League Cup Clashes with Morton

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Morton, 11th November 2020)

Morton v St. Mirren 1985

Morton v St. Mirren 1985

The Renfrewshire rivals have been paired in the League Cup on eleven occasions since their first meeting in the tournament’s inaugural competition of 1946 and the balance of victories has tended to favour the away team. St. Mirren have drawn two and lost two of the four ties played at Paisley, the last of which was played in 1969. However, they have had much better success on the road. Despite losing the first ever away tie, the Buddies have won the six matches as visitors since then, one of which was a 3-0 victory at Dumbarton’s Boghead Park in 1948 while Cappielow was being renovated.

On 28th August 1985, the sides met in a Skol Cup Third Round tie in Greenock before an attendance of 3,723. A 16-page A5-sized programme was produced by Greenock-based printers Orr, Pollock & Co. which was printed black on white gloss paper with blue spot colour throughout.

Given that the Skol Cup ties were being played on successive midweeks in those days, the programme was remarkably up to date. The cover gave the full match details and displayed an action photo from Morton’s second round tie. Inside, Manager Allan McGraw discussed his side’s tie against Dunfermline and the weekend League match with East Fife, both of which had produced a glut of goals. He also welcomed Saints, who he described as “useful”!

A “Spotlight On St. Mirren” detailed Saints’ win over Kilmarnock in the previous round, their good start to the Premier League season, and the likelihood that manager Alex Miller would be missing from the Cappielow dugout as he would be running the rule over Saints' UEFA Cup opponents Slavia Prague. “Teamcheck” gave an accurate Saints line up, but three differences from the eleven who appeared for the home side. There followed articles on Morton’s 1969/70 League Cup campaign and a profile of up and coming player Alan McCafferty. Both Clubs’ League Cup histories were documented, and the quarter-final draw showed that the winners of the tie would have to visit Dundee United or Clydebank. “Facts and Figures” laid out the Greenock side’s campaign for 1985/86 and “Photo Action” provided more images from the previous week’s tie against Dunfermline.

After a scrappy first half of few chances, the game burst into life in the 55th minute when Frank McGarvey punished poor defensive play by Jackie McNamara to set up Brian Gallagher for the opener. The second goal came a minute later when Tony Fitzpatrick ran in unchallenged to nod home a Gallagher cross. In 62 minutes, it became 3-0 when Gardner Speirs’ lob beat Murray McDermott to bounce off the post and present Peter Mackie with the easiest of chances. Morton pulled a goal back in 64 minutes when former Saint Lex Richardson pounced on a poor pass back to put the ball out of the reach of Campbell Money, but Gallagher completed the 4-1 scoreline with another goal four minutes from time.

Morton v St. Mirren 2011

Morton v St. Mirren 2011

Hasselbaink 2011

Hasselbaink celebrates his penalty strike in 2011

The most recent tie was played at Cappielow on 23rd August 2011 when the teams met in the Second Round of the Scottish Communities sponsored League Cup. A 24-page full colour programme measuring 24cm by 16.5cm was printed by Garthland Print, who also produced the Saints programme at this time. After introductions by Manager Allan Moore, Chairman Douglas Rae and celebrity fan Arthur Montford, there was a two-page spread on St. Mirren, with fairly lengthy profiles of the first team squad. There followed a two-page behind-the-scenes feature on the St. Andrews First Aiders and their duties at Cappielow. “Youth News” and a feature on newcomer Paul Di Giacomo preceded a report of the fund-raising challenge match between the two sides in 2001 in which Morton defeated Saints 2-1 to win the Phoenix Mitsubishi Challenge Cup. Kit Sponsors, season statistics and adverts filled the remainder of the issue, which was priced at £2.

Gary Teale put St Mirren ahead from a set piece before Michael Tidser and Peter MacDonald gave Morton the half-time advantage. However, a second-half double from Steven Thompson and a Nigel Hasselbaink penalty put St. Mirren in command of the tie. Substitute Andy Jackson scored a third for Morton with ten minutes remaining, but Saints held on for victory in front of 4,959 spectators.