27 November ~ Cast your minds back to May 7, 1994. It is the day after the Channel Tunnel opened, John Smith is leader of the Labour Party and Blur's Parklife is the country's number one album. It is also the date of Kilmarnock's last home win over Rangers. That is 17 and half years of the occasional hard-fought draw and more than the occasional thumping. The most recent of these came on the final day of last season, as Rangers, looking to clinch the title, went 3-0 up inside seven minutes and eventually ran out out 5-1 winners.
It was embarrassing but predictable. A team that had won plaudits all season for some of the best football ever seen at Rugby Park seemed to have one foot on the beach from the moment Mixu Paatelainen left the manager's job to take over the Finnish national side at the end of March. As Paatelainen's replacement Kenny Shiels has mentioned in the build-up to this weekend's encounter, some players may have been protecting themselves before moving elsewhere in the summer.
Shiel's position is an interesting one. You would expect that a record of three wins in 23 SPL games would lead to demands for a change, "Shiels Out" banners and maybe even the odd protest march from a pub. However, he has some goodwill in the bank as he was part of Paatelainen's management team and has an excellent reputation as a youth coach. A decent League Cup run with a Hampden semi-final to come against local rivals Ayr United hasn't hurt either.
His popularity can be traced largely to the style of football on show. Admirably, Shiels has stuck to the entertaining passing game that served the team so well for most of last season. When it clicks, as it did in the 4-1 win over Hibs and the first half against Celtic a few weeks ago, it is a joy to behold. But when the players fail to string a couple of passes together the roof can cave in, Exhibit A being the 6-3 reverse in the last home game against bottom club Inverness.
Which Killie will turn up today? A team that has scored six goals in their two previous home games should be full of confidence but when nine goals have been conceded in those same two games and just one point has been collected, only a fool would dare predict today's score. So I predict some attractive Killie moves resulting in praise from the media, one or two chances created (and missed) and that a ruthless, clinical Rangers run out 2-0 winners. Andy Wilson