30 September 1999 – St Johnstone 3 AS Monaco 3

OTD 1999 St Johnstone met AS Monaco in a UEFA Cup 1st Round 2nd leg match at McDiarmid Park.

Despite a tremendous team performance in Monaco two weeks earlier the first leg had ended in a 3 – 0 defeat for Saints.

The result might have been different had Miguel Simao been able to convert a wonderful chance to put Saints ahead early in the second half. Put clean through by a Kevin Thomas pass he was one on one with Fabien Barthez the French International but the ‘keeper managed to save with his legs and the chance of glory was gone.

However, the highlight of the night was undoubtedly the display of Saints goalkeeper Alan Main who put on one of the finest performances ever given by a Saints keeper. He made save after save before finally being beaten in the 70th minute. Two late goals made the task in the return leg something of an uphill struggle. Barthez was so impressed with Main’s performance that after the match he gave him his jersey and was glowing in his praise of the Saints number one.

When the 2nd leg came around some 7,706 fans turned up at the Perth stadium for the 5 o’clock kick off hoping that their favourites could cause a major upset and overcome a team packed with full International players.

Jim Weir missed out on the return match and Alan Kernaghan, although clearly not fully fit, made his first start of the Season.

Saints Manager Sandy Clark selected the following team: – Alan Main, John McQuillan, Gary Bollan, Nick Dasovic, Alan Kernaghan, Danny Griffin, Miguel Simao, John O’Neil, Nathan Lowndes, Keith O’Halloran, Paul Kane. Subs – Alan Ferguson (gk), Kieran McAnespie, Roddy Grant, Kevin Thomas, Stuart McCluskey, John-Paul McBride, George O’Boyle.

Monaco Manager Claude Puel selected the following team : – Barthez, Marquez, Lamouchi, Simone, Legwinski, Leonard, Sagnol, Prso, N’Diaye, Irles, Riise. Subs – Gallardo, Trezeguet, Giuly, Contreras, Farnerud, Rodreguez, Silva.

Saints started the match with a bang and in the second minute Nathan Lowndes had a wonderful chance from a Simao pass but the striker shot straight at Barthez and then sent the rebound over the bar. A great chance missed.

Then in 5 minutes the home fans were celebrating. 1 – 0 Saints when Leonard could only divert a John O’Neil cross into his own net. Maybe the miracle could happen!

However, the lead was short lived, as 4 minutes later Dado Prso cut in from the left wing and from the edge of the penalty box curled a spectacular shot into Alan Main’s top left hand corner. A fantastic goal. 1 – 1. This was the first goal St Johnstone had conceded in European matches in Perth.

John Arne Riise gave early warning of his ability when he had a shot saved by Main but on 24 minutes he squeezed the ball in from a tight angle to make it 2 – 1 to the visitors on the night.

But this Saints team was made of strong character and after both Simao and O’Neil had missed chances to equalise Nick Dasovic raced on to a Nathan Lowndes pass on 33 minutes to fire a fierce shot past Barthez. 2 – 2.

Then just before half time Barthez brought down Simao in the penalty area. Everyone in the stadium thought – penalty. Except for the Spanish referee who waved play on!  Very much a pivotal moment in the match.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with end to end play. On 69 minutes Legwinski headed home from a corner to put the visitors ahead again. 2 – 3.

Once again Saints came back and Kieran McAnespie, who had replaced Paul Kane, sent in a corner which was not properly cleared from the Monaco box and John O’Neil was able to stab the ball through the crowded area to level the scores. 3 – 3.

George O’Boyle replaced Nathan Lowndes and late on Roddy Grant came on for Keith O’Halloran.

However time ran out and a fantastic match finished 3 – 3 with Monaco winning 6 – 3 on aggregate.

Saints had given everything but it was not a night for miracles. Who knows what might have happened had Barthez been dismissed and Saints awarded a penalty?

The European adventure was over but fantastic memories for Saints supporters. Monaco would go on to the 4th Round of the competition where Real Mallorca defeated them 4 – 2 over the two legs.

29 September 1971 – Hamburg humbled

On this day in 1971 St Johnstone famously defeated SV Hamburg 3 – 0  at Muirton Park in a UEFA Cup 1st Round second leg tie to win 4 – 2 on aggregate.

In painting the picture of the huge significance of this result it was really something of a David and Goliath contest.

