Substitute McGinn Sinks Rangers - 2008

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Rangers, 24th October 2021)

During the first half of the 2008/09 season, St. Mirren faced a number of opponents at Love Street for the last time prior to their move to Greenhill Road in January 2009. It was the turn of Rangers to make their final visit to the old ground on 5th October, a Sunday game broadcast live to a nationwide audience by Setanta Sports.

The Buddies had made a poor start to the League season, picking up only one win and one draw from the first seven fixtures and were currently propping up the table. On the other hand, the Ibrox Club were undefeated at the top and had scored in every domestic match thus far in the season.

St. Mirren v Rangers 2008

St. Mirren v Rangers 2008

Issue number 5 of the St. Mirren programme for that season was a colourful 52-page production costing £2.50. The front cover often featured the image of a Saints player with a digitised shadow and the cover for the Rangers match portrayed Billy Mehmet. Inside, the issue was packed with a number of interesting articles.

Gus MacPherson’s piece on page two reviewed the recent frustrating draw with Falkirk and the defeats to Dunfermline in the CIS Cup and to Motherwell in the League. He anticipated a tough ninety minutes ahead against Rangers, but hoped that his side would make it equally tough for them and get some more points on the board.

Jim Hamilton’s “It Happened on This Day” reviewed matches played around this time in each of the previous five decades and this was followed by Alan Gallagher’s “Football, Bloody Hell”, in which he shared his memories of following Saints ahead of the move to the new stadium.

The next three pages were devoted to the visitors from Ibrox and consisted of detailed biographies of the large playing staff.

Brian Wright’s “The Wright Angle” presented a very interesting article on the early development of Club grounds and the influence of stadium architect Archibald Leitch, whilst David Grier’s “View from the North Bank” reflected on a recent question and answer session with the St. Mirren management team.

Following David Longwell’s report on the academy side and player sponsorship, Jim Crawford’s two pages of “Attic Attack” highlighted a number of tickets issued for matches and other events involving St. Mirren. The centre page spread featured Garry Brady in match action against Aberdeen.

Another contribution from Brian Wright focussed on the 1960s in “The Love Street Years” and Stuart Gillespie discussed the nuances of the emergency loan system in “And Another Thing…”. “One From the Archives” featured a photo of the 1980s squad with Frank McAvennie taking centre stage and “Matchday Gallery” covered the hospitality presentations after the recent Falkirk match.

As always, a number of pages were set aside for marketing, sponsorship, partner information and adverts and, towards the end of the issue, the statistical section covered fixtures, results, tables and appearances, culminating with the Team Lines on the inside back page.

Stephen McGinn celebrates his goal

Stephen McGinn celebrates his goal

Under sunny conditions, a crowd of 7,520 saw Rangers initially struggle to make headway as St. Mirren got numbers behind the ball. However, the visitors gradually gained a foothold and Kevin Thomson had probably the best two chances of the first half. For the first, the midfielder pounced on a slack pass by Gary Mason, swept forward and let fly from 25 yards, but his shot was easily parried away by Saints ‘keeper Mark Howard. Thomson again threatened the home goal when he worked a one-two with Kenny Miller and unleashed a shot which Howard tipped over the bar.

Rangers continued their pressure in the second half, but efforts from Madjid Bougherra, Jean-Claude Darcheville and his replacement Kris Boyd failed to trouble the home side.

The home defenders clear a late effort

The home defenders combine to clear a late effort

Gus MacPherson brought on Stephen McGinn and Craig Dargo for Andy Dorman and Dennis Wyness in the 72nd minute and five minutes later the changes had the desired effect. A forward pass down the touchline by Jack Ross found Billy Mehmet, who nodded the ball infield to McGinn. As the Rangers defence retreated in front of him, the substitute curled a beautiful shot past the stranded Allan McGregor from 20 yards to open the scoring.

Now chasing the game, Rangers piled on the pressure. A Boyd header hit the post, Kyle Lafferty was denied by a goal-line clearance and, in injury time, no fewer than four defenders on the goal line conspired to keep out Kirk Broadfoot's looping nod. However, St Mirren held their nerve to register an historic win - their first home League win over the Gers in 22 years, and in their final meeting at Love Street.