St Johnstone’s 600th Match at McDiarmid Park – Part 3

Concluding this short look back at some of the memorable matches played at McDiarmid Park.

Season 1999/2000 would see Sandy Clark’s team overcome Finnish side VPS Vaasa 3 – 1 on aggregate in the UEFA Cup Preliminary round and then get a plum draw in the first round proper against the millionaires of AS Monaco.

The away leg was a brilliant occasion for the fans, and for 70 minutes Alan Main, virtually single handedly, kept the scoreline blank as he made fantastic save after fantastic save. Perhaps if Miguel Simao had scored when clean through with only the keeper to beat the outcome might have been different but he didn’t and Saints eventually went down 3 – 0. Fabian Barthez, the French World Cup winning goalkeeper was so impressed with Main’s performance that at the end of the match he ran the full length of the pitch to congratulate the Saints number 1 and present him with his jersey as a momento of an incredible performance. One of the finest goalkeeping performances ever seen!

So on to game number 7 on my list of best matches. This was the second leg against AS Monaco which kicked off at 5 o’clock to accommodate European television and the 7,706 fans who turned up on Thursday 30 September 1999 were in for a real treat.

Saints got off to the perfect start with a goal in just 5 minutes when Simao’s shot took a wicked deflection of Leonard and flew past Barthez for 1 – 0 to Saints. The advantage was, however, short lived as four minutes later Prso scored a stunning goal. Cutting in from the left side of the pitch he curled an exquisite shot into Alan Main’s top corner and the score was level at 1 – 1. The visitors then went ahead on 24 minutes when Riise got the better of Danny Griffin to score from a tight angle. But Saints were far from out of it and on 33 minutes Nick Dasovic levelled the score at 2 – 2 when he crashed home a Nathan Lowndes knock down.

Then, just before half time came the really big moment in the match. Simao was brought down in the penalty area by Barthez and nearly everyone in the ground thought, penalty, and the keeper must go. I said nearly everyone, because there was only one person who didn’t think it was a penalty, and that was the one person who mattered. To everyone’s consternation the Spanish referee waved play on. Needless to say the crowd were not slow to let him know their thoughts as he left the field at the break.

A future French international star – a young David Trezeguet – replaced Simone at half time. Midway through the second period Legwinski scored to put the visitors in front again, but this Saints team had both resilience and quality, and a short time later John O’Neil equalised, prodding home a McAnespie corner from close range. A pulsating match ended 3 – 3 and Saints fans were left with many wonderful memories.

Saints team was: – Main; McQuillan, Bollan; Dasovic, Griffin, Kernaghan; Simao, O’Neil, Lowndes, O’Halloran, Kane. Subs: Ferguson, McAnespie (for Kane), Grant (for O’Halloran), Thomas, McCluskey, McBride, O’Boyle (for Lowndes).

The star-studded Monaco team was: – Barthez; Marquez, Lamouchi; Legwinski, Leonard, Sagnol; Prso, N’Diaye, Irles, Riise. Simone. Subs: Contreras, Giuly (for N’Diaye), Trezeguet (for Simone), Gallardo (for Lamouchi), Farnerud, Rodriguez, Silva.

It is also worthy of mention that Rafael Marquez went on to captain Mexico in four successive FIFA World Cup tournaments – 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014.

For memorable match number 8 we need to fast forward more than 10 years to 30 March 2010 when Rangers were humbled 4 – 1 in a Premier League match by a brilliant St Johnstone team performance.

Going into the match Rangers were 10 points clear of Celtic at the top of the table and this fixture was one their two games in hand over their Glasgow rivals. Saints Manager Derek McInnes had moulded together a team of youth and experience and although more recent results were a bit mixed Saints still occupied a mid table position.

On a bitterly cold night the majority of the 6,189 fans were soon warmed up as Saints got off to a great start. With 7 minutes on the clock Cillian Sheridan fired in a left foot shot from the edge of the penalty box, which went over ‘keeper Allan McGregor’s head, hit the far post and then rolled back across the goal line, before hitting the other post, and going in for 1 – 0.

Just 5 minutes later it was 2 – 0 when Chris Millar scored a rare goal. Latching on to a Liam Craig pass “Midge” cut in from the left wing and hit a wonderful shot which took a bit of a deflection off Davie Weir and flew into the net with ‘keeper McGregor again a virtual spectator.

Minutes later Papac pulled one back for the visitors, which in the past might have seen heads go down, but with the experience of Jody Morris and Michael Duberry to draw upon, the opposite happened. Before half time Saints were 3 – 1 ahead when Liam Craig headed in a delightful Millar cross. However, the dubious goals panel subsequently decided that Lee McCulloch had provided the final decisive touch and, regrettably, you will not find this “goal” on Liam’s record of goals scored.

