Saints beat Accies to win the Challenge Cup 2005

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Hamilton Academical, 21st September 2019)

St. Mirren met Hamilton Academical in the final of the Challenge Cup (then sponsored by Bell’s) on 6th November 2005 at Airdrie’s Excelsior Stadium. It was Saints’ second Challenge Cup Final, having previously lost to Falkirk in 1993/94, while Accies were going for their third win, following successive victories in 1991/92 and 1992/93.

St. Mirren v Hamilton A. 2005

St. Mirren v Hamilton A. Challenge Cup Final 2005

On their way to the final, the Buddies had overcome Forfar 1-0 at home after extra time, followed by Queen of the South away (2-1) and Stenhousemuir at home (3-2), before edging out Morton in the semi-final at Love Street. A 0-0 score after 90 minutes and extra time was resolved by a 4-2 penalty shootout victory.

Their opponents probably had an easier path to the final, as they kept clean sheets against Queens Park away (3-0), Ross County away (1-0) and Dundee at home (2-0). In the semi-final, St. Johnstone were defeated 2-1 at McDiarmid Park.

In the final, over 7,000 Saints fans in the near sell-out 9,612 crowd saw Simon Lappin capitalise on early Saints pressure to score from a David van Zanten cross after 24 minutes. A revitalised Hamilton shot out of the blocks in the second half to equalise in 47 minutes through Scott Tunbridge. With ten minutes left, another van Zanten cross was met by John Sutton, who rose above the Accies defence at the near post to head the winner. Saints held on to win the trophy for the first time and provide Gus MacPherson with his first piece of silverware as a manager.

When St. Mirren added the First Division Championship at the end of the season, they became the third Club in successive seasons to win both trophies, following on from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2003/04 and Falkirk in 2004/05.

Gus MacPherson with goalscorers Lappin and Sutton

Gus MacPherson with goalscorers Lappin and Sutton

The full colour programme for the final was printed on glossy paper with a glossy card cover. After introductions from the Scottish Football League and the sponsors, there was a report on the respective roads to the final and full results and scorer details for the 2005/06 competition. This was followed by double page articles on Saints’ management team of MacPherson and Millen, captain Kevin McGowne, strike partners John Sutton and Stewart Kean, and “youngsters” Kirk Broadfoot and Simon Lappin. Pen pictures of the full squad led into the centre spread team line ups.

The second half of the programme covered the Hamilton Academical counterparts; management team Billy Reid and Stuart Balmer, midfielder Marvyn Wilson, Brown Ferguson, Brian Carrigan, Scott MacKenzie and John Robertson. Billy Stark, who started as a player with Saints and as a manager with Accies, was given a double page spread, and this was followed by two more pages about players who had featured for both Clubs.

The tail end pages gave an insight to the backroom activities of both Clubs. Hamilton had recently moved into their new stadium, while St. Mirren were beginning to plan their move away from Love Street. As always, the Referee had the final word, and a page was devoted to Stuart Dougal and his assistants. With only eight pages of adverts in a 44-page issue, it was well worth the £2.50 price tag.