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It had been a great day for the fans but now it's tinged with heartbreak; FOOTBALL TRAGEDY.. STAR'S DAD DIES AFTER FINAL Sadness amid celebrations as Killie cup heroes parade trophy.

Byline: Chris Musson

KILMARNOCK fans celebrated their cup final triumph last night as players paraded the trophy at Rugby Park.

y But behind the scenes of jubilation, supporters told their anguish for midfielder Liam Kelly after the shocking death of his dad Jack, who collapsed at Hampden. f of mth ed de After the match finished yesterday, about 4000 fans made the pilgrimage to Rugby Park as news of the tragedy began to circulate.

ld As they waited in the cold outside the ground, some fans had heard from friends who work at the club that Jack had died.

Some even expected the victory parade to be cancelled as a mark of respect.

But it ultimately went ahead - though with players and fans acutely aware of the tragedy.

Tom Montgomerie, 43, from Ardrossan, was at the Scottish Communites League Cup final then waited two hours at Rugby Park for the team to arrive following a bus tour through the town.

TERRIBLE He said: "It's an incredible day for all Kilmarnock fans but also a terrible one.

"We want to celebrate like never before but what happened to Liam's dad is holding us back.

"I think I can safely say the thoughts of every Kilmarnock fan, every football fan, are with Liam and his family.

"It should be remembered as his best day in football - a cup final win over Celtic - but this victory and the League Cup will forever be remembered by him as the day his dad died."

Liz Young, 44, wasn't at the match but came down to Rugby Park to meet son Gregor, 14, who had been at Hampden.

She said: "The last time I celebrated like this it was when Killie won the Scottish Cup in 1997.

"I was heavily pregnant with Gregor at the time and I remember walking down the main street and seeing the celebrations.

"It's amazing to see Gregor here almost 15 years on.

"The only thing that's dampened the day is the awful news about Liam Kelly's dad. It's a terrible thing and our sympathies really do go out to him."

The Kilmarnock players drove back to Ayrshire last night on the team coach and transferred on to an open top bus, before winding their way to the football ground. The town's John Finnie Street was packed with fans who saluted the team, before they finally reached the ground at 8.15pm.

The club opened the 4000-capacity Moffat Stand, which was full to the rafters with flag-waving fans.

With the Kelly family still being informed of the tragedy, and no official confirmation of the death, a decision was taken to continue the celebrations as normal.

RAPTUROUS The players came out on to the pitch to a rapturous reception from the supporters.

Manager Kenny Shiels told the fans: "I'd like to thank you very much for your support.

"You've followed us all over Scotland and we've given you all sorts of different experiences. But the boys - they turned it on today."

Leaving the ground, Davie Wilson, 35, from Kilmarnock, said: "It's been a strange day.

"I want to be jumping around celebrating but given what's happened something's holding me back. Everyone's got to rally behind Liam now."

Graham Johnson, 21, and his brother Kyle, 19, said they had been shocked by the tragic news - especially given the collapse of Bolton's Fabrice Muamba in the FA Cup on Saturday.

Graham said: "After what happened to the Bolton player, I couldn't believe the same thing was happening at Hampden.

"Today will be remembered as an amazing victory for us, but also with sadness."

James Templeton, 40, from Fenwick, said: "We are all thinking of Liam and his family.

"It's been an amazing day but it's a strange atmosphere now because of what's happened."

IN GOD'S HANDS: PAGES 4&5

CAPTION(S):

Jlef J were ecstatic at Hampden, above and ft, CHEERS J Fans left, before the sad news began to filter through JOY AND TEARS J A shocked Liam Kelly is escorted from the field by teammate Danny Racchi after being told news
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 19, 2012
Words:679
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