Saints Ride Their Luck Against the Dons (2000)

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v St. Johnstone, 28th October 2023)

St. Mirren found life difficult on their return to the Premier League in season 2000/01, winning only two of their first 12 matches. By the time they faced Aberdeen on 28th October 2000, they sat second bottom of the table, but were nevertheless only five points behind their mid-table visitors.

St. Mirren v Aberdeen 2000

St. Mirren v Aberdeen 2000

Programme issue number 9 for the Aberdeen match was much improved over the previous season's publication, in keeping with the Club's new top-flight status. However, an increase in the number of pages to forty, larger page size and the use of full colour brought with it a price tag of £2, which was a 50p increase from the previous season.

The striking front cover displayed the match and sponsorship details on a red background opposite an action photo of a Saints player, Hugh Murray being the subject of the Aberdeen issue.

"The Views of Tom Hendrie" on page three focussed on his side's contrasting fortunes over the previous couple of weeks. St. Mirren had travelled to Celtic Park and Rugby Park in the previous two weeks, gaining huge respect with their performance despite a defeat in the first match, but under achieving seven days later in an Ayrshire clash that they should have taken something from. Hendrie praised the travelling fans on their return home after four weeks on the road and recognised that they were now being regarded as the best away support in the Premier League.

"Love Street Speak" contained a number of local news items, the most notable of which was that, despite the Club's lowly League position, they were currently the best side of the Sunday Post's Crime Count League, having a better disciplinary record than their Premier League opponents.

The next two pages were devoted to the opponents from the Granite City and contained pen pictures of the leading players alongside the visiting Club's ten-year record, historical fact file, and record of recent encounters against St. Mirren.

"The Love Street Interview" featured Paisley-born SPL Chief Executive Roger Mitchell and this was followed by news of the Youths, Reserves and Juniors, in which the Under-21s had recently lost 2-1 to Celtic, while the Under-18s had fared better with a 2-2 draw away to Hibs.

Veteran St. Mirren forward Davie McCrae and his early contribution to St. Mirren's 1926 Scottish Cup Final victory over Celtic was the subject of "Headline Makers" and this preceded two pages of photo action from Saints' recent matches against Middlesbrough in the LDV Challenge Trophy and Celtic in the League.

The centre page spread contained a regular feature entitled "A Word In Your Ear About" presenting an insight, facts and photos about Saints' defender Tom Brown.

Returning to the fixture at hand, the subject of "One to Watch" was Aberdeen striker Robbie Winters who, it seemed, had yet to open his account against St. Mirren.

Scott Walker celebrates his goal

Scott Walker celebrates his goal

Newspaper reports on Saints' recent away matches against Celtic and Kilmarnock accompanied a preview of the next home match, a CIS Insurance Cup Fourth Round tie against Dunfermline Athletic. Both of these preceded an SPL Round-Up of the previous weeks' fixtures.

The "Squad Check" on the back page listed both sides and the match officials, while the remainder of the issue was occupied by statistics, sponsorship and sixteen pages of adverts.

On a day of light rain and a stiff breeze, a crowd of 5,763 saw Aberdeen take the game to the hosts in the early stages with a number of forays down the left-hand side. However, they failed to make any real headway, a shot from Robbie Winters clearing the crossbar and goalkeeper Ludovic Roy managing to deal competently with two other efforts.

In their only real chance of the first half. St. Mirren took the lead after 24 minutes. An Iain Nicolson cross from the right was attacked by both Mark Yardley and Scott Walker, with the latter getting to the high spinning ball first to head home, much against the run of play.

Still Aberdeen came forward and an Eoin Jess effort from 25 yards came back off the inside of Roy's left-hand post. Another cross from Cato Guntveit was met at the back post by Darren Young but, once again, Roy cleared the danger with his feet.

St. Mirren showed an immediate improvement after the interval and, in 53 minutes, Ricky Gillies doubled their lead. A cross ball was met by Yardley and his overhead effort set up Gillies to net from six yards, also by means of an overhead kick.

Aberdeen responded but were thwarted time and again by substitute 'keeper Derek Scrimgour, who had replaced Roy at half-time due to a thigh injury. The match ended 2-0 and post-match opinion generally agreed that Aberdeen had dominated the game but had failed to take their chances, while St. Mirren had made the most of theirs.