McGarvey Inspires Saints to a Goal Rout over Hearts - 1985

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Hearts, 7th August 2021)

St. Mirren v Hearts 1985

St. Mirren v Hearts 1985

Hearts were St. Mirren’s first visitors to Love Street on 17th August 1985 for the second Premier League match of the 1985/86 season. It was the first opportunity for the Paisley fans to welcome back Frank McGarvey after his close season transfer from Celtic as a replacement for Frank McAvennie, who departed for West Ham at the same time.

The first programme of the season was a 20-page, B5-sized production, printed black on white gloss paper, with red spot colour on the covers and on one inside page. The front cover featured a photo of Saints’ backroom team above the caption “30 seconds from Europe…”, taken during the closing stages of St. Mirren’s final-day victory over Hearts’ in the previous season which qualified them for the UEFA Cup. Messrs Martin Ferguson and Drew Jarvie clearly looked a lot more relaxed than Manager Alex Miller!

Pages 3 and 4 of the issue provided the team line-ups and Fixtures for both First and Reserve teams, whilst on page five “Alex’s Angle” and “Drew’s News” gave the management team’s view on the pre-season fixtures. John Byrne reflected on the career of 1920s Saints player Mattha Morgan, who had passed away during the summer. “Diary” covered the football events of May 1985, an eventful month which included the twin disasters at Bradford and Heysel. The centre pages were dominated by a photo of Saints’ third goal against Hearts in their 5-2 win on the last day of the previous season.

In the second half of the programme, “Profile” focussed on full-back Derek Hamilton and “Editor’s Notes” discussed the transfers of the two Franks – McAvennie and McGarvey. Alex Bell’s page featured a short quiz together with headlines and quotes and this preceded a double page spread on the visitors from Edinburgh and Mark Scott’s spot, which discussed the pundits’ predictions for the season. The remainder of the 50p issue was filled by photo action from the previous Hearts game, sponsorship and adverts.

A crowd of 6,685 attended Love Street on a sunny afternoon to witness the returning McGarvey inspire St. Mirren to an emphatic goal rout over a totally outclassed and overrun Tynecastle side. That said, Hearts could have scored in just 15 seconds, but Robertson hesitated long enough for Campbell Money to close down his shot. Saints retaliated, and Jim Rooney had two efforts that came close. However, it was the visitors who took the lead in 14 minutes when Robertson’s corner found an unmarked Colquhoun at the back post for a simple goal. The lead lasted only three minutes, as McGarvey and Brian Gallagher capitalised on slack defending to set up Gardner Speirs for a headed equaliser.

McGarvey scores Saints' third goal

McGarvey scores Saints' third goal

St. Mirren then took the lead in 36 minutes. A Spiers corner was punched high in the air by Smith and the ball fell to an unmarked Peter Mackie, who headed across the face of goal to Peter Godfrey and the centre-half nodded home.

The home side’s third goal came just before half time. A powerful Jim Rooney shot was parried by goalkeeper Smith, but Tony Fitzpatrick was on hand to cut the ball back for McGarvey to net his first goal since his return to the Club.

Seven minutes into the second half, a Tommy Wilson cross found McGarvey at the back post and he centred the ball for Fitzpatrick to score from eight yards out.

Number five came in 66 minutes when Smith failed to hold a Speirs free kick, allowing Steve Clarke to net the rebound from a tight angle. Many of the away support were heading for the exits when a mistake by Jardine six minutes later allowed Rooney to smash the ball high into the net for Saints’ sixth. There was a consolation for Hearts eleven minutes from time when Clark headed a Watson cross to Robertson, who cleverly took the ball on his chest before despatching it beyond Money.