1976/77 Season Programme Issues
(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Inverness C. T. 16th April 2021)
St. Mirren v Rangers 1976
Season 1976/77 was monumental in the history of St. Mirren as they emerged from six seasons in the lower tier to win the First Division Championship and return to the top flight under the management of Alex Ferguson. It was also monumental in the history of the Club programme as no fewer than twenty-six issues were produced that season – more than in any other season until then, and only surpassed on two occasions since.
Despite this tally, the first pre-season friendly against Dundee United on August 2nd and the first League Cup tie against Aberdeen on August 18th saw no programmes issued. The latter omission in particular is one that has continued to baffle both Saints and Dons collectors over the years.
In between these two matches, the first programme of the season appeared for the Challenge Match against a Rangers XI on August 7th. The 12 page, A5-sized issue was similar in format to the previous season’s publication, with the exception that the untraditional orange spot colour used during 1975/76 was replaced with an equally untraditional yellow! Indeed, the programme was not unlike the Dumbarton programme of the day, both of which were produced by the same Dalmuir printers.
The cover of the 12p programme displayed the opponents and competition above an action shot from the previous season’s friendly match between the Clubs. However, the previous seasons’ habit of omitting the match date from the cover continued, and this would pose identification problems for future collectors. The only way to determine the date was to examine the fixture list, but not on the Rangers issue, as the friendly fixture wasn’t listed!
The inside pages included a message from Alex Ferguson in “The Manager’s View”, a page on the visitors, a spotlight on a selected player, half-time teasers and contributions from journalists Len Wright and Ian Archer, all interspersed with action photos from past games. The centre pages listed the teams and the fixture list occupied the inside back page. Only the back page carried an advert.
The last two home League Cup section matches and the first League game of the season all took place within the space of seven days and all saw programmes issued. A new cover design was introduced, depicting an abstract illustration of a Saints player holding off an opponent. The orange spot colour returned and four more pages were added, to be filled with more Club news, an additional article by journalist Jim Blair and current season statistics. One more minor change was introduced for the next home match against Hamilton Academical when the thin gloss paper used thus far was replaced by thicker and heavier matt pages
St. Mirren v Dundee U. SC 1977
The icy cold weather of December and January forced the postponement of the home matches against St. Johnstone, East Fife and Dumbarton, however programmes were still produced for all three fixtures. The Dumbarton issue hailed the news that, due to increased sales, the cover price was being reduced to 10p.
The following home match welcomed Dundee United on Scottish Cup duty and the standard programme was issued. The match went down in folklore in Paisley, as the young Saints came from a goal down to thrash their Premier Division opponents 4-1 in one of the biggest Cup shocks of the decade.
The postponed games were rearranged for February and March and new programmes were issued for each. However, it is difficult to distinguish between the postponed and rearranged programmes without taking a look inside, due to the inconvenience of not printing the date on the cover. This identification was made more difficult as the printed fixture list wasn’t updated and the results of each match were merely entered against the original dates.
The Title was decided at Dens Park, Dundee on 19th April 1977 in a rearranged fixture from December. Sadly, neither the postponed or rearranged fixtures saw a programme issued and deprived Saints fans of a souvenir to mark the occasion. However, Saints produced a “League Champions Souvenir Programme” for the final match of the season against Montrose on April 30th. Four extra pages were added to the usual issue in order to include photos of notable matches from earlier in the season. The programme was also notable for being the first in over two years to feature the date on the cover!
For the record, St. Mirren played two Renfrewshire Cup matches at Love Street during the season, a semi-final against Viewfield Rovers on November 2nd and the second leg of the final against Morton on May 8th. Unsurprisingly, neither of these saw a programme issued.