About John Speirs

An urban layabout with a fear of seagulls. I honestly consider myself the arch duke of council cuisine. Though i dont really know what i mean by arch duke.

Heritage Walk


Fancy a walk around Kilmarnock town centre, visit a few pubs, have a few drinks and learn lots of things about the town while you do so?

Well, local Historians Gary Torbett, Graham Boyd and Stuart Wilson are here to help you out by leading a heritage walk in and around Kilmarnock town centre on the evening of Thursday 27th August with any proceeds being handed over to the Killie Trust.

In Gary’s own words:

“The walk will be over a fairly short walking distance, will take in a few town centre bars AND you will learn a wee bit about the town’s history….I hope.

A sort of educational pub crawl.

The plan is to start at Fanny By Gaslight at 5.30 / 6pm for a beer (you buy your own BTW) and then head down The Strand, through The Cross, down Sandbed, along St Marnock Street, up Bank Street and along College Wynd to John Finnie Street.

The walk will visit 6 bars along the way so you will have a varied view of the pubs in Killie!! However the point is to get folk out walking, learning and spending a few quid in the town.

The walk is free of charge – like I say, bring your beer money – but I will collect discretionary donations at the end which I will pass to The Killie Trust.”

If you would like any more information don’t hesitate to contact the Trust here, or on facebook or twitter.

Its Back…..our Fantasy Football Minileague is Back!

Here we are, the annual Fantasy Football is back post, and earlier than before! Re-registration only opened last week and the KillieTrustLiga has been renewed for its 8th year already (I know, its unbelievable).

If you have played before and plan on playing again you will be entered automatically whenever you reregister your team, and in fact 15 teams have already been added, if this will be your first year however here is the important information you will need.

Click www.fantasy.premierleague.com

Register a team

Pick your team, 15 players (11 plus 4 subs)

Click to join a league

Enter this code 185525-49773

Et Voila, you are now in with a chance of toppling reigning champion (two years running no less) Brian Chambers as he goes for that most American of terms, the three-peat, at which point he may or may not change his name to Brian Chamb3rs to celebrate. Or not.

Have a look at the rules too, there seems to be some new additions to the game this season in the form of bonus points “chips” as to how to use them and what exactly they are.

Still plenty of time to pick your team and you can change it as many times as you please before the season starts, we usually get a good number of teams but please feel free to share this info with all your Killie supporting friends through Facebook, Twitter, email, by post, carrier pigeon, word of mouth etc etc.

Thanks! Best of luck to all entrants!

Trust/KFCSA Joint Statement 29/1/2015

The Board of the Killie Trust and the Committee of KFCSA are pleased to announce an enhancement to the good relationship they have and that the two organisations will be working more closely together for the benefit of supporters of Kilmarnock FC.

As part of that process, the Chairman of KFCSA, James Morrison, has been appointed to the Board of the Trust.

In turn, Jim Thomson, Chairman of the Trust and also a Committee Member of Young Kilmarnock, has been proposed as a Committee Member for KFCSA – it is planned to ratify and confirm that proposed appointment at the next Committee Meeting of KFCSA.

The Committee of KFCSA fully support the continuing efforts of the Trust in their negotiations to secure a place on the Board of Kilmarnock FC on suitable and appropriate terms.

From The Archives: FFTF Crossbar Challenge

000_0051At half time of the last home game of the 2003/2004 season 10 Killie fans donned their boots and took to the Rugby Park pitch to promote the recently introduced Fifty for the Future scheme by having a go at the “crossbar challenge” which was made famous on Sky Sports “Soccer AM” TV show. If you aren’t familiar with it, each person has to strike a dead ball from the centre spot (or edge of the centre circle in this case) and hit the crossbar. Quite simple really…..but also really hard.

Though not a fund raiser it was used to embed the idea of FFTF firmly in everyone’s mind. Judging by the success over the course of that scheme, I would say it worked.

000_0050000_0049000_0047000_0048000_0046000_0044000_0045Oh and no one managed to hit the bar, not unlike the TV version most weeks.000_0043

New Year, New Board Member

67642_433575716712950_578679963_nWe recently reported that we would be adding new faces to the Trust Board and today we are delighted to announce that Killie’s own Tommy Adams has been co-opted on as a director. Tommy is a local legend and well known in the community not only for the sterling work he has done for the football club but as the most popular Killie fan south of Symington as a result of plying his trade as “the people’s DJ” in pubs and clubs throughout Ayrshire and beyond.

Since departing the club’s commercial department in 2014, Tommy has started up his own promotional company which sets up advertising opportunities for businesses with football clubs and he has already secured clients from Junior level all the way up to SPFL. In less than a month he managed to sell all the advertising space on club calendars for six clients which helps illustrate how important Tommy is going to be to us.

It goes without saying that we see this as a bit of a coup and we hope that Tommy can help persuade disenfranchised local business people back to supporting the football club through the Killie Trust. Tommy, like us, shares the belief that Kilmarnock FC should be a hub for the community and in turn that the community will reciprocate by engaging once again with the club…at least that is how it should work! We hope that everyone will join us in welcoming Tommy back into the fold and spare him a minute when he comes calling…

Are we Dying in the Stands?

