Stirling Albion’s First League Visit to Paisley and a Morton Reserve Issue - 1949

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Celtic, 18th September 2022)

St. Mirren v Stirling Albion 1949

St. Mirren v Stirling Albion 1949

Recently-formed and newly-promoted Stirling Albion paid their first-ever League visit to Love Street on 17th September 1949. The sides had met only once before, when St. Mirren triumphed 2-0 in a Scottish Cup First Round tie at Love Street in the previous season.

After an indifferent League Cup campaign in which Saints had finished third in Section One behind Rangers and Celtic and ahead of Aberdeen, their League campaign opened with a 3-2 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie, the winner coming from Joe Martin in the 88th minute. Meanwhile, Stirling Albion had scored a memorable 5-4 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle in their League Cup Section and, in their Division A League debut, had fought back from two goals down against Dundee to earn a creditable draw.

The programme for the match with Stirling Albion was Saints’ standard issue of the late 1940s, printed black on white matt paper. The cover included the match details but, owing to the early nature of the fixture, the advertising space below this had not yet been sold.

The “Club Notes” extended a warm welcome to the visitors from Stirling and highlighted their achievements in the season thus far. Turning attention to the home side, the League Cup results had been branded a disappointment, although the general play had been considered satisfactory. As with previous seasons, the priority was seen as securing a centre-forward. That position was currently occupied by Alex Crowe and his success in the previous week’s match against Aberdeen was favourably viewed in the detailed review of the match.

As usual, the team line-ups occupied the centre pages. The players listed were those who took the field, with the exception of the visiting side’s left back, where Joe McKeown took the place of the listed Robert Clark.

Page seven displayed the Half-Time Scoreboard, covering the fourteen other League matches being played that day, whilst the back page consisted of adverts.

This issue does not appear very often on dealer’s lists and so could command a high price if it ever appears for sale.

Morton Res. v St. Mirren Res. 1949

Morton Res. v St. Mirren Res. 1949

The home fans within the crowd of 16,000 witnessed the usual shortcomings of their heroes as their classy approach play wasn’t matched by their finishing. Despite that, Alex Crowe managed to give Saints a first-half lead when he settled a goalmouth melee in the 29th minute.

Albion played courageously throughout and, well into the second half, were still in with a shout of an equaliser. It was just as well that Willie Telfer and his backs played to form. Crowe scored his own, and St. Mirren’s second, goal when he headed home a cross from Eddie Blyth fourteen minutes from time. The 2-0 result kept St. Mirren at the top of Division A, on maximum points and level with Celtic.

On the same day, the St. Mirren reserve side travelled to Greenock to take on Morton Reserves in a Division C match. Division C comprised two regional leagues; a North East league and a South West league. These leagues included the reserve teams of the top sides along with the likes of Stranraer in the South West and Brechin City, Montrose, East Stirlingshire and Leith Athletic in the North East.

Morton produced an eight-page programme, labelled Volume 3 Number 7, priced 3d and similar in format to their first team issues. The cover illustration would have been familiar to visiting fans, as this was the same as that used (albeit in an appropriate playing kit) for a number of other programmes of the time, including St. Mirren. The programme was in the style of a “gatefold” issue, consisting of a Half-time Scoreboard, Club Notes, team line-ups on the centre pages and league tables on the back page. Half of each page was occupied by adverts.

Morton programmes of this era are notoriously hard to come by and Division C programmes are even rarer. As such, this issue would be expected to command a very high price, should one eventually appear for sale.

St. Mirren Reserves won the match by two goals to one and finished the season in a respectable third place League position behind the reserve sides of Clyde and Rangers.