Story blogs

Kilmarnock is writing its own ‘fantasy story’ to rival the Arbroath fairy tale, says Derek McInnes

It all comes down to Friday night suspense between the top two in the cinch championship, separated by a single point with two games to go.

On one side is Kilmarnock, relegated from the Premier League last season after 28 years and on the other Arbroath, part-timer and excelling at proving all doubters wrong and on the verge of big time themselves.

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Rugby Park boss McInnes agrees that many neutrals can watch the televised game for the underdogs while a capacity crowd roars from the stands.

Kyle Lafferty joined the club earlier this year and has returned to scoring form with eight goals so far, lifting Killie to the top of the second tier. (Photo by Sammy Turner/SNS Group)

“I understand the fairy tale aspect, but I think the whole part-timer shows what can be done,” he said.

“Although we have obvious advantages in Killie, the crowd, the players, I only had three months with the players. Arbroath worked together and built this team for three years, you can see the advantages of that, they have good players, good enough to play full time.

“I understand it’s going to be a fantastic story, but I only care about Kilmarnock, and it would be a fantastic story for us after being five points behind them and having everything to do.”

There were twists and turns leading up to this penultimate step. Kilmarnock were fifth in December before Tommy Wright was sacked, Kyle Lafferty returned to the club and McInnes was appointed.

Kilmarnock manager Derek McInnes. (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group)

Every story needs characters and it is not without them. Dick Campbell in the away dugout is one of Scotland’s most colorful and established footballers and McInnes himself one of the biggest names in the Championship after eight years with Aberdeen in the top flight. Now he is looking for a comeback.

“It was a bit of a whirlwind. I feel like I’ve been here for over three months to be honest, but I really appreciate it and am desperate to play my part in getting the club back to where it should be.

Lafferty is also making headlines after scoring eight goals since returning in January.

“You think of Kyle, the bigger the game, the better the good players perform, that’s what we’re hoping for.

Derek McInnes took over at Rugby Park in January. (Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group)

“I’m delighted with the level of performance since we arrived. We’re looking for the same, I’m not looking for anything we haven’t shown.”

Rugby Park will be in its prime for a long time, with plenty more TV viewing in a cliffhanger that couldn’t have been scripted better.

“I’m really enjoying the build-up. There’s a bit more to it because the fans have responded so well. There will be a bigger crowd and more control,” added McInnes, who has taken 30 points from a possible 45 since joining as Killie aims to regain Premiership status at the first attempt.

“There are players here who were relegated last year and who feel responsible for it.

“Everyone who joined the club afterwards, whether it was in the summer or, like me and my team, earlier this year, all signed up to do one thing and bring the club back into the top flight.

“If we can win on Friday we can catch our breath, but I’m hesitant to talk too much before because I have too much respect for the league.”