Saints controlled the second half and Murray Davidson came on to prod home a Duberry header for number four and complete a fabulous performance. At the season’s end Rangers were crowned champions, having suffered only three defeats in the league all season, with this Saints score being their heaviest reversal.

Saints team was: – Smith, Anderson, Grainger; Mackay, Duberry, Morris; Millar, Craig, Deuchar, Sheridan, Morais. Subs: Main, Irvine (for Millar), Davidson (for Morais), Sheerin, Swankie, Reynolds, Samuel (for Sheridan).

The 2013/14 Europa League competition provides match number 9 in this review with Rosenborg BK being the visitors to Saints ground.

Our Norwegian opponents had a rich European pedigree and could boast that in their heyday they had defeated Real Madrid 2 – 0 in a 1998 Champions League match. Although not the force that they once were they were still regarded as formidable opponents.

In Manager Tommy Wright’s first match in charge of St Johnstone the team confounded many neutral observers by winning 1 – 0 in Trondheim thanks to a first half Frazer Wright goal.

On Thursday 25 July 2013 a big crowd of 7,850 made their way to the Crieff Road venue from Perth, Perthshire and further afield, in the hope that with the advantage of an away goal Saints would successfully finish the job.

That job become all the more difficult after just 4 minutes play, when Soderlund received a defence splitting pass 12 yards out, and stroked the ball past Alan Mannus in the home goal to level the tie. Game on.

After some end to end play Saints fans suddenly found themselves a new cult hero. Step forward Stevie May. Whilst the youngster had come through the various levels of the youth system more recently he had scored goals galore in loan periods at both Alloa Athletic and Hamilton Accies. These were at a lower level but now he was being tested at the top level … and boy did he rise to the challenge.

With 21 minutes gone he latched on to a David Wotherspoon through ball and, bravely getting himself between the advancing goalkeeper and the central defender, stuck out a foot and lifted the ball over the ‘keeper and into the empty net. 1 – 1 on the night and the stadium erupted as the home fans cheered with joy.

As you might expect Rosenborg tried everything they could to get an equaliser, which would have effectively put them through to the next round on the away goals rule, but Saints defence superbly marshalled by Wright and Steven Anderson held firm and our favourites progressed 2 – 1 on aggregate.

Saints team was: – Mannus; Mackay, Scobbie; Cregg, Wright, Anderson; McDonald, MacLean, Wotherspoon, Hasselbaink, May. Subs: Banks, Edwards (for Hasselbaink), Caddis, Miller (for Anderson), B.Easton, Fallon (for May), D.Easton.

Stevie May would go on to score 27 goals in all competitions in a season that famously culminated with Saints winning the Scottish Cup on 17th May 2014.

The 10th and final game in this review is also a Europa League match and if you like your football with tension and excitement then there is nothing better than a penalty shoot out to provide both of those ingredients.

A Steven MacLean goal had earned Saints a very creditable 1 – 1 draw with FC Luzern in Switzerland the previous week in the 2nd Qualifying Round of this competition and when Stevie May converted a first half penalty in the return fixture on 24 July 2014 it looked like Saints were on track to progress into the next round. However, just before the hour mark the majority of the 8,486 crowd fell silent when substitute Schneuwly equalised with a 10 yard shot into the corner of Alan Mannus’ net. No further scoring took place and when 30 minutes of extra time failed to separate the teams it was then down to penalty kicks.

After seeing off Rosenborg in the previous year’s competition Saints had gone out in the next round when, disappointingly, they lost 3 – 2 on penalties at McDiarmid to FC Minsk. So there was more than a bit of trepidation around the stands when we were faced with a very similar scenario.

Luzern started proceedings when Freuler scored the first, as did Steven MacLean to level matters. Then Mannus brilliantly dived to his right to save from Schneuwly before Liam Caddis put Saints 2 – 1 ahead. The next three Swiss takers all scored with aplomb as did Dave Mackay and Stevie May. So at 4 – 4 the final kick was the responsibility of Tam Scobbie. Despite some unsavoury gamesmanship from the ‘keeper any doubts there may have been about Tam’s nerve were quickly dispelled when he drove his effort high into the net giving the keeper no chance. So, 5 – 4 to Saints, and the start of mass celebrations in the stadium as we celebrated success in another of those unforgettable European nights.

