Kilmarnock and Real Madrid are not two teams commonly associated with each other. In 1965 though, the two locked horns in European competition, something that will probably never happen again.
The first ever competitive European fixture at Rugby Park was played the year previous in 1964. It was a famous night in Killie history, with the Ayrshire side hammering German opponents Eintracht Frankfurt 5-1 in front of nearly 15,000 people.
Following on from that, the next year seen the Spanish giants rock up in Ayrshire for a European Champion Clubs’ Cup match.
Kilmarnock matched Real Madrid
Over 25,000 people crammed into Rugby Park to see the match. With world class players like Ferenc Puskas and Francisco Gento all on display, this was not an occasion you wanted to miss if you lived in the local area.
It was the likes of David Sneddon and Matthew Watson who would go toe to toe with the European giants. Kilmarnock had their moment of joy when they took the lead through a Tommy McLean penalty.
Madrid fired back with two of their own before Jackie McInally equalised, with the game finishing 2-2 on the night.
Killie somehow matched Madrid in the first leg, but that wasn’t the case when they travelled to the Bernabeu. A slightly more daunting crowd of 80,000 watched on as the Ayrshire side were humbled 5-1 by their Spanish opposition.
It is memories and historic matches like this which should inspire Killie during their upcoming Europa League campaign. If the Kilmarnock side of 1965 can match Real Madrid, there’s no reason why this current crop of players can’t hassle anyone they come up against in Europe.
Kilmarnock take on Connah’s Quay Nomads in their first European qualifier since the early 2000s very soon. The tales of Killie’s Rugby Park heroics against Madrid should give them all the inspiration they need.