Here were Saints appearing in a European competition for the very first time and meeting a German team that, only 3 years earlier had reached the final of the European Cup Winners Cup, losing the final in Rotterdam 2 – 0 to Italian giants AC Milan.

Included in the Hamburg squad were Willy Schulz and Uwe Seeler who were full Internationalists having appeared for West Germany in the 1962, 1966 and 1970 World Cup Finals. Indeed both appeared in the 1966 Final at Wembley where they lost 4 – 2 to England after extra time. In 1970 Seeler got some measure of consolation as he scored the second goal when the Germans came back from 2 goals down to win 3 – 2 against England in the Quarter Finals in Mexico.

The first leg in Hamburg had seen Saints lose in somewhat controversial circumstances. The home team scored in 10 minutes and although it appeared that three of their players were offside much to the amazement of the Saints players and manager Willie Ormond, the Portugese referee allowed the goal to stand.

Jim Pearson equalised in the second half but a late goal saw Saints lose 2 – 1 on the night.

When the second leg came around 2 weeks later, unfortunately, Benny Rooney and Seeler were injured and neither could appear, so the teams that Wednesday night were: –

Saints:  Jimmy Donaldson, John Lambie, Willie Coburn, Alex Rennie, Alex Gordon, Ian McPhee, Kenny Aird, Gordon Whitelaw, John Connolly, Henry Hall, Fred Aitken.

Hamburg: Ozcan, Sandmann, Kurbkuhn, Scultz, Ripp, Nozly, Homig, Zaczyk, Winkler, Bjornmose, Volbert.

There was great excitement in Perth and surrounding areas in the days leading up to the match and over 12,000 fans were at Muirton Park to cheer on their favourites.

They would not be disappointed as Saints players showed no fear and straight from the kick off they took the game to their more illustrious opponents. Ozcan twice made saves from Hall and then a Connolly shot had him scrambling across his goal to keep the ball out. Muirton Park erupted in the 15th minute when Henry Hall latched on to an Ian McPhee pass to shoot past the keeper from 8 yards. Saints deservedly 1 – 0 ahead.

Two minutes later Saints had the ball in the net again when Hall passed to Connolly who managed to squeeze ball home. However, the referee decided that the striker had fouled the ‘keeper in the challenge for the ball and disallowed the “goal” much to the derision of the home fans.

Other than a fine Jim Donaldson save from a fierce Bjornmose shot, when he dived to turn the ball around the post for a corner, the remainder of the first half saw Saints very much in control but unable to add goals to their superiority.

Hamburg started the second half very physically with Hall and Aird coming in for some particularly rough treatment. Saints however were not being thrown out their stride and John Connolly was unlucky when a mazy run in which he went past three defenders was ended by a fine Schulz tackle. Hall was injured when fouled again and had to be replaced by Jim Pearson who was regarded as a danger man by the German coach. No surprise then that his “welcome to the match” was being fouled by Bjornmose which only earned a warning from the ref. A few minutes later the official produced a yellow card to Volbert for yet another foul on Kenny Aird.

In 63 minutes it was 2 – 0  when Pearson turned in a Connolly cross from close range.

Bjornmose had a goal disallowed for offside and Kurbkuhn was yellow carded for a foul on Saints ‘keeper Donaldson in rare attacks. Really, Connolly was running the Hamburg defence ragged and chances were coming thick and fast.

It was no great surprise when Gordon Whitelaw added goal number three in 78 minutes. Connolly headed a Fred Aitken corner back to Whitelaw and from 16 yards he fired a rocket shot past the diving visiting goalie.

In the final minutes Saints continued to dominate and both Aitken and Pearson had chances to add to the scoreline without being able to do so.

When the final whistle was sounded hundreds of young fans invaded the pitch to congratulate their heroes on what was a fantastic performance.

I was privileged to be there that wonderful night.

13 September 1961

On this day in 1961 St Johnstone defeated Motherwell 3 – 2 in a League Cup Quarter Final first Leg tie at Fir Park.

Saints had progressed through a tough Sectional group and had surprised many by overcoming Hibernian, Celtic and Partick Thistle to reach the last 8 eight in the competition.

Results were: Hibs ( H ) 1 – 1, ( A ) 1 – 4, Celtic ( A ) 1 – 0, ( H ) 2 – 0, Partick Thistle ( A ) 0 – 0, ( H ) 4 – 3.

