Dieter van Tornhout became an instant Kilmarnock legend when his late winner against Celtic yesterday secured Killie the Scottish League Cup for the first time in the club's history. Sadly, the Ayrshire club's joy turned to tragedy within moments of the final whistle when the father of midfielder Liam Kelly suffered a suspected heart attack and died.
Jack Kelly, 59, received emergency treatment yards from the Kilmarnock dugout. His son was told the news as he and his team-mates celebrated on the pitch and the midfielder was visibly distraught before being moved away from the scene as paramedics treated his father.
The rest of the Kilmarnock players lifted the trophy oblivious to the unfolding tragedy but manager Kenny Shiels was aware of the situation and looked on in serious concern. Shiels later revealed the dressing room was left "despondent" by the news. "I went from so high an emotion to so low an emotion," added Shiels. "We are thinking more about Liam than our triumphalism."
Jack Kelly was rushed to Glasgow Victoria Infirmary but died yesterday evening. The rest of the players were told the news of the death as they toured Kilmarnock on an open-top bus.
The game itself was won by Van Tornhout, on as a substitute, who headed in an 83rd-minute cross from Lee Johnson. Celtic had enjoyed the best of the chances before then and their manager, Neil Lennon, claimed referee Willie Collum had cost his club the chance of a possible treble after a "criminal decision" not to award the Hoops a last-minute penalty.
As Celtic chased the equaliser, striker Anthony Stokes went to ground after a challenge by Killie defender Michael Nelson and in instead of celebrating a spot-kick, he was horrified to be booked for simulation. "It is a criminal decision and it has cost us the treble," Lennon said. "It's a stonewall penalty. It's a shocking decision, absolutely shocking."
Early on a horrendous mistake by Kilmarnock's Mo Sissoko gifted the Parkhead side the best chance of the half. Under no pressure with the ball at his feet outside his own box, the big defender's sloppy pass across his back-line was intercepted by the lurking Gary Hooper. The Celtic striker had only goalkeeper Cameron Bell to beat but the keeper made a good block.
There was another early chance at the start of the second half, this time for Kilmarnock, when Dean Shiels burst into the Celtic box after getting the break of the ball but after making space for himself he dreadfully mishit his shot from only six yards.
Just after the hour, Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley fired wide of the target before Stokes shot straight at Bell from inside the area. The Kilmarnock keeper then tipped a Victor Wanyama header over the bar.
Once Kilmarnock were ahead the final minutes were fraught and there was time for Bell to make a double save, first from Georgios Samaras and then Kris Commons, and for Stokes to get booked for simulation.
Celtic (4-4-2): Forster; Matthews, Rogne (Ki 56), Wilson, Mulgrew; Forrest, Brown, Wanyama, Ledley (Commons, 86); Hooper (Samaras, 80), Stokes. Substitutes not used: Zaluska, Cha.
Kilmarnock (4-4-2): Bell; Fowler, Sissoko (Kroca, 86), Nelson, Gordon; Kelly, Buijs (Johnson, 20), Harkins (Van Tornhout, 73), Hay; Shiels, Heffernan. Substitutes not used: Letheren, Dayton.
Referee: W Collum.