December 31st - Expect the
Samson deal to go through in time for tomorrow with the player available
for Monday. The squad was given the day off yesterday to try and kill off
the flu bug still doing the rounds at McDiarmid.
John Connolly said, "Weve
cleared the place today so hopefully that will improve things. Obviously,
Kieran couldnt make the match, but there were two or three others
who were not 100% and missed training on Tuesday. There was certainly a
lot of coughing and spluttering in the dressing room after the match."
2.15pm - Confirmation that Craig Samson has signed on loan until the end of the season. The keeper told the Official Saints Site, "Im delighted to be here and am looking forward to this fresh challenge. Since ending my loan spell at Queen of the South Ive been training with the first team at Rugby Park but just playing reserve football although Ive been on the bench the last couple of games because Alan Combe has been injured but Im relishing the chance of trying to get into the first team with Saints.". There's no decision on who starts at Dingwall with the manager saying, "Im delighted to have sealed the deal to bring Craig here and his addition to the squad now gives us two quality keepers on the books. Ill have a look at things in the training sessions before making a decision for the Ross County match."
30th - The loan deal for Samson is almost complete.
John Connolly told the
Official Saints Site, "We've
to get the paperwork completed but everything is in place for the move to
be made on 1st January. The fact of life is that we need two good
goalkeepers on the books and with Allan
McGregor going back to Rangers and Craig
Nelson having moved on, we need someone to compete with
Kevin Cuthbert. I had Craig at Queen
of the South and he has Scotland Under 21 experience and the potential to
be a top class keeper. If we can get him here then we will have two
excellent keepers on the books.".....still no word on who will
play on Monday though.
As for last night's game, the manager said, "I'm delighted with the result. I was concerned before the game with McAnespie and Moore calling off, Ryan McCann and Jordan Tait having missed training recently and two or three others not feeling 100%. With the sort of cold, wet night it was I was genuinely concerned we could lose others. But they came through well and showed tremendous commitment and effort. The lads who came in (Ross Forsyth and Chris Hay(right)) did very well but I don't want to single anyone out, it was just a good team performance.Hamilton have not been losing goals recently and to put three past them was excellent - that's twice we have done that to them without reply and we are now scoring goals in good quantities - 3 against Clyde, 4 against Thistle - that's no mean feat in this league." It's also been confirmed that Michael Moore missed out last night due to a calf strain.
And to add to the fun and games the cup-tie at Dingwall has been confirmed as all-ticket. The "official" reason for this is that Caley Thistle are part of the SPL elite now and therefore their games have to be played in all-seated grounds only, so no away terracing (and yeah we all know that the Scottish Cup is an SFA tournament so keep all the conspiracy theories to yersel). Saints fans will get the main stand and have been allocated 500 tickets at £18 / £12 each. Tickets are on sale at the club on the 5th, 6th and 7th of January and unfortunately as part of this massive cock-up it means that there's no priority for season ticket holders or the federation. Still it wouldn't be a season for Saints without some sort of FUBAR situation.
29th - With RobRoy playing his
last game tonight Saints look set to sign U-21 bad-boy keeper Craig
Samson(right) on loan from Killie until the end of the season - at
least according to the Rugby Park club. Meanwhile looking ahead to
tonight, Keyring admitted that Saints
saved his career. He told the Retard, "I was on suicide watch
before I came back north - they were taking the laces out of my boots. I
was ready to pack it in if things didn't change this season. Now it feels
as if I've never been away from Saints.We're moving up the table and
Meanwhile the departing loan star said in today's Courier, "I have absolutely loved it here, the whole point was to play first team football and I have done exactly that, playing 20 odd games. The boys have been brilliant and we have gone on a really good run which has shot us up the table. It would have been good to see the season through. It has been tremendous to get five clean sheets in a row and hopefully I can add another against Hamilton, it would be nice to leave on a high. When I first arrived here it was a bit tough, we were not playing particularly well but over the last wee while everyone has been on top of their game and working hard for the team. Anyone who is looking for first team football should consider coming to play for a team like this. St Johnstone is a great club with a very good set up. All the boys here have a laugh together and nobody is left out."
The mutual admiration society bit kicked in as well with John Connolly saying, "Allan has been excellent for us. We have given him the experience he was after and it also benefited both ourselves and Rangers. He will be hard to replace but that is something we are working on as we speak. Somebody will come in and it will be a battle between whoever comes in and Kevin Cuthbert to see who will get the jersey."
Looking ahead to tonight's trip to Accies though, and there's no sign of Ryan McCann and Jordan Tait recovering from flu so expect a change in the starting line-up.
11pm - In the end despite the conditions we had an easy 3-0 win at Accies to mark RobRoy's final game. Goals came from Chris Hay, Paul Sheerin and Ryan McCann as we moved up to 3rd thanks to Clyde's match with the Paisley Junkies being called off.
December 28th - Ryan McCann and Jordan Tait have both come down with the flu and are doubtful for tomorrow's trip to Accies in a game which matches RobRoy's final game for Saints.
December 27th - John Connolly was a happy man again last night after the win over Raith. Speaking to the Courier he said, "Confidence comes from winning games and you can definitely see were a far better team than we were a couple of months ago. The players commitment and effort is being added to by better play. We keep giving them mini challenges and they keep achieving them. Once we got the second goal I thought the game was over and, but for their keeper, we could have had four or five."
December 26th - So much for
Paul Bernard's return - he's suffered
a reaction to his comeback with a foot knock and will definitely miss out
this week. Apart from that it looks like it will be an unchanged side
again with Michael Moore and
Ryan McCann both recovering from their
5.45pm - In the end it was an easy 2-0 win over Raith with Ian Maxwell and Peter MacDonald scoring in the first half to give us a comfortable, if understated win.
December 24th -
John Connolly is looking for revenge
on Sunday for the defeat at Stark's Park in October. The Saints' manager
told the Courier today, "We got Raith Rovers at the wrong time
because it was their second game with a new manager. Having said that,
anybody who was at the game would tell you that we were the better side in
the second half. We had words after that game with the players and, if
anything, that match was a turning point for us. The following week we
beat Hamilton 3-0 at home, and weve only had one defeat in our last
seven games. Its only two defeats in 10, and that is championship
form, or not a kick in the shirt off it. Its not a case of me being
glad to see the back of 2004 I want it to continue. The challenge
for us is to keep our good form going into 2005. If we win on Sunday and
the other results go for us, we could be third in the table. Thats
the incentive for us. We just have to make sure were not complacent
against Raith. They may be bottom of the table but nobody is hammering
them and we know the game will be a battle. Hopefully, with it being a
holiday, there will be a good crowd and well get a good result for
Paul Bernard could be in line for a return. He said, Ive been out for about 18 weeks now, so Im itching to get back. The knee is feeling stronger after a few weeks of training and Ive got a couple of games under my belt. Initially I didnt think I would be out for this long when I twisted the knee, and its been a frustrating wait. To get back involved in some form against Raith, be it on the bench, would be the best thing that could happen for me just now and Im looking forward to it. Ive had two major injuries in my career and unfortunately these tags have stuck. Its not something that overly concerns me though. I got through most of last season without any problems and hopefully Ill get a clear run for the rest of this season. Obviously our start to the season was indifferent, but over the last few weeks the boys have churned out a few good results, and you can see the confidence rise. The ability has always been there but it is good to see the results start to show that.
23rd - Paul Bernard(right)
could be set for a comeback soon after getting another 90 minutes match
sharpness on Tuesday. Out since August with knee ligament damage,
John Connolly said of the midfielder
in the Courier, "Paul has a game and three-quarters under his
belt now and is very close to coming back into things. Well weigh
everything up at the end of the week after seeing how he trains for the
next few days but a subs spot this weekend would, all going well, be a
Mark Baxter and Kevin Fotheringham are set to resume training next week.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
December 21st - It's been
confirmed that Michael Moore picked up a
shoulder injury on Saturday but he's expected to be fit for this Sunday's
clash against Raith.
Meanwhile Saints have denied any interest in QoS right-back Eric Paton who's been the subject of some media speculation recently.
And finally, it looks like the Caley cup-tie will move to Dingwall which means a possible date change to the Sunday.
8pm- Confirmation that the Caley tie has been moved to Dingwall (meaning 2 trips in a week for Saints fans) with a 3pm kick-off. Elsewhere Saints played a closed-doors game against Scumdee this afternoon with Paul Bernard getting another 90 minutes under his belt.
December 20th -
Keyring reckons the form we're
currently showing means that 2nd place is perfectly achievable by the end
of the season. In today's Courier he said, "Realistically Falkirk
arent going to blow it. I really cant see that happening. But
if we carry on like were doing just now then there shouldnt be
a problem in us finishing second in the table, which would be a big
achievement in the circumstances. I just want to play in as many games as
I can, win as many as a team as we can and see if we can keep this run
going. Beating St Mirren was a massive result because theyve been
sitting second top of the league for most of the season. After beating
them and Clyde in recent weeks weve shown our credentials to be one
of the top teams in this league. Thats four games with no goals
conceded, and three of those matches have been wins. Im also told
that weve now had five out of seven clean sheets, so thats
impressive form. The work-rate in every game has been tremendous."
Lee Hardy meanwhile is being linked with a January move to Clyde - which is ironic given that we've just added competition to the left midfield and now we could be set to lose that. Oh well.
18th - Sean Webb is looking
forward to trying for another clean sheet today - preferrably without
picking up a card. The Saints stopper told the Courier this morning. "The
aim today has to be no goals and no cards. We havent let in any in
the last three games so hopefully we can carry that on. Our aim now is to
win as many games as possible and to pick up as many points as possible."
Michael Moore is looking for payback for the Paisley game though. He said, "'We want to get revenge for the defeat that day - but that's where it ends. That's the only payback we have in mind. I know some of the lads were angry about what happened but their boss Gus MacPherson came out and apologised and Kirk later said he regretted it. So that's an end to it.". As for his own part in the affair he went on, "There was no point sitting in the stand and maybe I was a bit over-zealous trying to impress. I was trying too hard.But I feel I've settled in and there's a real confidence about the place now. There was a gap earlier but if we beat St Mirren it will close it to just three points. That's a big incentive."
John Connolly meanwhile is hoping that there's no over-zealous refereeing to cost us the game today. "Anyone who was there will tell you we were hard done by when we played them at Paisley. There is no doubt that we can compete with them and if we win today we will cut the gap to just three points. No one would have bet on that a few weeks ago. That is why we must still hold out hope of catching Falkirk at the top."
Elsewhere and ICT have confirmed that due to ground reconstruction, the cup tie scheduled for Jan 8th will be moved away from Inverness, possibly to Dingwall or Elgin - with the match date also possibly changing depending on fixture clashes.
7.30pm - In the end the 1-0 win over St Midden was a lot more comfortable than the scoreline suggested with several chances going a-begging. The winner came in the first half from a Ryan McCann finish. Of course it wouldn't be a game against the tinks without some sort of controversy and it seems that Jim Weir was called into action at full-time to separate John Connolly from Andy "Elbows" Millen with the pair having a heated discussion.
Elsewhere and it looks like curtains for Partick with another defeat likely to spell the end of the managerial career of Whyte and Britton.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
December 17th- Don't expect too
many changes to the Saints line-up tomorrow.
Paul Bernard and
Ross Forsyth are both lacking in match
fitness to be considered for the visit of the Paisley junkies this
weekend. John Connolly said, "They
will have to try to get their fitness up in training sessions because it
is even difficult to arrange friendlies now as managers are unwilling to
risk players in the bad weather."
Meanwhile there was the real shock yesterday of Saints in some decent PR as Jim Weir and some of the players distributed selection boxes to local schools and hospitals (cue media headlines about how nasty Saints are ruining kids' teeth!), with their cost paid for out of the fines accumulated from the players disciplinary code over the season so far. Ravey Davey Hannah said in the Retard, "We've gathered in around 100 to hand out to youngsters in schools and hospitals. It's good to know footballers can bring a smile to the faces of kids."
December 15th - The reserves
beat their Forfar counterparts 2-0 last night.
Stephen McConalogue and
Andy Jackson got the goals.
Paul Bernard played 70 minutes and
Saints also had a foreign midfield trialist.
Meanwhile with a new keeper and a midfielder being targeted, John Connolly has said in today's Courier that the former may be another loan player rather than the preferred option of a permanent signing. "We have peoplesome wed like to sign, others we could only get on loanin mind, and well have to move on this as two weeks down the line Allan will be away. I want to make a long-term signing if I can, but well go for the best player available and it may be that is through the loan option. "
7.30pm - John Connolly has confirmed that Saints won't be signing the trialist from last night's game. Speaking on the Official Saints Site of the Portuguese midfielder, the gaffer said, "The conditions made it difficult for the lad and to be fair he did okay but I didn't see anything there to suggest he could add to the options we have at the moment. He's headed down to England and if he manages to get a club there then we can keep tabs on him." As for Paul Bernard and Ross Forsyth return from injury he said, "Bernie was going to get an hour but in the event played seventy minutes and took part in some full blooded challenges without any obvious ill-effect. As always, the key now is to see what reaction - if any - there is."
December 14th -
John Connolly has spoken in the
Courier about Jamie McQuilken's
departure. The Saints manager said, "The player had made it known
that he was happy down there and that he was keen to stay, so we didnt
want to be hard to deal with. I had decided in the summer that I wanted to
play with a back four and Jamie would admit himself that he favours a back
five. If he had come back it wouldnt have been a problem, but this
is probably for the best and frees up more space for me to maybe bring
somebody else in."
Meanwhile Paul Bernard is set to start tonight's reserve match at McD against Forfar. JC said, "Well see how long Paul is able to last, but if he plays for an hour hell be doing really wel.l"
Finally the manager spoke of the cup draw at Caley Thistle saying, "Its a tough draw away to an SPL club. If we had been drawn at Celtic or Rangers we would have been delighted, but this match wont make us much money. Its certainly a winnable match, though, because they havent made a lot of changes from last season, and well give it a real go."
December 12th - It's been confirmed that Jamie McQuilken has become the latest player to exit the club with the ex-Bairn making his move to Gretna, where he's been on loan since August, a permanent one. No word on any fee so I think this will fall into the "nominal" category.
December 11th - First up the
transfer moves seem to have started and defender
Stephen Fraser has been farmed out on
loan to Arbroath for a month, although it's a safe bet to say this is
likely to be extended until the end of the season.
John Connolly said, "After
Tuesday night we dont have any reserve games for a month. Hell
get hardened up a wee bit at Arbroath and get some tough games. I think hes
got a chance of making it in the future so thats why were
Looking ahead to today's game though Allan McGregor is in the Courier lamenting his imminent departure from Saints. The on-loan keeper said, "It would be a big win for us. Airdrie are on the same points as us and three points would see us pull clear of the pack below. With Falkirk playing St Mirren its also an opportunity to make ground on the league leaders. If we were to go on to get four wins in my last four games that would get the club right back into contention. Even though we were 4-0 up last weekend I was still shouting at the lads to keep concentrating. I hate losing goals."
As for the midweek Scotland game he said, "I felt I had to go out on loan this season and getting called up for that game shows I made the right decision. I didnt expect it, though, because I didnt even know there was a game or that I was being considered. I really enjoyed the experience. It was 2-0 at half-time when I came on and I thought we did OK after that. It was great experience to play against guys who play in the Bundesliga. I havent got a clue where Ill be going but I want to keep playing. I would have loved to have stayed here because Ive settled in and weve been doing well recently. It will be hard to go somewhere else and get started all over again."
John Connolly knows how tough today's game will be and said, "They have been two very tough games and there hasnt been much between the teams. Weve lost late goals both times. Theyve got a lot of movement up front and you always need to keep an eye on Owen Coyle, who is always liable to hurt you if he gets a chance. But were going down to Airdrie full of confidence after a 3-0 and a 4-0 win.".
As for the defence, it looks like Kevin Rutkiewicz will be settling for a place on the bench according to the manager. "Webbys done fantastically well since he has come in. Hes the man with the jersey just now and the challenge is on for Kevin to get back in. Weve won the last two games convincingly, scored a lot of goals and kept two clean sheets, so you dont have a lot of thinking to do about team selection."...so no real clues there then.....
7:30pm- In the end it was a dour0-0 draw at Broomfield with little in the way of attractive football. And to round things off nicely the 3rd round of the Scottish Cup was drawn tonight and sees Saints make the trek up the A9 to take on SPL new boys Inverness Caley Thistle. That's set for January 8th at 3pm.
