21 November 1987 – Willie Watters Hits Three in 3 – 1 Win

On this day in 1987 St Johnstone met East Stirling in a League Division 2 match at Muirton Park.

After the dark days of the mid 1980’s Alex Totten had started on the job of restoring Saints to the higher echelons of the Scottish game.

After a good start to the campaign, including a 3 – 0 win over promotion rivals Ayr United at Somerset Park, progress had stuttered over the previous two weeks with defeats suffered at home to Cowdenbeath 0 – 1 and away to Brechin City 1 – 2.

In an attempt to add more fire power the manager had signed Willie Watters from Clyde and on his debut at Glebe Park the striker scored Saints goal.

It was important to get back on winning ways and the following team was selected for this match.

John Balavage, Kenny Thomson, Don McVicar, Doug Barron, Alan McKillop, Sammy Johnston, Steve Maskrey, Tommy Coyle, Danny Powell, Willie Watters, Ian Heddle. Subs Joe McGurn and Steve Gavin.

Shire fielded 5 former St Johnstone players in their team. Gilchrist, Harvey, Woods, Ward and O’Brien,

Saints started well with Johnston and Powell ( twice ) coming close to opening the scoring before Watters scored his first in 20 minutes. Coyle had won the ball out on the wing and when his cross arrived in the penalty area Watters lobbed the keeper from 15 yards out. 1 – 0.

However, there was a shock for the Saints fans in the 1,390 crowd as the visitors equalised after Balavage had fumbled a cross allowing Murray to score from close range.

“Sammy” almost puts Saints ahead again just before the interval but the half ended with the score still 1 – 1.

Straight from the kick off Saints were back on the attack and the keeper made a great save from a powerful Watters shot. From the resultant corner there was a scramble on the line before the ball was eventually cleared.

Saints continued the pressure and when the keeper missed a Heddle cross Watters was on hand to fire the ball home. 2 – 1 after 57 minutes.

Seven minutes later and it’s 3 – 1 with Watters completing his hat trick. This time he took a free kick and from 20 yards out curled it up and over the wall and into the net with the keeper helpless. A wonderful goal and game over.

This win triggered a run of 8 consecutive League wins.

Saints achieved the aim of promotion finishing the season in second top position 2 points behind Ayr United.

Willie Watters was Saints top scorer with 18 goals from 22 starts and 5 substitute appearances.

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