Saints Qualify for Europe and say Farewell to Macca - 1985

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Hearts, 26th February 2022)

St. Mirren v Hearts 1985

St. Mirren v Hearts 1985

Heading into the last round of fixtures at the end of the 1984/85 season, St. Mirren held a slender lead in the race for fifth place in the Premier League, the reward for which would be a place in the following season’s UEFA Cup. The Buddies had amassed thirty-six points, one ahead of Dundee, but held a slightly inferior goal difference. A win at home against Hearts was therefore essential to stay ahead of the Dens Park men, who themselves had a home match against local neighbours Dundee United.

The last programme of the season was a 20-page, B5-sized production, printed black on white gloss paper, with red spot colour on the front cover and a full colour advert on the back page. The front cover of the 40p issue displayed the match details below an action photo of Brian Gallagher from the previous week’s game against Dumbarton.

Following the introduction of Club Officials and Honours, Manager Alex Miller’s “A. M. Report” discussed the previous two matches away to Hibs and at home to Dumbarton. He praised the team’s professionalism in the 4-0 victory at Easter Road, but felt that the performance in the close encounter with Dumbarton was less satisfactory. He was however delighted with Peter Godfrey’s first goal for the Saints which resulted in relegation for the Sons.

Page four spotlighted the men from Tynecastle and remarked on their poor recent form which had seen them lose in their four previous outings, ruling them out of the European places. The three matches between the sides earlier in the season had seen victories for the visiting team, so it was hoped that this sequence of away wins could be broken on the last day of the season.

Unusually for programmes of this era, a full page was devoted to the Reserve side. Drew Jarvie presented his “End of Term Report” and reflected on a disappointing season in which the young Saints had finished well down the league. A full set of results and Saints’ scorers followed.

Brian Gallagher scores his own, and Saints' second goal

Brian Gallagher scores his own, and Saints' second goal

“Diary” covered Scottish football events from the previous two weeks, “Editor’s Notes” gave an end of season Thank You to all who made valuable contributions to the content of the programme, and the centre pages displayed the St. Mirren players in caricature form.

As programme Editor Frank Tocher was a photographer, that season’s programme regularly contained a lot of match action and this issue was no exception, with coverage throughout of the Hibs and Dumbarton matches. Alex Bell’s quiz page, Team Line-ups and sponsorship pages brought the issue to a close. There were only two and a half pages of adverts.

As for the match itself, St. Mirren ran out comfortable winners to seal their European spot. Kenny Black’s spot-kick gave the visitors a seventh-minute lead, but a double by Brian Gallagher in the ninth and thirty-eighth minutes gave Saints a half-time lead. Just before the hour mark, a Gardner Speirs shot cannoned off Hearts’ Captain Craig Levein into the net to put Saints 3-1 up. Hearts’ goalkeeper Henry Smith had played throughout with an ankle injury sustained in the dressing room before the match and was eventually substituted midway through the second half, his place between the sticks being taken by Sandy Jardine.

With fifteen minutes to go, the visitors pulled a goal back when persistence by John Robertson resulted in his shot rebounding off Campbell Money and on to the backtracking Steve Clarke for the second own goal of the match. Four minutes later, Frank McAvennie’s shot could only be parried out by the deputy ‘keeper and Peter Mackie ran in the fourth for Saints. McAvennie himself completed the scoring in the 88th minute when he neatly guided a cross from substitute Ian Scanlon into the net for his last act as a St. Mirren player before heading off to West Ham United in the close season.