Saints team was: – Mannus; Miller, B.Easton; Brown, Mackay, Wright; Millar, Wotherspoon, MacLean, May, O’Halloran. Subs: Banks, Scobbie (for Miller) McDonald, Caddis (for Wotherspoon), Croft (for O’Halloran), Kane, D.Easton.

I’m sure that every supporter has matches that are particularly special to them and I hope that this short series has rekindled memories of what I believe to be some of the really great times at McDiarmid Park. Lets hope that there are many more such occasions to come in the future.

St Johnstone’s 600th Match at McDiarmid Park – Part 2

Continuing on from the recent Partick Thistle match I look back over the highlights of 27 years at McDiarmid Park and recall what I believe are some of the best games ever seen at the stadium.

The first of these, the 3 – 1 Airdrie match from 1989/90 was covered in Part 1.

The second memorable match took place on 29 September 1990 when Aberdeen were visitors to Perth. Alex Totten’s newly promoted team had started the season reasonably well but Saints more recent record against the Dons had been nothing short of abysmal. In the period from 1978 to 1990 Saints had faced Aberdeen 10 times in all competitions and our record read: – Won – None, Lost – 10, Goals for – None, Goals against – 24. How bad was that?

So when Roddy Grant put Saints into a 17th minute lead, well, maybe, just maybe, at long last this might be our day. Allan Moore was causing havoc in the Dons defence and when defender David Robertson took a wild kick at the winger, the referee had little option but to send him off. Two minutes later Mark Treanor hit a screamer for the second and followed this up, just before half-time, with a typically cool penalty conversion. 3 – 0 at the interval and Saints fans in the 8,711 crowd were pinching themselves. Was this really happening?

In the words of the song “things can only get better” … and so they did. “Roddy” netted his second goal on 55 minutes and Steve Maskrey completed the rout with 11 minutes remaining. A final score of 5 – 0 and a truly great day to be a Saints fan.

Saints team was: – Hamilton; Treanor, Baltacha; Cherry, Inglis, McGinnis; Moore, Turner, Maskrey, Grant, Curran. Subs: Lee (for Curran), Deas (for Turner).

Number 3 on this list was a League Division 1 fixture with local rivals Dundee. Matches against the Dark Blues always have that element of extra spice and when they visited McDiarmid Park on New Year’s Day 1997 Saints were sitting on top of the table. Our near neighbours were in second place some 10 points behind but with one more game played.

A few days earlier, in a match against Falkirk, Saints goalkeeper Alan Main and his defenders had just seen a club record, of 8 successive league matches without conceding a goal, come to an end when the Bairns’ Paul McGrillen scored the opening goal before Saints recovered to win 3 – 1.

The first half of the Dundee contest was fairly even with Roddy Grant scoring the opening goal and Chic Charnley levelling for the visitors. At the interval no-one in the 7,087 attendance could foresee the fireworks that would light up a second half in which winger Leigh Jenkinson was “unplayable”. The winger had supplied the cross for Grant’s first goal and the same combination worked again for the second. Philip Scott then lobbed ‘keeper Thomson and five minutes later Steve Tosh extended the lead still further. 4 – 1 up and only an hour played.

Following his role as provider Jenkinson then turned his role to that of scorer. Firstly, he stepped forward to fire home a sublime free kick from 20 yards and then added his second after Attila Sekerlioglu had tapped a free kick to him. Still the excitement was not over. George O’Boyle came off the bench to net number seven from close range. Then to compound the visitors misery, 9 minutes from full time Charnley was sent off for an off the ball incident involving one of his own players! O’Driscoll converted a late penalty to make the final score a magnificent 7 – 2.

Saints team was: – Main; McQuillan, Preston; O’Neil, Weir, Griffin; Dasovic, Tosh, Grant, Scott, Jenkinson. Subs: Donaldson (for Preston), O’Boyle (for Tosh), Sekerlioglu (for Scott).

The end of that 1996/97 season would see Paul Sturrock’s team promoted to the Premier Division as First Division Champions securing 80 points – a massive 20 points ahead of Airdrie in second place.

Season 1998/99 would see many fine games but in my view the matches against Motherwell on 17 October 1998, when Saints won 5 – 0, then Rangers on 4 April 1999, when Jim Weir was immense in a 3 – 1 win, and the final match of that season, when Saints defeated Dundee 1 – 0 on the final day of the season, are all up there in the list of Saints top games at the stadium.

In the first of these ( match 4 on my list ) 4,062 fans turned up to see Sandy Clark’s team sweep the Steelmen aside. Miguel Simao ran riot that day and the only surprise was that Saints held just a single goal advantage at half time, this courtesy of a George O’Boyle goal. In the second half Alan Kernaghan, Simao, O’Boyle and Darren Dods all scored, but it was George O’Boyle’s 85th minute strike that is particularly memorable. Picking the ball up some 40 yards out, he saw Stevie Woods in the Motherwell goal was off his line, and drilled a wonderful shot over the ‘keepers head and into the net. Simply a fabulous strike.

