Last of the old programme design 1953 and a Five Star Performance from Gus 1972
(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Hamilton Academical, 24th October 2020)
St. Mirren v Hamilton A. 1953
St. Mirren met Hamilton Academical in the second match of the 1953/54 League season at Love Street on 12th September. Both Clubs had won their opening fixtures with surprising results, Saints having beaten Aberdeen 3-0 at Pittodrie and the newly-promoted Accies winning 2-0 at home to Celtic, so there was everything to play for to stay at the top of the League.
The game marked the Saints debut of Jim Mallan, recently signed from Celtic, and he was called into action early to repel an attack from Hamilton’s Cunning. Sam Wilson gave Saints the lead after 22 minutes when he headed home a Jackie Neilson lob. Shortly afterwards, Neilson was again the provider when he lofted a ball through for George Stewart to pilot through a second goal. John Scott reduced the deficit before half time when he finished off some clever play between Young and Todd. Six minutes into the second half, Wilson again scored for St. Mirren when his shot came off a defender and trickled into the net. George Brown then brought Hamilton back into the contest in 73 minutes when his rising shot from twelve yards beat Park, but it wasn’t enough to stop Saints winning 3-2 and settling into second place in the league behind surprise leaders Queen of the South.
From a programme point of view, the match was significant as it was the last issue to feature the illustrated player on the front cover. This design was first introduced in August 1948 and now, with issue number 101, it was to be retired. The same illustration had been adopted by a number of English club programmes, as well as by St. Mirren’s nearest rivals Morton, so it was time for a change. The eight-page programme had little of content, but page two featured the current season fixture list and results, while pages three and six carried “Club Notes”. These focussed on the previous week’s events at Aberdeen, where injuries and refereeing decisions had been the main topic of conversation. There was also some criticism of the use of slow hand clapping at Pittodrie and praise for Hamilton’s result against Celtic. The centre pages gave the team line-ups, surrounded by adverts, and page seven provided the Half-Time Score Board.
This programme does appear for sale from time to time, and will probably command a price of £20-£30 for a decent copy.
St. Mirren v Hamilton A. 1972
Fast forwarding to season 1972/73, St. Mirren produced a red and black programme cover for the visit of Hamilton on 9th December 1972. The 12-page issue had a lot more content compared to its 1953/54 counterpart and featured a cover photo of high-flying Bobby McKean in action against Clydebank. Page two gave a Love Street welcome to Hamilton and the opposite page featured Tommy Bryceland’s “From the Manager’s Desk”, in which he discussed the previous week's defeat at Kirkcaldy. Pages four and five set out the task facing Saints over the forthcoming festive period, where six important matches would have a bearing on the promotion hunt. Once again, the centre pages featured the team line-ups. Page eight listed the St. Mirren playing staff and opposite there was a feature about midfielder Dave Millar, who was likely to miss the match because of a virus. The only remaining content of note was on page eleven, which contained the Half-Time Scoreboard and results to date.
The match itself was as one-sided as you could get, with Saints demolishing the Accies 7-1, five of the goals coming from Gus McLeod. He opened the scoring with a header from a John Dickson cross in the fifth minute and followed this up some fifteen minutes later by capitalising on defensive slackness at a corner to sweep the ball home. McLeod’s hat-trick was completed just before half time and two more goals within the first few minutes of the second half took his, and St. Mirren’s tally to five. Iain Munro got in on the act to net a penalty in 65 minutes and Ally McLeod completed the rout on 78 minutes. Paul Hegarty, later of Dundee United fame, got Accies consolation in the last minute.
Gus McLeod, Gerry Baker and Billy Mehmet are the only post war St. Mirren players to have scored five goals in a single competitive match.