(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Dundee United, 6th November 2020)
Single-sheet inserts are sometimes included with the programme for a postponed game to provide updated information when the game is eventually played. Since 1945, there have been 14 such inserts included in programmes involving St. Mirren, three of these for matches against Dundee United.
St. Mirren v Dundee U. 1983
The first of these was in season 1983/84 when the fixture list paired Saints and the Tangerines at Paisley on 15th October 1983, but torrential rain forced a late postponement. Due to the involvement of both Clubs in European and League Cup midweek fixtures, the earliest available date wasn’t until 22nd November.
The original programme was on sale for the rearranged game and contained an additional slightly smaller single sheet photocopied on one side and incorrectly dated as 22nd October! It included a general description of both clubs’ fortunes since the date of the original fixture and a piece by Saints’ manager Alex Miller, in which he praised United’s progress in Europe and hoped that St. Mirren’s recent good run of consistency could knock the Tannadice side out of their stride.
A strange inclusion in an item with such limited space was a letter to the Editor from a season ticket holder who complained bitterly about almost everything to do with the team’s recent visit to Tynecastle. The Editor refused to print the whole letter as requested and redirected the writer’s queries to the Directors instead. The reason for this was that the Scottish League received a copy of every match programme published, and the Club would be reprimanded should these contain comments which were deemed unsuitable. (The League must have some collection of programmes by now!)
As for the game, Saints followed up on their fantastic 4-2 comeback win over Celtic on the previous Saturday to demolish United 4-0 by means of an Ian Scanlon penalty and a Frank McAvennie hat-trick. However, the stand-out moment of the match was Steve Clarke’s long-distance shot into the top corner of the net, which was disallowed by the referee blowing his whistle for half time as the ball was in mid-flight.
Dundee U. v St. Mirren 1987
Torrential rain was also the reason for the postponement of the next match of interest. On 6th January 1987, exactly one week after the originally scheduled fixture, St. Mirren travelled to Tannadice and a double-sided A5 insert was included with the original programme. The front page contained items of Club news and described the efforts of the ground staff to counteract the effects of the rain on the original date. These efforts were thwarted when the referee called the match off as late as 6.45pm with many fans already on their way. Because of the inconvenience caused, the admission prices for the rearranged game were being reduced by 50p. The reverse side of the insert listed United’s statistical record for the season so far, along with the current Premier League table. For the record, United won the match 2-0 through second-half goals from Redford and Sturrock.
Dundee U. v St. Mirren 2018
The most recent match insert involving the two Clubs was issued in 2017/18 during St. Mirren’s push towards the Scottish Championship title. The original fixture was scheduled to be covered by live TV on Friday 2nd March 2018, but the “Beast from the East” left most of Scotland snowbound and the match was called off more than 24 hours before kick-off.
By the time of the rearranged match on Tuesday 10th April, St. Mirren held a 12-point lead with five matches to play, and only required a point in Dundee to secure the title. Unfortunately, a third-minute goal from Billy King gave United a 1-0 victory and delayed the title celebrations until the following Saturday in Paisley against Livingston.
The four-page A5-sized insert was printed orange and black on white glossy paper. The front page listed the Dundee United officials down one side, together with an update on recent events and the current Championship table. It was interesting to note that, when the match was due to take place in March, Saints were 17 points ahead of United, who had three games in hand. In the intervening month, the Tangerines had reached parity in games, but were now 21 points behind. The inside pages listed Dundee United’s fixtures, results and team line-ups for the season and the back page summarised the Club's appearances and scorers.