Interestingly Roddy Grant’s father, Bobby, scored the winning goal at Parkhead.

In the League Saints had seen off Aberdeen by 4 – 1 at Muirton the previous Saturday, so the team went into the Motherwell match with confidence.

However, in the past Fir Park had not been a happy hunting ground for Saints.

In 17 previous visits they had only managed to record one League win ( 1 – 0 in 1935 ) with a similar scoreline in a League Cup Quarter Final tie in 1955.

Manager Bobby Brown selected the following team: – Billy Taylor, Charlie McFadyen, Jim Lachlan, Jim Little, Jim Ferguson, Ron McKinven, Matt McVittie, Ronnie Wright, Ian Gardiner, Johnnie Bell, Joe Henderson.

In what is reported as a thrilling end to end match Motherwell were the better side in the first half.  Saints, however, were not out of it and had some very good chances to take the lead during the first 25 minutes.

McVittie had a shot cleared off the line, Henderson shot over from a good position, the ‘Well keeper had a fine save from Gardiner, and Bell shot straight at him when clean through.

As often happens Motherwell went ahead immediately after this. 0 – 1.

Nonetheless this was a resiliant Saints team and the visiting fans were jumping for joy on 38 minutes when Ian Gardiner proded the ball home from 6 yards after great wing play by Matt McVittie. 1 – 1.

Just as the interval approached came tragedy for big Jim Ferguson when he headed the ball into his own goal. 1 – 2.

Billy Taylor was having a fantastic game in goal for Saints and was very much man of the match. During the early stages of the second half he made save after save to keep Saints in the game.

Then on 66 minutes came the turning point when Henderson dashed down the left wing before passing to Gardiner who in turn squared nicely for McVittie to pick his spot. 2 – 2 and game on.

Saints were now on top and 10 minutes from time Ronnie Wright scored an absolute beauty, hitting a 20 yarder into the top corner for 3 – 2.

In the final minute both Taylor and Lachlan made do or die saves to maintain the visitors hard fought advantage.

The second leg at Muirton the following week ended in a 1 – 1 draw to take Saints through to a semi final tie with Rangers.

For supporters of that time the names Taylor, McFadyen and Lachlan rolled off the tongue as it seemed that they were always the first three names on the teamsheet.

My research shows that, in fact, they appeared together in 126 matches, which is twice that of the next nearest,  Donaldson, Lambie and Coburn a decade later.

12 September 1959 – Dumbarton 7 – 2

On this day 1959 Dumbarton were the visitors to Muirton Park in a League Division 2 fixture.

Going into the match Manager Bobby Brown’s team had made a flying start to the League campaign with 3 wins and 1 draw prior to the Dumbarton match, yielding 7 points from a possible 8.

However, the “Sons” were also undefeated and were top of the table.

St Johnstone had registered the following results: – ( H ) Cowdenbeath 7 – 3, ( H ) Forfar Athletic 2 – 2, ( A ) Dundee United 1 – 0 and ( H ) Queen’s Park 4 – 1.

Saints team that day was: – Johnny Bonnar, Charlie McFadyen, Alan Reid, Jimmy Walker, John Valentine, Ron McKinven, Danny Liddell, John Docherty, Johnny Liddell, Willie Haughey, Joe Carr.

Dumbarton started far better and were 1 goal up after only 5 minutes with reports indicating that for the first 30 minutes Saints really struggled to get their act together.

Willie Haughey scored to equalise just before the interval but Dumbarton restored their advantage shortly after the resumption. 1 – 2.

Winger Danny Liddell fired in a 25 yarder immediately after this and then his brother Johnny added number 3 on 56 minutes. Saints attack had now clicked into gear.

In 63 minutes Danny scored a wonderful solo goal to make it 4 – 2.

A further three goals in the last 10 minutes from Johnny Liddell, Joe Carr and Danny Liddell ( completing his hat trick ) duly reflected Saints overall superiority.

Saints would end the Season as Division 2 champions with 53 points from 36 matches three points clear of Dundee United.

In total they amassed 109 goals in all competitions of which 87 were scored in the League.

Johnny Liddell and Willie Haughey bagged 35 goals and 32 goals respectively with each of them 27 scoring in League games.

11 September 2004 – Ross County 1 – 0

On this day in 2004 Saints made the long trip to Dingwall to meet  Ross County in a League Division 1 fixture.