Saints team was: – Main; McQuillan, Bollan; Dasovic, Dods, Kernaghan; Kane, O’Neil, Preston, O’Boyle, Simao. Subs: Ferguson, Grant, McMahon (for Simao), Griffin, Lowndes (for O’Neil).

I stated (above) that prior to the Aberdeen game our record against the Dons had been abysmal. If that was bad, then I do not know the words to describe our record against Rangers, which was far, far, far, worse. In 56 matches at home and away, dating back to 1971, when goals from Henry Hall and John Connolly had given Saints a 2 – 0 win at Ibrox, Saints had managed just ONE win. That came on 31 January 1998, at McDiarmid Park when John O’Neil and George O’Boyle scored to secure a great 2 – 0 win. Indeed, due to its rarity, that game came very close to being included in this list.

Earlier in that 1998/99 season the encounter at McDiarmid had ended 7 – 0 to the Gers, greatly aided by Paul Kane’s dismissal at 0 – 2, when he brought down Van Bronkhorst in the penalty area, resulting in the inevitable red card and penalty.

Against this backdrop the fifth match on the list was played on 4 April 1999 and was truly one to savour. A very healthy crowd numbering 9,740 turned up for a Sunday evening televised match and they were thoroughly entertained.

Jim Weir returning from injury ( how many times did we say that during his Saints career? ) played at right back that night and what an inspirational performance he gave. When Kieran McAnespie sent over an inviting cross from a free kick Jim rose above the Rangers defence to head Saints into a 14th minute lead.

Main, Dods and Bollan were playing as if their lives depended on the result and had succeeded in thwarting all Rangers attempts to draw level until finally Craig Moore equalised with 58 minutes on the clock. However, Saints were by no means finished and regained the lead when Miguel Simao chested the ball into the net to make it 2 – 1 with 17 minutes remaining. Saints then withstood intense pressure to maintain their slim advantage and deep into added on time scored a third. It came about following a Rangers corner when the Portugese winger raced almost the full length of the pitch before passing the ball across the 18 yard line for Kieran McAnespie ( who had burst a gut to get alongside Miguel ) to score with a delightful shot. 3 – 1 at full time, an extremely rare win over the Glasgow giants, and another step closer to the coveted third place in the league table.

Saints team was: – Main; Weir, Bollan; Dasovic, Dods, Kernaghan; O’Halloran, McBride, Kane, Grant, McAnespie. Subs: Ferguson, Griffin (for O’Halloran), Preston, Lowndes (for Grant), Simao (for McBride).

I covered in more detail game six in the sequence in the previous article. Briefly, a record crowd of 10,575 rolled up to McDiarmid Park on the 23 May 1999 to watch Saints defeat Dundee 1 – 0 thanks to a Paul Kane header. This meant third place in the league table with the reward being entry into the following season’s UEFA Cup.

The final instalment in this review will appear later.

St Johnstone’s 600th Match at McDiarmid Park – Part 1

After last Sunday’s 700th Premiership match, tomorrow we have yet another such milestone, as our meeting with Partick Thistle marks St Johnstone’s 600th game at McDiarmid Park.

Following the move from Muirton Park to the new stadium in 1989 Saints have played 599 games in all competitions and our record over what is now the 28th season at the ground is: – P      W       D         L          F          A

League Div 1          200     110      57       33      353     178

Premiership            314      107     92      115      362     385

League Cup              31        18        0       13       63       37

Scottish Cup             34        17        7        10      48       33

Challenge Cup           12         9        0         3        32       11

European                    8          3        3         2       11      10

Totals                      599      264     159     176     869     654

It is interesting to note from a review of the previous games that Dundee United have visited McDiarmid Park more times than any other team, appearing here on 38 occasions, whilst Aberdeen, Celtic and St Mirren are next with 33 appearances each.

The Paisley Saints and Hamilton Accies have each lost here on the most occasions – 16 times. The flip side of this coin is, unsurprisingly, that the “Old Firm” have inflicted more defeats on Saints on the ground than any of the other teams, with Celtic winning 19 times and Rangers just one behind.

Our record at McDiarmid Park against today’s visitors Partick Thistle is : –

P23     W13    D7      L3       F33     A17

It is however worthy of mention that “the Jags” have won both of their last two visits here by 2 goals to 1.

