment hurricane that is Kilmarnock he has not only ended up there but done remarkably well. A Scotland call-up for his age range is well deserved.
Sean Longstaff – 7
Where most of the loanees have flattered to deceived, Longstaff has made an impact. Fundamentally a more attacking player, he has been called on to play in central midfield. His work-rate and effort have really shone through. Crucially, he added goals, often important goals, and provided some creativity. Despite looking permanently knackered he has been a rare signing success.
Cal Roberts – 3
Somewhere in the bowels of St James Park, a shirtless Mike Ashley is presumably still chuckling with the Newcastle staff who convinced Lee Clark that Cal Roberts was a real star in the making. A winger that barely beat a man and rarely put in a decent ball. Looking back, his game time would have been better provided to youth players.
Adam Frizzell – 5
Frizzell was one of the bright spots last season with some interesting performances coming off the bench. He was given far too little time on the pitch this season. In the last few games of the season he was given his chance and took it with both hands. Being direct, with good feet and an ambition to get forward means that he offers something different in the midfield. One that we hope will develop.
Callum McFadzean – 2
This looked a promising signing but we saw nothing from McFadzean and injury ended his time at the club. One of the players that, despite playing elsewhere for some time, the club haven’t announced he has left. Maybe he’s still there. Who knows.
Jordan Jones – 7
Now we’re talking. At Broadwood, in his first competitive game, Jordan Jones did such a determined warm-up that the fan beside me shouted “give the boy a game Lee – you’re killing him here!”. That hunger has driven Jones to improve steadily throughout the year and by the bottom six games he was dancing around defenders for fun. Doubts remain over his final ball and his finishing but there is real talent there.
Greg Kiltie – 6
Football can be very cruel. Greg Kiltie looks like a fantastic player with a big career ahead of him. A really bad injury early in the season essentially wrote off this year. Kiltie was slowly coming back to his best before suffering a fractured ankle in the final game. Let’s hope we can see the real Greg Kiltie fully fit as soon as possible.
Kris Boyd – 6
The effectiveness or otherwise of Boyd has been a constant topic of conversation among Killie fans. It’s clear that Boyd is giving his all but increasingly the effect of that is diminishing. He still scores goals, of course he does, but a stage is being reached where his lack of mobility is hampering the team. We hope for more striking options to support him going forward and less pointless sounding off about Ian Cathro and Rangers. Even I enjoyed “you’re getting pumped by a laptop” ringing out from Tynecastle.
Souleymane Coulibaly – 8
Comes in, scores goals, does backflips, entertains, leaves for a million quid. What more can you ask for? A goal at Hamilton early in the season was so improbable that I left my seat in a full on jumping jack, having lost all control over my limbs. Capable of magic and sorely missed.
Josh Umerah – 2
If you’re going to show up at Rugby Park as a pacy striker called Josh then you’ve got big shoes to fill. Umerah was a typical Clark signing in that he looked promising on paper but offered nothing and was sent back from his loan early.
Flo Bojaj – 3
Looked good on paper, had all the attributes… you can see where this is going by now. Another Clark dud.
Conor Sammon – 5
‘No Eremenko, no party’ still applies. Sammon’s role on the wing has been to win balls in the air and knock them down. He’s done alright there and his pace helps. If he goes back to Hearts it would be no bad thing – if for no other reason than the reaction of Hearts fans if he did.
Written by Alastair Mitchell