St. Mirren break a 29-year old record in the Scottish Cup (2006)

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Hearts, 7th January 2023)

St. Mirren were riding high going into the New Year of 2006, with the Bell’s Challenge Cup already in the trophy room and enjoying a healthy nine-point lead in the First Division championship race. They lined up against Premier Division Motherwell in the third round of the Scottish Cup on 7th January and hoped to enact some revenge for an extra-time defeat to the Steelmen in the CIS Cup at Paisley earlier in the season.

Saints issued their standard 32-page programme, issue number 15 for the season, which was printed in full colour on glossy paper throughout and priced at £2. The front cover displayed the two Club crests and the match details, overprinted on an image of a studious John Sutton.

St. Mirren v Motherwell 2006

St. Mirren v Motherwell 2006

Page three carried Manager Gus MacPherson’s views on the festive season League matches in which St. Mirren earned a goalless draw at Queen of the South followed by home victories over Brechin City and Clyde. He welcomed Terry Butcher’s side for the Cup tie and anticipated a stern test for his players. Finally, he urged the fans to make their own contribution to the match with their continued support and positive vocal backing, assuring them that the players would give their all in an attempt to advance to the next round of the competition.

“Black and White News” included Birthday greetings to midfielder Hugh Murray, news of an extension to Charlie Adam’s loan spell from Rangers, and recognition of David van Zanten’s 100th appearance for St. Mirren in the last match against Clyde. This was followed by a spotlight on Motherwell players Jim Hamilton and Phil O’Donnell and a lengthy biography of opposition Manager Terry Butcher.

“Marketing Matters” preceded David Grier’s “View from the North Bank” in which he reflected on the unique importance of the Scottish Cup to players and fans alike. He aired his admiration for the visitors from Lanarkshire, but hoped that a bit of Cup-tie luck or a touch of genius would see Saints through to the next round.

“Last Time Out” presented a detailed review of the festive season matches and this bookended centre-page photo action from Clyde’s first footing to Love Street five days earlier. Jim Hamilton’s “St. Mirren Memories v Motherwell” focussed on the post-war Scottish Cup encounters between the sides, whilst the obvious subject of Jim Crawford’s “They Wore Both Jerseys” was former Captain of both Clubs Paul Lambert.

Man of the Match Mark Corcoran

Man of the Match Mark Corcoran

Statistical pages, fixtures, team line ups, player sponsorship and an abundance of adverts filled out the remainder of the issue.

A crowd of 6.507 descended on a rain-soaked Love Street for the encounter and the heightened interest caused the kick-off to be delayed by ten minutes.

The game started at a furious pace and Saints enjoyed much of the possession, Mark Corcoran causing the visitors’ defence no end of trouble with his persistent forays down the left side. One of these saw him beat the offside trap, but visiting ‘keeper Graeme Smith did enough to force him wide, from where he could only shoot against the outside of the post.

The home side kept up the pressure with Stewart Kean spurning two more chances and it was no surprise when St. Mirren took the lead in 22 minutes. Corcoran robbed Corrigan of the ball and advanced to the bye-line from where he cut the ball back for Charlie Adam to score from twelve yards.

Motherwell steadied themselves for the remainder of the first half without managing to create a real chance of their own, although a stramash inside Saints’ penalty box led to Richie Foran being booked for a challenge on home custodian Chris Smith.

The visitors changed their system and played with more purpose for the first portion of the second period, but Saints gradually regained the upper hand. Their efforts were rewarded in 73 minutes when a Simon Lappin free kick from the left was headed home by an unmarked John Potter to double the home side’s lead.

As the match entered stoppage time, Andy Millen sent a pass through to John Sutton and he turned his marker to lay the ball off to Charlie Adam for the midfielder to net for a final score of 3-0.

The win not only took St. Mirren into the fourth round and a tie against non-league Spartans, but it was also their first giant killing act in the Scottish Cup since their famous 4-1 defeat of Dundee United during their march to the First Division title in 1977.