31st - Kevin Cuthbert, who
ended up playing on Saturday at only an hour's notice has been speaking of
the team's performance at the Death Star. He said, "After losing
that early goal I think the players did really well to keep Rangers at bay
and I think players like Nick Dasovic and Stuart McCluskey were immense.
After beating Motherwell and drawing with Hibs a good performance was
needed to keep the momentum going-and that's what we produced. I think the
momentum is still going, which we can now take into the Hearts game. We've
got a big month coming up and a few more points will put a lot of pressure
on the teams around us in the table.". In terms of his own
contribution he was also fairly pleased. "It was good, really,
because I didn't have time to worry about the match, and playing in front
of nearly 50,000 people. I really enjoyed it.
Alan Miller spoke to me before the
match and said to me it's a no-pressure game and that if we lost an early
goal I just had to keep going, stay confident and play my normal game.The
manager told me he was looking for an experienced keeper when he came to
the club and I accept that. If Alan's fit for Wednesday and he plays, then
that's fine. I just hope that when I get my chances I play well and the
manager knows that he can call on me when needed."
As well as Miller, Saints are fairly hopeful that Paddy Connolly will have recovered from his hamstring injury in time for the Hearts game. The Jambos are already set to be missing Niemi who's out with a broken finger.
Kenny Clark is in charge of the cup-tie this weekend. And if we don't deal with them straight away the replay at Pittodrie is set for Jan 15th at 7.45pm.
Finally Happy New Year to Saintees everywhere !!!
29th - Latest team news is that Alan
Miller will face a late fitness test before the big game at the
Death Star. Also doubtful is Paddy
Connolly who is struggling with a hamstring injury.
Starkers is still optimistic though,
"You can say that you would prefer a game that on paper looks
more winnable than this one On the other hand, nobody expects anything off
of us and I am sure my players will acquit themselves well. There was
great elation in our dressing room after the Motherwell game but I am
happy to say that the spirit and attitude hasnt changed much just
because of one win-it has been consistent over the weeks."
And let's hear is for ""Rangers-daft" Peter MacDonald who is featured in the Retard today going on about his "boyhood heroes" although to his credit most of the talk is about Saints.
7.00pm - A Mols 2nd minute goal was enough for the points to stay at the Death Star as Saintslost 1-0 despite putting up a good performance. Man of the match was keeper Kevin Cuthbert(right) in for Alan Miller who failed a late fitness test. Starkers said, "There was a wee feeling there that we might have got something out of the game. I certainly wasn't feeling that after two minutes or whatever it was. But that makes me more delighted that we didn't crumble or fold. We kept our organisation and shape and had a couple of opportunities in the first half. It was a game where nobody expected us to get anything, especially as we had eight players injured and one suspended. We had to bring in a young goalkeeper and in the circumstances I'm delighted with the performance. I don't like saying that after a game we have lost but I think you have got to be realistic. Overall, I have no complaints."
28th - Saints have announced that they won't appeal over
"Flash" Forsyth's red card
which means he's automatically out of the Rangers match tomorrow.
Stewart Duff said, "Ross was a
bit impetuous and, whilst you could argue it might not have been a sending
off, we will accept the referees decision."
Nick Dasovic has been called up by Canada for the Gold Cup games and will be missing from January 18th for at least 10 days.
For tomorrow, Alan Miller(right) will still play despite picking up a groin strain at Fir Park which curtailed his kicking (no major problem then). The manager said, "Alan hurt his groin in the first few minutes against Motherwell and I thought he was tremendous. His handling was impeccable and so was his judgment. He won't be 100 per cent fit going into the Rangers game but we'll take a chance with him."
Elsewhere, Tommy Løvenkrands(right) has been speaking of the prospect of facing brother Peter tomorrow. With a target of helping Saints out to get their first win at the Death Star in 40 years as well as really confuse the media as to which brother plays where, he said, "We've got a lot of big games to look forward to and it's been made easier by winning at Motherwell. Every point is going to count now. All the players were fired up on Boxing Day. We were well aware that if we are to dig ourselves out of the mess we've got ourselves into we needed a win. It's pulled us closer to the rest. There was no sign of nerves about the team. We felt we had something to prove. After the match there was a sense of relief but we were also a bit annoyed to lose a late goal. There's work still to be done but we've given ourselves a chance of getting back into it. We have to keep this going in the weeks ahead. It was an important game in midweek but now there will be others to come. Going to Ibrox will be a tough one for us but I made my debut there and we were unfortunate to lose 2-1. I watched their win over Hibs on television when I got home from Motherwell and Peter played very well. I'm delighted for him and hopefully we will start our first game on opposing sides. That would be nice for the family. We'll both be trying our best to win but we'll be on opposite sides of the pitch most of the time.There will be 50,000 Rangers fans at Ibrox but it's important we aren't intimidated. I enjoy the atmosphere of games in Glasgow. You seem to find more within yourself playing these matches against Celtic and Rangers."
It looks like a 3-man defence tomorrow with Willie Falconer possibly coming into contention for a place. Starkers is a realist though saying, "I hate the term squad rotation, as if it's just about keeping guys happy. Saturday matches tend to be about 14 players so at this time of year we're looking at 20 doing a job.I want a good performance in Glasgow. While I want to see us win there has to be a degree of realism. We have to acquit ourselves well and on the day that could be good enough to take something from the game. There's no point trying to kid people on that the way Rangers perform is irrelevant but we aren't travelling with a negative attitude and it's 11 versus 11. If we're set up properly, organised and decisive you never know what might happen. No one expects us to win so the pressure is on Rangers.". As for the Boxing Day win he said, "Well are a naturally aggressive side and we stood up to them. There wasn't a single player who let us down. Everyone contributed and won their individual battles. The only criticism I have is that we again created chances which we didn't tuck away. And there was a sense of disappointment that we didn't have another clean sheet. Our supporters deserve a great deal of credit for the backing they gave us all the way through the game. With Hearts and Aberdeen at McDiarmid next week, hopefully the home support will get right behind us because it definitely helps the players."
27th - While Saints are still enjoying their win it's good to see
the Scotsman, Retard and Sun keeping up the
tradition of inaccurate reporting. Little else
to report with the media being slightly complimentary towards us for a
change. Starkers isn't making too much
comment on the "Flash" Forsyth
red card saying "I'll wait until I see the video evidence. Ross,
like all players in these situations claims he is innocent. I wasn't
totally focused on the incident but it was in my eyeline. But the ref
makes these sort of decisions and we just have to get on with it.".
The other victim, Greg Strong is also apparently planning an appeal and
said that "Forsyth is supposed to have tried to kick me but there
was definitely no contact".
Finally commiserations to the woman that personifies Saints who has managed to join the ranks of the injured at the club - yup Aggie Moffat has broken her leg. Best wishes from the Temple for a speedy recovery.
26th - Right, the nice bit's over so it's time to get down to real
graft for the Saints side as the proverbial "six-pointer" at Fir
Park this afternoon beckons. Nick
Dasovic(right) believes that a decent win today could act as the
springboard for the rest of the season. He's due to make his 150th
appearance for Saints today and said, "It is a milestone for me
and I never thought I would stay so long, but hopefully I can mark it with
a win. It is going to be a very tough game and they lost on Saturday which
is a bit of a boost for us but an incentive for them to do that little bit
better against us. It wasnt the best game for us against Hibs but we
got the point and we can climb from there. This Christmas period of four
or five games will be vital, starting at Fir Park where we have to win. We
dont have to win all five games, but if we get our fair share of
wins and minimise our losses we will be able to climb up the table. If we
dont win any games, though, we are talking about being in a really
bad situation, so up to the end of January we can either turn our season
around or be killed off. If we beat Motherwell then it is just a
five-point gap and that is just two wins because other teams will drop
points as well. I dont think we need a fabulous run of five wins
and, to be honest, that is not going to happen for us. But if we can maybe
get a draw and a win or a couple of wins in a row we will be in a much
better situation. But it is going to take a lot of work."
As expected there are no new injury worries and both Tommy Løvenkrands and "Flash" Forsyth are expected to make the side.
7.00pm - A nice wee Xmas present from the boys saw goals from Grant Murray(right) and Peter MacDonald give us a good 2-1 win at Fir Park to narrow the gap at the bottom to 5 points, although it was marred with the sending-off of "Flash" Forsyth. After the game a chuffed Starkers said "It was a magnificent performance. There's long way to go but getting the win has given us the confidence and there's a buyancy in the dressing room now. Hopefully there will be more points to come with a bit more rub of the green. I don't think Motherwell will be the only tem involved, it's only December and a lot can happen yet but that's the nature of the game. The players deserve great credit today and I'm delighted for them and I'm delighted for the fans that travelled through."
24th - Nothing much in the papers following the draw with the media
more concerned with Hibs losing form than Saints showing some.
Nick Dasovic made an appearance in the
paper talking about the "quiet Xmas parties this year"
(so no more Charliegate-type incidents then). He's also spoken of
his desire to possibly keep on playing in Scotland for another year (which
would also allow him to gain dual citizenship with the UK and Canada)
although whether or not that will be with Saints remains to be seen. All
talks about a new deal are on hold until we're sorted apparently.
Let's here it for the in-depth reporting in the Sun and Retard today with the former opting for singling out Rachid for a total slagging (and rating him as our worst player) and the latter more concerned with commenting on Saints giving the media boys an Xmas drink post-match on Saturday. Sometimes it seems we can't do anything right.
Injury-wise it's unlikely we'll see any new faces at Fir Park. Both Tommy Løvenkrands and "Flash" Forsyth saw their injuries flare up a bit on Sunday, although the former is confident of Saints turning things round "We go to Motherwell on Wednesday and if we win that game we're right back in there."
Apart from that there's the usual bit about Saints training on Xmas Day (poor wee souls). Hopefully it means they can give us all some cheer on Boxing Day and win the so-called "six-pointer" at Fir Park. Starkers is looking for a bit of luck as well though. "Last week Motherwell managed to get another point with the late penalty against Rangers. That's the kind of thing we're looking for - a penalty here and there, the sort of thing which we've not had. Now we can go into the Motherwell game having picked up a point on them and hopefully we can go there in good heart. We'll be training as usual on Christmas Day but it will not be the first time that's happened."
Finally Merry Xmas from the Temple to Saints fans everywhere !!
22nd - Little in the way on team news for today's match against Hib
- which I suppose can be seen by the optimists amongst us as also meaning
there are no new injuries. Tommy Løvenkrands
and John Paul McBride could both return
to the side.
7pm - A good defensive performance (with only a few of the usual panicky moments) saw Saints draw 0-0 with Hibs. Martyn Fotheringham(right) played for the full 90 minutes in his first team debut. And with Well losing 3-1 at Tynecastle we've at least managed to narrow the gap to 8 points at the bottom although Wednesday's match at Fir Park takes on all the more importance. Definitely make or break time. Starkers said "I think a point was a fair result. We've played better in previous games and ended up with nothing. But we dug in and Hibs had a good period of 15 minutes in the second half when they had us on the rack. Alan had a great save off the bar and we were really resilient in that period. We threw ourselves in front of the ball, cleared our lines and I was pleased with that. We could have been in front at half time but Hibs had a lively second half and I was pleased we got a shut-out, and a point on the board. What's made it really difficult for us in management to build momentum with the players is where their performance has merited three points but they don't get it - and it's another defeat. At least when it's a draw, and they've got a clean sheet they can take a wee bit of heart from that."
21st - Saints have managed another PR disaster off the park. This
time it's the Aberdeen cup-tie on Jan 5th. With the Sheep set to bring
5000 fans to McD (allegedly) the club have decided to give them the North
and East Stands, and move all the home fans to the West and Ormond Stands.
Chief executive Stewart Duff said, "After
the draw was made, Aberdeen approached the club and advised that their
travelling support for the game would likely be well in excess of 5000 and
asked if the game would be made all ticket. After consultation with the
police, and with crowd safety paramount, it became clear that the club was
faced with two options-an all-ticket game or providing Aberdeen supporters
with an additional area of the ground. The first option was considered but
this would have resulted in many visiting fans being deprived of
supporting their team, and would have meant our own supporters being
required to purchase tickets for the game over the festive period."
. Never mind the fact that season tickets are invalid, the club have
yet again decided to alienate the majority of home fans who usually sit in
the East Stand rather than (for a change), force the much smaller number
of regulars in the West Stand to give up their precious seats. It's bad
enough being treated like 2nd class citizens away from home (witness the
Ibrox ticket allocation which sees us move to a corner of the Broomloan
Stand), but when it's at home it does nothing to keep the supporter's
faith with the club.
Back to the activities on the park though and Cap'n Jim has vowed to return as the "Masked Defender" within a month. He said, "I was attacking the ball at the back post. Willie Falconer was between myself and Kevin and after he got out of the way, Kevin tipped the ball away and his head hit mine. Out of all the injuries Ive had-including my achilles injury-this was by far the worst for pain. It really was excruciating until I was given morphine at the hospital. Ive been told by the surgeon, though, that I can keep training as long as I stay away from contact. Then in three weeks time Ill be able to start the physical stuff if the surgeon can get a mask made up. The worst thing about this injury is that Id just come back against Livingston, played well and got through the game OK without any problems. Ive just got to get on with things, though. If it had happened last season I would not have missed any games because it would have been the winter break but, as it is, Im missing a few important matches. The best remedy for me would be if the guys could win a few matches while Im out."
Starkers(right), meanwhile is doing a Wiggy and giving us another lament about injuries. "Weve actually been worse off in terms of numbers than we will be against Hibs on Saturday. Against Dundee two weeks ago we had 10 first team players missing. For little things you should be thankful!" . Of the current list only Tommy Løvenkrands looks like having any chance of playing tomorrow.
Finally some good news with Rachid opting to skip some Algerian friendlies over the Xmas period to play in our Xmas and New Year games.
20th - Skipper Jim Weir(right) has
been ruled out for a month after another training ground clash (this time
with Kevin Cuthbert) which resulted in
the bid defender being rushed to A&E at the PRI where he was diagnosed
with a triple cheekbone and jaw fracture.
Starkers, who accompanied him said, "We
seem to be getting two or three years worth of injuries out of the
way in a matter of weeks. He went up for the ball with young
Kevin Cuthbert and you could hear the
collision. Its terrible to see that sort of thing happen to a player
and you could tell straight away it was a fracture. Everyones
feeling so sorry for Jim just now."
19th - Confirmed referees for the festive period are
John Rowbotham for the Boxing Day
trip to Fir Park, Bobby Orr for the trip
to Ibrox a week on Saturday and Willie
Young for the 2nd January Hearts game at McD.
In the treatment room, the latest scan has shown that Graeme Jones' leg injury has healed and he's got the green light to start training. God knows when that means we'll see him play though. Also back in training is Tommy Løvenkrands after his groin strain.
18th - Departures first and the weekend apparently saw
out-of-favour (and out-of-condition) midfielder
Martin Lauchlan head to Dumbarton on
A young Saints side lost 2-0 to Livvy in the U-21s last night.
On the park and the good news is that Mark Lynch(right) has NOT broken his ankle, instead it's just a bad sprain. He's back at Old Trafford for treatment and still looks to be out for 4-6 weeks though. "It's a huge relief to find out it's just badly sprained. My loan period is up near the end of January and I hope the Livvy game wasn't my last for Saints. When I saw the physio putting padding round the leg I thought it was broken. I thought my season was over and done with. Fortunately they gave me a painkiller and the rest of the day is a bit of a blur. When we got to hospital the leg looked as if a potato was growing on it. There was a huge, fat lump on the ankle and it didn't look good. I was completely out of it. I don't know how long I waited in casualty but a nurse had to wake me up during the X-rays. I'm going back to Manchester for treatment because Saints physio Nick Summersgill has enough on his plate. It will mean a quiet Christmas at home but I should be back in January. Hopefully the loan period will be extended." .
Finally the SPL have put Kevin Toner in charge this weekend.
December 17th - We're still awaiting confirmation but it looks like Mark Lynch has indeed broken his ankle. More than likely then this will mean a return south for treatment and the end of any possible extension on his loan deal to the end of the season (something which was looking more and more likely to occur).
15th - It's been confirmed that both Tommy
Løvenkrands and John Paul
McBride are ruled out with a groin injury and the flu respectively
but other than that Starkers has a full
squad to pick from for this afternoon's trip to "Ambitious"
Meadowbank (who apparently play in shellsuit land now).
Paddy Connolly(right) has indulged in the tradition of praising the opposition before the game (just in case our confidence was getting up) saying, "They have some great players and the coaches are setting their stall out in a way which allows them to make the most of their ability. I have enjoyed watching them this season as, I am sure, have most people. The bottom line, though, is that we are at a stage where we have to start winning games if we are not to be relegated at the end of the season. We were very poor last Saturday (against Dundee) but prior to that we had shown the kind of determination we will need to get ourselves out of this situation. The wins against Kilmarnock gave us a real lift and if we could get something against Livingston it would do wonders for the confidence. As it goes, the spirit in the dressing room hasnt been bad but everyone is aware of the seriousness of the position we are in, it is always there at the back of your mind. We are all determined to do everything we can to turn things around. For me that means taking the chances that come my way. I am getting into the right positions, which is something, but I need to start hitting the back of the net. I have only got two goals to my credit so far this season and that is not enough." . Still the spirit in the dressing room is high so that's all that matters.
Joining him on the confidence-boosting soapbox is our manager who said, "It is great to have so many experienced players back in contention-a big positive. If it was the Old Firm you'd hear all about it. We were down to the bare bones last weekend. The players were told the Dundee display wasn't good enough but we're hanging in there. Everyone forgets we had been playing well before the derby - but not me. I've reminded the players even the best have off-days. And if we win it would be a big result for us because nobody expects us to get anything." .
One player who will hopefully get a long-deserved starting spot in the side today is Rachid who is becoming so famous even the BBC are namechecking him (check here).
Off the park and the club have announced that tickets for the trip to Ibrox will go on sale priced £18 on Monday.
19.00 - Despite taking the lead through a cracking 30-yard Paul Hartley free-kick, Saints ended up losing 2-1 to "Ambitious" Meadowbank. And to add to that results elsewhere have seen us drop to 9 points adrift and Mark Lynch was stretchered off in the first half. Starkers said, "I think the players have given everything they've got in every game and again we probably should have got something out of today. We defended well in a general sense throughout the game but the two goals were definitely preventable. Every goal is preventable but they were particularly disappointing. We had possession in the middle of the park and lost it, then the next thing the ball is in the back of the net. The second one was a quick corner which kind of caught us by surprise. The delivery was good and they were fortunate to get someone on the end of it. We're creating reasonable chances in games - not as many as we'd like - but if you look at it we're not taking a big enough ratio of our chances. We've been defending well as a solid unit but we had one moment's aberration and got punished for it."
14th - With Saints quoted at 7-1 to become the 2nd team to win at
Meadowbank this season, Starkers(right)
knows thew odds are against us. "Statistics can be manipulated
but in this case I think they give an accurate reflection of what has been
going on. Livingston are enjoying a great season and exceeding all
expectations. People talk about them having the element of surprise but
they have a lot more going for them than that. They have got fast,
skilful, attacking players, good experienced midfielders and some very
strong defenders-in total, a very well-balanced team. We on the other hand
have struggled, particularly away from home where the results have gone
against us more often than not. Put the two together and you can see why
the bookies have them as favourites. That doesnt mean though that
they are going to win." .
With a few more back from injury and international duty (although don't expec Rachid to start) thesquad is looking a bit healthier. The manager said, "You dont like to go on about injuries but there have been times this season when, for one reason or another, we have been without as many as 11 players. "That is a whole team and a club of this size simply cant manage to cope with so many absentees. While Tommy Løvenkrands remains very doubtful for the weekend, we are getting close to full strength, which is good news. If we go to Livingston and get a positive result then I have no doubts that we can get on the sort of run we need to take us off the foot of the division." . See it's not all doom and gloom.
12th - Starkers is looking at the
transfer market to freshen up the squad but a new face for the weekend is
unlikely (unless of course Rachid
plays from the start). He said,"I can bring in one or two players
and thats something we are looking at although the weekend will
likely come a bit quick" . No news on the injury front but
Jim Weir and
Paul Kane are thought to be in line
for a starting place, whilst the others (including the badly-missed
Tommy Løvenkrands) are said to
Finally, Mike McCurry has been appointed the man to hate at Almondvale on Saturday.
11th - With the U-21 game being called off,
Starkers is trying to arrange a
closed-doors game this week to give some of the recovering players a run
out. The bad news is that whilst he is recovering from his groin injury,
Tommy Løvenkrands isn't expected
to make it for the weekend, but the good news is that
Graeme Jones(right) will be back in full
And the manager has been trying to find something resembling a silver lining from the weekend's debacle comparing it to the gubbing we received at Tynecastle earlier in the season. "I would say that theres a comparison to be drawn there. There have been two bad games so far but in between there were possibly six or seven games where we played well and didnt get as many results as we deserved. If we play eight or nine games and get seven good performances and two bad, then thats not too bad really. What we have to do now is make sure that we bounce back as we did after the Hearts game and make sure that if there are times when were not playing well, that we dont let ourselves get as low as we did on Saturday." . As for the cup-tie he said, "Obviously its not an easy tie for us. I suppose you only really know if its a good draw after the game. Its a home game, though, and thats the first thing any manager would ask for."
As for the rest of the battle to save our SPL status it looks like the veterans will be back in the team. Starkers said, "Experience is a good thing to have - the sooner these guys are back the better. It gives us more options and that is what we need."
One player who more than deserves a start in the side though is Rachid Djebaili who managed a full 90 minutes for Algeria last week and only missed out on playing on Saturday thanks to the French Air Strike. He said, "I'm positive in my mind - I never get down when I'm not picked. I need more games to show what I can do. I'm enjoying being here - the people of Perth have been very friendly to me. You have to be strong when you get your chance in the team - I came here to play in the first-team so I'll keep working on my game." . And he was full of praise for the management as well saying, "I think it is more professional now - he knows how to speak with the players, how to motivate us."
December 10th - Tonight's U-21 game against the Arabs has been postponed after McD failed an afternoon pitch inspection. Off the park there are rumours that Starkers is well pissed off with the players after Saturday and that several signings are on the cards although nothing concrete has emerged yet. Oh yeah and apparently the players had their Xmas night out on Saturday in Newcastle. No doubt they were on as much of a downer and depressed as the rest of us who are going to have to suffer the humiliation of yet another bloody week without a win after giving in so easily to a side who the players are supposed to get worked up about. Personally it's about as likely as the OF singing Xmas carols at a home game.
9th - The draw for the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup was made today
and Saints are at home to Aberdeen on January 5th in one of only 2
all-SPL ties in the round. Still at least we avoided the OF this year !!!!
Today's SPL matches saw TFOD gub the Pars 4-0 and TFOE beat the Jambos 3-1.
On the transfer front, a report in the News of the World again links Saints with promising 20-yr old East Stirling defender Brown Ferguson. Ferguson is already apparently a target for Norwich City and Southampton and was linked with a possible move to Saints 18 months ago but today's report believes Starkers is "close to a deal this week".
8th - With his loan deal probably ending next month,
Alan Miller has been taking time to
thank Saints for giving him some first team action. "I was back
down training with Blackburn in the middle of the week and it brought home
to me just how lucky I am up here. This move has been a particularly
enjoyable one for me as there are a really good bunch of lads at the club
as well as an enthusiastic support. I dont know what the future
holds for me but as long as I am here I will continue to do my very best
for St Johnstone. We are well aware this is a big one for them and it is
something they deserve to see for all the backing they have given us
during some difficult times this season. Obviously it wont be easy
because Dundee have some players of real quality but if we play to our
capabilities then we are certainly capable of winning. We gave Celtic a
good run for their money and they are side which won the treble last
7.00pm - A 2-0 defeat at home which was so humiliating it's hard to describe combined with results elsewhere means we're now 8 points adrift and looking certainties for the drop. Post-match the traditional insightful managerial comment was "It was a very poor performance from us and I think we got what we deserved. In recent weeks we have picked up some points and maybe deserved a wee bit more. But on this performance I just didn't see it coming and it was difficult to pick out any pluses or give the players any pass marks. If the other teams above us had put together a winning run then we'd get left behind. But we are in an area of the league where nobody is really doing that. We got the first home win and we were looking to progress from there against Aberdeen last week and come here and pick up something. But I'm not going to put my head in the oven because the players showed some form in recent games. Today they didn't do that and it's my job to make sure that we turn that around."...All I can say is time is running out.
7th- Not much in the way of team news today with Saints only saying
that Tommy Løvenkrands and
"Flash" Forsyth are both
doubtful for the Scumdee match and face late fitness tests. "Tommy
is really struggling. He hasn't been able to train." said
Starkers has also taken the trouble to back the attendances at McD despite criticism from the rest of the SPL. "I think our fans are unfairly treated because we are a club in a town that has a population of 50,000. We have small surrounding areas as well which would suggest that we're not going to have the biggest crowds - that's the plain fact of life. But that doesn't mean that our supporters are any less passionate about their club than Rangers and Celtic supporters. They've give us great backing in the home games we've had here and I'm looking for that to continue."
On the team front one certain starter is Darren Dods(right). He said, "It has been very frustrating being a spectator in the last two games. I was very disappointed in myself, being sent off at Tannadice. I'm not a dirty player and it was my first red card since signing for Saints three years ago. I got involved with Jim Hamilton. There was a bit of a scuffle. I didn't think there was much in it but I have to admit television didn't do me any favours. I didn't think there had been any contact but it looked bad when I saw it on tv so I could have no complaints. Jim was sent off first but he was successful with his appeal and good luck to him. I was more annoyed with myself for getting involved. Hopefully it's something I have learned from."
Elsewhere and Rachid Djebaili played the full 90 for Algeria in their 1-1 draw with Ghana on Wednesday with no injuries. For the Coagies, Bible Juan and Walrus-face are set to play.
6th- Confirmation today that Benito
Kemble's injury will keep him out for around 4 weeks.The big
defender hopes the fracture on his ankle will heal naturally and he'll be
back in action around Xmas. Starkers
paid tribute to the player saying, "He's been playing with the
injury for the last 3 or 4 weeks and it's typical of the spirit about the
club that he didn't want to ease up".
Elsewhere andRoger "Ramjet" Risholt has reportedly headed back to Norway apparently "no better than what we've got" according to Saints.
Some good news on the selection front for Saturday with "Walrus-face" Caballero and Sara the Bible-Basher apparently injured and thus sparing Saints fans from their "wacky" antics.
5th- So much for any hope of Benito
Kemble's injury being minor. The defender has an ankle fracture.
He's been struggling for a few weeks but nobody at the club expected it to
be this serious. He's definitely out this weekend as the club wait to see
if an op is required. The only consolation is that
Darren Dods is back from suspension.
Another doubt for this weekend is Tommy Løvenkrands(right) with his groin strain flaring up. The good news is that after 90 minutes in the U-21 game, both Paul Kane and Darren Jackson are both set to be included in the squad.
And after all the drugs scandals, Saints have confirmed that they are going to spend an estimated £10,000 per annum introducing random drug testing for all full-time players at the club with each player set to be tested at least once per year.
Finally the draw for the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup will take place at 12 noon on Sunday at Hampden Park. Expect Saints to get the usual easy draw against the OF.
4th- The good news today is that the expected scan on
Benito Kemble's ankle will hopefully
show that the injury isn't as serious as first thought. "The fear
is it could be ligament damage but Benito has made good progress so we
reckon he could be okay, It is always best to check though" said
Meanwhile Peter MacDonald(right) scored from a free-kick last night as the U-21s drew with Scumdee.
On the international front, Rachid Djebaili is in the Algerian squad to play Ghana tomorrow - he'll be back to torment the Ice Cream Boyz at the weekend though.
Finally the big news is off the park and the great CharlieGate scandal can finally be put to rest with Charlie One losing his unfair dismissal claim at a tribunal in Scumdee yesterday although he does apparently get 42 days to appeal (and no doubt we can expect another sob story in the press). The tribunal ruled that the club had not acted unfairly in sacking the player and the tribunal chairman said "He is a professional sportsman and we were of the view that he would have been in no doubt about the consequences".
Saints issued the following statement to the press: "The Board of St Johnstone FC is delighted with the Employment Tribunal verdict, which has upheld the Clubs decision to terminate the contract of former player, Kevin Thomas, over drug abuse allegations relating to an incident on 22nd December 2000. This unfortunate issue has been hanging over the Club for the past 11 months and hopefully this will see a line drawn under a rather sad episode. In particular, the Club welcomes the Employment Tribunal's clear indication that they found the evidence provided by Managing Director Stewart Duff, Director James Donnachie, Club Doctor Alistair McCracken, former Manager Sandy Clark and Physiotherapist Nick Summersgil(right) entirely credible.The Club would like to pay tribute to the professionalism, integrity and exemplary conduct of Nick Summersgil in trying circumstances. He has acted with the utmost dignity throughout this period. From the outset, St Johnstone FC has always been conscious of its hard won reputation as a family club with a strong accent on youth development, and has acted accordingly."
Stewart Duff commented that : "If Kevin had perhaps taken a different attitude I might have felt differently. But I don't have any real sympathy. I would like to see him get his career back on track. But neither player showed any remorse to Nick Summersgil, the physio, who had taken time to train them." On the wider issue of testing, the Saints chief is in favour of random tests. "We're not aware of other problems with drugs and we would be in favour of random testing by clubs. It might amount to a substantial four-figure sum on an annual basis. But at the end of the day it would be worth it. We're a family club, and when youngsters are at our club from Monday to Friday I would like their parents to feel they're in a good environment."
Oh yeah and in case you thought we were going to end today's round up on a high note Stuart Dougal is in charge of the game against Scumdee this weekend........
December 3rd- Despite Saturday's defeat, Willie Falconer is still convinced we'll pull through. "We didn't start the game well and we were a bit late putting them under pressure. We just needed a bit of luck with some of the chances at the end, but that's the way it's been going. It's been like that with the start of the season - not too many teams have given us a doing, there's normally been the odd goal in it. It's just a matter of time before things change and we get some luck on our side. Another day a couple of deflections go in - it's just one of these things. I thought we never played well - not as well as we've played in the last few weeks - but everybody's working hard and we deserve to get something in the end. Paul Hartley had a great free-kick which hit the bar but even the rebound came to one of their guys. There's a great spirit at the club - it's not as if we go out and say 'here we go again' and get beaten - there's a belief that we can get back into the pack and start worrying a few teams above us."
2nd- With most Saints fans out trying to drown their sorrows last
night, Benito Kemble(right) was getting
plastered elsewhere with the Saints defender falling victim to the Curse
of the Centre'Half and leaving the land of the Sheep with his leg
reportedly encased in the Paris variety to round of a wonderful day.
1st- Early reports on trialist Roger
"Ramjet" Risholt(right) are mixed with
Starkers reasonably happy with his
performance but still criticising the player's lack of fitness - mainly
due to his lack of match practice since the Norwegian season finished a
few months ago.
Some good news though with on-loan youngster Mark Lynch keen to stay with God's Chosen Ones beyond the end of next month until the end of the season. He said, "I am thoroughly enjoying myself here and believe I am achieving all the goals I set myself when I came up north. Thats five games I have played now with something positive coming out of each one in terms of my performance. I am sure the first team experience will be of real benefit to me and I would have no problem staying here until the end of the season as long as that is what Man United want. The coaches down there keep in regular touch with me so they know that the move is working out pretty well." . Starkers said, "Marks done very well for us and if he is prepared to extend his loan deal then that is certainly a possibility we will look into. He is still under 21 so there wouldnt be a problem on that score, it would just be a case of getting the other parties to agree. I think everyone can see the potential he has with his recent performances all the more impressive when you take into account the fact he has been suffering from a chest infection. Once he is completely clear of that I am sure we will see an even better player, one capable of making an even bigger contribution to the side."
On the team news front, Mark Lynch is 90% fit so should make it but of the injured doubts, Tommy Løvenkrands and "Flash" Forsyth all that the manager would say was "I am hopeful with one but the other is doubtful."
7.00pm - A fairly poor performance overall saw us lose 1-0 at Pittodrie with Winters getting the winner in front of a 17,000 crowd. Just to add to the worries, Benito Kemble was taken off in the first half with a head knock to continue the Curse of the Centre-Half. One consolation was that results elsewhere went our way and we're still only 7 points off the pace.
There was praise for Saints from Ebbe the Chainsmoker but it's not much consolation for Starkers who said "We didn't start the game well. Craig Russell could have had us one up and Paul Hartley hit the post with a free kick. Robbie Winters finished well but I don't think that's what he had in mind. Aberdeen were pacy and aggressive but we coped well with them. We can do better but we made enough chances today. We need to keep working. A couple of wins will make all the difference. I'm happy with the response from the players since I've come here but we haven't go the rewards we deserve." . Some hope but it has to be said that if these wins don't come this month then the season might as well be written off.
Top Of News
30th - Despite being up against a flock of Sheep on form, Saints
and El Starko feel confident of getting
a result at Pittodrie tomorrow. "With the run they are on up
there, Aberdeen are going to be viewed as good things to win this one.
Their fans all know we are bottom of the table and they will turn up
expecting the Dons to beat us fairly easily. Thats fair enough but
if that attitude spreads to the players then we could be in business as
there is just not that much between the two teams. If Aberdeen are going
to beat us then they will first have to match us in terms of hunger and
work rate because, make no mistake, we want to win this one. We have won
two of our last three games and are desperate to extend the sequence."
In terms of team selection, Free Wullie is available again but Darren Dods is still suspended. From last week's almost-injured players, Tommy Løvenkrands is fully fit but "Flash" Forsyth(right) is still troubled by a groin injury.
Meanwhile, Cap'n Jim will miss out after breaking his nose in training in a collision with Paddy Connolly. The skipper said, "I reckon this must be the sixth time I've broken my nose. I can't believe it."
November 29th - Starkers has joined in the praise of goalscorer Craig Russell. "Craig has had a difficult time here but he's a quality player. A few things went wrong when he joined Man City and a couple of loan spells didn't work out but he's got a good goals ratio wherever he's been and I think he can bring a lot to the team. I hope this is where he can get his career going again because he really deserves a break." . Apart from that there's little in the way of real news from the club.
27th - Saints have 22-yr old Norwegian midfielder
Roger Risholt(right) over on trial
this week. The player, available on a Bosman arrived yesterday after
helping IK Start to promotion last season. Starkers
said, "Roger comes highly recommended and we're pushing for
Meanwhile last night's U-21 game saw Paul Kane and Darren Jackson continue their comebacks, whilst Stuart McCluskey and Cap'n Jim are also back in training. The manager said, "It will be good if we can get Darren and Paul back in our squad."
Off the park and Stewart Duff has said the club are planning further initiatives on the back of the free tickets scam to try and generate bigger attendances at McD. "We're always looking to increase our home support and will try various initiatives. But the best advert we can give is by playing attractive, winning football, and those who came along to see the Killie game must have been impressed."
Finally John Underhill is in charge of the visit to Sheepville at the weekend.
26th - Paddy Connolly(right)
was praising Craig Russell for scoring
a the weekend and saving him from a humiliation after his own misses. "It
was just one of those days when nothing went right for me in front of
goal. I missed a couple of sitters, but at the end of the day it was about
the result and the boys are delighted. Craigs come in and scored and
thats great for him. He has been out a long time with injury and
maybe he can see light at the end of the tunnel after this. I think we
could have won by four or five-obviously I missed a couple of great
chances-but we got the result and I think weve maybe turned the
corner now. Weve got a bit of self-belief back. Our home form has
been dreadful, to be honest, but hopefully we can build on this result.
Like I said, we should have been three up in the first half, but I cant
recall Kilmarnock creating too much and we havent been able to say
that about teams too often this season. The defence did really well. At
the start of the season, as well as not scoring we were leaking a lot of
goals as well, but the teams performing and working hard and now were
getting the rewards for it."
Not much else in the papers with the usual slaggings for the poor Saints home support (along with the just as usual lack of criticism for the poor away supports). On the injury front both Benito Kemble and Rachid have only picked up minor knocks and both will be fit for the weekend.
10pm - Tonight's U-21s game saw Saints draw 2-2 with Scumdee with both our goals coming from Rachid. So he's recovered then.
November 25th - Craig Russell is rather chuffed with himself for getting back on the scoresheet. "It is fantastic to get the victory and it keeps us in touch with the teams above us. I was looking at the scoreboard and could see Motherwell were winning so it was important that we got a good result. I was delighted to get the winner but there have been a few false dawns for me so I'll take one game at a time. I scored on my debut and got injured in the same game. Then I suffered knee ligament damage which kept me out for seven months so I'm taking nothing for granted. We can look forward to going up to Aberdeen next week. They've got a great record at home but have to lose sometime and hopefully we'll be there when they do."
24th - Nick Dasovic(right) has
been praising the fans for their backing in recent weeks. "The
crowds that have followed us recently have been absolutely fantastic. To
have that kind of support, in the position were in, has been really
good for the players. Were always reading in the national Press
about how we havent got the biggest support- and we dont. But
the fans we do have are great, and its time to start winning for
them." . He is certain of one thing today - we need the win. "Weve
put in some good performances of late but we have to get some points now
and gain ground on the teams above us before Christmas. Weve talked
about the good aspects of our play in the last number of games, and we say
that because it keeps us positive. But the bottom line is that well
be far more positive when we see that were catching up with the
teams above us. Weve got to be careful about this game though. I
think Kilmarnock have had a bit of trouble with their home crowd, but they
seem more relaxed on the road. And games against them in my five or six
years here have always been settled by the odd goal, so Im sure this
will be another close one."
As for the future, he might not be returning to the land of the lumberjack straight away. "I think Id like to get more years out of my career here, be it at Saints or elsewhere, before going home. Football in Canada has taken a bit of a nosedive so its not the time to go back, either for coaching or playing. So Id like to prolong my career here. The only thing on my mind just now, though, is helping the club stay up, then we can look further to the future."
Meanwhile despite the makeshift defence set to be fielded today, Starkers isn't making any excuses. , "I dont want to build the situation into an emergency. It isnt ideal but its not a crisis. Things are sent to test you sometimes and I think thats whats happening just now. If teams feel sorry for themselves and think that things arent going to happen for them, they wont. But if they keep believing theyll definitely get their rewards. I dont sense any anxiety amongst the players-that hasnt shown in our play over the last few weeks- and were going into this match with confidence."
7.00pm - After dominating for the 90 minutes only to miss plenty of chances Saints still managed a 1-0 win over Killie thanks to a 12th minute Craig Russell(right) drive in front of a noisy and loyal home support. Starkers was happy as well especially with the makeshift defence. "We didn't create as many chances as we have done in the past. We don't look anxious though, except when we get the ball into the box. We're defending reasonably well and that will be the base for any success.". He also revealed that both Tommy Løvenkrands (called "Peter" by his manager) and "Flash" Forsyth both just passed late fitness tests to play. Unfortunately results elsewhere mean we're still 7 points behind the pack.
23rd - It's looking more and more like a back 4 tomorrow with
Stuart McCluskey and
Cap'n Jim having only done light training
this week. Neither has been completely ruled out but it's certain that
Grant Murray(right) will partner
Benito Kemble in defence. If we are
sticking to 3 centre-backs it could mean that whoever joins them won't be
a recognised defender. Starkers said
"We could change our shape or bring in players to that part of
the team who are not recognised centre backs. This is far from ideal."
Saints are looking for a decent crowd tomorrow with 1000 free kids tickets already distributed to try and boost the crowd. With defensive changes being forced upon Starkers, both Darren Dods and Free Wullie (who looks set to get an even longer ban soon as his points tally up) are set to be disciplined by the club for causing the problems. The manager said, "From a manager's point of view it's disappointing. Discipline is going to be very important as the season progresses We had anticipated that Willie would be dealt with further down the line and would be available for Saturday. He was reported by the referee rather than shown a red card. But there's nothing we can do so we just have to forget it." He's also expecting a different game from the one a fortnight ago but is looking for at least the same amount of effort from the lads. "There will be personnel changes on both sides and this is a completely different game. I wouldn't read any positives or negatives into the fact that we're playing each other again so quickly. I'd like to think our recent performances have instilled some belief in the supporters and while I know it's sometimes easier to make themselves heard away from home I can't underestimate how important a role they have in games. I know they can point to eight months without a win at home but it's my job to make sure the effort and commitment which went into games against Rangers and Celtic is repeated against Killie. They aren't being allowed to step off the gas. In fact, if anything we are looking for even more from the players."
Tommy Løvenkrands(right), who scored a double last time we won at home is full of confidence though. "It's definitely too long for supporters to wait. But we have been producing good and consistent standards recently and I'm confident we can reward them for their loyalty. We have to stop the stupid mistakes which have been costing us goals but the fans have stood by us for a long time now and they deserve a reward. I believe we will win this game against Kilmarnock. Winning at Rugby Park was a huge result for us and three more points on Saturday would give us another boost. We believe in ourselves and we're all working hard for each other. It was disappointing to lose the derby because we felt we deserved a point. Maybe it was silly for Willie to let his frustration spill over. But it shows just how disappointed we all were. It shows the commitment and passion that's driving us forward."
Finally, Rachid is on Algerian duty again in 10 days time. He won't miss any SPL matches though with the fixture coming between the Aberdeen and Dundee games.
22nd - More bad news for Starkers(right)
today with the news that Free Wullie
has picked up a ban and will miss this Saturday's game creating
what could be summed up as a defensive nightmare. Originally the manager
believed that the player was being reported for dissent and would only
pick up a yellow card but the referee's report reveals that he's been
charged with using offensive language and gets an automatic red. He said,
"This is not the news we expected to hear and I must say I am
very disappointed indeed. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about
it now, we just have to abide by the decision and get on with things as
best we can."
Meanwhile Starkers is looking for more goals from the front men to take the pressure off the defence. "We've been creating decent chances but we have to show some more composure in the final third. The way we've been playing is encouraging but the players have to believe in themselves a bit more. Hopefully confidence will soon return if we start to knock in a few goals."
21st - Nick Dasovic has rushed
to clarify his comments about the great club vs country debate. Despite
earlier reports the midfielder has made it clear that before he even
considers going to the Gold Cup it will all depend on Saints' league
position at the time and if he can be spared.
Stuart McCluskey and Cap'n Jim are still rated "very doubtful" for the weekend but there is some better news with Paul Kane(right) coming through his first training session yesterday. Starkers said he "came through training with no adverse reaction. Well take things from there." . Also on the injury front is the news that Goalden Graeme is targetting next week for a resumption of training.
20th - Starkers has finally
spoken out on the Tannadice Tunnel Incident believing it was nothing
really. With Willie Falconer in
trouble and likely to occur a booking for dissent, the manager said "I
was there at the time and all that happened was that Willie was five or 10
yards away from the linesman going up the tunnel and turned round and made
a comment which the linesman chose to make something of".
Darren Dods is definitley ruled out through suspension this weekend and is more than likely to miss the trip to Pittodrie on December 1st. Even worse is the news that Stuart McCluskey has picked up a groin strain so despite his ban being over may miss out. Starkers is still optimistic though saying "The players gave us everything and if they keep doing that theyll get their just reward -something I dont think theyve have from the past six games"
There was no U-21 match yesterday. New Broomfield was waterlogged so the game against TFOE was postponed.
Alan Freeland has been appointed ref for the game this weekend.
19th - Nick Dasovic(right) could
be set to add to Saints problems. The Canadian internationalist is likely
to be called up for the Confederations Cup which runs from January 18th to
February 2nd. He said "The Gold Cup is like your European Cup
(Championships). Its a big event because youve got teams like
Mexico, Ecuador, the USA and Costa Rica, who have all qualified for the
World Cup, taking part. We won it not too long ago and that was terrific
for us. Canada dont get that many games so its a huge thing
and getting called up for your country is a great honour. Its a
difficult situation if your club has vital games to play at that time and
are maybe involved in a relegation battle. If I get called up I will
decide then what to do but a club versus country situation is a tough one
to be involved in."
No word on the fate of Willie Falconer although he's likely to be in deep brown stuff after being called to the referee's room on Saturday accompanied by Starkers. Nobody is sure about the incident but it's reported that he "verbally abused the assistant referees" as they left the pitch.
Finally, for the older fans, there's a new site detailing St Johnstone Memories from the days of black & white.
November 18th - Little in the papers today although there are reports of an alleged incident in the tunnel after the game with Willie Falconer reportedly called to the referee's room. Starkers has tried to play it down saying that "football is an emotional game". As yet we don't know if any action will be taken.
17th - No new team news today but the match previews quote
Paul "JR" Hartley(right) as
saying that the players want to win this one "for the chairman".
The winger, enjoying a return to form is also grateful to
Starkers. "Under Sandy Clark
I'd lost all my confidence but the new boss has given me a chance and I
want to repay him". As for the manager his pre-match talk will
apparently be limited. "All I'll do is remind the players what
that winning feeling was like last week. That should be enough."
Meanwhile druggie George O'Boyle is apparently "opening his heart" on Sportscene at lunchtime today. Expect plenty of laughs.
