• 1969-70

    Fair Cities Cup

Killie FC

Killie In Europe Part IV

A Personal Recollection by Gordon 'Skygod' Simpson


Despite having reached the Semi-final of the Fairs Cup the previous season, Killie didn’t qualify for Europe in 1967/68 or 1968/69.

They did though, in the summer of 1969, return to the USA; not, as before to New York but to St Louis where they represented that city in a precursor to a proper North American Soccer League. Their opposition was Aston Villa, West Ham Utd, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Dundee Utd, each representing nascent NASL franchises.

I don’t know what financial benefits the club may have gained but such exercises in the past had shown their value in building team-work. Long-time trainer Walter McCrae had succeeded Malky MacDonald in March 1968 and had enjoyed a successful first season: a fourth-place finish had ensured passage into the Fairs Cup again.

In April 1969, the club had celebrated its centenary in elaborate fashion with a friendly match against an Eintracht Frankfurt side containing World Cup stars Jurgen Grabowski and Bernd Holzenbein.

McCrae had built a very useful side around the younger members of the championship-winning side – King, McGrory and McLean – and had a highly-potent strike force in Eddie Morrison and Ross Mathie. The midfield scheming role had passed from Davie Sneddon to Tommy McLean’s older brother, Jim, who signed from Dundee. With Billy Dickson a marauding full-back supporting the tricky Jim Cook on the left flank and the intelligent John Gilmour with the elder McLean in central midfield, this was a team well equipped for European football.

The draw for the first round paired the club with FC Zurich, with the first leg away on 16th September. The Swiss were a strong side, being regular league champions in the 1960s and they had even reached the semi-final of the European Cup in 1963/64, losing to Real Madrid.

Although it did not stage the first Weltklasse meeting until 1973, the Letzigrund Stadium was very much geared for athletics as much as football in 1969 with a running track ringing the pitch.

Killie made a dream start with Jim McLean (1) and Mathie (14) netting but the Swiss side hit back strongly and, by the 47th minute, they led 3-2. Not a disastrous outcome given the “away-goals” rule but Killie must have rued not having consolidated their early lead.

The return match was on 30th September and a very decent crowd of 13,500 attended. Manager McCrae left the visitors under no illusion as to what to expect in his programme notes:

“There was some criticism by the official observer about rough play in … the first leg but I think our Swiss friends realise the Scottish game is hard and physical but not necessarily dirty.”

My memory of the match is that it was a tense affair, with every sign that Killie’s campaign would end then and there. One moment changed the course of the match and it was, in a way, unique!

Centre-half Jackie McGrory played 476 times for the club and he chose the 42nd minute of this match to score his one and only goal! Killie were making hard work of breaking down the defence until McGrory ambled forward and, from open play, scored the goal which levelled the aggregate score.

Having been given that boost so close to half-time, Killie quickly consolidated through Morrison immediately after the interval. Zurich pulled back a goal on 63 minutes but Tommy McLean put the tie beyond them in the 74th minute. It had been a rousing night with that special atmosphere of a European night at the old Rugby Park.

Killie’s next opponents were to be ZSK Slavija Sofia from Bulgaria. A top side by Bulgarian standards, they did not seem to be the sternest of opponents. Their top player was the quaintly named goalkeeper Simeon Simeonov, who went on to win 34 caps.

The first leg was at home on 19th November and was to be one of Killie’s easier European matches. Killie had made an indifferent start to the league campaign, lying eighth out of 18 but they were joint top goalscorers with Celtic. With the attack-minded midfield of Gilmour and Jim McLean, Cook and Tommy McLean on the wings and Morrison and Mathie scoring prolifically, Killie were set up to score goals, as the Bulgarians discovered.

Little was known about Slavija as McCrae had not been able to see them in action before the tie but goals by Mathie (6) and Cook (11) finished off incisive moves to put Killie in charge.

