Bobby Williamson Recalls the 97 Cup Win!
Bobby Williamson’s story from 1997 is particularly unique. There are not many managers who have found themselves taking a team to the Scottish Cup Final after just eight weeks in charge.
Throw in the fact he came up against his predecessor in the final and it becomes a special tale.
This was a rookie manager, thrown into a pressure situation and handed the unenviable task of keeping Kilmarnock in the top flight.
It all sounds a little familiar, but one thing current interim boss Lee McCulloch didn’t have to deal with was the small matter of a Scottish Cup Final at the end of the campaign.
Williamson remains the last manager to win the Scottish Cup in charge at Kilmarnock. And judging by recent form, it could be a record that stays in check for another 20 years — but hopefully not.
So what does he remember of the famous cup run?
“Not a great deal,” said Williamsom, as he spoke from his home in Kenya.
“I remember we put in a great performance at Cappielow. But the two legs against Dundee United weren’t brilliant games. When I took over, my first game was a defeat to Dundee United. On the Monday I told the players it was down to them because we were in danger of being relegated.
“We brought Alex Burke and David Bagan into the team and they did very well.
“I think their enthusiasm rubbed off on the rest of the team, actually.
“We went into the last game of the season needing a point to stay up and that wasn’t ideal preparation for the cup final the following week.
“But credit to the players, they were brilliant.”
Williamson was put into an awkward position at Kilmarnock when the club sacked manager Alex Totten.
The former striker had been Totten’s assistant at Rugby Park before he had been asked to take over as caretaker boss.
And after he’d been confirmed as manager, in a cruel twist of fate, he came up against his former boss in the showpiece final at the end of the season.
“It was quite strange to go up against Alex. I was sorry to see him leave Kilmarnock,” said Williamson.
“He asked me to go with him to Falkirk but I thought I’d stay with Killie and see how things went.
“I have the upmost respect for Alex and it was a fantastic cup final.
“The Falkirk fans even stayed after the game to applaud us and there aren’t many clubs would do that.”
As for the game itself, Williamson insists he has good memories of the day — especially Falkirk’s disallowed goal, which he admits almost had him losing the plot.
“Big Kevin McGowne, although I think he actually fouled the boy, flicked it onto Paul Wright and it was a great finish,” he recalled.
“Jim McIntyre then went through and could have made it 2-0 but their player got back to stop him.
“We used to work on defending corners and if the opposition played it out, we’d try and get up the field to play the offside trap.
"Tam Brown just got out on time and played the boy offside — although I nearly had a heart attack at the time.”
One of the most entertaining aspects of the after-match celebrations came when forward duo McIntyre and Wright doused their gaffer in orange squash.
It would be understatement of the year to say Williamson wasn’t best pleased.
“I could have punched the two of them! I don’t mind those kind of spontaneous celebrations but they two had planned it! The thing that annoyed me was the fact it was orange juice.
“They were the clothes I was to wear for the rest of the day, so I ended up in a tracksuit!”
As many of the players have touched on in the years since that great day, it felt like the entire population of Kilmarnock had come out to support the team.
An incredible 27,500 fans travelled to Ibrox, with many more watching back home and taking to the streets to welcome the team back.
“You didn’t realise how much it meant to the Kilmarnock fans until we came back with the trophy. When you saw John Finnie Street it showed how the whole town had come together.”
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