THEY arrived in vast numbers at the entrances to Rugby Park on

Saturday long before the turnstiles were manned. After all, it was a

very special day.

Fathers stood with sons, some of whom could not have been born the

last time Kilmarnock's players kicked a ball in the premier division.

But that was in the past. The side from north Ayrshire were back in the

big league after a 10-year absence, and after having dusted off their

favours the troops were keen and willing to support the cause.

When the ball finally was set in motion to shrieks of joy from the

home supporters, it was their lot who seemed to cherish thoughts of

victory. They proceeded to have Dundee on the back foot for most of the

afternoon and deserved their 1-0 success.

Kilmarnock manager Tommy Burns was convinced that new striker Tom

Brown, signed from Glenafton, would not let the side down. ''He's from

Govan,'' said the manager. ''There's no' many guys from Govan who are

quiet and unassuming. But I didn't for a minute think he would have made

an impact like that.''

The impact of which Burns spoke came just before the hour mark when

the Dundee defence allowed the striker to collect the ball with his back

to the target, spin like a top, and skelp it past Paul Mathers for the


Burns is a realist. He is aware that he may not have the greatest

exponents of the sport's finer points but he has a collection of fit

individuals who are prepared to beaver away all day and make life

distinctly uncomfortable for their opponents. This was not too difficult

a task on Saturday, since the opposition flattered to deceive.

Simon Stainrod, the Dens Park manager, let it be known that the game

plan was to ''win a lot of corners, get throw-ins in dangerous areas,

and maximise our opportunities from there.'' Perhaps some individuals in

dark blue were not well enough briefed as regards the tactics. Many

appeared to have little idea of their role.

Stainrod said that he had issued ''a few bollickings during the

pre-season and a few more today.'' He also claimed that when Billy Dodds

and Jim Duffy again were allowed to pull on their boots there would be

an improvement.

As the faithful filed out of the stand, a youngster with a radio

pressed against one ear excitedly bellowed to his parents: ''Killie are

top of the premier division.'' But the reply wiped the smile from the

boy's face. ''As long as they are not near the bottom at the end is all

that matters.''