10th -Paul Bernard could be set
to make a comeback for the reserves next week after being out for most of
the season. Closer to home and Ross
Forsyth and Mark Baxter are both
set to miss out against Airdrie this weekend but
Kevin Rutkiewicz is available again after
Speaking in today's PA though skipper Ravey Davey Hannah(right) reckons that Saints are just getting into their stride with the recent run of good form. He said, "I feel Ive played really well in the last five matches and the team is starting to compete. We are now going out to win the battles in the first 20-25 minutes of games. Its a more of a settled team now and I think you can see that on the pitch - the players know what they are doing now." And just to prove he's not getting too carried away, he still thinks we can catch Falkirk!. "It was disappointing not to win against Ross County - that would have been 12 points out of 15. But if we keep our run going and win our next two games, then we will be near the top. and thats good considering the bad start we had. Obviously Falkirk are the team to catch but all we can do is to win our games and, if Falkirk slip up, then that will be great. The majority of teams we have played are not going to get any better, but I think we can improve. If we can get into the top three by the beginning of January that will be an achievement, considering where we were two months ago." Tomorrow is going to be tough though with Saints up against the other form side in the league and one that we've not beaten yet this season. "Airdire will be extremely difficult as they are a very physical team. But we are capable of taking goals off them, its a game we can certainly win.". As for the fans he said, "I understand their frustration, we were just as disappointed on the park. But I think they would be surprised at how many players we have had to use due to injuries and suspensions. The manager was trying to find the right balance then, but he is more comfortable now and hopefully we can keep this run going."
was just as enthusiastic in his praise (definite mutual admiration society developing here). He said of the skipper, "He has been fantastic. Since he has come back his form has been excellent. He is one of the catalysts - he drives everyone on and has won over the fans. David is a winner and a leader and thats the type of player we want at this club, players follow his example. Airdrie are the form team at the moment. To win four games on the trot in this league is excellent. In both our previous games with them we lost two goals in the last three minutes and that cost us dearly. The pleasing thing for us is that we have scored seven goals in the last two games without reply. So we are confident going into this game. The matches are coming thick and fast and the games at Christmas and New Year are vital. If we can win at Airdrie then we have two home games coming up. We have been working on scoring goals and getting more people forward. Theres more movement, more runs and we are creating more chances. This good run breeds confidence. I told the players before the Partick game that we were a better side than the last time the two teams met, and that showed."
Indicating that Kevin Rutkiewicz might not just walk back into the side, the manager said, "They have a lot of movement and in Owen Coyle they have a real danger. But Sean Webb has done really well for us since coming in and hes played against Coyle before, he knows you cant afford to go to sleep against him. We have to remain focused and keep on winning. We must to keep our momentum going and get as many points as we can."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
8th - Congratulations to Allan
McGregor who came off the bench to gain a cap for the Scotland
Futures squad last night - pity we still lost 3-0. Meanwhile on-loan
keeper Craig Nelson has made his move
to Brechin permanent signing a 2 1/2 year deal with City. Whilst he never
really put in a bad performance here, the chances of a return from his
loan spell always looked slim - all the best to him for the future.
So we'll be looking for a new keeper in the transfer window then?
December 7th - After getting the
first target of back-to-back wins, John
Connolly is looking to the next one of 5 wins from the 2nd quarter.
With 4 in the bag already, the Saints manager told the Courier today, "Thats
what were looking at next, as well as moving up the league table.
The Airdrie game will be one between two form teams and we know that in
this league youre only a couple of results away from being in
trouble. Everything has improved for us over the last four or five weeks
and the benefit of having a more settled team has definitely been shown.
On top of that, a lot of hard work has been put in over the last few
weeks. There is definitely more to come. I actually didnt think we
passed the ball as well as we can against Partick Thistle. We can
definitely do better in that regard. The plusses were our work-rate and
commitment. I thought we pressed the ball really well when they were in
possession. The goals scored and the clean-sheets in the last two games
were both as pleasing as each other."
The kick-off time for the Boxing Day clash with Raith on Sunday 26th has been brought forward an hour to 2pm. Apparently this means we'll have loads of time to enjoy "family festivities" after the game. Whoop-de-bloody-do.
December 6th - Despite the media attention after Saturday's game concentrating on the fate of the Partick management side, John Connolly is quoted in today's papers. Speaking in the Scotsman about the slaughter at Firhill he said, "It is a brilliant result for us. I always felt we had players in the squad who could score goals and now we are seeing that. We have scored seven goals in our last two games and we are back to where we want to be."
4th - Sean "Spiderman"
Webb(right) is out to win a more permanent starting place today.
He's set to start again in place of the suspended
Kevin Rutkiewicz and said in the Courier,
"I was sent off in the game against St Mirren in August and then
I was injured for a wee spell. Now, Ive got myself fit and got my
chance in the first team. Saturday was my fourth start but Ive still
to get two games in a row and hopefully if Im selected for the
Partick Thistle match I can do well and build on that. Ive settled
in well at McDiarmid Park since my move. Ive had my share of
injuries, but hopefully Im over them now and I can get a run in the
team. I dont know if it was our best performance of the season
against Clyde, but it was certainly a great three points. Obviously, were
trying to catch Clyde so the win was very important. A 3-0 win is always
good for confidence and from a defenders point of view so is a clean
sheet. Were looking to build on that win at Partick but we know it
will be a tough match because every team in this league can beat any of
the others on any given day. "
The defender received some praise from John Connolly as well who said, "Webbys a good pro who works hard every day in training. Hes done well each time hes got into the team and maybe hell get a wee run now. Hes the one in possession of the jersey at this moment and other people will have to try to get it off him to get back into the team. ". As for today's game, he went on, "If we win it will be massive. I think it would make a big statement. We know that Thistle will be difficult to beat. Theyll be like a caged animal, if you like, and theyll come out fighting. Were going into the match with confidence, though, which is important.".
7.30pm - It was a massacre at Firhill this afternoon as another convincing win saw Saints romp home 4-0 winners over the Partick Luvvies with goals from Ryan McCann, Steven Anderson, Peter MacDonald and sub Chris Hay, leaving Britton and Whyte looking at crisis headlines tonight - so expect the papers to ignore us tomorrow.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
December 3rd - Don't expect
major changes for tomorrow's trip to Firhill. With no new injury worries
it looks like the same squad will be available and
John Connolly said in today's
Courier, "If we change things it certainly wont be in big
numbers, and it will be tactical rather than because of poor form. Theres
no doubt that were starting to see the benefit of a consistency in
7pm - Kevin Fotheringham has had the results of his scan and apparently has an inflamed muscle so no surgery will be required, with a New Year return still on the cards.
December 2nd -
Paul Bernard has resumed training
according to John Connolly who said,
"Hes been taking part in sessions and has done most of whats
been asked of him. Because hes been out for so long, Paul still has
a bit to go, and having him back playing will be like signing a new
Elsewhere and Kevin Fotheringham has been down in Leeds having a scan on his injury and the club hopes to get the results of that by the end of the week.
Top Of News
November 30th - After the fun
and games of the weekend, it was time for some bad news yesterday and it's
been revealed that Kevin Fotheringham
has suffered a relapse in his comeback from a groin injury.
John Connolly said, "Kevin
was coming on really well but hes now gone back the way and there is
no foreseeable date being set on his return. This is really disappointing
as when he first came to the club he shored things up for us and did
really well. We thought wed have him back for the Christmas period
but thats not going to be the case.". Meanwhile
Ryan Stevenson and
Ross Forsyth missed training yesterday
with a virus and knee injury respectively.
5.30pm - One interesting piece of potential transfer business was reported in the Sun today with Saints having apparently written to Stranraer to ask permission to speak to striker David Graham(right). The 21-yr old is out of contract in the summer and a potential Bosman move is on the cards. Scoring 31 goals in 42 games for Stranraer, he's also attracting the interest of the Sheep and big-spending Gretna. With regard to the transfer, all John Connolly would say was that the striker was "one of the players we're looking at". Elsewhere the club have denied rumours that Alan Kernaghan is coming back to McDiarmid as coach.
Meanwhile Paul Sheerin was more than happy to break his duck at the weekend. In today's PA he said, "I wasnt worrying too much at first, but I tend to average seven to 10 goals a season. Theres still time to reach that total and its important midfielders weigh in the goals. My deliveries from free-kicks and corners have become a bit of a joke in the dressing room. The quality has been poor but now that weve set up home in Perth Ill have more time to work on that.". As for the manager's target of back-to-back wins he went on, "Its incredible to think we havent managed it this season so that has to be our first target. It was a relief scoring against Clyde and I didnt have to think about the shot. It was a good team performance. We have to follow up the win with another good result at Firhill."
Finally congratulations to RobRoy who's been picked for the Scotland Futures squad for next week.
November 29th - Michael Moore, who despite what the Clyde whinger of a manager says, scored a couple of cracking goals at the weekend is looking to build on the result over Clyde. In today's Courier, the Saints striker said, "Things have been getting better. Wed been playing well in a lot of games and even in the Falkirk match last week, when we lost, we played really well for the first 25 minutes. Well take it game by game, starting with Partick Thistle next week, but we need to go on a run now, its as simple as that. Weve been very inconsistent, but if we do that then well move up the table .". As for his own performance, he said, "It was an absolute sitter I missed in the first half. I tried to not let it affect me, whereas maybe in the past it would have. If youre not going to forget about it then youre as well being subbed there and then. I kept going and other chances came. Ive got six goals now for the club and thats not too bad. Paul Sheerin had an excellent game and all the lads were really pleased for him to get that goal. Hes a really good player and Ive learned a lot from him since Ive come to Perth. It was a great finish, even if I didnt see much because I was on the deck after I tried to shoot!"
November 28th - John Connolly was Mr Happy after the game yesterday. Speaking on the Official Saints Site the manager praised both goalscorers and had a wee dig at the media. He said, "I thought we thoroughly deserved that today and it will be interesting to see if we get the credit we deserve in the press. Clyde are a difficult side to beat but I thought we created loads of chances, won comfortably and could have had more Michael Moore could have had three or four goals today. I said to the players at half-time that this might be a one goal game but thankfully we got that early goal and went on from there. I thought there was some great movement in the second half, particularly for the third goal and that all comes from confidence. Ive told Paul Im pleased for him. He is a great professional whose effort and commitment have been excellent. He has never hidden when things havent been going our way. Today was a massive result for us. Most of the other results went out way we need just need to try and build on this."
27th - Not much in the way of team news.
Sean Webb as expected will come in for
the suspended Kevin Rutkiewicz.
John Connolly said in the Courier,
"Webby is the obvious choice for that position because he has
done well for us when he has come in. He was unfortunate to get sent off
against St Mirren and he has had his injuries after that, but Ive
got no fears about him playing. All credit to Clyde. They have done
remarkably well, and the reality is that their performances have been
based on good defending.". No word on
Allan McGregor though.
6.30pm - An easy win in the end as Saints beat Clyde 3-0 with goals from Paul Sheerin and a brace from Michael Moore(right) seeing Saints coast to an excellent all-round performance.
November 26th -
John Connolly has confirmed that
Keyring goes into the squad for
tomorrow's visit of Clyde. Speaking to the Courier he said, "Weve
brought Kieran here first and foremost for the wide left position. But hes
played left-back, in central midfield, and he actually started his career
up front, so he can always be used in other positions. When squads are so
tight these days its good to have players who can do a number of
jobs. He will definitely be in the squad for the weekend.".
Saints have plenty of worries though with Allan McGregor sent home yesterday with flu and a doubt for the weekend. And with the keeper set to return to the Death Star after the festive period, Saints have been linked with Craig Sansom, the Scotland U-21 keeper, although there's no official comment as yet.
November 25th - Confirmation
that Kieran McAnespie is set to sign a
deal until the end of the season today. It's been revealed that
John Connolly tried to sign him
before the end of the August transfer deadline as well. As for the player,
he said in the Courier, "It would have been easy for me to stay
at Falkirk and keep picking up a good wage but thats not the type of
person I am. I want to be playing regular football and I havent been
getting that at Falkirk since last season. This season Ive been on
the bench mostly, and playing for the reserves. When I made my decision to
go to Fulham from Saints it was a chance I didnt think I could turn
down. Its great that Ive got a chance to come back now and get
my career back on track. John Connolly knows he will get 100% effort from
me and I can play at either full-back, in midfield or even up front. The
deal is initially until the end of the season but hopefully things will
work out longer term."
3.15pm - No official confirmation of the signing yet but some other ex-Saints in the news are Livi management duo Allan Preston and Alan Kernaghan who have been punted by the Shell-suited OF-wannabes.
6pm - It was finally confirmed late this afternoon that Keyring has signed until the end of the season. On the Official Saints Site, the 25-yr old said of his return, "Its not for me to say if Im a better player but I do feel Im a more composed player, Im not as frantic as I was when I was younger. Ive learned a great deal from my time at Fulham where we constantly worked on technique and passing and the whole experience really benefited me. I still like to get goals Ive scored 8 times in 10 starts for Falkirks reserve side and I just want to play my part in getting Saints up the table.". And as expected Alan Mahood has moved onto Morton.
24th - The fun and games for Saints continued last night with a
strong reserve side going down 2-0 to Montrose in the Forfarshire Cup.
Meanwhile John Connolly is still on the hunt for a striker, despite Andy Reid heading back to Blackburn. The Saints manager said in the Courier today, "Theres another lad weve been told about at Blackburn and when theres a chance to see him and Andy in their reserves then well definitely take it. The problem we had over Andy is that the rules prevented us from playing him in a real game. All we had to go on was the evidence of one bounce match and training and that wasnt enough. There are a lot of players who look outstanding in trainingbut put them into a game and its a different story. And you have to be aware that even seeing someone playing in the reserves doesnt always provide a true guide to what youd get if they were in your first-team. Theres no pressure attached to reserve football. You only find out whether someone can handle the pressure of being caught up in a relegation fight or pushing for a top three or four place when you put them in that situation. Only then do you discover whether, when the chips are down, they can cope with making mistakes or are prepared to get on the ball regardless of how a match is going.".....although some folk may think that last sentence might be more of a dig at the attitude of some of the current first team after the meek surrender on Saturday.
6.30pm - Well it wasn't that quiet on the rumour front though. Alan Mahood looks set to move on with Saints giving the midfielder, who's out of contract in January anyway, permission to talk to Morton. One familiar face has returned to McDiarmid though. Kieran McAnespie(right) has been released by Falkirk "by mutual consent" and is reported to have returned to his spiritual home.
23rd - Despite a lack of video evidence, the alleged stamping
offence by Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) will
see the player heavily punished according to
John Connolly. The Saints manager
told the Courier"Ive got to go with my own judgment on this
and when it happened both myself and Jim Weir
thought Kevin would be sent off. He knows he let himself and his
team-mates down and he will be disciplined internally.". And just
to make things worse, as well as his automatic one-match ban this weekend,
the defender is also banned for the Partick trip a week on Saturday.
Ross Forsyth has picked up a groin injury in training and is already doubtful for the Clyde game this weekend.
Saints take on Montrose in the Forfarshire Cup semi-final tonight with a 7.30 kick-off at McDiarmid.
The manager has also promised to clamp down on discipline in the side which has seen us pick 6 red cards already this season, as well as setting a target of two wins on the trot. Speaking on the Official Saints Site, he said, "We haven't managed two successive wins in the league so far this term and that's poor for mid-November. Back to back wins is a modest target but one which we must, as a minimum, achieve if we are to climb the table. The other target is to improve discipline. We have had too many sent off this season and while I would argue that around 50% of them were harsh decisions, there have still been too many silly ones. We are not a good enough team to be able to play a man short for any length of time. The cameras missed it and it was obviously a late foul from McBreen which escaped punishment. My immediate reaction was that it was a sending off. I like to think Im honest in these matters. A few weeks ago I didnt think Steven Anderson should have walked against Raith but this time I see where Hugh Dallas was coming from.Kevin will be disciplined for reacting like that. He let himself down and more importantly, he let his team mates down." He also admitted that the players were gagged after the game,"It was an emotive issue and sometimes it's best to let the dust settle. Anyone from Queen of the South down is scrapping to stay in this division right now. Only Falkirk, St Mirren and Clyde can breathe easily. Everyone else is in the scrap.We need the fans to be turning out to back us. We need them there for us. It's easy to support a side which is flying high but now it is more vital then ever."Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
22nd - Another cheery Monday morning in Sainteeland and
John Connolly(right) has admitted
it's going to be a season of transition with the promotion hopes dead
before December thanks to the weekend defeat (mind you the transition part
hasn't affected Clyde that much). Speaking to the Courier he said, "There
were a lot of people coming and going in the summer and it takes time. You
take heart if you look at St Mirren last season who were third bottom, and
Falkirk who finished mid-table. Now theyre at the top of the league.
Falkirk are 15 clear with a game in hand and you cant see them
losing that sort of advantage. What is it they say? Until its
mathematically impossible were still in it, but we have to be
realistic. Weve got a hard enough battle to get ourselves climbing
up the table, and that has to start next week."
