A friend once forgot about a Halloween party. In a rush, I helped him run around the flat and try and throw a costume together. A stupid hat? Perfect. Silly glasses? Done. Daft shirt? Sorted. He put it all together and stepped back in horror. He had accidentally dressed up as Roy Chubby Brown.
What did we learn from that story? A series of small and seemingly sensible decisions can lead to disaster.
Stick with Gary Locke? Aye ok, could be worse I suppose. Sign a load of ex Hearts players? Well it could work… Sign a poorly thought of Rangers player? Well as long as you don’t play him in….AND play him as a central midfielder? Oh. Right. Stick with a massively unpopular manager for the two most important relegation games of the season? Well he’s due some redemption… Stick with him after shipping five to Dundee United? Right this is getting silly… Fall out with the bakers that make the Killie Pie? Right – you’ve taken that too far!
Welcome to Kilmarnock’s season.
Gary Locke – 0
A right guid guy who did everything he could under impossible circumstances. Had it not been for the unfair abuse from the fans and the… oh wait, hang on, I’ve accidentally hit copy and paste from every Scottish football tabloid journalist there. Apologies.
A disaster. An unmitigated disaster. His season starting midfield of Jamie Hamill and Scott Robinson ended the season unemployed and worse, playing for Dunfermline. His scouting network extended about as far as Corstorphine. His tactics (or tactic) was ineffective. Damningly, in fact almost impressively, he managed to stop Kris Boyd scoring.
Raith Rovers I am truly, truly sorry for you. But Dale Carrick is a good lad so enjoy that.
Lee Clark – 6
Left to cobble a coherent team together out of gaffer tape and bits of string he eventually made some progress. Clark fairly quickly hit the stunning revelations that Kris Boyd should maybe start, we are allowed to sign non ex-Jambos and some of the young players are actually good.
He ended the season in the centre circle with a Killie scarf draped around his neck giving a rousing speech to Rugby Park. Even better, he then immediately sacked most of the team. A bold, positive manager that can start properly from next season.
Jamie MacDonald – 7
Gary Locke’s one good signing. Solid all season. In many ways our De Gea in terms of importance. I can’t count the number of points he has been worth to Killie. Very rarely shaky and pulled out some incredible saves throughout the year.
Connor Brennan – 5
Called in a few times to deputise and, despite being the last bloke you’d pick out of a line-up as being a goalkeeper, has a good command of his box.
Lee Hodson – 6
Only came in for the latter part of the season but immediately impressed at right back. Annoyingly, he has almost certainly hit that ‘just slightly too good to play in the Premiership’ vein of form and we won’t see him back.
Mark O’Hara – 5
Still a man without a position but at least someone that grafts. Injuries meant he ended up at right back but some spirited performances there were valuable in staying up.
Stevie Smith – 5
Left back? Midfielder? Not really either to be honest. Locke may have had Philipp Lahm in mind when he tried Smith in the centre of the park for a while but it wasn’t to last. The Gorgie Guardiola’s plan was hampered by a mixture of injury and Stevie Smith patently and fairly obviously not being a midfielder. Whether he is a left back remains to be seen.
Kevin McHattie – 3
Not so much a left back as a winger who has a mild interest in trying to tackle. The sort of mild interest that involves lunging wildly, falling over and having the positional awareness of someone six pints in shoving through a crowded bar. Did alright for a while before allegedly falling out with the management team.
Stuart Findlay – 4
After the Jackson Irvine fiasco I’m loathe to be negative about Celtic loanees left in the clumsy hands of Kilmarnock managers. Too many mistakes amongst the few assured performances, but he’ll doubtless become Ross County’s standout defender next year and we’ll all look like fools. Again.
Conrad Balatoni – 6
Oh Conrad… When he’s good he’s good, a steadying influence who leads the defence. When he’s bad he appears to have forgotten i) what way we are shooting ii) which team he is playing for iii) that he’s allowed to defend and iv) that being a defender isn’t about being absolutely hilarious. Again, maybe someone a better manager could do something with.
Lee Ashcroft – 5
Patchy again from Lee and not enough to earn another contract. If we could somehow, Jeff Goldblum in the Fly-esque, combine Findlay, Balatoni and Ashcroft then we would have had one excellent Premiership defender. As it was, Ashcroft hasn’t quite done enough, despite signing out with dignity with two great performances in the playoff games.
Miles Addison – 6
As a small child behind me said to his Dad at Rugby Park: “he’s the biggest man in the whole wide world ever!”. There were mistakes aplenty, but Miles was a colossus in a number of games towards the end of the season. St Johnstone’s Chris Kane in particular was basically held at arms length, arms flailing wildly, for 90 minutes. Hope he stays.
Daryl Westlake – 4
Injury hampered season again but never really convinced at right back.
Jamie Hamill and Scott Robinson
Craig Slater – 6
An inconsistent season from Slater who I think could be a big talent. A tendency to overplay and make the wrong decisions but on his game he is a box to box player who can make things happen. Sad to see him go.
Gary Dicker – 7
A player who looked instantly at home in the midfield and added a bit of bite that had been missing all season. Although his impact on games tailed off a bit he has kept things ticking and would, I think, look better with better players around him.
Kallum Higginbotham – 6
A frustrating season for Higgy. There is undoubted talent there but successive managers have failed to find a way to use it. Also had a habit of only showing up for the bigger games. That said, a panenka to draw with Celtic is probably worth a 10 on it’s own.
Lee McCulloch – 1
Lee McCulloch actually started a game in the centre of midfield for Kilmarnock. That’s your Gary Locke there. Again, Raith Rovers fans, I am so, so sorry…
Greg Kiltie – 7
Probably the player at the club to be most excited about. Greg has slowly but surely improved throughout the year and we were very lucky to extend his contract. Quick, clever, good technique and edging towards Stuart Armstrong levels of handsome but ‘what a nice lad’ territory. I sit at home at night wondering what a fit Eremenko would have done with Kiltie’s movement. Hoping he can continue that progress next season.
Rory McKenzie – 6
A player that continues to be promising a few years after ‘promising’ was no longer enough. There hasn’t been an improvement, however, there has been bags of effort and fight. A really useful player throughout the season but one that needs to dig deeper.
Josh Magennis – 7
This section has been cut down from about 3000 words. Josh has had a fantastic season. His pace and movement have caused teams problems up and down the leagues and he never, ever looks tired. He ended the season as a winger and that might be the best place for him. Finishing still needs work but saying anything, even slightly critical, causes me physical pain. A ludicrous improvement from where he was a few years ago.
Tope Obadayi – 6
The man, the enigma. Tope is the least composed player I have ever seen. He looks genuinely surprised at what his own feet are doing next. Amidst all the chaos, though, is blistering pace and some real trickery. A player, possibly despite himself, that has been important this season and offered something different. Looks set to leave. We will never see his like again, and I’m still not sure whether that is good or bad…
Julien Faubert – 4
One of those to add to the annuls of knackered old Premiership players that inexplicably turn up in Scotland – or the Eric Djemba-Djemba hall of fame if you will. A few good turns but very little to shout about.
Kris Boyd – 6
Boydy wasn’t fancied by Gary Locke and spent a bizarrely long amount of the season on the bench. Lee Clark gave him the nod and the goals starting coming. It’s clear that he is at the end of his career but there is a commitment and work rate now that was absent in years gone by. Even an old, tired Kris Boyd scored hugely important goals. I think there’s (just) another season in him and I’m always delighted to see him at the club.
Lol. Again, Raith fans, I can’t express how sorry I am.