It All Happens at Love Street (1977)

(first published in the match programme for St. Mirren v Dundee, 7th February 2024)

St. Mirren v Dumbarton 1977

St. Mirren v Dumbarton 1977

The winter of 1976/77 decimated the Scottish League fixture card for December and January with St. Mirren losing four matches to the snow and ice during that period. The first of the matches to be rearranged was the First Division clash with Dumbarton, who visited Love Street on 7th February 1977.

Despite the postponements, Saints were still two points ahead of Clydebank at the top of the league and looking to extend a 24-match unbeaten run, whilst Sons were mid-table and still awaiting their first victory of the calendar year.

A programme had been produced for the original fixture on January 15th but, with two more home matches having been played in the intervening time, a new issue was commissioned for the rearranged match. This consisted of only twelve A5-sized pages, four fewer than normal and the only reduced-size programme of the record-breaking twenty-six issues produced that season.

The cover was in the uncharacteristic orange colour used during the mid-seventies and depicted an abstract illustration of a Saints player holding off an opponent. Details of the competition and opponents were displayed, however there was no mention of the date.

In "The Manager's View", Alex Ferguson praised his team for their display in the 3-1 home victory over Dundee at the weekend, thanked the support for lifting the lads and finally warned against complacency in the upcoming match against Dumbarton. The Reserve Team Fixtures at the bottom of the page revealed that they too had suffered postponements, but had picked up a good away win at Palmerston on the previous Saturday.

The opposite page displayed an image of Bobby Torrance's elation after he had scored the goal which set St. Mirren on the road to victory over Dundee United in the Scottish Cup two weeks previously.

"Today's Teams" on the centre pages accurately listed St. Mirren's line-up and substitutes, but Dumbarton were merely listed as a 15-man squad from which the starting XI would be chosen. Alongside the team line-ups were the lengthy answers to a particularly hard set of Half Time Teasers which had been posed on page two.


A page was then devoted to the visitors, recalling how it had taken a replay and extra-time before they succumbed to Hearts in their recent Cup-tie. Below this were the current league tables for the Premier and First Division.

Alongside a photo of St. Mirren centre-half Bobby Reid, Len Wright of the Paisley Daily Express recalled how Saints' fortunes had changed in the period since Dumbarton's last visit to Paisley back in September. St. Mirren were then propping up the league and had just completed their worst spell of the season, but their near-invincible home form since had turned them into a team of class with talent in every position.

There followed two pages of player stats, results and fixtures. A particular irritation with the presentation of the fixtures that season was that the fixture list wasn't updated with the details of the rearranged matches and so the results were merely entered against the original dates. This, allied to the missing date from the cover, would make it extremely difficult to easily differentiate between programmes for the postponed and rearranged matches in the future.

A crowd of 6,942 attended the Dumbarton match, bringing Love Street's total in the last three matches to over 35,000. Although this was the smallest of the three crowds, they endured the most nail-biting performance.

Bobby Reid opened the scoring for St. Mirren after 19 minutes, heading home from a Lex Richardson free kick, but Dumbarton responded two minutes later when Johnny Graham found the net from 25 yards. Derek Hyslop then regained the lead for the home side after twenty-four minutes when Frank McGarvey set him up for a cute close-range shot.

Dumbarton equalised two minutes after the break when Donald Hunter hesitated in going for a high ball, allowing John Bourke to score. However, just two minutes later, St. Mirren were awarded a penalty when Don McNeil scythed down McGarvey. Bobby Torrance stepped up to convert the spot kick and put Saints 3-2 up.

The drama continued and, in 57 minutes, a midfield bust-up attracted the involvement of a number of players. When the dust had settled, Referee Ian Foote enacted punishment by sending off St. Mirren's Lex Richardson and Dumbarton's Colomb McKinlay for their part in the proceedings.

St. Mirren prevailed and extended their lead at the top of the First Division, which they retained until the end of the season.