This post first appeared on http://www.killiefc.com forums on the Tuesday 6th January following the Celtic home match on the Monday night. It was posted by the forum user Punkit, otherwise known as Gary Torbett, who is a member of the Trust board.

It raised some interesting debate about the future of Killie and Scottish football in general so we have posted it here too for those who have missed it.

Buy a brick at Rugby ParkThe highest league crowd at RP this season has been, as we would expect, against Celtic. However, it was 5,329 – or under 30% of the stadium capacity, even allowing for seats their fans have previously ripped out to help us reduce our capacity.

Now, I’m not looking for a debate about the folly 20 years ago of building a stadium which was significantly larger than our average gates – even in 1964/65 when there were no distractions we only got about 10/12k. We have, from time to time, seen crowds over 15k, and sometimes not involving the Old Firm. We have to work with what we have got. Sadly, that is a stadium which could house about 40% of the population of the town and is therefore, somewhat unsurprisingly, never very full. But the percentage is interesting when we look at the two sports teams in the west who are, it seems, thriving.

Braehead Clan and Glasgow Warriors featured in the press on a few occasions pre Christmas as bucking the trend on increasing crowds while football is experiencing a fall in gates. Their crowds are, on the face of it small at averaging just under 4k and 6k respectively (give or take). However, when you consider that these teams have backsides on 95%+ of their seats every home game, it seems clear that they could both perhaps get bigger gates in bigger stadia and, perhaps more significantly, are doing something right that football isn’t. These are what we call minority sports remember.
Bear in mind that given the nature of the leagues these teams play in the vast majority of punters are home fans we can see that both have now got larger home supports than many SPL clubs, including our own. I believe less than 2k home fans were at RP last night.

So, is it price driven? To an extent yes, but I would suggest it is more a value for money issue. Clan’s match day tickets vary from £19 down to £15 with under 16s able to get in for £9. Warriors vary from £30 to £20 with all under 18 tickets £5 and there are over 60s and student concessions. You can also get £5 off adult tickets if you buy them online up to midnight before game day.

Perhaps not a huge difference from football overall. So why can these organisations be more successful at filling their grounds ?

I have never been to The Clan so it wouldn’t be fair to make comparisons, but my mate who is a die-hard Morton fan has had a season ticket for a few years now and enjoys it so much he goes to away games throughout the UK. He will always follow the ‘Ton but says he turns up, watches the game and goes home. There is no thrill to it all and his blind loyalty to attending Cappielow is what keeps that going for him. He loves football, supports the ‘Ton – end of. However, he ENJOYS fallowing The Clan and finds supporting them to be a pleasure rather than an obligation, dare I say a chore. He wonders how long the chore will survive.

I do, however, follow Warriors and can comment more on what they do- good and bad.

When rugby was amateur, and you harboured dreams to play for Scotland, you had to play for a suitably good club to pit your skills against top players. From there you could be selected for your district. So, if you were a good enough Killie player you would hope to get picked for Glasgow District. From there you would hope to get a Scotland B cap and then a full cap. Glasgow District are now the pro team we know as Glasgow Warriors which is why Ayrshire folk follow them. This is important because Glasgow played in front of fairly small crowds as an amateur team and this did not significantly change until about 5 years ago. So how have they moved from a small but loyal support to appeal to a whole new audience and effectively treble their crowds?

Matchday experience. This is in the main good. Bad points are that the prices could be a fiver less IMO and hospitality does not represent good value. That said, they are 95%+ full and hospitality is heaving. Market forces and all that. The majority of players in both teams are also full international caps so I suppose you are definitely watching a high standard of game at that price.

Contrary to belief, it is not just the availability of alcohol that makes the experience good. Cold lager in January is not always appealing ! However, the atmosphere in the compact stadium is excellent and people generally arrive a good hour before ko. Why?

Well, ok, beer. But also a varied choice of food; Junior tournaments (final played at HT on main pitch); coaches and a couple of non-selected players mingling and talking to supporters in the bar pre match and with man of the match post match; Head Coach and players mingling and talking to hospitality guests and business club members pre and post match (They stay until the guests leave !); Kids Zone for pre and post match activities and where players are obliged to sign autographs and get photos taken straight after the match for as many kids as are there.

All in all it’s an experience designed to satisfy adults and families alike with loads going on in the stadium before and after the game. It’s not about just turning up, watching the game and going home.

Community involvement. I think the fact that the Community section of their website extends to 6 pages of initiatives explains what they are doing right there. Have a look http://www.glasgowwarriors.org/community

Have Warriors outgrown Scotstoun? Not yet, but the recent derby in Edinburgh attracted just under 16k so maybe soon. I would suggest they have a winning formula there and would want to stay.

Of course, this is all helped by a successful team who challenge at the top of an international league and with a young, enthusiastic coach who appreciates what the support means to the club and vice versa. Gregor Townsend will tell you in no uncertain terms that he believes the players perform well not just because they are good and have a good coaching team, but because of the feeling of belonging they get being part of the whole set up in a forward thinking environment.

