By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is expecting an “electric” atmosphere Saturday night when his Wildcats host Mississippi State in a battle of unbeaten teams. However, for Kentucky fan Michael Rains of Clinton County, every home Kentucky football game seems electric.
Rains will be attending his 121st consecutive home UK football game Saturday night. He missed a game in November of 2000, but started his current streak on Sept. 1, 2001, when the Wildcats hosted Louisville. That was the first time he had UK football season tickets.
Rains attended UK from 1994-98 before attending law school out of state. He moved back to Clinton County in 2001 and that’s when he got tickets to make the 2 1/2-hour drive to Lexington for home football games.
“The streak has developed because I love attending the games and I have no desire to miss. Attending football and basketball games is my hobby,” Rains said.
Raines, who also has UK basketball season tickets and a Twitter handle of @RuppArenaMike, has two daughters — Karly, 10, a fifth-grader, and Kamryn, 5, a kindergartner.
“I started taking both of my girls to both UK football and basketball games within the first year of their life,” he said. “The last several years, Karly has really gotten involved with UK football and attends basically every football game with me. Karly did not miss a game two years ago and only missed one last year because of a softball tournament.
“We love getting to the games early for the Cat Walk and then getting pictures with the players while they go back and forth from the field to the dressing room. The players are all fan friendly and very pleasant to both of my daughters. Kamryn likes going to the games too but she is a little young.”
He’s the Clinton County Attorney and his wife is a fourth-grade teacher at Albany Elementary. He says his wife “loves” to attend UK football and basketball games, too, and is “very patient” with him and his passion for UK.
“I started attending games at a young age. My first football game was Sept. 18, 1986, against LSU. My first game at Rupp Arena was Jan. 5, 1985, against North Carolina State,” Rains said. “My uncle, William Powell, has had season tickets to basketball and football since the 1970s and I would attend home games with him.”
Not surprisingly, he has a UK room in his basement and enjoys reading any book about UK sports. He also tries to attend at least one SEC road game each year. He was at Alabama two years ago, South Carolina last year and was at Florida two weeks ago when UK ended that 31-year losing streak.
Rains also has some unique keepsakes from some of UK football’s most special wins. He has grass from the field that he keeps in ziplock bags from UK wins over Alabama in 1997, LSU in 2007 when LSU went on to win the national title, South Carolina in 2010 and and Tennessee in 2011.
Raines believes the atmosphere will be “awesome” for Saturday night’s game. He expects it to be similar to Florida last year and Georgia a few years ago under Stoops.
He has no conflicts that will complicate getting to the game Saturday. However, he’s had a couple of close calls that almost ended his consecutive game streak.
“My wife’s cousin, Danielle, got married on Oct. 12, 2013 when UK hosted Alabama. I attended her wedding but left immediately after it was over,” Raines said. “My wife’s cousin got married on Sept. 5, 2015. My wife and two daughters were in the wedding. I skipped the wedding and attended the game in the newly remodeled Commonwealth Stadium. Needless to say, I faced the cold shoulder (from my wife) for a few days.”
But not cold enough to stop the streak or keep him – or her – from coming back for more UK football and basketball.