Mathie made it 3-0 in the 75th minute and, when the Bulgarians played the restart back to Simeonov, the keeper’s poor kick landed at the feet of Gilmour who lofted it into the empty net from near the half-way line. Cue Rugby Park delirium!

The visitors were down and out although they pulled back an 88th minute consolation.

Killie travelled to the Bulgarian capital the following week full of confidence but all was not to go smoothly. In the country where every surname seems to end in “ov”, Killie were almost “seen ov” as the hosts raced into a 1-0 lead in the first minute and led 2-0 after 24 minutes.

The good ship Killie was steadied however and a narrow 4-3 aggregate win achieved.

If we thought Sofia was near the eastern limits of Europe, we were in for a shock as the third round draw was to send Killie to the foothills of the Carpathians to face Dinamo Bacau of Romania.

Not be confused, as I have sometimes done, with Baku in oil-rich Azerbaijan, Bacau is 150 miles from Bucharest and is a modest city which was even more modest in 1969 when Romania toiled under the oppressive and brutal regime of the maverick Communist president Ceaușescu.

Given some of the alternative opponents – Arsenal, Southampton, Newcastle Utd, Ajax Amsterdam, Anderlecht, Internazionale, Rouen, Vitoria Setubal, Hertha Berlin – it seemed that Killie had been handed the most inhospitable draw. Or maybe not – I forgot Dunfermline Athletic!

And it was to be the archetypal “Tie From Hell” for Killie. The team was still scoring goals – Mathie had 15 and Morrison 12 in mid-December – but conceding almost as many. But the emphatic home wins over Zurich and Slavija persuaded us that the unknowns would be a minor obstacle on the way to the quarter-finals. They had eliminated only modest opposition – Floriana of Malta and Skeid Olso –albeit without conceding a goal. This was to be their only foray into European competition (one Intertoto aside) and they have still never finished higher than fourth place in the domestic league.

In fact, their main claim to fame around that time was that their striker Emerich Dembrowski would go on to score for Romania against Brazil at the 1970 World Cup finals! But he was the only Bacau player in the squad.

The first leg was played at Rugby Park on 17 December (above) and the unattractive opposition and cold weather restricted the crowd to fewer than 8,000. Far from being a pushover, the visitors coped fairly easily with the Killie attack and it was the 50th minute before Mathie put the hosts ahead.

But hopes of progressing were dimmed when the Romanians equalized in 73 minutes and held out comfortably. There was no disguising that, with a dangerous journey lying ahead, this was a dreadful result.

The following Saturday, Killie lost the ageing but still influential Frank Beattie to a broken leg (right) at CelticPark. An indifferent season had taken a downturn and the club lay in eleventh place when they travelled for the away leg on 13 January.

Contemporary photographs show the Municipal Stadium in Bacau to have been a large but very shallow oval bowl, uncovered save for a tiny grandstand. But it was on the surface that, even allowing for tabloid hyperbole, the conditions in Bacau sounded inhospitable: the pitch was described as being rutted and covered in ice.

Killie had made the surprise signing of Crookedholm born and bred Hugh Strachan on a free transfer from Morton in the previous close season as an apparent understudy to Beattie. Given the captain’s injury, Strachan was thrust into the spotlight and this match also saw a debut for Ronnie Sheed.

Before a – no doubt – “hostile and frenzied” crowd, Killie fell behind to a goal in the 28th minute by Ene. And “ene” hope they had of squaring the tie ended when the same player scored in the 79th minute.

The defeat was to be expensive for the club which was struggling to maintain the cost of full-time football as Dinamo were drawn in the quarter-finals against Arsenal. The Gunners shot down Dinamo 7-1 on aggregate before going on to defeat Anderlecht in the final.

Being realistic, Killie had probably done well to reach the last sixteen but it was frustrating to have lost to such moderate opposition. The season ended with the club in sixth position in the league and disappointingly losing a Scottish Cup semi-final against eventual winners Aberdeen.