Looking back over previous seasons, the very first visitors to McDiarmid Park on 19 August 1989 were Clydebank for a League Division 1 fixture. Great anticipation and excitement had been generated both by the opening of this, the first purpose built football stadium in the UK, coupled with Manager Alex Totten moulding together an exciting, attacking, team that was very much upwardly mobile. Such was the interest in this game that the kick off had to be delayed by some 15 minutes to allow the 7,267 crowd into the ground.

The Bankies though didn’t come just for the party and had the audacity to take a 7th minute lead when Jim Hughes had the distinction of scoring the first ever goal at the new stadium. However, it was not long before Saints were back on level terms. Grant Jenkins headed an Ian Heddle cross against the post but new signing Harry Curran would write his name into the St Johnstone history books when he slammed the rebound into the net to make the scoreline 1 – 1. Saints kept pressing for a winner but it would be 10 minutes from full time before it would eventually come. The visitors goal was bombarded with shots and when Sweeney used his hand to stop the ball on his own goal line the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty to Saints. Captain Don McVicar stepped forward and fired the ball home to give Saints a 2 – 1 win and both points.

Saints team was: – Balavage; Cherry, McVicar; Thomson, Nicolson, Johnston; Moore, Curran, Grant, Jenkins, Heddle. Subs: Thompson (for Heddle), Sorbie (for Grant).

The “Official” opening was a very auspicious evening. (Now Sir) Alex Ferguson brought a strong Manchester United team (including Pallister, Bruce, Robson, Ince, Hughes) to Perth on 17 October 1989. The legendary Sir Matt Busby (who had played at Muirton Park in 1935) also attended this gala occasion along with (now Sir) Bobby Charlton. Although the visitors won 1 – 0 thanks to a Brian McClair goal, that night will always be remembered for the floodlights going out, and the match being stopped for around 20 minutes.

There were some really great matches that first season. On 28 October 1989 a crowd of 10,169 (the first attendance in excess of ten thousand) turned up to watch an early season “top of the table” clash between Saints and today’s visitors Partick Thistle. Saints won a thrilling match 2 – 1 thanks to goals from Allan Moore and Steve Maskrey with Chick Charnley netting a last minute penalty for the visitors.

The 31 March 1990, is one of the most truly memorable dates in the history of St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park. The all ticket match against Airdrie was effectively a “promotion decider” with Saints completely dominating the game, coming close on a number of occasions, but unable to find the visitors net. As often happens in these circumstances, Airdrie momentarily silenced the stadium when Steve Gray scored a “worldie” to put the visitors into the lead with 20 minutes remaining. Saints redoubled their efforts, and roared on by the fans, goals from Mark Treanor (penalty), Roddy Grant and Kenny Ward brought an exhilarating game to a fantastic conclusion. A few weeks later, after the final match of the season against Forfar Athletic, Saints were celebrating promotion to the Premier Division as Division 1 Champions.

With the passage of time (more than a quarter of a Century) it seems incredible that a total of 118,579 spectators had turned up for the 20 league matches that season. An average of 5,928 per match! What would Chairman Steve Brown give for those sorts of numbers attending today?

Aberdeen were the visitors to McDiarmid Park on 6 November 1993 for a Premier Division fixture and the 100th game at the stadium. 5,757 spectators watched as Gary McGinnis put Saints ahead in the 9th minute with a rare goal and it looked like Saints would take both points. However, the referee found an additional 4 minutes of injury time, from somewhere, and Scott Booth equalised with virtually the last kick of the match to make it  1 – 1. Manager John McClelland’s tenure in charge would come to an end 10 days later with Paul Sturrock replacing him.

Saints team was: – Rhodes; McGowne, Deas; Cherry, Inglis, McGinnis; Davies, Curran, Wright, Torfason, McAuley. Subs: Donegan, McClelland, Moore (for Wright).

Too many draws coupled with league reconstruction meant three teams were relegated to the First Division … and sadly Saints were one of the three, going down on goal difference. It would take Sturrock a further 3 seasons to get Saints back to the Premier Division.

When Motherwell came to McDiarmid for match 200 in the final home game of the 1997/98 season there was still a very slim chance of securing a European place for the following season. A crowd of 6,754 turned up on 2 May 1998 and they were not disappointed. In an end to end game two goals from Leigh Jenkinson and a Stuart McCluskey goal edged the homesters to a 3 – 2 win over the Steelmen. Jenkinson’s winner coming just 2 minutes from full time.

Saints team was: – Main; McQuillan, Preston; O’Neil, Weir, Kernaghan; McMahon, O’Halloran, Grant, O’Boyle, Jenkinson. Subs: McCluskey (for Weir), McAnespie (for McMahon), Andersson.

