The Buddies and the Dee in an early season dogfight – 1989

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Dundee, 7th May 2022)

St. Mirren v Dundee 1989

St. Mirren v Dundee 1989

St. Mirren endured an infuriating start to the 1989/90 Premier League season when they won only two of their first six matches, losing the other four. The two victories had been achieved against the Old Firm, with an opening-day 1-0 win at Ibrox and a similar result against Celtic in Paisley on matchday four. Although bottom of the table, the tightness of other results thus far meant that Saints were actually only five points off top spot.

The Official Match Magazine for the 1989/90 season continued the near-square shaped page format of the previous two seasons. The 24-page issue, priced 80p, was printed in black on white gloss paper, with occasional red spot colour and some of the pages bordered in the colours of that day’s opponents.

Issue 7 for the match against Dundee on Wednesday, 4th October 1989 featured Saints’ full-back Fraser Wishart on the front cover, alongside the full match details and above the first of a number of adverts for main Club Sponsor Kelvin Homes.

Manager Tony Fitzpatrick, in his piece on page three, felt that he had the strongest pool of players for a number of years, but urged his side to take a better proportion of the chances they had been creating in the matches so far.

In a double-page spread on pages 6 and 7, John Byrne’s “Brief” history of St. Mirren covered seasons 1980/81 and 1981/82 and was accompanied by images from from Saints’ Drybrough Cup Final appearance against Aberdeen in 1980.

Page nine featured Andrew Swann’s “20 Questions” and Mark Scott’s “View on Two”, which discussed the upcoming matches of interest in the Second Division. This was followed by two pages of “Match Action” featuring photos from the recent visit of Aberdeen to Paisley.

A welcome to the Dens Park men occupied the centre pages, with features on their manager Gordon Wallace and the squad that he had assembled since his arrival at Dens midway through the previous season. A list of Dundee’s honours and a team photo sat alongside a review of the previous season’s results against St. Mirren (one win each and two draws).

The second half of the programme began with a piece on the Youth Cup tournament, the BP sponsorship of which had just been extended for a further three years. It was noted that the current season’s record entry of 39 teams did not include Rangers, who were unable to raise a team! St. Mirren would face Kilmarnock in the first round draw, featured later in the programme.

Mark Scott’s second contribution on page 15 reviewed the previous week’s games in the First Division, whilst “Facts & Figures” provided two pages of comprehensive information on St. Mirren’s fixtures, line-ups and goal scorers for the season.

“Saints in Action” presented more photos from the recent Aberdeen match and the opposite page featured articles on the release of the 10th annual “Scottish Football League Review” and about the 14th Scottish Programme Fair, scheduled to be held in Glasgow in the following week.

Gordon McQueen’s Reserve Report on page 20 described the Second XI’s recent 3-1 defeat at Pittodrie alongside the team line-up and the League and Cup fixtures for the season.

The back page provided the team line-ups and match officials. In changes from the published line-ups, Saints' Norrie McWhirter was replaced by Mark McWalter, whilst the visitors made three changes to their published starting eleven.

Keith Walker aclaims his winning goal

Keith Walker aclaims his winning goal

A crowd of 3,687 saw the visitors take an early lead. Saints' Billy Davies was caught in possession and the ball was pushed out to the visitors' Billy Dodds who, in turn, whipped the ball over for Keith Wright to send a powerful header past Les Fridge.

St. Mirren fought back with close efforts from Keith Walker, Gunni Torfason and Mark McWalter, but it was Dundee who went further ahead after 35 minutes when Dodds netted with a spectacular overhead kick.

The home side reduced the deficit seconds from half-time when the Dundee defence failed to clear a corner and Torfason sent a cracking drive in off Bobby Geddes’ right-hand post.

The sides were on level terms soon after the start of the second half when Geddes sent McWalter tumbling in the penalty box and Torfason converted from the resulting spot kick. The big Icelander was replaced by Paul Chalmers midway through the half and the substitute soon brought out a magnificent save from the visiting ‘keeper with a close-range header.

Saints' fightback was completed with ten minutes remaining when Walker took a pass from George Shaw and drilled home from 10 yards.

With the 3-2 victory, St. Mirren hauled themselves off the bottom of the table, to be replaced by the Dark Blues, who remained there for the rest of the season.