7.00pm - Saints lost a bad-tempered derby match 2-1 at Tannadice with Darren Dods also given a straight red card for pulling the Elephant Man's trunk. To add to his misery he was probably at fault for the 2nd Arab goal due to an inability to change his boots in less than 5 minutes. It was a good performance by Saints backed by a massive travelling support who saw Paddy Connolly get our goal. After the game the manager said "Over the context of the match I feel we should have had something out of the game. We hit the woodwork twice and had the better of the first half. At the time they scored the first goal, they were enjoying a good spell but it was our poor defending which caused it. For the second goal, Dods had a problem with his boot and it's always a difficult decision whether to change it. He changed boot a couple of times but it's unfortunate that the cross came into the area he was defending. But even at the death we were creating a few things around their goal so it's not desperate." . He refused to comment on the red card.
16th - Starkers, after surviving
the Game of a Thousand Deaths last week is out to keep the unbeaten run
going as Saints get their tetanus jabs updated prior to entering the
fleapit of Tannadump tomorrow. As well as that there is the small matter
of revenge for the CIS cup defeat a month ago to be dealt with. "We
played well in the cup tie and if that game had finished two minutes
earlier giving us a 2-1 victory then I dont think anyone could have
quibbled. Because theres going to be quite a difference in personnel
between those involved then for us and the side thatll play
Saturday-Benito Kemble, Willie Falconer, Mark Lynch and Alan Miller for
example didnt feature in the cup-you cant automatically assume
that well perform as well this time. But we have added bits and
pieces to our play since that night and if we do these things on Saturday
and play the way we did last time then Id expect us to win."
The Arabs have confirmed that keeper Paul Gallacher has passed a fitness test and will play. For Saints, Nick Dasovic will face a late fitness check after returning from international duty.
Starkers doesn't think our problems will be sorted purely on a result tomorrow though despite the players' confidence. "That winning feeling should be fresh in their minds and it's good to take it into a derby. But unfortunately it's only the beginning. We're in for a long, hard season. I'm afraid I don't see us winning 15 games on the trot and being able to cruise towards the end of the campaign. We have to recognise that and be ready for it. This could go right to the death but we're all looking forward to rising to the challenge."
November 15th - Little in the way of team news. Rachid has returned from international duty where he played in Algeria's 2-0 win over Burkina Faso. He goes into the squad for the Tannadump trip and is likely to feature at some point. The injury list meanwhile contains the usual suspects.
14th - Latest news on the injury front is that
Cap'n Jim won't be fit for the trip to
Tannadump on Saturday but should be back in full training next week.
Paul Kane is another who will have to
be patient with a flare-up of the calf injury ruling him out for at least
Geoff Brown(right) has been speaking for the first time since his surgery for prostate cancer. Recuperating at home after being given the all-clear it looks less and less likely that he'll return to McD in any capacity as chairman in the future with plans to sell the club, he's helped thrive over the last 15 years, being put in motion as he makes his health the number one priority. 'The surgeon actually explained to me that, such have been the medical advances, if my problem had occurred five years ago they probably couldn't have done anything for me at all. Now things have to change because I simply can't get myself into the state I was in before. When your family are rallying round you feel overwhelmed by the response and it makes you think. I used to sit in the chairman's seat asking myself: "Why am I getting myself so uptight?" I had everything going for me - both as a businessman and in my personal life. When you've grown up in a tenement flat there's no reason to get uptight over a game of football, but I couldn't help it. The only reason I got involved in St Johnstone was because they were my local club and they were about to go bust - it was as simple as that. Maybe now it's more important than ever to step back because of my health. But I won't sell the club to just anybody. The person who buys St Johnstone must prove to me they have the interests of the football club at heart. But I'm not holding my breath. In the last 15 years no-one has chapped at my door yet.'
Geoff also denied any of the media speculation that ex-TFOE director and Livvy shareholder Willie Haughey was set to buy a controlling interest in the club.
I'm sure all Saints fans would like to send on their best wishes to Geoff at such a time.
13th - Starkers reckons the team
talks will be easier from now on. , "There was obviously a big
difference in the dressing room after that match than at other times so
far this season and Ill be telling the players to think back to how
good it was, so that they want to feel the same way again. Id
guaranteed the players that if they kept working as they had been in the
last few weeks, they would get their reward. Hopefully now we can build on
the first win and our first clean sheet."
The U-21s lost 3-0 last night to Aberdeen. Youth striker Nathan McConnell(right) appeared on the bench as a trialist - he was released by Saints at the weekend. Best of luck Nathan.
12th - Confirmation today that the match against TFOE on Jan 19th
in Wegieland won't finish until after 7pm. Apparently the game won't
kick-off until 5.35pm to allow for Sky to clear 24 hours from their
coverage to ensure sufficient injury time is added on for the tinks. It
also means the Saints fans will have the delights of the London Rd on a
Saturday night in the dark to contend with - no doubt Strathclyde Police
will be as understanding and mindful for our safety as Tayside's finest.
The news from Goalden Graeme is that despite some rumours, the player has not broken his leg. There is bruising on his fibula but with only a sprain or minor ligament damage the diagnosis is that he will be back in action in a month.
10th - Despite the manager all but ruling him out of today's clash
at Rugby Park, Goalden Graeme is more
than keen to get back into action after 14 months of sitting on his arse
being injured. A goal and 90 minutes on Monday night have boosted his
chances of playing today but he'll probably have to be a bit more patient.
The striker said, "The first injury basically happened from
over-use. I had played a long time and the fluid had built up. It was the
same injury as Alan Shearer had. But I was back playing in two reserve
games in February and even scored in one of them, against Falkirk on the
Friday. I was feeling good until my team-mate Mark McCulloch kicked me on
the knee in training the following Monday and I ended up with a hole in
the cartilage. Every time I trained the knee would blow up and I needed an
operation, which kept me out for 16 weeks. Again, I played two reserve
games in August and this time hurt my Achilles tendon. I was out for three
weeks before coming back again - only to hurt it all over again in my
first match. That was my lowest point - I came home and told my wife I was
really worried about my career. I didn't know what I was going to do
because I've known nothing but football for so long."
"It was a real relief to get through the St Mirren game. I lasted the 90 minutes but, more importantly, I felt great the next day and I still do. I think I could play against Kilmarnock but maybe that is my heart ruling my head. I would like to play at least 20-30 minutes but it is up to the gaffer." ....to say the least we could do with some of his goals.
6.30pm - A first-half Willie Falconer(right) header gave the SPL the shock result of the day as Saints doubled their points tally with a 1-0 WIN at Killie. "The game of a thousand deaths" is how Starkers referred to it afterwards (with his best TFOE leprechaun impression) saying, "I am delighted, and I have been dying to say that instead of saying that I'm disappointed not to win. I thought we started poorly and I was concerned going into the game because we had been given praise for the way we played against Celtic last week and Rangers a couple of weeks ago. I tried to warn the players that we had to show the same quality in this game but in the early stages we didn't do that. I am delighted for the team - it was always the type of performance that gets you the three points and we showed great resilience to get the win. I've told the players that if they work hard they'll get their reward." . No change in the league position but a lot of happy Saintees tonight.
Not so happy is Goalden Graeme whose comeback today from the sub's bench lasted all of 3 minutes before he went off with an ankle injury. The manager said it didn't look too bad but X-Rays were being taken to confirm this.
Away from the SPL and Rachid played in Algeria's 2-0 win over Burkina Faso.
9th - Starkers has singled out
the born-again Paul Hartley for praise
ahead ot the Killie match. "Sometimes players like Paul put a
pressure on themselves to play well in every single game and if they dont
they arent contributing to the team. But as a manager you are never
going to get 11 players all playing well at the same time and what I have
asked for from the lads here is only that they work as hard as they can
and, first and foremost, contribute to the team performance. Ive
been quite happy with Paul because he has been as consistent as anyone
over the last few games. "
Meanwhile Darren Jackson(right) is blaming "Ambitious" Meadowbank for his current back injury which rules the veteran out for a few more weeks. "It's a nightmare. I've been seeing a physio twice a week and I've even had acupuncture. I've never had a back problem before and I'm wondering if it could be a hangover from training day after day on astroturf while I was at Livingston. I'm not having a pop at Livi but maybe at my age I could have done without it." ......Aye that's what all that training does for you....
Elsewhere on the injury front and Kiegan undergoes an exploratory op on his broken foot today which could see him ruled out for 2 and a half months. Currently on crutches, he's expected to get his broken bones pinned and screwed. He's keen to get back into action though and said "I want to get back to the form I know I am capable of. I haven't been at my fittest and I am disappointed I've not done more this season. The manager has been playing me so he must have been pleased with me".
Looking ahead to tomorrow and keeper Alan Miller reckons we're due a shutout. "We're going into a run of games where we believe we can pick up points. The mood here has been very positive since I arrived. I was at Coventry last year while they were struggling but I had only one game so this is a unique situation for me. But morale has been excellent from the day I first came through the door and playing like we did against Celtic we know there will come a turning point in our fortunes. Naturally we're all looking for the win this weekend."
And finally it seems that a certain ex-Saints player now plying his trade by gesturing to his old fans during warmups for a bunch of bigots was warned by the police last weekend. Chief Inspector Alex Raeburn confirmed: "The player was interviewed by police officers and was given a formal warning as to his future conduct." It's understood that police action followed complaints that the Celtic substitute, who was warming-up on the track, had gestured towards Perth fans.
8th - Despite an optimistic hope that Cap'n
Jim(right) would be able to return to the first team this weekend he
looks set to miss out again. Starkers
has confirmed he's ruled out of the squad to travel to Rugby Park and is
"very doubtful" for the trip to Tannadump next week.
The manager is out to attack on Saturday with attack the best form of defence in the current squad. "We have a lot of offensive players such as Paul Hartley, Paddy Connolly and Tommy Løvenkrands and you have to adopt a style that suits them. We've had a go against both halves of the Old Firm and could have taken something from them with more composure. I just hope the players show the same appetite at Kilmarnock and not just raise their game against teams such as Celtic."
7th - Graeme Jones(right) could
be in line to return to first team action on Saturday after his runout for
the U-21s with the striker scoring one of our goals. There were no injury
worries from the game but Starkers isn't
going to rush him back. , "As that was Graemes first match
in almost a year and Paul Kane's first
since the opening day of the season both will need another game or two
before we could consider them for the first-team."
Rachid has left on international duty but an early release from the squad means that Saturday's game is the only one he'll miss. Nick Dasovic is also off to Malta on Sunday morning with the Canadian squad. He's not going to miss any games though.
6th - Confirmation today from Starkers
today that the Bellymight miss
Saturday's trip to Rugby Park thanks to international commitments. The
manager is praising him still though after his performance at the weekend.
: "There is a doubt over their match with Burkina Faso so he
could end up travelling for no real reason. It's a real dilemma for Rachid
because he's just broken through into the team. He hasshown that he has
something to offer but, because he has never been coached in terms of team
play, he still has a lot to learn. Obviously it would have been good to
have him available for the weekend but that is the only game hell
Rachid himself said, "I'm in a very difficult position - I am torn between club and country. The timing is very bad for me. The Algerian manager showed faith in me when I wasn't getting a game for St. Johnstone by playing me against France. But Billy Stark has said he would be giving everyone a chance. I enjoyed playing against a team like Celtic in my first game in front of the Saints fans. But I need regular games to improve and I know I can score goals. That's why I have a big decision to make. The game against Kilmarnock is important for the club but I also feel loyalty towards my country and the international manager. I don't know what I'm going to do - it is very upsetting."
Meanwhile the 2 fans arrested on Saturday appeared in court yesterday charged with breach of the peace and "removing their clothes" at the ground on Saturday. According to reports from some of the home fans, there was no racial abuse. And if as reported the fans only resorted to sectarian abuse(ie a Red Hand of Ulster gesture aimed at the North Stand) then as yet that is still not illegal - otherwise the entire away support should also have been lifted. As for removing his shirt - how else is he meant to display his club tattoo, which at least shows a degree of loyalty strangely absent amongst many players. Anyway both fans have strenuously denied the allegations and the case will go to trial in February with Sylla expected to be called to give evidence - be interesting to hear his explanation as to why he was recalled to the dugout on police advice in the 2nd half or do the gestures he was making not count?
Elsewhere in court and Jim Weir was up for giving an unofficial driving lesson to chief executive Stewart Duff. The club skipper was charged with driving without 'L' plates whilst Duff was up for driving without a licence.
The U-21s lost 4-3 last night to St Midden but the good news was that Graeme Jones played for the full 90 minutes and Paul Kane managed 70 minutes as well.
5th - Starkers(right) is still
angry about the weekend (like the rest of us) but is calling on the
players to channel it to get a result this coming Saturday. "We
deserved to take something from the match and it hasnt happened.
People who saw the game will feel sorry for us and I am sure some of the
players will end up feeling sorry for themselves at some point in the next
couple of days if they are not already doing so just now. It is a waste of
time though unless the disappointment makes them all the more determined
to go out and make sure we win out next game."
One player set to possibly take a more active role in the Saints line up is the Belly with the manager saying "Rachid has not had much of a chance with us really up until now but he may be involved more from now on because he did some good things out there. While there are some rough edges we have to work on, there is definitely promise there."
6.00pm - Latest on Kiegan is that he has a double stress fracture of his foot and will be out for 6 weeks.Starkers is still optimistic though and dipped into his copy of The Topical Times Book of Manager Cliches to say "We'll get there. Things even themselves out over the season. The spirit in the club is good and the boys are trying hard to get away from the bottom of the league. If the spirit was any different I'd say we had problems, but the squad are working hard and are desperate to get good results to go with their good performances. Some things may have gone against us but we' re not downhearted and we have Graeme Jones coming back from a long term injury in the Under-21 game away to St Mirren tonight. There's also a chance Paul Kane will make his comeback, and Craig Russell is fit enough to play."
Finally, Bobby Orr has possession of the Mickey Mouse TimePiece this weekend at Rugby Park.
4th - Anger all round at McD with Nick
Dasovic in the papers accusing (correctly) Sutton of taking a dive
to get the free kick yesterday.
Meanwhile off the park and 2 Saints fans are reported to have been arrested for dishing out racial abuse to MoMo Sylla as he warmed up before the game. Hopefully the club will ban them from the ground if the accusations are proven to be true. This sort of shit we can do without. And at the same time it would be nice to see our local constabulary be just as vigilant at the other offences being committed in the car park after the game - TFOE fans blatantly drinking their carry-outs and even better the unofficial flag and souvenir sellers flogging their bigoted rubbish to away supporters.
3rd - Starkers is still
optimistic of getting a miracle today despite the odds stacked against
him. "Although we havent managed a victory yet, we have
played very well at times as anyone who saw the game against Rangers here
will testify. I think the last half-hour against Dunfermline proved we are
still a bit fragile which is something we have to work on as a team. We
have spoken to the players about it and stressed the need for strong minds
and stout hearts this weekend. Celtic may have beaten Juventus a few days
ago but that isnt to say they will do the same to us. The Old Firm
have an unfair advantage when it comes to resources but in a one-off match
anything can happen. We will go out to be positive, give it our best shot
and see what happens."
Meanwhile "former Celt" (so he's not daft then) John Paul McBride(right) reckons the player's shame will help them. "I was embarrassed when Sandy Clark lost his job as team manager eight games into the season. He was the one who went out on a limb two years ago and paid pounds 200,000 for me before I'd played 90 minutes in Celtic's first team. But I let him down along with rest of the players at St Johnstone. We didn't do him justice on the park with our displays. There were games that we should have won but didn't and that still disturbs me. The only way we can make up for it is to do better for Billy. So it might even be better for us to be the underdogs against Celtic. We won't be expected to win against them and that might relieve the psychological pressure we're feeling at the moment. If we go a goal up, as we did against Dunfermline last Saturday, the thought of that first win starts to build in your mind. The problem is that when you're playing the Old Firm, it's essential for a club like St Johnstone to get the opening goal or else there's no chance of winning."
No new team news for Saints but TFOE look set to play John "Big Welsh Git" Hartson and Stilian of the Broken Leg. Also in line to make a return is former Saint MoMo Sylla - something Nick Dasovic is looking forward to. "I acted as interpreter for Momo when he first got here and got pretty friendly with him through that so I am looking forward to seeing him again. It was a big move for him and I like to see him do well, though obviously not too well this weekend."
7.00pm - Anger doesn't even begin to describe the feelings of the Saints fans after we were robbed 2-1 by TFOE following what has to be the best all-round Saints performance of the season. Even better we can see it all over again as the main game on BBC Sportscene at 11.10 tonight. Both Billy Stark and Billy Kirkwood were as angry as the fans after the game and Starkers summed up the performance saying "There wasn't much in it. I think the defeat was undeserved and a real kick in the teeth and I'd like to see what the criteria are for calculating the amount of injury time to be played. The Old Firm go right to the death and beat us but it's a hard one ot take. We showed plenty of spirit and commitment and we'll get the breaks we deserve. I'm taking a lot of encouragement from our performance. We don't want people to feel sorry for themselves. Setbacks like that make us even more determined to get it right next time."
Finally, let's hear it for 2 heroes from last season. MoMo Sylla showed his undying affection for the club by graciously giving the finger to the home fans (well he has to keep himself warm on the touchline somehow) and on the radio after the game Sandy Clark showed some touches of Totten paranoia by slagging off Tommy Løvenkrands as being "all that we can afford given the restrictions the club put on the finances in the last couple of years". Strange how he's playing better since the change of manager eh?
2nd - Starkers is under no
illusion of the task required to get anything from the visit of TFOE
tomorrow. "Its one were looking forward to. Celtic
have steamrollered everybody in the last year and they certainly got back
to form against Juventus. Obviously theyve got one or two really
special players but its their work ethic which has got them through
so many games. Their attitude is always spot on. Even the best teams go
through sticky spells though and they arent always on the top of
their game. I dont want it to sound as if were just hoping for
Celtic to perform poorly, because we have to go into the game looking to
make things happen ourselves.We need to improve on one or two things that
have caused us problems in the last few games-for which weve been
heavily punished-but there have been big parts of games that weve
performed well in and we have to build on that." ....so
optimistic isn't he.
Usual injury list for the weekend withCraig Russell definitely ruled out. As for Stuart McCluskey(right), Billy Stark said "Stuart is a worry and it will be a last minute decision. He is suspended for the next two games but we have to decide whether he can play against Celtic without causing longer term problems. Benito Kemble has trained and seems to be okay and Ross Forsyth is fine now." . So "Flash" Forsyth and Benito Kemble are back in the squad although neither has trained much. Meanwhile the Belly is rumoured for the umpteenth time this season to be set for a spot on the bench before heading off on international duty next week as Algeria play Burkina Faso with the Saints star set to play as a striker.
J.R. will play on the left again, a position he seems to like. "I feel my form has been pretty good and that's down to getting a regular game. My personal confidence is on the up and I'm feeling good about my game again. I had a game or two in left midfield before coming to Saints but it's relatively new to me. It means I can cut in from the wing and have a go. I'm not picked as a striker but any player likes to weigh in with goals and hopefully there are more to come. No one outwith McDiarmid is giving us a prayer but we want a win to kick start our season and give our supporters something to shout about."
Finally, and the Official Saints Site has announced an "exclusive" Internet-only polo shirt offer in a bid to check the feasability of making more Saints gear available over the net - as modelled by Nick Dasovic. The official notice reads The perfect opportunity to support your Club - even if you are on the other side of the world! With a view to launching a leisurewear range in the future St Johnstone FC present this unique, limited edition, high quality polo shirt for only £22.50 plus postage and packing (£16.50 plus p&p for kids sizes). Placing an order could not be easier - simply visit the Shop section on the official website, and look under the SPECIAL category. Please note - all orders must be received no later than 12 noon on Monday 19th November 2001. A perfect Christmas gift for family and friends across the globe.....go on you know it makes sense.
1st - Saints have teamed up with Perth and Kinross Council to offer
1000 free tickets to local schools for the home game against Killie on
November 24th in an attempt to attract more fans to Gods Chosen Pasture.
Elsewhere and Jim Weir's recovery is apparently on target with the player possibly able to return to first team action for the Killie game next week (just in time for Stuart McCluskey's suspension then). The manager said, "Jims not far away now. Kilmarnock a week on Saturday might just be too soon for him but its not out of the question. The week after, though, is probably more likely."
Top Of News
31st - Despite the player's comments yesterday,
Starkers has ruled
the Goalden One out of this weekend's
game. "Graeme would have played if wed had an under-21 game
this week but unfortunately there wasnt one so, if all goes well, hell
take part next week."
Stuart McCluskey is doubtful for this weekend's game due to a groin strain - no doubt the Celtic-mad player will be so disappointed.
30th - Starkers is quoted today
as saying he see's Craig Russell's
best chance of making the Saints side on a regular basis is by switching
to a left midfield role. "We have eight strikers at the club but
not a lot of left-footed players and it wouldnt do Craig Russell any
harm, fitness wise, to fill other positions for us. He has had a hard time
of it since coming here and is a bit of an unknown quantity (having made
only eight starts in 19 months) but from his background in England he
would, on the face of it, offer us some reasonable experience."
Starkers meanwhile is still optimistic despite the defeat last weekend. "It was a sore one to take but we remain positive because there is a long way to go. You could argue we're getting closer and closer to that elusive victory. Having had the weekend to think about it, I really feel sorry for our supporters. They must have enjoyed about 55 minutes of the game, only to see us lose. They've endured that for almost a year now so I know how hard it is for them to take. We were by far the better side in the first half but we should have gone for the jugular. Given our record stretching back months I can understand stand why that didn't happen. Self-doubt arises in the minds of the players and we need that first victory to settle us. But they have to be able to sense when the opposition is fragile. Dunfermline fans were on the backs of the players 10 minutes into the match and we should have rammed home our advantage. Obviously individual errors are proving costly but their first goal was a fluke. Of course it was disappointing but I firmly believe that the nature of the Premier League means that another team will suffer a run of defeats. We aren't taking hammerings and we are competing well. As I said at the weekend, there's a fine line between success and failure and I've seen enough since I arrived to remain confident about our prospects."
No word on any new signings (a defender is the target this time) but both Flash and Benny are back in training. The big shock of the day comes with the news that Graeme Jones(right) might be in line for a return to first team action this weekend. The striker, who's been out for ages with various injuries has been training but lacks match fitness. He said, "I know I'm not match fit at this stage but I feel good and the important thing for me is to get back into first team football. The manager knows how keen I am to get back into the fray and if he needs me for this weekend then I'm ready to answer his call."
Meanwhile let's hear if for Jack de Gier of the Pars, who having finally bettered Stuart McCluskey has naffed off home to Holland. Still it spares us from hearing that crappy song at East End Park
Finally the SFA have appointed Dougie McDonald as ref for the weekend.
October 29th - Well if it's a Monday morning it must be time for some quotes from the players designed to let the fans feel that first win is just around the corner. This week's optimist is Paddy Connolly who said "Its very disappointing to lose the game. Because of the way things have been going maybe we sat back in a bit after scoring early on. Certainly that happened in the second half. What makes it so frustrating is the fact that Keigan had a wee half chance and I had a reasonable one to make it 2-0 and the goals we lost were soft ones-but when you are sitting bottom of the league things go like that. Weve just got to keep the heads up and get on with it. The fact that here we are at the end of October and still without a first league win isnt causing us a psychological problem. But weve definitely got to knuckle down and get a victory under our belts. I think we can turn this around. And weve got to believe that as a team. In spells in games we are playing quite well but today isnt the first time we have shot ourselves in the foot and we have to stop doing it. It doesnt get any easier with Celtic coming up at home next week. But maybe this first win we are looking for will come then. You never know, stranger things have happened." ....there we all feel better now don't we?
27th - Tommy Løvenkrands(right)
has said he doesn't think there's any way Saints will go down this year.
"People have been tipping us to go down and I can understand that
because we have still to record our first league victory but for me it
cannot happen. There are simply too many good players here for us to go
down. The arrival of the new manager has brought a freshness to the whole
club and I am convinced it is only a matter of time before we turn things
Meanwhile after all the Rangers-daft stuff last week, this week it's time for Celtic-daft Stuart McCluskey to feature in the papers (obviously the interview sneaked in a week too early), although at least there is some vaguely-related Saints mentions. "Billy Stark was a real boyhood favourite of mine when he played for Celtic and I remember watching him during the centenary season when Celtic won the Double that and Billy was immense. When I heard Billy had been named as the new boss of St Johnstone I was really excited. Billy has played and managed at the highest level alongside Tommy Burns at Celtic. So he immediately commanded respect from all the players from the moment he walked into the ground." . He's also convinced that it won't take much to get the confidence going at McD. "It is still early days in the campaign and there is still a long way to go. There is no panic stations but we know we need to start picking up league points. Our immediate priority must be to close the gap on Dunfermline who are the closest team to us in the table. Confidence comes from winning matches and we just want to get that first win under our belt and shake that monkey off our back. It's amazing what one victory can do to a team and it might just take a morale-boosting result against Dunfermline to kick-start our season."
6.30pm - Saints managed to take a 4th-minute lead but went down 2-1 to the Pars thanks to some shocking play in the 2nd half as we threw the game away. Results elsewhere mean we're now 7 points adrift at the bottom and the way the game finished today it's hard to see even a glimpse of any light at the end of the tunnel. After the shambles, Starkerssaid "We have to try and translate good performances into results. There's no lack of effort. We worked hard to close Dunfermline down and there's a long way to go yet. The winning goal was one that could be avoided but looking at the whole thing it's a very fine line"....at least there's no mention of the "workrate and attitude" or "luck" phrases...yet.
26th - After the success of last night's event, Saints are holding
a 2nd Meet the Manager night at the Muirton Club on Sat 3rd November at
6.30pm. The event will be open to all fans even if they're non-members of
the club. Last night's event saw Billy
Stark(right) emphasise his role in the PR side of things (with the
new manager already lined up to switch on the Perth Xmas lights). There
wasn't much else new to fans although the manager did lay out some of his
plans for the future with all the 30+ players having already been told how
valuable he rates them and whilst his first two signings have been loan
deals he would "rather bring in signings for 3 or more years
because he's not a 'revolving door' manager who uses 60 players in 2
seasons". No names were mentioned but some players have already
been identified for the chop whilst others will definitely be kept on.
Vice-chairman Ian Dewar was also in attendance and revealed that the club do have a "war chest" and will spend their way out of the current problems if required (a la Billy Dodds in 1994). He also wants more feedback from the fans and anyone with suggestions regarding ticket prices, PR etc are welcome to write to him care of the club........for a change it looks like we'll get a response as well.
New signing Mark Lynch is out to impress saying "This is a good chance for me to get first- team football and I am really looking forward to getting stuck in. At Manchester United it was obviously very difficult to get into the first team because of all the players you have got in front of you, so the opportunity to come here and get first-team experience is great. I have heard Saints are struggling a bit at the moment and I really just hope to do well and hope that as a team we can get a few wins under our belt. At the moment I am not entirely sure where I will be playing because, although I am a recognised full-back, I can also play right midfield,"
The player is straight into the squad for the weekend and Starkers said, "Mark will certainly feature at some point on Saturday. He has had a good upbringing at Manchester United and he can play anywhere up the right-hand side. There is no doubt the boy has got good ability and a fair bit of pace. We are always looking to improve and when we find players of the right calibre we will not hesitate. The first thing we must achieve is consistency of performance-something that I feel started to come against Dundee United and Rangers, although defensively we need to firm it up."
Stuart McCluskey has picked up a 2-match ban which starts after the Sellik game next weekend.
6.00pm - Elsewhere and the Belly's appearances with Saints might still be limited - he's off on his travels with Algeria next weekend so looks set to miss out on the Celtic game although a bench slot is likely tomorrow. Starkers isn't too happy about it though - his comments from last night suggest that the Belly still has to work on aspects of his game and won't really be able to do that with his current level of international commitments.
Tomorrow definitely sees Flash(right), Troy, Wacko and Benny miss out along with the usual cripple list. Peaso might make the bench but definitely won't start. Speaking of the game, Starkerssaid "We do still have a lot of games left to play, but this one is very important for both sides. A win for us will start the climb up the table and at the same time pull Dunfermline back into the thick of things. The players are looking forward to the game, and I hope they can show a similar level of commitment they displayed last week against Rangers."
25th - The loan defender Saints are likely to sign today has been
named as 20-yr old Mark Lynch(right),
currently a reserved team player at Manchester Utd. The player is
currently in Perth and is expected to put pen to paper on a 3-month loan
deal today after Alex Ferguson gave Saints permission to speak to the
player. He's 5ft 11 and currently wears the no 38 shirt at Old Trafford,
although so far his career there has been restricted to reserve team
football. As yet there has been no official word from the club with even
the player's identity a secret although Starkers
has confirmed someone will sign by this weekend in time to play at East
Elsewhere and it's looking likely that Peter MacDonald will miss out on Saturday with the striker missing training all week due to the knee knock he picked up in the U-21 warm-up on Monday night. Starkers said, "Peter hasnt trained all week so there has to be a fair chance now that he wont make it. This is a really big match for the club and not one to be taking any risks on players."
6.30pm - As expected, Mark Lynch(right) signed a 3-month loan deal with Saints today. The right-sided defender/midfielder has come with the personal recommendation of ex-Saintee Alex Ferguson (apparently a big manager in Ingerlund these days). He's set to go straight into the side at East End Park at the weekend. One player who might not make the squad though is the Belly with reports suggesting that Starkers wants to see the player in action a bit more before giving him a chance, although what a player that has been banging them in for the U-21s has to do to get a game with a team that hasn't won all season beats me.
24th - Starkers looks set to
bring in his 2nd signing within the next 48 hours. "Were
close to getting someone in for Saturday and hopefully everything will be
sorted out in the next couple of days. It will be good to add a new face
to the squad."
"Peaso" has "tweaked his knee" and Saints will know today the extent of the injury. Speaking of the performance of Craig Russell on Monday night in the different position of left midfield, the manager said "I think its good if players can fill more than one position and Craigs a player who can do that for us. Also, it was a good position for him to play to build his fitness." . Meanwhile Rachid Djebaili also came in for comment with the boss describing him as a showing a "wonderful mix". He said, "Rachid missed one of the easiest chances I think Ive ever seen but he also did a lot of good things in the game."
Alan Main meanwhile has been told that he could be back in action before the end of the season with the original rehabilitation estimate of a year out being halved.
23rd - With no more midweek games until the end of this year at
least, Starkers is out to use the time
to get the team working on tactics - hopefully improving on the
performance at the weekend. "I thought the back four, which,
owing to several players being out, had been cobbled together handled the
occasion particularly well. But I think that was indicative of our having
had a full week to prepare for the game and to work with them. Difficult
though the next few matches look like being we will be in the same
situation in coming weeks and Id like to think that will be to our
advantage. Theres no doubt there were positive aspects to our
display on Sunday but we need to take that on. I was pleased at the way we
went about the Rangers game and that when they scored early in the second
half the heads didnt go down. But the work ethic has to be there
from the start of every game. If it is and we show the same spirit and
organisation then the wee breaks we need will come out way."
The U-21s lost to Rangers yesterday with the junior bigots getting a 2-1 win. As usual we picked up another injury with "Peaso" not even making the start of the game after getting a knock in the warm-up. Davie Dods scored for us early on and after losing 2 to the bigots apparently Rachid Djebaili managed to miss a sitter from 3 yards - surely fulfilling the main criteria for a game in the first team?
John Rowbotham will be the man in the middle this weekend.
21st - Surprise, surprise a preview of this afternoon's game that
doesn't concentrate on any "Rangers-mad" Saints players.
Nick Dasovic(right) is out to impress
Starkers to ensure there's no
dressing-room clearout. "It's human nature that when a new
manager comes in one of the first things you think about is how it will
affect your future. I suppose everyone tries that bit harder to impress
the new gaffer and convince him he doesn't need to make major changes. So
far Billy hasn't drastically changed things and everyone has started with
a clean sheet. He's had two games with us now and has come in with a
positive attitude. There are a few subtle differences in training, our
approach to the games and the general atmosphere at the club. He's told us
we must defend as a team because we've conceded too many goals and a lot
of time has been spent on making us tighter as a unit. Our current
situation is a worry but in this crazy league two wins puts you in with
the pack while two defeats can drop you in serious trouble. To be honest I
think we should have won more games than we have and were unlucky not to
get the breaks. A good result against Rangers and the confidence we'd take
from it would be a springboard to a better run. Psychologically it would
make a big difference and things would seem brighter."
7.00pm - A good performance but poor finishing saw us lose 2-0 to TFOD. After the game Starkers was optimistic though and said "I think disappointment is always the first thing you feel after a defeat but I think for us the good things outweighed the bad. We had Rangers under a fair bit of pressure and need to do that more often. We took the game to Rangers and had a lot of offensive players in our team.".........which is the sort of comment to get the pundits laughing (who is our most offensive player?).
Finally and don't be surprised to see a new face in the line up next weekend with the club set to bring in an unnamed defender in time for what is looking to be a BIG match at East End Park next Saturday.
20th - This afternoon's SPL matches saw the Sheep beat the Pars 3-2
whilst TFOE and "Ambitious" Meadowbank both had 5-1 wins over
the Arabs and Killie respectively.
Not much news about our game tomorrow which brings me onto another rant. Today's papers contain little real Saints news in the previews instead content to concentrate ont he thoughts of "Peaso" and regaling us with tails of the wacky antics he got up to with Gazza etc in TFODland. Personally I think it's about time the club tried to put a stop to this sort of shit in the papers. I can't be the only Saints fan sick and tired of seeing the same old crap about how wonderful the opposition is and how "Rangers-daft" or "Celtic-mad" a particular Saints player is especially the day before a big game against the OF. These players should remember who pays their wages - they might be the usual lifelong fans of the OF but that is absolutely no excuse for rubbing the noses of the fans that follow them and Saints in it every time. I just hope for his sake tomorrow that we don't see MacDonald have a really bad game - the last thing we need just now is a reason for the Saints supporters to further question the commitment of any of the side.
19th - Season ticket holders get their chance to see what
Starkers has planned when Saints hold a
meet the manager night at McD on the 25th October at 6.30pm. The event
takes place in the Centenary Suite where you'll need to flash your season
ticket to get in. Speaking of the meet the manager night next Thursday
Starkers said "I recognise the
importance of the supporters and we're all in this together. This is their
club and I'm sure they will want to sound me out and I'm certainly keen on
opening up direct lines of communication with them. It will be an informal
setting and hopefully there will be a good turn-out."
Meanwhile the injuries are mounting ahead of Sunday's game. Ross Forsyth, Benito Kemble and Darren Jackson(right) all picked up knocks in training and the U-21 game this week with the latter two likely candidates to miss out against TFOD. Rachid Djebailihas joined the doubtful list for Sunday after picking up an Achilles injury with Algeria last weekend where he came off the bench to play up front again.
Starkers isn't too bothered about the performance as long as we get the points. "The most important thing for us just now is to start picking up points. Rangers will be coming into this game with confidence following their win in Europe on Thursday night, but this might also work against them It would be great for the fans if we could pull of a win on Sunday and really get back on the tracks."
17th - Stuart Dougal has been
confirmed as the referee for the Rangers game this Sunday.
Pistol Pete(right) or "Peaso" has he seems intent on being called has amazingly enough confessed to being a fan of TFOD. Speaking of Sunday's forthcoming battle with his former teammates from the Death Star, he said, "It will be good to see a few old faces, but it will be a bit strange for me. I'm still a Rangers fan and I always will be, but on Sunday I'll be Peaso of St Johnstone and I will do everything I can to get a win. The fans up here have been great to me and, even though we lost to Dundee United the other night in the CIS Cup, I heard them singing "Peaso, Peaso" when I came off the park. That gave me a great lift and I want to give them even more to sing about, starting on Sunday. It is a pity that Sandy has gone because he signed me, and I will always be grateful for that. He also threw me straight into the first-team and that was a huge gamble for him. But Billy Stark has been great too and Billy Kirkwood is a good guy."
Finally the Saints U-18s continued the run of defeats this week going down 2-1 to Ross County in the Youth Cup.
16th- Saints U-21s lost 3-1 at Motherwell last night.
Craig Russell scored for us in injury
Meanwhile, Paul Kane is out for another 3 weeks with a torn calf muscle. There is some good news though with Graeme Jones set to resume training next week. In addition, both Ross Forsyth and Paddy Connolly are being monitored for minor knocks.
It looks like Starkers will be going for loan players to see us through the troubles though saying "There are times when a quick fix is more important than looking long- term so another loan deal is a real possibility."
On the international scene, Algeria beat Burkina Faso 2-0 last night.
October 15th- Cap'n Jim underwent knee surgery on Friday and is out until December as he recovers which means it will be all the more interesting to see the new master plan that Starkers has to cover for him.....odds are a new central defender now tops the club shopping list.
14th- As could be guessed yesterday old
Starkers was a bit dischuffed with his
players. Pot-match he said, "We didn't start the game well but
Hearts didn't start too well either. They looked a wee bit fragile, but
the goal changed things and they got a lift from that and thoroughly
deserved to win the game. I would hope that was maybe as poor a
performance as we can have. We were second to every ball, didn't compete
properly, didn't react and of course, what comes off of that is that
you're not in any position to control the game or pass the ball or try to
create things. At the end of the day we got what we deserved. They plodded
on manfully in the second half, trying to keep going, which we always
encourage them to do even though the game's over. I have to say though,
the judgements had to be made taking into account that some of them played
for 2 hours on Tuesday night. I don't want to use that as an excuse,
because you would still expect effort, but they certainly looked a tired
team out there today."
As for the future of the squad he said, "When you come in, you look to the initial game for lots of things. I think a football manager always has to find a positive way of looking at things, and for me the first league game and that performance allowed me to look at certain things where if we'd kept that performance going it would cloud your judgement a bit. That won't happen now because I'm certainly looking for better than we got today. But there's no point in kidding anyone that we can change players in 7 or 8 positions. I don't want to be too hard on the players because you have to balance it against Tuesday night because the game was won - and you have to look at the consequences of last season as well. They've not been able to win a game and then they got the late sickener on Tuesday night - but we'll work to eradicate that. It was as you'd expect - we got the first goal on Tuesday night and we went on to play well - and over the 90 minutes I don't think that many would have grudged us a victory. But goals influence games and the first thing you need to do is defend properly.".....so a new defender is on the shopping list then
13th- Well let's hear it for the Retard's pre-match article which
says that Starkers(right) has "has
taken on an impossible job with the hapless Saints ". The man
himself is a bit more pragmatic though saying "I'm relishing this
as obviously you're going to be judged on results. I'm just delighted to
get the opportunity to get my teeth into this again. We have to improve on
our position at the moment and try to improve the performances. I don't
want to be accused of being under-ambitious but I'm looking to get off the
mark with the first win and maintain the club's Premier League status. I'm
definitely looking forward to it and I admit it's a job with pressure but
nowadays what job hasn't got pressure? I've just got to perform to the
best of my ability and hope the results come and we get that little bit of
luck needed." ........damn and he was doing so well until the
L-word. Still he is impressed with the set-up though. "It's
exactly the way I perceived it to be with the good people at the club. St
Johnstone are a well run club who have established themselves in the
Premier League. We have good players here and for some reason the team
haven't got the results but hopefully we can preserve our Premier League
8.30pm - A totally dire performance saw Saints well and truly gubbed 3-0 at Tynecastle with not even a glimmer of optimism for the travelling fans that Starkers has managed to turn things round. We've changed the manager, maybe now it's time to swing the major changes with the players. After the game, the manager said "As this is my first game this performance allows me to look at things and see what needs to be done. We looked tired, but didn't compete properly and got what we deserved.". Not a happy man then.
12th-Starkers has been commenting
on the team's performance for his first game in charge. He said, "There
are two things to take out of a game-the result and the performance-and
they dont always match up. The result was a hard one to take but
these things happen in football and there is no way you can legislate for
losing a goal in the 92nd minute. But the performance we put in more than
matched Dundee Uniteds and, while there were a few things went
wrong, we can work on those and put them right. There were quite a few
positive aspects we can take from the game. It was a good team performance
and we tried to play as a team and competed for the whole match. There
were also some good individual performances. We are always looking for
constant improvement, even when we have done really well. When you dont
do that, you are inviting complacency and we all know there is no room for
that at the moment."
Tomorrow's side will be picked from the same squad minus the suspended. Cap'n Jim, and Marc McCulloch who's picked up a groin strain. Windy will make his debut.
Remember that despite stories to the contrary, Hearts have confirmed that despite the game being labelled all-ticket Saints fans can buy briefs at the ground right up until kick-off from the ticket booths behind the main stand.
11th- Little in the papers today. Apart from the news on
Windy the new keeper, the only other
tidbit is that Cap'n Jim is set to spend
his fortnight off heading South to get treatment for a niggling hamstring
Rachid Djebaili(right) has kept his place in a 22-man squad named by Algeria for Sunday's friendly international against Burkina Faso in Annaba after he made his Algeria debut in the abortive friendly against France last Saturday in Paris. All of which means he won't be facing the Gorgie Gits at the weekend. Oh joy. Even better is the forthcoming African Nations Cup in Mali in January which could also deprive Starkers of his services (not that he's likely to have even seen him play by that time).
Meanwhile Starkers isn't ruling out new keeper Windy Miller's loan deal being made permanent although with the player on a reputed £10,000 per week at Blackburn it would mean a big wage cut to say the least for him to move to Saints.
10th- With Saints' interest in the cup ended last night it's time
to concentrate on the SPL and for Billy
Stark to stamp his own authority on the side. Hopefully that will
start with a new keeper being signed today. Latest names in the frame for
the job are Dmitri Kharine, Derek Stillie and Stewart Kerr.
Well we did sign a keeper. 31-yr old Alan Miller(right) has signed a 3-month loan deal from Blackburn Rovers with Saints.Starkers said "We are delighted to have signed Alan on this loan deal. Kevin has done very well for us but we wanted more support in that position." Despite the prophets of doom and gloom amongst certain sections of the support last night the word from the press conference and the changing room is that Starkers has managed to improve morale and got a bit more belief going round the team. Reports say that training has been totally revamped with the emphasis on teamwork. It's not good news for all the players though. The manager believes in giving youth a chance ahead of experience so it could spell trouble ahead with reduced first team involvement for what would be politely referred to as the "veteran journeymen" in the side - Willie Falconer, Benito Kemble, Darren Jackson etc.
One likely change is the introduction at Swinecastle of teenage right-back David McClune. Fresh back from injury the teenager is set to take over from Stuart McCluskey in defence whilst Chopper gets a game in the centre in place of Cap'n Jim. The big question has to be what will happen in midfield though - not exactly firing on all cylinders last night the demands are growing for Rachid Djebaili to get a chance to show what he can do whilst Craig Russell must be pressing for a play on the left or up front.
Prices for Saturday have been confirmed - £16 for adults and £7 for brats and auld yins although the good news is that it looks like we're at least getting the comfy seats in the Roseburn end as opposed to sitting in the deathtrap of the main stand. On the minus side it removes the fun part of watching the Pieman being totally slagged by all the fans around him.
9th- Just over 3 years ago, Saints went into a League Cup tie
planning to impress a new manager. Within a year we were in Europe. The
ambitions are a bit more modest this time but Jim
Weir(right) is hoping for a repeat at Tannalice tonight before he
starts a 2-match ban. "We are all under scrutiny at the moment
because of our performances so far this season and everybody will be keen
to impress straight away. We've had a good record there in my time at the
club. We know how hard the game will be, though, because Alex Smith has
got them playing for each other and theyre coming off a good win at
Hearts. Theres been a wee spark in training-which is a bit
disappointing in a way because there should always be a spark-but weve
got to move forward now and believe we can win games. It's not an ideal
start for me with a new manager coming in but I'll just have to take my
punishment because this suspension was my own fault. I may well find that
I'll be faced with a tough job getting back into the team if the boys do
well while Im out. Ive worked with Billy before when he was
assistant at Hamilton and when Ive been doing coaching courses at
Largs and hell know my strengths. Im certainly familiar with
him and its good to work with someone youve enjoyed a good
relationship with. He was very popular at Hamilton and I know the
Kilmarnock players felt the same when he was there. Hes got a lot of
respect in the game and theres no doubt hell be a hands-on
coach. Theres no magic formula but Im sure Billy wouldnt
be here if he didnt think he could turn things around. Cup games are
always exciting to play in and its a break from the league, which were
struggling with just now. We got a good result against Clyde in the last
round and its important we put in a good performance at Tannadice."
Billy Stark is looking to build up the players self-belief first. "Theres an easy solution to putting that right -getting a couple of wins. The hard part is getting those wins. We're trying to build the players self-belief. Having been in this situation as a player and a manager, when you have a rough spell and you go behind in games its natural that you think, Here we go again. And if you get in front you get nervous because you think you could lose one. So we need to try and ingrain the mental strength that it takes to get a 1-0 win, for example. Its a very fine line. Theres no real secret other than trying to get players believing in themselves and hope that we get the breaks at the right time." ....well that sounds confident then. As for the new keeper search all he said was "There's nothing concrete to report. Hopefully we'll have someone in before the Hearts match. But if we win this derby we're in the quarter-finals. Players here who tasted a final against Rangers in recent seasons will want to get there again."
