In 1977 a young traffic cop called Dan Marcolini sat in a bar in his home town of Verona, Italy and pondered the name Kilmarnock on a bottle of Johnnie Walker whisky. Being a football fan, and having had a few tipples, he decided to follow the fortunes of the Ayrshire Azzurri...and that's as good a reason as any! Dan wrote (yes, on paper) to Walter McCrae to ask about the club and to see if there was any way he could get some club merchandise shipped over. This surprised Mr McRae no end but he duly obliged and Dan was soon to be seen sporting the famous stripes around the strade of Verona.
It was not easy keeping up with everything that was going on at the Theatre of Pies in the early days, the BBC World Service didn't really rate us newsworthy. Dan persevered though, and via the wonders of the internet he often knows now what is happening before some of us locals do! It was to be 1988 before Dan made his first trip to Scotland to watch Killie in action and down the years he has met many of our fans and staff at the club. As well as home games he also went to the OGC Nice Euro tie in France and drove over 1000km on a scooter to see us in Kaiserlautern! We took him a tour of the stadium back in 2003 prior to a match againts Aberdeen, and he brought his wife and two youngest kids over for the KFCSA Player of the Year dance a year or two back, so it was great to hear that he was coming over to see the mighty again.
With Dan this time were his oldest boys, Enrico, Luca and Davide, who go and see Hellas Verona like their father (Shhh...Luca's a Chievo fan), but also like him, if asked...they are Killie supporters first and foremost. They tried their best at emptying the club shops shelves and the ladies behind the counter must have wondered what was going on as Peter Nederlof and the Dutch Killie supporters also arrived in at the same time. The club kindly offered the lads free tickets, a big thank you to Tommy, Joanne and Priti for organising that, it was most appreciated, rest assured the money saved was spent in the Sports Bar.
The least said about the weather and indeed the game the better, but it would take more than that to dampen the enthusiasm of these boys and they headed off to the Howard Arms to meet up with former gaffer Kenny Shiels and a few more refreshments before travelling back to Edinburgh where they were staying the night. They had spent the previous night in Irvine, and I did warn them the price of a pint would be a wee bit more expensive than the Porthead, but they were leaving from that airport anyway and Dan wanted to visit the cemetery to pay his respects to Bill Donnachie, author of the Killie Who's Who, a friend of his from back in the day.
Hellas are currently bottom of Serie A, Killie are heading in the same direction in terms of league position, we surely owe it to these brave souls to keep one of their teams from being relegated! Arrivederci Dan and family...and as the man himself always says...Up! Up! Killie!