St. Mirren v Celtic Postponed Issues 1978/79

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Celtic, 22nd December 2021)

St. Mirren v Celtic (Postponed) 1978

St. Mirren v Celtic (Postponed) 1978

The harsh winter of 1978/79, as well as disrupting normal life, was an unmitigated nuisance to the Scottish Football season. It was disastrous financially, as a result of numerous postponed matches and wrecked training schedules country-wide. Even when matches were played, they only attracted the hardy, perhaps foolhardy, few who froze while the players slid and slipped on the playing surface.

During the worst of the weather, St. Mirren suffered seven postponed matches, beginning with the intended visit of Celtic to Love Street on 2nd December 1978. Home fixtures against Motherwell and Partick Thistle were also called off, together with the away League games at Morton and Hibs and a Scottish Cup tie at Tannadice. Their last postponement was also against Celtic, scheduled for Parkhead on 3rd February 1979.

Celtic were less fortunate, suffering eight call-offs in the same period and another five by the end of March 1979. Their only match during January and February was a rearranged Scottish Cup-tie away to Montrose on 31st January.

St. Mirren’s standard League issue was produced for the postponed match on 2nd December. This consisted of 16 pages, printed black and red on white gloss paper and costing 15p. The front cover featured the Club crest above the match details and an illustrated Saints player in full flow.

“Jim Clunie Talking” presented the Manager’s views on the tough match ahead and his hope that the home crowd, which had been averaging 12,000 so far this season, would provide the necessary vocal encouragement. Although he was pretty satisfied with the players’ form, he was still on the lookout for a player or two to strengthen the squad.

“Premier League Focus” provided two pages on the men from Parkhead and reviewed their season so far, singling out a few of the players to watch. “Flashback” reviewed Saints’ mixed bag of results since the last issue, but devoted the majority of its two pages to cover the Premier League clashes between St. Mirren and Celtic from the 1977/78 season, in which Saints recorded three wins and a draw.

The centre pages displayed the team line-ups, either side of a photo from Saints' 2-1 win at Parkhead in the previous season, while “What the papers said” commented on their recent 2-1 defeat at Firhill. More photo action, bookended by player appearances and team fixtures, brought the issue to a close.

For a postponed issue, this is not too difficult to obtain at a reasonable price.

Celtic v St. Mirren (Postponed) 1979

Celtic v St. Mirren (Postponed) 1979

The postponed match at Parkhead on 3rd February also saw a programme produced, but this is more difficult to obtain. It is an extremely rare modern issue which appears to have been overlooked by a number of football programme related resources and doesn’t feature on any dealers’ lists.

The programme is the standard 16-page Celtic issue for the season, featuring the match details overprinted on a green and white image of Celtic’s Johannes Edvaldsson. Inside, Manager Billy McNeill’s comments majored on the impact of the big freeze on his players and the efforts expected of the Club to complete the fixture list by the end of April. This was followed by photo action and two pages of pen pictures on the visitors, including a photo of Manager Jim Clunie playing against St. Mirren in the 1959 Cup Final.

As usual, the centre pages contained the Match Teams and Officials, together with the Half-Time Scoreboard. One of the short news items in “Sidelines” stated that five St. Mirren players had been included in the squads for forthcoming Scotland matches, a record for the Club. Two of these players, Frank McGarvey and Bobby Torrance, were featured in photo action on the following page.

The page of Celtic’s 1978/79 Fixtures and scores, listed by competition, brought into focus the plight of the Club with their number of postponed matches.

The final article of the programme detailed how the Parkhead men had finally banished their hoodoo when they defeated Saints for the first time ever in the Premier League in their first meeting of the 1978/79 season back in September.

The Parkhead fixture was eventually played on 25th April, whilst the home match took place on 11th May. Reconstruction work at Love Street meant that this match had to be relocated to Ibrox Stadium. Both rearranged fixtures were marked by new programme issues and, in the case of the Ibrox match, this is the only programme to have been issued for a “home” match outside of Paisley.