As for team selection don't expect any real surprises with the manager expected to go with a similar line-up to the one that faced Well. Remember it's a 7.30 kick-off tonight with admission set at a tenner for adults and fiver for concessions.
Looking ahead in the SPL and Tom Brown has been appointed ref for the trip to Tynecastle on Saturday. The SPL powers-that-be have also confirmed that the midweek card planned for Jan 30th has been moved to Saturday November 10th, a week that was originally intended to be kept free for the internationals. Which means we get our 2nd trip to Rugby Park out of the way before Xmas.
11.00pm - Well there was some improvement in the performance tonight but slack defending in the 93rd minute (I mean ferfuxsake!!) saw the Arabs snatch an equaliser to put the match into extra time which we lost 3-2 to end the cup hopes. Some promise in the side but the opinions in the massive travelling support were plain - Billy Stark has to start dumping some names. The manager had this to say "These things happen in football. I've experienced these situations before and they're hard to take. I saw encouraging signs in our performance - they played really well. United pushed bodies into our box and we defended too deep. Until then we looked like winning the game. We competed well and reacted to the first ball all the time. It's a hard one to take and sometimes you think 'why me?' but you have to get on with it. There's tests put in front of you and get through them. Maybe it's not a bad thing tonight with the performance we had - perhaps on Saturday we'll get the breaks. It was a spirited performance and it's unfortunate we didn't get the result." . At least no mention of workrate or attitude.
Finally a warning about the game at Tynecastle on Saturday - the match is all-ticket but tickets for away fans will be on sale at the main stand before kick-off.
October 8th- The hunt for a new keeper has so far proved fruitless so Kevin Cuthbert will start the game at Tannadump tomorrow night. Elsewhere there are no new injury worries so far and the Arabs will also be at full strength. The Boss with no nickname is still looking though and said "It would be unfair to put the whole weight of expectation that Kevin will be our first choice for the rest of the season on his shoulders."
7th- Pistol Pete reckons the
new manager will be a boost to the Saints performances. : "Billy
had a wee chat with us after training and he's positive about our
prospects. We all just want to get off the bottom of the league. It's nice
to have scored a few goals and it's up to me to keep that going if the
gaffer picks me. Guys like Darren Jackson
and Willie Falconer have helped me
settle in and given me tips on how I can improve parts of my game."
Meanwhile, Rachid Djebaili is due back in the country after the France v Algeria game in Paris which was abandoned in the 2nd half due to a pitch invasion with the French winning 4-1. He came on as a sub in the 66th minute. Lots more info at the FFF website.
October 6th- With Billy Stark now in place (suggestions for a nickname to the usual address), Saints ar enow turning their attention to getting a keeper. Not surprisingly Andy Goramis still in the frame although the new boss was playing his cards very close to his chest saying "There is no secret that the goalkeeping situation, with the injury to Alan Main, has to be addressed quickly. As far as Andy Goram goes, I will need to speak to Billy Kirkwood, who has been on that situation amidst the uncertainty about the new manager, and now thats been settled Ill talk to him and take it from there. Andy Goram was a world-class keeper when he was at his peak and has proved over the last few years he can still play. But whether he is right for St Johnstone and St Johnstone is right for him remains to be seen." ....which is about as cryptic as you can get.
5th- A strong Saints side lost 2-0 at Arbroath in the Forfarshire
Cup last night with 2 first-half goals deciding the game. And to make
matters worse it was a pretty strong Saints side that played with
Darren Jackson and
Craig Russell all playing.
No official comment from the club yesterday as to any moves for a new manager, but Steve Paterson is regarded as favourite for the McD hotseat. The board are coming in for some criticism though as several members are now in Spain on a golfing holiday !! Meanwhile the Aberdeen Press & Journal report that Neale Cooper has actually applied for the job.Other names mentiones include Jocky Scott, Jimmy Bone (as if), John Brown (ditto) and Paul Hegarty.
Meanwhile, Billy Kirkwood, with last night all but finishing his potential for the job, has drawn up a list of possible keeper signings although time is running short a new manager getting anyone in ahead of Tuesday's CIS match.
6.30pm - Well it just goes to show what we know. An 11.30am press conference today caught us all out with the surprise appointment of Billy Stark(right) as the new Saints boss.Billy Kirkwood will remain at the club as assistant manager. Ian Dewar said "From day one Billy Stark has been high on our list of potential candidates and I am absolutely delighted that we have secured his services. We have no doubts that he and Billy Kirkwood will take the club forward."
Full of confidence, the new boss, who has been given a 3-year contract said "Sometimes events surprise you, sometimes they don't, and I am just thrilled and delighted to get an opportunity at a club like St Johnstone. It was a job that was very appealing to me from the outset and Tommy was another scenario. They are a Scottish Premier League club and that is what I wanted. St Johnstone are a very good, well-run club - of course things could be better than they are at the moment but we have got to try to sort it out and I think that we have a strong squad.Hopefully I have most of the qualities it takes to to be a good manager, one of the main ones being luck." ......you can guess the rest. Of Tuesday's match he said "This is a tremendous opportunity for me and while things could certainly be better at the moment the nature of the game is such that fortunes can change quickly. It's not usually the case that a new manager will bring about sudden, dramatic improvement - I'm looking for constant improvement in the months ahead starting next Tuesday."
We're still awaiting official confirmation that the new club song will be "Hail, Hail, We Are All Billys Boys" (note the pathetic attempt to avoid offending any of the religious-challenged attenders at OF matches. The vice heidyin also hit out at reports of Saints being in dire financial straits and being forced to sell players. He said "There is no financial crisis at this club - we are not in the business of selling our best players. There is money there for Billy Stark if it is needed. There is as much as we can sensibly make available. We're not in the situation where we have to sell somebody tomorrow. We're a selling club but it doesn't make us a selling today club. It means we're trying to give these young guys the best chance and that's what we have to do. If you're trying to compete with bigger clubs to attract the youngsters, you have to give them something and that's one thing we can say to them that they will have a chance of getting into the first team. But we're not looking to sell anyone tomorrow and there's no crisis here."
Whilst not my personal choice for the job, an opinion shared by a fair number of the Saints fans going by the messages on the websites (the best description I've seen of the appointment being "underwhelming") it's vital that we *all* give him our *full* backing on Tuesday night and in the coming games. It's not right that we can expect miracles at the club straight away (although it would be nice) and the manager must be given time to settle in the job and hopefully establish his own style. What that will entail is open to question with his previous experience at Morton not exactly the best. The appointment of Billy Kirkwood as his assistant is an interesting one as well. While it's good to see the board aim for some sort of continuity at the club it will be interesting to see how much influence he will have over the team selection at Tannadump. Anyway all the best in the new job Billy, just play attacking, sexy football and show of our wonderful youth policy. Also remove the following from your vocabulary - workrate, attitude, "no easy games", "this is really a 10 team division", "Dundee is a nice place really" and you'll be OK with me.
Finally congratulations to Peter MacDonald who was named SPL Young Player of the month for September.
4th- With the Tommy Burns deal off, Steve Paterson of Caley
Thistle now appears to be top of the candidate's list for the managers
position. Vice-chairman Ian Dewar is
playing his cards close to his chest though, saying "We were
talking to Tommy but he was one of two or three people on our list. This
is one avenue we were exploring which is now closed but we are continuing
to pursue other routes and still hope to make a decision as quickly as
possible. It would not be accurate to say we had offered the job to Tommy
Burns. We always knew we had breathing space because of the international
weekend but we are aware there is an important CIS Cup game looming on
Tuesday against Dundee United. Billy
Kirkwood, whose name is still in the frame, remains in charge of
team affairs. Our priority is still to secure a new manager as quickly as
possible but it has to be the right decision for St Johnstone Football
Club. I would prefer not to be drawn into a public debate on the matter of
candidates. We won't be saying any more until we're in a position to make
a definite announcement." .
The papers reckon that money was the stumbling block for the Burns deal and also report that Billy Kirkwood is believed to be the players' choice, although how unanimous that is remains unclear. One player disappointed with Burns not coming, not surprisingly, is Pope (right) who said "It's the club's decision about who they want in but I'm disappointed it's not Tommy. I've got a lot of admiration for him as a manager and as a man but it's not to be and that is a bit sad for me. I think if they had got Tommy it would have showed their ambition in capturing a manager of his quality." ... followed up by the usual paper talk about how wonderful TommyBurns (no space) is. He's also backing the caretaker now though. "The players let Sandy down and it wasn't his fault he lost his job. But we've got a good bunch of players and hopefully we can get a manager in quickly to change things. Dundee United were in the same situation last season, so it can turn around quickly. Once we get the first win things will look better. Billy is still here and he can take charge until the club get a manager but I think for everyone's sake that has to be soon. If it's Billy then that is fair enough because he is a capable manager. He knows what he is talking about and I don't think giving it to him would be such a bad idea."
Paterson was one of the names mentioned when Sandy got the job - since then he's established Caley Thistle in the 1st Division. However the Highlanders are apparently in financial difficulties with the prospect of part-time football looming and their manager does have a gentleman's agreement to move if an SPL club comes in despite having 2 years of his current contract to run.
19.30 - The Caley Thistle vice-chairman Ken Thomson has confirmed the Inverness club won't stand in Paterson's way if he wants to move to Saints. "There is no way that we would stand in Steve's way. It has always been agreed with him that, if he got an offer, we wouldn't. We have that policy with any manager or player.We are not surprised that St Johnstone are interested in him because he is a tremendous manager.He has done an absolutely fantastic job here and we would be very sorry to see him go if he went. We do not know the situation at the moment but, if he is going on to better stuff, we would not stand in his way."....which makes it look all the more likely he'll be the next Saints boss.
3rd- Whilst discussions were still ongoing late last night, most
papers seem convinced that Tommy Burns will be unveiled as the new
Saints boss today with an announcement expected from the club this
morning. Although nothing's definite it's not stopped the media assuming
Burns will be in place at either McD or Fir Park by the end of this week
and all his ex-Sellik colleagues are being dragged out in a series of
rent-a-quotes with Peter Grant's stuff in the Retard a classic.
""He's not only a top coach, he's a good guy. He doesn't
suffer fools gladly but as long as people work hard for him they will get
enjoyment from playing under him. If he takes over at Saints or Well it
would be a fantastic appointment because he is so meticulous and wants his
team to play with enjoyment. He will try to turn them into Brazilians. He
could be on the training ground two-and-a-half hours a day trying to
improve people. He is all about getting players to perform at their very
best, working with the ball and improving."
The same Wegie rag meanwhile is also running a nice scare story for the new manager and the fans saying that Saints "cash worries" mean we'll be selling more players. Although careful reading of the small print shows that the cash worries and quote from the chairman are basically a 2-week-old report culled straight from the club's accounts. Get a life guys.
Billy Kirkwood was still caretaker boss yesterday though and spent the day searching for a new keeper. "What I am doing is phoning around trying to put together a portfolio of available goalkeepers in case that is of help to the new manager" . The Forfarshire Cup tie at Gayfield tomorrow night should see both Craig Russell and David McClune continue their comebacks.
6.40pm - Tommy Burns won't be the new Saints boss. A lunchtime announcement confirmed what we'd expected with the talks with Burns breaking down and both parties deciding to "mutually end discussions". No reason has been given with the club saying that they don't "want to comment on the reasons at the current time" but most believe that problems over both Burns' salary and the amount of cash to strengthen the squad were at the root of the split. The club are now set to resart the search for the new manager although with less than a week to go until the CIS cup match the pressures on the board to appoint a new man (or woman) are growing. First things first though, and the board have to oversee the return of the spaces to "St. Johnstone Football Club" literature following the green-tinged-greying ginger ones decision to remain in the East End of Glasgow.
As for the names, expect the usual ones to be dragged up again although with Motherwell set to have a board meeting tomorrow morning it looks like the list might be another one short with Ian McCall likely to be the favourite for one of the SPL jobs, although with a pedigree of abusing the clothing and footwear of a Scumdee boss in Simon "Trendy Wanker" Stainrod, it seems as though the man was born to manage Saints.
2nd- Bad news first and Alan
Main(right) has been told he could be out of action for a YEAR
with his broken leg. After spending 2 nights in the PRI getting his leg
reset and put into plaster the keeper hopes to be back by the start of
next season "It is a long, long time, I know. However, if that is
what it is going to take, then thats what it is going to take. The
most important thing is that I get back playing again, that I dont
allow this injury to finish my career. I have spoken to a few people in
the game and the consensus seems to be that if I work hard I might be able
to make it back in eight to 10 months. That would be great as it would
give me the pre-season to get myself fully fit for the start of the
2002/03 campaign. I wont push it, though. You have to listen to the
experts in cases like this and thats exactly what I intend to do. In
a years time I am still only going to be 33, which isnt old
for a goalkeeper. The last couple of seasons have been hard for me but I
should still have a good few years ahead of me."
"The surgeons and nursing staff, who have all been fantastic with me since the injury, have stressed the need to look forward now, not back, which is what I intend to do. I knew I was going to get clattered as soon as the lad failed to control the ball but when it came the pain wasnt all that bad. People have asked me, Didnt you hear the crack?-but to be honest I didnt hear anything at all. At first I thought I had just suffered a sore shin and waved my hands at the physio to tell him just to give me a minute because I would be OK. Kevin was screaming with pain at the time and I can remember thinking, Oh, oh, he has suffered a really bad one. It was about the third time I looked down at my own leg that I realised it was me that was in trouble as it had gone lumpy and wasnt looking good at all. As soon as I saw that I pulled my gloves off and shouted to the medics, Youll need to get me off, I have broken my leg. I was pleasantly surprised when I later discovered that Kevin hadnt broken anything."
Nick Dasovic and Tommy Løvenkrands have both visited the keeper already along with caretaker manager Billy Kirkwood(right) who said "Alan has taken this setback exactly the right way. You need to stay positive in these circumstances and that is just what he is doing. Recovery times are getting quicker and quicker with all the advances in medical technology . Confirming the move last week for Andy Goram, he said, "We had a look at Andy last week with a view to getting him for the Motherwell match but it is not going to happen now. The club need somebody experienced in right now, not in two weeks time. I have been compiling lists of guys who could do the job, but no more than that as a new manager could be coming in and the likelihood would be that he would have his own ideas about who he wanted to bring in"
The last statement seems to confirm that he's given up on the job. However, reports say that a statement on the next manager is due from the club today with the latest being an attempt to thrash our a financial package to bring Tommy Burns to Saints from Sellikfootballclub where he's believed to be on a six-figure salary as head of youth development. The club are keen to get someone on board before the CIS match next Tuesday.
Finally to round off a fun day Jim Weir has amassed enough penalty points to miss out on the next 2 SPL games against Hearts and Rangers.
6.30pm Update - Latest story is that Tommy Burns(right) has been in Perth all day in talks with the club. The talks are expected to go on for the next few hours and a final decision one way or the other will be reached by tomorrow. The media at least have made their minds up with Soccernet (in a pretty one-sided article) already speaking to Tommy's ex-boss Kenny Dalglish who said "Tommy will go there and prove any last remaining doubters wrong. His coaching and management skills are second to none". Billy Kirkwood remains in charge though and is set to give some of the fringe players a run out at Gayfield on Thursday night for the Forfarshire Cup-tie against Arbroath.
Meanwhile the Retard is reporting that Andy Goram is set to be offered an 18-month deal to come to Saints although given that both reports quote Goram's agent it's probably best taken with a pinch of salt. Coventry have also denied anything saying "Andy is not going anywhere. He has expressed an interest to stay with Coventry and that's where he will be staying."
1st- Getting away from the manager bit and reports from Ingerlund
confirm that both Liverpool and Leeds Utd have had
Kiegan Parker(right) watched in recent
weeks with the Motherwell performance leading Leeds coach Eddie Gray
to admit that the teenage star striker is a target for the Premiership
side. Whether or not Saints would sell one of their biggest assets in the
middle of the current crisis at the club remains to be seen although the
seven-figure sum which would be required to let him go, could go a long
way to boosting the transfer coffers and bank account of the club in time
for the new manager (whoever he or she is) coming in.
Off the park though the hunt for the manager and the Courier says that Billy Stark has also met with representatives of the club and could be set to move to McD either as assistant to Tommy Burns or as a boss in his own right although the latter isn't as likely with both Ian McCall and Steve Paterson believed to have stronger claims for the managers post. One interesting move yesterday was that the wee leprechaun O'Neill confirmed he has given permission for Tommy Burns to speak to other clubs about a move saying "Tommy has spoken to me about it and is going to make his mind up. Hes a young man with lots to do and hes got a job here - but sometimes managers want to go and do a job. If he goes Ill send him there with my blessing. Hes got a lot to do and a lot to offer the game." .....no doubt he really, really means that.
Back on the park and John Paul McBride refused to speak post-match on the manager situation (despite our chums in the Wegie press looking for an ex-Sellik man to comment on Burns) but did speak about the result saying, "The story of our season, really. They have caught us on the break on two occasions when we were pushing forward looking to stretch our lead, then got another sucker punch in as we were trying to get the winner. We have a big battle ahead of us now if we are to get back into the pack but I still believe we can do it. Dundee United were in the same situation last season and they managed to get out of it and stay in the division so I dont see why we cant. Getting the first victory is the hard thing. Once we have done that I am sure we can go on and put together a bit of a run." . Of course we're being helped by the Pars who yesterday suffered their 7th defeat in a row and remain only 3 point ahead of us.
And just to rub salt into the wounds, TV pictures have shown that Well's Stephen Nicholas used an arm to control the ball for the first goal. Thanks Dallas.
5.45pm - One name which looks set to be removed from the shortlist is ex-Celtic no 2 Eric Black. Media reports today say that Stewart Duff made an approach last week but was rejected. However a new "late contender" has come into the frame with Ross County's Neale Cooper being mentioned, whilst ex-Jambo and current Bradford boss Jim Jeffries is also an outside bet. All Ian Dewar said today though was , "No-one has been offered the job and other interviews have been lined up for the coming days."
It's been confirmed that it'll be a tenner for adults and a fiver for kids to get into next week's CIS cup-tie at Tannadice, which is a good deal.
Top Of News
30th - Confirmation that Alan Main
has fractured his left shin although some reports suggest that he was back
at McD by the end of the game - obviously though he'll be missing for a
while with reports suggesting he's out for the season. Oh and let's hear
is for the Sunday Mail who twice
managed to refer to our sub keeper as Keith Cuthbert (including
one which was a quote from Billy Kirkwood).
Latest on the Tommy Burns story is that the Sellik youth development officer isn't making any comment on a possible move to "StJohnstoneFootballClub" as we're about to be christened. "There is nothing I can comment on at this moment in time," he said.
29th - Cap'n Jim has reiterated his
plea for the home fans to get behind the team today (hopefully they will
given that they've got one less person to moan at). "We had a
good result the other night but now its back to the bread and butter
of the league. It is a very important game for us because Motherwell,
although our closest rivals, have a three-point start on us and we cannot
afford to lose again.We need to start getting results, especially in our
home games. Our home support have not had a lot to cheer about recently
yet there is absolutely no doubt that they can help us. If they are
patient and really get behind us then it will definitely do us good."
On the search for the new manager, Stewart Duff denied that the club had offered Judas the job. "Normally we don't comment on speculation but reports Paul has rejected an opportunity to return to Perth are wide of the mark. I can state categorically that Paul has not been offered the job. "
8.30pm - Well that was a shite day. Despite taking the lead twice through Paddy Connolly and Pistol Pete, sloppy defending saw Well snatch 2 late goals and eventually beat Saints 3-2 leaving us well and truly stranded at the foot of the table after a game watched by all of 3200 people. Even worse though was the first-half stretchering off of Alan Main(right) with a suspected broken leg. Billy Kirkwood, who's chances of making the caretaker position a permanent one have poretty much vanished said "Losing Alan was the turning point in the game. But I was disappointed in the way we lost the two goals in the second-half". Not much else for him to say really.
Of course the big talking points off the park concerned the new manager and interviewed on radio pre-match, Ian Dewar(right) confirmed that the club have spoken to Tommy Burns (with the media reporting a 2-hour dinner meeting at Gleneagles on Thursday evening), however contrary to what the Wegie Meedja are trying to read into things, no offer has been made with the vice-chairman saying that "It is not correct to say he has been offered the job - nobody has been offered the job. We are talking to two or three people and, although I would have preferred that we could carry on these discussions without it coming into the public domain, it clearly has, and I can confirm that one of those is Tommy Burns. He is high on anybody's list but at this stage we are talking to him as we are talking to other people. I can confirm that we have not made an offer to Tommy and we are not at the stage where we can do that to anyone.". No names have been mentioned but he did say that current "speculation would not be far off the mark"....which means the PA list is accurate.
There was also rumour in the stands today which suggested that a certain Andy "Flying Turd" Goram might soon require a nickname change as the keeper was being targetted by Sandy "I'm not bitter about being sacked at all" Clark as a short term replacement for Alan Main. No doubt events today will mean a more long-term goalkeeper signing taking place although I'd only expect that to happen once the new manager is in place.
Finallly let's hear it for the foresight and genius that is Alex Smith , the Scotland U-21 boss who yet again has managed to pick a squad totally free of Saints players - so no Cuthbert, Forsyth, Parker or Pistol Pete. A definite successor to Pa Broon there.
28th - The papers today report of a "wave of applications"
for the post of manager at McD. So far the confirmed list of applicants
(all of whom according to the PA sent in "unsolicited applications")
for the job of manager are : Walter Zenga, Bobby Gould (cue the
'new crazy gang' nonsense!) Frank Stapleton and Ian
Porterfield However another list in the paper is believed to detail
the favoured candidates (none of whom had applied as yet). Names here are:
Tommy Burns & Billy Stark (Believed to be the favoured choices of the board)
Judas (Reports elsewhere say he's not interested in a return - thank God)
Billy Brown - favourite according to some tabloids
Maurice Malpas - Unlikely
John Robertson (possibly with Allan Preston as his assistant) - Both currently at Livvy so unlikely although it isn't beyond the realms of possibility and would be a PR dream for the club
Eric Black (unlikely according to PA) - again a good choice for the fans
John Connolly - possibly too old and treat him as a dark horse for the job.
Today's PA also covers the sacking saying that Sandy was paid £100,000 to quit the club. Cap'n Jim is backing Billy Kirkwood as well with the usual comments about how the players are really to blame etc. : "Billy didn't go over the top with his criticism of the players. He was dead right. He got the desired reaction and winning was the be all and end all in midweek. Unfortunately when players don't perform on the park it's the manager who gets sacked. A lot of us have plenty to feel guilty about. When Sandy said his goodbyes this week it was typical that he took it on the chin and didn't give us stick. But now we have to look ahead and hopefully we will take confidence from the cup win. Past achievements here mean nothing and whether it's Billy or another candidate who gets the manager's job, we're all under pressure to perform. We are good enough to get out of this hole but now we have to do it, not just talk about it."
Team news for tomorrow should see the return of Darren Jackson to the side - he missed out due to family illness on Wednesday night (which kills of several conspiracy theories). Alan Main is also set to return despite Kevin Cuthbert's performance in midweek with Billy Kirkwood looking for experience. There will be no place for Rachid Djebaili with the fans expectations of him carrying his U-21 form up to the first team going on hold until the CIS Cup tie. The Belly is currently in France with the Algerian national squad for a couple of games against FC Zurich and the French national team next weekend.
It's been confirmed that the CIS Cup match will be played on Tuesday October 9th with a 7.30pm kick-off. In addition the SPL match against TFOD scheduled for Sat 20th has been put back to Sunday October 21st at 3pm due to the bigots still being in Europe.
27th - Pistol Pete has spoken
about how much leaving Castle Greyskull for the delights of Gods Pasture
has improved his game and career. Saints top scorer after last night's cup
win said, "I'm really loving it here because obviously at Ibrox
it would have been hard to break into the first team even if they would
have got injuries. I thought if I stayed there I just wouldn't get the
chance to make it because Kenny Miller, Billy Dodds and Marcus Gayle were
there in front of me - and that wasn't even mentioning the first-choice
strikers. So to get regular first-team football I knew I had to get away
and Sandy offered me a new contract. Now
I'm here I'm loving it and I know that's what I needed to do. I needed a
few games to get the confidence going and I knew I could score goals. I
just have to take it from there. But the boys have been brilliant, the way
I have been treated has been great and there's not one bad boy."
Meanwhile the first of the players has spoken out about the managerial situation. Paul Kane(right), currently out injured said, "Billy has been okay with us and the win against Clyde does his cause no harm at all. But it is a question which is best to ask the directors who can give you a straight answer. All the players will have their individual thoughts on the manager. The players have a bond with Billy so it is a start with him being there. They worked hard for Billy at Clyde and all he can do is hopefully win against Motherwell on Saturday to put his case forward. Only the board can answer that question though. We have the players to get out of it and a win at Motherwell will help us enormously."
Speaking of Sandy's sacking he said "At the end of the day, it was going to be a big week for the manager. It was a bit earlier than we expected because we knew that the Clyde and Motherwell games were going to be the ones he was judged on. It was a big week but the board made their decision and, as Billy keeps saying, it is all about the players. They are the ones fans come to see and are the ones who can change it on the park. I've got a calf injury but I'd like to be fit for the Dundee United game or for the new manager or Billy taking over."
The CIS Cup 3rd round draw has given us another away tie (and chance for some revenge) at Tannadice. The game will be played on Tuesday 9th or Wednesday 10th October. The other ties are Rangers v Airdrie, Raith v Hibernian, Dunfermline v Invernessn, Aberdeen v Livingston, Ross County v Dundee, Celtic v Stirling Albion and Ayr v Kilmarnock
More names are being added to the list of potential manager candidtates. Latest include Billy Stark, Lou Macari, Alex Miller, Jim Duffy and Maurice Malpas. Of course the vast majority should be taken with a large dollop of salt. It is good to see that from worrying that we couldn't come up with any candidates to replace Sandy though that the list is continuing to grow. The big question being asked though has to be - who on earth is the foreign coach that pays such close attention to Saints' affairs that he'll get his CV and application for the managers job sent off before the press conference has even taken place?
26th - As expected the media feedig frenzy on the wee provincial
club has started with the Retard leading with
Sandy's press conference quotes from
yesterday especially the loyalty ones - nothing new so no point in
Ian Dewar is reported in the Courier as saying that Billy Kirkwood will be in charge at least until the weekend before we have 2 free weeks to install a new manager. The paper also reports that the board favoured appointing someone with a knowledge of the Scottish game. And they are also keen on bringing in a demonstrative, passionate manager- someone in the Martin ONeill mould. which has to be expected with the clubs PR currently rock-bottom.
Billy Kirkwood meanwhile is looking to the future and said "I hope the club don't bypass me but if someone else gets the job I hope I can work with them. We have to get results in the next two games. We need a positive reaction from the players." . Other names already being mentioned include Jocky Scott, Tommy Burns, Allan Maitland, Tom Hendrie, Paul Hegarty, Billy Brown and Judas (of course)
Billy continued "It boils down to the players and thats not passing the buck. I think there are players here who could be doing a lot better than they have been. And if they are truthful then I think they would hold their hands up and say, Yes, I could do better. Punters turn up and theyll pay-£20 at Easter Road for example-a lot of money and be left watching people not giving it their best shot. And thats wrong. All I would say to anybody playing football is try your bloody hardest! But its getting them to do that. And its not just a problem at this club. Its the same all over Scotland and England. A lot of people are being paid a lot of money for doing very little and as a result people like Sandy and myself end up getting sacked. Sandy is possibly the most successful manager St Johnstone has had yet he loses his job because of the position the club are in at the moment and its the players who got us in that position." ....of course if that continues tonight then he can also rule himself out of the running a point not lost on him. "Forget me - I am irrelevant. This is about the players and the club. The players have got to get a performance for themselves and more importantly the club. You can do all the talking in the world and point them in the right direction. But the bottom line is we need a reaction from them. We require from them the kind of a performance we all know they are more than capable of. A lot of them have things in their locker they cannot produce for some reason at the moment. They need to look at themselves and give a wee bit more. There is only one person who can maybe complain he hasnt had a chance this season. Everyone else has had games so they cannot complain if they are left out. Sandy and I are both realistic and we knew it was going to be difficult after Sundays performance. We had a discussion yesterday morning about his position and mine and the fact that the games against Clyde and Motherwell were going to be difficult for us. But, while we expected that if these two matches didnt go well we might both be in trouble, the timing of Sandys sacking came as a surprise. The first inkling I got, like Sandy, was last night before the reserve game."
On the park and whilst it's confirmed that Kevin Cuthbert will continue in goal, some good news is available with Kiegan Parker(right) added to the squad after recovering from a chest infection.
11.30pm - Several changes to the side but a lacklustre performance still saw us beat Clyde 2-1 thanks to a couple of Peter MacDonald (right) penalties. Kevin Cuthbert managed to save one in the 90th minute but lost out on the club's first clean sheet thanks to a 91st minute goal. Still after the last couple of days most of us would have settled for that.
After the game Billy Kirkwood said, "It's all about the players as I've said before and they were fine. They showed the right attitude and they needed to because we knew this was going to be a hard game for us. We knew that in our position it was important to score first and we did that. It was also pleasing to see Peter MacDonald score twice, albeit with penalties and I thought overall we deserved the win. This is a start and I've just told the players that we need to stay concentrated for our next game against Motherwell."
25th - It was only a matter of time really. A strong Saint U-21
side were gubbed 4-0 by Killie last night - even better all the goals came
in the first half. Rachid Djebaili
and Troy McClune were both absent so
expect them to make some sort of appearance in the side against Clyde this
Rumours are already circulating that St. Sandy has been given the push but it seems more than likely he'll get until the weekend. With the understatement of the year, vice-chairman Ian Dewar last night said "Because Geoff won't be around stability is vital. The situation would have to be extreme before changing anything." ......which means he won't do anything without checking with his boss. It was also made clear that money will be made available to get Saints out of their current predicament - whether that goes in a managerial pay-off remains to be seen. And note that unlike some papers the CIS Cup tie is Wednesday.
6.00pm - Well what a day. Sandy was sacked at 6pm last night as he prepared to take in the U-21 game when he was called into a meeting with vice-chairman Ian Dewar. The official statement released at an 11am press conference and signed byIan Dewar(pictured with Stewart Duff)said "St Johnstone Football Club announce the termination of the contract of manager Sandy Clark.This is not a decision which has been taken lightly but in view of our run of results from the start of the year with just two wins in 24 matches during that period, it was felt that a change of manager was necessary. The Board recognises and appreciates Sandy Clark's achievements and contributions to the football club, particularly in his first season, but the deterioration in results has proved a cause for considerable concern. We wish Sandy Clark well in the future."
Later Dewar said "I think the game on Sunday tipped the balance. This season started badly and we kicked off with four straight defeats and the Livingston game was crucial. We failed to win that and the game at Hibs was a disappointing result and a disappointing performance so we came to the decision on Monday. But it wasn't at all (a knee-jerk reaction). The greatest risk to St Johnstone Football Club was to not act now. The decision was a unanimous decision by the board of directors, including the Chairman, Geoff Brown as we decided there was only so long we could live with poor results. Billy Kirkwoodis in charge in the interim period and indeed Billy has put forward his own interest in the manager's position which pleases us greatly. We are open minded as to who the new manager might be, that's to say we are not specifically targeting someone with vast experience or otherwise. All options will be carefully considered and the most important thing is not to rush this appointment even though we have to start acting now on the decision. We have already received applications for the post, including overseas applications. Ideally we will look for someone who has experience of the Scottish game. The Club's resources will be made available to the new manager."
The club have already received applications for the job (word travels fast these days) but Dewar said "We have not approached anybody because we need to get the right person in at this moment. We've received a number of applications already and we'll continue to give it a great deal of thought and look at it - but these things take time.". Billy Kirkwood(right) meanwhile takes charge of team affairs for the CIS Cup match tomorrow night.
A shocked looking Sandy though admitted his disappointment at getting the sack. "Basically I am very disappointed - I think that's the best way of putting it. I didn't think I would see a situation like this, but I know in football that these things happen. But I am still disappointed with the way things panned out.". He also said he felt the board had acted too hastily and that his loyalty to the club had not been reciprocated
Meanwhile Stewart Duff is blaming the fans for sacking the manager with the almost unbelievable quote of "After looking at the [official] website and some of the fans unofficial ones, it was quite hostile towards Sandy". Maybe he should have sat with the away support at Easter Rd instead? To me it just smacks of another example of the clubs apathy to the opinions of fans. Leaving aside the matter of the manager, perhaps the club's directors and Stewart Duff would benefit from sitting amongst the away fans instead of lording it up with their fellow directors tomorrow night.
I suppose it's time for another Temple editorial then, so here's my thoughts on our ex-manager.
Sandy had been at the club for just over 3 years and whilst it's sad to see his managerial career with Saints end on such a sour note (especially after all the promise of a youth policy and sexy football), let's hope the fans remember some of the good times he brought us. A League Cup final, Scottish Cup semi-final, wins over both halves of the OF and of course the delights of Monaco and Vaasa in the UEFA Cup. Of course the moaners (and aren't they coming home to roost like vultures picking over a carcass) will say he had Sturrocks players to work with but the point was that it was Sandy who was in charge for that season.
Unfortunately he wasn't the most media or fan-friendly manager (especially to a club who had the experience of Alex Tottens style a few years ago) and this has probably contributed a fair part towards the current state of affairs. In addition his signings never really won the fans over (Momo excepted) although a combination of injuries didn't help matters. Finally, and as was highlighted on Sunday, he was left wanting tactically and this season has seen a succession of almost panic buys in an effort to shore up an ageing side. Perhaps if he'd stuck by the youngsters that we starting to come through the production line last season and got rid of the dross earlier (the name Bollan springs to mind) things might have improved.
That's all hypothetical though and it's probably best that the club and manager part company now. He has left us a good legacy of a youth policy which is arguably stronger than at any time in the club's history along with a local scouting system which is reaping the results of the investment over the last 3 years and if for nothing else we should be grateful for that. As for some of the moaners (and you know who you are) who are talking of "throwing a party" perhaps they should remember that having to sack someone is never a good experience at a club or in any walk of life and at the end of it all we're left with more uncertainty and Sandy, a man who only 2 years ago we were singing the praises of in Monte Carlo is now out of a job - it's not something to celebrate. All the best for the future Sandy no doubt you'll be back in the game soon enough - thanks for the memories of the cup final, that semi at Easter Rd and the best Saints party ever in O'Malleys Bar. Can I make one plea though - please don't tarnish what's left of your reputation with the Saints fans by doing a Totten.
More bad news in the papers as well with the chairman's illness being confirmed as prostate cancer which puts things into perspective a bit. The Temple wishes him all the best for his recovery.
Even better is the mention of Saints in the news pages as Marc McCulloch appeared in court to be fined £250 for his speeding charge. Unfortunately the poor wee soul (on £18K wages as the papers gleefully report) can only pay the fine off at £10 per week as he has the small matter of a £30,000 debt to clear first as a results of a certain drunken pinball game he played with some cars in Edinburgh at the end of last season.
Finally to round off a day of depressing news Hugh Dallas is in charge of the Well game on Saturday.
24th - Morning after time and it's plain to see that even a couple
of miraculous wins this week won't save St.
Sandy(right) now with the majority of fans believing he should go.
Personally I don't know what we should do - whether he stays or goes is
immaterial to me - I will follow the club through thick and thin. But the
players no longer seem to have the managers respect which to me means
either a change of first team squad (with none of yesterdays mob fit to
play for us) or a change of manager. Despite all the upheaval it will
cause (especially with 2 games this week) it's difficult to see
St. Sandy lasting even until the
Even if he does rumours of protests set for Broadwood and McD next weekend are starting to do the rounds - I don't believe they can achieve anything (the club aren't daft) - and it's hard to see how he will survive especially now Motherwell have sacked Billy Davies. It's been obvious for a while that it was only going to take one big win / defeat to turn a lot of the waverers for or against the manager and yesterday seems to have sealed his fate. Nobody should take any pleasure from seeing him go (and that goes for some of the gloaters and moaners that unfortunately populate the stands at McD these days) especially after what he achieved at Saints (and don't give me any shit about how it was Sturrock that really got us into Europe). But change is required and despite the cost to the club (paying off his contract will likely eliminate any possible transfer budget for an his replacement), the manager is always easier to replace that the playing staff.
Either way the board should raise their heads from the bunker now and give the fans some sort of statement on the manager's future.
7.00pm - Latest quotes from St. Sandy is "I don't feel any pressure. I've been in football a long time and I've had lots of ups and downs. We have to hang in there and work hard to get through it. We lack confidence and we can only get that when we get our first win. We are adrift at the bottom of the table, but we have the chance to remedy that this week." . I just hope for the sake of the fans, the club, the players and himself that he manages to do it otherwise I can't see any other option than a parting of the ways.
23rd - Martin Lauchlan is
apparently being made available on loan and according to the papers both
Northampton and Oxford are interested in taking the 20-yr old for a period
after he was frozen out at Saints (along with the wonderful bullying and
6.00pm - A total shocker of a game saw a Hibs slaughter us 4-0 with not one blue jerseyed player able to hold his head up and listen to the boos as the team left the park. As yet there's been no comment from the club on the game.
WE NEED CHANGES NOW !!!!!
22nd - Pistol Pete is
confident of a result tomorrow. , "Everybodys confident.
Theres no loss of faith and it certainly doesnt feel like a
team who are joint bottom of the league. All the lads are sure that things
will change for us. As soon as we get our first win I think well
kick on. Hopefully those three points will come sooner rather than later.
Hibs having a tough game in Athens has got to be to our advantage. The
heat looked unbelievable and they looked tired at the end so weve
got a good chance and I think we can go there and take the three points."
Meanwhile St. Sandy is hoping of having Scotland's no 1 back for Wednesday's CIS Cup tie at the latest. , "We wont take a chance with Alan but his neck injury is improving all the time and if he doesnt play on Sunday Im very confident hell play against Clyde in the League Cup on Wednesday. We know this is going to be a tough one. I watched Hibs turn over Dunfermline last week and they were very impressive. Our old player John O'Neil was outstanding and we know he's one to watch. Alex can leave one or two guys out if he feels it's needed after the trip to Athens because he's got a good squad together. We have a lot of respect for Hibs. They look as if they can have another successful season but we have a decent track record at Easter Road and we're going there looking for three points. "
6.00pm This afternoons results saw a surprise 2-0 win for Well over the Gorgie Gits dropping Saints back to 12th (at least until tomorrow). Elsewhere Livvy won 2-1 at East End Park and TFOE beat the Sheep 2-0.
21st - Well it's Friday so it's time for some bad news from the
training ground. This week it's Peter
MacDonald's turn with the striker picking up an injury in training
and a possible absentee from the trip to Easter Rd on Sunday.
St. Sandy said "Peter picked up
a knock in training which is causing us concern. We'll leave it until the
last minute to decide if he plays." .
Kevin Cuthbert looks set to stay in goal with St. Sandy showing no loss of faith in the youngster. "Alan is responding well to the treatment to his back, but it will be a late decision on whether or not he will be fit enough to play on Sunday. If he doesn't make it, I will have no problems with Kevin playing. I don't think you can really blame Kevin for the two goals we conceded against Livingston last week, and apart from them he had a couple of good saves in the game so I'm sure he will do a good job for us if called upon."
Peter MacDonald's foot injury means he'll face a late fitness test with Kiegan Parker(right) the likely replacement. Paul Kane is still out but Cap'n Jim is available for selection.
Nick Dasovic has been speaking of his jealousy of Hibs as they played in Europe. "We know from past experience what a buzz there is about the place when you're involved in European games. It was a great time for Saints when we were involved in the UEFA Cup and hopefully it won't be another 29 years before we sample it again. The fans still tell me Vaasa and Monte Carlo were the best trips of their lives and as a player you get a kick out of that. But it is in the past now and our immediate priority is getting out of the hole we're in at the moment. Regardless of their trip to Athens they have got together a big squad and Alex McLeish will be able to freshen up the team if he thinks it's needed. They've invested heavily in players. This will be the first time most of us have played in the new-look stadium and there should be a good atmosphere so we're all looking forward to it. We're still looking for that first win but there was some good football and a lot of enthusiasm last week against Livingston. No one has to tell us we should have created more chances when they went down to 10 men and that was disappointing. But morale has held up really well and that hasn't come as a surprise to me. The manager helps take the pressure off the players. If you make a mistake he lets you know about it but we're all man enough to take criticism. We have regular open floor meetings when players can say exactly what's on their minds and everyone is really positive about the challenges ahead. In this league it's always the case that you can progress significantly by stringing together a few wins. It might sound stupid given our current position but a top half finish isn't beyond us."
Saints U-21s take on Killie in Perth on Monday night - both trialists are expected to play.
20th - Latest on the injury front is that
Craig Russell should be back in the
first team in a fortnight. After getting another 90 minutes for the U-21s,
St. Sandy(right) said "It is
good to see him back playing again after such a long spell on the
sidelines. He has only managed two games so far though, but I am hoping
that he will be ready for action in a couple of weeks time if he continues
Meanwhile, Alan Main's fitness has improved. St. Sandy said "He's getting a lot better and has made a lot of progress in the last few days. It looks better than we first feared and we have definitely not ruled him out of the game at the weekend against Hibs." It also means that the trialist French keeper from Monday night has returned home without an offer from Saints, along with an African that was also at the club. There are still midfielders from France and Italy at the club this week although the only comment from the club is that the players look "fairly promising" which you can take to mean anything.
19th - Latest news is that Alan Main
has an outside chance of playing with St.
Sandy saying, "Alans neck injury has been getting a
lot better in the last couple of days and hes certainly not been
ruled out for the Hibs game." . Meanwhile a decision on the
keeper on trial will be made later on the week with the manager wanting to
see him in training first. "Hell be training with us
tomorrow and Ill take a look at the situation after that." .
He's been joined at McD by an Italian and a French midfielder.
Of the other injury victims, Craig Russell will hopefully be back soon. The manager said, "Craig played the full 90 minutes in the under-21 match, but that was only his second game. I would be looking for him to be up to speed, though, within a couple of weeks." .
18th - Saints U-21s won 2-1 at McD last night with goals from
Paddy Connolly and
Rachid Djebaili in a game which saw
Martyn Fotheringham red-carded 4
minutes from time. Craig Russell and
Troy McClune both played but there was
also a trialist keeper in goal. As to the extent of
Alan Main's injury
St. Sandy said "Alan needs rest
just now. Whether or not hell be OK after another few days of that
remains to be seen." . A second trialist, a midfielder is also at
the club but clearance didn't come through in time for him to play last
Meanwhile just to cheer us up we've got Dougie McDonald in charge on Sunday.
6.30pm - Latest news is that Alan Main has been sent to Edinburgh for specialist treatment on his back injury and is now a major doubt for Sunday's trip to Easter Rd. It might mean that the goalie from last night's U-21 game (revealed as a Frenchman playing in Portugal who used to play for Lens) could appear as a trialist. St. Sandy said "If it settles down Alan could be ready in a couple of weeks. We've taken steps to look at a French keeper and if he shows up well in the U21s he can be listed as a trialist for the Hibs game. If it turns out Alan will be out for some time we definitely need another goalkeeper brought on board. That's no reflection on Kevin. He did exceptionally well in his first team debut and that wasn't a surprise to us. He has been very much involved in the top team squad for the past year so it wasn't a huge step up for him. Kevin looked very comfortable. He is another of our younger players who is making good progress and he is potentially a very good goalkeper."
The manager also took time to praise Peter MacDonald. "Given the opportunity Peter will put the ball in the back of the net and he showed that against Livingston. He is a player I knew from watching U21 games and I felt there was potential there. But having worked with him day in and day out he is probably a better all round player than I realised. This is a good move for him because he's very much involved in the first team squad. And looking to the future I'm pretty certain he could play with Kiegan and create a good partnership."
Elsewhere the CIS cup-tie at Broadwood has been confirmed for next Wednesday with a 7.30pm kick-off.
Finally fake sincerity and commiserations to Billy "Motormouth" Davies who was punted by Well today.
APOLOGIES TO ANYONE WHO'S HAD PROBLEMS ACCESSING THE SITE - ISP COCK-UPS TO BLAME I'M AFRAID......
17th - Pope was disappointed to
miss out on the 3 points. "The boys are gutted we've not go three
points. It's up to us to rectify what's going wrong but I think it's a
thin line. We could go one way or the other and I think we'll go upwards.
We need a break in front of goal and haven't had that over the past few
weeks. We've played well for most of the season and even showed that in
the first 45 minutes at Celtic Park on the first day of the season. We
keep giving teams a start and have gone in at half-time in all of our
games losing but once we get our first win things will go from there."
Meanwhile there are rumours that Saints are trying to sign Arab keeper Alan Combe(right) with a move to get him as a trialist for the Livvy game apparently coming too late. With Alan Main injured (and not getting any younger) St. Sandy believes we need another keeper to bridge the gap between Jesus and Kevin Cuthbert
16th - Despite scoring yesterday, Peter
MacDonald reckons he had a bad game. "It was great to get
my first goal in my first start but I was a bit annoyed with myself that I
didn't score with an earlier chance. And I could maybe have nicked one at
the end but that's just the way these things go. It took a while to get
off the mark but hopefully now my luck is changing in front of goal.