Defeat at Celtic Park from the Champions the following week meant that a very respectable 5th place in the league table was not enough to enable supporters to get their passports out for foreign travel just yet.

A Division 1 match with Clyde on 18 January 2003 marked the 300th match, but it did not have the outcome that Manager Billy Stark hoped for with the visitors winning 2 – 1. The match started well with Paddy Connolly netting in just 4 minutes but “The Bully Wee”, now managed by former Saints’ favourite Alan Kernaghan, equalised later in the first half. A Simon Mensing goal took the points back to Broadwood leaving the Saints fans in the crowd of 2,455 somewhat disgruntled.

Saints team was: – Main; J.Robertson, Forsyth, McCulloch, Murray, Maxwell; Reilly, Parker, Hartley, Connolly, Lovenkrands. Subs: Cuthbert, Dods, Hay (for Connolly), Panther (for McCulloch), Baxter (for Reilly).

Game number 400 saw local rivals Dundee visit the stadium on 18 August 2007 for a Division 1 fixture. A very healthy crowd of 6,079 witnessed a fierce encounter in which both teams ended with 10 men and honours even at 1 – 1. On loan striker John Stewart had put Saints into the lead just after half-time when he converted a wonderful Paul Sheerin cross from 6 yards. However, the game would change when Martin Hardie saw red on the hour mark. The Dark Blues’ capitalised on their numerical advantage when Daquin netted to level the score. Just prior to full time time Dundee were also down to ten men when Zemlik received a second yellow card.

Saints team was: – Main; Anderson, Lawrie; McInnes, Rutkiewicz, McManus; Weatherston, Hardie, Stewart, MacDonald, Sheerin. Subs: Cuthbert, Jackson (for Stewart), Daal, Dyer (for Weatherston), McCluskey (for MacDonald).

A Scottish Cup 5th round replay with Hearts would mark the 500th match on 14 February 2012. The first match at Tynecastle 9 days earlier had ended in a

1 – 1 draw, this despite Saints going 1 – 0 down, and later losing Dave Mackay to a harsh second yellow card. Cillian Sheridan scored Saints leveller late in the game to give Saints a second chance to progress.

When the replay came around Manager Steve Lomas decided that Alan Mannus would make his Saints debut replacing Peter Enckelman in goal. A somewhat disappointing attendance of 3,430 saw Murray Davidson put Saints into a 1 – 0 lead with just 6 minutes of the match remaining and it looked odds on that Saints would progress to the next round. However, in the final minute of the match, much to the consternation of the home players and supporters alike, the referee awarded Hearts what was regarded as a somewhat dubious penalty. Hamill netted the resultant spot kick to take the match into extra time and just 3 minutes from the end, after some pinball in the Saints 6 yard box, Zaliukas scored to take the “Jambos” into the next round.

Saints team was: – Mannus: Anderson, Maybury; Morris, Wright, McCracken; Millar, Davidson, Sheridan, Sandaza, Craig. Subs; Enckelman, Croft (for Millar), Haber (for Maybury), Oyenuga (for Anderson), Keatings.

Whilst the foregoing, charts the various milestones, no review of McDiarmid Park’s history would be complete without, what I believe, to be some of the best ever matches at the stadium. I shall cover these in the second part of this review.

St Johnstone’s 700th Premiership Match Coming Up

Sunday’s televised match at McDiarmid Park, where St Johnstone meet local rivals Dundee, will be Saints 700th match in the Premiership dating back to the inaugural Premier Division season of 1975/76

In the previous 699 games over 19 separate seasons Saints have

Won 211, Drawn 190, Lost 298, whilst scoring 741 goals and conceding 980.

In reviewing these headline stats it is interesting to note that Saints have played more matches against Aberdeen and Motherwell than any other of their Premiership opponents. In fact, of the 70 matches played against each of these opponents, our encounters with the Steelmen have yielded most wins, 28, and most goals scored, 94, than against any other top flight team.

Our “Premier” record over Dundee is much tighter with

14 Won, 13 Drawn, 14 Lost, and 43 goals scored with 48 conceded.

Looking back over particular milestones the very first Premier Division match was played at Muirton Park in front of 3,300 fans on 30 August 1975 and resulted in a 1 – 0 win over Dundee United. In what can best be described as a dour match it was finally settled by a John Muir goal in the 86th minute. However, Saints can also thank Derek Robertson for keeping both points at home as the big goalkeeper had earlier saved a 6th minute Billy Steele penalty kick. The United man fired his shot straight down the middle but the keeper had dived to his right. Fortunately, his trailing leg kept the ball out before being cleared by one of his team mates.