And despite the denials from Kevin Rutkiewicz, Connolly doesnt' have many complaints about the red card. "The sucker punch was obviously the sending off. You cant play 45 minutes with 10 men against a team which can pass the ball as well as they can. From where I was it looked like a sending off. Kevin insists he didnt touch him but well see on the video. If he has done something deliberate then well discipline him. We scored the goal and were pressing them hard. Things looked good at that time. For some reason we took our foot off the peddle. Im not sure why. Maybe its a confidence thing."
Trialist striker Andrew Reid has been recalled by Blackburn. Apparently Saints are still keeping an eye on the player with a view to a possible signing in the transfer window.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
November 21st - Going by the Sunday paper reports it looks like Kevin Rutkiewicz was sent off for stamping on a Falkirk player - suffice to say that if true then the club should fine the player heavily not just for arguably costing us a point yesterday but for the problems he's caused for next week's team selection.
November 20th -
David Hannah is relishing going up
against his old teammate and ex-Saintee John O'Neil (or cheating wee shite
that got Darren Dods red-carded as we
like to remember him). The Saints skipper spoke to the Courier ahead of
this afternoon's game and said, "I know him from my days at
Tannadice. Hes very comfortable on the ball and hes done very
well. Hes a big asset for them. I was left out of the team for a few
weeks but I worked really hard in training and in reserve games so it was
pleasing to get back into the side again. Obviously, with the team playing
well it gives you a better chance of playing well yourself. Itll be
a hard game, no doubt about it, but its one we know we can win.
We're going there with a bit of confidence behind us. Our last two
performances have been quite promising. We have a game plan and if we
stick to that well hopefully come away with three points "
Mark Baxter will have a late fitness test. For the Weans, it looks like they'll be at near enough full-strength.
6.30pm - David Hannah got the early penalty but in the end Saints were out of ideas and Falkirk won 3-1 with Kevin Rutkiewicz given a straight red-card in the first half for what looked like retaliation into the bargain.
19th - It's the big game tomorrow and after a relatively quiet
week, John Connolly is fairly upbeat.
Speaking to the Courier, he said of the Bairns, "Theyve
probably got two or three players with a wee bit of quality that we are
looking for, but we are more than capable of doing well against them.
Falkirk have scored a lot against some teams in the division but I can
only go on the two matches we have played, and both were one-goal defeats.
I think we can give them a good game and well be going to Falkirk
looking to win."
The bad news is that Mark Baxter's hamstring injury looks like ruling him out - the right-back hasn't trained all week.
4.30 - John Connolly reckons that Latapy and O'Neil are the main worries tomorrow (the former is a pretty obvious one given the room he was allowed during the last encounter). The Saints manager said, "They have players we have to be wary of and we must be totally focused. Our level of concentration must be spot on. Latapy tends to be the catalyst because he can be quiet and out of the game before sparking to life. I'm certainly toying with the idea of man marking him. We were really disappointed not to take all three points against Ross County but the team is settling down. It's unusual to get a chance to field the same team but we have to wait and see how Mark measures up. It's not a game we have to lift the players for. There will be a great atmosphere and after just one defeat in our last five games we are confident enough. Falkirk are top of the table and favourites for the league. It's obvious this is a difficult one. But in this division I keep saying no games are easy. We are determined to make inroads on their lead and we know we can't afford to lose any more ground. It's a big ask but if we can win there it would certainly open the door for us."
Ryan Stevenson is still out but Steven Anderson is back in light training - it's too soon for him meaning a likely call-up for Jordan Tait(right) if Beaky fails to make the game. Kevin Rutkiewicz, meanwhile, says that the players are concentrating on one game at a time. "We have to concentrate on each one as it comes along. It has to be that way because of our start to the season. We've left ourselves with a lot to do but if we can piece together wins teams will come back to us. The fans were anticipating a new era with the gaffer coming in and now players like myself have to prove we deserve to be here longer. We certainly haven't given up the ghost but realistically we have to concentrate on getting points on board week by week. We have to face Falkirk three times and that adds up to nine potential points. But we also have to be more ruthless against less fancied teams. This is a massive game for us and one we're looking forward to. Things look like theyre starting to come together for us. It's been slower than everyone wanted but we feel we're getting there. We won't be putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves but the gap can be closed if we put wins together."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
November 18th - The remaining Austrailian trialist has left McDiarmid. The unnamed midfielder was possibly going to be offered a short-term deal in January but has decided against hanging round. Blackburn striker Andrew Reid is still at the club though.
November 17th - The reserves won 2-0 against Arbroath last night with Chris Hay and Stephen McConalogue getting the goals. Elsewhere and Mark Baxter has a hamstring strain but should be fit for the trip to Westfield. And good news for Paul Bernard who is finally back in light training.
15th - Peaso(right) reckons
Saturday's draw with Ross County (which, shock, horror, actually got some
praise from the media) was a fair result but not good enough for us.
Speaking to the Courier he said, "I think you have to be happy
with a point because both teams had plenty of chances in the match. I
thought it was a great game. Having said that, it is obviously
disappointing to lose a goal so soon after half-time because we had talked
about the importance of the first few minutes after the restart during the
The manager felt just as bad and said, "For the first hour of the game I thought we played really well, and we had numerous chances. Were very disappointed to only draw and I feel that its one that got away from us. In this league the second goal is all important and we should have finished them off when we had them on the rack."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
November 13th - The big question
being asked today is whether or not it's another false dawn ahead of the
lunchtime visit by Ross County. John
Connolly is at least being realistic about the Jekyll and Hyde
performances and said, "Weve been here before two or three
times already. At Ross County we had a great win, but didnt back it
up. It was the same story with Queen of the South a few weeks ago. Now we
have to do it. A win would set us up for four very tough games which are
coming up. Ive not had the chance to play the same team this season
for five or six games, like Falkirk have been able to for example. ",
so as you can guess it's the same squad today as last weekend.
4.30pm - In the end the excellent start didn't last and the points were shared in a 1-1 draw with Ross County with Peaso getting the Saints goal.
November 12th - One of the
Aussie trialists has left the club but the other and Blackburn striker
Andy Reid are set to hang about for another week.
John Connolly said after the closed
doors win over Livi, "Andy did well in the game and will keep
training with us. We wouldnt be able to do anything until the
transfer window anyway, and he is happy with that. One of the Australians,
a wide midfielder, is a player were looking into the possibility of
keeping. The other one is probably going south for a trial in England."
Saints have also been linked, courtesy of the Daily Retard in a rare display of Perth-based coverage, with a loan move in the transfer window for Scumdee midfielder Neil Jablonski who had a spell at Brechin last season but has been unable to establish himself in the Dens Park first team.
For tomorrow's lunchtime spectacular, Steven Anderson and Ryan Stevenson have been ruled out through injury.
David Hannah reckons confidence is the most important thing ahead of tomorrow's game against Ross County. Speaking to the PA the skipper said, "Obviously you would prefer to play at 3pm, but with the rugby game going on afterwards you just have to grin and bear it and get on with it. Im looking forward to playing Ross County, but it will be a really difficult game. They pass the ball about well and by all accounts were unlucky to lose in the Bell's Cup Final here last Sunday. It will be a stiff test for us but we are going into a period over the next four fixtures where we either dramatically climb the table or it will have the opposite effect. As a team we still have to find that togetherness and gel. But if we go on a winning run the manager will not change the team so we will get continuity. We need to string a few results together and propel us up the league. After the second goal went in last week everyone could see the confidence in the team, but we need to be doing this when its 0-0. We have one of the strongest squads in this league but it's maintaining a standard that's going to get us wins. If we can beat Ross County and results go our way then we can maybe climb into fourth position and close the gap. I was pleased that our three strikers scored last week and that we created a number of chances throughout the game, but we should be looking to win our home games anyway." As for his own form he said, "If you are not playing well the manager has a right to change the team. You have to play in the reserves and show a good attitude. I did that and was pleased with my performance against Hamilton and hopefully I can continue in that vein." He was also praised by John Connolly who said, "I don't like picking out individual players, but I thought David played well last week and put in a sound performance. We have been encouraging him to get forward in training so it was pleasing that he was involved in all three goals against Hamilton. David had one of his best games up at County and playing against your old club always gives you that added spark. When he was out his attitude was first-class. A lot of senior professionals tend to go through the motions when they are in his position, but his work ethic in training and reserve games was good and that's why hes back in. Everyone wants to play but they can't. So the only way they will get in is either through loss of form or injury. When I watch a reserve game I'm looking to see that the effort and commitment is there. So if somebody is coming back in they are ready for it."
Elsewhere Kevin Rutkiewicz apparently has a calf problem but should be fit. And the manager appealed for the fans to back the team (bit of a mantra these days) saying, "We need a good support so I would appeal to the fans to get behind us. This is another tough game and there will not be a lot in it. We had a good result up there earlier and the strange thing is that they are now having problems scoring, which is surprising considering the signings they made. But were not sure how County will react after losing the cup final. When we are not getting the results we need to work harder and that's why we had the double stints. We got off to a flyer against Hamilton and ideally we are looking to win two to three games on the run. But that won't be easy when you see our fixture list. However, I don't rate these games any more difficult than our last two games. Although the teams we are playing are above us at this moment, it's every bit as hard playing a side that is struggling at the bottom of the table. I am hoping our three strikers can carry their form into this game and the mood in our camp is good, so we're looking for a positive result."
November 10th - The Falkirk game
on the 20th is set to be an all-ticket affair (bet you can't wait). Priced
at £15 and a tenner the briefs are on sale to season ticket
holders at 2 per person from now until Saturday (with the ticket office
open after the Ross County game this weekend). After that the Federation
get their allocation from Monday followed by a general sale on Wednesday
Meanwhile we humped Livi 1-0 at Almondvale today with the goal scored by one of the mystery Aussie trialists.
November 9th - Looks like the
double training sessions are set to continue.
John Connolly said in the Courier,
"Its only one match weve won and we have to make sure
we continue like that. Weve got a tough schedule coming up, with
games against Ross County, Falkirk, Clyde and Partick Thistle." And
he's just as happy for all the strikers getting on the scoresheet saying,
"Im delighted that they all scored, and I felt that all
three goals were really well taken. The goals came because we had better
tempo and movement in our play, and that was something which we were
working on again this afternoon."
5pm - Michael Moore reckons that he has to keep banging in the goals if Saints are to get a run of wins going. Speaking of the end of his drought in the PA, the striker said, "I needed a goal. Every striker does. We knew beforehand that we had to win so there was pressure on us. I thought we played well in the second-half and we are now hoping to go on and do better. Although I was part-time at Stranraer everyone took it seriously, but coming here you realise it's a bigger club and theres more pressure. But when youre out on the park you don't think 'Oh no, I am playing for St Johnstone and I'm going to crack under the pressure!' It has taken me time after starting the season in good form but when the team was not playing well it affected everyone. You have to think positively - if we win our next four games we will be right in there. We must win our home matches and then you never know what will happen. I don't think the teams at the top are going to win all their games so it's up to us to capitalise on that. We've had so many new faces in here and a lot of changes, plus quite a few injuries. So we've not had a settled 11 on the park, but it takes time and we have a good squad here. There are good players on the bench and in the stand, so if youre not doing the business you know you will be out of the team."
John Connolly also praised Moore saying, "Michael found it a bit difficult coming from a part-time club and he had gone flat after he was sent off against St Mirren. I think he lost a bit of confidence with that, but this goal will help him, and his overall performance and workrate was excellent. There wasnt a lot in it until we scored the first goal, but then we ran out comfortable winners. In the last 10 minutes we saw a bit of the way we can play, and we could have scored another two goals quite easily. But we have been here before when we beat Queen of the South and then had poor results against Airdrie and Raith Rovers, so we must build on this win. The coming games are not easy, but thats the nature of this league.". The manager is looking for the fans to turn out as well after only 1800 turned up on Saturday. "The crowd is reflected by the travelling support and Accies only brought about 100 fans. But we need our support. If the club is to progress and survive we need them to get behind us. Obviously they will be disappointed with our start to this season but hopefully this result will bring a few more to the next game. We're not looking at the 11-point gap between us and Clyde, we want to get a run going. But this will not be easy against Ross County who I thought played well in the final (Bells Cup). Our target has to be to beat Ross County and Falkirk and get four or five wins on the bounce"
November 8th -
Lee Hardy reckons his form is finally
improving and better things are still to come. In today's Courier he said
of his performance at the weekend, "My better performances have
all been away from home which is a bit frustrating when you come to play
in front of the home fans and you dont play so well because you want
to show them what a good player you can be. I played OK and hopefully the
more I play the more consistent I can be and show why Saints bought me
from Ayr. Theres definitely more to come from me and hopefully I can
produce this type of performance if I get a run in the team. And the only
way I can get that is by playing well so its down to me at the end
of the day. If you play well you stay in the team, if not, there are other
people to come in."
6.45pm - Saints have announced a closed-doors game for Wednesday at Livi to allow John Connolly to further assess the three trialists who are still loitering about McDiarmid.
November 7th - Speaking on the Official Saints Site, John Connolly seems a bit happier after yesterday's performance. The Saints manager said, "That was more like it. I asked questions of all of them before the game, specifically in relation to what they could do in front of the home support. As is so often the case in this league, getting the first goal was vital that was a great finish from Peaso and in the end I thought we won convincingly against a side who are not easy to beat. I thought our hard work this week showed towards the end. Ive stressed this week about the need for movement and accurate passing and I thought we did that better today, particularly towards the end of the game. I was pleased that the strikers got the goals today and particularly pleased for Michael (right). That was a great turn and shot for the goal and that will do him the world of good." As for next week he went on, "Weve been here before havent we? A great result against Queen of the South followed by disappointments. But we must go forward now and build on that win today and try and put a run of three or four successive wins together. I was just delighted with the whole thing today and particularly pleased for the fans who were there."....that last part might be more worrying as well with less than 2000 fans in the ground yesterday.
6th - Mark Baxter(right) is
looking for the goal situation to improve after Saints scored only one
goal themselves in the last 4 games. Speaking in the Courier he said, "Every
team has dry spells and the goals will come for us. We have got the
strikers. All we need to do is create the chances for them. And if we can
just find a little more confidence I am sure that will happen. It is our
job to give the fans cause to cheer but at the same time it becomes a lot
easier to do that if they are really backing us. We are all disappointed
at the start weve made but we are only a couple of points off fourth
place and if we can put a run together we can still get right back in
there." As for the switch to right-back today he said, "Although
I have been playing in the middle of the park, right-back is my position
and I would like to think I will get my chance their now."
John Connolly wants Saints to put on a show today. He said, "I feel we must have self-belief and display that at McDiarmid Park. We have not really performed at home, with the exception of the Challenge Cup win over Queen of the South. I think you can visibly see the heads go down if we go a goal behind and the confidence tends to drain away. But that does not make us different from anyone else as more teams in this division seem to do better away than at home. The fans can help us and it would be nice if everyone got behind the team. Of course, the players need to take responsibility and show what they are capable of. I certainly believe we are capable of more than we have shown so far."
6.30pm The strikers finally came good today with Peaso, Moorie and Chris Hay all on target as Saints romped home 3-0 winners over Accies a result that moves us up to 5th.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
5th - Friday again so time for another morale-boosting rallying
call from the manager. Ahead of tomorrow's "6-pointer" against
Accies, John Connolly told today's
Courier, "We have still to prove to ourselves and the fans that
we can do the business at McDiarmid Park. And we have to start showing
character and self belief here because any team that is going to be
successful must have a good home record. We also need the supporters to
play their part and get behind the players. When a team is up the top of
the league it is fairly easy to support them. When a team is struggling
thats when they need their fans behind them more than ever! Weve
lost five games only by one goal this season so its been a fine
margin between success and failure. Now we have to turn that around and
move the season on. Defensively we are third best in the league and
scoring-wise we are joint worst. The problem we have is there for
all to see. But I wouldnt point the finger at the strikers. For me
the biggest failing about us is our lack of creativity. We have to hold
our hands up and admit that, creatively, we are not a great side at this
moment in time. The flair we need just isnt there. But thats
something, along with a bit of pace, that well try and add when the
transfer window opens. " - which means more of the same for the
next 2 months.
As for the trialists, a bounce game has been fixed up for Tuesday for a final decision on the two Aussies and Blackburn's Andrew Reid. Canadian Gordon Chin won't be joining though and he's headed to Halifax for a trial there.
For tomorrow, Mark Baxter will be at right-back in place of the suspended Steven Anderson. Ryan McCann is back in training but won't be considered along with Martyn Fotheringham whose in the same boat. Expect some changes to the line-up that embarrassed the jerseys last week.