Desperate for cash, the board agreed to tour Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the close season, in the face of international sanctions against that country.


16/09/69 – FC Zurich 3 (2)  Kilmarnock 2 (2) (Att: 13,500)
Scorers: J McLean, Mathie

30/09/69 – Kilmarnock 3 (1)  FC Zurich 1 (0) (Att. 9,593)
Scorers: McGrory, Morrison, T McLean

19/11/69 – Kilmarnock 4 (2)  ZSK Slavija Sofia 1 (0) (Att. 9.535)
Scorers: Mathie 2, Coook, Gilmour

26/11/69 – ZSK Slavija Sofia 2 (2)  Kilmarnock 0 (0) (Att. 12,000)

17/11/69 – Kilmarnock 1 (0)  Dinamo Bacau 1 (1) (Att, 7,749)
Scorer: Mathie

13/01/70 – Dinamo Bacau 2 (1)  Kilmarnock 0 (0) (Att. 20,000)

Killie FC

Website Privacy Statement

Our policy relating to data collection and privacy has fairness at its heart and is never intended to cause objection or complaint and to that end if there is any dubiety we will not store your information. As a business we wish to stay in communication with your and keep you up to date with news, offers and updates on our product which you may find of interest, but we will only do this with your clear and specific consent.

Standard Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how KILLIE FC uses and protects any information that you give KILLIE FC when you use this website.

KILLIE FC is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.

KILLIE FC may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes. This policy is effective from 13th Jun 2018 


We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure. To prevent unauthorised access or disclosure, we have put in place suitable physical, electronic and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online and offline.

Where we collect this information

As a business we collect data for a number of sources, but our data policy applies to all of the following including personal data collected at reception, check in, exhibitions, on and off-line competitions, guest questionnaires, online bookings, online communications, digital newsletter sign ups from websites and social media, shared promotions with partners and others not listed.

We confirm that unless specific consent is given by the user the information shared will not be stored beyond the purpose intended. If specific consent is given to use the information collected it will be stored securely and digitally encrypted and password protected. 

How we use cookies

A cookie is a small file which asks permission to be placed on your computer's hard drive. Once you agree, the file is added and the cookie helps analyse web traffic or lets you know when you visit a particular site. Cookies allow web applications to respond to you as an individual. The web application can tailor its operations to your needs, likes and dislikes by gathering and remembering information about your preferences.
We use traffic log cookies to identify which pages are being used. This helps us analyse data, using Google Analytics normally but on occasion other aggregation tools that advise us about web page traffic and improve our website in order to tailor it to customer needs. We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes and then the data is removed from the system.

Overall, cookies help us provide you with a better website, by enabling us to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not. A cookie in no way gives us access to your computer or any information about you, other than the data you choose to share with us.

You can choose to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. This may prevent you from taking full advantage of the website.

Links to other websites

Our website may contain links to other websites of interest. However, once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. Therefore, we cannot be responsible for the protection and privacy of any information which you provide whilst visiting such sites and such sites are not governed by this privacy statement. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Controlling your personal information

You may choose to restrict the collection or use of your personal information in the following ways:
●    whenever you are asked to fill in a form on the website, look for the box that you can click to indicate that you do not want the information to be used by anybody for direct marketing purposes
●    if you have previously agreed to us using your personal information for direct marketing purposes, you may change your mind at any time by writing to or emailing us or by clicking unsubscribe where available.

We will not sell, distribute or lease your personal information to third parties unless we have your permission or are required by law to do so. We may use your personal information to send you promotional information about third parties which we think you may find interesting only if you specifically consent to us that you wish this to happen.
We undertake that third parties will only include businesses that support our business and your stay such as travel providers, visitor attractions, event providers and others directly related to our business offering.

If you believe that any information we are holding on you is incorrect or incomplete, please write to or email us [email protected] as soon as possible, at the above address. We will promptly correct any information found to be incorrect.

