A change in venue for Saints v Saints - 1984

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v St. Johnstone, 19th December 2020)

When Muirton Park, Perth was deemed unplayable the day before the St. Johnstone v St. Mirren Premier League clash on February 4th 1984, both Clubs moved swiftly to seek permission from the authorities to switch the game to Paisley. The match duly went ahead at Love Street with both sides battling out a 1-1 draw, Frank McAvennie’s 23rd minute strike being cancelled out by Gordon Scott’s equaliser fifteen minutes from time.

A consequence of the late switch was that St. Mirren had no time to produce a programme for the match. However, St. Johnstone’s issue for the postponed match in Perth had been prepared and this was available, with an updating insert, when the sides met for the reverse fixture in Perth on March 31st.

St. Johnstone v St. Mirren 1984

St. Johnstone v St. Mirren 1984

The 24-page A5 issue was printed black on blue and white glossy paper and the single page insert, printed on one side only, was headed “St. Mirren Supplement”, but was undated. The insert detailed the circumstances of the venue change, a change in referee, and updated the half time scoreboard from the original programme with the fixtures of the day. There was also an advert from a local fan wishing to sell 400 St. Johnstone home and away programmes from the 1960s to the present day.

The programme continued the celebration of St. Johnstone’s one hundredth season and was packed with features. Manager Alex Rennie’s “Talk In” was followed by a quiz, “Muirton Topics”, and a two-page spread on the “Reserve and Youth Scene”. Two pages were also devoted to pen pictures of the visitors and the “Photo Focus” in the centre spread highlighted St. Johnstone’s recent defeat to Rangers.

Page nine featured a guest article by St. Mirren Programme Editor Alec Benvie on the topic of Football Programmes in Scotland in which he charted the progress of programme content from simple team line-ups to the more readable articles and features of the modern-day issues. He concluded that the standard of Scottish programmes was at its highest ever and stated that this was mainly due to the dedication and involvement of fans in their own Club’s publications, as the adoption of fresh, individual ideas led to a greater variety in content.

Norway v Scotland 1929 insert

Norway v Scotland 1929 insert

The second half of the programme contained a spotlight on Perth player Raymond Blair, a review of St. Johnstone’s participation in the recent inaugural Sixes tournament at Coaster's in Falkirk, commercial news and Club statistics.

“One in a Hundred”, a regular feature of that season’s St. Johnstone programme, provided background on another insert which was included with the St. Mirren issue. This was a reproduction of the eight-page match programme from the Norway v Scotland match of May 1929, believed to be the first time Scotland played an international match outside of the UK.

The significance of this match to the readership was that the Scotland team featured two St. Johnstone players – goalkeeper Sandy MacLaren and midfielder Willie Imrie – and two St. Mirren forwards – David McCrae and Bobby Rankin. The remainder of the piece gave a potted history of all four players.

Scotland won 7-3 in a tour match which had only recently been recognised as a full international, and therefore allowed the Perth Saints to claim that MacLaren was the youngest goalkeeper to play for Scotland at the age of 18 years, 152 days. From a Buddies point of view, Bobby Rankin could claim to have scored the first Scottish goal on foreign soil with his sixth-minute effort.

As far as the Perth match was concerned, it was best forgotten by the Buddies as they went down 4-2 to continue their poor record against St. Johnstone that season. The St. Mirren goals came from a 31st minute Ian Scanlon penalty and a Frank McDougall goal twenty minutes from time.