On this day 20 years ago Saints visited Dundee at Dens Park in a Premier League fixture.
The previous week had seen the departure of Manager John McClelland after a miserable run of results culminating with a 3 – 1 loss in a “must win” game against Partick Thistle at McDiarmid Park.
Chairman Geoff Brown did not waste any time in securing Paul Sturrock from Dundee United where he had been coaching since his retirement from the playing side of his career some 4 years earlier.
Whilst this was his first Managerial role Sturrock came with a glittering CV as both a player and a coach. With the Terrors he had gained 20 Scottish caps at full International level, and been part of a fantastic team that won the Premier League in 1983 before reaching the semi finals of the European Cup the following Season. The Chairman expressed the view that ” he was the only man for the job”.
Saints had not registered a win during their 7 previous matches and his first game in charge could not have been more difficult. A derby against local rivals Dundee at Dens Park.
He selected the following team: – Andy Rhodes, Kevin McGowne, Sean McAuley, Gary McGinnis, John Inglis, Paul Cherry, Allan Moore, Tommy Turner, Guni Torfason, Harry Curran, John Davies. Subs : John Donegan, Paul Deas, Martin Buglione.
A large Perth support made the short trip down the Tay and swelled the crowd to 4,864. The fans played a major role in encouraging the team during the home team’s second half onslaught.
An Allan Moore strike in 16 minutes would see Saints win 1 – 0. Torfason should have scored earlier but missed something of “a sitter”. Then came Moore’s goal when he latched on to a short back header to shoot past the advancing keeper. Buoyed by this success the little winger nearly made it two but watched in anguish as a header was cleared of the line. Saints defence looked stronger than in previous matches and with something to hold on to Cherry, in a man marking role, and McGinnis were outstanding. Behind them keeper Rhodes was in inspirational form. A save from a Billy Dodds shot was particularly memorable. Late in the match Saints were hitting on the break and substitute Buglione hit the Dundee post with a shot following a corner.
This was was a real team performance with all 12 players giving their all. It was also Saints first away victory since January – some 17 matches previous.
Despite the later purchase ( in January 1994 ) of Billy Dodds for a record fee of £400,000 and a fighting finale to the Season, unfortunately, Sturrock could not save Saints from the dreaded drop into the First Division. Three teams went down that year and whilst Saints finished on the same points as Kilmarnock and Partick Thistle they had an inferior goal difference. It would take a further 4 years before Sturrock managed to get the Club back into their rightful place in the Premier League.
Paul Sturrock’s managerial record was Played 208, Won 96, Drew 56, Lost 56. Goals for 314, against 212. Win Ratio of 46%.