Saints run riot at Easter Road 1985

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Hibernian, 2nd February 2021)

Hibs v St. Mirren 1985

Hibs v St. Mirren 1985

When St. Mirren travelled to Easter Road to meet Hibernian on 27th April 1985, the Club were sitting in sixth place in the Premier Division, equal with Dundee on 32 points and three points behind fourth-placed Rangers. With three games left to play, the Saints were still hoping to bag a UEFA Cup place in those heady days of the ‘Eighties when half of Scotland’s top Division qualified for Europe! Hibs, on the other hand, were dealing with the threat of relegation, being only four points ahead of second-bottom Dumbarton.

The sixteen-page home programme, entitled “The Hibee”, was a large page format, printed green and black on white gloss paper and was priced at 40p. The front cover displayed the full match details underneath an action photo from Hibs’ recent home match against Dundee United. Inside, the list of Club Officials sat alongside Manager John Blackley’s “Back-Chat”, in which he commented on his side’s 1-1 draw against the Tangerines. He stated that St. Mirren “have a strong pool of players and are as good as any team on their day”. The orders to his midfield players were to harry and unsettle Saints and to take the game to them.

The layout of “The Easter Road Review” on pages four and five was unusually rotated by ninety degrees, so that you had to turn the issue to read it, but nevertheless it contained a number of interesting items, including one on Hibs’ Scottish Cup runs in the immediate post-war era.

Page seven displayed a team photo of St. Mirren above a review of their season and their aspirations to qualify for European competition. Mention was made of the fact that encounters with Hibs that season had yielded three wins out of three. This was followed by brief comments about each of the players including recent signing John (?) Godfrey from Meadowbank Thistle.

Big John (Peter, surely, or even “Basil”) was included in the team line-ups which, surrounded by adverts, occupied the centre pages. The layout of pages nine and ten was rotated in order to present “Facts & Figures” for the season and to include letters from the supporters in “Fan Focus”.

“Quiz Corner”, “Easter Road Action” and “The Hibee Looks Back”, featuring matches from the corresponding week in 1975 and 1965, completed the reading matter, with five more pages of adverts.

Cheered on by the Paisley contingent in the 3,669 crowd, and inspired by an on-form Frank McAvennie, who was being targeted for a summer move to England, the Buddies went at their hosts from the first minute. The hesitant home defence provided the speedy McAvennie and partner Brian Gallagher with enough freedom to win a handful of games. The breakthrough came in 23 minutes after brilliant work down the right side from Gallagher. His cut back was met by Dave Winnie, and he fired the ball high into the net past Alan Rough. Despite more pressure from Saints and chances for Gardner Speirs, McAvennie and Kenny McDowall, there was no further scoring in the first half.

The second half was only five minutes old when Saints doubled their lead. McAvennie collected a through ball from Billy Abercromby and netted in off the post. Gallagher’s play was rewarded with a goal ten minutes later and McAvennie rounded off the 4-0 win with a goal after 63 minutes. Campbell Money and his defence were in good form but, despite a few attempts at goal, Hibs never really looked like scoring.