Forget Paper Roses as the ­Kilmarnock club anthem. The next time you’re in the vicinity of Rugby Park, they’ll possibly be playing For the Good Times by Perry Como on a loop as a yearning lament to Steve Clarke’s bittersweet departure.

Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over, but life goes on and this ol’ world will keep on turning? Unless, of course, Scotland’s first match under Clarke’s tenure ends in a scrappy draw with Cyprus and the bloomin’ world caves in.

The lure of leading his country was always strong for Clarke and, after all the speculation and will he, won’t he tongue-wagging, the inevitable has happened.

Given the SFA’s propensity for bumbling buffoonery, doing something which has, by and large, been greeted with widespread acclaim will take a bit of getting used to. Wonders will never cease.


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Kilmarnock, meanwhile, are left to reflect on a period of prosperity which lifted them from relegation fodder at the start of Clarke’s regime to the giddy heights of third place and a European spot after Sunday’s emotionally charged, last gasp win over Rangers.

Plenty has been written about the job Clarke has done as he revived a hitherto stagnant club and galvanised them into a force to be reckoned with.

“I don’t think there is a word to describe it,” said the Kilmarnock captain Gary Dicker when asked for a word to describe the Clarke effect. Sometimes words just don’t do it justice.

“I don’t think anyone could have come in and done the job he has done,” added Dicker. “A lot of people know about football but showing it and getting your point across is something else.

“I’ve played under a lot of managers who haven’t had a way of playing. They don’t know what they are doing, so you are just going out and playing.

“But Steve Clarke simplifies ­everything. He’s not a ranter or raver, though he can have a go at you. But it is just in the way he organises things.

“There is always a reason behind it. It is an education sometimes working with him. He is someone I have learned loads from.


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“The great skill he has is that he doesn’t let stuff affect him. He’s got that poker face. You don’t know whether he is happy or sad.

“Even off the pitch as well – how he deals with certain stuff. He sits back and he takes note and I think he has learned that over the years. And I think his personality actually helps him. He doesn’t miss a trick. He watches everything. He sees everything. And he reacts. I can’t praise him enough.”

The praise and plaudits have come in torrents. Kilmarnock’s loss will, hopefully, be Scotland’s huge gain. Asked what kind of team Scotland will be under Clarke, Dicker replied with an emphatic response. “A successful one,” he stated.

“As a team, you are always in the game, and everyone knows their

job. There are no grey areas. There will be a (Scotland) team out there who will want to play for him straight away. He commands respect from the start.

“You don’t need to say what he can do. He has shown it out there. Look at the way we have played at Kilmarnock, last year and this year. It is an unbelievable achievement from him and Alex (Dyer, his assistant).


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“They both came up here and took a massive gamble. But the change around here has been frightening.

“The fans deserve it. There are so many people out there who were battering us and ready to put us down. If it wasn’t the plastic pitch, it was something else.

“Our home record since he came in has been brilliant. Nobody now wants to come to Kilmarnock.

“The Old Firm have come here and we’ve rolled them over. I’m delighted for the fans. Kilmarnock was a proper football club on Sunday.”

Clarke has answered the call of his country. Those at the club he has left behind, meanwhile, will always cherish those days they spent together.

For the good times indeed.