However, I feel we have dropped two points against Livvy - we totally
controlled the second half. None of us feels under pressure. Obviously we
all want to win games but we have been playing well and just haven't had
the luck. The gaffer is always telling us that if anyone should be under
pressure it is him because the buck stops there. Hopefully we'll get a
chance to turn things around for him in the next few weeks."
Meanwhile this afternoon's results saw Saints climb off the bottom of the table as TFOD gubbed Well 3-0. Elsewhere Killie beat the Jambos 1-0 and Hibs thrashed the Pars 5-1.
15th - Stuart McCluskey is
hoping to shut up his ex-teammates today. "The old boys'
connection gives the game an added edge and if I get my first start of the
season I'll be trying to keep Nathan quiet. We'll have to watch him - he's
always likely to pop up and grab a goal. But our toughest task will be
keeping my pal Tosher quiet. He never stops talking, on or off the field."
. Meanwhile the media, as expected are building this up to be a grudge
match following the Battle of the Chairmen in the summer.
There will be a minute's silence before the game and both sets of players will wear black armbands in respect of the dead in the USA.
7.00pm - Peter MacDonald saved our blushes with a 2nd half equaliser in the 2-2 draw with the Ambitious Ones. Willie Falconer opened the scoring but Saints dropped 2-1 down at the break then failed to score against 10 men for the final 25 minutes after Quino was red carded for the Schemie Ones. Kevin Cuthbert(right) made his SPL debut for Saints. After the game St. Sandy said "It was 2 points lost. We're far too inconsistent and it's not good enough. We let Livingston back into the game but we deserved to get back into it. And when we were against 10 men we should have been more patient but to be honest we didn't make any clear-cut chances. Livingston defended well but the onus was on us to take the game to them. We need a win soon but we have to learn to finish teams off."
Elsewhere the Sheep beat the Arabs 2-1 whilst TFOE won 4-0 at Scumdee.
14th - Keeper Alan Main(right) has
said that it's up to the older players to take responsibility for getting
Saints off the bottom of the table. After the worst league start in 18
years, the pressure is growing on St. Sandy
to get that first win and the goalie said "The older guys have a
responsibility to help younger players such as
Ross Forsyth and
Peter MacDonald. I believe I am
playing well and it is up to me to spread that feeling through the team.
With a start like this, it is that much harder for the younger players. It
helps that there are a few of us more experienced players. I know people
look at the team and complain that there are so many players who are 33,
34 and 35 but it is helping at the moment. We have made mistakes and lost
bad goals but we have been positive and we are creating chances. We have
started badly and lost goals early on and that has left us chasing games.
We have finished matches strongly and although we were pleased to get a
point last Saturday against Dundee, we could actually have gone on and
"After the winter shutdown last season, the run we have been on has been poor. I don't think it helped that we were out of the top six and there was no chance of being relegated so every game was meaningless. But there are no excuses for us not winning this season. We just need to start getting clean sheets. That was the secret of our success in the past - not conceding goals. We had a great goal difference. If we can win a couple of games we can be straight up into mid-table. We are not looking at Motherwell's position - we are looking up the table at the teams such as Dundee United and Hibs who are on eight points. If we win one game we will get on a run. We have got to be positive against Livingston. If we defend as well as we can, we will get something out of it."
6.30 Update - Latest from Charliegate is that Charlie Two has said he'd be willing to return to play for Saints (aye right). He also admitted "touching and tasting" the powder but said the club never offered him drugs counselling. As if he deserves it.
Team news sees Troy McClune and Ross Forsyth in the squad. In terms of selection, Stuart McCluskey is pressing for a starting berth along with Peter MacDonald. Kiegan might miss out due to a chest infection though. Cap'n Jim is also doubtful with a hamstring strain and Paul Kane will definitely miss out. The most worrying one though is Alan Main who has a back injury which could rule him out. He faces a late fitness test but if he doesn't make it Kevin Cuthbert will step in. St. Sandy said "He has a back problem and it's causing some concern. Hopefully he will be okay but I have every faith in Kevin Cuthbert if he's required."
Craig Russell isn't in the squad as he's not match fit yet but the manager has a choice of strikers with BigMac the favourite to start. "If Kiegan is fit it's a question of perming two from four strikers, with Peter, Paddy Connolly and Willie Falconer available. It will be a question of which pairing I think is best to start this game."
Graeme Jones reckons we can get the win though. "We will be up for Saturday. Don't worry about that. We are looking for our first win and it is definitely a winnable game for us. We are a real workmanlike team and we will dig in and I have no doubt that we will get out of it."
Congratulations to Saints U-18s who gubbed TFOE 3-1 this afternoon thanks to 2nd half goals from a trialist, Mark Ferry and Peter Lynch
Finally congrats toNick Dasovic(right) who became a father this week when wife Angela gave birth to son Marco.
13th - With the UEFA games cancelled this week due to the attacks
in the US it looks like some of the fixture card will be affected. Despite
criticism from some places this Saturday's game is currently going ahead
as planned however next week's visit to Easter Rd could be put back 24
hours to the Sunday due to Hibs playing their UEFA tie on the Thursday. In
addition the CIS fixture card for October 10th midweek looks like being
scuppered due to the rearranged Champions League fixtures for that night.
Not much in the way of other news although Craig Russell(right) is being mentioned as being in line for a possible weekend comeback.
5.30pm - Confirmation that the Hibs game has been put back to Sunday September 23rd with a 3pm kick-off. In addition the CIS League Cup draw was made today and Saints will travel to Clyde on either Tuesday 25th / Wednesday 26th September (although the Wednesday is a lot more likely given we'll be playing the previous Sunday).
Finally, it was St. Sandy and Nick Summersgil's turn to give evidence at Charliegate yesterday - nothing new came out of the evidence though and the case continues.
12th - Darren Jackson is
convinced Saints will be back on the winning way soon if they show the
same hard work and commitment. "We are obviously aware and are
slightly concerned because we know we have to start winning. We also know
the fans arent happy but they do seem to appreciate that we are
really committed. We need a wee bit of luck. We are playing all right but
losing silly goals. St Johnstone have always been known as a team with
great internal spirit and weve still got that, but when youre
having a hard time you have to roll up your sleeves and get on with it.
Hard work helps but we have to defend all the way through the team and get
the odd break."
Charliegate opened at the Court of Session yesterday. Stewart Duff was up as a witness to say that Charlie Two admitted taking drugs to him at the club's enquiry into the affair.
The SPL have announced that there will be a minute's silence before the Livingston game on Saturday in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
11th - The U-21s were in action last night and drew 1-1 with their
Jambo counterparts. Craig Russell
continued his comeback with Saints goal whilst
Troy McClune got another 90 minutes.
On the injury front, Graeme Jones has
been told by the manager to be patient. St.
Sandy said , "I had an achilles injury when I was a player
and its a horrible injury to have. It takes time to settle down and
then go away, so it doesnt recur. Im certainly not looking for
Graeme to come back in the immediate future. Its something like 10
months since he played, which is a long, long time. Hes as
frustrated as anybody about the whole thing but hes got to be
patient now and make sure that when he gets back, hes back for good."
With Scotland out of the World Cup the SPL look set to ease the fixture congestion in January by moving the midweek card on January 30th to November 10th with Saints set to make their second trip to Rugby Park that day. Expect a final decision on this within the next fortnight.
Finally Stuart Dougal will be in charge of the home match against the Ferranti Works XI at the weekend.
10th - Despite missing out on cult stardom thanks to his miss at
the weekend, Peter "BigMac"
MacDonald(right) is still aiming to make the starting line-up next
week. "I came to McDiarmid Park willing to learn and its
been brilliant so far. Now its just down to me. Ill play
Monday for the under 21s (against Hearts) and hopefully do well there and
give the gaffer something to think about for Saturday. I hope Ive
done myself some good today, too, but I am only 20-years-old and this is
only my third or fourth appearance and Ive got a long way to go."
And as for the penalty and the BadFellas' attempts to get him red-carded he was in no doubt. "It was definitely a penalty. I tried to take Barry Smith on and went outside then flicked it back through. I think he was already going one way and just stuck his leg out and caught me. I couldnt actually stand up to be honest.....and as for the attempt to get the ref to giv him a 2nd yellow he said, . "He dived. I was worried at first but it was a dive. Maybe the boy wanted me to get sent off, maybe he didnt. But it was a 5.5"
9th - St. Sandy said he was proud
of the players last night despite the poor start after the draw in
Chicago, sorry Dens. "We keep giving teams starts, which is
disappointing. We've worked at it, we've spoken about it and we just have
to dig in and keep doing that but I think to come back, work hard and
create a few chances, the players deserve a lot of credit. Peter's a good
finisher and he had a shot which brought out a good save from their
goalkeeper. He's disappointed he didn't at least make him save it but I'm
sure on another day that would go in for us as well. Willie's a very
experienced player and we need that, because we lack other things at times
and our younger players certainly need a bit of guidance. Right through
our team we've got people like Jim Weir, who had to go off at half-time,
Alan Main and Nick Dasovic as well as Willie up front so we've got a good
blend and we'll be all right."
Meanwhile best wishes from the Temple to ex-Saintee Keith O'Halloran who suffered a serious leg-break for Swindon yesterday and is likely to be out for the season.
8th - It's arguable St. Sandy's
biggest game with Saints so far today at Dens with a defeat likely to end
his reign as manager. To get something though we need goals and it's
likely that Kiegan Parker is going to
take some of that responsibility after a decent performance in the
second-half against Aberdeen a fortnight ago. And the striker revealed
that he received some praise from an unusual source. "The ref
said that he thought I'd made a difference to the game when I came on-when
we scored he said he'd seen an instant change. I was pleased to get on and
do well and now Im looking to continue where I left off if the
manager gives me a start. I enjoyed playing with
Willie. Hes quite similar to
Graeme Jones in that he holds the ball
up well and gives me good flick-ons to chase. My styles definitely
complemented by playing alongside a big striker and you can only learn
from playing with experienced guys like those two. They say that getting
the first point is the hardest, and now that weve done that
hopefully we can build on our draw and get a win at Dundee. Any points
would be welcome but if we could win this one it would be particularly
good for our fans. With that and another win, the way the league is just
now we could be into fifth or sixth place." ....nice to see some
players being a bit optimistic anyway.
St. Sandy was full of praise as well along with some caution. "Keigan did exceptionally well and gave everyone a lift. He's maybe rediscovered that spark which he had when he came into the team for the first time. He's still just a boy, though, and if were looking for him to carry us, were looking for far too much. The guys are bubbly at the moment. Wed like to add to our point with at least one at Dens, if not three, and well be trying to achieve just that. Dundee have got very talented players now. I saw them play Rangers recently and I thought they did exceptionally well attacking-wise. We know that were in for a very tough game but we have to make sure that we pose them a few problems as well. We dont like being bottom of the league and the only way were going to change it is by getting points on the board."
The manager also confirmed that whilst Troy McClune is fit, Paul Kane misses out.
Off the park and Charliegate reared it's head again ahead of Charlie One and Charlie Two taking the club to an industrial tribunal on Tuesday. After an attempt failed in a bid to have the tribunal put on hold until after a judicial review at the Court of Session to challenge the legality of an SFA ruling supporting St Johnstone's decision to terminate their contracts, it looks like Charlie One has given up the fight. Stewart Duff said his lawyer had been in touch. "He has indicated verbally to his lawyers that he doesn't wish to continue with his employment tribunal application and they have told us they're waiting for confirmation in writing of his instructions prior to formally withdrawing his application.St Johnstone Football Club are pleased if this is to be the case and we can reassure our supporters that our former player's decision has not been prompted by any settlement outwith the tribunal. We intend vigorously contesting the unfair dismissal claims of Kevin Thomas next week."
7pm - Thanks to a second-half Darren Jackson penalty we got a 1-1 draw at Dens although deserved to nick the points at the end as we dominated the game. See it on BBC Sportscene tonight. Unfortunately scores elsewhere didn't go in our favour although Well lost 3- to Hibs meaning they're only one point ahead of us. The team was cheered off the park as well so it means that St. Sandy might survive another week in the job but we badly need that win.
7th - St. Sandy is convinced that
the key to victory tomorrow is keeping it tight at the back. "Dundee
are a very exciting team with lots of good flair players but if we defend
well then well have a chance of doing well.".
There are still doubts over David McClune and Paul Kane with the latter especially set to miss out, but Tommy Løvenkrands is fit. The main question is who will play up front and the manager merely said "Its a question of which players are the right ones to play against Dundee," .........no shit Sherlock.
Meanwhile Willie Young will be in charge of the game.
Finally confirmation that Ross Currie's deal is for one month.
5th -Not much to report. Apparently both
David McClune and
Paul Kane picked up "slight
knocks" (according to St. Sandy)
in training yesterday. The first team squad have today off so it'll be
tomorrow before we know if they'll be able to play at Dens on Saturday.
Craig Russell should be back in training next week - he had the operation to remove the cyst on his knee yesterday and all went well.
The move for "King" Juan Carlos Burbano looks dead and buried. Chief executive Stewart Duff said "The goalposts keep shifting. We wanted to bring Burbano on loan here until the end of the season with a view to buying him, but are now told the loan will expire on December 31. Apart from that, the fee has gone up so it looks like he might not be coming."
September 4th -Ross Currie who has been playing for the U-21s for a while has signed a short-term deal with Saints. And I'm still looking for a picture of him............
3rd -St. Sandy saw the SPL select
win 3-2 on Saturday against their Highland League counterparts in
the benefit match for Kevin Bissett.
The biggest disappointment though was that TFOD, Hibs, the Pars, Well
and Scumdee all failed to provide players to take part despite
the SPL ordering them to make non-internationals available.
David McClune and
Rachid Djebaili played for the full
90 whilst the bench saw Kevin Cuthbert,
Martyn Fotheringham and
Brendan Crozier appear. With a crowd
of 1200 the day was a success and the manager said "I wouldn't
like to comment on clubs that didn't send players but Rangers weren't the
only ones. The important thing was to get people through the gate and I
think we managed that. Kevin is a lovely lad and when something awful like
that happens to one of your own in football you want to do something to
Some moves on the playing front withFree Willie(right) signing an extended deal to keep him at McD until next summer.St. Sandy said: "I'm delighted that Willie will stay with us for the rest of the season. Initially he was brought in as cover whilst Graeme Jones and Craig Russell were out injured but because these two players are struggling we've asked Willie to stay with us and he is more than happy to do so. He's already scored for us and I'm confident there will be more to come."
Meanwhile "King" Juan Carlos Burbano has turned down the trial at Saints with the midfielder looking for a permanent deal straight away. Burbano's change of heart came after talking with his friends, family and team-mates about the situation. Ecuadorian national team coach Hernan Dario Gomez said that Burbano should not go, and the player insists he won't go to Europe on trial. So much for that then........
1st -Stephen Frail(right) has
completed his move to Morton as player-coach. No mention of any fee in the
Top Of News
31st - It's unpleasant reading time for the fans and bank manager
as the club announce a loss of £321,000 for last year and if
it hadn't been for the dosh for the sale of Danny
Griffin it would have been into 7 figures. Turnover dropped £850,000
to £3.4m and of that £2.8m went on the players
wages. Perhaps this explains the sale of MoMo
Sylla as we try and balance the books for another year. The club
won't go further into the red just to keep player's wages unrealistically
high. Chaoirman Geoff Brown(right)
said "Wage demands by players and agents are ever escalating and
the club has again lost players by being unable to meet their demands. But
St Johnstone will continue to be run in a proper manner, which means that
we will not enter into contracts which we simply cannot afford."
The loss is due parltly to the average attendance of 5300 being the lowest in the SPL with not even the OF guaranteeing sellouts any more and also reduced income from the SPL due to the poor finish to last season. Geoff said "This is a decrease which the club cannot sustain on an ongoing basis." Of course exiting both cups didn't help and the chairman went on "Shooting ourselves in the foot became a trait and a succession of penalty misses coupled with poor discipline resulted in the club finishing in 10th position in the Bank of Scotland SPL. However we are in the 5th season in the top flight and for a club with fewer resources than our competitors this is a creditable achievement." As for the salary bill of £2.8m "That is a level which is far greater than we can justifiably sustain. Steps have been taken to improve this area. Prudence and increased level of turnover will mean a return to profit which can only auger well for the future."
Whilst the squad was trimmed to 44, Stewart Duff said "It's not so much a question of numbers as what we have to pay to players. We have to address this in order to balance the books. We have to contain the overheads and live within our means. The chairman has always stated that St Johnstone is a selling club and these figures underline why that has to be the case. We attract youngsters to Perth because they see they will get a chance of first team football at an early age. If they prove themselves in the SPL it will benefit them and the club. Transfers help to bridge the gap and balance the books.We have young players like Keigan, Ross and David figuring regularly in the first team and they have shown they can handle the SPL. Hopefully others will be coming through. If the club can bring through two or three each season that would be a major achievement."
Meanwhile, Rachid is joining Troy McClune and St. Sandy for the trip to Inverness tomorrow. The manager said that McClune "should be ready for the derby match".
Graeme Jones and Craig Russell are out for another couple of weeks though. On the trialist front Ross Currie will get another chance next week but the manager doesn't see him as a long-term solution. Expect more new faces though with St. Sandy saying "I'm looking to strengthen the squad. It's no secret that we need midfield players. That's an area we're looking at, to have something different."
30th - Not much in the papers this morning with most waking up to
the fact that Saints are interested in 20-yr old
Ross Currie. The players went through
a double training session today as well ............bout time too.
St. Sandy is set to take charge of an SPL select of all teams who are taking on a Highland League select at Caledonian Stadium in Inverness this Saturday at 12.45pm (allowing plenty of time to catch the gubbing by Croatia post-match as well). David McClune is due to represent Saints. The game is being held as a benefit for referee Kevin Bissett who in the last year has suffered two serious brain haemorrages. Hopefully there will be a decent turnout to show that it is just a game after all.
Ex-Saintee Alan Kernaghan has left Brechin and signed a player-coach deal with Clyde.
29th - It's the usual post-comeback injury problems today with both
Graeme Jones (right) and
Craig Russell unable to train
yesterday. St. Sandy(right) said "Graemes
achilles tendon is a bit sore and thats not good. And the knee brace
Craig was wearing has caused a cyst to develop on his leg which we are
going to have looked at.". As for Rachid
Djebaili who the entire world wants in the first team now, the
manager said "Rachid is learning, taking in the things we are
asking him to do, and getting closer all the time."
Two of the trialists, Gregory Campi and Simon Osborn have been released. St. Sandy said "The French midfielder is a good player but not of the type we require, while the British defender is one we might have another look at but as he has other options he has gone, too. The other trialist who played was just a young lad who has been freed by Rangers and who we are having a look at." .
Juan Carlos Burbano might not be here for next weekend either - he wants to turn out for Ecuadors international in Colombia next week. The manager said "Talks are progressing but we can't take it much further until the World Cup game is out of the way."
Stephen Frail's move is expected to go through by the end of the week. "His contract is up at the end of the season and well basically let him go for nothing so its just down to Morton being able to sort out personal terms with the player," said the manager.
28th - Saints U-21s beat the Pars 3-0 last night at McD
with goals from Rachid Djebaili, a
French trialist (identified as 24-yr old midfielder
Gregory Campi) and
Martyn Fotheringham. Just as important
Graeme Jones (right) played for 30
miniutes in his return from injury. Craig
Russell managed an hour whilst better news was
David McClune making the full 90
As well as the French trialist, Ross Currie played again and they were joined by midfielder Simon Osborn
Meanwhile Saints have denied interest in Wellington Sanchez but are planning to bring Juan Carlos Burbano over on trial next week along with another of the players Sandy saw oin the Ecuador v Argentina game.
Finally there are reports that Stephen Frail could make his move to Morton permanent this week with a player/coach role on offer to him.
27th - Again little to report this morning although media rumours
have it that both Ecuadorian trialists, Wellington
Sanchez and Juan Carlos Burbano
are already over here on trial.
One piece of good news was the sending-off of Carranza for the Scum yesterday at Ibrox which rules him out of the game against us in a fortnight.
August 26th - Little happening in the wonderful world of Saintsdom today with only the usual Sunday Falsehoods to report. On the injury front, Cap'n Jim is OK - he was subbed as a precautionary measure yesterday after his hamstring tightened but won't miss training.
August 25th - After a dire first half, a Cap'n Jim header at the start of the 2nd and a penalty miss from the Sheep saw the game end in a 1-1 draw meaning we get our first point and the manager is unlikely to be queuing up at the Broo on Monday. Post-match St. Sandy said "We didn't play great but we got a point on the board which I though we well deserved. The players are a good bunch and showed that by the way they got stuck in and played well to get back into the game in the second half. I was delighted for Jim - he's one of the players who was willing to stand up and be counted. As for the penalty sometimes you need breaks and I thought that maybe we got our first break of the season with the miss."
24th - Main team news for tomorrow is that
Tommy Løvenkrands(right) has
picked up a groin strain and will miss out. St.
Sandy said "Things arent looking too bad for us as
far as Saturday goes but Lovenkrands will not make it. He has picked up a
wee groin strain which is causing him a bit of a problem. Other than that
we should be OK-both Darren Jackson
and Grant Murray should be fine,
although they will be strapped up. However, David
McClune will not make it-he has still not trained with us."
Captain Jim Weir will be presented with a gift from the Club before Saturday's match to mark reaching 200 appearances for the Saints (slightly delayed thanks to Love St pre-season matches). One of the longest-serving players at the club, Cap'n Jim has been at Saints since 1994.
In terms of team news Wacko and Grant Murray will play with strapping whilst Rachid Djebaili could be set to start thanks to Tommy dropping out. Up front is still anyones guess with Willie Falconer Paddy Connolly, Kiegan Parker and Big Mac all in contention.
And despite having some affection for Sheepland, Free Willie(right) won't let it stop him putting the knife in tomorrow. "I still get up to Aberdeen now and again to see family and friends. Most of them still support the team but they'll also follow the fortunes of the club I'm playing for. Mind you, I'm not saying they go as far as buying scarves because given the number of clubs I've had in my career, they would have been bankrupt by now! I've been in this position before, playing against Aberdeen with Celtic, Motherwell and Dundee. I like to see them doing well but not when I'm in the opposition side"
As for getting the first goal of the season last week he hopes it'll be the start of a run."Whether you're 17 or 35, scoring is a thrill and I'm enjoying my football here. Obviously it was good to get my first goal for Saints and while it came too late to get the point I thought our performance against Killie deserved, at least it has eased some of the pressure on me and the team.Hopefully it will have given us a boost going into the Dons match. It's a monkey off the back after three games without a goal. I saw Gordon Marshall make a great save and had a header cleared off the line and the goal probably came from the hardest chance of the lot. But that's us got a goal and now we have to get some points. It's not doom and gloom. Far from it. There is pressure on us to get that first win but the players here know this team is as good as any number of those in the league. We've got off to an unfortunate start and we know we can't keep making excuses. But I had a similar start to a season with Dundee and it took a last minute penalty against Celtic to turn the corner. Hopefully that goal last week will do the trick for us. This is certainly not a team which has lost confidence."
St. Sandy(right) reckons it'll be a close game and believes the fans can help swing it. "We fully expect this to be another tight game. However, this is the Premier League and we expect all the games to be difficult. I feel that our play has merited more goals, although our first one certainly was a long time coming. Hopefully we will be able to build on that and start picking up points. The crowd can certainly help and I hope they will get right behind us to really make home advantage count". . He paid tribute to the fans patience as well saying "The lads are confident going into this game and they're up for it. Hopefully the crowd will get behind us right from the start. They can play an important part in the match. Our fans have been great to us. We know they are frustrated about the lack of wins. We all are. But let's all pull together and give it our best shot, on and off the pitch."
Finally, let's hear it for the BBC's favourite agent, sorry pundit Gordon "How much cash can I get out of Kenny Miller transfers before the world realises how crap he really is" Smith who's tipped the Sheep to beat us tomorrow - yet another incentive for the boys to show some blood and snotters and stick it right up them.
23rd - Confirmation in the papers today of the Ecuadorians being
targeted by St. Sandy. They are
Wellington Sanchez(right) and
Juan Carlos Burbano(far right).
Wellington Eduardo Sanchez Luzuriaga
is a 26-yr old central midfielder who currently plays for Emelec in
Ecuador but has played in the US in the past whilst
Juan Carlos Burbano de Lara Torres
is 32 and plays for Nacional - seems to be more of a defensive midfielder.
Either way if we sign them expect County Sports to start charging
for shirt names again !!
Closer to home and team news for Saturday is still sketchy but the rumour is that Kiegan Parker and Big Mac will start in order to give us a pacy front line against the Dons defence.
Saints have been drawn to play Arbroath at Gayfield in the Forfarshire Cup with the fringe players heading there on October 4th.
Off the park and the clubs AGM is set for September 21st - which depending on results in the next few weeks could be a stormy meeting.
Finally congratulations to Kiegan and Alan Main who managed to avoid being picked by Pa Broon for the next internationals and thus don't have to take any blame for the next crushing defeat for Scotland.
22nd- Not the most modest of players,
Craig Russell has been talking about
his comeback match in the U-21s and said "I'm confident that if I
get in the team I can score goals and keep my place." . He missed
training yesterday due to a calf strain although his knee came through the
U-21 match fine.
More good news on the injury front with both Wacko and Grant Murray getting the all clear to return to training.
Latest on the South American trip is that St. Sandy had his eyes on 2 Ecuadorian players last week - whilst he will follow them up he is keener to aim for targets closer to home first mainly due to the red tape involved in bringing a South American over.
Meanwhile let's hear it for the media as the number of Falsehoods for the season continues to rise.
21st- Craig Russell played for
the second-half of last night's U-21 match. Saints won 2-1 at Tannadump
with Kiegan Parker getting both goals.
Ross Currie played as a trialist again. As for
Rachid Djebaili the player featured
again last night along with Troy McClune
but according to St. Sandy won't be
played until he's settled in the new environment - something which is
bound to upset the fans.
Meanwhile there's a couple of injuries for the weekend with Darren Jackson suffering from a sprained wrist and Grant Murray a broken thumb. Both were X-rayed yesterday and the results should be known today although the manager is hopeful they'll play. St. Sandy said, "While the injuries may sound a bit dramatic, its not yet clear what effect, if any, they will have on the players. Both are being checked out and I wouldnt rule either of them out yet for the Aberdeen game." If the injuries are as feared though, then Murray could be out for a month if his broken thumb needs pinned, and, if his wrist has to be put in plaster, Wacko for 6 weeks.
Meanwhile St. Sandy has confirmed he was in Qito last week watching Ecuador lose to Argentina. All he would say though was "We were targetting a specific player but it's very early days yet". Work permits are believed to be the main issue for the Ecuador midfielder that was being watched. Talks are ongoing with the player's agent in South America.
As to the pressure on his own position the manager said, "There's pressure in every game because of the situation we are in at the moment. The Aberdeen game is no different. Obviously we're concerned because we're the only team in the league without a point. But the only way out of it is through hard work and cutting out basic mistakes like those which cost us goals on Saturday.".
Off the park and Ian Dewar of Price Waterhouse has been appointed financial director and vice-chairman of the club. Retiring from his current positionat PW he'll be full-time at the club and Geoff Brown (who is extending his leave of absence until the New Year after post-operation complications) said "Ian will be a great asset to the club. He is a man with his finger on the pulse of football in this country and, more to the point, he is an avowed Saints fan. I would have liked to have had Ian on board a long time ago but his work commitments prevented him from doing so. Ian is very clued up on the financial implications of running a football club and this, coupled with his passion for St Johnstone, will be a great asset to us.". All of which points to the chairman starting the process of handing over the club to others by the looks of things.
Finally the really good news for the weekend is that Dougie McDonald is supposedly in charge.
August 20th- Despite what all the doom merchants are saying in the press and on other websites, Darren Jackson firmly believes Saints won't be in any relegation trouble at the end of the season. "Were not far away. On Saturday we gave away two terrible goals but Gordon Marshall was busier than Alan Main and we created the greater number of chances. But thats been the story of our season, we could have beaten Killie today, just as we could have beaten Dunfermline and Dundee United. Its all about results and ours have been poor. We need a confidence boost, maybe from scoring first and if we can do that Id like to see what happens, I believe we could go on and win. But its down to us as players, we will have to battle through this is as a team. We scored today to get one monkey off our back and if wed got the goal earlier we might have got a draw."
18th- Rachid Djebaili(right)
is out for goals now he's fit. "The most important thing is to
get a win and get off the mark, which weve not been able to do so
far this season."We have to make sure we dont make any basic
errors and keep it tight and get it into our heads we have to win and that
it is a must-win game for us. The reason I came to Scotland was to play
and I am only just settling into the style of play in Scotland and it is
important for me to get settled into the group here. The most important
thing is to start playing and the time has come for that now. I want to
become a better player and hopefully I can start learning more about
Scottish football now my injury has settled down. The Livingston game was
a difficult context to play in because it was a closed doors game, but
scoring in that game has given me a real lift and Im looking forward
to scoring a few goals in the SPL games coming up. Im a proven goal
scorer and I will be looking to score a few goals from midfield this
season. Im quite happy playing as a striker as well as a midfielder
so the goalscoring instinct is in me. I hope I can start to prove that
Billy Kirkwood meanwhile believes getting the first goal will kick-start the season. "You get the feeling all we need is one goal, whether it be from a deflection or whatever, and we will be up and running and that means the whole team has to work hard to get it. It is not just up to the strikers. We could play for a draw and hope we come away with a point but that will give the opposition chances so you have to attack and try and score goals. I am confident we have the players here who can turn things around and against Kilmarnock in recent seasons the games have been particularly tight and we are confident we can get a result."
On the injury front David McClune and Graeme Jones are back in training although still not ready for first team action.
7pm - Two bad goals lost in the first half but a second-half comeback saw us unlucky not to come away with a point. Instead it was a 2-1 defeat for Saints although Willie Falconer brought some cheer with the first Saints goal of the season. Post-match the manager said "In terms of effort and commitment I don't think we have a problem. But when you give two really horrendous goals away then you have a mountain to climb. We created lots of chances and maybe never got the breaks they deserved. I'm happy we got our first goal though."
Results elsewhere means we're 2 points adrift at the bottom of the league thanks to the Dons beating Well 4-2. Meanwhile Livvy drew 0-0 with TFOE, TFOD drew 2-2 with Hibs whilst the Arabs beat the Pars 3-2 and Hearts beat Scumdee 3-1.
17th- Good news on the injury front with long-term victim,
Craig Russell(right) having pencilled
in Monday's U-21 game against the Arabs for his comeback.
Nick Dasovic has been discussing the side's form and says he doesn't want what looks to be his last season in Scotland to see relegation Ive never been relegated with any club and I dont want to start now. My contract is up at the end of the season and I dont know what the future holds. But if this does turn out to be my last season with Saints I want to leave the club with its Premier status. I came here when we were in the First Division and weve had a few great years, making third place in the league and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. These have been good times for the club and while last year was a disappointment and we havent got off to the best of starts this season, everyone has to work together. My goal for the season is to make sure St Johnstone are safe and sound in the SPL for another year. If I do leave next summer I dont want to go on a downer. No points and no goals from our first three games doesnt look good. But for an hour we looked good against Celtic and while the Dunfermline game was a let down we were producing some good stuff against Dundee United. Because I live in Perth I know theres a bit of doom and gloom among our fans just now. People are unhappy because we havent been doing as well as we did in getting into Europe. Its understandable but the players are remaining positive and the manager has already said its far too early to press the panic button. Its important everybody works together.
St. Sandy has revealed more details of his spying trip. The manager took in an international having targeted a midfielder.
Marc McCulloch has undergone a hernia op and is out for the next month. There are no new injury worries though for the game tomorrow. Billy Kirkwood said: Looking at the Killie game, we know if we win we go above them and it puts a different complexion on things. Thats a big incentive. Weve had a good reaction from the players. But we have to score to win a game and every player in the team should be going out onto the pitch believing he can get a goal or two. Well take any kind of goal. It can be a wonder strike from 30 yards or a ricochet. It doesnt matter. ....Desperate us?
August 16th- Confirmation in the papers today that neither trialist is being kept on this week. St. Sandy is apparently off on another scouting trip today and although he has a specific target in mind, neither he nor the club are saying where he's off to. So if you spot a stressed out soccer manager on your travels let us know............
15th- Latest on the midfielder on trial this week is that he's
another Frenchman and left-sided. And according to the Retard a left-sided
playmaker is "St. Sandy's major
concern"..........so no doubt the defence will take care of us.
It doesn't look like either or not he or Marcus
Stergiopolis will be extending their stay with the club. Both played
against Livvy yesterday in a 3-0 win for Saints -
Paddy Connolly scored one whilst
Rachid Djebaili got the other two
Meanwhile the net is full of rumours after the bad start to the season with St. Sandy(right) having between 2 and half-a-dozen games to sort things out before he'll be ousted. Amongst those being touted to replace him include a certain Judas along with his assistant Sloop - whether or not there's any truth in this remains to be seen but it would take a swing of Blairesque proportions amongst a lot of the Saints fans to accept the former back into the hallowed Halls of McD.
14th- Saints were playing another closed-doors match against the "Ambitious"
Ones this afternoon to give Marcus
Stergiopolis a chance to seal a move to Saints. He was due to be
joined in the line-up with a left-sided French midfielder on trial this
Paul Kane(right), meanwhile is denying any low morale problems in the dressing-room ahead of this weekend's trip to Rugby Park. "There's always been excellent morale in my time here and I don't see that changing. The workrate is still there and I think the fans could see we were creating chances in the second half against United. We were worth a point. I don't remember being in this situation before but everybody wants to see points on the board, and our first goals of the season. Obviously fans, players and other members of the staff will become agitated if this drags on and confidence can be eroded. That makes it important to get points as quickly as possible to stop that happening. At the weekend, there was an improvement from the Dunfermline game when, for all our possession, we could have played until midnight and not scored. With Graeme Jones still unavailable because of injury Willie Falconer is a good addition to the squad. Sometimes you need a physical presence and he can give us that edge. He's a similar type to Jonesy so we have options and different styles among the strikers now. Willie has shown he can score goals if he gets the right sort of service and his first goal for the club can't be far away "
Ian Fyfe has been announced as the ref for the Killie game.
August 13th- Paddy Connolly seems confident despite the 3rd defeat in a row at the weekend. "I am sure we can turn things around but we have to start hitting the back of the net. Thats three matches we have gone without a goal now and these things can prey on your mind a wee bit. As the manager says, as long as we keep working hard it will happen. We havent had the best of luck so far but these things come and go. It is annoying because we were disappointed that so many pundits tipped us to have relegation problems and were keen to prove people wrong. We are not doing that right now but there are a lot of good players here and once the new lads get bedded in, I am sure we will be alright."
11th- In almost a repeat of last week, a dominating Saints side
still managed to lose 1-0 to the Arabs
leaving us goalless and pointless after 3 games. After the game
St. Sandy bemoaned losing the goal to a
set-piece saying, "We had the players to deal with that and it
shouldn't have happened. In the second half, we had lots of pressure and
looked like scoring a little bit more than we did last week so at least
it's a step in the right direction. But you need to work hard to get luck
in front of goal and there are no shortcuts. In fact Alan Main did well to
keep us in the game with some good saves."
Elsewhere in the SPL it was Sellik 2 Jambos 0, Hibs 2 Sheep 0, Scumdee 1 Livvy 0 and Pars 1 TFOD 4.
10th-The big news is the signing of ex-Scumdee and OAP
Willie "Is he still on the go"
Falconer(right) on a one-month deal. The 35-yr old striker was lined
up for move to Clydebank but St. Sandy
talked to him last night in a bid to sign him and use his SPL experience
gained all over the place and more recently of course in Coagieland. With
Graeme Jones out for another 2 weeks
with his Achilles injury the player has been signed in cover. The manager
said "Willie joins us for a month to help us out in the forward
line. With the news that Jonesy is still a couple of weeks away from being
fully fit I've called on Willie to add some experience to the forward line
to help youngsters Peter McDonald and
Kiegan Parker. The deal is a month long
but we'll review the situation in a couple of week's from our point of
view and from Willie's before taking a decision on whether or not to
extend his stay in Perth."
For tomorrow, Cap'n Jim is also listed in the squad and if he plays will mark his 200th appearance in a Saints jersey. Preparations are still underway for tomorrows game although reports of a moat filled with Head'n'Shoulders in front of the North Stand to deter a pitch invasion are still to be confirmed. No doubt if Cap'n Jim isn't playing then he'll be stationed there to deter the unwashed.
Pope is out for revenge after the 3-2 defeat at the end of last season though. "That result was a real sickener for us and the manager read the riot act in the dressing room. No wonder. Our pride was hurt badly that afternoon and it was made worse because it was a derby. Im sure that game will get a mention in the build-up to this weekends match. We were giving them a doing and playing really well before going down to 10 men. Then the roof caved in. There will be a good atmosphere because United will bring a big crowd through to Perth. The last time United came here, they were partying and its not nice watching other teams celebrate on your ground. Rangers did it when they won the league here. You just want to get off the park as soon as possible. Hopefully we can get our own back on Saturday. It would be good to make it up to our supporters. It took longer than I had hoped to adjust to first team football after leaving Celtic but Ive no regrets about the move. I know exactly why Peter MacDonald left Rangers to come here because he was in the same boat. Theres a step up in class coming from the Old Firm reserves and it can take time to adjust. But hell be desperate to make an impact and win over the Perth fans.
On the trialist front a decision on Marcus Stergiopolis has been put on hold until Saints check him out against tougher opposition in a closed doors game next Tuesday. Finally Stephen Frail has been loaned out to Greenock Morton for a month.
9th- Confirmation that the trialist this week is 24-yr old
Australian midfielder and multiple Scrabble pointer
Marcus Stergiopolis(right). He holds a
Greek passport so work permits aren't a problem and has until the end of
the week to win himself a deal.
Elsewhere on the injury front and Rachid Djebaili came through Tuesday's came OK and is in the squad for the weekend.
8th- Latest on the trialists is that the Australian is named Marco
who scored and played at left-back in last nights 6-0 win over Jeanfield
Swifts. Also on trial was Ross Currie of Rangers on the right
midfield. Nick Dasovic(right) and
Jim Weir both played and came through the
game OK but the worry was Graeme Jones
who didn't play due to an achilles injury. St.
Sandy said "Graemes knee is fine but with training on
the hard grounds we have at the moment his achilles is a bit sore. David
McClune and Nick Dasovic being out is killing us because in their absence
we cannot get playing the way we want."
August 7th- St. Sandy has spoken out on the policy of continually having trialists at the club. Whilst the unnamed Aussie / Greek trialist is due to make an appearance in a match at Jeanfield Swifts tonight there are still more bodies likely to come through the door. "Momo came here and got a stage to perform on and did exceptionally well. When Celtic came in and made us a very good offer we had, as a provincial club, to take it. It is how we work and it is part of the reason we can attract people to join us. We picked him up on a Bosman free and we are constantly taking people on trial with a view to seeing if they can do a job for us. It is how you have to work in the modern market. That doesn't mean to say we won't pay money for players when we think they are really worth it."
6th- Peter McDonald has been
talking about his decision to sign for God's Chosen ones on Friday. The
player says he's been influenced by the success that Barry (Spit)
Nicholson made of his move. "Barry was a great player at under-21
level for Rangers but left after finding his first team opportunities were
limited. He has since gone on to do really well with Dunfermline and the
way he has had made an impact was a factor in my decision to move on when
my chance came last week. Though I scored 19 goals for the under-21s last
season, I couldnt really see myself getting a chance with the first
team any time soon because there is so much competition for the front
places. I believe coming to McDiarmid Park is a positive, not a negative,
step because I will get to play in the SPL which, at 20 years of age, is
where I want to be. Its a much higher standard of football than I am
used to but I have confidence in my own ability and I am sure that once I
get used I will score goals, You just have to look at the way Saints have
promoted Kiegan Parker and Ross Forsyth into the side to see that this is
a great club for any young player to be with."
St. Sandy expects more players too come on board as well. "We have been getting a succession of guys coming here on trial for weeks now and that is a process which will continue." And one of those arrived at McD today believed to be an Australian midfielder.
Finally Kenny Clark is in charge at the weekend.
4th- Paddy Connolly(right)
reckons we'll do OK without MoMo Sylla
against the Pars. The striker, set to start today said "A lot of
reporters have picked us out for relegation but nobody here is worrying
about that and hopefully it can be a spur to prove people wrong. Maybe
it's because we lost players like Gary Bollan and Nathan Lowndes, who were
important for us, and now of course Momos gone as well. There's no
doubt that he was the best player in the team but we're the sort of side
who are not all about one player. When we win games its about 11
players working as hard as they can and team effort, and if were to
beat Dunfermline that is what well have to do. The boys arent
too worried or downbeat about it. Plus, Im sure the manager will be
looking to bring in one or two players and when everybodys back from
injury there will be plenty of competition for places."
Peter McDonald (suggestions for nicknames to the usual address) is in the squad but missing will be Rachid Djebaili who picked up an ankle injury in training. Wacko managed to train so should be in contention.
19.00 - Despite enjoying most of the play we ended up on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat from the Pars and with other results not going our way we're still 12th on goal difference.
3rd- Now the deal is done and dusted, chief executive
Stewart Duff has revealed the background
over the sale of MoMo Sylla. After
turning down a £250,000 bid from Norwich in the summer, he
said "Regrettably the player found out about the Norwich offer
via his agent and it left him unsettled. He felt that we were blocking a
move to England and a bigger stage for him to play on, but as far as we
were concerned the offer came nowhere near our valuation of him. Would it
have been fair to have denied a player the opportunity to play Champions
League football and to earn a much bigger wage? The chairman has always
maintained that we have to be a selling club. Transfer fees from players
like Callum Davidson and Danny Griffin assist in the ongoing running of
the club and finance our youth policy. When Momo came here it was always
in his thoughts to move to a bigger stage and we had no problem or
difficulty with that. There will be money made available to strengthen the
team, and its up to the manager now to identify a player."
Meanwhile Jim Weir(top right) has been ruled out of the game tomorrow after injuring his knee in the bounce game earlier this week.St. Sandy said "Jim hurt his knee and was forced to come off early. He has been to see a specialist and he's out." . The good news is that Darren Jackson should make his debut with a "50-50 chance" of recovering from his back injury.
20.30 The big news though is the £125,000 signing of Rangers youth striker Peter McDonald(bottom right). The 20-yr old signed this afternoon. St. Sandy has seen the 20-year-old score regularly for the Ibrox Under-21 side and has handed him a three-year deal. The manager has seen the 20-year-old score regularly for the Ibrox Under-21 side and has handed him a three-year deal. > > He was delighted with his new arrival and said: "He's a talented young striker at 20 and has scored a few goals at Ibrox and hopefully he'll try to make the step up the ladder with us. He's a very young player, who I think will do very well for us and he'll be involved in the first team tomorrow. Hopefully he'll be a very good player for us and he's had a good education with Rangers. I wouldn't have signed him if I didn't think he could play in my team and I'm hoping he continues to progress, but I don't want to put too much pressure on him. ". More faces are on the way though with the manager saying "Obviously Momo has gone, but that's the way football works. Momo had a good opportunity to move to a bigger club. But we have moved quickly to sign Peter MacDonald and I'm always looking to bring in new players to strengthen the squad."
2nd- Well with the MoMo Sylla
deal all but done (only a medical to be sorted out) all the club were
doing last night was issuing the statement that "St Johnstone
have a policy of not commenting on Press speculation." .
Nick Dasovic meanwhile it tipping MoMo for big things."We knew right away he was different class - some of us wondered why he was at St Johnstone. He was only 23 but he already had international experience with Guinea. He has bags of skills, he's got great technique and the strength and agility needed at the highest level. Last season we went to Middlesbrough for a friendly and he was amazing. I know Terry Venables was raving about him and I really thought he would be putting pen to paper that night. Momo really was that good against Boro. He has the technical ability to go straight into the Champions League. He has played well against the Old Firm and if you can perform there you're good enough for Europe. However, I thought Momo would leave later rather than sooner. The timing, so early in the season, has come as a surprise. Our fans might be upset because he was a favourite with them but it's important that a selling club such as Saints have money to plough back into the youth system. That happened when Callum Davidson and Danny Griffin have been sold. "It adds up to good business for the club because, remember, they got Momo for nothing a year ago."
Speculation is mounting though that Saints will announce their own signing very shortly with St. Sandy having already selected his replacement for the departing Guinean, and keen to get the man on board before the Pars match. It won't be the Dutch midfielder though who's returned home.
19.00 Confirmation that the deal has gone ahead and MoMo Sylla has signed a 5-year deal with TFOE. No word on any signing rumours by Saints to replace him although there is plenty of time ahead of the weekend.
Looking ahead to Saturday's game and Alan Main is set to play his 250th match for Saints - the club are planning a presentation ahead of the game to recognise this.
Ex-Saint Alan Kernaghan has fixed himself up with a 1-month deal at Brechin City.
