KILMARNOCK manager Kenny Shiels wants their Clydesdale Bank Premier League game against Hibernian to be a tribute to the supporter who lost his life the last time the two clubs met.
The meeting at Rugby Park on 5 May was abandoned after home fan James Haswell collapsed in the stands with a suspected heart attack. He later died in hospital.
The rearranged match will take place tonight, with his family in attendance and Shiels is keen for the occasion to be a celebration of the fan’s life. A minute’s silence is also planned in honour of Mr Haswell.
He said: “We are expecting a really good game. We are looking forward to the occasion because it’s to celebrate the life of one of our supporters.
“That’s foremost in our thoughts as we go into the game.
“Someone said to me that it just puts things into perspective and that life is more important than football. But, for football supporters, within the moment of the game, the most important thing to them is football for those 90 minutes.
“Jim was no different. The fellow supporters of Kilmarnock can draw an affinity with that. They have lost one of theirs and this is a chance to go and have an occasion where we can celebrate his life. That’s important.”
Hibs have a meeting with Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup final on 26 May but Shiels expects the Edinburgh club to be just as determined as his own players to secure a win tonight and bolster their chances of finishing in seventh spot.
He said: “There are always permutations of some sort but it’s a game of football at the end of it all.
“Hibs will want to win to get seventh place, as will we. That will make it competitive and I’m expecting it to be a really top game with a lot of good young players on show from Hibernian and Kilmarnock.”
However, youngster Mark O’Hara hopes Hibs boss Pat Fenlon might be tempted to rest some of his top stars ahead of the Hampden showdown.
The 17-year-old defender said: “Even with their strongest team, hopefully we will be able to win the game. But it would be preferable if they rested a couple of their bigger players.
“Both teams like to play good, attacking football so I think it will be an entertaining game.
“Hopefully, it will be high scoring in our favour if we are able to keep them out and score a few ourselves.”