St. Mirren are kept waiting to end Dons’ unbeaten run - 1987

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Aberdeen, 25th January 2022)

St. Mirren v Aberdeen (postponed) 1987

St. Mirren v Aberdeen
(Postponed) 1987

Aberdeen were intended to “first-foot” St. Mirren at Paisley on 3rd January 1987, however an overnight frost which had badly affected the goalmouth areas of the Love Street pitch caused the match to be called off just hours before kick-off.

Issue number 15 of that season’s official programme had already been produced and was a 20-page, B5-sized publication printed black on white gloss paper with red spot colour throughout and priced at 50p. The cover featured the full match details above a photo of Saints’ new management team of Alex Smith and Jimmy Bone, both of whom had been appointed in mid-December.

Inside, a mid-season Chairman’s message from J. Yule Craig was followed by an uncredited introduction to the new bosses on the page normally reserved for the Manager’s Report. The fixtures and results for Saints’ First and Reserve Teams occupied page four opposite a full-page photo of Frank McGarvey in action during a recent match with Rangers at Ibrox.

Two pages were then devoted to the visitors from the Granite City, the narrative focussing on the after effects of the recent departure from Pittodrie of Alex Ferguson and the appointment of Ian Porterfield as the new manager.

The ever-popular John Byrne provided two historical articles for page eight. The first of these detailed the St. Mirren v Aberdeen League matches of season 1947/48, whilst the second piece covered season 1894/95 in his “brief” history of St. Mirren – part 13 of a series which eventually ran to 106 parts!

The centre pages displayed a team photo of the visitors above the team line-ups and officials, together with details of the ball sponsor and the next match at Love Street, a reserve fixture against Falkirk.

Andrew Swann’s quiz and that day’s Premier League fixture card ran opposite an image of Gardner Speirs missing a penalty against Motherwell at Love Street earlier in the season - the result of the incident which saw Billy Abercromby receive three red cards and a lengthy ban!

“Statistics Update” provided all of the information on Saints’ season thus far alongside Mark Scott’s view of the current English football scene. The quiz answers were followed by another action shot from the recent Ibrox clash, depicting Ian Ferguson’s unfortunate own goal. The final reading matter of the issue highlighted the recent good form of youngster Ian Cameron in the reserve side and featured an action shot of him challenging Celtic’s Derek Whyte.

St. Mirren v Aberdeen (rearranged) 1987

St. Mirren v Aberdeen
(Rearranged) 1987

More Siberian-type weather, together with a twice-replayed Scottish Cup-tie between Aberdeen and Celtic, caused the postponed fixture to be rearranged on no fewer than three occasions, but it finally took place on 25th February 1987 – a full seven and a half weeks after the original date.

Both sides went into the match on a high. St. Mirren had just booked their place in the Scottish Cup Quarter-Finals by defeating rivals Morton 3-2 at Cappielow on the previous Saturday. Aberdeen, although having eventually succumbed to Celtic in the Scottish Cup, had extended their undefeated run in the League to fifteen matches since manager Porterfield’s arrival.

Ian Ferguson's 62nd minute strike seals the points

Ian Ferguson's 62nd minute strike seals the points

A crowd of 3,553 braved a cold evening to witness an uninspiring, goal-less first half. Just after the hour mark, Saints broke the deadlock in magnificent fashion. A corner on the left was cleared by Alex McLeish to the edge of the penalty area, from where Ian Ferguson met the ball first time on the volley to thunder it in off the underside of the bar. Despite pressure from the visitors in the closing stages, Saints held firm. The outcome made no difference to either teams’ League positions, but the victory gave Saints confidence for their ultimately successful Cup run, whilst the defeat almost certainly ended the Dons’ Title hopes.

After such a lengthy period of time between the original and rearranged games, during which St. Mirren had fulfilled another four home fixtures, one would have thought that the original programme would have been replaced by a new one or, at the very least, would have included an updating insert. Neither of these were produced and it is unknown if the original programme was sold on the night. However, it is still a reasonably easy issue to obtain nowadays for a reasonable price.

Collectors are persistent if nothing else, and commonly agree that an official teamsheet is an acceptable substitute when no other item exists bearing the date of the game. The teamsheet for the rearranged Aberdeen match was an A4 Club-headed page, bearing typed and photocopied details. Although it provides only the basics, it is still regarded as an official record of the match and one which exists in significantly fewer numbers than that of any programme.