This piece is an extract from yesterday's The Rugby Road Gates newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Wednesday. To receive our full, free Kilmarnock newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

Beers, fries and chocolate waffles – what more do you want from a trip to central Europe? Oh, how could I forget? There’s also the small matter of a Super Killie Away day to Bruges thrown into the mix!

Today was the day we’d all been waiting some time for. The draw for the second qualifying round of the Europa League took place at the House of Football in Nyon, Switzerland. From the original nine ties Killie could’ve potentially had, this morning, UEFA regionalised the draw and cut it down to five. This left us with Ajax, Rapid Wien, Molde, Trabzonspor and Cercle Brugge.

If for whatever reason you’re unaware of how the draw at 12pm went, it was the latter who were paired with Killie, with Ayrshire’s finest coming out of the pot first. This means we’ll be at home in the first leg, barring any unforeseen scheduling changes conducted by UEFA. This is to be confirmed no later than 6pm on Thursday, June 20. Personally, I feel this has worked out perfectly as being at home in the first leg surely gives us the best chance of keeping the tie alive heading into the trip to Belgium. Optimistic that’ll be the case, what an occasion that promises to be.

Here, I’ve gathered a short factfile about our confirmed European opponents for the ELQR2, and a little bit about what to expect from their team come July 25 and August 1.


Founded: 1899.

Location: Bruges, Belgium.

Stadium: Jan-Breydel-Stadion (Capacity 29,062 seats).

League: Jupiler Pro League.

Club colours: Green & black.

Manager: Miron Muslic.

Major honours: 3x Belgian champions & 2x Belgian Cup winners.

Fun fact: Cercle Brugge and Club Brugge share their stadium.

Cercle came fourth in Belgium’s top flight last season. They finished 26 points behind champions, and arch-rivals, Club Brugge, while Union Saint-Gilloise and Anderlecht were 23 and 13 points better off respectively. Currently, they boast six international players in their ranks, with several members of the team valued at around £4.5m. They also have a deadly striker who certainly knows his way to goal. Kevin Denkey scored 28 goals in 39 appearances last season. The Togo forward, 23, is probably the star player, however, their captain Thibo Sommers, Leonardo Lopes and Jesper Daland are all worth watching too. Their stadium is a little out of the way. Bus prices are available from around £3 from the city centre and will take roughly 20 minutes. Alternatively, a taxi journey will take around five minutes, at a cost of between £9-11. Of course, these figures need to be converted into Euros.


Good luck to Steve Clarke and the boys tonight as Scotland takes on Switzerland in their second Group A game of Euro 2024. The general consensus has rightly been ‘It can’t be any worse than Friday night.’ Let’s just hope that’s indeed the case. As a country, collectively we all expect to see a massive reaction from the embarrassment in Munich. It will be no walk in the park though, as the Swiss are an experienced team at these major tournaments.

They got their campaign off to a flier against highly-rated Hungary on Saturday afternoon. Breel Embolo looks an absolute handful, so whoever replaces Ryan Porteous – presumably Grant Hanley – will have a busy evening trying to contain the striker.

As Killie fans, we became so accustomed to Clarke’s team being resolute while defending, but crucially, always having a threat going the other way. Since qualifying for the Euros, this game plan seems to have evaporated, with the national team not particularly great in either department over the course of the past nine games. That needs to change in Cologne.


Tonight, I’m thrilled to confirm the newsletter has surpassed 1,000 sign-ups! I’m absolutely delighted to have reached such a significant milestone. The Scottish football media landscape is changing, and this is proof of that. Contrary to popular belief among some of those within the industry who purely focus on only Celtic & Rangers, there is an audience for fans of the ‘diddy clubs’, all it takes is a bit of effort to tap into that, which I’d like to think I’ve provided. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed and shown support for my endevaours, I love writing this piece every single week. It’s important for me to recognise that not everyone signed up is a Killie supporter, so a special thanks to you for the backing as well.

I’m over the moon to add that the Herald’s plans for Killie coverage are only going to improve. Nothing more to say on that for the moment, but I’ll be able to share more information on that in the near future. Rest assured, it’s exciting!

I hope everyone has a good week and everyone who plans to make the trip to Belgium gets their arrangements sorted. Roll on next month!