6.15pm - As well as the changes at right-back the latest seems to be that David Hannah(right) might get a recall to the starting line-up tomorrow. John Connolly is looking for the players to demonstrate that they've learnt their lesson after last week. He said in today's PA, "I know the players are capable of producing far better results but we have to go out and start proving we have what it takes. They have been working hard in double sessions this week, but now they have to stand up and be counted and do their talking on the park. I believe in them but they have to justify that belief. Thats the challenge."
And he again appealed to the fans to make the difference saying, "The fans have a big part to play in it as well. We need them behind us and like most of our games this one is a six-pointer. Accies are well drilled and play to their strengths. We need everyone onside to give us a lift. We know there's a fine margin between success and failure in this division. The stats show we have one of the best defensive records but the worst equal goals for column. We certainly can't afford to give any team 45 minutes of a start as we did at Raith. It's been shown time and time again in this league that the first goal makes a team hard to beat. Were not alone in finding goals hard to come by. The players accept last week wasn't good enough and this is a chance to compensate. We've put more pressure on ourselves because we didn't win in Fife. And we have a point to prove at home and produce better for the supporters.
3rd - It was apparently another double training session yesterday
with the Saints coaching staff emphasising hard work. But
Ross Forsyth(right) missed out thanks
ot a knee injury picked up at the weekend. Ryan
McCann is due back in training tomorrow.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
November 2nd -
John Connolly's in the papers today
promising a "long hard season ahead" which will no doubt
come as great comfort to us all. Speaking to the Courier he said, "We
know now that it is going to be a long hard season and the main lesson
from Saturdays game was that we have to compete for the full 90
minutes. The players were warned that Raith would be motivated but I dont
think we matched their effort in the first half. We couldn't fault their
second half but we should have started better. The positive side is that
we are just two points from fourth top. Everybody from Ross County down is
fighting a battle not to be involved at the bottom. I think youre
seeing the effect of losing players like Keigan
Parker and Simon Donnelly in
the summer. In the meantime we have to work with the players we have here
and the playershave had a double session today, which we dont
usually do on a Monday, and it will be another double session tomorrow.
The facts of life are that if were not scoring from open play as
much as wed like well have to work harder on other areas, such
as set-pieces. All the games we have lost have been close, and we'll keep
working hard to turn our results on their head."
And apparently a decision on the 4 trailists still at McDiarmid will be made this week.
November 1st- It was another
case of deja-vu with John Connolly's
post-match comments at the weekend. Speaking to the Courier, the Saints
manager said, "The goal we gave away was like the ones we were
losing at the start of the season. We did not start playing until the
second half and we knew Raith Rovers would fight for everything. In that
second period we totally dominated but you cant give teams 45
minutes of a start. I suppose we are struggling to get back into things
and we have another six-pointer next weekend against Hamilton."....no
7.30pm - Well the manager's latest is that a lack of cash is preventing the squad from being strengthened. With the goals for tally looking sparser than ever (and largely down to the contribution of the defenders) and Saints having the lowest scoring record in the division, he said, "We're missing two or three quality players - but you need a lot of money to bring that type in." The players we do have at the club though were in today for double training - hopefully something that will continue until things change. Connolly also apparently tore another strip off those responsible for the shocker on Saturday.
Top Of News
October 30th- Looks like
Ryan Stevenson has joined
Maxie in the miraculous recovery dept
and both are in the squad for the trip to Stark's Park. Other than that
John Connolly's main pre-match
comment was summed up with "Goalscoring has been our problem and
well have to create more opportunities than we did against Airdrie
last weekend." - just watch out for the banana skins boys.
7.30pm - Where do I begin? An absolutely disgraceful performance with no redeeming factors whatsoever saw Saints lose 1-0 at Raith with Steven Anderson red-carded into the bargain. We were simply abysmal and going by the reaction of the fans around me the manager has his work cut out to win back some of the faith that was lost today. Disorganised, lacking in hunger or effort and just inept are some of the phrases you can expect to see in the next few days. Tonight is a night to forget about football.
29th - Tomorrow's trip to Raith has all the makings of a banana
skin with a new man in charge at Stark's Park and the Fifers looking for
their first win of the season - something of which
John Connolly(right) is fully aware.
Speaking in today's PA he said, "They will get their first win
somewhere down the line, but, hopefully, it's not against us. With Gordon
coming in teams can expect to face a side which will be working harder
then before. We have to match them for effort and take it from there. We
are expecting a tough game because Gordon knows this division and he's a
bit of a hero in that part of the world. His arrival will have pepped-up
their fans but we are out to win this one, just like any other match we
play. This will be a different Raith Rovers than we've seen earlier in the
season. The manager has already shown the direction he will be going, with
less emphasis on the foreign players. But my players have already been
told they need to win at least five games in the second quarter to get
back in there. They will be fighting for their lives because right now
they're stranded at the bottom. But no one is writing them off. We will
have to compete for every challenge. They must be matched in terms of
Don't expect much in the way of changes tomorrow as the manager gives the players a chance to make up for last week's defeat-in-all-but-name. Maxie for Webby looks like being the only change. "We'll have a look at everyone in training. Maxie will have to show he's comfortable heading the ball and there are no problems with his neck. Sean Webb did a good job but Maxie has been more or less a regular."
Peaso is looking at getting back on form as well. He said, "We certainly dont want to go down as the first team to lose to Raith. With a new manager coming in at Stark's Park we have to be up for this one. Right now they might be bottom but we will give them all the respect in the world. The Airdrie game was a real disappointment and the lads know the gaffer and Jim Weir were right to have a go at us after the game. Raith players are trying to impress their manager but remember it's the same with some of us at McDiarmid. I'm just getting back to full fitness after a long time out and John Connolly is the third manager Ive had here. I'm confident the goals will come but we know we have to create more chances as a team. We have to do a few things better. But I'm always confident and as a striker you know that you're there to be slaughtered if you miss them. That's never bothered me. After being out for so long I'm just happy to be back playing football and building up my fitness. It was an opportunity missed last week but we have to come up with the necessary results over the second quarter."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
October 28th - Ian Maxwell has recovered from his neck injury and will be fit for the trip to Kirkcaldy this weekend. He'll be the only injured player returning to action though - the two Ryannies (Stevenson and McCann) are some way off a return apparently.
October 27th - Raith made it 2 wins out of 2 last night for the reserves with an extra-time 3-1 win at McDiarmid which doesn't make us superstitious about the weekend in the slightest. Stef got the Saints goal. Meanwhile the lack of a bounce game this week means the four trialists are set to stay yet another week as Saints try to fix up a game for next Tuesday.
October 26th - The reserves are
in action at McDiarmid tonight looking for revenge against Raith in the
League Cup - kick-off is at 7.15pm. Elsewhere and Stagecoach have
announced that they're extending the sponsorship of the Saints youth
Finally the trialists from last week (Gordon Chin and his 2 Aussie pals) are being kept on for another week so John Connolly can get a closer look at them. They've been joined by Blackburn striker Andy Reid who is also expected to be at the club till at least the end of the week.
Ian Maxwell who injured his neck in the shower last Friday is expected to resume training in the next 2-3 days. John Connolly meanwhile is still not happy after the weekend. He said, "If you had asked me before the Queen of the South game whether I would have taken four points from our next two matches, I would have taken them. But after getting three points in Dumfries its disappointing not to have got three in a home game. It was a poor game and we didnt play well but when you get so close to full time in the lead you expect to win the match. Thats twice this season that Airdrie have scored late on against us."
6.45pm - The latest trialist is a 19-yr old Irvine-born player. We can t sign him until January anyway but the manager said, "Blackburn have agreed to let us have a look at him. He s a young Scot and we re following up a chat with his agent, Gordon Smith" (that'll be the alarm bells going then). "We can sign two jokers, but only within the same association. The fact that Andrew is registered in England would rule out an immediate signing. The idea is to have a close look at him because Rovers might be amenable to releasing him." As for last week's trio, he went on, "All three of last week s trialists, who played in a bounce game against Hibs, have been invited back. Ideally I'd like to fix up another match, but we have a few injuries and we'll have to see how that pans out. They showed me enough to warrant another look.". However with all the talk of new signings, departures haven't been ruled out.
As for Ian Maxwell, he spoke of his freak neck injury saying, "I was coming out of the shower at the park on Friday and stumbled. I felt a shooting pain in my neck and when I woke up on Saturday, I could hardly lift my head off the pillow. I knew right away I was in trouble. The physio Nick Summersgill got to work on me, but I still couldn t have headed a ball, which is a problem for a central defender. It's still sore, but I should be okay for the Raith match. It was a disappointing game and it felt like a defeat when Owen Coyle scored so late. But we've got to pick ourselves up for the trip to face Raith. They're improving, but no one wants to be the first team to lose to them. Other results helped our cause, but we have to take advantage when the leading sides play each other. We lost two points on Saturday that would have got us closer to the top. "And there's no guarantee he'll go back into the line-up after Webby put in a good shift. "Ideally we'd have won 4-3 and Webby had a stinker. But he came in and did fine and now it s up to the boss to decide on the team for the weekend. "
The two Ryannies (Stevenson and McCann) face late fitness tests on their ankle injuries tonight ahead of the reserve match.
25th - Stef McConalogue(right)
is claiming Saturday's goal despite the deflection. The Saints sub told
today's Courier "Im definitely claiming it. It was my first
touch and, luckily, I got a rub of the green and it went in." .
As for his recent form, he said, "As a striker, more so than in
any other position, youre in and out of the team if youre not
scoring goals. Postie and Peaso did well against QoS and its up to
the gaffer. Ill just have to work hard in training and see what
happens. It feels like a defeat when you lose a goal so late in the game.
But if you go on a run of six or seven games you can get right back in it.
Meanwhile, Sean Webb was happy with his start coming in for the injured Ian Maxwell. He said, "Ive been out for the last month with an injury to my left knee. It was good to get 90 minutes and also good to get a start after being on the bench last week. At 1-0 I felt we were going to hold outI felt we were defending comfortably enough, but you have to watch Owen Coyle all the time."
John Connolly wasn't too happy though. He said, "It was very disappointing after last week because then we were excellent. To come off the back of that and into this well all hold our hands up and say that was a poor performance. At the end of the day, although we didnt perform very well, we actually got ourselves into a winning position and we didnt manage to see it through. We know our performances have got to be better than that."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
October 23rd -
Ian Maxwell has told today's Courier
that consistency has to be the target today with another 3 points at the
end of the Airdrie match. "It was great to get a win at Queen of
the South and we know consistency is absolutely vital. The gaffer told us
we needed to win at least five games from the second quarter of the season
and obviously we got off to a good start last week. Three of our next four
games are at home, so hopefully it is something we can achieve, starting
with three points against Airdrie. All the boys are looking forward to
playing at home again as it seems like ages since we have played here. A
few wins can really catapult you up the league but we are well aware it is
going to be tough. Airdrie have already beaten us once this season,
although we felt we were a bit unlucky on that occasion. The league is
very tight and it has been proved time and again that anybody can beat
anybody, so we will have to be at our best. We played really well last
week and clean sheets help to give the whole team confidence. It helps to
take pressure off the strikers as they know that if they take even one
chance we will get all three points."
For the team Kevin Rutkiewicz missed some training due to a stomach bug but was at McD yesterday and is expected to play.
6.30pm - Well today's "entertainment" finished in a 1-1 draw with Airdrie. A poor scrappy game saw Saints take the lead in the 70th minute through a Christie o.g. before that bastard Coyle equalised in the 90th. Absolutely nothing to get excited about.
22nd - Good and bad news for Saints - Kevin
Rutkiewicz has overcome his leg knock and will play against Airdrie
tomorrow. But Kevin Fotheringham
is set to be out for 3-4 weeks after his leg injury. The three trialists
played in a bounce game yesterday but no word on whether or not they'll be
The Canadian is 21-yr old left-sided midfielder Gordon Chin. The manager said of the 5'5" tall Scots-Chinese player, "Gordon was the skipper of the U20 team that finished in the world's top eight last season. He is on the short side but he has great feet and can run all day. The Aussies are a left sided player and a striker. We're hunting for tried and trusted players, but if the right trialist turns up we will take a chance.". He's currently without a club after a spell at Vancouver Whitecaps and Edmonton with the latter apparently going bust. Nick Dasovic, currently assistant coach for the U-20s said, "Gordon is keen to land a club in Scotland because the playing season in Canada is so short. I hope the kid does well because he is really keen to make the grade."
As for tomorrow, midfielder Alan Mahood(right) is looking to keep the run going as we square up to the Airdrie thugs with ex-trialist Martin "Leg-Breaker" Hardie lucky to be in their line-up after being the cause of most of the aggro at Firhill last week. Mahood said of the coming weeks, "We have three home games in our next four matches and we have to take advantage. It was important to get the win in Dumfries, but now we have to build on it. We battled away last week and there's no reason why we can't get right back into the thick of things. If other teams' form takes a dip we have to take full advantage. There are quality players waiting to get in and that keeps you focused. It's tough being out of the squad, but I knew when I came here it would take time to get fully fit and up to speed. I've had to prove myself to a different manager and different players. It's good to be back, but I'm taking nothing for granted."
John Connolly is looking for a settled team as well. He said, "This is a vital quarter for us and we need to pick up five wins if we're to get back into the chase. Last week doesn't count unless we can build on it with three points against Airdrie. There has been some tinkering, but it hasn't been possible to field a settled side because of injuries to players in key positions. I'm trying to keep changes to a minimum. This league is so tight Airdrie could go above us if they win. But we are intent on three home points to build momentum. No one here is counting ourselves out of the championship, that's for sure. Alan has a decent pedigree and keeps the tempo up. He plays it simply but effectively." As for David Hannah, who has been replaced by Paul Sheerin as skipper, the manager went on, "He knows it's all about competition for places and being captain doesn't make any difference on that score. He has to keep working and take advantage as and when his chance comes along.". And if Martin Hardie plays, the manager said, "He will have a point to prove, but I needed a player who was fit and ready. I rate Martin but couldn't give him the time needed earlier in the season."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
October 20th - The reserves went down 2-0 at Raith last night with Ryan Stevenson picking up a knock into the bargain. None of the trialists played although there are only three left - the Irishman has gone home after picking up a knock.
October 19th - John Connolly believes that Saints are overdue a big win after the performance at the weekend when we created plenty of chances. The Saints manager said, "On another day, two or three of them will go in and it will be much more comfortable. It was a cracking result for us because they went five games without defeat and its never easy to get a result down there. It was a real team effort and I cant single any player out because everyone did so well but Chris coming in and doing well shows the massive competition for places we have. But we cant relax after a win because while youre always one or two results from climbing the table, it works the other way as well. Three of our next four games are at home and the focus is now on winning them. Saturday counts for nothing if we cant do that "
October 18th -
John Connolly was a bit happier today
after the weekend win. He said on the Official Saints Site, "I
thought we played pretty well against a side who, don't forget, had gone
five games without defeat. We created a lot of chances - perhaps seven or
eight clear cut ones - and that's good going away from home. Ironically, I
feel we got the goal from the most difficult chance of the afternoon.
Peaso did well to set it up and Chris took the chance very well indeed. We
must keep it going now. Three out of our next four matches are at
McDiarmid Park and we must use that to our advantage. I don't want us to
do the hard work of winning away from Perth just to undo it by failing at
home. We are entering a vital stage of the season which will go a long way
to dictating what sort of season we are going to have."
The reserves are at Raith tomorrow night for a 7.30pm kick-off. Meanwhile the 4 trialists are at the club and the Canadian is apparently over on the recommendation of Nick Dasovic. He's been joined by an Irishman and two Australians.
Injury-wise and Kevin Rutkiewicz is already doubtful for the Airdrie game after his shin knock at the weekend. Better news for Martyn Fotheringham though who's set to resume full training this week.
16th - Ian Maxwell(right)
reckons they owe John Connolly a win
over his old team. The defender said, "I suppose we feel we owe
the manager a good result. He would love us to turn it around from the
last league game and get a win. Its the same as a player going back
to an old club. You dont want to lose or make it seem that youre
worse off than where you were before. The match will certainly have a bit
extra because its the gaffers first time back there since
leaving. In the league game we lost at McDiarmid we were very poor and
lost bad goals, but in the Bells Cup match against them we were a
lot better and played really well. It will be harder going down to
Dumfries though because theyre a good side at home with a decent
support. This will be a tough one. Were playing teams in the next
few weeks who you wouldnt expect to be challenging for the league,
he observed. These are the games that we have to go and win."
John Connolly meanwhile, has set a target of at least five wins from this quarter. He said, "Queen of the South have had a good start and they are where I would want to be in the table. If we were even four points better off than where we are Id be quite happy with that. Were looking to catch up four or five points in the next quarter and we need at least five wins if we want to be involved in the top three or four. Obviously we want to start with a decent result tomorrow of at least a draw."