Saints team was: – Robertson; G.Smith, S.Smith; Ritchie, Macdonald, Kinnell; Muir, O’Rourke, Thomson, Cramond, Lambie. Subs: McGregor and MacLeod.

This match proved to be something of a false dawn as Saints managed only 2 further wins and 5 draws during the rest of that miserable season, collecting a record low points total of a mere 11 from the 36 matches played. Unsurprisingly, Manager Jackie Stewart resigned his position in early February 1976 when the writing was already well and truly on the wall.

It would be almost 16 years before the 100th match, which took place on 9 March 1991, this time at Saints new home of McDiarmid Park. A crowd of 5,079 turned up to see a Davie Cooper inspired Motherwell triumph 4 – 1 over Alex Totten’s team. Mark Treanor scored Saints goal from a penalty thus maintaining his 100% record from the spot.

Saints team was: – Hamilton; Treanor, Baltacha; McGinnis, Nicolson, Sweeney; Moore, Turner, Maskrey, Grant, Curran. Subs: Davies (for Nicolson) and Ward (for Grant).

Although Saints had started the 1990/91 season well ( including a memorable 5 – 0 success over Aberdeen at McDiarmid Park ) after the New Year the league results were poor. A run to the Scottish Cup semi-final always maintains interest in a season in which there would be no relegation as another league reconstruction was on its way. Saints finally finished in a comfortable 7th position in their first season back in the top division.

12,000 fans at Pittodrie stadium Aberdeen on 28 August 1993 would witness a 0 – 0 draw in the 200th Premier Division match. As the scoreline suggests, no goals and few thrills, meant John McClelland’s team produced an eighth successive away draw stretching back to the end of the previous season.

Saints team was: – Rhodes; McGowne, Deas; McGinnis, Inglis, Turner; Davies, McAuley, Wright, Ramsey, Curran. Subs: Donegan and Scott, Morgan (for McGowne).

Paul Sturrock replaced McClelland in November 1993 but with three teams going down at the end of the season too many draws would eventually cost Saints their place in the top flight.

By the time the 300th “Premier” game came along on 6 February 1999, the Premier Division had been re-branded as the Scottish Premier League (SPL), with 3 points for a win. Our opponents that day were Dundee United, and just as with that very first match back in 1975, Saints won 1 – 0. A Gary Bollan penalty kept Saints on track for a 3rd place finish and subsequent qualification for the following season’s UEFA Cup.

Saints team was: – Main; McQuillan, Bollan; Griffin, Dods, Kernaghan; Scott, O’Neil, Kane, Grant, Simao. Subs: Robertson, McMahon (for Grant), Lowndes (for Simao), McBride, McAnespie.

Sandy Clark was now Manager and we saw some really exciting and enjoyable matches including a 5 – 0 thrashing of Motherwell in the SPL. Furthermore, there was the added extra of a run to the final of the League Cup. Unfortunately, Rangers would lift the trophy with a 2 – 1 win.

It is perhaps fitting that Dundee should be our visitors today for this landmark game, as the final match of that 1998/99 season also saw our near neighbours visit Perth for what was a thrilling finale. A record crowd of 10,575 rolled up to McDiarmid Park on the last day of the season. Saints had to win and a close match had two unforgettable moments. The first was an Alan Main save from a James Grady header which really was from the “top drawer”. Then minutes later Paul Kane’s header found the corner of the Dark Blues’ net and the stadium exploded in a cacophony of noise as Saints fans celebrated a 1 – 0 win.

Game 400 involved a trip to Rugby Park, Kilmarnock on 10 November 2001 before 6,008 spectators. Billy Stark had replaced Sandy Clark in the Manager’s seat and this match will best be remembered as the one that brought to an end a run of 17 games without a win. Willie Falconer headed home a Paul Hartley cross to bring the 3 points back to Perth but relegation was once more the final outcome.

Saints team was: – Miller; Murray, Lovenkrands; Dasovic, Dods, Kemble; Lynch, Hartley, MacDonald, Connolly, Falconer. Subs: Cuthbert, Russell (for Connolly), Jones (for MacDonald ), McBride (for Jones), McClune.

It would be nearly 10 years before the 500th milestone was reached on 14 May 2011. This was a 0 – 0 draw on the final day of the 2010/11 season at Paisley against St Mirren. For the second season running Derek McInnes had seen his team outperform expectations to consolidate themselves in a mid table place in the top division. The only feature in a typical goalless draw at that time of the season was that it marked the final match for two of Saints favourites – Peter MacDonald and Michael Duberry.

