FOR many, the football didn’t really matter. Even before a ball had been kicked, it felt like one of those days, and in a week where anger had grown over the game’s latest, sadly predictable, racism row, Kilmarnock’s impressive, much-needed rout paled in comparison. 

Rugby Park was thrust front and centre into events of the last 48 hours when Motherwell’s players took a stand, defying the gesture of taking a knee as has been the custom every pre-match since the season began. 

READ MORE: Dundee United players show solidarity with Rangers' Glen Kamara by not taking the knee

Their reason? They were tired. Tired of the “empty gesture”; tired of the lost “impact”; and tired of players - this time allegedly Rangers’ Glen Kamara during Thursday’s Europa League tie - suffering racial slurs without action. 

Glasgow Times: Rangers' Kamara, middle centre, says he was racially abused during Thursday's Europa League tie against Slavia Prague Rangers' Kamara, middle centre, says he was racially abused during Thursday's Europa League tie against Slavia Prague

They had made their minds up and at 3pm on the puff of Alan Muir’s whistle, Devante Cole, Jordan Roberts, Tony Watt, and the rest remained standing, the decision kept secret until a statement from the players was published by the Steelmen when the match finally kicked off. 

In it, they said: “Taking a knee has become something someone does now for the sake of it. It has completely lost its meaning.

“As a squad, we spoke and asked ourselves ‘why are we doing this anymore? Is it having any impact at all?’. The answer was a clear no.

“Taking a knee has become an empty gesture. Instead, we want those in power to take real and immediate action on racism.

“Racism is apparent everywhere in the day-to-day life of society. People need to realise change is required.”

Or to put it in the words of Kamara himself, who alleges “you f***ing monkey” was shouted into his ear, “enough is enough”. With Dundee United also opting to stand before their game - albeit that was seemingly a one-off - it’s clear Thursday’s awful incidents have hurt many, who’ll hope that’s also the case for those who run the sport. 

In terms of events during the 90 minutes, well, it was Kilmarnock’s day to savour as they were ultimately too good for Motherwell and yet, when he looks back on it, Alexander will agree his team were complicit in their own demise. The silly errors of the final embers of the Stephen Robinson era returned and in key moments the visitors generously allowed Killie to march on and lift themselves off the foot of the table. 

A scrappy game was conditioned by mistakes and meaty, full throttle challenges in midfield. It was also beset by strange refereeing calls - least of all a decision to wave play on when Stephen O’Donnell was barged down in the box - and the gusto of both managers, their disgust audibly growing throughout.

It didn’t take long for Alexander to have something to shout about, his side conceding so quickly his team’s social media gurus hadn’t even posted the starting XI photo. Kyle Lafferty, again, Killie’s best player, was the main beneficiary when Well’s defenders allowed him to strike from long range and find the net via a weak hand from Liam Kelly. 

The goalkeeper, while not at fault for either of the other two goals, endured a day to forget and could have been picking Brandon Haunstrup’s howitzer out of his net had it not been for the upright. 

But Well grew into the half and soon levelled when Roberts’ was denied by Colin Doyle’s fists only for Barry Maguire to pounce and rifle through a defender’s legs and into the net. 

Less than 13 minutes in, this match had had it all, so it was no surprise it descended into trench warfare for the rest of the half, a couple of fine stops from Doyle the few moments of note to break up the attrition.

A draw simply wouldn’t have done for Killie, though, and they emerged with vigour after the break and made their ascendency count to score two scrappy but priceless goals. A fourth later put the icing on the cake. 

Lafferty had a say in Rory McKenzie’s 55th minute slot into Kelly’s corner. When the Northern Irishman turned inside and fired towards goal, it hit a Motherwell player, spun awkwardly over Tyler Magloire’s head and into no man’s land between the defender, giving McKenzie the chance to ghost in, round Kelly, and score. 

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Two minutes later and with Alexander still reeling, it was game over. O’Donnell was too easily beaten by Mitch Pinnock and his cross sat up perfectly for Burke at the back post, who was incredibly unmarked and, with his quality, needed no second invitation. 

A fourth was added late-on by Pinnock and the delight on the usually apoplectic face of Wright said it all.