Our Website and In House Data Collection Policy

Our email collection policy is fully consent based and in entering your details clear consent is given by the user to receive future marketing materials from ourselves. The following information makes clear our policy on use of consent based email marketing and communications.

What we collect

We may collect the following information on a consent only basis:
●    name and job title
●    contact information including email address
●    demographic information such as postcode, preferences and interests
●    other information relevant to customer surveys and/or offers

What we do with the information we gather

The majority of the information we gather is required for contractual and legal purposes and to allow us to offer products and services as purchased. 
When consent is given to use the information for marketing and communication purposes it is used for the following reasons:
●    We may periodically send promotional emails about new products, special offers or other information which we think you may find interesting using the email address which you have provided.
●    From time to time, we may also use your information to contact you using your provided email address for market research purposes. 

Your information will never be shared with any third parties and at all times you have the right to unsubscribe permanently from our database with a simple click of the unsubscribe information at which time your details will be deleted from the mailing lists and removed from the database permanently with no archived records retained.

Killie FC

Website Terms and Conditions

Your use of the Killie FC Web Site is subject to these terms and by using the Site you show your agreement to such terms. If you do not accept our terms, please do not use the Web Site.

Ownership of Web Site

This Web Site belongs to Killie FC.


Headings used in these terms and conditions are for convenience only and shall not affect their interpretation.


The images, logos and names on this Web Site which identify Killie FC or third parties and their products and services are proprietary marks of Killie FC and/or the relevant third parties. Nothing contained in this Web Site shall be deemed to confer on any person any license or right on the part of Killie FC or any third party with respect to any such image, logo or name.


Killie FC reserves the right, at any time and without prior notice, to remove or cease to supply any product or service contained on this Web Site. In the event that such removal takes place we shall not be liable to you in any way whatsoever for such removal.

Phone Calls and Emails

Telephone calls using the telephone numbers provided on this Web Site and email correspondence with Killie FC at the email addresses accessible through, or discernible from, this Web Site may be recorded or monitored. By using such communication methods you are consenting to the recording or monitoring of the same.

Telephone charges

The price of calls may vary depending on your telecoms supplier. Please check with your operator for exact charges.


Commercial use

This Web Site is for non-commercial, personal use only. The services contained on this Web Site may be supplied on a commercial basis on payment to Killie FC or its service or product suppliers of its charges from time to time. Please contact us on Email: [email protected]

In the event that you use any of the services contained on this Web Site for commercial use, Killie FC shall be entitled to charge you at its applicable rates in respect of such commercial use.


The copyright in the material contained in this Web Site belongs to Killie FC or its licensed source. Any person may copy any part of this material, subject to the following conditions:

the material may not be used for commercial purposes;

the copies must retain any copyrights or other intellectual property notices contained in the original material;

the products and technology or processes described in this Web Site may be subject to other intellectual property rights reserved by Killie FC or by other third parties with no license granted in respect of those intellectual property rights); images on this Web Site are protected by copyright as its text by IPR and may not be reproduced or appropriated in any manner without the written permission of their respective owner(s).

Changes to Terms and Records of Agreements

We reserve the right to change these terms and conditions at any time by posting changes on the Web Site. It is your responsibility to review the Web Site terms and conditions to ensure you are aware of the latest terms and conditions. Your use of this Web Site after a change has been posted will be deemed to signify your acceptance of the modified terms and conditions. We recommend that you print off and retain for your records a copy of these terms and conditions from time to time and a copy of any terms and conditions relating to any product or service which you apply for online, together with any related application form completed and submitted.

Any amendment to terms and conditions must be agreed in writing by us, or, if appropriate, by the relevant company or individual supplier with whom you contract.


Whilst Killie FC has taken due care and attention in the preparation of the contents of this Web Site, this Web Site and the information, names, images, pictures, logos, icons regarding or relating to Killie FC or our products and services marketed on the site (or to third party products and services), are provided on an 'as is' basis without any representation or endorsement being made and without any warranty of any kind, whether express or implied, including but not limited to, any implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, security and accuracy.

