Saints v Dons in First Team and Reserve action - 1961
(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Aberdeen, 5th December 2020)
St. Mirren v Aberdeen 1961
On 7th October 1961, St. Mirren hosted Aberdeen in a First Division match with the sides having started off the season in inconsistent form. Both were sitting in the bottom half of the table amongst a group of six teams, each having amassed four points from five games.
Saints had taken a point from league leaders Rangers at Paisley two weeks earlier, but had then slipped to a 4-0 defeat at Kirkcaldy. Aberdeen, on the other hand, had opened the season with a 7-0 trouncing of Stirling Albion, but had later shipped the same number of goals at Airdrie and were now looking to avoid a third defeat in a row.
The programme for the match was in the familiar format used by St. Mirren from 1953 until 1965. An increase from eight to twelve pages in season 1959/60 meant that the "Club Notes" was joined by a more comprehensive "From the Manager's Desk". Other innovations included a Personality Page, a Lucky Programme Number and a regular fixture list; an item which had only occasionally appeared in the programmes of the 1950s.
For the Aberdeen issue, No. 241, the “Club Notes” recorded that former Don Jim Clunie had been taken to hospital during the week after suffering a knee injury in training, just at the same time as Tommy Bryceland was being discharged after breaking his leg in a League Cup match earlier in the season. Clunie’s omission from the side for the first time since joining Saints meant a debut for young Alex Clark at centre half.
Manager Willie Reid’s piece bemoaned the unpredictability of the team in the matches against Rangers and Raith Rovers. He himself had been unable to travel to Kirkcaldy and intended to find out the reasons for the inconsistency, but hinted that the players were missing the vocal support of the fans. So, it was our fault then!
The Personality Page focussed on twenty-year old Donald Kerrigan, who had gained much experience during an extended run in the Reserve side and had performed well as an inside forward. However, Manager Reid and Coach Flavell had to convince him that centre-forward was probably his best position for a run in the First team. He certainly went on to make his mark with Saints, and later in his career starred for Aberdeen, Hearts and Dunfermline Athletic.
As for the match itself, a crowd of 9,135 saw St. Mirren take a 17th minute lead through Bert Henderson and followed this up with two Kerrigan goals either side of a Charlie Cooke counter for the Dons before half time. Three minutes from the end, Des Herron brought the scoreline back to 3-2, but Saints held on for the victory and the two points.
Aberdeen Res. v St. Mirren Res. 1961
St. Mirren on the attack
during the reserve match in 1961
The practice during the ‘fifties and ‘sixties was for the First team and Reserve side to play on the same day against the same opposition. The Saints’ Reserves who travelled up to Pittodrie included three Icelandic trialists, Armasson, Skegjasson and Thorolfur “Tottie” Beck, all of whom had received a good reception in the previous week’s 3-1 defeat against Raith Rovers at Paisley. The actual team selection for the Aberdeen match is unknown, but the side returned home with a creditable 1-1 draw.
Aberdeen were consistent producers of a programme for Reserve games during this time and the St. Mirren match was no exception. The format of the twelve-page issue was identical to that produced for First Team games and was ahead of its time in quality, using glossy paper and red spot colour on the cover. Unfortunately, the content was devoid of any actual Reserve team news. The “Club Notes” on page two concentrated on details ahead of a Franco-Scottish Friendship match against Le Havre, whilst the opposite page displayed photos of Dons’ players Charlie Cooke and Lewis Thom. Photo action from a recent match with Partick Thistle featured on page four. Page seven featured a rather bizarre “Coaching Tip No. 2 – The Art Of Kicking A Football” and page ten focussed on versatile player Hugh Baird. A particular disappointment was that St. Mirren were mentioned only in the match details on the front cover and on the team lines in the centre pages. Nevertheless, it is an interesting issue of times gone by and, on the rare occasions it does appear for sale, will command a reasonable price.