The manager also revealed that FOUR trialists are coming to the club next week - a Canadian, an Irishman and two Aussies.
7.30pm - In the end a much improved performance from Saints saw us run out 1-0 winners at Palmerston with Chris Hay getting the winner in spectacular style in the 2nd half, although we should have had a late penalty and Peter MacDonald saw an effort unfairly chalked off for offside.
October 15th - Good and bad news for the weekend. Kevin Rutkiewicz is fit for the weekend but Kevin Fotheringham has suffered a reaction in training and is rated doubtful.
October 13th - It was a slightly
comfortable win for the reserves last night with the boys running out 7-0
winners over East Fife at McD. Ryan
Stevenson banged in a couple. Meanwhile
John Connolly admitted he's tried to
get a couple of SPL players on loan. The Saints manager said, "It
is not easy because there is not a lot out there at the moment. I have
spoken to various managers and the reality, especially in the
Premierleague, is that nearly all are operating with such small squads.
But I will keep going. The players we already have here are more than
capable but it would make a difference if we could boost the squad with
one or two loan signings."
Finally some of the Saints players will be at the St. John's Centre in Perth tomorrow from 1.30pm - 2.30pm to support Perth YMCA. You can get autographs, photos of the players and take part in various challenges.
October 12th- Apologies for the lack of updates but, well, there seems to be bugger all happening McD-way just now. The reserves take on East Fife today. Other than that the only news is that both Kevin Rutkiewicz and Kevin Fotheringham are hoping to recover from leg knocks in time for Saturday's trip to Dumfries.
October 9th - Saints have dropped their interest in Bobby Linn with the player not being offered a deal. John Connolly has admitted he might return for the striker in January once the window opens and we're not using our jokers. He said, "Bobby is only 18 and with only two jokers at my disposal signing him at the moment is not the way we want to go. If the transfer window was about to open we might have looked at the situation differently but for now we need to add experience to the squad. However, Ive told Bobby that if he gets himself playing again, even at a lower level, we will keep an eye on him and perhaps come the window might do something then. ". Creativity is apparently the main area of the side the manager believes needs improving as he went on, "We have scored only eight goals in the first quarter and, while we are far from being alone in having difficulty finding the net, thats something we have to address. In Peter MacDonald, Michael Moore, Chris Hay and Stephen McConalogue we have guys who, granted the right supply, will put the ball in the net for us. What we must do is ensure we improve the supply to them."
6th - Well there was a bit better news last night for Saints with a
strong reserve side running out comfortable 5-0 winners at
Montrose. Ryan Stevenson(right)
banged in four of them whilst Stephen
Fraser got the other.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
October 5th - Latest word on
Bobby Linn is that John Connolly
has confirmed that the player is on trial and "we'll have a look
at him this week". That might include an appearance against
Montrose for the reserves tonight, with Ryan
Stevenson also likely to play.
Meanwhile just for a laugh, the Saints manager target for the next quarter is six wins out of a possible 9 to get us back into contention.
6pm - Bobby Linn has spoken of his departure from Scumdee and his attempt to win a deal with Saints. The 18-yr old said, "I didn't feel I was getting a chance there. I'm on trial for a week or so and it's a chance to kick-start my career. If I can convince Saints to offer me a contract it would be ideal. I got a phone call from my agent to go along to the game. I had been training with St Mirren, but there were problems on the money side and a deal didn't work out there. It was a surprise to find myself playing against Clyde, but I enjoyed the opportunity. The boys made me feel very welcome. I was delighted to be involved again and it was a real bonus to get on near the end. That gave me a real buzz."
John Connolly said in today's PA, "We took Bobby on because he was available to us at the moment. He was on the bench against Clyde then came on for 25 minutes and did well. But it was difficult for him as there was a swirling gale at Broadwood so we didn't see a lot of him. We'll have a better look at him this week in training." As for the team's form and prospects he went on, "It's patently obvious to everybody that we are not scoring. If you multiply our present amount by four thats only 30-odd goals in a season, and that's not nearly enough. Our two strikers should be giving us that, but if we don't supply them with chances then they won't score - we need better delivery in the box".
The hunt is already on for new faces and he continued, "I've been trawling everywhere for players, but the criteria is if we bring someone in they must be better then what we have here. We definitely need a flair player, but if a 25-goal striker suddenly appears then we will take him. We've been looking all season but for one reason or another the players we were after wanted to stay at their respective clubs. We obviously would have wanted to be higher up the league, but I feel we are not that far away. This next quarter of the season will tell us where we are going to be. But I don't think the teams we have played are a great deal ahead of us, with the exception of Falkirk who showed class and Partick Thistle, who are a strong side. The rest are much the same but we now have a fortnight's break and know there will be a lot of hard graft to be done in the next quarter of the season. Our target is to double the points tally. Clyde have taken 20 points from the first quarter and that is our goal. If we were being beaten three our four nil every week there would be a major problem, but if we turn these results around we will right back in it. We had two games against Falkirk and Clyde to get back amongst the leaders and we did not take them. I was disappointed to come away from Broadwood with nothing as I felt over the 90 minutes we were the better team and created the better chances. We defended poorly at the goal and it was a bad one to lose. Then we had chances ourselves and they were blocked, and that is the difference. The strange thing was that was probably the best we have played - better than the Partick game and we won that one. We got round the back of the Clyde defence, but we should do better when we are in that area and that is something we will work on in the next two weeks. Once you do that you are half way there."
2nd - Apparently John Connolly
has set the defence a target of 5 goals apiece for the season (well the
strikers aren't exactly wading in to help the "For" tally).
Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) is leading with 2
goals and said ahead of today's Clyde game, "The gaffer gave
myself and Maxie a target of five for
this season. Im not keen on targets but Im happy with the way
things have gone so far. Theres friendly competition between us so
it was probably a good idea of the gaffers. My main priority is my
defensive duties but Im sure there will be opportunities for me to
add to my tally as the season goes on ". As for Clyde he said,
"Theyve had a reasonable start to the season and have
surpassed peoples expectations. They have had a large turnover of
players so theyve surprised me. Billy Reid, the manager, has
obviously got the best out of the players hes got there. In football
youll probably have more lows than highs and its how you react
thats important. Well be looking for a positive reaction
against Clyde. We had Wednesday off to have a wee look at ourselves and
get away from the place for the day, but everyones been positive
since we came back in. Our squads beginning to look a bit healthier
now and hopefully within the next three or four weeks things will come
together. We want to be within touching distance of the top three or four
sides by Christmas and then Im confident we could go on and make a
real fight of it. Weve only lost two out of the last eight, both
against Falkirk, so for me things are coming together. Weve been
grinding out results, so if we can keep doing that well not be far
away. It would be nice to hit a bit of form and give somebody a hiding,
but Id settle for a point at Broadwood. In this league any away
point is a good one."
6.30pm - In the end a windy stadium saw Saints lose 1-0 to Clyde as yet again we failed to capitalise on our possession. One surprise was the appearance of ex-Dundee striker Bobby Linn as a trialist with reports suggesting that the 18-yr old has already signed a deal with Saints.
1st- It's going to be a late fitness decision on
Peaso for tomorrow's trip to
Broadwood. John Connolly(right) said,
"Well give Peaso every chance and it will be a last minute
one. ". As for the game he said, "Obviously well
have played everybody once and well have a fair idea of where we
stand in relation to other teams. Were looking to get a win against
Clyde which will set us up well for the second quarter. "
Meanwhile Colin Marshall who was punted by Saints for being an arse has signed a 3-month deal with Falkirk.
6pm- John Connolly is still hurting from Tuesday's woeful display though and knows the players need to lift themselves and the fans tomorrow. Speaking to the PA he said, "I know how disappointing it was for the fans. It was one of the few times this season that I couldn't accept the effort and commitment of some of the players out on the park. It was really poor to go out of a cup with a performance like that. It's years since this club was last in a final. We didn't give it our best shot and thats what hurts most. The players know themselves it's not acceptable. Ironically we got off to a great start, one of the best all season, but when Peaso went off the confidence seemed to drain out of us. That should not have happened. The loss of one player should not have that sort of impact. We have to produce the sort of performance we got at Ross County. There is a two week break after this game and that will help our injury situation. We want to round off the quarter with a win"
And the manager knows where the problem lies singling out the midfield for criticism. "I actually feel sorry for the strikers because they aren't getting the supply that's needed. We have tightened up at the back but we are still trying to get the right blend in the middle of the park. We beat Partick but I still wasn't convinced with the midfield so we made changes. It's an area we have to improve." And explaining his tactics on Tuesday with regard to Latapy The Unmarked he said, "As it was a cup semi final at home which had to be won on the night we went for an attacking formation."
Kevin Fotheringham meanwhile wasn't holding back admitting he felt embarrassed after the Falkirk game. "Clyde manager Billy Reid was at the game but I doubt if he learned anything. It was frightening how off the pace we were. It wasn't good enough. We know we are better than that. It wasn't just losing but the way we lost that hurt. There is nothing to fear going there but we have to get over a crisis of confidence. Clyde have done well but they have a small squad and have steered clear of injuries so far. A seven point gap is manageable at this stage of the season and we now have a chance to peg them back. We don't want to fall 10 behind them after the first quarter. We have to take something from this game and start climbing the table."..............sounds like the sort of cliches the Saints fans are getting used to hearing....
Finally on a more serious note, chairman Geoff Brown has hit out at the damage the latest generation of hooligans that have latched onto Saints are doing to the club's reputation and bank balance. He said, "Theres no place for them here and they will be banned from the stadium. The club has been given cause for concern at the behaviour of a small number of troublemakers. We don't want them attached to St Johnstone in any shape or form. This football club represents Perth and Kinross when we go away from home and we don't want the area associated with hoodlums. There seems to be a second generation of casuals following clubs and they are not welcome at McDiarmid Park. We are not prepared to tolerate their behaviour. McDiarmid Park is about football and family entertainment. We have a responsibility to the genuine football fan and anyone causing trouble at the ground will not be made welcome. There is no excuse for the way they have been carrying on. Police and stewards aren't picking on genuine fans. They aren't coming here to watch the football or support the team. And as a consequence the football club is facing a bigger policing bill. But our main concern is that we don't want tarred with the casuals' brush. They are a magnet for trouble."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
Top Of News
30th - Well the salt's been rubbed into the wounds with the
announcement that the Bell's Cup Final is to be played at McDiarmid.
Peaso is set to be checked over
today after it was revealed that he took a stud to the knee on Tuesday
night hence his inability to finish the game. Meanwhile one of the more
disappointing players of the season Paul
Sheerin(right) has said that the best is yet to come from him (just
as well given the form he's shown so far). The ex-Sheep said in the
papers, "Im sure Ill hit top form in a Saints top
and, hopefully, itll start away to Clyde on Saturday. Clyde are a
hard-working side who will make it difficult for us and Ive a so-so
record at Broadwood. But losing to Falkirk in the Bells Cup last
night was a big disappointment to us. Wed been doing not too badly
until then, but were reasonably confident of getting a good result
7.20pm - Latest injury news is that Peaso's dead leg from Tuesday means he should be fit to play at Broadwood this weekend. Elsewhere on the casualty list, Sean Webb is back in full training and Martyn Fotheringham is about 3 weeks away after having a minor op on his knee. Paul Bernard is still recovering though and is "several weeks" away from resuming training.
September 29th- John Connolly has said in today's Courier he has no complaints about last night's result. The Saints manager said, "We made a great start but as soon as they equalised we froze and that was it. Falkirk then ran out good winners, but we should have been stronger than that. Russell Latapy is a fantastic player at this level, but I could have played in the space we allowed him."
September 28th -
Kevin Fotheringham says he's out
for revenge tonight after conceding both freekicks that led to Weans goals
in the league 10 days ago. The Saints defender said, "The worst
draw we could have got was Falkirk awaythe second worst was Falkirk
at home. But having played them the other week they hold no fears for us.
They are a good side but we gifted them their goals that day. I gave two
free-kicks away on the edge of the box which led to them scoring. This
time Ill be staying on my feet and hopefully helping to change the
result! This is my fourth semi-final in a row. Two of the three Ive
played in ended in defeat to Airdrieonce on pens, the other in
extra-timeand of course two years ago Brechin made it to the final
where Queen of the South, managed by John Connolly, beat us. Ive
also scored a few goals10 or 11 I thinkin this tournament so
it holds a lot of happy memories for me. That said, the final was a real
let down. We were absolutely horrendous. I think a lot of the boys froze
and we never played at all. But its a competition I like. A lot of
clubs arent too bothered if they go out in the early rounds because
the tournament doesnt generate a lot of money. But the longer you go
in it the more you want to make the final. The manager and I have both
been there and Ive told the lads what a great day out it is."
He's set to play despite suffering from a groin strain. Otherwise the main worry is over Kevin Rutkiewicz who picked up a knock at the weekend and is a slight doubt. David Hannah could return after being dropped at the weekend. John Connolly said, "David was left out on Saturday for tactical reasons but his attitude is first class and he is back in contention for this game. This is the clubs first semi-final for a few years and there is all to play for. When I was at Queen of the South, getting to the final and winning the cup gave them a tremendous lift for the remainder of the season. It could be the same for St Johnstone."
Kick-off tonight is at 7.45pm with admission prices set at £10 / £5. And just to cheer you all up Mike McCurry is the man in charge.
Finally congratulations to Andy Jackson who bagged four goals in the U-19s 7-3 win over Accies.
11.20pm - Despite taking the lead through a Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) header Saints went out the Bell's Cup with a whimper losing 2-1 to Falkirk (and be warned the report isn't nice reading). Just to add to the problems Peaso went off with a dead leg in the first half.
Away from the delights of the cup, the two French trialists who arrived last week have left without an offer from Saints. This week it's the turn of the Portuguese contingent with one of their countrymen here for the week. John Connolly is happy for this type of trial to continue apparently since the players are willing to pay their own way for the trial in a bid to secure a deal.
25th - We left it late but a brace from sub
Peaso(right) countered the Luvvies
opener and saw Saints beat Partick 2-1
to climb another place in the league although it wasn't exactly what you
call a sparkling performance. Still mustn't grumble.
After the game, Official Saints Site quotes assistant Jim Weir (off for his testimonial dinner tonight) as saying, "Were delighted. It certainly wasnt the best of games but Peaso came up with the goods late on. Thistle scored their goal at a good time and when you are heading into the final ten minutes and you are 1-0 down you fear the worst but we got the win that wouldnt have happened five weeks ago. Its a big result. Its the first time this season that other results have kind of gone our way so we just need to keep believing now and keep plugging away. "
24th - John Connolly is
happier at having a few more players to pick from for tomorrow's match.
Chris Hay are all back in training but the
manager warned, "Last week we were looking good up until a day
before the match. We had three ruled out with 24 hours to go and then lost
another two, so I do not want to tempt fate. Having said that it has been
encouraging to see everyone in training and it is obviously good to have
people back. Whatever the injury situation the back four will have to
change because of Ian Maxwell's (right)suspension.
Injuries crop up from day-to-day so it is still a case of wait and see for
the rest of the squad."
As for tomorrow's game, John Connolly said on the Official Saints Site "This league is tight at the best of times but due to our indifferent start, every match is the proverbial six pointer. The next two weeks will determine whether the second quarter of the campaign sees us involved at the top of the league or concerning ourselves with the other end of the table. We've no new injuries to content with but then I said that this time last week and 24 hours later we had lost McConalogue and Hay! I'm looking forward to the game. The added incentive tomorrow is that if we beat them, we go above them. Both sides are similar in that they have supports that had expectations at the start of the season that are not currently being fulfilled. After Thistle we have Clyde and that will be the end of the first quarter and we can assess things from there."
Saints have two French trialists at McDiarmid but apparently they turned up despite no firm agreements. The manager went on, "We've given the two of them training facilities as a courtesy and to be fair they have not looked out of place. However, my gut feeling is that with only two "jokers" to play between now and January, I would prefer to do so on proven players I know about. My final decision on these guys has not been made but I think its fair to say that my view at the moment is different from what it might have been had the transfer window been open."
And finally it looks like a new trialist is being linked to Saints. 29-yr old Nigerian Chima Onyeike (described as the next Mark de Vries according to Sky) is looking for a move to Scotland and is apparently considering a move to Saints, although John Connolly has denied the story.
September 23rd - Ross Forsyth came through Tuesday night's game ok and is in the squad for the Partick game at the weekend. Stef and Chris Hay are also back in training and should make the game on Saturday.
September 22nd - Saints beat
Stirling 4-0 last night in the bounce game. Jim
Weir didn't play but Ross Forsyth
did which suggests the latter could be in line for a recall this weekend.