Finally the new Saints away top should be in the stores tomorrow.
1st- Major news today with MoMo
Sylla(right) leaving the club in a £750,000 deal to
join ....wait for it.....TFOE. Yup his wonderful performance on
Saturday has meant that the wee Leprechaun could come in and steal our
best player. Realistically this could be due to a get out clause in
the player's contract but if not then Christ knows what the club are even
thinking about and if the manager or chairman knew about this deal then
it's a disgraceful way to treat the fans. Not only do we lose one of our
best players (who still had 2 years of his contract to go and could
arguably have increased in worth by next summer) but we let him to another
bloody SPL team at a price which is a bargain to say the lease. Never mind
the fact that this will no doubt have a major impact on the fans (and
possibly players) attitudes towards the club when they see that we're not
even willing to try and hold onto our stars. Sorry Saints but this is a
f*ck-up of major proportions - and don't be surprised if there's a lot of
anger amongst the fans on Saturday. And while we're at it let's hear
it for the media and www.scottishfootball.com
who reported the story with "Sylla, practically the only
interesting thing at McDiarmid". Sandy
- put that one up in the dressing room !!!
On the good news front, Graeme Jones played 30 minutes in a bounce game last night. Reports of the clubs intention to flog him to Rangers for 50p and a copy of last week's Beano are as yet unsubstantiated. St. Sandy said, "Obviously Graeme's still not 100% but it's another part of his rehabilitation process.(by the way want to buy a goalie?)".
Top Of News
31st- While there's not too much happening on the football front,
except for the usual run of Media Falsehoods,
the club have announced that chairman Geoff
Brown is taking a 2-month sabbatical from the club for minor surgery
- it's his first break from running the club in 15 years. He said,
"Theres nothing sinister about my decision. The surgery
wasnt serious but Ive been told to take it easy for a month
and I already had a holiday booked for September. So it makes sense to
leave the running of the club to my directors." - Best wishes go
to him from all at the Temple.
It's been revealed that Benny has a clause in his deal allowing him to leave Saints 3 months into the season if he gets a decent offer. "After three months I can leave the club when there are lucrative offers from other sides. Barnsley were interested last summer and wanted to see me on a trial. At the time I didn't want that. But if Barnsley see me play at the start of the season and like what they see, they can make a bid after three months." It's also reported that Burnley are interested. . Fair enough to the player but let's hope that if he does go we're not left in the lurch holding the new Benny wigs (on sale this weekend along with Blue Heaven 6).
Looking ahead to this weekend and the SFA have confirmed that Kevin Toner will be the man to book the Saints players.
Finally the club have confirmed that they won't be signing Alan Kernaghan despite his appearance on the bench as a trialist at Parkhead last Saturday.
30th- Speaking after Saturday's defeat,
St. Sandy has singled
MoMo Sylla(right) and
Grant Murray out for attention. "Momo
is a player who can be a delight to watch because he has terrific skill
and is always likely to get a goal. However, we must make sure his
temperament is right because he has a tendency to react to things that
happen out on the pitch. These things get noticed and I would expect that
certain opposition players will attempt to take advantage of that in the
coming weeks. It is part of the game and the bottom line is that we have
to be big enough and strong enough to handle it. Grant is not one who will
be an exciting player to watch but I think he showed out there that he
will do a great job for us"
Meanwhile Darren Jackson missed out on Saturday with a minor back injury - not thought to be serious though.
July 29th - Nothing to report today with the usual plethora of Media Falsehoods coming in.
28th- Only a few hours to kick-off and
Benny has been talking about his debut
for Saints. "In Scotland the biggest games are against Rangers
and Celtic and when you play them as champions on the first day then its
even bigger. Ive always done well against Celtic in the past and Im
really looking forward to this game. We beat them twice in my two years at
Motherwell and one of the wins came at Celtic Park when we won with 10
men. Hopefully Ive carried the luck I had against them with me to St
Johnstone! We got those wins through teamwork- thats definitely whats
needed. You have to be strong as a team and not let them through you.
Beating Celtic is always possible, as long as you believe in it. If you
believe in yourselves, things can fall into place after that."
He's also fairly familiar with the Saints players as well. "I was training with Dunfermline to keep fit before I got the call from Sandy Clark and it has certainly all happened very quickly. But it doesnt take that long to blend in with new players and Im already enjoying my time here. Ive played against most of the players, so it isnt as if I dont know them. Ive really enjoyed my time here in Scotland so far, and although there were options back in Holland I wanted to stay in this country. Ive signed for one year and well take it from there and see how things go."
Speaking of the game, St. Sandy said "I think this is a great game for us. Its on national television, in front of a 60,000 crowd, against the league champions. If you dont want to be involved in a game like this then I think youve got a problem. It will be a real test but weve worked hard, we know how were going to play and hopefully it will work out for us. Nobody outside of McDiarmid Park will be expecting us to get anything out of this game, so anything we do manage to get will be a bonus." . There was also confirmation that the midfielder on trial is a Dutchman and will stay till next week.
Hopefully we'll get something from Parkhead but given there's only likely to be a few hundred of us against 60,000 bigots it's even more important to back the players for the full 90 minutes no matter what the score is.
9.00pm - So much for the optimism but a 3-0 defeat at Parkhead means we're bottom of the league in alphabetical order. We put up a brave performance but expect that to be ignored as the media go into OF brown-nosing overdrive. Post-match St. Sandy said "Our season really starts next week with the visit of Dunfermline". Elsewhere TFOD beat the Sheep 3-0, Hibs v Killie and the Scumdee derby both finished 2-2, Livvy beat the Hearts 2-1 and the Pars gubbed Well 5-2.
27th- With the start of the season just 24 hours away the injujry
list has started already. David McClune
and Nick Dasovic are definitely ruled
out of the Parkhead opener which means a start for
Rachid Djebaili after his
international clearance finally came through. The good news though is that
Darren Dods has been passed fit and will
Who partners him is open to question. The club are still in talks with Benito Kemble(right with da Boss)and even if his deal doesn't go through he can still be fielded as a trialist although the club are still hopeful of signing a short term deal. There is no possibility of the other player on trial signing by the weekend although he'll be at the club until next week.
6.30pm - Confirmation this afternoon that Benito Kemble has become a Saints player, signing a 1-year contract under Bosman. He'll play tomorrow and St. Sandy said "I'm naturally very happy to have a player of Benito's stature on board. It's very important for us to have a strong squad going into the start of the season and Benito adds depth to the defensive area. All going well, Benito will play his first game in a Saints shirt at Parkhead on the opening day of the season."
Still on the subject of tomorrow's game and to cheer us all up the ref is apparently going to be that well-known neutral Mike McCurry. Start praying.
26th- Tuesday's closed doors match saw a Saints reserve side beat
Brechin 3-1. Two European trialists (ex-Well defender
Benito Kemble and a midfielder) played
and apparently impressed enough for the club to hold talks with them
today. Both are available on Bosmans.
Meanwhile Graeme Jones has pencilled in the Arabs match on August 11 as a comeback date.
Finally St. Sandy has hit back at the Saints fans who voted on the official site and tipped us to go down. "I'm not negative by nature and I'm upbeat about our prospects. You're in a sorry state if you're involved in football and aren't looking forward to the new season. Over the past four years this club has a very good record in the top flight and that's not happened by chance. It's come about through hard work and dedication at every level of the club. But we all have to be pulling in the same direction, on and off the pitch. We lost players because they improved here. But we can't compete financially with most of the others in the SPL."
As for the prospects of signing Benito Kemble the manager said"Benito did very well in the friendly match and he will be with us for the rest of the week. "Of course playing against Celtic at a packed Parkhead is a totally different proposition but Benito is a very experienced defender who knows the Scottish scene well. "It's not as if he is stepping into the unknown. "If everything goes well over the next couple of days he could well play against Celtic."
25th- St. Sandy has confirmed
that it will be Kiegan Parker and
Darren Jackson(right) that will form
the Saints striking partnership for the weekend. "We certainly
have options because in addition to Darren and Keigan we also have
Russell and Graeme Jones, all of
whom are dangerous players. On the top of that the likes of
Tommy Løvenkrands and
Paul Hartley are more than capable of
going in and doing a strikers job for us when required. Last season
we had big problems with injuries but a benefit of those problems is that
we now know exactly who can do what when it comes to having to juggle
things round a bit. It is a long season and you need to have a lot of
versatility in your squad if you are to deal with the challenges the
season throws at you. Obviously given the choice we would not choose to be
without Jim Weir and
Stuart McCluskey at Celtic Park on
Saturday (the pair are both banned after being sent off in the St Mirren
friendly) but it is a situation we will have to deal with and it could be
that in dealing with it we will learn something to our benefit."
"Wacko" meanwhile hopes to use his experience. "You do pick up things along the way and I would like to think that I make better use of the opportunities that come my way on a football park than maybe I did when I was younger. No one is immune to the effects of the passing of time but I feel as fit and sharp now as I have ever done. I have always tried to look after myself in terms of nutrition and not abusing my body and I think I am reaping the rewards now. Obviously I am now nearing the end of my career. But I do feel I can make a contribution to St Johnstone-hopefully both in terms of what I do on the park myself and whatever help I can give to any of the younger more inexperienced players at the club."
24th- Latest for the weekend is that St.
Sandy is "very, very hopeful" that
Darren Dods will make Parkhead. "Darren
has only missed a few days of training, and he should be okay,"
A closed-doors game has been lined up for tonight and a "European" trialist will take part who is not Alan Kernaghan. The big defender turned out for Plymouth last night as a trialist against East Fife but is one option that can be called upon for Saturday. He said "I'm just waiting for the boss to say something. "I'd have to sign some form of contract but, even if it's a short-term one, it would give me the chance to get back playing."
The manager is happy with the pre-season training though. "Both Saturday's game at St Mirren and the Clyde game a few days before were very good tests for us and ideal for us at this stage. We needed that level of competitiveness."
Meanwhile one of the main sinners, Jim Weir has hit out at the mascot at Love St. for starting the trouble. "It was disappointing to see the club's official mascot unfurling that banner. That certainly didn't help matters. I feel guilty because now the team is going to Parkhead without two experienced defenders. I don't think Stuart's red card would have happened if I hadn't been sent off. By the letter of the law I suppose it was a sending-off. I'm paying the price for an act of stupidity. It would have been nice to notch up my 200th game for the club in such a big match but now that has to go on hold. I'm absolutely gutted."
Both Nick Dasovic and David McClune are rated doubtful for the weekend.
23rd- St. Sandy(right) has
continued to slag off the players red carded at the weekend. "I
have to think what to do and will consider the options available to us
over the next few days. Darren Dods (who
missed out at Paisley through injury) may be ready in time and there are
others who can come in and play in the centre. It's fair to say, though,
it is a problem we could have done without on the opening day of the
season." In addition the manager revealed that
MoMo Sylla was taken off before he too
picked up a red card.
Darren Jackson is blaming the St Midden fans and players for the trouble on Saturday. "It was a crazy game. There's no love lost between the sides because of the way last season ended. You could tell that by the crowd's reaction to Alan and I think it was unfair of the fans. A couple of the St Midden players were also having a go and that's why it all boiled oer. Even Steven McGarry was involved - he held the ball up after scoring. Alan was disappointed for St. Johnstone's fans and players that day not the St. Midden ones. He wasn't the one who got St. Midden relegated - I think they should look at themselves rather than looking for scapegoats.".
Yesterday's open day was attended by around 1200 Saints fans and managing director Stewart Duff said, "I was unsure as to what the turnout would be. But the crowd which came along was tremendous and that was very heartening. Theres a good local feeling towards the club. And I hope all who attended yesterdays Open Day, and more, will come along to our first home league game of the season against Dunfermline a week on Saturday." . As part of the proceedings a training session took place and the good news is that both Graeme Jones and Craig Russell took part.
22nd- St. Sandy has spoken of
yesterday's red cards. "There were no vendettas, no question of
that. "(Aye Right)"But it was disappointing to have the
sendings-off and I'm sure Tom Hendrie feels the same way. I am now going
to be two players short for Celtic Park which is far from ideal. It's fair
to say our two lads will be heavily punished for their actions simply
because we are going to Celtic Park short of two defenders."
So as to the lineup next Saturday night in defence your guess is as good as mine.
21st- Yesterday's injuries list all face fitness tests before this
afternoon's match. Meanwhile forget about Alan
Kernaghan returning to action for Saints - his appearance in
Thursday's match at Broadwood was only because according to the club "We
have several injuries and Alan was helping us out."
6.30pm - So much for the friendly tag. In a bad-tempered 3-2 defeat to St Midden both Jim Weir(right) and Stuart McCluskey were red carded along with two of the junkies, the former for a retaliatory kick and the latter for a two-footed tackle towards the end. 2-0 down at half-time, Saints hit the post twice before MoMo Sylla got us back into the game. A dubious penalty almost straight afterwards was cancelled out by a Tommy Løvenkrands drive. Still it was a good performance but if the red cards carry forward to next week it looks like we'll be without a defence. Oh boy.
20th- St. Sandy is looking ahead
to tomorrow's game to get an idea of how the team will line up for next
weeks league opener. He said "St Mirren were the club relegated
last season they're the nearest we can get to the standard we'll be
facing. I'm looking to have the players up to speed for the trip to Celtic
Park. That's what we've been building towards. Ideally I'd like as many of
those who are in my plans for that game to feature on Saturday. I know
roughly how I want to set-up for the Celtic match. But unfortunately we do
have a few niggling injuries to contend with and that will impact on the
So far the injury list is pretty poor. Nick Dasovic(groin), Paddy Connolly (toe), MoMo Sylla (foot), Darren Dods(knee), Tommy Løvenkrands (back), David McClune and John Paul McBride(hamstrings) are all doubtful. Stuart Malcolm(right) has also seen a specialist about his rehab and got the good news that he can, like Craig Russell step up his training with the view to September return to action. On the new signings the St. Sandy said "Darren and Grant Murray have settled in quickly but Rachid Djebailiwill be given time to become accustomed to a new country and a new league. Fortunately Rachid speaks good English and that will help his cause."
Meanwhile rumours are doing the rounds that Norwich City (amongst others) tabled a £1m bid for MoMo Sylla(right) but the club turned it down. The player was also apparently fined 2 weeks wages for being late for pre-season training.
Finally Sunday's open day at McD will see the new "Super J's" club for young fans launched and membership is available through SFA community coach Atholl Henderson. For just £7 a season, a member of the "Super J's" (the name was inspired by Sky TV's Soccer AM programme) will receive a goodie bag containing a branded wallet and puzzle ruler and Saints light. Freelance cartoonist Steve Bright came up with the design. Every member receives a birthday card signed by the Saints players, a club Christmas card, free entry to U21 games, a swim voucher for Perth Leisure Pool and discount at County Sports and Campus Sports. The "Super J's" activity schedule includes a pre-match club which is being set-up this season for SPL home games, special bus trips to away games, discos, coaching sessions, ten-pin bowling outings and other fun events. They also enter an exclusive ballot for home game mascots and ball boys/girls. And every week a member is featured in the PA. Atholl explained: "We decided it was time for a makeover and we're introducing a few new ideas. For instance, we're currently working on a spot-kick competition for the interval at home games. It's all designed to ensure the youngsters enjoy their membership to the full." Good to see the club taking some positive steps at winning the local kids over.
19th- It's the first real friendly at Broadwood tonight as Saints
take on 1st Division Clyde. Rachid "Deirdre"
Djebaili is set to play tonight and the club are hopeful of getting
thre clearance for Monsieur Frank to
play. Apart from that the line-up is anyone's guess. Kick-off is at
11.30pm - Plenty of subs used and some surprise faces appeared in the 2-1 win at Clyde with Grant Murray and Paul Hartley getting the goals.
18th- Rachid "Deirdre"
Djebaili and the French trialist (Coloured and his first name has
been worked out so he's now known as Monsieur
Frank) were able to play in the 2-0 win at Forthbank last night
since it was a closed-doors match. Goals came from
Kiegan Parker and
Darren Jackson which makes it 3 in 3
games for Jacko.
The club are aiming to also get clearance forMonsieur Frank to play on Thursday.
Looking ahead to Saturday and whilst there won't be an official programme for the game the St. Mirren fanzine will produce an 8-page issue priced 50p for the game.
17th- Rachid "Deirdre"
Djebaili put pen to paper on a 2-year deal yesterday and was in the
club official squad photo. Recommended to the club by Gilles Rousset
the player said "This is the opportunity of a lifetime. Gilles
got in touch through a mutual friend and said he had recommended me to St
Johnstone. He believes my style of play is perfect for the game in
Scotland." . He'll make his debut for Saints against Clyde this
week assuming he gets clearance. St. Sandy
said : "Rachid has a great engine, he gets around the park and he
is an attacking type."
Meanwhile another Frenchman arrived at the club for a trial yesterday - no word on his position or ability but it could be the man to fill the legendary no 6 shirt. Believed to be a left-sided midfielder, he's set to play in a closed-doors match against Stirling Albion tonight and on Thursday if he impresses.
16th- Bloody hell - leave the country for two weeks and Saints go
The major news of course is the two signings - one definite and the other set for today. First up is the surprise package of 35-yr old Darren "Used to be a diver" Jackson(right) a player who arguably pissed off most Saints fans in recent seasons with his continual habit of scoring goals against us. After a trial he's signed a 1-yr deal "I'm happy to sign for St Johnstone and I'm confident that I can do a good job for the Club this season. I know a few of the guys here from my time with Dundee United and my connections with the Edinburgh clubs so I'm sure I'll be able to settle in very quickly. I've worked hard on fitness throughout the summer and I'm looking forward to playing at the highest level.". Whilst not the most welcome of signings (and he's got a lot to prove to the fans to show he can make a worthwhile contribution), he's at least managed to get off the scoring mark with a double at the weekend in Saturday's 3-2 win over Tarff Rovers as part of Saints friendly tour of South-west Scotland - the second a last-minute winning header.Kiegan Parker got the other goal.
The other surprise signing is set to be French attacking midfielder Rachid Djebaili(right). 26-years old and apparently watched by Saints for a while last season he comes to us under Bosman after impressing in a week's trial a fortnight ago. St. Sandy said "We've had Rachid here for a week now, but we have been watching his progress for a long time. He will come to us on the Bosman ruling and add strength to the midefield area of the team which has been my priority. We still have other options open to us in the midfield department and they should come be finalised in the next couple of days." . The deal has been agreed (and he appears in the squad listings) but the player is talking things over with his girlfriend just now in France and should sign today (yeah I know where have we heard all that before?). Still he looks like he enjoys getting the goals in as well with 10 last season for Noisy-le-sec in 29 appearances. A similar rate this season wouldn't go amiss. And it's good to see the club continuing to sign players of a shall-we-say beauty-challenged variety !!!
The Worshipful Idols Page has been updated with the new squad numbers for the coming season although stattos amongst you might note that the No 6 jersey is still blank. Rumours are that another Frenchman is on trial this week so expect a possible occupant soon.
On tthe departure front both youth keeper Scott Findlay and Gary Bollan have pissed off to "Ambitious Livingston" - the former going on the recommendation of ex-Saints goalkeeping coach Roy Baines whilst the latter just went for the money and to get a shellsuit to fit his not-inconsiderable girth. On the coaching fron and and ex-Scumdee keeper Bobby Geddes is the new part-time goalkeeping coach at the club.
Celtic tickets are now on sale priced at a wonderfully low 21 quid with the only consolation being that we're back in the corner section of the ground which means a big pillar obstructing the view. Still the quicker they piss off to the English Premiership the better.
The club are holding an open day on Sunday July 22.. The event will allow fans to watch a training session, take part in a penalty competition and gather autographs. The club will also be issuing tickets allowing free admission to the first home game of the season, against Dunfermline on August 4.
Finally off the park and Marc McCulloch has been given 200 hours community service for his drink-driving. Lesson learnt we hope.
1st- A quick reminder that the results of the 2001
TOSSAs are out.
Congratulations to TeamTalk as well for managing to take an early lead in this season's Media Falsehoods. Nothing else in the papers today but Grant Murray is now a Saints player.
Elsewhere on the signing front it's not great news though with Layton Maxwell apparently set to go to Cardiff City according to the Welsh club. There are still rumours that Saints will sign a Danish midfielder within the next fortninght but nothing more concrete than that.
Finally it'll be the last report for a couple of weeks as I head for the Med to prepare the liver for the coming season. Both From The Terrace and the Official Saints site will no doubt be kept up-to-date with the latest transfer and injury news (damn I'm sounding pessimistic already).
Top Of News
30th - Confirmation today that Grant
Murray has put pen to paper on a 2-year deal.
St. Sandy said "Grant is a
player I know very well from the years we had together at Hearts and I am
delighted to have brought him here. He is versatile in that he can play in
a number of different positions and extremely reliable in terms of the
level of performance he turns in. I have no doubt that he will be able to
slot into our side and do a decent job for us anywhere he is asked and you
need people with that ability in your squad."
And the manager is planning for more new faces to appear as well. "We have been putting a lot of effort into strengthening our squad for the coming campaign and I am confident of having more good news for supporters in the near future"
Pre-season training started tough yesterday - it was a double session on the North Inch - as Jim Weir's face shows.
Right the moment you've all been waiting for and the Temple is proud to bring you the 2001 TOSSAs - enjoy reliving the depression of last season and see what the fans predict for next year.
29th - Latest to leave for Livvy is goalkeeping coach Roy
Baines who has taken up a post with the Schemie Boyz.
St. Sandy isn't that worried though.
"I need to speak to Alan Main when he returns for training
tomorrow but I think I have a solution worked out"
Better news this afternoon with the announcement that, subject to a medical tomorrow morning, ex-Hearts midfielder Grant Murray(right) will sign for Saints. The 25-yr old left-sided midfielder/ defender is highly-rated by St. Sandy and will sign under Bosman on a free.
Meanwhile pre-season training got underway today with the only absentees being Graeme Jones and Craig Russell. However, both are being pencilled in for a return at the end of August.
27th - As usual there's little to report. The first team return for
pre-season training on Friday although Graeme
Jones and Craig Russell will be
missing for another month.
Remember to get your TOSSA 2001 Votes in by Saturday 5pm - hopefully the results will be out Saturday night.
26th - With little real news happening it's time for
St. Sandy(right) to speak. And he's laid
out the targets for this season. "If you look at our record in
the last three or four years we have had a good few seasons. And I really
think that there is no reason why St Johnstone can't make it to a cup
final or even challenge for European qualification this time around. We
are aiming for a final or European qualification, but we are looking to
consolidate our place in the top six in Scottish football."
Elsewhere and cult hero Allan Preston has signed a 3-month contract as assistant coach to "Ambitious" Livingston to help out with their U-21s. On the same subject and Nathan"My Back was Sore but watch how quick I can move to SchemieLand" Lowndes has come out with the quote of the day with his "I didn't join for the extra £40,000 a year - the club impressed me with their ambition"....which no doubt explains the relegation clause in the deal.
June 25th - No real news to report with the only Saints-related mention an interview with chairman Geoff Brown where he lets rip on the subject of agents. "The power has definitely swung in favour of agents. Not all of them have the respect of the clubs and that's bad. It causes problems when an agent acts for more than one player at a club. Clubs put valuations on players and they will value one more than the other, but the agent tells one player what the club is offering his team-mate, and that's bad." Hmm wonder who he means.
23rd - Still very little happening on the transfer front but the
players are due back for pre-season training on Thursday.
But to keep the smile on our faces Scumdee went down 5-2 to Sartid in the Inter-Toto ending their chances in Europe and even better Fabian "The Diver" Caballero took an early bath.
21st - Well the fixtures for 2001-02
are out today and apart from the nastiness of a first match being away to
TFOE (and live on SKY to boot which means a 5.35pm Saturday night
kick-off), we're not too bad. That's followed up by home matches against
the Pars and Arabs so by the middle of August we should know how we're
Only one trip to the Death Star and Schemieland is offset by a couple of journeys along the road to Scumdee. And with no mid-season shutdown it looks like a fun time in January with Rugby Park and Parkhead the only away games.
20th - Plenty of match news with a second friendly announced.
Saints will travel to Broadwood on Thursday July 19th to
take on Clyde. Kick-off is at 7.30. Meanwhile despite the official
SPL fixture list not being issued until tomorrow, rumours are going round
that Saints will be away to TFOE for the first game. No doubt that will do
our record of not winning the first game of the season no end of harm.
Finally and the SFA have chosen McDiarmid for the Scotland v Croatia U-21 match set for Friday August 31st with a 7.30pm kick-off. Wonder if any Saints players will be picked for a change?
June 19th - Another twist in the Layton Maxwell saga today with Cardiff City now also in the hunt for the midfielder.
18th - The good news today is that Layton
Maxwell(right) looks set to sign a 2-year deal with Saints. It seems
that we've beaten off opposition from Stoke and several other English
sides for the 20-yr olds signature. He's expected to become a Saints
player this week, with the promise of regular first-team football luring
him to McD.
June 17th - Another slow news weekend in the close season with the only Saints tidbit being the alleged spotting of Miguel Simao in Perth nightclub The Ice Factory with the former Saints player saying his reappearance in Scotland is "a secret". Expect him to sign for "Ambitious" Livvy shortly.
15th - It looks like Graeme Jones
will be back in action soon. The striker is working out every day at McD
in an attempt to recover his fitness following his knee injury. He said,
"I now know that I will be able to play first team football in
eight weeks time. It can be very frustrating being out of action for so
long, and it's not as easy as going straight into the team when you're fit
again as Keigan and Paddy have formed a good partnership, but I just can't
wait for Saturday afternoons so I can get back to doing what I enjoy most.
There is light at the end of the tunnel and it can't come quick enough."
Meanwhile and it looks like Nick Dasovic's international career isn't over - he's off to Colombia now for the Copa America giving him another quiet close season. Reports that Charlies One and Two were seen wearing lumberjack shirts in a desperate attempt to Canadianise themselves are totally unfounded of course.
June 14th - Well there's still very little happening at the club. Still at least the new seasons are out !!
12th - The first pre-season friendly has been announced with Saints
heading to St Mirren on July 21st.
St. Sandy said of the plans "Ideally
Id like to go to England for a few days but that could be very
difficult because of the timing of our season compared to their season. So
at the moment weve got St Mirren organised. Thats as good a
game as we could ask for competitive wise. Also, well probably not
be able to play any games at McDiarmid because of work being done on our
own pitch. So it looks as if most of our games will be elsewhere in
Scotland against Division One sides."
On the transfer front and Mr Anonymous won't be getting an offer to sign for Saints. Layton Maxwell's contract is up on June 30th so expect a move for him then.
Off the park and Andy Cameron has had his phone call from Geoff Brown so all's well there....at least until we meet next season.
10th - Latest news on the "Ambitious" Livingston
tantrums depends on what paper you read with some saying that
Geoff Brown has said he'll apologise
(cue massed chorus of "what for?" from Saints fans) and
some saying that he won't. What is clear is that the chairman has said
he'll phone Andy Cameron today to clarify the matter.
No news on the park but pencil in September 11th as the date when Charlie One and Charlie Two will have their industrial tribunal case heard - Court of Session decisions not withstanding.
9th - SPL new boys "Ambitious" Livingston (aka
Ferranti Works 2nd XI)have thrown their first tantrum of the close
season with chairman Dominic "Andy Cameron lookalike" Keane
threatening to sue Geoff Brown for
daring to suggest that Gary Bollan is a
waste of money for the ram-raiding schemie-boyz. Wee Dominic, who
is well known for wanting to turn Livvy into another TFOE, has spoken to
his lawyer and any tabloid that will listen (which given the club means
most of them these days) and threatened to throw his rattle out of his
For the record I visited a mate in Livingston this afternoon and spent 3 hours in a shopping centre without spotting a single Livvy top but managing to lose count of the TFOD tops on show.
Finally to bring a smile to everyone's faces it appears Bonetti (of Scumdee managerial fame) has had a warrant issued for his arrest by Tayside's finest following his failure to pay a speeding fine.
June 8th - Well it looks like we can forget about Davie McFarlane with St. Sandy(right) denying any move. The midfield are is the target and a short list has been drawn up to fill it. "At the moment weve got quite a few irons in the fire. Atholls going abroad at the weekend to have a look at a player (believed to be a Danish attacking midfielder known as Mr Anonymous from now on)and there are a few others were having a serious look at as well. Im pretty certain that at least two of them will be on board by the time we get pre-season training under way. Layton Maxwell is one of those were interested in. Were looking for one attacking type midfielder and one defensive type midfielder. Thats the areas were looking at. Weve got Paddy Connolly, Kiegan Parker, Graeme Jones and Craig Russell as strikers, as well asMoMo Sylla, Tommy Løvenkrands and Paul Hartley who can all play there. So strikers are definitely not a priority. Things might have been different if wed lost Paddy on top of Nathan Lowndes, but were well covered."
7th - This morning's papers report that a £50,000 bid
for Davie McFarlane(right) is being
lined up by Saints with the Accies striker targeted as a replacement for
Nathan Lowndes. It was
St. Sandy who signed the player for
Hamilton originally and as one of the 3rd Divisions top scorers last
season he looks worth a gamble.
June 6th - As expected Geoff Brown's comments are picked up by the rest of the media today with the predictable taking of Livvy's side. Ach well Geoff don't worry the fans are behind you at least.
5th - It's the first Media Falsehood
today with the Sun picking up the accolade.
Geoff Brown(right) meanwhile has had a go at Livingston for fuelling wage inflation in the SPL. "I thought I detected a sea change last season among chairman, with John Boyle at Motherwell setting the ball in motion with his cuts at Fir Park. I thought we would see a bit more common sense this time round. But I've been amazed by what,s happening. I had hoped clubs would be more sensible about wages but it's not happening. It's really quite astounding. Livingston, in particular, are throwing money about and I don't believe it will pay. In fact, I can assure them it won't pay! If it does, it will be the first time it's paid to throw money down a drain! That's what it boils down to, I'm afraid. How many clubs have tried this in the past? Did no one read John Boyle's press statement when he decided to cut his losses at Motherwell? I'd say Livingston and Motherwell are in a similar situation. They are based in well populated areas but many locals head to Glasgow for their football. There's no chance of them becoming the third or fourth club in the country. They can be as ambitious as they like but the money will simply line the pockets of players and their agents."
It's not just sour grapes either with Gary Bollan and Nathan Lowndes away. "I'm not miffed because they are taking two of our players. One had burned his boats around Christmas when he turned down a very good offer and the other has been given a deal at Livingston which was £40,000 a year more than our offer. I can't blame the player for accepting it but remember we haveKiegan Parker and in my opinion he would have started a lot more games than Nathan. Now that money will be available as we try to bring two or three new players to Perth. Clubs like Livingston are cutting their squad but paying daft money for players coming in. I'm concerned for Scottish football, not Livingston. Dominic Keane comes from a financial background but he's gone football crazy. There's no way this makes financial sense. There's no way a bank manager would give them cash for what they're doing because he regarded it as a sound investment."
"Everyone knows we want to add to a squad which is already pretty solid. At the moment there's nothing concrete to report. We were going well enough until Christmas and you don't become a bad side overnight. If we can steer clear of the injuries which hit us hard I'm quite optimistic about next season. Maybe I'll be accused again of being tight with the money but I'd rather St Johnstone had that reputation and remained solvent, than went bust by spending money we simply don't have."
On the transfer front and Saints have denied any links with a possible move for Jim McIntyre with the midfield believed to be the priority.
Finally Charlie One and Charlie Two are apparently taking us to the Court of Session now in another attempt to justify their snorting habits. A decision is expected in the next couple of weeks.
4th - No real news on the transfer front with the
Jim McIntyre confirmed in today's
Courier although there's little in the way of real facts coming out of the
club. The papers seem convinced Gary Bollan
is a LivvyBollan is a Livvy
player already although again there's no official confirmation.
Elsewhere though the good news is that TFOE's Stilian "Bread-Queuer" Petrov has vowed never to play at McD again believing it to be unlucky after he broke his leg there last time.
Latest rumours suggest a possible trip to Valley Parade to play Bradford as a pre-season friendly. Meanwhile, the 2001-2002 Fixture List has been updated with the dates of the Scottish Cup ties next season.
3rd- Grant Murray is now
apparently also interesting Motherwell with the papers today reporting
that Saints are holding back on a final decision whilst we wait on
Gary Bollan to make his mind up.
Meanwhile a new name in the frame courtesy of the News of the World is Jim McIntyre(right) from Reading with the ex-Airdrie / Killie striker looking for a move back North and the paper apparently convinced we want him as a replacement for Nathan Lowndes.
2nd- Right formalities first and the 4th annual TOSSAs are
now ready for voting. Vote online here or send
your answers to this List of questions to
All votes in by June 30th please?
Elsewhere and the club's backing of Marc McCulloch after his court appearance this week has come under fire from the solicitor of Charlie One and Charlie Two with accusations of the club being "hypocritical". Geoff Brown has retaliated saying "The two incidents are totally different. Marc came into the club the next day full of remorse and willing to do anything to make things right. As yet we are still waiting an apology from either Thomas or O'Boyle".
On the playing front Nick Dasovic played for 90 minutes in the Canada v Brazil 0-0 draw.
1st- First up the good news for those of us that like our Sunday's
quiet is the news that from the start of next season Sky games
will move from Sunday to 5.35pom Saturdays.
Stewart Duff said, "Keeping
football on a Saturday is good news for season ticket holders and other
supporters. Saturday is the traditional day for football and I dont
think moving matches back a few hours will inconvenience anyone to any
great extent especially if you are the home team."
The chief executive also denied speculation that Saints are interested in signing Hearts defender Grant Murray(right), despite rumours that the player who left Tynecastle under Bosman yesterday was at McD for talks. "The priority position for us at the moment is midfield."Murrays name is one of many that have been put forward by an agent but at the moment our interest is in two midfield players with a view to signing one of them."
No news on the transfer front about Accies strikerDavie McFarlane although again the player is rumoured to have been at McD for talke, but another rumoured target Andy Dowhas signed for Motherwell.
Alan Main(right) has been talking about the lack of international caps coming his way with the TFOE 4th XI U-14 keeper apparently preferred ahead of him. "Maybe it would help my cause if I was playing for a club which had a higher profile but I've been with Saints for a long time now and I like living in Perth. If someone is playing well, they will get into the squad. There's not much more I can do, other than play well for St Johnstone. And a cap would be magic for myself and my family. I have to be consistent week in, week out. I felt I was playing well enough but when I made a stupid mistake it invariably cost us a goal. That was the way it seemed to pan out last season."
"Ask any player who was part of the League Cup final and European experience and they'll tell you they really enjoyed it. We should be pressing hard to get back to those days. We're a small club with a small support base but players must have high standards. We may feel we're good enough for the top six but the crux of the matter is that we have to get the points required. We didn't do well enough from December onwards and that meant we finished 10th, which was a big disappointment. It's difficult but the club has to bring in new players. I think the chairman and manager know that. But the hard task is to bring in guys good enough to replace those who are leaving. Hopefully they can do that and it will freshen up the squad. Youngsters have done exceptionally well and some of them have good futures ahead of them. But we need a couple of experienced players to come in to help the youths. Trying to replace guys like Alan Kernaghan and Gary Bollan isn't going to be easy. It's sad to see players of their quality leave, like John O'Neil did last year. Obviously it's a concern for everyone connected with the club."
"It would be easy to worry about what lies around the corner but in the past the players have responded to the challenge and we aren't alone in losing players. I'd like to think we can cut down on the number of goals conceded next season and get back to being a hard team to break down. Losing three goals, as we did all too often, isn't acceptable to a keeper or his defenders. We never even contemplated that in previous seasons. We, and I'm including myself here, have to cut down on the defensive mistakes which cost us heavily. It's not nice being criticised on television and in the newspapers but there's no respite from it nowadays. I watch the sports programmes and read the papers. I have to put myself through it. You can't bury your head in the sand if you make a mistake. You have to try to learn from it. Sometimes I ask myself how on earth I could make a mistake like the one which presented Dundee United with their first goal in the last game at McDiarmid. Despite what some people might be saying, because I once played for Dundee United, there's no way I would ever want to lose a goal, and certainly not like that. But being a goalkeeper, you know the finger is going to be pointed if you do slip-up."
Elsewhere Marc McCulloch appeared in court yesterday to plead guilty to drink-driving. His solicitor said the player "was willing and able to pay any fine no matter how heavy" which shows how much money he makes. Sentenced was deferred for reports.
With the planning for the new season now underway, it means that the Media Falsehoods, Prospects and Referee Votes pages for 2000-2001 are now closed. Their equivalents for season 2001-02 can be found here, here and here.
Top Of News
31st - Saints have been linked in today's Retard with a move for
22-yr old Hamilton striker Davie
McFarlane as a replacement for Lowndes.
The youngster scored 20 goals last season and is set to quit Accies to try
himself at a higher level although Tranmere are also said to be
Elsewhere on the transfer front and the latest bizarre rumour (and definitely taken with a pinch of salt) is that Livvy are interested in luring keeper Alan Main. With a year to come it will take a hefty fee for any deal to go through but it's not as though the Schemie-boyz are short of their ram-raiding proceeds.
Finally Channel 5 on Saturday at 9am will be showing the Canada v Brazil match from the Confederation Cup in Japan with Nick Dasovic possibly involved for Saints.
May 29th -Bollan looks set to sign for Livingston. Saints gave the schemie-boyz permission to talk to the player and it's believed that they've made him a better offer than Saints could. Ach well no great loss.
29th - According to some papers, Andy
Dow(right) is once again a Saints target. After an attempt to sign
the player failed in March, rumour has it that we'll make a public
approach in the next few days and that the player is keener to sign since
Aberdeen formally put him on the transfer list. Elsewhere and one rumoured
target Davie Nicholls is believed to
be signing for the Pars this week.
But the big news is the revelation that St. Sandy(right) signed a 2-year extension to his contract last December and will be with the club until 2003. "The chairman and I agreed things just before the drugs business broke but I didnt want it being made public as I dont think this is a big issue. I am happy to be here, my enthusiasm for the job remains intact and the response Ive had from the players in my time at the club has delighted me. But I have lost my job before when Ive had a contract and I am well aware that football managers sink or swim according to their clubs results."
"My first two years went very well and maybe weve all taken things for granted after that. This is very much a transitional period for St Johnstone but we do have exceptionally good kids coming through and over the next 12 to 18 months I seem them being a big part of the first-team squad. I cannot pretend that, owing to the way in which we have lost games, the past few months have been anything other than unbelievably frustrating. We are more than capable of having finished in the top six but our lack of consistency cost us. The supporters have been very good with us considering the number of times theyve been let down. Now we have to fix the flaws which caused us to give games away and try to ensure next season is a better one."
"We're losing players through Bosman and working hard to replace them. I realise things have to be done properly on the business side of the club. You'll find a number of clubs will be cutting back next season, while Motherwell and Hearts were doing that last term by moving on their big earners. To his credit, the chairman here didn't jeopardise the security of the club by going down that route. The biggest bonus from last season was the emergence of several youngsters. At one stage we had six players under 18 in our squad, although that wasn't ideal. I'd envisage a few more 17 and 18-year-olds coming through in the next couple of years to become part of the first team squad but it's important we get the balance right. You don't win anything with so many youngsters in the team and there were times when Keigan Parker, for instance, should have been been taken out but we couldn't do it because of the injuries which had hit us."
Geoff Brown said "As far as I am concerned Sandy has done well in the 21/2 years he has been at the club and the only reason we didnt announce the new contract at the time it was agreed was because we believed it would have been inappropriate to do that when certain things were hanging over us.Sandys first year was quite exceptional and while the past season was trying for everyone I think we have to recognise we were particularly badly hit with injuries and that we are very much in a transitional period. One or two guys who served us well have moved on and two or three others are a bit long in the tooth. The Bosman situation also makes things very difficult for clubs like St Johnstone."
Off the park and the manager has decided to tackle the indiscipline from last season. "Our disciplinary record this past season was unacceptable. I cannot stress enough how much that will change next year. We have a disciplinary code at the club. Next season it will be made a lot tougher. It simply isnt on for front players to get themselves into that situation. Defenders get booked, that goes with the job they do, but neither Keigan nor Paul are tacklers or ball winners and they have to exercise greater self-control. Momo may not have been sent off but he did pick up a lot of bookings and that has to stop. Momo has given everyone at the club a lift because he is a fabulous talent but he must learn to control his temper and be more disciplined. Ive told him to look at Henrik Larsson. Larsson gets a lot of attention from opponents and every time he gets a hard time all he does is pick himself up, stick the ball in the net then stick his tongue out and laugh at them. Thats the kind of attitude Momo has to adopt."
It's also been revealed that Marc McCulloch was "severely punished" after his drink-driving incident.
On the Bollan front, it looks like he is set to head for Livvy although final confirmation will probably wait until his contract expires at the end of June.
Finally Saints have said that season ticket sales are "going steadily". On the park, the remedial work on the pitch has been completed.
28th - Chairman Geoff Brown has
come out fighting over the Charlie One
and Charlie Two tales in the papers
yesterday."What makes me bitter about this business is the fact
that weve gone through all we have and at no time been offered an
apology in any shape or form. They let down everyone-themselves, their
families, people like Nick Summersgill who had worked, in Georges
case for more than 18 months, to get them fit, the club and our
supporters-yet they dont seem able to acknowledge that. If theyd
come clean and asked for forgiveness that would be quite a different
situation. Im not saying theyd still have been at St Johnstone
but we would have helped them. However, here we are at the end of May,
five months on from when this happened, and no remorse has been shown by
either of them."
"Sandy Clark, Stewart Duff and our doctor Alistair McCracken- et the two of them on the Sunday and all the reports I got back from that meeting differ to a degree from the version being put forward by OBoyle and Thomas. And I know who I believe. All the way through the players have admitted taking an illegal substance. When we first met with them they admitted the substance was cocaine. At the second meeting, when their legal representatives were present, they would only say it was an illegal substance. As I understand it, at no time did they say they just tasted it. I also understand that they were offered counselling." . The appeal is expected to be heard in court in August or September.
On the contracts front it's been revealed that Nathan's wages at Livingston are believed to be around £40,000 a year more than Saints were willing to offer. Meanwhile Bollan is expected to give a decision in the next day or so as to whether he'll stay a Saintee or become a schemie-boy.
27th - Well the News Of The Screws has
Charlie One and
Charlie Two on the front page and
inside the paper telling of "Our Drugs Madness" although
a bit more reading of the article inside reveals that there is sod all
information with both players admitting taking the substance cos "it
was drunken curiosity that drove us on. It's not like we wanted to take
it, we were just curious.". The article goes on to detail how
much the players had drunk and how they're "not Big-time Charlies".
Nothing new and it looks like very little to damage Saints although
predictably the paper's editorial has a go at "Saints draconian
measures" - strange how a supposedly moral paper like that is
willing to support the taking of drugs.
And one final comment - there is still no sign of an apology from either druggie.
Now can we get back to fitba?
26th - Nathan has apparently
signed for Livingston and told Saints of his decision in a phone
call just before heading for a 3-week holiday to the states.
St. Sandy said "We made Nathan
a very, very good offer to keep him here. We really pushed the boat out
but he has told me he won't be re-signing for us. It's disappointing
because Nathan has been a good player for us, despite being out for most
of last season while he underwent rehabilitation after major back surgery.
We hoped to get Nathan and Paddy on
board for next season. I was delighted to get Paddy because he's a totally
different player from Nathan or Keigan Parker, who are similar types."
Finally rumours have it that the Sunday papers will feature us more than normal tomorrow with stories going round that Charlie One and Charlie Two have sold their stories to a tabloid. Rumour has it they'll give their version of the saga and the story has been described as dynamite.
25th - With Nathan now being
linked with Kilmarnock, Saints apparently expect a decision from
the player today over a new contract.
St. Sandy has been praising Paddy Thingy though saying "Paddy had an offer from Plymouth and I'm sure hed have had others if he had allowed his contract to expire, so I am delighted we managed to hold on to him. The last couple of months, when Paddy was out injured, highlighted his importance to us. He is is a very intelligent player who keeps the ball well and I also think it is no co-incidence that Keigan Parker did not look the same player without Paddy alongside him. Paddy is perfectly capable of getting more goals than he does and if he adds that to his game there is no way hell be out of the side."
Paddy(right) said "As a striker you are judged on your goals and my scoring form since I went to St Johnstone has been very poor. I do feel that I offer other things to the team but theres no doubt I should be getting on the scoresheet more often. My aim for next season will be to do just that - and hopefully Ill prove a match for Henrik Larsson! A playing career doesnt last forever and to get a contract which brings with it another three years of what hopefully will be Premier League football is great. I was a wee bit worried at the prospect of going out-of-contract because there is no guarantee of getting fixed up. Now, though, Ive got the security of a long-term deal."
As for the rest of the player moves yesterday Saints have admitted they expect some flak in the media for freeing Robbo especially with certain ex-keepers sure to come out of hiding to repeat stories about being shot by Geoff Brown if they were a horse. St. Sandy, who revealed that Robbo turned down a 2-year deal last year in favour of a 12-month one said, "I wish Stephen the best of luck and he is more than welcome to use our facilities to continue his rehabilitation, however we cannot be a charity. Stephen remains a very good keeper who, once fit, will have no problems finding a new club, but he has not played all season and in his absence young Kevin Cuthbert has proved himself a capable back-up to Alan Main. Stephen is very much a victim of the Bosman ruling. These days, while top players can still command big money, clubs have to cut their cloth to suit and others suffer."