New Manager, John Connolly, had brought together a completely new squad of players and understandably early results were somewhat mixed, with 4 defeats in the first 5 matches followed by 2 wins and a draw in the more recent games going into this match.

The team that day was : – Allan McGregor, Steven Anderson, Kevin Fotheringham, David Hannah, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Ian Maxwell, Ryan McCann, Paul Sheerin, Stephen McConalogue, Michael Moore, Lee Hardy.

Subs: – Kevin Cuthbert, Alan Mahood, Chris Hay, Mark Baxter, Stevie McManus.

There were a reported 160 fans in the crowd of 2,486 at Victoria Park and were pleased with the continued improvement in Saints performances.

On a windy day Saints goalscorer was David Hannah from the penalty spot on 31 minutes.

Stephen McConalogue had a chance to put Saints two ahead just before the interval but his shot was well saved by the Staggies keeper.

In what was a bit of a tousy match the home team were reduced to 10 men in the second half when Gary McSwegan saw red following a tangle with Kevin Fotheringham.

After this Saints appear to have toiled against the 10 men but held on for a welcome 3 points.

Noteworthy is that Allan McGregor was on loan from Rangers and is now a full Scottish International.

Steven Anderson is, of course, still at the club and to date has made 239 appearances plus 28 subs and scored 5 goals.

Kevin Rutkiewicz was plagued with injuries but still made 133 starts plus 12 subs and scored 10 goals.

Paul Sheerin went on to make 204 starts plus 27 sub appearances, scoring 37 goals, and is now successfully Managing at Arbroath.

10 September 1969 – Falkirk swept away

On this day 1969 St Johnstone met Falkirk in the Scottish League Cup Quarter Final First Leg at Muirton Park.

Saints had stormed through the Sectional ties winning all six matches against Dundee 3 – 1 and 2 – 1, Kilmarnock 3 – 2 and 2 – 1 and Partick Thistle 8 – 1 and 4 – 0  scoring 22 goals and conceding 6 in the process.

The League had also started well with a win and 2 draws in the matches leading up to today’s game.

( It would be remiss of me not to mention at this stage that one of the drawn games had been a classic against Celtic at Parkhead in front of 60,000 supporters. That game ended 2 – 2. )

Willie Ormond selected the following team for the Falkirk match.

Jimmy Donaldson, George Miller, Willie Coburn, Alex Gordon, Benny Rooney, Ian McPhee, Kenny Aird, Henry Hall, Bill McCarry, John Connolly, Fred Aitken. 12th man was Gordon Whitelaw.

Saints started well and it was no great surprise when Henry Hall put them ahead with a 6 yard finish after great work by firstly McPhee and then Connolly.

After dominating for long periods Ian McPhee headed home a McCarry free kick in 28 minutes and it looked as if Saints would go on to win quite comfortably.

Young pulled one back for the Bairns just before half time and this rejuvenated the visitors.

In the second half they defended solidly and came close to equalising on a number of occasions as Saints struggled to regain their normal rhythm.

However, all this changed in the 75th minute when Connolly crossed into the middle and Henry Hall was able to squeeze the ball into the net.

Two minutes later it was 4 when Aird ran inside the left back to collect a headed ball from Aitken and crashed the ball home.

The fifth goal came on 84 minutes when Aitken and Rooney worked a quick one – two and Benny fired the ball high into the visitors net from inside the penalty area.

This fantastic 15 minute spell swept Falkirk away and set Saints up well for the second leg at Brockville two weeks later.

The attendance that Wednesday evening was 7,500.

Henry Hall’s two goals put him at the top of Scotland’s Goalscoring charts with 14 goals in 10 games – what a player.

9 September 2006

On this day 2006 Owen Coyle took his St Johnstone team to Firhill to meet the recently promoted Partick Thistle.

A Jason Scotland hat trick and two Steven Milne goals gave Saints a comfortable 5 – 1 win in front of 2914 fans.

Ex Saint Simon Donnelly scored a late penalty for the Jags.

Saints team was: Bryn Halliwell, Andy Lawrie, Goran Stanic, Simon Mensing, Allan McManus, Kevin James, Martin Hardie, Paul Sheerin, Steven Milne, Jason Scotland, Willie McLaren.

Subs were: Kevin Cuthbert, Peter MacDonald, Ryan Stevenson, Darren Sheridan, Steven Anderson.