More mixed news though for the rest of the squad. Stef is back in light training which is optimistic for the weekend but Ryan McCann has twisted his ankle and was unable to train.
21st - The injury situation has worsened for Saints. Despite
Chris Hay and
Stef are both doubtful for the
Partick game this weekend.
Jim Weir though says he'll have no problems if asked to play against Partick this weekend. Ian Maxwell is suspended and Sean Webb is just back in training so the assistant manager may be back in action. He told the PA, "I'll probably play in a closed doors game to improve my match fitness. I'm ready if required. I feel fit but coaching is the priority and I'm happy with that. But I have to admit I miss playing on a Saturday." Saints will play another bounce game tonight and Ross Forsyth(right) could make a return at the weekend with Kevin Fotheringham another option for the centre-half slot.
John Connolly isn't too chuffed at having to rearrange things again. He said, "The back four have been really solid and they snuffed out a dangerous strike force at the weekend. It's a pity I'll have to disrupt the defence. I'm not ruling out another game for Jim and he'll probably be involved in training this week. Ross will get another run after his half hour last week. It's a case of wait and see. We again showed we're becoming a hard team to beat but now we have to show we're capable of producing more movement, flair and goals. It's another game lost by a single goal and we've played everyone bar Partick and Clyde. I've seen nothing to frighten me so far but the facts of football are that the next two results will decide whether we're involved in the top half or scrapping further down the table." The Saints manager was still pissed off at the goals last weekend though saying, "The goals were even worse when I saw the tape. We were very naive and you can't afford to give any team a start like that, least of all one that's been thrashing teams. But at least we didn't capitulate, we kept their forwards out, Mark Baxter reduced the deficit and Peaso got 90 minutes under his belt."
September 20th -
Peaso has spoken to the Courier of
his return to the side at the weekend. Despite being on the losing side,
he was glad to get back in action and said, "Im happy to be
back in, but it was unexpected. Chris Hay picked up an injury to his knee
in the warm-up. Originally I thought I might get 10 or 15 minutes, but the
gaffer asked me to go in and do a shift. I honestly expected to be sub-
stituted but I was happy in a way that my number wasnt called. My
fitness would improve the longer I stayed on. Although I was tired after
about 70 minutes or so, I had to dig through that. Thats seven
months Ive been out. I played last Tuesday in a closed doors match
against Dundee and managed 65 minutes. I was happy to get a start and I
just gave it my all. "
As for the game he said, "We had the momentum after the goal and the big man being sent off didnt really help us. Today I thought they got two lucky goals. It was a good finish by John ONeil for the first one but it was a break, and at the second one the walls opened up and that shouldnt have happened. I think if Falkirk are going to be up there then were going to be up there as well. Ive got to prove myself all over again. Billy Stark knew about my ability but now Ive got to prove myself to a new gaffer. Im back a wee bit earlier than I thought but it wont do me any harm as long as I get fit and play a few reserve games. Theres a game on Tuesday and Im hoping to feature in that and hopefully be selected for the Partick game on Saturday. "
John Connolly is blaming defensive
cock-ups for yesterday's defeat. Speaking on
Official Saints Site he
said, "I actually thought we started the game well and had the
best of the opening ten minutes but weve gone and shot ourselves in
the foot again gone back to losing cheap goals. We had tightened
things up recently but we made a couple of errors at Berwick on Tuesday
and I said to the players that if they made the same types of mistake
against Falkirk that it wouldnt go unpunished and so it proved. For
the second goal, our defensive wall has split and given them a hole to
drive the free kick through. In the end we ran them close but thats
no good. Falkirk were professional in the way they played out the final
stages of the game and then of course we lost
Ian Maxwell late on. He committed two
fouls in the entire game and was booked twice others gave away four
or five fouls and stayed on the park. But Maxy was silly having
been booked in the first half I told him at half-time to stay on his feet.
He should have known better."
The manager confirmed that Stef picked up an injury in training midweek and Chris Hay suffered a displaced kneecap in the warm-up.
18th- Allan McGregor is
looking forward to facing up to Daryl Duffy today. The on-loan Saints
keeper said in the Courier, "I trained with Darryl at Rangers for
a few years and hes a good player, really quick, and he might cause
us a few problems. I thought he would do well in this league because hes
quite physical as well, which you need at this level. But the way our
defence has been playing, hopefully well be able to keep him quiet.
Ill maybe have a word with our defenders before tomorrows game
about him. For the first few games I was here there was a bit of chopping
and changing with the side. It was a bit crazy losing about eight
goals, and I was thinking whats going on here! But
things have settled down now, weve got a back four which is playing
regularly and were doing well. Were looking to build on the
five-game run weve put together and were going into tomorrows
game on the up. Theyll probably be expected to win tomorrow, but the
way weve been playing hopefully we can stop them from scoring and do
something ourselves at the other end. If we win, were only three
points off Falkirk, and theyre a team who everyone expects to be
there or thereabouts at the end of the season."
John Connolly(right) is expecting a tough game though. He said, "The goals we were losing at the start of the season were down to our mistakes rather than being cut open by other teams. As soon as we got that sorted out and got players back from injury things have improved. Losing one goal in five games has bred confidence but the big test of our defence will be tomorrow."
7pm - Two early set-piece goals gave the Bairns a commanding lead as Saints lost 2-1 with Beaky getting the equaliser. The good news from the close-fought game is that Peaso came through a full 90 minutes, enforced after Chris Hay pulled a muscle in the warm-up. But the bad news is that a late red card for Ian Maxwell means he'll sit out next week's visit of Partick.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
September 17th -
John Connolly has spoken of our
semi-final draw. The Saints manager told the Courier "It is a
home tie and in the cup thats all that matters, so we are delighted
by that. We know there is always a big atmosphere when Falkirk visit and
it will be handy to have a look at them so soon beforehand.". And
midfielder Ryan McCann who was at the
draw said, "These are two massive games against Falkirk but the
outcome of the league match will have no bearing on the semi-final. We
have picked up after a dodgy start and will be looking to win both matches
now. We have taken time to gel as a squad but our last few results have
been promising. Falkirk are scoring plenty of goals but we're not
conceding many now and if we can keep them at bay we have a good chance of
Meanwhile Peaso looks set to be added to the squad for the visit of Falkirk tomorrow although he's nowhere near close to a starting place. Saints are trying to line up another closed doors game next week to allow him and Flash to build up their match fitness. John Connolly is looking forward to tomorrow's game. Speaking to the Official Saints Site he said, "We're on a great run now and it's been well documented this week that Jim and I have worked hard on the defence in training in recent weeks and that certainly appears to be paying dividends. We now need to add scoring goals to the tightened defence, as we clearly have not been scoring enough. It was good that Michael Moore got a goal on Tuesday and I know that Stef just needs a stroke of luck to cap his recent fine displays with a goal. There should be a great atmosphere on Saturday and Falkirk will be tough opponents. They are the only side in the division that has been scoring goals for fun. I'm going to add Peter MacDonald to the squad although he certainly won't start but it's just too soon for Ross Forsyth although he featured against Dundee in Wednesday's bounce game. These boys coming back are going to be vital in the weeks ahead - our run in the Bell's Cup means midweek fixtures remain part of our programme so we'll need everyone available."
September 16th - There was some
good news injury-wise as yesterday afternoon saw
Flash both play in theclosed-doors
game against Dundee with Peaso
getting an hour and Flash getting 30
minutes in a 0-0 draw
Not too much happening today but off the park we've drawn Falkirk at McDiarmid in the semi-final of the Bell's Cup - which will add a little bit of spice to this weekend's game. The semi-final will be played on Tuesday 28th at 7.45pm.
14th - Michael Moore reckons it's
about time the strikers helped out in the goals tally starting at
Shielfield tonight. The Saints striker told the Courier, "Last
season I scored in the first game against Queen of the South and then I
didnt score for the next four games. Then I got going after that, so
its not a worry. The main thing is the team. Im a winner and
it wouldnt please me whatsoever to score but see the team lose.
Obviously neither myself nor Stef(right)
managed to score on Saturday but we linked up really well.
Stef is a very clever player and
most of my career Ive played with a smaller partner, who plays a
different type of gamewell get goals."
As for our opponents, he went on, "Ive played there plenty of times, and Ive got a lot of respect for their manager Paul Smith. Hes done very well there for a few seasons. Hes a really good manager and his teams always work hard. Confidence has always been there, but the players are now more relaxed and are expressing themselves more."
John Connolly doesn't seem too worried either and said, "Ive no worries that goals will come for our strikers. You certainly cant fault them for the effort theyre putting in. When I watched Stef before I would have said his big weakness was he didn't work hard enough. But you can't call into question that since hes been here. Hes got all the qualities for everything else to come naturally and if his work-rate is right he's a Premier League player."
Saints will pick from the same squad for tonight's game which has a 7.45pm kick-off.
10.45pm - Saints progressed to the semi-finals thanks to a first-minute Michael Moore goal followed by a performance which saw us scrape a 1-0 win over Berwick. Less said about the performance the better. Elsewhere and the Bairns gubbed Gretna 3-0 to join us in the last four.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
September 13th - There's no
injury worries following Saturday's win so expect the same squad to make
the trip over the border for the Bell's quarter-final tie at Berwick
Of the absentees both Ross Forsyth and Peaso are back in full training but Sean Webb is set to have a scope inserted in his knee so will be out for a while yet.
September 11th - Well just for a change the trip back from the Highlands saw Saints return south with all three points as a David Hannah penalty in the first-half saw us win 1-0 at Dingwall. And while the scoreline might not be the most impressive Saints as a side played well across every area of the park
10th- The game at Dingwall is another in the must-win category
tomorrow but according to the Official
Saints Site, confidence is high. Speaking there,
Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) said, "I
thought last week's game at Hamilton brought a good performance, not in
terms of the quality of football but in the way we stuck together as a
team when it was a wee bit backs to the wall and we certainly deserved the
point. We have to keep that going now against Ross County. It'll be a
toughie but we are going up there to win and keep the momentum going.
We've got some real hard games coming up so avoiding defeat is key. A draw
in any away game in this league is never a bad result." As for
his own performance, he's also feeling more confident and said, "My
time out of the starting line-up was short so I've never felt out of it.
I've had a wee bit of luck in terms of coming in for
Sean Webb since he got injured and I'm
determined to keep a high standard. But you are only as good as your last
game and you are always there to be shot down so I'll just take it week at
Injury-wise there will be no returning faces to the side, although the good news is that Ross Forsyth and Peaso are set for a reserve comeback in the next two to three weeks.
Meanwhile the manager has also reacted to abuse Allan McGregor(right) received at Hamilton last week. With the on-loan keeper on the end of some alleged sectarian taunts, John Connolly said, "I've no problem with supporters voicing their opinions during games. That's part and parcel of football. We can all live with criticism. But verbal abuse like this aimed at your own players is different. It's not healthy and it's not on. To his credit Allan wasn't making a big deal about what happened at Hamilton and I'm sure the vast majority of fans, the true supporters, are right behind the players. Allan didn't let it effect him and he pulled off a wonder save near the end of the game. It was only later some of the players mentioned he had been getting a bit of unwarranted stick. He has done very well for us since his arrival. Ironically, the experience will make him a stronger player. In Allan and Kevin Cuthbert we have two excellent keepers here and Kevin's attitude has been first class. It's all about competition for places and Allan knows if his standards slip Kevin is waiting for his opportunity. And Kevin knows he has to be ready to take his chance, even if that means waiting until January when Allan returns to Ibrox."
As for Allan McGregor, the keeper said, "It was a bit surprising taking some stick from our own fans but they pay their money and it didn't get to me. It goes in one ear and out the other. The lads had been under sustained pressure and wanted me to take time over a goal kick. The fans obviously wanted it up the park as quickly as possible. These things happen. I just got on with it. Fans just want to see their team win every game and don't always appreciate what's going on in the game. I just wanted to settle us down. I'm here on loan but I'm totally committed to this club when I'm pulling on a St Johnstone top. Saints are guaranteed 100% from me while I'm here".
The next few games are likely to be the toughest of the season so far and John Connolly believes the players can raise their performances. "It's a tough old run coming up and it's a chance to judge ourselves against teams currently in the top half of the league. But we won't approach these games in a different way. There are no easy matches. But we set out to get three points every week. Ross County won at Raith last week but, like us, theyd probably consider their start to the season to be disappointing. And like me Alex Smith has had to contend with high expectations among fans after strengthening his squad over the summer. It's a big one for both clubs. Its never an easy place to get a result but hopefully my decent record with Queen of the South has followed me to St Johnstone. After this sequence of games over the next month we should have a better idea of how we're shaping up. These games provide a good test for the players to judge themselves against the strongest sides in the division.".
September 8th - The reserves
chalked up a 2-0 win at Methil last night. Goals came from
Kevin Moon and Chris
Saints have announced that the new away kit will hit the shops this Friday and will debut on the park at Dingwall this weekend. As usual, some players will make an appearance at 4pm at Asda this Friday for the strip launch.
7th First up and there's a kick-off time change coming in November.
Due to McDiarmid hosting the Scotland v Japan rugger international at
5.45pm on Saturday November 13th, that day's game against Ross County has
been brought forward from 3pm to a 12.45pm kick-off.
Meanwhile Beaky(right) has admitted that his equaliser at Hamilton wasn't as skilful as we all though. Speaking of the angled effort, he told the PA, "It was a cross, I didn't even think of shooting because I was so tight to the byline. I just tried to ping it into a back post area for someone to attack and luckily enough for me I sclaffed it over the keeper. It was just like one I scored against Airdrie in the cup. That was even luckier. Maybe Zinedine Zidane would have meant to score from there, but not me. It was the perfect time to score because they didn't have a chance to settle on their goal. I took a good pass from Steven Anderson, but I wasn't even sure where the ball had ended up because no one was cheering and the keeper was blocking my view." The Saints youngster reckons that the confidence is still high despite dropping two points. "We dug in after half-time and the team defended well."
Finally, John Connolly has admitted it was a tactical switch that saw Lee Hardy dropped on Saturday. He said, "Lee has played well in the last two home games, but I left him out because of the type of game it was going to be at the weekend."
6th - Kevin Rutkiewicz(right)
reckons Mark Baxter's goal at the
weekend might mark the turning point for Saints' fortunes. Speaking to the
Courier, he said, "I dont know if Mark meant it or not. I
havent had a chance to speak to him yet but Ill give him the
benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there was a touch of fortune about the goal
but well take that because weve not had a lot of luck in the
past couple of weeks. It was very important to get that equaliser back
right away, especially after losing the goal so early in the second half.
They didnt get the chance to get the momentum from their goal. Were
delighted with a point. It keeps the points rolling and the whole thing
snowballing. Every point away from home in this division is going to be a
good one. Anyone who was at the game would have seen we were under a fair
bit of pressure in the last 25 minutes and going back two or three weeks
that game would have been lost. Today the boys stuck together and we
looked to have a far more solid shape. Its very difficult to come
here. They have a lot of big, physical guys and they play the long game
and get on top of you. This is the type of game where we can start to pick
up our season after a bad star."
The Saints manager was also happy with a point. John Connolly said, "I think weve lost three goals this season immediately after half-time. Its down to a lack of concentration and it was vital today that we got the goal back so quickly. It was a hard-fought game and this is going to be a very difficult place to come. Weve had to battle really hard. A lot of teams will find it difficult to come here and take points. The effort and commitment from our lads was first class."
September 4th - A lovely sunny afternoon was spoilt by a boringly dull 1-1 draw with Accies which saw Saints back to their disappointing form of a few weeks ago. Mark Baxter scored a great equalising goal but in the end a draw was a fair result and given our hopes for the season that's just not good enough.
3rd - John Connolly is looking
to keep the run of form going at Accies this weekend. Speaking on the
Official Saints Site, he
said, "We're coming off the back of two good results and we have
to keep it going. We have two tough away games followed by two tough home
ones later in the month. We've stopped leaking goals which, without
stating the obvious, has been vital in the last two games. Anyone who saw
the games we lost will know that the goals we lost were very avoidable.
We've turned the corner at this moment in time but tomorrow will be a hard
game." Sean Webb(right) will be
out for at least a month but the manager is happy that some of the others
are available for selection. "We never seem to clear the hurdle
of boys sitting in the treatment room rather than playing. Peter MacDonald
is about a fortnight away from a reserve game, then I would hope Ross
Forsyth and Paul Bernard would be another week after that. Martyn
Fotheringham and Sean Webb are longer term. These are all guys who I would
consider to be an integral part of the first team and we're hanging onto
the coat tails of the other clubs while these players are out."
Ryan McCann and Alan Mahood are in the squad but Connolly admits they're short of match practice so expect a subs spot for them.