And as for Bollan his agent is apparently on holiday so don't expect too much to happen. Whilst Nathan is also heading off on holiday today without having given the club a decision on his future. Chief executive Stewart Duff, who like a lot of fans is fast losing patience with the player, said, "I don't know what Nathan's going to do because he is away on holiday now. I would say he was going to leave now on the basis that he was meant to come in yesterday to see the manager, but he let the manager down, so I wouldn't be confident he'll sign.I think money has played a part here and there's been speculation that Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Livingston have offered him more money. It's up to Nathan now, but we're disappointed in him because it's common courtesy to get in touch. I think he's going on holiday to America today when he's meant to be getting in touch, but he might still get in touch today, you never know."
24th - It looks like Bollan's
hunt for a new club isn't going too well with the player reportedly in
fresh contract negotiations with Saints. Despite rumoured interest from
Hearts, Livvy and Den Bosch he now says that "I haven't ruled out
re-signing for Saints". Which no doubt is great news to all the
fans that he's disappointed with his performances recently. And given the
form of Ross Forsyth and
Marc McCulloch recently the question
has to be asked as to whether or not we need to keep him on the payroll.
One player that has resigned is Paddy Thingy who today signed a new 3-year deal with Saints.St. Sandy said at this afternoon's press conference "This is great news for us that Paddy is going to stay because there aren't many players like him. What is quite obvious is that Keigan has not scored so many goals since Paddy has been out injured. Paddy is a valuable player for us and I'm glad that we have him on board long term." . Nathan apparently promised a decision on his future today but the club have said that they have received no word.
Some departures were announced as well and Saints confirmed that youngsters Steven McAllister and Darren Kearneywould not have their contracts renewed. Also out of contract and leaving is goalkeeper Stephen Robertson(right) After a decent run in the team at the end of last season injuries have ruled him out for most of this year and with Kevin Cuthbert making the breakthrough he is surplus to requirements. Best of luck to them all though.
23rd -Plenty of Saints news in the papers today.
Tommy's in the Sun with a photo of him
and his fiancee Marie as they plan to get married in Denmark next month -
best wishes and all that.
Alan Kernaghan(right), freed by Saints looks set to move to Plymouth to link up with Judas once more. And whilstNathan is allowed to speak to other clubs, a report in the Sun suggests that the Sheep have lost interest in the player.
Meanwhile, Livvy have confirmed thatBollan is "a top target" and with the defender ruling out a move to the continent, it looks like we'll see him next season.
Saints are stillhopeful that Paddy Thingy will still sign and Layton Maxwell, who had a trial a fortnight ago is still in the plans. St. Sandy said "Layton is one of a number of people we have identified as possible signings and we are keeping in touch with that situation still. The problem is that although he is out-of-contract he is under 24 and therefore Liverpool, if they were to offer him a new contract, would be entitled to compensation."
22nd -The Pars are in trouble with the SFA after there was no
minute's silence on Saturday prior to the match in respect of Celtic's
Bobby Murdoch who died last week. Both the club and the ref are in hot
water and the SFA and SPL have launched an investigation.
Meanwhile Geoff Brown is reported in most of the papers are being ready to quit which given that the articles repeat the quotes made last Friday are in total contradiciton to what he said - i.e. he is willing to leave only when the right offer comes in and that hasn't happened yet. Only Saints could generate so much negative publicity from one comment. The chairman has joined the manager though in praising the Saints support on Sunday. "I would like to thank those fans for their superb support and it was very much appreciated by the players. We look forward to giving them something to shout about next season". St. Sandy said, "Our support was fantastic. They were disappointed with the derby result the previous week but turned up in numbers at Dunfermline. The team genuinely appreciated their response."
On the transfer front Saints have given into the inevitable today and granted permission for Nathan to speak to other clubs at the request of his agent. Whilst we haven't given up hope on keeping him it looks like the offer on the table won't be enough to prevent him moving on. Chief Executive Stewart Duff said, "Nathan's agent contacted us seeking our permission to allow him to speak to any interested clubs. Given that the season has now ended we could see no reason why we should deny him that opportunity. His contract expires on May 31 and he has made it clear he wishes to listen to other clubs. But I would stress that we are still hoping he will continue his career in Perth."
Injury-wise and Jim Weir and Tommy Løvenkrands(right) have headed to Leads for painkilling injections to ease the injuries which have plagued them during the 2nd half of the season. Tommy is looking to improve next year after a disappointing first season with Saints. "It was a disappointing season but even at my lowest point, probably when we lost to Dunfermline in the cup, I never had any thoughts of leaving St Johnstone, or Scotland for that matter. I lost my confidence mid season and the manager was right to drop me from the squad. But I have come back in recently and I think the fans have seen me improving. I have to concentrate on what I do best. I was trying too hard to please people and lost my way a bit. But I hope to show my true form more consistently next season."
Finally and the youth policy has seen Saints sign what is believed to be their youngest-ever player. Goalie Matthew Curtis plays for Scone Thistle under-13s and has only just turned 12 !!!! He attends Perth Academy and the Perth club moved quickly to sign him after learning Aberdeen and Dundee were keen. The way things are going expect him to make his first team debut next year !!
21st - Latest from yesterday is that despite the rumours
Nat King Goals missed out yesterday
thanks to an ankle knock picked up in training on Saturday.
St. Sandy paid tribute to his
replacement Paddy Thingy saying that
he was "glad Paddy lasted 30 seconds never mind 30 minutes since
he'd just restarted training the day before".
There's still no word on the future of either player or Bollan with all staying quiet yesterday.
20th - Well it's sadness all round ahead of today's games with the
news that Bob Crampsey is set to retire from broadcasting after
today. Which no doubt means a lower signal-to-noise ratio on Radio
Scotland next year.
Nick Dasovic is looking to just get this season over with ahead of today's trip to the Pars. "We had four good seasons on the trot when we won the First Division then finished fifth, third and fifth in the Premier League. There was bound to be a bad year and when it finally comes you have to be grateful you've still got a place in the top flight.It's been a massive disappointment to go from challenging for Europe to finishing near the bottom of the table with nothing to play for as the season comes to a end. We were sitting in the top six until December then went on a terrible run and couldn't get a win. It was only the points we picked up early on that saved us from the relegation battle. I'm just looking forward to putting this season behind me and learning from the mistakes. But of course it would be nice to finish off with a win."
Elsewhere and one-time supposed Saints target Paul Sheerin has signed for Ayr Utd for next year.
6.00pm - The season ended this afternoon with a 0-0 draw at East End Park with Saints surviving a last-minute penalty miss by Crawford. Of course Hugh Dallas managed to piss off Saints fans even more with his failure to award us a spot-kick earlier when Pope(right) was bundled to the ground whilst Tommy Løvenkrands came in for a lot of punishment.
Post-match St. Sandy said, "I thought it was not a bad game. I thought both teams certainly tried to win the match. There wasn't a lot to play for obviously but today nearly summed out our season. I thought we made the better chances in the game especially in the first half, didn't put them away and although we looked fairly secure defensively when Dunfermline got their penalty I thought 'here we go again'. I thought like a lot of games this season we were going to lose it against the run of play but we got a wee break at the end when they missed it and I certainly think we deserved at least a draw. Unfortunately there were no goals in the game but it wasn't the worst 0-0 draw you will see."
Elsewhere in the SPL TFOD beat Hibs 4-0, Well and St Midden drew 3-3, Jambos won 2-0 at home to Scumdee, Killie beat TFOE 1-0 and the Sheep lost 2-1 to the Arabs.
19th - Latest team news is that despite his injury,
Cap'n Jim(right) is likely to start the
game on the bench although if he does play it will be his 200th
appearance for Saints - not that that will stop the moaners.
On the signing front, negotiations are ongoing with Paddy Thingy and Nat King Goals. St. Sandy said "We're obviously still in talks with both Paddy Connolly and Nathan Lowndes and hopefully they will stay with us. It's not surprising that clubs might be interested in them, but I am fairly confident that we come to an agreement shortly. It's important that we keep our best players here and try to build on the squad we have and I'd hope that these players want to be part if it."
The manager is also keen to freshen up the side. "I hope we can make inroads after Sunday's match and I've been watching games and looking at players for some time. "I want to try and keep the players I've already got here and also looking at strengthening the squad and getting it sorted before I go away. I'm looking forward to the end of season now. It's been a long campaign and I'm going to enjoy the break and a few beers on Sunday night."
18th -Geoff Brown(right) has
denied the rumours appearing on some of the websites that he's set to cash
in and leave the club."I'm being told I've had meetings
with David Wiseman but I'm not even sure I would recognise him. I don't
know him or if he is even interested in football. But my door is always
open! I've always said that if someone comes in with an offer to buy the
club and I believe they can do better than me for Saints I wouldn't block
it. That remains the case. But I have to query if there's anyone daft
enough to take it on! If you want to gamble with your life expectancy,
this is the place to come"
"Supporters might demand that I resign, get rid of the player who was sent off or sack the manager. I'm getting flak and Sandy Clark is getting flak. But I have to remain calm and remain rational. Make no bones about it, we know we have to bring in two or three players in key positions. We know there are failings, even allowing for the injuries. But this club had 30 points before the turn of the year and the top six was achieved with 41 points. I'm utterly convinced that but for injuries which depleted the squad wed have been in that top six. It's almost impossible to raise our earning capability and we have to remain prudent. There will be no big transfer cash paid out but fees of £300,000-plus are pretty much a thing of the past in Scottish football post-Bosman. Clubs like Hearts, Dundee United, Killie and Aberdeen will be in the same boat as us. The days of clubs like ours paying out big money are gone for good. Average English First Division players are on £5000 a week and Motherwell recently offloaded players to Wigan, in the Second Division, where more cash was available for salaries. And Well are having to rein in their own wages. But we have to persevere or Scottish football will become a backwater."
"Players leaving will have to be replaced but the future lies in our youths. There were six players under 21 in our weekend squad. I think fans see the potential in some of our kids. However, we need more experienced players to allow them time to develop. I don't think even my biggest critics would claim I wasnt a fan at heart. We are in a period of transition here and I'd like fans to remember what has been achieved in recent years. Many of them are too young to remember the Second Division days. I'd love them to stick with us because we need their support now as much as ever."
Meanwhile Alan Main(right) has come under some criticism by Paisley fans of lying down to the opposition last week. Now whilst anyone that saw some of the saves late on can't even believe that to be true it does bring into question some of his comments pre-match. The ex-Arab keeper confessed to wanting to see the Arabs stay up and given the less-than-cordial atmosphere between the two sets of fans it's perhaps time to remind him that it's Saints and not Jim McLean's Labour Camp that pays his wages these days. It's not the first time it's happened with Main - maybe it's time the club started some PR work with their own players. If they don't want to give their all for the club then there are plenty who would on a lot less wages.
On the transfer front rumour has it that Judas is interested in luring Paddy Thingy to Plymouth. Whilst even funnier is a report thatLardboy has been approached by Livingston to play for them next season thus cheering up JR Hartley and right-wingers throughout the SPL.
For Sunday and MoMo Sylla and Jim Weir are both set to miss out due to knee injuries with the former set to undergo a scan. As if that's not bad enough as well as JR Hartley, Kiegan Parker is also set to miss out due to suspension. The only ogood news is the possible return to defence of Stuart McCluskey
And despite it being only a fiver to get in we're not behind the goal at the weekend, instead in the old away enclosure.
16th - First the wonderful news that the SFA have decided on
Hugh Dallas as ref for the Pars match.
Geoff Brown has said that the club will make no formal statement about Marc McCulloch until all the facts are known. "He's very remorseful about it and has been a silly boy. We'll make a decision once all the facts are known" - dismissal a la Charliegate has been ruled out.
Finally and Charlie One's agent is touting him in the papers as a potential Raith signing - as if anyone else would take a risk on him. Still if he does sign it practically guarantees we'll draw them in a cup next season.
15th - On the player search St. Sandy
is apparently planning a few more scouting trips south of the border
although there is no indication of what areas of the team he is seeking to
strengthen or who he's looking at.
From the weekend Billy Kirkwood has been lamenting the results recently if not the performances. "Personally, I felt we should have been in the top six. Unlike United, we have been safe from relegation for weeks, and as a result Saints fans have seen good football lately. They can complain about the results but not the excitement on show. Our first-half play against United was probably the best we have played all season."
For Sunday's final game, injury-wise Ross Forsyth apparently had to have stitches inserted in an eye-wound after the game Saturday but should be OK for the weekend. Stuart McCluskey will also be available for selection. .
Prices for this Sunday's game have been pegged at a fiver which might be enough to get some moaners to the ground (or in Jim Weir's case off the park - see the classic photo from the Arabs match !!!). Or maybe not.
Long-term victims aren't so lucky - Craig Russell is due back in training in September with Graeme Jones a month later.
Off the park and Marc McCulloch(right) has been making news for all the wrong reasons - the 21-yr old has been done for drunk-driving in Edinburgh after being caught by police 3 times over the limit after a high-speed chase in which the midfielder managed to smash into 8 parked cars. Marco is the subject of the notorious "report to the procurator fiscal". . The words stupid and arse spring to mind.
Finally for the sadists out there you'll be pleased to know that pre-season training for first team squad resumes on Thursday, June 28, with the 2001-2002 campaign beginning a month later on July 28
13th - The post-defeat rows continue. Latest rumour is that
Flash Forsyth was punched by an Arab
fan during the pitch invasion which must once again call into question
Tayside's finests policy of policing McD.
Apart from the match reports the only other piece of news is a Sunday Mason article linking Saints with a move for TFOD reserve striker Peter McDonald although a reported asking price of £100,000 is believed to have put us off.
This afternoon's SPL match saw Sellik lose 2-0 at home to Scumdee whilst the Embra derby ended 0-0.
12th - Two first-half goals from David
McClune and JR Hartley should
have had us on easy street but with JR
being sent off at the start of the 2nd half some poor defending saw
the Arabs win 3-2 and all but condemn
St Midden to the drop.
After the game, St. Sandy said "That was frightening football. There's no doubt that Hartley's sending off turned the game. It was a needless red card and will cost him financially. It probably cost us the three points as well".
Elsewhere in the SPL St Midden beat the Sheep 2-1, TFOD beat Killie 5-1 and the Pars lost 2-1 at home to Well.
11th Confirmation today that Layton
Maxwell is spending 2 days in Perth as Saints check him out as a
possibly signing. The midfielder took part in a double training session
with the Saints' players yesterday and will be available on a free should
we decide to sign him. He's played only one first team game for Liverpool
and has been on loan to Stockport this season.
St. Sandy said , "He's here for
a couple of days so we'll be able to have a close look at him."
On the injury front for tomorrow Momo and David McClune both trained yesterday for the first time. Momo should be fit to play but if Troy doesn't make it then Saints will be without a recognised right-back with Stuart McCluskey and Stuart McCluskey still injured. Up front it could be the last appearance at McD for Nat King Goals with speculation increasing that he'll head Sheepville come the close season.
Nick Dasovic is looking to end the home campaign with a win "It hasn't been the best of seasons for myself or for the team. But at least we aren't fighting against relegation. I was speaking to Jason de Vos in Egypt and he admitted it had been a tough season again for United. He missed the game against the tournament hosts because he was involved in the defeat from St Mirren. He was begging Saints to do United a favour when we played the Paisley club. We felt we should have taken all three points last weekend. We certainly deserved them. United are coming to Perth now knowing that three points will ensure they can't be caught and their future is secure in the SPL. But it's our last home match and we want to go out with a win for the supporters."
The U-18s beat Motherwell 3-2 this afternoon with Mark Ferry netting a hat-trick.
Allan Preston will be handed a five-figure cheque for his testimonial at half-time tomorrow.
Finally, congratulations to ex-Saintee Gerry McMahon - freed last summer, he's had a good season for Glenavon and has been shortlisted for the League Player Of the Year Award.
10thSt. Sandy is apparently
bringing Layton Maxwell (the Welsh
U-21 midfielder from Liverpool) to McD today so the player can have a look
at the Perth set-up. If he's impressed enough expect signing talks to
start with the player available on a free transfer. Stoke are also
Off the park and the pair we've all forgotten about (Charlie One and Charlie Two) are apparently suing Saints for loss of wages. Pity they didn't go for loss of brain cells / common sense last December they might have had a chance.
9th - Momo(right) is apparently
suffering from a knee injury picked up at the weekend but looks set to be
fit enough to play against the Arabs. Elsewhere
Nathan's ankle knock is also clearing
up. But the problem will be the right-back slot.
McClune are both out and Stuart
McCluskey is struggling to be fit.
St. Sandy said, "We are very hopeful about Momo as he has been making good progress over the last couple of days. As I think everyone knows, he is an important player for us because he gives us that little bit of the unexpected when we are going forward. The fans respond to that and we would like to have him involved in what is our last game of the season at McDiarmid Park. It looks as if we are going to have to juggle things around a bit - but luckily we have a few players who are able to slot in at full-back. We have had grief with injuries all season long so it's not as if we are not used to coping. United have their own concerns but we will be going all out for a win."
Finally Alan Freeland is in charge of Saturday's match against the Arabs.
8th -Saints U-21s lost 3-1 yesterday at McD. And let's hear
it for the tabloids especially the Retard who thought fit to send
a reporter to the game and print some pictures. Oh yeah and it's nothing
to do with the fact we were playing TFOD. A good detailed account of the
game as well - actually it doesn't even mention the Saints scorer but
waxes lyrical over all the OF players returning from injury. Anyway if
anyone is interested Kiegan Parker got
our goal from the penalty spot - I know, I know a penalty against TFOD is
probably worth a report in itself. Oh yeah and
Gary Bollan missed out - he's no'
feeling well the poor wee lamb.
Elsewhere the Sun is linking says that Norwich City and Luton apparently looking at Nat King Goals and Plymouth (along with Judas) interested in Paddy Connolly. The club are denying any links with a plan to sign Scott Booth or Paul Sheerin.
Looking ahead to Saturday's derby match and St. Sandy(right) has said that Saints are going for the victory and don't care about the predicaments of the Coagies, who are expected to bring 3000 fans to Perth. "Anyone who was at the St Mirren match will testify we did everything in our power to win and it will be the same story against United. We have quite a few friends at Tannadice and I wish them all the best in their struggle to stay up but it is not something that can have any bearing on our approach whatsoever."
"This has been a bit of a crazy season for us, with some very good performances and some very poor ones too. We know we can do better next year because of the quality of the players we have in the squad here. The game is played on the pitch, though, not on paper, so it would be nice to show what we are capable of in our last game at McDiarmid. Against St Mirren we comfortably made enough chances to get all three points so a repeat with a little sharper finishing is what we have to be aiming for."
Speaking of the penalties the manager isn't too worried about the 6 misses out of 10 this season. "Obviously we should be doing better and I hope that normal service will soon be resumed. It is something you can't really legislate for because sometimes luck plays a big part. In hitting the inside of the post Paul probably went as close as it was possible to go without actually scoring. Despite what has happened, I don't think we will have any shortage of volunteers to take them next season and I would expect a much better return."
The only new injury doubt is Stuart McCluskey who was taken off at half-time at the weekend with an ankle knock.
Finally congratulations to JR whose wife gave birth to his 2nd son on Sunday.
6th - Little in the papers today with the News of the World
coming out tops in the Media Falsehood stakes
with the constant renaming of Tommy Løvenkrands
as Peter. Meanwhile it's been revealed that
Tommy probably shouldn't even have been
on the park yesterday given that he was suffering from a bout of sickness
and diahorrea beforehand.
Today's SPL results saw TFOE gub HIVBees 5-2 whilst the Arabs won 1-0 at home to the Pars.
Finally for the real masochists out there July 28th sees the official kick-off of the new season where no doubt we'll get to go to bloody Ibrox again.
5th - After a poor start saw us lose 2 goals, Saints came back with
a vengance to draw 2-2 with St Mirren
although we should have wrapped up all the points.
Darren Dods scored Saints' first and
after missing a penaltya 25-yd 67th minute cracker from
JR Hartley(right) got us back into the
Elsewhere in the SPL the Gorgie Gits lost 4-1 at home to TFOD, Scumdee beat Killie 2-1 and Well lost 2-0 at home to the Sheep.
A diplomatic St. Sandy post-match paid tribute to the Paisley mob. "I think Tom Hendrie has done incredibly well at St Mirren and I told him that before the game. When you look at where St Mirren were three years ago and look at where they are now he has done a very good job. I hope they do OK this season but I also have friends at Tannadice and I hope Dundee United do well too. We have Dundee United next week but we showed effort and commitment today and next week will be no different."
4th - The row over the alleged tapping of the
Nat King Goals by the mutton molesters
continues with Geoff Brown quoted in
the papers as saying "The comments by Ebbe Skovdahl are being
construed here as open tapping of one of our players and that won't be
tolerated. It's contrary to the rules of both the SPL and SFA and we will
be raising the issue with both organisations. What Skovdahl said amounts
to blatant tapping in my book and we are going to take action. Maybe Ebbe
should take a lower profile in these matters."
"We aren't letting Nathan speak to other Scottish clubs despite one direct approach and another via his agent. He is still under contract, we are paying his wages and he is still in the manager's plans. He's been made a very good offer if one considers his experience, or lack of it. At the end of the day money talks but what he's telling us is that he's wishing to explore what other options are available to him, not saying that he definitely won't sign for St Johnstone." The chairman went on to say he's concerned that Nathan will suffer a backlash from the fans in the same way thatLardboy did last Saturday. And speaking of Lardboy, Geoff got a wee dig in saying "Gary Bollan will always pick up a club that will give him a reasonable salary but he's probably now in a position where he can't cherry pick as his agent probably believed he could do. That's the difference now."
Paddy Connolly is also apparently waiting until the summer to make his decision.
For the visit of St Midden tomorrow, Flash Forsyth will return thus banishing Lardboy to the wilderness. With only a total squad of 16 to pick from teenagers Brendan Crozier and Martyn Fotheringham are also included. Cap'n Jim though is concentrating on getting the three points and forget about any sentiment towards the Paisley Junkies. "It's a massive game for St Mirren and they beat us at Paisley. But our supporters were quite rightly disappointed with our display against Aberdeen so we have to look after our own house."
Of the longer-term injury victims, Graeme Jones(right) is set to have a check on his knee in the hope of getting the all-clear for undergoing a full pre-season. "The season has been a disaster for me and I'll be the happiest man in the world when I get back playing again."
Finally for those out there with their minds on 2001-2002 already the SPL have confirmed there will be no winter shutdown next season thanks to the World Cup in summer 2002.
3rd - Chairman Geoff Brown has
broken his silence over the current contract negotiations with
Nat King Goals. In an official club
statement which is sure to stir things up the text reads : "Gary
Bollan had talks with the Club before Christmas last year and at
that time he put forward his proposals of what he would be looking for in
a new contract with St Johnstone FC. The Club looked at the situation,
bearing in mind that at that time we did not have an instant replacement
for Gary, and agreed to his terms. This would have seen Gary being one of
the highest paid players at the Club, however the player then refused this
offer. There is now no offer on the table to Gary Bollan. With regards to
Nathan Lowndes, we are still in talks
although Nathan himself has made it clear that he would prefer to wait
until the end of this season before weighing up the alternatives. It is
true that Aberdeen have made enquiries, however St Johnstone FC will be
reporting the Aberdeen manager's comments to the SPL as his comments go
against the regulations regarding a player who is still under contract."
So from that it looks like Bollan is being punted - something which should probably have been done at Christmas and hopefully ends any chance of even a sub spot for the remaining 3 games. And as for Nathan you're guess is as good as mine.
Elsewhere, it looks like one-time Saints target Dirk Lehmann is leaving Hibs in the summer but despite there being two enquiries from Scottish clubs his agent has confirmed that Saints aren't one of the interested sides.Thank God.
Finally Hydro-Electric have confirmed that they'll be sponsoring Saints for a fourth. There's a new away strip as well seen on the right oworn by Ross Forsyth. The current white strip will become the 3rd choice strip. The chairman said "Naturally we are delighted that Scottish Hydro-Electric has shown continued support for the Club. St Johnstone values its close association with one of Scotland's major companies, a relationship made even more special through our common links with the city of Perth."
2nd - First the big financial news and the Season
Ticket Prices for 2001-2002 are out. Minor increases all round but
prices for U-16s and families in the Ormond Stand have been greatly
reduced. Renew by 31st May to keep your current seat.
With the departures of Michael O'Neill and Cartman this summer St. Sandy is now looking to hold on to the rest of the squad saying that he hopes these will be the only "significant" leavers. Paul Kane(right) has signed a 1-year deal and the club are talking to Paddy Connolly and Nathan Lowndes.St. Sandy said, "I am hopeful we'll manage to keep both, then add to the squad."
Kano meanwhile said, "I'm delighted to get another contract at St. Johnstone and while other people might be looking at my age I'm just as immature as any of the kids in the dressing room - just ask them about my practical jokes. I intend to make sure they do a lot of running next season. I was never a player who relied on pace so another birthday won't make any difference here. It's enthusiasm for the game which drives me on. As long as that spark is there I want to continue".
Ex-SainteeKieran McAnespie hasn't had his loan spell at Hearts extended though and he's awa back to be 15th choice bootroom boy at Fulham.
1st - The main talking point today is the news that Saints have
told Alan Kernaghan (right) that his
contract won't be extended. The former Republic of Ireland international
defender, who's been with Saints for the last 4 years is retiring at the
end of next season but injury has prevented him from staking a claim with
Saints. "I'm definitely playing on for another year. It's a pity
it won't be with Saints. It's hard to swallow but all good things come to
an end. I've enjoyed my time here and could have contributed for another
season. But now I'm open to offers and it's a case of have boots will
travel. It's a bit worrying to find my future so uncertain. But I'm sure
I'll convince a manager to take me on. Even if I have to go on trial I
believe I can make a case for a year's contract.".
St. Sandy has confirmed that Cartman's injuries were critical to the decision "While Alan has been superb any time he has played injuries have meant he hasn't been available to me as often as I'd have liked. We have options in central defence and it's important to get the right balance in the squad for next season. " Whilst Cartman will no doubt be missed (as any fan from Vaasa will tell you), this was always on the cards. Saints need to trim their squad and wage bill after the poor season we've just had and with Jim Weir, Stuart McCluskey, Stuart Malcolm and Darren Dods at the club we're not short of central defenders. Still I wish him all the best in the future.
Another departure is Michael O'Neill(right). His contract was due to expire at the end of the month but Saints have allowed him to leave early to take up a contract with Portland Timbers in the USA.
On the plus side Paul Kane is believed to have signed a new 1-year extension to his current deal. On the Nathan Lowndes saga, the manager has confirmed that there is nothing new to report. Nathan's non-appearance at the post-match press conference is believed to have been made on the club's instructions.
Saints U-21s lost 2-0 to TFOE on Monday -Pope and Nathan were our sole over-18(!) players in the line-up.
Top Of News
30th - As expected the tabloids are having a field day with the
press conference from Saturday. Top of the list is the Retard (whose
reporter caused St. Sandy to leave) with
a major whinge about Saints (a "prudent but uninspiring"
club no less) and St. Sandy "characteristically
whinging about the foul for the second goal" - not that the
Retard reporter noticed it obviously more intent on thinking up big words
instead. He also says that none of the player look like they want to play
for him and even better is his prediction that we'll be worse off if
Lardboy leaves in the summer. As if....
In a related piece of media garbage apparently Teamtalk reckon Lardboy did his chances of a move a lot of good at the weekend. Meanwhile Nick Dasovic(right) was told to "go home and rest" by the club's doctor on Saturday night after the Canadian played his 3rd game in 5 days.
For Saturday's game it's good old Dougie McDonald that's in charge - only the 6th bloody time this seasn.
29th - Rumours galore in Perth today. As well as the manager's
reaction to a Retard reporter asking the same question 4 times in
a row last night, it's also been revealed that Stewart
Duff banned Nathan Lowndes from
speaking to the media as well - so something's going on there.
Elsewhere on the rumour front there are sources suggesting a certain Judas might be returing to Perth in the summer. Apparently relations between him and Geoff Brown have improved. And with St. Sandy still missing out on a new contract offer you can bet this one will continue into the close season. Whether or not the majority of fans would back his return after the events of 2 and a half years ago remains to be seen.
28th - Ross Forsyth(right) is
struggling to recover from a dead leg received at Motherwell last week so
it looks like wantaway left-back Gary Bollan
will make a return to the side this afternoon.
St. Sandy said "Including
Martyn Fotheringham and
Mark Ferry we have only 17 fit players
and its a pity Ross and David look like missing out as the emphasis
was going to be on playing the young ones with a view to next season. But
at least, with Bollan and Dods coming in, we wont be fielding a
weakened team." . Martyn
Fotheringham will be on the bench today.
6.30pm - A totally crap performance saw Saintslose 3-0 to Aberdeen. If there was any sort of hope from the game it's that we will be well shot of Gary Bollan who was at best a liability today and at worst totally unprofessional in taking wages for that sort of performance. St. Sandy should never pick him again. And as for Nat King Goals' poor performance as a 2nd half sub - suffice to say he won't get 5p a week never mind 5K on that form.
Post-match St. Sandy apparently stormed out of the press conference after being asked about the decision to sub Mohamed Sylla in the second-half. "I'm not going to say anything about that." . What he did say was predictable though Our season is not over. We just didn't play well today. The team that was out there must be capable of playing better. In the first 20 minutes we were the better team without looking like scoring, but we defended very poorly, but I have to credit Aberdeen for scoring some good goals. I'm not making any excuses but we have had a lot of injuries this season but we have had to cope with this."
Elsewhere the relegation dogfight was given some edge. Livvy have been promoted from the 1st Division which means that one of St Midden or the Arabs will join them although both won their games today.
27th - Latest team news for tomorrow is that
Martyn Fotheringham(right) will step up
from the U-18s to the first team squad. Paul
Kane and Troy McCluneseem set to
miss out with ankle knocks although Marco
McCulloch(who had also had an ankle knock) and
Pope should also play despite only
resuming training this week. Nick Dasovic
has been on international duty and Saints are struggling to fill the
midfield slots. Defensively, Cartman will
also miss out - he picked up a groin injury in Monday night's U-21 game.
St. Sandy said "We've obviously got problems in that area of the team so I've added Martin to the squad. When you consider that Marc, Paul, Ross and Davie all played in midfield at some stage of last week's game at Motherwell, you can see why we might be short. Nick Dasovic is due to return from international duty on Friday night and, it might not be ideal, but he may have to play for us."
Discussions over Nat King Goals' new deal are apparently on a "knife-edge" although rumours doing the rounds suggest that the player's demands of a £5,000 per week pay packet won't meet with any positive result from Saints. It's also been confirmed that should the player leave under Bosman Saints won't be entitled to a fee thanks to his 24th birthday occuring on June 2nd.
April 26th - Little to report over the last few days. Kiegan made an appearance off the bench in the Scotland U-21 1-0 defeat by Poland on Tuesday night. On the contract side, Stewart Duff has made an appearance in the papers saying that discussions with the Nathan Lowndes over a new deal are "ongoing. Nathan is a player we want to retain".
24th - Saints U-21s lost 3-0 to the Pars last night at McD. With
several experienced first-team players in defence,
Gary Bollan was beaten by Mendes for the
first and Michael O'Neill was
red-carded for two bookable offences within 60 seconds of one another.
No further word on the transfer rumours with the club sticking to the tried and tested comment that negotiations with players out of contract this summer are "ongoing".
23rd - Mike McCurry has been
named as the man in the middle for Saturday's visit by the Sheep. And to
add fuel to the fire in an attempt to liven up an end-of-season
non-friendly, Ebbe "Mogadon" Skovdahl is in the papers
today confirming the Pittodrie club's interest in
Nathan Lowndes. The dull one said "We
are exploring all the possibilities open to us so I can't deny we have
been looking at Lowndes." .
All I can say it that it's about time the club came out and started acting on these sort of stories - either get Nathan signed or let the fans know that he'll be leaving in the summer. All this uncertainty is doing sod all good.
Finally, tonight's SPL match saw St. Midden beat the Arabs 2-1.
22nd - Nathan Lowndes is
apparently a signing target of Aberdeen according to a Scotsman
report yesterday. The striker is still in the middle of signing talks but
could move under Bosman in the summer.
Elsewhere in the papers, News of the World reports that St. Sandy watched Layton Maxwell(right) in action for Stockport reserves last week. The Welsh U-21 midfielder is actually a Liverpool player on loan to Stockport and described as the "new Sammy Lee"
Tonight's SPL match saw TFOE beat the Gorgie Gits 1-0.
21st - Just for a change some good news on matchday morning with
Saints announcing that "Troy"
McClune(right) has signed a 2-year extension to his current deal to
keep him at Saints until the end of season 2002-2003. The youngster has
been very impressive with his performances at right-back recently and more
than deserves a new deal. St. Sandy
said, "This is fantastic news for us as Davie has progressed
extremely well in such a short space of time. This is a good step for him
but it's also where the hard work really starts. He's taken a step on the
ladder now so hopefully he can continue next season as he has ended this
6.30pm - A second half Mohamed Sylla goal was enough to seal the points as Saints won 1-0 at Motherwell. Aftewards asst. manager Billy Kirkwood said "We had to get something today. It's also important for the young lads in the side to get into the habit of winning games".
Elsewhere, Hibs and Killie drew 1-1, TFOD won 3-0 at Dens and the Sheep beat the Pars 1-0.
20th - St. Sandy's scouting
mission to England this week seems to have been worthwhile. The unnamed
targets apparently impressed with rumours suggesting that one of the
players being watched was Adam Proudlock of Wolves who had a good
spell with Clyde last season. St. Sandy
said, "I took in a few games in England this week and that will
be something I'll be doing more of in the future. It's been a worthwhile
week and one or two things could be followed up."
On the injury front Pope is expected back in training next week after his ankle injury against Hibs. Not so good for Paddy Connolly(right) and Goalden Graeme though, with both unlikely to feature again this season. However it's not all bad for Lazarus with the striker having been offered a new 2-year deal by the club. He said, "I'm delighted to be offered a new deal by the club and I'll speak with them about it next week. It's good to feel wanted.This is the first time I've found myself going out of contract since I started my career at Dundee United and I have to admit it's been worrying me. It's been nagging away at the back of my mind. It gives you something to think about when you hear the chairman wants to cut back the squad, especially when you're out injured and of no use to the manager or the team. But that's life in football. I'm certainly keen to stay. We've had a disappointing season by our own standards and things have slid away in recent weeks. A few points more would have seen us in the top six but next season throws up a whole new set of challenges and we're well placed, with youngsters like Keigan Parker, Ross Forsyth and David McClune coming through."
St. Sandy believes the game isn't as pointless as some think tomorrow. "There's enough motivation for my players. First and foremost they're doing what they're paid to do as professional footballers. We find ourselves in a unique situation because of the split and we aim to finish as high as we can in the table. It would be nice to break the hoodoo but we have to earn the right to three points. Ross Forsyth and David McClune will play again because experience gained at this stage will serve them well for the future."
Finally there will be a minute's silence before tomorrow's match in memory of Jim Baxter.
19th - It's been confirmed that Nick
Dasovic will miss out at Fir Park due to his one-match suspension.
Meanwhile, the Buckfast-Quenchers have decided to shift the away fans to
the south (away) end of the main stand - which means a rotten obstructed
view of the park and we're still being charged £16 / £9 for
the so-called privelige.
Finally good luck to Allan Preston who has applied to be the next manager of East Fife.
18th - Despite returning from injury in the U-21 match on Monday
night (where the Gorgie Gits won 3-0), St.
Sandy won't be rushing Darren Dods
back into the side. "Darren came through the 90 minutes fine and
is the type you could put straight back into the first-team if it was
necessary. But, while he probably will be in the squad for the weekend,
there is no point taking any chances on him at this stage of the season."
The manager was in England last night looking at a possible transfer
target - rumoured ot be Adam Proudlock
Congratulations to the U-18s who beat Aberdeen 3-2 this afternoon at McD. Goals came from Mark Ferry, Barry Thomson and striker Nathan McConnell.
17th - After a few days Saintless in the papers it's back to normal
today. On the transfer side, apparently Gary
Bollan(right) is now being targetted for a move to Den Bosch
in Holland although the report in the Courier is about as vague as you can
get. The out-of-contract left-back appeared for the U-21s at Tynecastle
last night (along with Darren Dods
returning from injury) but don't expect to see him back in the first team.
He also seems to have talked himself out of a move to Gorgie Gitland with
a swipe at the Jambos medical experts - apparently two specialists have
since confirmed there is nothing wrong with his cruciate, the reason he
failed the test. What they had to say about his total lack of braincells
given his desire to turn down Saints for the Gorgie Unwashed remains to be
St. Sandy said, "I have no problem with Gary - and I am sure he will tell me if anything is happening - but if things had worked out he would have gone to Hearts and, as with any other out-of-contract players who I feel are unlikely to be staying with us, unless circumstances demand it I probably won't use him in our remaining games. I have to consider the future and to that end must look to give Ross Forsyth and Marc McCulloch matches."
For the weekend, Kiegan is in the papers talking about wanting to get back amongst the goals again. With 10 so far this season he's the club's top scorer but to say the least the goals have dried up recently."It's been disappointing not to get a goal yet this year. Things were going great for me during the first half of the season so it's a bit annoying to be still waiting for my first of this year. But I'm confident that when the chance comes my way I'll stick it in the net. Hopefully I can get back into the starting line-up and grab a goal this weekend. Strikers better than me go through spells like this. But it would be nice to round off the season with a goal or two."
With Darren Dods back from injury, Paddy Connolly is expected back in a week or so and Graeme Jones should be back in training within the next week or so.
Contract talks are continuing with a one-year deal with Paul Kane said to be "close to agreement", whilst negotiations have been opened with the other players.
On the international front Nick Dasovic is in the Canada squad for their upcoming matches. In Scotland Alan Main has been dropped from the squad for the friendly against Poland although ex-Saintee John O'Neil finally gets a well-deserved call-up. Kiegan gets another call-up to the U-21s as well.
Finally don't look for any pre-season friendlies at McD in the summer. The manager said, "There is a lot of work to be done on our pitch this summer and we may not have the opportunity to play at home at all during pre-season".
13th - After a few quiet days, the Youth Cup semi-final kicks off
tonight against Aberdeen at 7pm. Doors open at 6.30 with admission only
£3 or £1 for concessions. Season ticket holders
get in for nothing. It's a chance to see the stars of the future so let's
hope that the lads get some decent backing.
10.00pm - Despite dominating most of the play Saints lost 2-1 to Aberdeen thanks to a breakaway goal towards the end of the first half and poor defending for the second. Still "Flash" Forsyth pulled one back for us and we probably deserved to win. And for all the sceptics, there was plenty of evidence on the park tonight that Saints youth policy finally looks like bearing fruit.
10th - Saints U-21s drew 0-0 with Motherwell at Fir Park last
night. In an older-than-usual side, Michael
O'Neill made his return from his hamstring injury.
Little else happening. The only other news is that discussions over Kano's 1-yr deal are described as "ongoing", with Livingston and Ayr Utd. said to be watching the situation.
9th - The fixtures are out for the post-split closing stages of the
season and surprise, surprise we're off to Motherwell again on Sat April
21st. That's followed by Aberdeen (h), St. Mirren (h), Dundee Utd (h)
before the season ends on Sunday May 20th at East End Park. Just has you
bursting with enthusiasm doesn't it?
Meanwhile there is a proposal for an Edinburgh Saints Supporters Club at Rivals.net. Sign up if you're interested.
7th - The SFA ruled that Saints must pay Morton £50,000
for Charlie One even though the player
was sacked last week. Ach well I suppose it's going to a good cause.
Meanwhile it's been revealed that Allan Preston has left his coaching role at Macclesfield Town. He said, "Without the security of the longer contract I didnt feel able to relocate to England with my family" . Let's hope he finds a new job soon.
JR(right) is looking to establish himself in the team before the end of the season saying, "Obviously I was frustrated when I wasnt playing but Ive just worked hard in training and now Im trying to impress the manager now that Im in the team. "Sometimes youve just got to be patient. I didnt chap on the managers door and ask to get a move. I hadnt played for a while until recently but Ive been pleased with my form in the last three or four games and I think that the more games I play the more confident Ill become. Weve changed again to three up front in the last couple of games and thats helped me. Hopefully now I can get a good run in the team. We should have finished in the top six but we can hopefully do well in these last few games and take it on to next season. We want to finish as high up the table as we can, and that means seventh. There will be no real pressure on either Motherwell or ourselves but were both playing for pride."
6.30pm - And guess what there's no pride left at the club as a dire performance (including MoMo missing a 2nd half penalty) saw us lose 1-0 to Motherwell. Post match all the manager said was "That game sums up our season. In the first half we were poor, but in the second our keeper did not make a save and we missed a penalty. That basically sums up why we are not in the top six." There's little to add really but don't expect the crowds to flock back before the end of the season.
Elsewhere TFOE won the league by beating St Midden 1-0, Jambos and Arabs drew 1-1, the Sheep lost 2-0 at home to Scumdee and Killie beat the Pars 2-1 which means Scumdee make the top 6. The SPL will announce the last 5 fixtures on Monday but all teams are expected to finish the season with 19 home and 19 away games. We'll be playing St Midden, Motherwell, Aberdeen, the Pars and Arabs. I can hardly wait.
6th - Paul Kane has been
speaking about signing a new deal with Saints. "We're still in
discussions but I feel that the best way I can help the youngsters coming
through is from being on the park"
Team news for tomorrow sees Kano still rated doubtful. Stuart McCluskey is available again after his one-match ban."Flash" Forsythand "Troy" McClune are expected to be in the full-back positions whilstBrendan Crozier is also in the squad. And whilst Pope's ankle ligament injury isn't thought to be serious he'll be rested tomorrow which means we can expect an almost-identical team to the victors over the HIVBees.
The U-18s beat Ross County 1-0 on Wednesday and prices are set at £3 and £1 for next Friday's 7pm kick-off in the Youth Cup semi-final at McD with the winners set for a final against TFOE.
5th - Saints have offered Paul
Kane(right) a new one-year deal and contract negotiations are
Craig Russell has undergone knee surgery and his season is over.
Nick Dasovic's booking against the HIVBees means he's gone over the points mark and faces a one-match ban after the league split.
Saints have been linked with a rumoured move for Bairns midfielder Davie Nicholls. The 28-yr old ex-Clydebank player was apparently the subject of a bid by the club before the transfer deadline but turned us down since the offer was for a trial with Saints. Expect more on this over the summer.
Back to CharlieGate and Geoff Brown has made his response to the druggies solicitors instigation of legal proceedings. "We're certainly not quaking in our shoes at the thought of a tribunal. If they take this to a tribunal then we will not only defend our position robustly, we will also counter claim for breach of contract, seeking recovery of the three months' wages we have paid them since they were dismissed as well as legal costs. This is not a road we particularly want to go down, nor will we unless they take things further, but the players should be aware that it's not all one sided as far as possibly pursuing this matter is concerned." The total amount is believed to be in the region of £30,000 and with the SPL panel agreeing that the players were guilty of "serious misconduct" it looks like Saints have a very strong case.
4th - CharlieGate again dominates the back pages of the
papers. Latest news is that Charlie One
and Charlie Two are requesting a
judicial review into the SFA decision whilst at the same time both
ex-players are set to take the club to an industrial tribunal in an effort
to claim unfair dismissal.
In a statement the players' solicitor said "The club had lodged their grounds of appeal within the time limit allowed, but at today's hearing were allowed to lodge a document at the commencement of proceedings containing numerous new grounds of appeal and containing legal authority all prepared by an advocate specialising in such matters. Despite the strongest possible objections on behalf of the players, the appeal committee allowed the document to be received and referred to throughout the hearing. We were advised by the SFA prior to the hearing there would be no re-hearing of the case and no new evidence would be allowed. Despite this assurance the club were allowed to lead evidence through the club manager Sandy Clark about events on December 31 when the players were initially confronted by the club. He gave new evidence in support of the club on matters that the SPL commission had already rejected as flawed and unreliable. As the players were not allowed to be legally represented at today's hearing no cross-examination of the witness was allowed. It is of importance that Sandy Clark was not cited as a witness to give evidence at the SPL hearing by the club, the very organisation that the club appealed against today."
Meanwhile Saints countered with Stewart Duff launching an attack on the players attitude to the affair."It is disappointing that despite being found guilty by a hearing at McDiarmid Park, an independent commission chaired by a QC, and now the SFA, the players have still to apologise for their wrong-doing. I find this particularly disappointing in the case of George O'Boyle, who has been treated by the club for an injury for over two years, and has not played for St Johnstone in all that time. He has been paid his wages, and this is all the thanks the club gets for it."
Finally Charlie Two looks set to continue his future at Raith Rovers with the Fife side set to offer him a contract.
