Andy King: Dynamic defender whose waspish but precisely timed tackles helped Kilmarnock win their only league title

 

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Andy King was a doughty and dynamic defensive bulwark as Kilmarnock lifted the Scottish League championship in 1964-65 for the only time in their history.

The chunky right-back missed only one game and performed with characteristic determination and skill in the dramatic final encounter of the season, in which Killie had to beat Hearts 2-0 at Tynecastle to pip their hosts to the title on goal average, the complicated precursor to goal difference as a means of separating clubs with equal points.

Willie Waddell’s men did just that, which seemed hard on Hearts, but Kilmarnock deserved the title, having finished runners-up in four of the previous five seasons.

King, who had been recruited by his only professional club from Dreghorn Juniors in May 1960, made his senior debut two years later and cemented a regular place in 1963-64, striking up an admirably efficient partnership with his left-flank counterpart, Matt Watson.

He was called up for under-23 internationals against Wales and France in 1964 and Wales again a year later, and represented the Scottish League. However, he never gained a full cap, his elevation being blocked by stylish rivals such as Dundee’s Alex Hamilton, John Greig of Rangers and the Celtic stalwart Tommy Gemmell.

Composed, constructive and consistent, King was an admirable timer of his tackles, which tended to be of the waspish variety, and he was a precise passer, often linking to telling effect with Kilmarnock’s quicksilver right-winger Tommy McLean. He remained an automatic choice at Rugby Park until 1970, then stretched his appearance tally to nearly 300 before retiring in 1972.

Andrew King, footballer: born Crookedholm, Ayrshire 23 July 1942; played for Kilmarnock 1960-72; died Kilmarnock 23 February 2015.

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