September 2nd - New signing
Ryan McCann is looking for a more
successful period at McD than his loan spell a couple of years ago.
Speaking to the Courier, the 22-yr old said, "I enjoyed my time
here before and I thought I did reasonably well. I certainly enjoyed being
at St Johnstone. I really need to start playing regularly now, because
theres only so long you can be classed as a young player. I see a
lot of my friends breaking into first teamsKevin McBride at
Motherwell and friends down south like Michael Doyle at Coventry. I need
to do that as well. Then theres Liam Miller at Manchester United,
who has done all right for himself! The deal has been in the pipeline for
a couple of weeks and it was great that it all got sorted out in time. I
was under contract for another year but I didnt feature as much as I
would have liked last season, and a slight fracture in my foot has set me
back this pre-season. I wasnt prepared to sit and wait on my chance
this season, and when the chance came to go St Johnstone it was just a
case of getting the deal sorted. I honestly felt my performances at
Hartlepool were deserving of more of a chance there but Im fit to
play here and looking forward to getting going."
Meanwhile the draw for the Bell's Cup quarter-finals takes place at 11am today.
6.15pm - The Bell's Cup draw has given us another opportunity for a banana skin / easy passage en route to the semi-final, with a quarter-final tie over the border at Berwick. The Shieldfield Park game will take place on Tuesday the 14th at 7.45pm. Other ties are Clyde v Forfar, Bairns v Gretna and Ross County v Partick.
Peaso (right) is looking forward to Saints run continuing after our last two wins. He said, "It was a good performance in the Bells Cup this week and, hopefully, that will kick-start our season. Weve been poor for the first few games but, after the last two victories, hopefully, we can kick on from that now. There are about six teams who are fancied to win this league, so its very difficult. But, hopefully, we can be there at the end of the season challenging for the title. We just need to concentrate on winning more of our home games in front of our own fans. But its still early." As for the Berwick trip, he said, "Weve got a video on the bus and this journey will give us a chance to watch a whole movie instead of just half of one! But it will be a very difficult game, Berwick are a hard-working team. But the boys are used to travelling because we have to go to Queen of the South and places like that.However, well treat it as we treat any other game. I dont think footballers go into any game, apart from testimonials maybe, putting in half-effort.Cup games are full flow and everyone goes for it."
Finally and there's apparently a stomach bug hitting Saints today with several players missing training (obviously the post-QoS win champers had something in it) John Connolly says that the club are "monitoring the situation". David Hannah has avoided the bug though and despite suffering from tonsilitis has managed to train.
September 1st - Saints moved
comfortably into the Bells Cup Quarter-Finals last night with a convincing
3-0 win over QoS with goals from
Kevin Fotheringham and
Kevin Rutkiewicz with the only sour note
being the 4th minute removal of Sean Webb
through a knee injury. On the Official
Saints Site, John Connolly said
of the result, "Thats two big results in four days and two
clean sheets a major step forward from recent games when weve
been leaking goals. There was more movement tonight and that comes
from increased confidence and I thought all the goals were magnificent.
Fotheringhams strike from the free kick was unbelievable and I think
fans will already understand why I brought him here. Hes a good
passer of the ball and cool under pressure."
And if that wasn't enough we picked up a couple of new faces ahead of the transfer deadline and one departure. Joining Saints are Ryan McCann(far right)(a familiar face from his loan spell a couple of seasons ago) who has signed a 2-yr deal and veteran midfielder Alan Mahood(right) who has signed until the end of 2004. Speaking on the Official Saints Site the manager said, "These two guys will bring additional quality to the squad. Ive been chasing Ryan for over two weeks now and he is a player with a good stature and great passing ability. Im looking for him to weigh in with the goals as well. I envisage a right midfield role for Ryan who I have seen in action before both for Saints and Hartlepool. Alan brings some experience to a young squad. Hes developed into a holding role type player in recent years but he was a goalscorer in his younger days and Ill be looking for him to grab a goal or two for us. Hes a wee bit behind in terms of training so hell need to do a bit of work but Im sure he will be a good addition to the squad."
Meanwhile Colin Marshall has left the club after his contract was "terminated by mutual consent". Tea well and truly oot there then.
7pm - The latest injury news is that David Hannah's tonsilitis is getting worse and he's already a doubt for the trip to Accies on Saturday. He's been joined on the sidelines by Sean Webb who's knee injury from last night looks like keeping him out for a few weeks. Saints have also announced that John Connolly will be at his first Meet the Manager night at the Muirton Suite on Sept 9th at 7pm. It's open to everyone but due to limited spaces, phone Perth 561020 to confirm you're going.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
Top Of News
Stephen McConalogue is out for
revenge against QoS tonight. Speaking to the Courier, he said of the
cup-tie, "This is a chance for us to get them back. It wont
be easy, though, because they are a good passing team. Hopefully, weve
turned the corner after our win against Raith and the victories will keep
coming.". As for his return from injury, he went on, "It
was great to be back and for the team to get a win. To be injured straight
away after coming to a new club is really frustrating, especially when the
team is losing and you want to be out there helping the boys. I felt fine
in the game and there was no problem with the hamstring afterwards. If I
get a start Ill hope to take my chance ."
John Connolly is just as upbeat. The Saints gaffer said, "You can see that the whole club has been lifted. It sounds daft after just one result, but its true. Even though we had seven players out against Raith, everybody still expected us to win and its a big positive that weve won that game. I thought Kevin Fotheringham made a good debut, Stephen McConalogue did really well and held the ball up which helped get our players going, and young Stevie McManus also did well ". In terms of selection it looks like the defence might be tweaked a bit. QoS are reported to have several injuries ahead of the game as well.
No word on any new signings ahead of the midnight deadline tonight, but the good news is that Peter MacDonald is apparently only a fortnight away from a return to the team.
August 30th -
Steven Anderson reckons he's made a
good choice in dumping Tannashite for Saints. The new signing told the
Courier today, "I had a bad end to last season at Tannadice
because I was knackered after playing something like 60 under-19 and
under-20 games and United would only offer me a six-month contract. They
did say they would extend that if I did well but I didnt feel what
was on offer was long enough nor, with having a kid to support, was the
money good enough, so I turned it down. My agent got me a trial with
Rangers in July and I did most of my pre-season there. But that didnt
work out and as I waited for another club I kept my fitness up by working
out in the gym, sometimes twice a day. I always thought Id get fixed
up but with the transfer deadline approaching I was beginning to sweat a
bit. Fortunately, the chance to come on trial with St Johnstone arose, I
played in a 5-1 Reserve League win over Forfar, got a run-out as a
trialist in the first team against St Mirren then signed last Tuesday,
which was obviously a relief. Ive ended up coming down a division.
But Im playing first-team football here and theres always the
possibility I might step up again some time in the future.".
John Connolly is still trying to get some new faces in ahead of tomorrow night's Bell's Cup tie. He said, "I hoped to have another two players in before Saturdays home win over Raith, and Im still trying to get players in before the deadline". Sean Webb and Michael Moore are both available after sitting in the corner at the weekend for being naughty, naughty boys. And Mark Baxter is also fit enough although whether or not he displaces Steven Anderson remains to be seen.
28th - Kevin
Fotheringham(right) reckons he's made a good decision in moving to
Perth despite Saints' less than auspicious start to the season. The
ex-Clyde player was speaking to the Courier ahead of today's game against
Raith. He said, "Although St Johnstone have got off to a bad
start and Clyde have got off to a good start, I think the league positions
could change quickly. Clyde are not really in a stable position and I was
looking long term. Theres a depth to the squad here that there isnt
at Clyde. There wasnt any pressure on keeping your place in the side
at Clyde, but there will be here.". He's not underestimating how
important today's game is either. "You cant afford to let a
gap grow between us and the leaders because it is very difficult to play
catch-up. Im sure it was hard for St Johnstone last year when they
were chasing Clyde and Inverness. It would be tough to come into the
dressing room after a victory to hear the other two teams had won as wellit
knocks the stuffing out of you. There arent many of the players here
that I played against last season, but even though its a new team,
we need to start picking up results."
Latest transfer rumour is that Morton had shown an interest in Colin "Yer Teas Oot" Marshall but that deal has fallen through.
6.45pm - Kevin Fotheringham was the standout player in a poor game, getting the winner in a 1-0 win over Raith, a result that finally sees us off the bottom of the table.
Speaking on the Official Saints Site, the manager said, "It was all about the result today. Both sides were very nervy even at this early stage of the season. I said before the game that we just needed a wee break, a little change in fortune and we got that today. For example, we made a couple of errors at the back in the second half but unlike previous weeks we werent punished for them. Im just delighted for the lads. It wasnt pretty to watch but hopefully this is the turning point. If Ryan had scored then that would have changed the game and we could have moved on from there but thankfully we got the goal in the second half. I thought Kevin had a good debut and for a left sided player it wasnt a bad swing of the right foot was it?!"
August 27th - It was apparently
all go again with Saints yesterday. A "substantial bid"
for the services of QoS midfielder Steve Bowey was again rejected
by the Dumfries club. Meanwhile both John
Connolly and Jim Weir have been seen
watching the Arabs a couple of times this week and rumours suggest that a
possible loan move for Arabs youth striker Aaron Conway could be
on the cards, although some also suggest ex-Bairns striker Colin
Samuel could be the target. Nothing confirmed from Tannadump other
than "Shite" McCall admitting a loan deal could be on the cards
- no players or clubs specified.
Nothing new on the injury situation with 7 players suspended or otherwise ruled out tomorrow. John Connolly said "Even Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger would find it hard to cope with seven players out"
John Connolly isn't trying to make excuses ahead of tomorrow's big game but said on the Official Saints Site , "The number of players missing is the worst I've ever had to deal with as a manager, it's certainly not ideal but we just have to remain positive. Given our start to the season, each game is massive now. We just need a little something to kick-start the season. There's a fine line between success and failure. We've lost three games by one goal, two of them scored late on so concentration for the full 90 minutes is vital." As usual though the dressing room is in as good a mood as at any time last season. John Connolly went on, "Training-wise things are good. Nobody has their heads down and we are all focused on climbing up that table and I have absolutely no doubt that when we have everyone available, we'll do just that. I've said it before but the fans are so important. We appreciate that they are disappointed by what they have seen so far but having them behind us they really does make a difference."
Both Steven Anderson and Kevin Fotheringham will play tomorrow but don't expect any new faces by kick-off although the search goes on ahead of the transfer deadline on Tuesday.
Finally, ex-Saints boss Billy Stark has been appointed to the Queen's Park job.
August 26th - It's been revealed
that Martyn Fotheringham twisted his
knee in Tuesday night's reserve win so he'll be out for a few weeks.
Meanwhile it looks like the Colin Marshall for Keyring swap deal is dead according to the manager - where that leaves Marshall now, given that his new manager doesn't rate him remains to be seen.
25th- A strong Saints reserve side won 2-0 at Cowdenbeath last
night with goals coming from Martyn
Fotheringham(right) and Andy Jackson,
with the former going off injured.
As for the Kevin Fotheringham deal, John Connolly told the Courier, "The Fotheringham deal will probably be tied up tomorrow, with Eddie Malone going to Clyde.". There's no word yet though on any Colin Marshall for Keyring swap with Falkirk.
The Saints boss also commented on the Steven Anderson signing saying, "I thought he played really well on Saturday at St Mirren after being thrown straight in as a trialist against a Scotland under-21 international. He also showed up well in the reserves and in his time here so far hes showed himself to be a player who can link up well going forward and tackle well. As well as playing right-back he can also play at centre back."
8pm - Well, the controversial deal went through this afternoon which sees Eddie Malone head to Broadwood in a straight exchange for Kevin Fotheringham. The 29-yr old ex-Brechin midfielder has signed a deal until the summer of 2006. Speaking on the Official Saints Site , John Connolly said, "Clyde have been after Eddie for some time and of course it was first mooted as an idea when we were pursuing Ian Harty. Theyve never let go of their desire to get Eddie and I just felt that in Eddie and Stephen Fraser we lacked experience in that left sided defensive area. In Kevin we are gaining a very good player, a winner with a bit of bite who will be able to organise things a bit better."
The Temple wants to wish Eddie all the best for the future. As for the deal itself I can't help but feel it's a bit of a panic buy. Fotheringham will get out full backing but it's hard to see how he fits in with the ethos of a youthful squad with plenty of potential or with the idea of the current squad being built for the SPL not the First Division. No doubt time will tell whether or not Connolly has made a wise decision or whether it's going to come back to haunt him.
August 24thWell the big rumour
is that Kieran McAnespie could be set
for a return to Perth from the Weans with Colin
Marshall about to head the other way in a swap deal as
John Connolly tries to sort things
out before the transfer deadline. There's been no official comment on this
but the Saints manager spoke to the Courier and said, "Were
talking to various people. Its an ongoing process and it will be a
busy week.". Keyring left
Saints a few years ago for the bright lights of Fulham but after failing
to make the breakthrough (including loan spells at Hearts and Bournemouth)
he moved to Falkirk last year.
At least the injury crisis is easing a bit with Ian Maxwell set to return at the weekend, Mark Baxter back in training and Stephen McConalogue set to return to reserve action against the Blue Brazil tonight. The Saints boss said, "I dont think there are any squads in the First Division which have been affected as much as we have. It would be nice to get near to playing the same team twice in a row, and in particular to get a regular back four."
5.45pmMeanwhile another rumour has started up between Saints and Clyde. This time the reported swap is said to involve Eddie Malone (who was linked with a move to Broadwood in the summer as part of the Harty deal) and Kevin Fotheringham.
Saints have confirmed one transfer today with 18-yr old Steven Anderson who played as a trialist at the weekend signing until the end of the season. As for the latest moves, any deals are expected within the next 48hours and it looks like they'll be swaps (God it's just like Panini this). John Connolly hasn't confirmed or denied any of the rumours currently doing the rounds.
23rd - John Connolly is keen
to put the Battle of Love St. behind him, although the supporter's
feelings and faith might take a wee bit longer to recover. In today's
morale-boosting speech on the official saints site he said, "Saturday's
gone. We re-focus now. It was disappointing to lose a goal so late on
Saturday but being down to nine men was partly responsible for that. To be
honest, I am more disappointed about the loss of the equaliser so soon
after half time. There was a lack of concentration involved there as St
Mirren picked the pace up right from the re-start and I'll be addressing
that.I've spoken to the lads this morning and told them that if they can
continue to show the effort and commitment they showed me on Saturday then
things will improve. We don't want to be where we are at the moment but
things seem to be conspiring against us just now. I hope to have some of
the injured boys back this week though. We must move on, take heart from
the good things on Saturday and gear up for the visit of Raith."
The manager also praised the defence and it looks like trialist right-back Steven Anderson(right) will be offered a deal, with Connolly saying, "There are complications over signing him but I would like to bring him on board and I hope things can move in that direction over the next few days." And the gaffer saved one other piece of praise for the fans. "I thought the fans were superb on Saturday and we need more of that home and away. I'm not underestimating the situation - these are difficult times and now is when we need that sort of support."
Finally, commiserations to Judas who got the Spanish Elbow from Southampton.
22nd - Expect the fallout from yesterday's game to continue.
According to the Sunday papers, Michael
Moore(right) shoved ex-Saint Kevin McGowne as he went off
(actually he reacted to whatever McGowne the thug said) and kicked the
walls of the tunnel as he walked up it. We've also got reports that
Airbags was involved in fisticuffs at
full-time. Either way it's been confirmed that all 3 that were absent at
the end of yesterday's game due to shite refereeing will miss the
big-pressure game next Saturday against Raith.
Speaking to the Sunday Mail, John Connolly said, "It beggars belief - we can't believe we've had three players sent off. The guys are raging and that shows how much they care. I would have been delighted with a draw but circumstances prevented that. I had a word with referee Charlie Richmond after the match. He actually thinks he's had a good game! But three red cards and 11 bookings sums it up."
No word yet on whether trialist Steven Anderson who played yesterday will be offered a deal.
August 21st - Under-fire
defender Ian Maxwell is the man in the
press firing line ahead of today's trip to Giroville. Speaking to the
Courier he said "I think everybody just wants to get on with it
and get our first win believing that hopefully things will take off from
there. We are only two games into the season and no-one in the
dressing-room is panicking. We are disappointed because the two matches weve
lost havent been against teams wholl probably be up there
challenging. But that just shows that the league is going to be very open.
As long as we get a win sooner rather than later and get ourselves up the
table then the start weve made wont be the end of the world. Im
not looking to make excuses but I dont think weve played the
same 11 guys twice. There have maybe been three or four changes each game,
which hasnt helped. Due to injuries, suspension and formation
changes the back four for example hasnt been the same two weeks in a
row. And thats an area of the team you really want continuity in.
But that doesnt take away from the fact we should still have played
better than we have."