3rd -The CharlieGate meeting started at Hampden at 11am.
Both Charlie One and
Charlie Two were attending as observers
alongside their agents, whilst Geoff
Brown(right) and Stewart Duff were
presenting Saints case. The verdict came at 2pm with the statement from
the SFA upholding Saints appeal. The SFA statement read: "Having
given due and careful consideration to the submissions made by the
representative of St Johnstone FC and the Scottish Premier League, the
Committee decided unanimously that the appeals be upheld. The Appeals
Committee's decision is final and binding and the SFA expects that all
parties concerned will respect the decision."
Geoff Brown welcomed the SFA's decision to uphold the club's appeal and said,: "We certainly felt that the panel did their job and unanimously found the players guilty of serious misconduct. The fact that they found them guilty means that we could never understand why their appeal was upheld in the first instance. While we say that this hasn't affected performances at the club everyone has been aware that this has been going on since December."
Both players left without comment. Whether or not they intend to take the matter to an industrial tribunal remains to be seen although media reports suggest an unfair dismissal case is on the cards.
In a separate hearing a panel will convene on Friday to hear Morton's case that with Saints ending Charlie One's career early we should still pay the Greenock club the outstanding amount on the transfer - a fee which was originally dependent upon the number of games he played for Saints.
Elsewhere the chairman seems to have ruled out any chance of want away defender Gary Bollan playing for Saints again. "Our new breed of youngster is excellent and I don't see the point of playing someone who is going to leave in the summer anyway".
Dougie McDonald will be in charge of the game at the weekend.
Finally the Saints U-21s lost 4-0 to Hibs at McD last night.
2nd - St. Sandy has continued his
digs at the media today saying "I think we showed out there that
we should be in the top six and the fact we are not is down to
self-inflicted wounds. It maybe hasn't been noticed too much nationally
because we are in a bit of a backwater here but no team has given us a
hard time of it this season.That's at a time, too, when we are bringing
through youngsters like Parker, McCulloch, Ross Forsyth and Davie McClune,
who I thought made a very impressive debut for us this afternoon.With the
talent we have we can do a lot better in terms of results and I am sure we
will do so, not just between now and the end of the season, but next year
Congratulations to the Herald, Record and Sun who all managed to concentrate on Hibs failings instead - you'd almost think we'd beaten the OF the way they reported the match.
1st - Yesterday's SPL results threw up some shocks but for the most
part left the league table unchanged. TFOD went down 2-0 at home to the
Arabs, the Gorgie Gits beat Well 3-0, whilst St Midden and the Pars drew
1-1 and Killie and Dundee finished 2 apiece.
Kiegan Parker(right) is looking to get back on the scoresheet today after a barren spell recently. "I'm sure the goals are going to come for me again. I don't feel I'm getting as many chances as I was at the start of the season, but as soon as they come again I'll get back into the habit of putting them away. I've talked to the manager and he's just told me to keep my confidence up. If I can do that, it's half the battle."
6.30- An excellent 90 minutes of ogood attacking football from Saints saw us run out well-deserved 2-0 winners over Hibs with both goals coming in the second-half courtesy of classy finishes from Tommy Løvenkrands. The winger said after the game "The St Johnstone fans haven't seen the best of me yet. I started the season quite well but then had a few bad games and lost my confidence. It has been good having Peter around because we have been able to cheer each other up and I will have a joke with him about this tonight." The bad news though was the stretchering off in the first half of Pope with ankle ligament damage.
The win puts us up into 9th spot and post-match St. Sandy said "The way we played today we're capable of doing this all the time. We should be in the top six based on our performances but we've not managed it so we'll look on this now as building for next season."
Top Of News
31st - It's been revealed that Gary
Bollan has failed a medical at Tynecastle so the deal has fallen
through with the Gorgie ones set to pick him up for nothing in the summer.
It's also been revealed that Saints offered the defender as a "sweetener"
to Aberdeen in an attempt to lure Andy Dow
to McD but the Sheep midfielder apparently doesn't want to leave Pittodrie
so hopefully that will be an end to media rumours for the summer.
For tomorrow Le Mo is set to return to the team. His international hopes are over with FIFA kicking the Guinean Football Federation out of the World Cup so he's aiming to "concentrate on club football and punish the other Premier teams". Nat King Goals faces a fitness test whilst Kane is doubtful with flu. The manager said "Paul will be a late decision and so will Nathan, because we have to be careful with him. That leaves Keigan Parker as still our only striker who is 100% fit. We havent been winning games but teams arent hammering us and the fact that we havent been winning is down to ourselves-its been self-inflicted. Weve been playing well enough to win games and thats what were looking to start doing against Hibs on Sunday. We have to be looking at next season. Getting so many youngsters involved shows we are looking that bit further ahead and well certainly use these last few weeks to build for next year."
Craig Russell has been ruled out for the season and faces the possibility of major knee surgery in the summer.
30th - Big news is that Gary
Bollan(right) today signed for Hearts for what has been
referred to as a "nominal fee". Given that he was out of
contract at the end of the season and his performances this year have been
questionable at least it's good news that we managed to get some money for
Elsewhere, Nat King Goals is still "locked in negotiations" about a new deal with Saints. The striker, who is getting a reputation as a supersub said "We're talking and I'm optimistic something can be sorted out. They want me here and I want to stay. We're in the middle of negotiations and hopefully we can reach an agreement. I'm very happy here and love life in Perth. What price do you put on happiness? But I won't sell myself short. This is an important decision for me to make. If I sign a three-year deal now it would take me to 27 when I would be at the peak of my career. It's important to get the sort of offer I feel I'm worth"
What this means is hard to tell - it's certain that Saints won't break the wage structure for just one player. However losing Nathan because of contract problems might leave a bad taste in the mouth of the fans. Let's just hope he signs soon - God knows the supporters need some good news.
Finally the U-18s beat their Hibs counterparts 3-1 at McD this afternoon. Goals came courtesy of Chris Conway, Martin Fotheringham and Nathan McConnell
28th - With Saints now having no chance of making the top six
St. Sandy was being philosophical about
last night's result. "As has been the case on a number of
occasions lately, I am disappointed we didn't win. Aberdeen's first goal
was a deflection, at the second the lad was at least two yards offside and
the third we laid on a plate for them. But our lads deserve a lot of
credit for fighting back twice." Nat
King Goals was happy to get on the scoresheet as well saying "I
was really only 80% and couldn't kick the ball properly with my right
foot. I could only side-foot the ball for fear of causing further damage
to the ligaments I hurt in a freak training accident. But it was great to
get on and get the goal."
The bad news is that Stuart McCluskey is suspended for the Hibs match forcing another reshuffle but MoMo "The Snake" Sylla will return.
Off the park, the SFA have announced that Charlie One and Charlie Two will not be allowed any representation at Saints appeal into the drugs punishment being reduced. The contention is between the SFA and Saints alone so only these parties will be represented.
Finally the U-21s got a 1-1 draw with Motherwell on Monday night.
27th - Tommy(right) is set to
start against the Sheep tonight despite suffering from a swollen foot (as
he apparently was on Friday night). St.
Sandy said "Tommy has had a very poor season as he has
tried to adjust to the higher standard and quicker pace of Scottish
football. But he is working very hard to adapt and is more than capable of
doing that." . Meanwhile the player admits he's not been at his
best yet "I think the gaffer is a little disappointed in me-but
that is OK because I have not played so well. At the start of the season
things were fine but after that it was downhill and now I am trying to get
my confidence back and force my way into the team. The football in
Scotland is a little different to what I was used to in Denmark-it's
faster here-and I have got to get used to that and learn to trust myself
to try things."
One piece of good news is that Alan Main will play.
Both trialists have gone home but Saints have admitted an interest in one of them which will be followed up at the end of the season when the player's contract is up. Whether it's Monsieur 4 or Monsieur 8 we don't know.
11.30pm- Pittodrie saw a great 3-3 draw in almost impossible wind and rain. Saints took the lead through a Pope header before going 2-1 down by half-time thanks to poor defending and a ref who doesn't understand the offside rule. A 2nd Pope goal was quickly cancelled out before Nat King Goals pulled on the supersub role to snatch a well-deserved last-minute equaliser.
26th -Tomorrow sees the rearranged trip to Pittodrie - latest news
is that Alan Main is still doubtful with
his groin strain and Kevin Cuthbert(right)
is on standby to make his SPL debut, no doubt meaning that
Scott Findlay will take over on the
bench. Kane is available again but
MoMo "The Snake" Sylla(star
of a Herald article yesterday which you can find
and Gary Bollan are still suspended.
Pope is also expected to make a return from injury.
24th - No word on the trialists from last night yet so some web
trawling will be done today. Scotland U-21s lost 1-0 to their Belgian
counterparts last night. Kiegan Parker
wasn't even on the bench though so at least there weren't any injuries
No mention of last night's match in any of the papers today which is a disgrace although the Sun still managed to drag out Allan Ferguson for a "I hate Saints" interview. Not that there was anything new in it with the player still managing to omit the fact he turned down a new contract a month before his injury.
23rd - Stuart McCluskey(right)
has finally put pen to paper on a new 3-yr deal. The defender admits that
his ambition is still to win a move to the Premiership but joked, "This
contract takes me up to 2004 so I'll be due a testimonial myself soon! We
agreed the deal earlier in the week and it's good to have everything
signed and sealed now. I didn't really fancy moving on in the summer
because I've been happy here and security is important nowadays. There's a
big risk in going out of contract and a lot of players will be looking for
jobs over the summer. It's alright for the big name men on the big wages
but there's too much uncertainty for the rest of us." .
St. Sandy said "Stuart has been here a few years now but he is still a young player with a great future ahead of him. He is the right sort of age for the club and he's a mature player. I'm glad we now have the chance to see his potential fulfilled at McDiarmid Park. It's great news for the club."
Meanwhile the latest on the trialists tonight is that they are 2 French midfielders. The manager is looking for a decent crowd saying "I hope the fans turn out in force to honour one of football's good guys in Allan Preston We're using the game to give some players a trial and some a run out but the most important thing is to remember that we're all paying tribute to Biscuits, whose one of football's good guys. To be honest we've struggled to replace him in the squad. Even after his hip operation we might still want him to play! It's tragic he was forced to call it a day at 30. He's a terrific guy and I hope the supporters remember what he contributed to the club during his years here. He deserves to have a great night.".Geoff Brown was also paying tribute to Il Biscotti's(right) who has had to retire from the game at the age of 30. "Of the hundreds of players I have seen come and go here there are a handful I hold in high regard -Biscuits is one of them. While the circumstances are unfortunate, he thoroughly deserves this testimonial. He is a genuine club man and while the circumstances are unfortunate, he thoroughly deserves this testimonial."
The player himself is looking forward to tonight. Il Biscotti said "I never really had the chance to say goodbye to the Saints fans so this will be special for me. I've been looking forward to the game ever since Bradford agreed to come to Perth and my only regret is that I won't be able to play a part in it. Unfortunately, the surgeon who carried out the operation on my groin wouldn't be too keen on me launching into the odd sliding tackle. But at least I'll have the opportunity to meet up with old friends -and I still have plenty of those at McDiarmid where I had a fantastic time. I know the club has had some bad publicity over George O'Boyle and Kevin Thomas and Allan Ferguson also went into print criticising them. But they could not have been more supportive of me, before and after my surgery."
Saints will be without Kiegan Parker who is on international duty but Gary Bollan, Kane and Sylla are cleared to play alongside the trialists and Pope should take some part. But of course the star striker seems set to be Ally McCoist returning to play for the club where he started. Bradford will include Scots Gary Locke, Billy McKinlay, Stuart McCall and, if Aberdeen agree, on-loan Eoin Jess, in their line-up. Admission prices for the match, which starts 7.45pm, have been set at £10 adults and £5 concessions.
And fans fans who turn up early -gates open 6.45pm-will get free Easter Eggs. Tickets, priced £1, will also be available for a raffle. prizes include a hospitality table for four at McDiarmid Park, a signed Paul Gascoigne shirt, a strip signed by the Man United squad, an autographed Celtic top, gloves signed by World Cup winner Fabien Barthez and a Saints shirt signed by Biscuits. Winners can collect their prize from the McDiarmid reception after the game.
Looking ahead to next weekend and the club have said that for the Hibs game on Sunday April 1st, admission will be £10 for adults, £5 for senior citizens and kids will be admitted free with a paying adult in all stands. In addition (and in a welcome move), season ticket holders will be issued with a voucher offering a £10 discount off the purchase of Season Ticket for Season 2001/2002.
11.00pm It might only have been a testimonial and so-called Superstar Ally McCoist didn't show but a great team performance including 2 goals from Sylla playing as striker and 2 from Tommy kept the fans happy as Saints easily won 4-2
Added to that the youthful age of most of the team (Ross Forsyth and David McClune both played the full 90 minutes) and the promise of the two mystery French midfield trialists (Monsieur 4 and Monsieur 8 until we identify them) and overall it was a great night.
March 22nd - St. Sandy has confirmed that Tommy will take part in Il Biscotti's testimonial tomorrow night. He might also be joined in the team by 2 unnamed "European" trialists that Saints are trying to get clearance for.
21st - Michael O'Neill will
definitely miss the Aberdeen match but Tommy
(or Peter as the Courier has it) has recovered from his ankle
On the striking front Nat King Goals, Graeme Jones, Paddy Connolly and Pope are all improving according to St. Sandy and some or all may play against Bradford on Friday night.
Not so good news for Craig Russell though who is set to see a specialist about his knee injury.
The manager is hopeful that some of the strikers can return though to take some of the pressure off Kiegan Parker. "For a lad of 18 Keigan has had an incredibly good run but the time has come to take him out and avoid over exposing him. Against St Mirren at the weekend there he was still our biggest threat but I do feel he is maybe trying a wee bit too hard now and would benefit from a break. I would actually have left him out for the last couple of games if I could have but weve not had a lot of strikers to choose from and the way things are looking he'll probably play against Aberdeen next week. But beyond that we need to think about what is best for him."
20th - Latest injuries sees keeper Alan
Main(right) suffering from a groin strain which has forced him to
withdraw from the Scotland squad for this weekends double-header. No word
yet on whether or not he'll be fit to play Aberdeen next week. Joining him
on the treatment table is Michael O'Neill
who was subbed at St. Midden on Saturday after picking up a hamstring
injury along with Tommy Løvenkrands
who picked up an ankle knock and missed the 2-0 U-21 defeat last night.
Meanwhile on the contract front rumours are going round that Nat King Goals is stalling over signing a new contract. Whilst I hope it's just a rumour, the club must surely aim to avoid the PR disaster of last summer when several key players left the club.
March 19th - Nothing happening today except that the SFA have confirmed the SPL appeal verdict has been "set aside" pending the SFA appeal hearing on April 3rd. Charlie One and Charlie Two are therefore not allowed back at McD - so there.
March 18th - Not too much to report today - as usual the media worshipped the winners yesterday so we barely get a look-in. SPL match today saw Scumdee and the Gorgie Gits draw 0-0.
17th - With Keystone-Cops like timing the Retard today has
the classic tale of Charlie One and
Charlie Two pleading to be allowed to
return to Saints. The players' solicitor said "Throughout the
whole episode, the players have maintained a dignified silence pending the
issue of the SPL decision. "t is most unfortunate that Geoff Brown
has chosen to issue statements to the press that are factually inaccurate
and take little cognisance of the written decision by the SPL. The players
are extremely grateful to Raith Rovers for providing training facilities
during the appeal period, but they are keen to return to St Johnstone and
continue their recovery from injury. I have advised the players that not
withstanding the comments of Geoff Brown, they are quite within their
rights to return to the club. However, in light of recent comments from
Geoff Brown concerning their return, I have referred this matter back to
their agent Jim McArthur, who will liaise directly with the clubs
managing director to see if this particular issue can be resolved."
Bollocks to that idea..... not only are both players not welcome it's
a disgrace that they even think they can try to come back.
7.00pm - Some crap refereeing aside even a makeshift Saints side looked more than a little poor as we lost 1-0 to St. Midden although Mark Ferry became the latest youngster to make his debut coming on as a second-half sub. For those of a really nervous disposition, highlights are on BBC1 tonight - they don't make for a nice evening's entertainment.
11.00pm - Not much cheer but some good news in the rumour that Stuart McCluskey(right) yesterday agreed a new 3 year deal to keep him at McD until 2004. The player is expected to sign on Monday (and when this one expires he's due a testimonial !!!!!!!)
16th - Saints lodged their appeal yesterday with the SFA against
the SPL decision to reinstate the contracts of
Charlie One and
Charlie Two. The appeal is likely to be
heard on April 3rdGeoff Brown
is hopeful of the clubs appeal to the SFA in the Charliegate affair. "We
are going before a football body and we hope common sense prevails. We
were always going to pursue this in the wake of the commission's decision
that the players behaviour added up to serious misconduct. The only doubt
in my mind was over which route we were going to take. Hopefully a
football body will back a football clubs decision here. The SPL commission
upheld the players appeal with regard to the penalty we imposed. We don't
believe they should have done that. I firmly believe the club took the
right stance and the reaction I've had in recent weeks from fans and
supporters of other clubs has been very re-assuring. There is an SFA
appeals committee meeting scheduled for early April and I would hope this
will be considered at that date. This has been dragging on since January 5
and it's taking far too long. Hopefully, we can draw a line under it all.
I've certainly got no regrets about the stance we have taken, regardless
of the appeals committee's ultimate decision." And thanks to the
SFA's modernisation programme lawyers are not permitted before the
committee so the chairman will press Saints' case in person.
Team news now and St. Sandy has confirmed that the teenagers from Wed night will keep their places at the weekend. "They both did well and when you take into account that Kiegan Parker was playing as well-and he's still an under-18 player-it augurs well for the future of St Johnstone. They will more than likely play again because it is doubtful that many of those who missed out against Celtic will be fit for the weekend. And add to that the fact that we've got Kane and Sylla suspended. If they can walk, they'll be getting on the coach to go to Paisley! In all my years in football I can't remember being so badly hit. I've only got 13 fit players and five of those were 18-year-olds who were in the squad in midweek against Celtic."
Definitely out are suspended trio Bollan, Kane and Sylla. Missing through injury are Darren Dods, Graeme Jones, Paddy Connolly , Pope (with a back injury) and longer term casualties Stuart Malcolm and Stephen Robertson. In the "seriously doubtful" category appears Craig Russell, Nathan Lowndes and flu-hit Michael O'Neill
St. Sandy said "At the moment I have no idea where we stand with regard to a team. I should have a clearer picture on Friday. Results now have to go our way if we're to have a chance of the top six and even then we must win our next four games. So we head for Paisley determined to come back with three points.".
Latest on the squad is thatr 6 U-18 players will make the journey with Marc McCulloch and Mark Ferry added to Wednesday's squad.
15th - Latest on the injury front is that we're unlikely to see any
of the current list return in time for the weekend which with the
suspension of Kane and
Sylla means that some more of the youth
side look set to step up.
As expected the media concentrate on TFOE in their match reports (although congratulations to Iain King in the Sun for managing to keep the TFOD mentions up in the same report). Little from the post-match comments with Petrov's injury the main talking point. Still good to see a decent quota of Media Falsehoods. St. Sandy(right) was happy enough saying "The goals came from set plays but the credit has to go to Celtic. I've lost count of the amount of times they've scored goals like that this season. The quality of delivery is incredible and they have so many players who are very good in the air. I'm disappointed that we lost the game but we played well. I said to the players before the match-don't lose any silly goals and get us a platform for Saturday's game at St Mirren. I think we did that."
14th - Saints managed to slip another place in the SPL last night
thanks to Aberdeens 1-0 win over Hibs putting them above us on goal
Meanwhile Jim Weir has said it's time we stopped "gifting goals". Speaking ahead of tonight's match the captain said "We've been criticised and rightly so. The defence has taken the plaudits over the last few seasons because our record has been so good. At the moment though we're conceding goals which are completely self-inflicted and there's nothing the manager can do about that. At the end of the day I'm as guilty as anybody-perhaps more guilty-and hopefully I can cut out the mistakes that I've been making and get back to normality for me. It's hard to find excuses but you don't suddenly become a poor defender overnight and I'm sure I can put it right and the rest of the team can put it right as well."
Darren Dods and Craig Russell are now definite non-starters for tonight.
Congratulations to Kiegan Parker who has been called up for the Scotland U-21 squad against Belgium.
11.00pm - Saints put up a good performance tonight despite being a weakened side but still lost 2-1 to TFOE although Stuart McCluskey scored a good header in the first half. Ross Forsyth and Brendan Crozier both played with the former easily the MoM putting in a good shift on the left side. Gary Bollan is unlikely to ever play again after that.
Elsewhere in the SPL Scumdee won 2-0 at Ibrox whilst the Jambos beat Killie 3-0.
13th - Looks like St. Sandy will
play some of the kids in tomorrow night's big match with the injury
problems mounting. Graeme Jones is
definitely out, Paddy Connolly and
Nathan Lowndes are rated "very
doubtful" and Darren Dods and
Stephen Frail are described as "50/50
chances at best". Gary Bollan
starts his suspension and his believed replacement at left back,
Marc McCulloch, has gone down with
Pope and Stuart McCluskey both trained yesterday and "have a chance of playing" . But it still means a total of five under-18s will be in the Saints squad tomorrow night-Kiegan Parker, David McClune, Ross Forsyth(far right), Brendan Crozier(right) and Kevin Cuthbert. The manager said, "It's looking like a couple of them will play from the start against Celtic. There's never an ideal situation to give them their first game and hopefully the fact that everybody expects Celtic to win will help."
Kiegan is looking to get back amongst the goals tomorrow night "We're looking for a minimum of a good, solid team performance against Celtic. It was good to get back on the scoresheet again, even if it was a friendly. I haven't scored for a few games now and, of course, there were those two penalty misses. They could have had us up there with the top six but I'm trying to put that out of my mind. It has dented my confidence a wee bit but the manager keeps reminding me I've scored 10 goals and that's not bad going for an 18-year-old in the Premier League. It would be nice to get back among the goals in midweek. I know I've been lucky. I just have to look at a player like Nathan who has been out for most of the past year with an injury to remind me things could be a lot worse. It's great to be playing first team football regularly at my age and to get double figures goal-wise is a real bonus."
Ross Forsyth looks set to fill in at left-back and Kiegan reckons he'll be up for the game. "He is full of confidence and he's a hardy character. There's a touch of arrogance about him that maybe you need as a youngster trying to break through into the first team. It would be a fantastic opportunity for him to play against Celtic so early in his career. With Gary Bollan out for four games there's a chance for him now. He's the sort who will relish it."
Finally the ref for tomorrow will be John Underhill, whilst Stuart Dougal is in charge at Love Street on Saturday.
12th - Some confusion on the contract front with
Geoff Brown denying that
St. Sandy has signed a new 2-year deal.
"That suggestion is completely unfounded, although in time we
will do something as Sandy will not be finished with St Johnstone after
The official details of Il Biscotti's testimonial are out with Bradford set to bring a full strength squad to Perth. Admission to the game will be £10 for adults and £5 for concessions with entry to either the East or West stands on the night. There are also hospitality packages being organised for this match by the Testimonial Committee and for £30 per person you can enjoy a Champagne Reception, pre-match finger buffet, match ticket, match programme, half time finger buffet and use of a licensed bar facility. To reserve a place please contact Gordon Bannerman on 01738 493213.
11th - Fixture changes first and the BBC are planning to
show the home match against Hibs live on TV. This means the fixture has
moved from Sat March 31st to Sunday 1st April with a 2.35pm
The big news though is that St. Sandy is reported to have signed a new two-year deal (according to the Sunday Mail). Although his current contract doesn't expire until the end of the season, Saints are said to have been keen to tie him up before any speculation starts.
The same paper also links us with a possible move for Aberdeen's Paul Bernard(right) who is set to be allowed to leave Pittodrie on a free transfer.
10th - St. Sandy(right) has been
praising the younger players who took part in Thursday night's friendly.
"The younger guys are very important to us.
Ross Forsyth played the whole game and
did exceptionally well (setting up Parker's goal).
Marc McCulloch played well as a
central defender and David McClune
came on and played his first game for the first team.
Brendan Crozier played half an hour
and Kevin Cuthbert played 15 minutes
and made a really good save. So all these lads have got experience playing
in the first team-and in a Premiership ground against a top class side, so
there were lots of benefits for the players and the club. Middlesborough
played their strongest team and we had a lot of injuries but it went very
well for us and I think we deserved at least the draw."
Ross Forsyth is a possible replacement for Gary"Dispossesed" Bollan against TFOE but the manager is still urging some caution. "I always say I have no worries playing them if they are good enough but the protection has got to be there for the players. It has got to be the right circumstances so you don't send them back the way. Against Middlesborough there was no pressure on anybody but next Wednesday we have Celtic which is a different kettle of fish altogether."
Paddy Connolly picked up a foot knock on Thursday as well which will rule him out for a few weeks but Nick Dasovic made his return.
Onto Charliegate and the Saints board are defending their decision to dump Charlie One and Charlie Two. Geoff Brown(right) said the appeal panel were "splitting hairs" by questioning the manner the substance was ingested. He maintained that the players admitted taking a substance and added that if they had not done so they would have been tested for drugs that day-nine days after the alleged incident. "Our position is that we now need to look very, very thoroughly into the matter, and hopefully we will have further information from our lawyers at the start of next week. We will decide how to take things forward from there. It's not clear at this stage what the pair will do, but I would not be happy about the guys being back in the dressing room after having committed such a serious offence. Our options now are to go to the SFA or take another route. When looking at the judgment the SFA panel would be football people and I would be reasonably happy to go there and, hopefully, common sense would prevail."
Of course Smith and McLeod etc have been questioning whether Saints would take the same action if it hadn't been these players but the chairman has scotched that idea. "Do not underestimate how this club felt about George. He was here six seasons and was top scorer most of them. Most annoying was that George was within two or three weeks of playing again. Ask Sandy Clark (the manager) if he wanted him in the team and he would say of course, because he scores goals. As for a second chance, as far as we are concerned someone else can give them another chance but we cannot be tolerant to that extent in this club. We have got too many people here working with youngsters and that would undermine them."
The club are now looking at setting up a formal drugs policy. And St. Sandy has said that it would "not be to anybody's benefit if they turned up for training on Monday. The players admitted that they took a substance. They admitted what that substance was. People in the club know exactly what the substance was and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind as to what the substance was. I've kept the players up to date with what has happened - and credit to them, I don't think it has leaked out anywhere. The players know the story of what happened. They are 100 per cent behind the club and the actions the club has taken. They have their own personal views on the matter. They are professional sportsmen, and you don't abuse yourself - especially if you are injured. Maybe you are allowed to have a few pints if you are training and playing and you are fit enough to handle it."
9th - Last night's friendly saw Saints draw 1-1 against a strong
Middlesbrough side - Kiegan Parker(right)
scored for the boys. Report courtesy of the Courier can be found
Meanwhile Charlie One and Charlie Two dominates the press with the Sun and Retard both confirming that despite the players being found guilty of misconduct the appeal ruled in their favour. On the other hand the delightful Scotsman gives a full recount of the appeal but omits the crucial fact that the appeal found the pair guilty of serious misconduct. As usual Saints were made out to be the bad guys. The club have confirmed that they are expected to appeal the verdict to the SFA and that civil action against both players for breach of contract. Both the Charlies meanwhile have said that they want to resume their playing careers as soon as possible - needless to say it won't be at Saints and to be honest it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to sign a pair of injury-prone idiots like them.
On the injury front Graeme Jones is out with his knee again after it flared up during training.
Finally Ally McCoist has been lined up to play for Saints in Il Biscotti's testimonial on March 23rd. The ex-Saints player said "I'm really looking forward to being involved in the testimonial game. My senior career began with Saints and I'll always be grateful to the club for giving me that chance. This is going to be my last season and it's a fantastic opportunity to play again for the club where it all began. I'm just a sentimental old fool !!! I'll try and get my old pal John Brogan to partner me !!!!!". Bradford look set to bring a full-strength side north with Jess, McCall and Carbone set to play.
8th - The SPL have finally published their verdict into the appeals
of Charlie One and
Charlie Two against the termination of
their contracts. http://www.scotprem.com
is the place to go to read the legalese. And once you get past the
legalese (and there's plenty of that) the summary seems to be that :
1. The players took a possibly-illegal substance which wasn't to the best of their health.
2. In doing so they commited a serious misconduct.
3. But cos no-one has ever been sacked for taking drugs in football (thanks to Tony FatBoy-Slim Higgins for that one) and because Saints had never explained in words of one syllable or less to the players that they could be sacked (the contracts said misconduct could lead to a fine, suspension or dismissal) the players thought they'd get off with a fine.
4. Cos the players thought they'd get off with a fine, the appeal panel believed they shouldn't be given a more severe punishment.
So it's congratulations to the SPL for continuing to ignore the real world and the impact such decisions have on clubs. Meanwhile let's hope Saints take this fight all the way. There may be other on-the-field problems at the club just now but in this issue I fully back the board.
6th- Saints expect the written verdict in the next 24 hours. In the
meantime Stewart Duff has revealed that
the "status quo" regarding the players attendance at the
club will continue with both druggies getting to pick up their pay without
It looks like Gary"Dispossesed" Bollan will be lingering around until the summer. He's picked up a 4-match ban after Saturday's stupidity and with the English transfer deadline set for March 31st it's unlikely anyone will make a move for him. In addition Saturday's game saw Kane and Sylla go through the limit with a one and two-match suspension respectively. The good news is that both are eligible to play against Celtic. St. Sandy still thinks we can get into the top 6 saying "We've given away games recently and still have a mountain to climb. It puts us under added pressure going into the Celtic match next week".
Saints are heading south to play a friendly against Middlesboro on Thursday night at the Riverside Stadium. The match has been arranged to allow both teams to get some practice in as both have a free weekend this Saturday (although why they didn't just arrange the match for then I don't know). Kick-off is at 7pm and admission is £5.
5th- Charlie One and
Charlie Two didn't turn up for training
today (surely a 2-week fine is in order) but that didn't stop the druggies
releasing a counter-statement to Geoff
Brown's allegations at the weekend. Speaking through their
solicitors the pair expressed their "disappointment that Geoff
Brown has gone public. We intend to remain silent until we've seen the
written verdict on the appeal. Both players deny ever admitting to anyone
at St Johnstone that they took cocaine".. Which is about as vague
as you can get.
Meanwhile Jim Weir(right) has braved the press to deny that the drugs scandal is adversely affecting the team. "We just don't talk about it - both players are never mentioned in the dressing room". Not much else in the papers with only Bill Leckie in the Sun making any sort of real comment on the saga - at least he's backing Saints though.
4th- Plenty of reporting of Geoff
Brown's post-match comments on the Charlie
One and Charlie Two drug
allegations with the chairman confirming that On the day of the
sackings, one of my fellow directors held a formal enquiry with our
lawyers and made the decision. I certainly don't disagree with it. We
believed we followed the correct procedures. We then went to an
independent commission with a top QC, to be told simply "appeal
upheld". It's a frustration as we have only heard the same as the
press. At the first time of asking, both players independently admitted
snorting cocaine. As soon as we held a formal hearing with their lawyers,
that changed to 'snorting a white powdered substance'. The SPL has rules
regarding players' contracts. These are legally binding documents and are
contractually obligated to pay the players until we are told otherwise."
. Of course along with any normal reporting we also have the delights
of the high-and-mighty editorials of the so-called superior papers (eg
Scotland on Sunday). They amongst others posed the question as to
whether or not Saints would have treated the case differently had any
other players (ie big stars) been involved. Cue chairman's reply "That's
ABSOLUTE BOLLOCKS", followed by the reporter being told how
Saints had paid the player's (Charlie Two)
wages for the last 2 years whilst he had been injured in the hope that he
would return to be the talented footballer he was in the past.
All of which will no doubt be brushed over as the media try to claim the moral high ground again. And no doubt they will be more than willing to ignore the fact that the vast majority of Saints fans are 100% behind the club in the matter.
On the park and things aren't looking too hot with Mohamed Sylla(right) now over the points limit and facing a 2-match ban after his stupid booking yesterday. Meanwhile other rumours suggest that Gary"Dispossesed" Bollan may have played his last game for the club. With a suspension due to his red card due and the English transfer deadline looming he could be heading south.
3rd- Craig Russell(right) is
looking to today's game to boost Saints' chances of making the top 6 at
the split. "'I've played in my fair share of north-east derbies
against Newcastle and Middlesbrough and I managed to score a few.
Unfortunately we didn't do as well against Newcastle as we did against
Boro but I've got a few derby goals in my locker and if I get a start
against Dundee hopefully I can continue that. I've heard the story of how
Dundee relegated Saints a long time ago and the fans havent
forgotten it, so it would be great if we could beat Dundee. If we then got
into the top six and Dundee didn't it would be something for our fans to
shout about. Dundee have lost their way a bit really and we haven't won
for about nine or 10 games so something has to give and hopefully it's us
who gets the win. After the Aberdeen match getting postponed so near to
kick-off we can't wait for this one. It's a big one for the fans and it's
important that we get the right result. We've got to start making up
ground on the teams above us. People were unsure about the league split
but it's made things very interesting and the players desperately want to
be in the top six."
Saints' defensive injuries means it's likely that we'll start with a pairing of Alan Kernaghan and Stuart McCluskey in the middle. The manager is optimistic though, saying "I am looking forward to the game. The pitch is in great condition and it will be nice to finally get a game after something like 18 days without one. It is a big game for us as we try to get back into contention for a top-six place, and the same can be said for Dundee."
Onto the druggies appeal and chairman Geoff Brown is apparently "seething" at the decision being announced before the club had details. "All we know is that the appeal has been upheld and we will get details at a later date. At this stage all I can say is that we are disappointed. We have to see where their judgment came from before we can decide if we will make an appeal to the SFA. We don't even know at this stage what will happen if the players turn up at the ground on Monday. We haven't had time to speak to our lawyers but we will do that over the weekend. One of the problems was always going to be the players' contracts. We had the option of fining them two weeks' wages or suspending them on full pay. As far as we were concerned, neither of those courses was adequate and what was left was basically to sack them. We want to know why an independent tribunal has come up with a decision to uphold their appeal."
7.00pm- Well what do you know, we blew it again against Scumdee losing 3-2 despite taking the lead through a Gary Bollan free-kick and equalising late on thanks to a Paul Kane penalty. Some shocking defending saw us lose a bad goal in the last 5 minutes though and to round it off Gary Bollan(right) picked up a straight red card for what looked like dissent. Don't bother coming back.
Elsewhere in the SPL, TFOD beat the Gorgie Gits 2-0, the Arabs won 4-0 at home to St Midden and Killie v Aberdeen was goalless. All of which means we've slipped to 9th with the season effectively over.
Post-match, St. Sandy blasted the team saying. "It has been a difficult period for us in terms of results, and it is hard to take today, as Dundee deserved to win as we gave it to them. Our defensive mistakes were horrendous and we are giving teams wins at the moment because of it. I felt the whole team let us down today - it's bad professionalism not to kill the game off at the other end. Bollan got caught in the situation where he had just given away a goal and then was wound up by the Dundee fans."
Off the park Saints were in the news as well with a press release this afternoon revealing the contents of a "joint minute approved by both sides" for the druggies appeal. The document says that
* The players had in the cubicle a white powder substance which they had been told if they took it, it would not make them feel so bad.
* The players accept that they did ingest some of the substance although the manner in which it was ingested appears to be in dispute.
* O'Boyle wiped away the substance and both players left the cubicle.
Whilst not inconclusive it does confirm that both Charlie One and Charlie Two seemed to take an illegal substance which IMHO more than justifies the termination of their contracts.
Finally, the Aberdeen U-18 cup semi-final has been scheduled for McD for Friday April 13th. Also the testimonial match for Il Biscotti has been confirmed. Saints will play Bradford City on Friday March 23rd.
2nd- St. Sandy has even more
injury worries. As well as Darren Dods,
Nick Dasovic and
Jim Weir has fallen victim to his virus
again and even worse news is that Nat King
Goals(right) has picked up an ankle injury in training. The manager
said "Nathan and Jim both look like being last-minute decisions.
With a bit of luck we might have two out of the five available to us. I am
just hoping that weve managed to get our training right this week
and that we are nice and bright against Dundee on Saturday. Both Dundee
and ourselves have dropped a bit behind in the battle to get a top-six
place so this is a very big game for both clubs. Dundee have suffered
through missing penalties, as we have, and dropping points because of that
is why there is more pressure on both clubs for this match."
And whilst tomorrow's game goes ahead with no pitch inspection currently planned, future matches this season are in doubt with the current outbreak of foot and mouth. Oh joy.
6.45pm Latest news just in is that Charlie One and Charlie Two have had their appeals upheld (!) by the 3-man independent SPL panel. Saints now have 7 days to decide whether or not to appeal their case to the SFA but a spokesman for the club tonight said that "no decision will be made until we've seen the written details of the judgement".
1st- There's not too much happening in the wonderful world of
Sainteeland. One small piece of injury news concerns teenager
Ross Forsyth(right) who is suffering
from a thigh muscle strain after "tripping up and landing on his
mobile phone" !!!!
Now it's time for a charity plug and Saints have joined most of the other Scottish and English clubs in supporting Football Aid which aims to raise money for diabetes with a unique auction in which fans can bid for positions in one of two teams of their favourite club (ie the Glorious Forces of Light at McD). These two fan teams will then play a 90-minute match at McDiarmid Park with full use of the stadium facilities and every opportunity to live out that fantasy of scoring a goal for Saints at McD. Even better even if you don't make a successful bid you can still take part as the latest press release from Football Aid details :
Now fans have the chance to lead the attack for their team - all for just a tenner. The unique competition allows supporters who make a £10 donation on the Football Aid website Football Aid to enter the competition to win the coveted number 9 jersey, with the lucky winners able to live their dreams and run out of the tunnel as their heroes' leading hitman. Craig Paterson, founder of Football Aid said: "Every fan dreams of playing for their favourite club in their own stadium and the chance to pull on the centre-forward's number 9 shirt will be a real bonus. Although most of the 30 places at each match will go to fans who make the highest bids on the Football Aid website, we wanted to give as many people as possible the chance to win the number 9 jersey, which is usually one of the most sought after in the whole team." Entry to the competition couldn't be easier. All Football Aid asks is that fans make a £10 charitable donation via Football Aid. Participants will then be asked to answer a simple question about football and then outline why they should get the shirt.The draw for the places will take place on the 24th of March 2001. With official endorsement from the game's ruling bodies, Football aid is a unique venture aiming to raise millions of pounds for charity. Around half the money generated from the project will go towards diabetes research, while local club and football authority charities will share the rest of the cash. The project is supported by the FA, the Premiership and Nationwide League in England and the SFA, the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League in Scotland. More details about Football Aid are available on the website at Football Aid
Top Of News
28th - Saints have announced a schoolkids ticket deal with Safeway.
. Marketing manager Paul Fraser explained, "Starting
today, theres a promotion at Safeway in Perth where youngsters can
get free tickets for our March 31 home fixture with Hibs. Promotional
packs of Coca-Cola contain a voucher for a free ticket for the Hibs match
and this promotion will run throughout March. Young supporters are the
future of the club and this is another attempt at bringing young folk in."
Meanwhile if anyone wants a real laugh, today saw ex-Saintee John "I'm off tae the Arabs cos they're a bigger side" McQuillan being dumped on loan until the end of the season to...wait for it.....Alloa Athletic. Classic.
27th - The ref for this weekend's local derby against the
soap-dodging surrenderers will be Eric
Saints injury problems aren't easing either with Darren Dods, Nick Dasovic and Stephen Frail already rated doubtful for the Dundee game. St. Sandy said "It's certainly going to be touch and go for them for the weekend.". The good news though is that both Jim Weir and Kiegan Parker should be fit.
Meanwhile the verdict is due sometime this afternoon from the SPL in the appeal of Charlie One and Charlie Two against their contract terminations.
3.00pm The verdict has been postponed - the 3-man committee were unable to meet due to the bad weather.
26th - The news today is that the Aberdeen game postponed from last
weekend has been rearranged for Tuesday March 27th with a 7.45pm
kick-off, thus guaranteeing that most Saints fans will probably miss it.
The U-18s will also be playing Aberdeen towards the end of March in the semi-final of the youth cup at McDiarmid.
24th - Latest player set to miss out at Pittodrie is
Jim Weir with the skipper falling to the
viral infection that has meant Kiegan
Parker is also absent. So we're now missing 3 of the regular back 4.
St. Sandy said "It looks as if
it will be Saturday before I decide on my team but both
Father Dougal and
Stuart McCluskey are fit and
available, so that's a plus for us. If I think it's right to play the two
youngsters then I will, simple as that. It's just a matter of picking the
right time, for their sake. You don't want to choose a game where theyd
maybe get exposed due to a lack of experience."
2.45pm - The match was called off at 12.30 after snow this morning made the Pittodrie pitch unplayable. No word of a replay date yet but Aberdeen are believed to favour the weekend of the Scotland internationals. St. Sandy went and took in the TFOD 1-0 win at Dens (let's see constant media reminders of missed penalties for those teams now) but revealed that David McClune would have started the game at full-back today.
Elsewhere in the SPL the Jambos beat the Pars 7-1, Killie and the Arabs were 0-0 whilst Well beat St Midden 1-0.
23rd - The injury problems continue to mount. As well as
Darren Dods (knee) and
Nick Dasovic (back), the latest players
to be classed as "very doubtful" by
St. Sandy are
Stephen Frail (another knee injury) and
striker Kiegan Parker (virus).
It means that Father Dougal and Stuart McCluskey are added to the squad and will be joined by teenagers Ross Forsyth(right) and David McClune(far right). The manager said "All four of them are struggling and are very, very doubtful for Saturday and Keigan would probably have the best chance of them if he shakes off the virus. Alan and Stuart are both fit enough to come back to the squad and Ross and David would both do a good job if required.". Although the changes to the squad are unfortunate he also said that the team have managed to "work on some alternative ideas in training".
Meanwhile Tayside Polis have announced that no charges will be brought against Motherwell's Stephen Hammel after the racism allegations from the game at McD in December.
22nd - Billy Kirkwood (remember
him) has been full of praise for the U-18s after their 2-0 win over Hibs
on Tuesday night. "It was a tough game for them the other night
but I thought they did really well in adapting to the type of match it
became and thoroughly deserved their victory. There were some excellent
performances, Kevin Cuthbert in goal, David Dodds and David McClune at
left and right back, Stephen McAllister in midfield and Keigan Parker up
front. Considering we had a few injuries, they did really well to win.
It's nice for them to get to the semi-final and possibly even the final
but the most important thing as far as we're concerned is their overall
development as players and how they progress through the ranks. It's
obviously very important for a club like St Johnstone to bring on our own
players - we've stated that's the way forward for us - and we've certainly
got high hopes for a few of this team. Keigan is a great example to the
rest of them. He's shown that the opportunity is there - if you do well
for the under 18s and the under 21s then you'll get your chance in the
first team. I'd like to think that we might see one or two more of them in
the first team before the end of the season."
Finally, Garry Mitchell is the ref for the Aberdeen game at the weekend.
21st - Today's injury news confirms Darren
Dods as a doubt for the weekend although Father
Dougal(right) could be set to step into the breech.
St. Sandy "It will really all
depend on whether Darren manages to get himself fit. Alan's certainly
getting there - as is Graeme Jones - and
the two bounce games have definitely improved his match fitness. He's not
far away." Also back in training was
Craig Russell who picked up a knee
injury in the cup defeat. He should be fit for the weekend. MeanwhileNat
King Goals is in the papers today talking about a new deal "I've
really enjoyed my three years in Perth, my home is here and I love it.
I'll be happy to talk about a new deal"....so what's the hold-up
The draw for the semi-finals of the youth cup will be made later this week.
20th - Charlie One and
Charlie Two will have their appeal
verdict announced in the next fortnight. Latest is that the preliminary
verdict is expected at the start of next week, after which there will be a
period of around seven days whilst a more detailed verdict is prepared and
sent to all parties. No doubt we'll then have the delights of the other
appeal processes to go through. It's also been revealed that only
Charlie Two attended the hearing in
person - Charlie One was out of the
country. Nice to see the latter has his priorities right where his career
Meanwhile on the injury front, Darren Dods(right) has a knee injury which is "causing concern", Nick Dasovic has a back strain but the good news is that Paddy has recovered from his rib knock and should be fit for Saturday's trip to Pittodrie.
The TFOE game will now go ahead on March 14th - weather, cup replays, internationals and leprechauns permitting of course.
Finally it seems that Saints are finally set to offer Nathan Lowndes a new contract. Thank Christ.
10pm - Congratulations to the Saints U-18s who beat Hibs 2-0 in the Qtr-finals of the BP Youth Cup at McD tonight. Nice to see some Saints footballers can do well in a cup.
19th - The big story today of course is the appeal by
Charlie One and
Charlie Two which is being held at
Hampden. Even if the Saints case is upheld, the pair can still appeal to
the SFA and via an industrial tribunal. With plenty of rumours going
around how they will "name names" at the appeal in an
attempt to justify their behaviour, you can be pretty sure that if they
lose (in which case they could face a 2 year worldwide ban from football),
then they'll be straight to the tabloids with their tale.