Saints team was: – Enckelman: Mackay, Anderson, Adams, Duberry, Davidson, Millar, Craig, Jackson, MacDonald, May. Subs: Smith, Grainger (for May), Reynolds (for MacDonald), Samuel (for Adams),Durnan, Caddis, McIntosh.

The 16 February 2014 at Celtic Park was the date and venue for the 600th (now) Premiership match in front of 45,239 spectators.

Saints team was: – Mannus: Mackay, B.Easton; Millar, Scobbie, Anderson; Croft, McDonald, Wotherspoon, May, Dunne. Subs Banks, Iwelumo, Cregg (for Dunne), Brown, Miller, Hasselbaink (for Millar), O’Halloran (for Croft).

Our hosts ran out comfortable 3 – 0 winners but our return to that venue on 17 May 2014 will forever go down as the greatest day in Saints history with the Scottish Cup coming to Perth for the first time ever.

In reviewing the player stats in the top division, given the consistency shown over the past 8 seasons, then it comes as no real surprise that Dave Mackay has made the most “Premier” appearances with a total of 223 matches (no subs). Chris Millar is next with 208 (193+15) and Murray Davidson is just one behind on 207 (190+17). Should Steven Anderson appear today, then it will be his 200th (189+10) “Premier” game and his 381st Saints appearance in all competitions.

With 39 goals Paul Wright has scored more “Premier” goals than any other Saints player but Liam Craig with 34 and Steven MacLean on 32 are both closing in on that record.

Let’s hope that Sunday’s match is more memorable than some of the 600 that have gone before.

 

 

 

 

 

St Johnstone Hall of Fame – Joe Carr

“Blog” of Saints player Joe Carr who played in the 1950’s and 60’s and who was inducted into the St Johnstone Hall of Fame in 2013

saintshistory

Joe Carr was signed by Saints Manager Johnny Pattillo in 1953 from Dunipace Juniors. He had previously played for Kilsyth St Pats and Bonnybridge Rose.

Joe made his debut on the 17th October of that year against Ayr United at Somerset Park in a match that Saints won 4 – 3. The goalscorers that day were Doug Newlands and Ian Rodger who hit a hat trick.

Saints team was: –  Roy MacLaren, Jimmy Woodcock, Jimmy Cairns, Davie Mackie, Bill Riddick, Archie Baird, Doug Newlands, Ernie Ewen, Ian Rodger, Jackie Landles and Joe Carr.

Joe went on to make a total of 229 appearances for Saints which places him as 30th equal alongwith Ernie Ewen in the all time appearances list.

His 70 goals puts him 8th equal in the all time goalscorers list with Harry Ferguson ( pre War ) and Gordon Whitelaw  (1965 – 1973 ).

View original post 452 more words

7 March 1885 – St Johnstone 1 Caledonian Railway 0 – First Ever Match

saintshistory

As many of you will know St Johnstone Football Club was formed at a meeting of some of the members of St Johnstone Cricket Club held on 24th February 1885.

Less than two weeks later the First Ever Match was a Friendly game played on the South Inch Perth on 7 March 1885 against Caledonian Railway and resulted in a 1 – 0 win for Saints.

The following are transcripts of the match reports published in the local papers on Monday 9th March 1885.

Perthshire Advertiser

The St Johnstone encountered, for their first match, the Caledonian on the South Inch on Saturday.

The St Johnstone, from the first, pressed their opponents hard, and Gordon had to use his hands frequently to save his goal from disaster. For the St Johnstone team Lorimer and W.Thomson, at back, played a grand game, and Scobie, as centre, worked hard.

Gordon, at goal, for…

View original post 214 more words

St Johnstone Hall of Fame – Henry Hall

saintshistory

Henry Hall was one of the finest players ever to play for Saints. He was a natural goalscorer and not only had he the ability to be in the right place at the right time but he seemed to have time to pass the ball into the net. He helped transform Willie Ormond’s team from a mid table team into a top side feared by the Old Firm and ultimately European opponents.

In November 1968 Manager Willie Ormond signed Henry from Stirling Albion paying a then record transfer fee of £15,000 to bring him to Perth.

He made his debut on 9th November 1968 at Muirton Park in a 3 – 2 defeat from St Mirren.

Saints team that day was : – Derek Robertson, George Miller, Willie Coburn, Alex Gordon, Benny Rooney, Ian McPhee, Kenny Aird, Buck McCarry, Alex MacDonald, Henry Hall, John Connolly. Sub: Gordon Whitlelaw.

Goalscorers…

View original post 387 more words