Now…Nicola (Sturgeon) knows all this. I wonder what the stumbling blocks are to getting these sort of initiatives in place are ? What are we waiting for ? Wil it be too late ?

We can no longer say ‘Aye, but that’s Football – it’s always been that way’.

A New Year Message From The Chairman

560356_10151114652829899_1483803466_nI would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their messages of encouragement and support following my appointment as Chair of the Kilmarnock Supporters Society Limited (the Killie Trust to you and I). I am extremely proud to follow in the footsteps of Stevie Lockhart, Colin Hargreaves and Barry Richmond, all of whom have done a tremendous job for us over the past eleven years, and I shall endeavour to follow suit.

As we welcome in a new year I thought it apt to reassure our members that the Trust will continue to pursue community ownership for Kilmarnock Football Club, with the first stage towards that being meaningful and democratic fan representation on the club’s board. As was reported at our recent AGM, we are in dialogue with the Club in regards this matter and have offered to source significant and continued investment in an effort to kick start proceedings.

It was great to see Hibernian Chairman Rod Petrie echo the thoughts of so many others in the higher echelons of Scottish football by admitting the landscape of Scottish football is changing and that clubs will have to embrace community ownership and that Hibs would strive to be “a progressive, forward thinking and modern” club by now pursuing this avenue themselves. Many more will surely embrace said ethos soon if Scottish clubs are to survive and flourish, and we should be taking a lead on this.

In the coming year our focus will be to increase our membership significantly, and also persuade more local businesses to support our vision. Marie Macklin CBE of the Klin Group showed her support of the Trust and our aims by donating to us a significant number of her own shares in Kilmarnock FC which saw the Trust become the club’s second largest shareholder at the time; of course we do not expect such generosity from everyone, but it was still fantastic to see her being recognised in the New Year’s honours list for her services to local economic regeneration and entrepreneurship, well done Marie!

A few of our long serving board members stood down at our recent AGM and we are extremely grateful for their valued contribution over the years. While there are more than enough to ensure continuity, we have approached a few replacements already to keep the numbers up and work load manageable, the announcements will follow shortly and I am sure that our members will not be disappointed.  2015 will be a big year for the Killie Trust and rest assured that the Board are all fully committed to our club and community and will continue to press for what is best for both. Here’s to us all having a Happy New Year!

Jim Thomson

Trust Chairman

From The Archives: Grand in your Hand (+ Diary)

379923_10150576691074899_754431406_nAs 2011 drew to a close we launched an initiative to both boost membership as well as send one lucky member home from the Dundee United match considerably richer than they turned up, £1000 richer to be exact. The draw was for all current trust members, either long term or newly signed up, their membership numbers put in a bucket and at halftime of said match our Chairman Barry Richmond braved the cold and stood in the centre circle with bucket in hand to draw the winning entry.

306673_10151478821009899_1930681168_nStephen Carolan had the winning number and had an extra £1000 that Christmas. Here he is getting his picture taken post match with his prize alongside Trust board members Davie Davidson and Nigel Fitzsimmons.

diary06Also as a bonus this Christmas, here is a nice little item. The Trust diary from 2006 which was on sale for £2 with proceeds going to the Trust.

I am sure it found its way onto a few Killie fans lists for santa list for Santa.

Welcome to our New Chairman

560356_10151114652829899_1483803466_nLast night the Killie Trust Board appointed our new chairman to replace Barry Richmond, who stepped down at the recent AGM after seven years in the role. Jim Thomson, a “weel kent” face in the world of all things Killie, has agreed to take on the role for the next year at least. Jim retired from the police force in 2008 after 30 years of service before joining the Trust Board in 2009. He was instrumental in setting up and operating the K-STEP Programme for local school children which led to the Trust being awarded a large grant from the Royal Bank of Scotland, among many other achievements. Jim is also a dedicated committee member of the Young Kilmarnock coaching organisation, which is the envy of every football club in the country.

A lifelong Killie fan and a shareholder in the Killie Trust since our formation over a decade ago, Jim embraces the Trust’s ideals and philosophies and recognises “the only sustainable future for Kilmarnock Football Club is through some form of community ownership” and hopes to oversee progress on all Trust fronts over the next year. The man he is replacing said: “I am delighted to be passing the baton to someone as capable as Jim, his drive, enthusiasm and ability to shoulder responsibility is exactly what we need right now. If he gets the same support afforded myself then I have no doubt that the Trust will continue to flourish and serve the club and the community well”.

From The Archives: To Somerset…..on foot

On 24th of July 2004 an intrepid band of Trust members set off from Rugby Park and walked the 16miles to a football ground south of Symington which in some circles is also known as Somerset Park, Ayr.

They weren’t doing this for no reason however, for one they were heading down to see the Westsound Trophy match between Killie and Ayr but also they were being sponsored to do so to help raise funds to sponsor Kilmarnock’s under 17 squad and also to aid local schools by helping purchase sports equipment.

They faced some fairly inclement weather with some early damping down giving way to a stiff breeze to dry them out on the approach to KA8.  Unfortunately, this was followed by a drenching towards the end of the journey, indeed a bit like the pattern of the game itself. Here they are before they set off however.