An Early Christmas Present for St. Mirren (1949)

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Aberdeen, 24th December 2022)

St. Mirren and Aberdeen were very familiar foes during the 1949/50 season, the sides meeting on no fewer than five occasions.

The pair were drawn together in the same League Cup Section, Saints winning 3-1 at Love Street in the opening match of the season, but losing 0-1 in the reverse fixture at Pittodrie. They also met in the opening fixture of the League campaign, when Saints recovered from the loss of a first minute goal to win the match 3-2. By the time the sides met for the return League fixture on 24th December 1949, they were already anticipating a Scottish Cup First Round tie to be played at Paisley in the New Year.

St. Mirren v Aberdeen 1949

St. Mirren v Aberdeen 1949

Issue 29 of the St. Mirren programme was the standard eight-page issue for the season, priced twopence. The front cover portrayed the familiar illustration of a Saints player above the match details and the kick-off time which, in these pre-floodlighting days, was set at 2pm.

A regular feature of page two was the current Division A and B tables. St. Mirren had been on top of the League during October, but a poor sequence of results had seen them slip back to sixth place, two places and two points above their visitors from the Granite City going in to the Christmas Eve fixture.

The Club Notes on pages three and six reviewed the previous week’s matches for both sides in which St. Mirren had relinquished their unbeaten home record in a 1-3 defeat to Hibs and Aberdeen had beaten Motherwell 5-0. While admitting that the Easter Road men had been the better side, Saints felt that their opponents had benefitted from a couple of doubtful decisions by a rookie referee which had a major effect on the result. On the other hand, the Dons had taken full advantage of the coin toss and a gale blowing from one end of Pittodrie to the other to run up four first-half goals against the Steelmen and put the game to bed.

Having completed the first half of League games, it was an opportune time to note that St. Mirren were five points better off than at the same stage the previous season. It was also reported that the Reserve side had run up their sixth successive victory with a 3-1 win over Queen’s Park Strollers, taking them up to third in the League.

“Our Invalids” reported on the progress of Rab McLean, Alex Crowe and Eddie Blyth, whilst the Supporters’ Association advertised bus tickets for the forthcoming trip to Stirling.

The centre pages presented the team line-ups and these accurately listed the twenty-two players who took the field. As usual, the line ups were surrounded by adverts from local businesses. The final piece of reading matter was on page seven, which displayed the half time scoreboard for fourteen of the sixteen Scottish League fixtures due to be played that day.

Interest in Aberdeen-related items is often high and, coupled with its age, this programme is a difficult one to obtain.

A crowd of 7,000 avoided the last-minute Christmas rush to see Saints dominate the match from start to finish, albeit aided by a sluggish Aberdeen display. The first-time tactics of the home defenders were proving successful against the uncertain Pittodrie forwards and most of the danger from the Paisley side could be traced to wingers Gerry Burrell and Alfie Lesz.

Despite Saints’ dominance, it was five minutes from the interval before the first goal arrived. Willie Reid sent a ball through the middle for George Henderson to chase. Aberdeen fullback McKenna crossed to tackle but was beaten by the spin of the ball and the Paisley centre ran on to send it low into the net.

Four minutes after the interval, St. Mirren doubled their lead when a lob from Henderson was weakly punched out by visiting goalkeeper Watson and Willie Stewart had no difficulty in netting.

A third goal came after 72 minutes when Lesz crossed for Burrell to take advantage of poor defending to head home. Two minutes later, Saints made it 4-0 when McKenna brought Burrell down inside the penalty area and Davie Lapsley drove the ball home from the resultant spot kick.