RELEGATION drama? This season has seen plenty of it with what seems half of the Ladbrokes Premiership scrambling about frantically trying to escape its clutches over the last few months.
Richie Foran’s Caley take on a demob-happy Motherwell in the Highlands tomorrow knowing only a win will be enough to keep any hope alive.
Accies, just one point ahead with a seemingly unassailable goal difference, host Dundee well aware this would be as good a time as any to stop a run of four straight defeats.
Torture for both parties, great fun for the rest of us. The magnitude of the drama, heartache and delirium was perhaps even higher if we turn the clock back. May 2010 is our year, a pre-plastic Rugby Park is the setting.
Kilmarnock and Falkirk met in the final game of the SPL campaign with the home team needing just a draw to escape the clutches of relegation, while the visitors needed to take everything to stay up.
In the end, Kilmarnock clung to a 0-0 in front of over 10,000 fans, the Ayrshire side’s honour maintained. It is not an afternoon that will leave the memory any time soon for those involved.
“I have experiences of big games but that was something else,” said Jimmy Calderwood, the man brought in halfway through the 2009/2010 season to keep Kilmarnock in the top flight.
“We had a really good team. We should have won the game, but at the end the draw was enough. Getting over the line was all that I cared about.
“You wouldn’t want to be in that situation when one of your friends is involved. You get these kind of things and it’s so, so nerve-wracking.”
Going into that final game of the season just two points above Falkirk, Calderwood can recall the butterflies striking a manager who in his previous post had marched Aberdeen into the Allianz Arena.
“One of the most stressful afternoons of my managerial career? You’ve got that spot on!
“When you are behind you know you have to win, but it was different for us. For Inverness, they know against Motherwell they are going to have to take chances. They don’t have the luxury of knowing a point may be enough.
“I don’t normally get worked up about things like that, you have confidence to deal with it. Every manager would say it is absolutely the worst thing to deal with.
“You are potentially going to drop down to a smaller league. I’ve been doing a couple of things for Donald Findlay and Cowdenbeath and they have a massive game against East Kilbride in a similar situation. I’m just lucky I’m not involved.
“We had a really good team. Wee Craig Bryson was brilliant, Jamie Hamill was brilliant, you had James Fowler who played so many games for the club.
“Big Kevin Kyle as well, we had so many wonderful professionals. Kevin had his moments but if you got him under control he was a fantastic lad.
“It was a brilliant day for us. Kilmarnock is a wonderful, wonderful club. You’ve done it for the fans and we played our part. You always remember that.
“I really enjoyed it and it was a lovely group of players and I just thought we had a wonderful group that we would take into the top league who could make it up into the top six.
“The pressure comes on and you see who comes and saves you, and that’s what happened for Kilmarnock.
“They never should have been in that position. We beat Celtic on that run to stay up, a fantastic Celtic team. But we did, and given how things
ultimately ended up, that was a sickener for me.”
That would turn out to be Calderwood’s last game in charge at Kilmarnock as chairman Michael Johnston instead turned to Mixu Paatelainen to be the man to steer the club’s future. Back to the present day, Calderwood
remains torn over this weekend’s two candidates.
Of course, safety is not guaranteed for the team who gets the less stinky end of the stick. A play-off against either Falkirk or Dundee United will beckon for the Premiership’s second-most mince team.
“You look at these things and I had Iain Vigurs at Ross County. He is a great player. You think of some of your ex-players and hope it goes well for them,” said the 62-year-old.
“I’ve seen a lot of Hamilton this year and up until five weeks ago they were cruising. It’s a great club and I don’t know what’s happened. It could just be a loss of confidence. For me, Hamilton deserve to stay up but they are on a slide.
“For Inverness? They are a big club. Richie is a great lad and a good footballer. It’s a difficult for one. You just don’t wish it on anyone.”