Saints’ Centenary Match
(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v St. Johnstone, 19th October 2019)
Saints' Centenary issue
As the highlight of the Club’s Centenary celebrations, St. Mirren invited European Cup holders Liverpool to Love Street for a challenge match on Monday 12th December 1977. It might have been a glamour friendly match, but there were also two trophies at stake; a solid silver salver valued at £600 for the winning team and a Man of the Match statuette valued at £300, both of which had been donated by local businesses.
The recently promoted Saints acquitted themselves well against the European Champions. After an eventful first half in which Frank McGarvey had hit the post, Ray Clemence had saved a cracking Tony Fitzpatrick shot and a Kenny Dalglish effort had been ruled offside, St. Mirren lost the initiative in 57 minutes when Dalglish knocked home a cross from David Fairclough to score for the visitors. However, the young St. Mirren team refused to bow down to their more illustrious opponents and their efforts paid off in the 87th minute when Billy Abercromby got on to the end of a Frank McGarvey cross to equalise from close range.
From the moment the pipe band skirled its way around Love Street until the fascinating finale, it was a heart stirring occasion, even for the non-Buddies in the 18,000 sell-out crowd.
The match then went to a penalty shootout. The first eight spot kicks were successfully converted but then Ray Clemence brilliantly saved from Frank McGarvey. Jimmy Case stepped up, apparently to end the excitement, but Ally Hunter pulled off a world class save of his own to keep the sides level. Bobby Reid’s effort was then held by the England goalkeeper and substitute Dave Johnson smacked home the spot kick that climaxed the sparkling occasion. The Man of the Match award went to Tony Fitzpatrick for a splendid performance.
Billy Abercromby equalises against Liverpool
The 20-page glossy programme was printed in black, red and white throughout. After a short Chairman’s welcome, there was a double page feature about Liverpool’s successes over the previous fifteen seasons and pen pictures of the Reds’ players. Manager Alex Ferguson then had a page extolling the virtues of the Merseysiders. The centre pages gave the team line ups, either side of a photo of the Liverpool squad with their European Cup, English First Division and Charity Shield trophies. Page 13 compared the Buddies’ Triumphs with the Reds’ Records and the following two pages described the trophies which were up for grabs that evening. There followed a double page spread in which a few of the St. Mirren players named their favourite Liverpool stars. Finally, a short article described how the Love Street floodlighting system was being upgraded to be brighter than that of many English First Division clubs of the day, although there was disappointment that it was not ready for this special occasion. Almost half of the programme was devoted to adverts.
A miniature colour reproduction of the Centenary programme was included in the Club’s 125th anniversary programme for the match against Ross County on 5th October 2002.