Livingston Make Their First Visit to Paisley – 1999

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Livingston, 11th May 2022)

St. Mirren v Livingston 1999

St. Mirren v Livingston 1999

Livingston travelled to Paisley for the first time on League business during Saints’ Championship-winning season of 1999/2000. The Clubs had met only once before, in the second round of the Challenge Cup of 1995/96, when the West Lothian side triumphed 2-0.

By the time the sides met on 2nd October 1999, St. Mirren had made their third-best ever start to a season to date by winning five and drawing two of their first seven games, but then lost their unbeaten record in a 3-1 loss at Falkirk. Despite that, The Buddies had maintained their top of the table status and hoped to get back on track against the previous seasons’ Second Division Champions.

The St. Mirren Official Matchday Programme for that season was a full-colour 32-page A5 issue, costing £1.50. The front cover carried the match details and the badges of both clubs, alongside a photo of recent arrival Scott Walker.

Manager Tom Hendrie praised the players on their recent victory over Morton, despite going down to ten men with the red-carding of Barry Lavety. He also recognised that his side’s unbeaten run would eventually to an end but was disappointed that they had allowed Falkirk to gain an early three goal lead before going on to dominate the second half.

Pages four and five presented pen pictures of the visitors and their ten-year record, some of which was under their former name of Meadowbank Thistle. Saints had played Thistle in six league matches, winning all three in Edinburgh and achieving one win, one loss and one draw in Paisley.

“Side Lines” gave a number of snippets of Club news, while “Saints in Action” provided photos of the recent 5-0 win over Airdrie. The “A to Z” focussed on all things “E” with Elgin City, Epson Trophy, Edinburgh City and English Tours coming under the spotlight.

Some more interesting facts about Livingston and a look back at the year 1980 were followed by a page of reserve and youth news and led nicely into a centre page spread on Love Street Legend Ian Scanlon.

A piece on the visitors’ manager Ray Stewart was followed by the Press’s view of St. Mirren’s recent matches against Morton and Falkirk. “The Saints Quiz Master” was a regular feature in which two players were posed ten quiz questions. Tom Brown just shaded out Scott Walker by 10 points to 9.

The season’s fixtures and appearances in “Saints Stats” was followed by the “Head to Head” interview with Sergei Baltacha. Photo action of the Morton match and “Squad Check” brought the issue to a close. There were 12 pages of adverts.

The print run of the 1999/2000 issue was kept relatively low to counteract surpluses from previous seasons, but St. Mirren's charge towards the First Division Title brought larger than expected attendances and a greater demand for programmes. Consequently, issues from this season are relatively hard to come by nowadays.

The Livingston defence hold off McGarry and Walker

The Livingston defence hold off McGarry and Walker

A crowd of 4,520 saw the visitors start brightly and go in front with a scrappy goal after 17 minutes. Charles King’s shot was blocked by Ludo Roy and, although Brian McPhee could only head the rebound on to the bar, Gerry Britton was on hand to force the ball home. Saints’ only real effort of the first half saw Sergei Baltacha’s free kick touched on to the post by Livingston ‘keeper Ian McCauldon in what was to be the first of a string of memorable saves that afternoon.

Mark Yardley came on as a substitute for Steve McGarry in the second half and he quickly made an impact, shooting just wide. In 51 minutes, Yardley was again involved in the action when he laid the ball off to Baltacha. His shot was blocked, but Barry McLaughlin was on hand to lash home the loose ball for the equaliser.

St. Mirren then pushed for the advantage, but McCauldon kept his side on level terms as he denied efforts from Barry Lavety, Ian Ross and Junior Mendes. The “Livvy Lions” were then reduced to ten men in the 64th minute, when Alan McManus was sent off for a two-footed tackle on Mendes.

With four minutes remaining, St. Mirren were awarded a penalty when substitute Tom Brown was body-checked in the box. Brown elected to take the kick himself, but his weak effort was easily saved by McCauldon and ultimately the points were shared in a 1-1 draw.