End of an Era at Love Street

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Motherwell, 4th December 2019)

St. Mirren v Motherwell 2009

St. Mirren v Motherwell 2009

St. Mirren played their last match at Love Street after 115 years on 3rd January 2009. It was an emotional day for fans, players, invited ex-players and staff amongst the 10,189 in attendance, with lots of memories, stories, Saints shirts placed on the centre spot and fireworks fired into the night sky at the end of the game. The fans who remained were allowed on to the pitch, but were courteously reminded not to take souvenirs as there was still the faintest possibility that the pitch might be needed one more time should Saints’ forthcoming cup tie with Brechin City result in a replay.

The only thing that was missing from the day was a Saints’ win. There wasn’t even a goal, as defences were on top form and both sides cancelled each other out for long periods of the match. Although St. Mirren had a few good chances in the first half, they failed to capitalise on them and indeed could have lost it late in the game when the visitors had a strong penalty claim for handball turned down.

The occasion was marked by the issue of Saints’ largest ever programme thus far – a 52-page, A4 issue entitled “Love Street – End of an Era”. The cover featured an aerial shot of the ground, complete with Club crest and a profile shot of Manager Gus MacPherson. Inside, after the usual introductions from the Chairman and Manager, there were two pages on the visiting players from Motherwell. There followed a host of articles and reminiscences of memorable matches played at the old ground from regular contributors Stuart Gillespie, David Grier, Jim Hamilton, Norrie Jamieson, Brian Wright and Willie Bell. These were interspersed with double page spreads showing photos from almost every vantage point in and around Love Street.

The centre pages featured a glorious aerial photograph of the ground, taken in the 2000s which, if it hadn’t been part of such an important programme, would have been carefully extracted and framed for display on the wall.

Alas, the second half of the programme didn’t maintain the same intensity of reading matter as the first. There were more pages of Love Street photos and memories courtesy of Jim Crawford and a variety of images of famous teams, players, managers and victorious moments throughout the years. The remainder of the pages were devoted to the necessary, but not quite so readable, fixtures, kit sponsorship. commercial news. sponsor’s logos and adverts.

Such was the interest and significance of this game to supporters and programme collectors alike, that the programme almost immediately commanded a fee far in excess of the original £5 price tag. It still crops up on dealers lists and auction sites from time to time, so it is not the most difficult item to find, but it might stretch the pocket money a little.