To the extent permitted by law, all such terms and warranties are hereby excluded. In no event will Killie FC be liable, whether in contract or tort (including negligence or breach of statutory duty) or otherwise for any losses sustained and arising out of or in connection with use of this Web Site including, without limitation, loss of profits, loss of data or loss of goodwill (in all these cases whether direct or indirect) nor any indirect, economic, consequential or special loss.

Killie FC does not represent that the information contained in this Web Site is accurate, comprehensive, verified or complete, and shall accept no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this Web Site or for any reliance placed by any person on the information.

Killie FC does not warrant that the functions or materials accessible from or contained in this Web Site will be uninterrupted or error free, that defects will be corrected or that this Web Site or the server that makes it available are virus or bug free or represent the full functionality, accuracy, reliability of the materials.

If any of these Terms and Conditions (or any terms and conditions relating to a product or service referred to in this Web Site) should be determined to be illegal, invalid or otherwise unenforceable by reason of the laws of any state or country in which such terms and conditions are intended to be effective, then to the extent of such illegality, invalidity or unenforceability, and in relation to such state or country only, such terms or condition shall be deleted and severed from the rest of the relevant terms and conditions and the remaining terms and conditions shall survive, remain in full force and effect and continue to be binding and enforceable. Nothing in these terms and conditions shall exclude Killie FC's liability for death or personal injury resulting from negligence of Killie FC.

Intellectual Property Rights

All Intellectual Property Rights (including, without limitation, all database rights, rights in designs, rights in know-how, patents and rights in inventions (in all cases whether registered or unregistered and including all rights to apply for registration) and all other intellectual or industrial property rights in any jurisdiction) in any information, content, materials, data or processes contained in or to this Web Site belong to Killie FC or its licensed source. All rights of Killie FC in such Intellectual Property Rights are hereby reserved.

Jurisdiction and Law

Killie FC makes no representation that any product or service referred to on or through the Web Site is appropriate for use, or available in other locations. The information and other materials contained in this Web Site may not satisfy the laws of any other country and those who choose to access this Site from other locations are responsible for compliance with local laws if and to the extent local laws are applicable.

These Terms and Conditions and any terms and conditions relating to products or services described in this Web Site shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of Scotland. Disputes arising in relation to the same shall, unless otherwise expressly agreed, be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of Scotland.

Links to other Web Sites

Certain (hypertext) links, advertisements or suppliers promotion will lead you to Web Sites that are not under the control of Killie FC. When you activate any of these links, you will leave Killie FC Web Site by opening a new window and we have no control over and will accept no responsibility or liability in respect of the material on any such other Web Site. By allowing links with third party Web Sites Killie FC does not intend to solicit business or offer any security to any person in any country, directly or indirectly.

Force Majeure

Every effort will be made to carry out the contract but its due performance is subject to cancellation by Killie FC or to such variation as we may find necessary as a result of inability to secure labour, materials or supplies or as a result of any act of God, War, Strike, Lockout or other labour dispute, Fire, Flood, Drought, Legislation, or other cause (whether of the foregoing class or not) beyond the sellers control.

Killie FC

Website Accessibility

We have tried to make this website as accessible as possible and easy to use for everyone, regardless of circumstance or ability.

All our page templates comply with the WCAG Priority 2 checkpoints as a minimum requirement. And we make every effort to ensure that all the content on our site meets this standard too. We are making every effort to ensure that we don't exclude any users. For example:

  • We try to use clear and simple language.
  • We use alternative text for all our images 
  • Were possible the HTML we produce conforms to the standard: XHTML 1.0 Strict
  • We have tested the colours we use in the design for contrast.

We try to publish all our text content as accessible HTML rather than in other formats such as PDF. Where we do publish PDFs or other formats our policy is to make them as accessible as we can.

Please feel free to share the content of this page with your friends – simply click on where you would like to share it.