Kilmarnock’s cup final joy turns to agony

Kilmarnock midfielder Liam Kelly’s dad Jack has died after suffering a heart attack while watching his son’s cup-winning performance over Scottish league leaders Celtic.

He collapsed at the end of the Scottish Communities League Cup match at Hampden. Jack was treated by paramedics near the Kilmarnock dugout before being taken to hospital.

Liam Kelly (right) taking on Celtic's Gary Hooper earlier in the game

Players celebrated the 1-0 win oblivious to the medical emergency.

In the post-match press conference, Kilmarnock manager Kenny Shiels said the dressing room was left ‘despondent’.

He said: ‘We are not sure of the outcome but he is very seriously ill and that’s a tough emotion after going up to one of the best moments of our lives.

‘The dressing room is very despondent and I don’t know why the man above sends down these messages to us.

‘We are thinking more about Liam than our triumphalism.’

Kilmarnock goalkeeper Cammy Bell said: ‘‘We are so close as a team and we just couldn’t celebrate after we learned what had happened (in the final moments of the game),’ said a clearly shocked Bell, before the tragic news had been confirmed.

‘If you could have taken away my performance and my winner’s medal, I would be happy with that — as long as it meant Liam’s dad was OK.

‘Liam didn’t go up to get his medal at the final whistle because he ran straight to see his dad.

‘I found out what was going on when I was on the pitch afterwards and I ran straight in to see Liam.

‘There wasn’t much you could say to him in that terrible situation, so I just gave him a hug.

‘I saw the paramedics working on his dad and it just put everything in  perspective.

‘It was very emotional watching and everyone was just hoping and praying that his dad would be OK. It was such a rollercoaster of emotions to go through.

‘We had all been on a massive high after beating Celtic and winning the final and then something as horrific as that happens.

‘I know some Kilmarnock supporters might see it differently, but it is only a game of football at the end of the day.

‘In a situation you like this, you just think about your own father.  Afterwards, we were all sitting in the dressing room numb’.

Before the news: Dieter Van Tornhout celebrates his winning goal

The incident came just 24 hours after Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed during an FA Cup tie against Spurs at White Hart Lane and was rushed to a London hospital suffering from cardiac arrest.

‘These tragic events show what life can throw at you,’ added an emotional Bell. ‘I was sitting with my team-mate Garry Hay in our hotel on Saturday watching the Bolton game.

‘What has happened just shows how much you have to appreciate life when you are here.’

Kilmarnock captain James Fowler, meanwhile, became the first Rugby Park captain in history to lift the League Cup — an honour he shared with injured regular skipper Manuel Pascali — but admitted the experience felt like a defeat after the Kelly’s family tragedy.

Glum: Killie manager Kenny Shiels

‘We have experienced the highs and lows and it feels like we lost,’ said Fowler, speaking after the final whistle. ‘The atmosphere wasn’t one of  celebration, there was no champagne or beer in the dressing room afterwards.

‘Everyone just feels for Liam and his family at the moment. I was aware something had happened quite quickly after the game had finished, but I wasn’t sure exactly what it was.

‘It wasn’t until we finished all the  celebrations at full-time that I noticed the manager was looking glum when he was speaking to a radio reporter. I went over to get him involved and it was then he told me what happened to Liam’s dad.

‘It was really flat in the dressing room and it puts football into perspective.

‘My dad was here to watch the game, as well.  He won the Scottish Amateur Cup Final three times at Hampden but when something as awful as this happens, it makes you realise how short life is. You never know what is waiting around the corner.

‘It’s such a tragedy. Liam was different class out there against Celtic today. He has been in really good form this season and he played out of his skin in the Final.

‘But for something like that to happen to his dad has completely overshadowed our achievement today, which is totally understandable.’