According to their solicitors, the appeal is being made on the basis that the sentence imposed on them was "too severe and also challenges the procedures followed by the club". Saints, however, believe that their case is solid - and givent that both players are still being paid wages by the club pending the outcome of all the appeals, then you could put the whole process down to the players trying to bleed as much cash as possible from Saints.
An SPL spokesman said "Both sides are going to get the opportunity to put their case across from this morning and it will be heard by a panel of three. If it is concluded today, there will be a period of deliberation before the full verdict is delivered and posted up on the interenet".....in other words don't get your hopes up of a quick resolution and the club will hear first anyway. Nice to see some things don't change from the SFA days.
Elsewhere off the park and the TFOE match set for March 7th looks set to be postponed as the bigots try and play their cup replay that week. Mind you if it had been us and the Pars no doubt 5 minutes gap between games would have sufficed.
11.00pm - SPL spokesman Iain Blair has announced that "After sitting listening to evidence for the last 10 and a half hours, the panel retired to consider the appeal case. They will reconvene at the start of next week to deliver the verdict" - so another week's wages for the junkies.
17th - After the requisite period of mourning after Tuesday night,
the aftershock of the cup defeat still goes on. Chairman
Geoff Brown (right) said I
know exactly how our supporters are feeling. Im really, really
disappointed with what happened in Dunfermline. It was infuriating,
especially after the way we lost in the last minute against Killie two
days before. I was absolutely devastated and the last time I felt so low
after a game was back in 1995 when we lost 4-0 at Stenhousemuir in the
same competition. Ive every sympathy with our true blue Saints fans
but Id ask them to feel just as sorry for me! We suffer together.
The fans have been good to me in my time here and weve enjoyed a
good relationship. I think both parties realise were singing off the
same hymn sheet. We will keep on trying to get things right. Yes, there
will be changes. As ever in football some players will be moving on and
the manager will be identifying replacements he wants to bring in. If a
player is going to be worth absolutely nothing at the end of a short-term
contract it would be money down the drain. This is a club which is having
to work hard to balance the books. It would be ludicrous to hike up the
wages bill. I feel sorry for the manager sometimes because its
hardly his fault if we cant afford to pay the wages that so many of
the players wed like, and like to keep, are on. In many ways his
hands are tied.
Weve actually being playing some nice football over the past few months, albeit without winning games that were there for the taking. A few years ago we were getting the results but it wasnt entertaining. Hopefully we can strike the right balance and Sandy Clark can find the right blend. Weve got to be patient and unfortunately that doesnt come easy to me because Im not a patient man by nature. The manager spends a lot of time bringing on our youngsters and he wasnt slow to introduce Keigan Parker to the first team. Youth development is essential to this club and weve a few kids who arent that far away from making the breakthrough. And on Tuesday the U18s play Hibs in the quarter final of the SFA Youth Cup and Id urge our season ticket holders and diehard fans to come along to McDiarmid and have a look at the current crop of youngsters."
St. Sandy meanwhile has faced the music today with an appearance of Off the Ball.
It's been revealed, that Paddy Connolly missed out on the cup game thanks to a rib injury.
14th - Well it's a change as St.
Sandy's post-match comments staded "I have got to apologise
to the supporters for the second-half performance. It was nothing to do
with effort, but with all three goals we had the chance to clear and we
didn't do it. As professionals we have seen it often enough. Two-nil isn't
always enough and the next goal was always going to be important. I also
thought we should have had a penalty when the score was 2-1".
The Sellik SPL match has been rearranged for Wednesday March 7th with a 7.45pm kick-off. Tickets from the original game are still valid. Not that anyone is likely to want to turn up these days.
The mystery Argentinian trialist has left the club - he won't be invited back which means he must be really shite. Elsewhere the Retard reports the Norwich manager on Gary Bollan saying he is "monitoring the player" - don't suppose he'd like to monitor him a bit quicker would he?
13th - Pope (right) is in the
papers talking about the latest penalty miss ahead of tonight's cup tie at
East End Park. : "Before I went the ball moved and stopped. When
I ran up and hit it the ball maybe moved again. It was just one of those
things. I was hitting them in training yesterday no problem. It is not the
first one I have missed and more than likely not the last one. If it goes
to penalties on Tuesday I would hit one, no problem."
In terms of team selection, St. Sandy said that he "is going to look at his whole squad" when considering his team for tonight. No new injuries for Saints whilst the Pars are playing a guessing game saying they have 9 doubtful for tonight (aye right).
Meanwhile the U-21s lost 2-0 to Killie last night with Alan Kernaghan playing and Graeme Jones coming on as a sub. Saints were trying to play an Argentinian trialist in the U-21 game last night - not sure if they managed it.
With Norwich apparently chasing Gary Bollan, chairman Geoff Brown has issued a warning that they won't get their man on the cheap. Despite Saints being resigned to losing the player at the end of the season anyway, he said "Last year we had a derisory offer for O'Neil from Hibs and decided to let him leave for nothing at the end of the season instead after we had achieved 5th spot. The same applies this year - no one will leave on the cheap".
Finally for now, the highlights of the cup replay will be on BBC1 Scotland at 11.05pm tonight. Expect patronising comments from the pundits.
10.30pm A total collapse in the 2nd half saw the Pars score 3 and knock Saints out with a 3-2 win thus ending our season and probably the Saints careers of several of the so-called professionals out on the park tonight. First half goals from Craig Russell and Nathan Lowndes had us coasting at half-time and the fans almost believing. Then we get stabbed in the guts again. Thanks Saints.
12th - St. Sandy has defendedPope's
penalty kicks saying "If I didn't think he was the right man, he
wouldn't be taking them". Having said that the latest rumour is
that Le Mois next to take a spot kick.
On the transfer front the Sun report that Norwich watched Gary Bollan last night and that a £100,000 move this week could be on the cards - personally I'll believe it when I see it.
11th - As you might expect the Saints game tonight has been given
minority coverage in the papers as the tabloids concentrate on the
sectarian violence-to-be this afternoon in Wegieland. Still one revelation
came from midfielder Nick Dasovic(right)
who has announced his plan to return to his native Canada to take up
coaching once his contract expires at the end of next season.
9.00pm - Well a total shower of shite on display at McD saw Saints blow it again and disappoint the large crowd (plus the dozens watching on SKY) as we lost 2-1 to Killie with the winner coming in injury time after an 88th minute Lazarus equaliser looked to have given us a share of the points. Oh yeah and in keeping with the crap traditions of Saints these days John Paul McBride missed a 2nd half penalty when the game was goalless. The club did a lot tonight to persuade folk to apply in advance for cup tickets against Celtic. Save yourself the stamps cos the way we're playing the Pars will slaughter us.
Post-match St. Sandy said "I'm very, very disappointed that we lost that game, especially as it was self-inflicted. "We should have won the game over 90 minutes but if you defend poorly then it will cost you. Both goals were our fault and we also missed another penalty. We put a lot of effort in, played a lot of good football but the breaks went against us." . Elsewhere in the SPL TFOE beat TFOD 1-0 in a fairly calm game (only 1 sending off).
10th - Both Paddy Connolly and
Kiegan Parker(right) have been voicing
their opinions in the media today ahead of the Killie game tomorrow night.
Kiegan is looking to get over the
disappointment of the penalty misses recently with a return to scoring
form. "I felt a bit down after the Dundee United game last week
when I missed the penalty but I've been playing just as well as I was
earlier in the season apart from scoring the goals, so I can't be too
unhappy. I've got to take the ups and the downs. So far everything I've
touched this season has almost turned to gold and I've scored plenty of
goals. But it's how you deal with the tough times that matters. I've still
got a lot to learn and missing those penalties is part of that learning
process. I didn't actually feel that I had many scoring chances against
United but hopefully a few will come my way against Killie and I put one
in the net to get back on the goal trail. We've been creating plenty of
chances but haven't been putting the ball in the back of the net and I
think we could give a team a hammering if things go our way. If we win
this game I think it will go a long way to getting us in the top six.
We're only a couple of wins away from Killie and our next few games are
against teams we are capable of beating. Hopefully we can take maximum
Paddy meanwhile isn't too concerned with the return of Nathan Lowndes to threaten his starting slot. "Nathan's had a terrible time and the goal he scored against Dundee United will have done his confidence a world of good. He's come on a couple of times as a sub but deep down he probably had a few doubts remaining if he could bounce back to be the player he was before the operation. The way he took that goal has wiped away any doubts and now he'll be desperate for a starting place. He has overcome a major psychological hurdle. We're different types of players but we're in competition for the same position. Obviously I want to hold on to my place up front with Keigan Parker. But if Nathan does get the nod I'll be wishing him all the best because he's a great guy and has come through an operation on his back that had us all worried. I'm genuinely delighted he's fit again, even if that means there's even more competition for places. Remember, the surgery wasn't just to get him playing again. There was a concern about him walking."
5pm - SPL results today saw Saints drop a place in the league. Hibs beat the Buddies 4-2, Well lost 1-0 at home to the Sheep and the Arabs went down 3-1 to Dunfermline.
9th-St. Sandy(right) has hit out
in the papers about the "unfair advantage" the Pars are
getting from Tuesday night's cup replay. He said "The decision to
make us play so soon after the Killie game has got to hand an advantage to
Dunfermline. We would obviously have preferred the replay to go ahead on
Wednesday. These are two vital games for the club and we would have
expected the usual recovery period. I know the winners of the replay will
face Celtic and it will be a rush to get out the tickets but I don't see
why the game shouldn't have been arranged for Wednesday. It's a decision
which is down to the SFA and one we have to live with. But I'm sure you
won't hear Dunfermline complaining. We just have to get on with it and
fortunately we now have a squad that's far healthier than it was a month
On the subject of the cup-tie, Saints have already made provisional plans for the sale of tickets for the 4th round tie against Sellik (ie once we've disposed of Sammy the Tammy's mob of inbreeds). Tickets will be on sale on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 7pm and again on Saturday from 9-12pm if available They will be £16 for the main stand and £13/£7 for the Ormond stand. There will be no general sale of main stand tickets. Season ticket holders and voucher holders (a ticket from the postponed Celtic league game) can secure additional tickets for home fans. It will be season ticket voucher number 30. Season ticket holders wishing to apply in advance by post should sent cheques to McDiarmid with the correct remittance, voucher 30 and s.a.e. In the event of Saints losing the cup game it will be returned.
Meanwhile for the Killie match, Saints have issued additional free tickets to season ticket holders as well as to 80 schools and organisations in the area in an effort to try and generate a decent crowd for the Sky match.
The Ginger Bomber's been in the papers as well saying how willing he is to sign a new deal. "I was delighted to score in the derby against United after all the problems I've had with injury over the past year. I've enjoyed my three years here since signing for Paul Sturrock and the Perth public have been very good towards me. It's February now and the season finishes in May, so I would be happy to sit down and talk about my situation soon. When you're out for so long it gives you time to think about different things and you fall in love with the game again. I'm not saying you don't appreciate what you've got when you're playing regularly. But a long absence makes you remember how good it actually is to be involved. I feel much stronger physically now than I have done for some time and hopefully I'll grasp the opportunity to reclaim my place when it arises. The competition is fierce with Graeme Jones almost fit again but I've always had faith in my ability."
8th- Little to report with the tabloids more concerned with the
Hampden riots from last night than any other team.St.
Sandy has been quoted as saying that he doesn't want the
Ginger Bomber to "rush back
into things. Despite him scoring at Tannadice we'll have to take it easy
and there's no guarantee he'll start against Killie". One good
thing is that the team have been able to train on the artificial pitch
each day and St. Sandy said "The
artificial pitch has been fantastic and it has been a great bonus to be
able to take the lads training when everywhere else is covered in snow. We
actually came in for an extra session on Sunday, thinking that we would
have been playing Dunfermline on Tuesday night, and we had a double
session today so the players are in really good shape."
Elsewhere in the side, Darren Dods is fairly optimistic saying, "I'm looking to break my duck and a win against Kilmarnock will close our gap on them. And, as well as aiming for a top six spot prior to the league split, fourth is not beyond us. When we qualified for the Uefa Cup two seasons ago, we were 10 points adrift of Kilmarnock around the turn of the year but pulled that back, and the situation this year is very similar."
One transfer rumour (and by rumour not even the Scum or Retard have mentioned it) doing the rounds is that Saints are interested in 21-yr old striker Scott Dobie (right) from Carlisle Utd. Whilst the English side are looking for around £ 750,000 it's believed we can get him for around £250,000 since Carlisle are having some financial problems.
February 7th- Surprise, surprise with all the lovely weather there's not much Saints news in the paper. The club have confirmed the Hibs BP Youth Cup tie will go ahead at McD on February 20th with a 7pm kick-off.
6th-The SPL have put John
Rowbotham in charge of Sunday's live match with Killie. Oh joy.
Meanwhile Jim Weir has said that he believes Nathan will make a return to his form of last season. "I know exactly how Nathan must have felt at Tannadice. Two years ago I was out for a similar time as he was and it was such a relief to come back. But for him to score certainly must have topped what I was feeling. He got me out of a hole as well for giving away the penalty in the game! I really am delighted for him. He's out of contract in the summer and he'll be keen to prove himself to people here and to other clubs who might be looking at him. Nathan got into double figures last season and he was our top goalscorer. There's still plenty of games left for him to get among the goals this season as well. The good thing about Nathan is that he's strong with both feet. He was able to take his goal with his left, whereas other people might have needed to steady themselves and bring it on to their right. It was a great finish and the sort of goal I've seen him score a few times. When you lose someone for as long as Nathan's been out you tend to forget about them. Now he's back he's brought a freshness to the team. Competition for places always helps a club. Hopefully he can go on and score a few more for us so we can get more goals than we have been getting of late."
Elsewhere on the striking front and the unsurprising news from Jim Weir is that there will be no more penalties for Kiegan. "It's a learning experience for Keigan. He's scored a couple but now's probably the time for somebody more experienced to take them until he gets his confidence back. It won't affect his overall play, though, I'm sure of that."
Good news on the injury front as well with Graeme Jones apparently only 10 days away from resuming full training.
5th- No word yet on the chance of the cup replay tomorrow night
going ahead with snow covering most of eastern Scotland. One date which
has been set is for Hampden Park on Feb 19 when the appeals of
Charlie One and
Charlie Two will be heard by the SPL.
Expect more dirty linen to be washed that day (or if the appeal fails in
your favourite tabloid within a week).
7pm - The cup replay for tomorrow night was called off at lunchtime due to the snow on the East End Park pitch. Witty comments about how we could just use Charlie One and Charlie Two to snort it all up can be sent to the usual address. And even better is the news that in their infinite wisdom the SFA have deemed the best date for the replay to be next Tuesday the 13th (yup that's two whole days after we play Killie on Sky). The East End Park pitch was deemed unplayable after a 11.00am pitch inspection today. A Dunfermline spokesman confirmed: "The game is definitely off and was called off this morning at 11.00am after the referee held a ground inspection. In the light of the current weather conditions and further snow and very cold weather predicted this week, there is concern by Fife Constabulary and the club that public passageways and staircases within the stands will be ice and snowbound and will present a hazard to spectators. There is also an allied concern about the safety of fans making their way to and from East End Park."
3rd- Despite giving away a stupid first half goal and a 2nd half
penalty miss by Kiegan Parker, sub
Nathan Lowndes scored a beauty in the
1-1 draw at Tannadump although we
easily deserved to take all three points in a good game played in blizzard
Post match, the manager was full of praise "I thought it was a brilliant game from start to finish. I said beforehand it was two teams desperate for three points and that's the way it turned out today. But I'm really disappointed with one point. We dominated throughout, I couldn't believe we were 1-0 down at half-time. The missed penalty by Kiegan Parker cost us two points but Jim Weir gave away a penalty which you could also say cost us two points. I have to say I'm delighted for Nathan. It was a good goal with his left foot. He hasn't played 90 minutes so we're delighted to have him back. I don't know if it was an inspired substitution but you need a break at times and it went for us today."
Elsewhere in the SPL TFOD gubbed the Pars 2-0, Killie lost 2-1 at home to Well and St Midden dumped Scumdee 2-1.
2nd- First up and Sky have announced that they won't screen
any rearranged Saints v TFOE match live which means we lost out on around
£30,000. Also this weekend, best of luck to
Il Biscotti tomorrow as his Macclesfield
side take on the sailor boys of Judas
in the English 3rd Division. They travel up North afterwards for
Preston's testimonial dinner at the
Station Hotel in Perth, and the ex-Saints hero said "We have kept
in touch since we both moved south and this will be an interesting day for
us. I just hope Macclesfield win or I'll have to suffer an awful journey
north for the dinner. Mind you, if Plymouth get a result, Luggy is going
in the boot!"
Not much news from Tannadump although the linesmen can feel a bit safer with the news that keeper Alan Combe has the flu and will miss out. Meanwhile the shed end of Tannadump will be home fans only meaning that Tayside's Best Fans all get to sit in the stand tomorrow. From the Saints' point of view Stephen Frail(right) expects a tough match. : "That was a great result for United and now they've won three games in a row. Winning a derby away from home is always good for the confidence and that's what we're aiming to do ourselves this weekend. Regardless of the midweek result we would have gone into this expecting a tough match. For the first time in a long, long time Dundee have been enjoying all the attention in the city this season. Their signings, especially bringing Caniggia to Dundee, has made them the centre of attention and that is bound to have frustrated the United players. Moving off the foot of the table will have given United a huge psychological lift and manager Alex Smith will want them to carry on the recent good work. But we are going there looking for all three points."
St. Sandy said "The squad won't be changing much and while one or two players may be frustrated at the moment it's up to them to keep working hard to keep pressure on the guys in the team. The good thing from my point of view is that we're working with a squad of around 20 players. Earlier in the season I didn't have that luxury. That's brought healthy competition for places and we're all looking forward to getting the league programme under way again."
1st- Despite the Media Falsehoods from
the game that never was, St. Sandy had
no complaints with the game being postponed last night - "It is
frustrating because you want to play but there is absolutely nothing you
can do when you get hit by weather like this. Fans pay good money to come
and see their team and there would have been uproar if this match had gone
ahead and they were unable to see what was happening." No word on
a new date for the fixture but it looks like being sometime next month.
Meanwhile the first transfer rumours have started with the Sporting Life website saying that Sheff. Utd are currently keeping their eye on Nathan Lowndes(right) (although their first target is apparently Sheep Stavrum who has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for £100,000).
Top Of News
31st - So much for the delights of pay-per-view with fog thicker
than yer average TFOE scum forcing the ref to call the game off less than
15 minutes before kick-off. No word yet on a date for the replay.
Elsewhere the rest of the SPL went ahead with TFOD beating the Sheep 1-0, the Arabs gubbing Scumdee 3-2 (lifting them off the bottom of the table), Well drawing 1-1 with the Pars and finally the Gorgie Gits getting a 1-0 win over St. Midden.
30th- Team news for the Sellik game sees
the Ginger Bomber ready for a starting
place although it looks like being an unchanged side with the exception of
the subs bench where another U-21 player will be situated.
St. Sandy said, "Nathan has
been on the bench recently but he's up to speed and fitness now. I'll be
looking to see where we can freshen up the side. I thought my two front
players actually did really well against Dunfermline. They didn't score,
it's true, but their work rate and movement was very good. On another day
they would have got their reward so I am not inclined to go tinkering with
things just for the sake of it. We lost 2-0 to Celtic last time and a few
decisions went against us that night so we're out for revenge and to take
the 3 points."
Meanwhile Paul Kane is looking for a top 6 finish as he tries to get another year's contract from the club. "Saints have the first option on me. I've been happy here for the past four seasons and I'd love to stay. Obviously there will come a stage when we have to go our separate ways but hopefully I can convince the manager I'm worth holding onto a bit longer. There's a few of us going out of contract and the best way to state our case for new deals is to play a part in taking the club into the top six when the split comes. That would be a great achievement for St Johnstone."
29th- Papers have their usual digs at Saints today with the Sun
having a go at all the "barely packed stands" (excluding
the away one of course) whilst most papers slagging off
Kiegan Parker saying he dived for the
penalty (although strangely enough the Sun reporter admits there was
Kiegan himself has no qualms about taking another penalty. "I've scored three times from the spot already this season and I tried to hit this one as hard as I could. But in attempting to stick it right down the middle I caught the ball too well and it hit the bar. These things happen and you just have to get on with it. I actually felt I came onto a better game after that miss and I'll definitely be taking the next penalty we get because that's the only way to get rid of the memory of this one. There have been a few wind-ups in the dressing room there about how we'll need a new penalty taker but if we get a pen in our next game I'll be grabbing the ball-don't worry about that!"
Lazarus(right) meanwhile is looking forward to the pay-per-view game on Wednesday night saying, "After having a winter break, we're now back into things fast and furious. We really have to take something from the league game against Celtic, and we're quietly confident. If we apply ourselves right, we'll give them a decent game. We're up for the match, though we know our home record hasn't been good this season. But it would be nice to improve that."
The SFA have appointed John Underhill as the ref for the game, whilst Dougie McDonald will be in charge of the Arabs game on Saturday.
Finally, the Pars have announced that the cup replay admission prices will be £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.
28th- The cup run is on hold for a week or so but Wednesday night
sees Saints take on TFOE in Scotland's first pay-per-view match.
Geoff Brown(right) is looking for the
club's good image to be maintained after the fun of the last month. "There
isn't a club in the country where they could put their hands on their
hearts and say: 'We're clean when it comes to drugs. And we know we are.'
We had no idea any of our players were mixed up in that scene and my
fellow chairmen can't be certain either. But what else can we do except
move on? The players have been in Spain and have hopefully made the most
of their break by putting a sorry chapter behind them. As a club we've
taken what we thought was the only appropriate course of action. Now life
must go on."
Speaking of the poor crowds, the chairman said, "I looked at the attendance for the Old Firm veterans' match last Sunday and thought that if Rangers had charged full league prices they would have taken in more money than us for every home game in a season. But our audience is a local one and the appeal of Celtic and Rangers spreads throughout this country and beyond. Pay-per-view television must obviously favour the Old Firm in that case. It's an experiment for the rest of us and the outcome is guesswork at this stage. But I don't go along with the talk that Perth isn't a real football town and that's why our crowds are low. Three weeks ago we had Glasgow Caley Reds rugby team, one of only two professional sides in Scotland, using our ground. The attendance was 750 so that doesn't make Perth a rugby town, does it? And what about places like Dundee and Kilmarnock. They would be regarded as football hotbeds yet they don't get 10 per cent of their catchment area turning out to watch them play. Perth has a population of 43,000. In the last 10 years it has suffered badly through the closure of some businesses and the down-sizing of others. But the people don't get up on their soap boxes and shout about having no money to spend. They don't bother turning up for just anything."
4th round of the cup has seen the winners of Saints v Pars replay drawn at home to Sellik. Oh joy.
27th- After a pretty dour 0-0 draw
it's time for a replay of the Scottish Cup match with the fixture set for
East End Park on Tuesday Feb 6th at 7.45pm.
Kiegan Parker(right) was today's main
sinner with a penalty miss at the start of the second half and missing an
open goal late in the game. Still on the plus side the holiday is over and
hopefully the players can now consider their arses well and truly kicked
back into gear.
St. Sandy said afterwards "We were the better team today, as we also proved at Dunfermline earlier in the season, but you still have to put the ball in the net and we just didn't manage it. It's our own fault ultimately for not finishing off the match. We made their goalkeeper work hard today and, although Keigan Parker missed a penalty it won't affect him and he'll learn a lot from it. I thought both him and Paddy Connolly were exceptional up front. I will certainly go to East End Park for the replay confident, but I know Dunfermline are a very well organised, hard-working team I feel though if we can put in the effort we can beat them, as long as we take our chances."
26th- Ahead of tomorrow's cup clash with the Fife Inbreeds,
defender Gary Bollan has come out to say
that he's commited to Saints despite all the transfer talk and the
player's refusal to sign a new deal. "All the transfer talk is
just speculation at the moment and I certainly won't allow it to impact on
my game. I'll continue to give everything I've got to the club with 100%
Looking ahead to the game, he said "This is a game we can win". Referee for tomorrow is Bobby Orr with Feb 6th pencilled in in the event of a replay being required.
January 24th-Latest on the transfer front is that Gary Bollan has been linked with a £200,000 move to Norwich City. The English side apparently made an inquiry a while back but have still to follow up with a concrete offer, and whilst the Retard says a £200,000 bid is on the cards, the Sun reckons they'll wait until the summer an pick up the player under Bosman. Hearts and Preston are also rumoured to be interested.
23nd-Saints are at their strongest since the start of the season
with St. Sandy(right) almost spoilt for
choice by fit players .One,Father Dougal
is finally fit again but an immediate first-team recall has been ruled out
with the manager instead wanting the player to return to U-21 games at the
start of next month instead. And with the squad looking so strong,
St. Sandy has also ruled out any
purchases to strengthen it before the end of the season. A closed-doors
match was played in Spain last week but there are no plans for a repeat
this week as the team prepares for the weekend cup-tie.
Meanwhile long-time Saints fan Paul Smith has been appointed the club's official archivist and is looking for help in building up collection of Saints-related historical memorabilia. "I can understand some fans, like myself, who would be reluctant to give away material they treasure. But there are bound to be items tucked away in cupboards and attics which can be gifted or given to us on loan. Absolutely anything linked with Saints will be of interest, whether it's season ticket books, old scarves, medals or photographs. Rest assured, we are taking this seriously and anything given to the club will be treated with care. And it's much better being kept here than ending up on a rubbish heap further down the line. I love the football club. It's not something everyone can comprehend! And I've found the archives very interesting. I'd also like to speak to older fans about their memories of years gone by. It would be nice to get those down on tape. Football and the supporters have changed down the decades - you just have to look at the fashions sported by players in the photos and I'd love to capture those memories in an audio archive for future generations of fans." If anyone can assist Paul, in any way, they are invited to contact him at McDiarmid Park on Perth 459090.
January 22nd- Nothing in the papers although there is a possible postponement of the trip to Tannadice at the start of next month. If the Keith v Montrose cup-tie doesn't go ahead this week then they'll have to play on Saturday and the winners (who are due to play the Arabs) will play their 3rd round tie the following Saturday, when Saints are also scheduled to play at Tannadice. Simple innit?
20th- It's more transfer news today with Saints again linked with
ex-St Midden midfielder Burton
O'Brien(right) with the 19-yr old now out of favour at Blackburn and
linked with a move back to Scotland. Motherwell and the Arabs are also
reported to be in the hunt. Meanwhile, another exiled Scot heading back is
ex-Saintee Kieran McAnespie who last
night signed for the Gorgie Gits for a 3-month loan spell after
failing to break through into the first team at Fulham. The Jambos want to
make the arrangement a permanent one but as yet the Londoners are refusing
19th- Little to report today - Saints are due to fly back from
Spain tomorrow night so the stories in the tabloids have dried up. No such
luck with the drugs scandal and the latest is that
Charlie Two is training with Raith at
Stark's Park. Saints are still paying his wages pending the outcome of the
appeal and have given permission for the junkie to train away from McD.
Saints have trained twice a day in Spain in the last week and the injury situation is improving as well - only Goalden Graeme remains unfit out of the 22 players who travelled. St. Sandy said "The weather has been excellent. T-shirts and shorts have been the order of the day and apart from one game of golf, we have trained twice each day. The week has gone very well and it's an excellent build-up to what will be a tough game against Dunfermline."
Looking ahead to the cup-tie and despite MoMo's assurances, Saints still await official written confirmation from the Guinean football authorities that he is not required by their international team and can play next week. Stewart Duff said "Mohammed has already advised us that he has been released from that match but to protect Saints, we really need it in writing, otherwise both the club and the player could face sanctions. I have also asked the SFA if they can assist in any way".
Finally the club have announced that the Sky Killie game on February 11th will also have reduced prices. It's £10 for adults and £2 for kids, with season ticket holders being allocated 2 tickets each for use on the night as well.
18th- Day 4 of the Saints PR offensive and it's
Jim Weir(right) up in front of the media
with the Saints skipper looking to lead the team in Europe once more
before his career ends. Out to prove he's no longer injury-prone he said
"I will never forget travelling to Monte Carlo to play Moaco. It
was amazing and our fans still talk about it. I'm sure they wouldn't mind
splashing out again if we can get back into Europe. I want it badly and
believe it's possible. On a personal level it would be nice to skipper the
club and prove a point to some people. I've still got a couple of years
left on my deal and I'll be 34 when that runs out but I'm looking beyond
that. I want to play on for as long as I an and finish my career at St.
Johnstone. My family is settled, I'm happy and the club is happy at the
moment so what's the point in moving."
17th- Today's token Saints player being interviewed in the media is
Michael O'Neill. The Irish winger is
back to full fitness and is looking to settle down either at Saints or
elsewhere when his deal runs out in the summer. "You get to a
stage in your career where you don't want to move any more and I think I'm
at that now. I've spent the last 4 years moving about and it's too much.
St. Johnstone have been great with me. They stuck by me even after I broke
down again and had to have the second operation and I want to repay them.
I've been treated better by Saints than by any other club - especially
with my injury and I want to thank the physio for that. I know I can play
good football and thankfully St. Johnstone have given me that chance."
Latest on the drugs appeal by Charlie One and Charlie Two is that Saints have said that they employed specialist solicitors long before the inquiry started, and they're very sure of their ground.
16th- It'sGoalden Graeme Jones
(right) that's today's media quote from the Costa. Due to return
next month from a knee injury the striker is looking forward to getting
back into action. "The knee injury is from over-use. I had an
operation six weeks ago to drain off the excess fluid. Injections were
ruled out because of the risk of a longer-term injury. I've only had 3
months out injured in the last eight years and for the first time I've
really missed the game. It's just a job but it's nice to enjoy it along
the way." The big Geordie is also looking forward to renewing his
partnership with Kiegan Parker once
more. "I love Kiegan to death. He is raw but his freshness and
naivety are probably his biggest strengths. He has no fear and is a modern
day footballer - quick, shoots with both feet and scores goals.". "I
know people see us as a small club but sometimes it's about bottle and how
much you want to win and about your love for the game. We must have it in
abundance at Saints".
Meanwhile, afterNathan's comments in the papers at the weekend, St. Sandy has said that the striker will have to prove his fitness first. "Nathan was out for almost nine months with his back injury, which is a long time for a professional footballer. As long as he carries on the way he is going just now I would not think there would be any problem but, for the moment, we are happy to leave things be."
Finally Saints have announced prices for the Pars cup-tie on the 27th. Admission to all stands will be £10 for adults and £5 for concessions although season tickets are not eligible.
15th-First reports in the papers today from Saints training camp in
Spain with the Retard reporting how St.
Sandy has deemed all questions about tCharlie
One and Charlie Two off-limits.
"It will all come out eventually and when it does, I'll tell my side
of the story but until then I've no comment" which is as about as
cryptic as you can get.
Still in Spain and Father Dougal (right) has announced his plans to give up playing in 2002. The defender has been plagued by a pelvic problem for the last 4 years and has decided to give up at the end of next season. His current deal with Saints runs out in the summer but Kernaghan hopes to get a one year deal. He said "I can play games but the stiffness is always there. I've decided that after next season I will retire. It might even be sooner than that if no club offers me a contract for next season. It's a decision I have made with regret but, at least, I can say to myself that I've played first-team football at a good level since I was 16. I have had a decent career. But I would rather have decided on my own to stop playing rather than have my body decide for me." He also had a go at the media for their treatment of Saints in recent seasons "We are quite a small club and we probably haven't had the accolades we deserve for staying in the top half of the league for three seasons and reaching the League Cup Final. We have done really well and I've enjoyed myself. Hopefully I can enjoy it for a little longer".
Meanwhile Darren Dods is relieved to have his immediate future sorted "I was pleased to sign the contract because it provides some stability for the next few years. Saints are a good club to be part of and getting into Europe last season was a great achievement."
14th- The Sunday Mail has another critical article about
Saints again, this time quoting the Ginger
Bomber(right) as saying he's feeling "insecure"
about the lack of an offer of a new contract. Out of contract in the
summer, the player feels that Saints are biding their time until he proves
his fitness but would be "more than happy" to stay with
Saints. So not that much of a story really but just a chance for the paper
to stir things up a bit. Meanwhile their editorial angle on the drugs
scandal (as shown by the responses to the phone-in page) appears to be
that Saints were wrong to sack Charlie One
and Charlie Two and instead should have
offered them counselling.
Had the players perhaps admitted to the offence immediately and not tried to cover things up I might agree but their attitude stinks and the hypocrisy of the media is even worse - imagine the furore had Saints kept the pair on. A clear case of the club being damned whatever they do. There is an eerie echo of the Totten affair in all this - the large majority of fans are backing the club but their opinion is lost amongst the criticism of the pundits.
13th- Well after a week of multi-coloured light shows, giant mice,
flying elephants and strange almost-human creatures (Disneyland Paris
not O'Boyle's house) it's good to get
back to the joy that is the SPL winter break. The boys are off to Marbella
today (so expect little coverage in the media as the whores bugger off to
Florida with the bigots), but there's plenty of news to catch up on.
More on the closer links between the club and Tayside Polis' finest later but the main news is that Saints are set to play Dunfermlineat McD in the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup with the game set for Saturday Jan 27th. Whilst season tickets are not valid the game will be pay at the gate and the club have promised reduced admission prices. Tickets for the Celtic SPL match on the 29th go on sale on Monday 22nd although voucher holders (from the last home game) can pick theirs up from Thursday onwards.
On the playing side, Mohamed Sylla(right) has been called up for a Guinea international double-header against Togo and Malawi at the end of the month although it looks like he will get special dispensation to miss these games and play in the Scottish Cup tie instead. Meanwhile out-of-favour winger Paul Hartley(far right) is promising fans that after the break we'll see the best of him. Despite a good start he has been mooted as a possible loan target for Judas. However JR says he's going nowhere. "It would be wrong to rule anything out but at this moment I don't want to go on loan anywhere. I've got two-and-a-half years of my contract left and I feel I've a big part to play at St Johnstone. The supporters have still to see the best of me but I've got a lot of faith in my ability to do a good job here. I maybe haven't played as often as I would have liked but the manager has different ideas for every game. I'm going to use the break to work hard on my fitness so I'm ready to push for a place once the league restarts at the end of the month."
Elsewhere Saints and the law are in the news again with Motherwell player Stephen Hammel being charged after allegedly making racist comments at the game before Xmas. The charge of breach of the peace has been made by the Procurator Fiscal after a police report of the incident.
Meanwhile with the scandal that's still got the media something to talk about, both Thomas and O'Boyle have announced that they will appeal against their sacking by the club for alleged drug-taking before Xmas. The appeal is being lodged after the players felt their sacking was "both procedurally and substantively unfair". Saints are holding onto the players' registration so that in the event of them signing for another club before their contracts are up we will be entitled to a fee. With the appeal procedure underway there's little fresh news from the club although St. Sandy has let it be known in the PA that that he is "privy to information which is not in the public domain" which has contributed to the players sacking.
Meanwhile let's hear it for the papers getting a dig at the club with a repeat of Dolph(right)doing the "I was treated as bad by Saints" Tottenesque routine in the Retard last week. The ex-keeper is currently on his way back to fitness and looking for another club and conveniently omits that he had turned down a contract offer just prior to getting injured - something which would have meant him still being on Saints' books had he signed it. Oh yeah and his agent just happens to be Jim McArthur, the same man who is responsible for Charlie Oneand Charlie Two
6th- After the drugs inquiry yesterday,
St. Sandy(right) is now out to find out
who leaked the story to the papers. "No one else within the club
knew about the situation until one or two things were said yesterday and I
will be doing my best to find out where the source of that was. Im
very disappointed with some of the things that have been said. I'd like to
think professional footballers have a responsibility to the supporters and
to the kids who come to watch. These people are hero- worshipped and I
sincerely hope this is not a widespread problem. Certainly in my 12 years
in management and 16 years as a player I have never come across it before.
I'm disappointed the situation has arisen."
Meanwhile the other players (as usual unnamed in the papers) are said to be "stunned" with one senior player telling the Retard "I don't think it's any secret that George and Kevin were among the lads who like to go out. I know they both like a drink but I genuinely had no idea they were into anything more serious than that. It's obviously a serious thing to be caught doing. I don't know what they were thinking." The paper continues to say that the players are preparing an appeal under SPL rules. However an SPL spokesman said last night that such an appeal would be "breaking new ground", and was unlikely to materialise.
2.30pm Latest is that the players have 14 days to lodge an appeal with the SPL. If they are not happy with that it can be escalated to the SFA who have the highest authority with Saints able to defend their stance as well. The media have been generally supportive. One revelation has been that the Ginger Bomber and Michael O'Neill(right) were not called as witnesses yesterday. In addition it's also been revealed that when seen in the cubicle Nick Summersgil asked the players to stop - he was told to "piss off" and reported the incident to the club. When confronted with the allegations, both Thomas and O'Boyle denied them outright.
Away from the scandal, Michael O'Neill(right) has apparently been offered a short-term contract until the end of the season. The Retard also has us linked with Caley Thistle's midfielder Paul Sheerin who would apparently be available for around £60,000
5th- As expected the drugs story is all over the papers with Saints
making the Retard front page. The story there says the press
conference was cancelled on legal advice but that the club "were
expected to announce the termination of both players' contracts".
Their report also quotes an unnamed player as saying "The club
have certainly kept the lid on this. No one knew anything about the
allegations. For any footballer to use drugs is total madness."
With the matter now in the hands of the lawyers, Kevin Thomas' agent Jim McArthur said: "Unfortunately there's nothing that can be said at this time because it is in the hands of the lawyer. What I can't believe is that it has leaked out from the club. I don't know why that is." ...which sounds like trying to deflect the attention away from the scandal itself. That Bar staff have been told not to say anything whilst a spokesman for the police said "We are aware St Johnstone are considering disciplinary action against two members of staff following an allegation of them having misused an illegal drug."
5pmSome good news amongs the tabloid stuff though with Saints tying up Marc McCulloch, Kevin Cuthbert and Ross Forsyth on longer deals until 2003. St. Sandy said "It is great news that the lads want to stay with St Johnstone and once again this shows the value of our youth development scheme, Marc has already played a few first-team games and is getting a taste for it. Kevin and Ross are also very talented players and they know that they will get their chance when the time is right.It really is encouraging for me to have this sort of talent coming through the ranks."
With the drugs scandal a large media presence is at McD. Both Thomas and O'Boyle arrived at 11am to meet with the club. The club's inquiry is being chaired by Jim Donachie a non-executive director and both Saints and the players are represented by employment law legal experts. St. Sandy and the players' agents are also at the ground. Stewart Duff spoke to the meda at midday and said the inquiry was underway and that 4 witnesses have been called. The first was spoken to by 1pm and the rest will be seen this afternoon. Nobody is making any comment.
5.25pm Latest news is that the inquiry is still going on. Two of the witnesses are believed to have been the Ginger Bomber and Michael O'Neill who have both been seen going into McD. So far the meeting has gone on for 5 hours.
6.30pm - Stewart Duff has just announced at a press conference at McD that both Thomas and O'Boyle have had their contracts "terminated for gross misconduct. Both players were in possession and used cocaine or another illegal drug in a toilet cubicle in licenced premises in Perth". Whilst latest media stories have it that it was a club official (believed to be Nick Summersgil) not a member of the public who originally reported the offence. What is true is that at a disciplinary hearing yesterday both players were asked to give their side of the story. Stewart Duff said that their answers were "unsatisfactory" and that a further hearing with legal representation was convened for today. This lasted 7 hours with the result that both players had their contracts terminated. The club will not be reporting the incident to the police.
Neither player has made any comment although they can appeal. Both left the club before the press conference.
Well what can you say. What a pair of stupid arseholes. Credit to the club for obviously not rushing into a decision and at the end of the day they had little option other than to sack the two players. Maybe this will act as a deterrent to any of the other players - Christ knows the spotlight will be on them any time they walk into a bar in Perth now.
9pm - Stewart Duff has said that the club had no choice. "In reaching this decision, St Johnstone Football Club is aware of its responsibilities towards its employees and, in particular, to our younger players. We also have a responsibility towards the parents of these players who entrust us to look after their sons whilst staying in Perth throughout the week." .
Meanwhile, St. Sandy has expressed his sadness over the affair. "It is a sad day for everybody involved, I think. There are grounds for appeal and until those routes have been exhausted there is nothing more I can say at the moment. I feel sorry for everyone involved in the whole incident. It is a sad day for football and a sad day for St Johnstone Football Club, but we had to go down the road we went down. I don't think we had any option."
4th- After what was looking like being a quiet news day Saints have
made the headlines on the BBC tonight for all the wrong reasons. A
member of the public has alleged that injured strikers
George O'Boyle(right) and
Kevin Thomas(far right) were seen taking
a substance appearing to be cocaine in well-known Perth bar That
Bar during a player's Xmas night out. Currently the police are not
involved. The story says that Saints had announced a press conference this
afternoon to discipline the players but that this was called off. Both
players are currently out injured although reports today in the papers
said that O'Boyle was hoping to resume
training at the end of this month.
However, a disciplinary hearing for the players is being held tomorrow at which both players will be represented by an Edinburgh lawyer. St. Sandy and chairman Geoff Brown are making no comment until then.
Although the club aren't making any comment (and given the allegations lack of real evidence it's no surprise they want to clarify things first) let's just hope that matters are clarified sooner rather than later - it has to be said that it's strange that the "member of the public" chose to go to the club rather than (or as well as) the police. In addition the players' willingness to bring in a legal expert does give the impression that they are more than willing to contest any such accusation. Finally if the alleged incident took place in That Bar during a players' night out there must surely be more than one witness.
I personally believe that if the players are found guilty then Saints have no other option than to terminate their contracts immediately. The last thing the club needs after all the bad publicity and PR of the last couple of season's is to go in the face of public opinion.
Away from the scandal, Saints head out to the Costa on the 13th. Meanwhile, our favourite diver, Bobby "Splashdown" Petta is set to serve a one-match suspension and will miss the trip to McD at the end of the month.
2nd- Saints head into the last match before the break today with
St. Sandy looking for a win as well as
entertainment. "We were disappointed not to get all three points
against Hearts because we should have killed them off at 2-1 up. The games
against Motherwell and Hearts have both been good quality matches but we
could easily have had six points from them instead of one. Hopefully the
Dunfermline game will be equally as good but give us three points this
time" There are no new injury worries from the weekend and there
is an outside chance of Paul Kane and
Stuart McCluskey being fit.
7.00pm- Not much in the way of goalmouth action but whilst Saints deserved the points on their chances, a 0-0 draw at East End Park was all we could get. Still no new injury worries and the Ginger Bomber made another appearance from the bench. Post-match though St. Sandy was critical of Nick Dasovic(right) who missed an open goal in 90 seconds. "To say we were unfortunate is an understatement. We played really well from start to finish, defended well the whole game, played a lot of good football and created a lot of good chances. It is our own fault we didn't put one away and that's what cost us the points. Nick's miss was an unbelievably easy chance. I've had words with him and I can't believe he didn't put it in. It's his fault, there's absolutely no doubt about that but he went on to play well for the next 80 minutes so he's as disappointed as anyone. But he knows he should have put the ball in the back of the net. He's put his hands up and admitted it was his fault but that kind of situation has cost us in the last three or four games. We should have had nine points but we've only got two. At the end we were weary when Dunfermline started booting the ball forward and fearful that the break would go against us. But we managed to survive that and we got one point which is obviously better than none."
Elsewhere in the SPL, TFOE beat Killie 6-0, the Sheep beat the Jambos 1-0, Hibs beat Scumdee 3-0 and the Arabs beat Well 2-0. Tonight's match saw TFOD beat St. Midden 3-1.
Finally the Scottish Cup 3rd round draw will be made on Sunday night - unfortunately you won't get the results here - I'm off to Paris 630am Sunday for a week so there will be no updates until the following Friday.
1st- Not too much happening in the world with Scotland recovering
from the usual hangovers. A few new Media
Falsehoods though with the world still convinced
Tommy Løvenkrands' first name is
With the return of the Ginger Bomber(right) to first team action, St. Sandy has gone on record as saying that he has no plans to rest Kiegan Parker (hopefully meaning we'll see the pair in action together tomorrow). "He will get a break when he needs one. That is not the case yet. He was involved in a lot of attacking play and had three really good efforts on goal. If that is him struggling, I hope he continues to struggle."
Nathan meanwhile has been speaking about the back surgery which saved his career, although he risked being unable to walk again. "The decision was mine. I was told the risks and thought it was worth going ahead. I had a superb surgeon so I had no complaints afterwards. The surgeon I had was very good. One other surgeon said I had a five per cent chance of being disabled. But spinal surgery is every day surgery. As far as I was concerned it was worth the risk. First and foremost I had to put myself forward as a human and be able to walk and things like that. But the surgeon filled me with confidence and I was happy to go ahead with it. The surgery was done in Nottingham and I think I spent a week in hospital and then I went home to my parents' house in Manchester to spend two or three months there."
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