Not much in the way of changes to the injury situation but Jordan "Airbags" Tait has been passed fit so expect to see him at right-back.
7pm - Christ but how bad does it get? Never mind losing 2-1 at Love St to leave us well and truly at the foot of the table but we also had Sean Webb, Michael Moore and Eddie Malone red-carded as Saints finished the game with only 8 men. A shite referee but a shite performance from us as well and it's time for heads to roll.
20th -John Connolly has been
speaking of our injury worries ahead of tomorrow's game. In today's
Courier, the Saints boss said, "I heard Alex Smith talking the
other day about how he'd been able to field the same team three weeks
running, and I thought - 'It would be Utopia if we were able to do that!'
I am totally convinced that once all our bodies are fit we won't have a
Looking to the game, the manager said, "It's funny the way the first three games of the season have worked out for us. First we got Airdrie on the day they unfurled the second division championship flag and they were really up for the occasion. Then it was my old team Queen of the South who were also pumped up. Now it's St Mirren who'll have a couple of boys fired up to play us."
Jordan Tait is the latest to join the doubtful list. Mark Baxter and Ross Forsyth will definitely miss out along with the other long-term worries. David Hannah (who had a talk with the manager after his public comments last week) and Ian Maxwell are fit though. It looks like the youngsters will be in the squad again with Andy Jackson, Steve McManus(right) and Stephen Fraser all set to play after a good game midweek.Jim Weir is unlikely to get a game though "unless the injury situation worsens".
The manager is still optimistic about our chances tomorrow. Speaking on the Official Saints Site he said, "It's all hands to the pump which, at this stage of the season, is very frustrating. You go through all pre-season relatively injury-free and then as soon as the real stuff starts you are without a significant percentage of your squad. At one point this week it looked as if 8 wouldn't make it. I don't think there are many teams in this league who could stand the level of injuries we have at the moment. I'll have a think about things tonight and I've added Steve McManus(right) to last week's squad but I have no doubt that if the injury situation gives an opportunity to some of the other players then they will take it and handle it. We're disappointed about the start to the league campaign but not downhearted and we are confident that we can come back from Paisley with points on the board."
The good news is that tomorrow will see us in the decent seats behind the goal at Love St. So a nice panoramic view and you should be high enough up that the smell from the locals doesn't irritate too much.
Photos copyright PPA. Used with permission.
19th -It's been revealed we tabled a bid for 34-year old Hibs
defender Paul Fenwick but due to a problem betweent he player and
Hibs the deal fell through. John Connolly
is looking for a quick fix and has therefore pulled out of the deal -
saying in today's Courier, "We did make an inquiry regarding Paul
but there was a snag at that end and I will not be pursuing the matter".
Meanwhile the two Aussie trialists have left without getting a chance to
show what they can do due to a lack of international clearance. All of
which points to a bit of a frustrating few days in the hunt to strengthen
the squad ahead of this weekend's trip to Love St.
6pmThere has been some player movement today though with Craig Nelson(right) heading to Brechin on loan. After the introduction of Allan McGregor from TFOD and the form of Kevin Cuthbert it seems that Nelly, who was only given a new 1-yr deal in the summer is well out of favour with John Connolly.
One of the trialists is believed to be 27-yr old striker Paul Harries. The Australian had spells at Portsmouth, Macclesfield and Exeter as well as a period at Firhill. His last club was apparently the Football Kings. He's 6ft tall and has the requisite dodgy haircut if nothing else.
Elsewhere and Judas looks to be in biiiiig trouble at Southampton after only 5 months in the job. With his command of the dressing room apparently in tatters, he's rumoured to be up for the sack as early as next week. Comparisons can't be helped between the way he jumped ship from Saints to move to Tannadump and the similar tale from Plymouth to Southampton. Deja-vu anyone?
And finally, the club is introducing a referral scheme for season ticket holders - talk one of your mates into coming along to watch us get gubbed every fortnight and later in the season you both get to watch it happen for one game from the luxury of McDiarmid's Corporate Hospitality. Talk about marketing genius!
August 18th -The reserves
managed slightly better than their first-team counterparts last night with
a 5-1 win at Forfar. We had a trialist (Steven Anderson) at
right-back (believed to be one of 6 training at the club this week) and a
certain Jim Weir in defence.
Martyn Fotheringham and
Lee Hardy also played alongside a young
Saints side. Goals came from Steve
McManus(2), Andy Jackson,
Kevin Moon and the trialist.
Of the other trialists two are apparently Australian but didn't take part in last night's game due to a lack of international clearance.
Elsewhere and Sean Webb will be fit for the weekend after the N Ireland U-21 game against Switzerland was postponed.
17th -John Connolly(right) has
said he won't stop publicly criticising his players despite the reaction
from some quarters. In today's Courier he says, "If players do
what we ask them to do and perform the way we want them to perform, nobody
will give them higher praise than me. But we wont sit back and
accept what we saw on Saturday. I look for very high standards and Im
not getting high standards just now. But the players know theyll get
praised when they deserve it. The two central defendersIan
Maxwell and Kevin Rutkiewiczwere
outstanding against Hamilton and were told so. They were told they were
absolutely brilliant and that was what we were looking for. The standards
were set by them, and they fell well below those standards. We cant
keep haemorrhaging goals the way we are just now."
Continuing in the nasty cop role he said, "We know its still early days, but were trying to set standards here. I dont think you can possibly say, hardlines lads, we can do better after defending like weve seen in the last two games. You have to have a bit of passion and tell it like it is, and were looking for a reaction. "
Elsewhere and Mark Baxter has joined the injury list and along with Ross Forsyth and Paul Bernard is already a doubt for this weekend's big game at Love Street.
The reserves are in action at Forfar tonight at 7.30pm with some fringe players getting a chance to stake a claim for a first team slot this weekend.
8pm John Connolly(right) has also been speaking to the PA today about his management style. He said, "Its still early days working with the players but that's the way I am and always will be. We are trying to set standards here. I'm hoping to get the right reaction. We'll find out if players are ready for the fight or if they'll move on. We'll see if they have the character for it. We can't keep haemorrhaging goals like this. It's a man's game, a hard game and you can't fudge it when you're not doing well. That was a relegation standard performance. Players like Kevin Rutkiewicz made mistakes and were singled out but three or four other departments disappointed me. Kevin and Ian Maxwell, who wasn't feeling well during the game, set their own standards in pre-season against Leicester and against Hamilton and that's what they have to maintain. Kevin was man enough to hold up his hand for the second goal but we were abysmal through the central defence against Queens. After the way we've defended in the last two games I can't just say hard luck and we can do better. You've got to have a bit of passion and feeling and tell them how it is. I analyse games whether we've won or lost and try to be positive so we get an improvement. But if we lose goals like we did against Queens and Alloa you lose football matches. You can coach until you're blue in the face but can't legislate for that."
One player being excused (despite some criticisms from the fans) is new loan keeper Allan McGregor. Connolly said, "I felt sorry for Allan. He hasnt done anything wrong yet hes lost six goals." There's been no response from the manager about David Hannah's press comments yesterday though.
Latest news on the injuries is that Paul Bernard will be out for 2-3 weeks with his knee injury and Mark Baxter has been confirmed as having twisted his ankle whilst Ross Forsyth has a suspected thigh muscle tear. Sean Webb will hopefully come through his U-21 game this week for N Ireland and will be in contention on Saturday. - Photos copyright PPA. Used with permission.
16th -Captain Hannah(right) has
stuck his head above the parapet following Saturday's defeat. According to
the Courier, he said of the manager's post-match comments, "He
basically made it clear to the boys in the dressing room that hes
got two-and-a-half weeks to the transfer window and hes going to try
and get agents in and ship people out. Hell have his own opinion on
players. At the end of the day, weve only played three games and for
me, people are pressing the panic button already. Weve given away
three bad goals but to be honest I thought we looked tired and jaded from
the word go. Weve been working really hard and weve not had a
day off for two weeks. For me, rest is as important as training every day.
But, at the end of the day we should still be able to go out there and
outplay Queen of the South, with no disrespect to them. Obviously, there
will have to be radical improvement but I thought we looked tired today. I
feel as if Ive got off to a good start personally, but I felt jaded
today and I think 95% of the lads feel the same way. They were the better
team, though, and we will have to look at our own mistakes and rectify
Photos copyright PPA. Used with permission.
14th -Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) is
the latest player making a public promise to make amends for Tuesday.
Speaking in the Courier today he said, "You work for your rewards
in football. If things are going well then you can have your days off,
team days out and things like that. If not, youve got to be seen to
be working, and I agree with what happened. It was a poor result on
Tuesday night. The fact of the matter is Alloa are a division below us and
whatever team we put out should have won. It was an attitude game, and if
we got that right we would have won. The boys all had a look at themselves
after the game and this match will be a test of character. In terms of
effort and commitment, I think it will be 100 times more than on Tuesday,
which was nowhere near good enough. "
If that's not enough the veiled threats are coming from the manager who said, "The seasons only just started so you cant start judging us yet, but tomorrows a big game for us, as much for confidence as anything else. Some players know that they have to improve, and the reality is that if they dont we would have to make a quick judgment."
No more team news but Ross Forsyth will have a fitness test this morning.
6.30pm - Another crap display as a lacklustre "more schoolboy defending please" defence made mistakes all over the place to allow QoS to run out easy 3-1 winners over Saints with Foxy getting the Saints goal with a brilliant long-range finish. In case you're wondering the result leaves us well and truly bottom of the league. Oh joy.
10pm - Well some credit to John Connolly who hasn't minced his words after today. Quoted on the Official Saints Site after the game, he said, "Im standing here for the second time in five days talking about defensive lapses. It was schoolboy stuff again the second goal was a joke. Weve worked on the defence since Tuesdays defeat from Alloa and yet Im left looking at the same thing today you cant legislate for that sort of defending. Im not accepting that sort of stuff. Some of the players have shown that they appear not to be good enough for what I want at this club. There are two and a half weeks to go before the close of the transfer window and if they dont ship up then Ill move them on if I can. Its only when you work with some players that you learn their true qualities. Ive made that fact clear to all of them in the dressing room. Forget about gelling. You cant make errors like that and win games. Promotion favourites? Well be lucky not to be looking at the other end of the table if we dont sort it out."
13th -Well it looks like the injury crisis is clearing a bit ahead
of what has to be a "must-win" game tomorrow.
Ian Maxwell(right) and
Ross Forsyth should start but
Paul Bernard is already a doubt. Of
the former, John Connolly told the
Courier, "These are two players who would be in the first team
most weeks and I felt Ians experience was badly missed the other
night. However, typical of the way things have been going for us
fitness-wise, Paul Bernard has tweaked his knee and he is a doubt. ".
As for any rivalry with his previous club, the manager said, "I
left them on very amicable terms after four very good seasons. Itll
be nice to see the people connected with the club again, albeit I now wear
a St Johnstone hat and will be looking to beat them."
Saints have also confirmed that Craig Nelson could be set to leave following the signing of Allan McGregor. John Connolly said, "Craig and I have had a chat and obviously he wants to play first-team football. We're looking at a loan deal or finding him a new club."
5.30pmCaptain Hannah has called on his teammates to get their act together for the big game tomorrow. He said in today's PA. "We just weren't good enough against Alloa. We dominated the first half and should have been ahead and we finished strongly and came close to pegging them back. But the truth is that there's no way we should be losing to a team like Alloa.We could come up with a few reasons but they would be read as excuses. We just didn't perform well enough and paid for our mistakes. We had a go late in the game to win back a degree of self-respect but you can't afford to give any team three goals of a start. don't think many of us could honestly say we played well over the 90 minutes. I've had bad cup result before in my career and you have to get over them quickly. It's now in the past as far as I'm concerned and it's all about beating Queen of the South." As for losing out on their day off he went on,"The manager can't tolerate that sort of performance. It was constructive criticism and we have to learn from our mistakes. And speaking personally I came here to win. So that show was nowhere good enough.Obviously Queens will be right up for this one - and we're ready for it. But we have to play to our potential. We have been disappointing in the last two games but we will get it right."
Meanwhile John Connolly is still angry about Tuesday. He said, "We aren't going to accept a result like that. Normally Wednesday is their day off but we had to get that one out of the system. We are all hugely disappointed. We know it's cost the club money and we're trying to instil the winning habit. So it hurts big-time. We should be winning games like that and we are all hurting. The fans were great to us and got right behind the team as we battled back near the end. But we shouldn't have found ourselves having to chase that game."
Ross Forsyth is again looking doubtful but Ian Maxwell will definitely return. Stephen McConalogue looks like missing out again and Mark Baxter is the latest doubt with a groin strain. As for the keeper situation, the manager said, "Kevin Cuthbert will be staying and fighting for the jersey. Allan has come in from Rangers until December 31 - that's as long as we can have him for under the rules - but there are no guarantees of a starting jersey. He has to warrant it. There's a challenge there for Kevin. Allan has been working and learning with one of the best keepers in the world in Stefan Klos. But Kevin will be pushing him for his place."
August 12th -Allan
McGregor was the only one excused for the shambles on Tuesday night.
But speaking to the Courier today he's still not pleased. "It
wasnt a very good start. It certainly wasnt what I expected,
but thats football for you. We made stupid mistakes that cost us
goals. If we can get that out of our game there shouldnt be a
problem.". As for the loan move to Perth he said, "I
wasnt really bothered where I went, but St Johnstone are a really
good club and hopefully we will be challengingbut not if we make
mistakes like we did against Alloa. I would have liked to play in England,
but it fell through for some reason. This is a learning curve for me so
when the Saints move was mentioned on Friday I got it done as quickly as
John Connolly meanwhile said, "The first two Alloa goals came from us losing the ball up front and the third was down to schoolboy defending. And thats something we have to address. But we could have been 3-0 up before they scored. We had 18 attempts on goal, 10 of them on target, yet found the net only twice. And thats a concern also. The match is gone now, but we have to get back on track this Saturday against Queen of the South, which has become a massive game for us. It is very early days, but we know we have to get better! "
August 11th -Guess what? Yup
John Connolly wasn't happy again.
Speaking to the Official Saints
Site after the game, he said, "You cant defend like
that and expect to win matches. The defending was comical and our efforts
to prevent them scoring their third one almost beyond belief. With all due
respect, Alloa didnt create chances tonight, we created them for
them. Even the first goal came because our centre forward got knocked off
the ball too easily. We created plenty chances 3 good ones before
they scored and Ryan should have buried his chance when he was
through on the keeper. If he scores then it changes the game. We pummelled
them late on and it wouldnt have surprised me if we had got an
equaliser but we shouldnt be waiting until we are 3-0 down and have
a man advantage before we get into it. We cant have players just
wanting to be involved at that stage. Im not going to stand for it
and they can forget any notion of a day off tomorrow."
The club also confirmed that Allan McGregor has joined on loan until the end of the year.
10th -It's not been confirmed yet but Saints are believed to be in
talks with Rangers keeper Allan
McGregor(right) over a move to Saints, possibly as part of a season
loan. The 21-yr old has only played a few times for TFOD. He could go into
the squad for tonight's game although given the injury situation it could
be anywhere on the park.
Stephen McConalogue has joined the walking wounded and will miss out tonight whilst Ian Maxwell is apparently suspended and Jordan Tait, Chris Hay and Kevin Rutkiewicz are all doubtful.
John Connolly has admitted the 4-4-2 formation is unlikely again and he said in the Courier, "Players should be able to adapt. The game was lost by us on Saturday not because of a system, but because we defended poorly for Airdries goal. To be fair to the players, I cant fault them for their effort on Saturday. Weve lost the game because of poor defending and thats the disappointing thing. With the way other results went (Partick Thistle and Falkirk losing) we could have looked upon a hard-fought draw against Airdrie in a positive light, but losing a goal in the last five minutes changed all that. Another disappointing aspect of the game was we didnt have the movement I was looking for. Were trying to become a pass-and-move team and we certainly didnt show that on Saturday. Were trying to encourage them to take responsibility and get on the ball. Even the younger players, if they want to progress, have to take responsibility and be prepared to join in the play "
11:00pm - Allan McGregor made his debut for Saints tonight - unfortunately he was part of the horror show that saw us go down 3-2 to Alloa in one of the worst cup displays in recent times. Chris Hay and David Hannah got the late consolations.
August 9th -Saints have
confirmed that the new home strip will be launched at Asda in Perth at 2pm
on Thursday with John Connolly and
some players in attendance from 4pm to sign the gear. As in previous
seasons the strips will be around £25-27.
Elsewhere and with the transfer deadline looming, rumours abound of a bid in for an unnamed striker.
6pm - It's looking more and more likely that a new signing is a possibility ahead of tomorrow night's Alloa game although the manager isn't naming the target, although it's believed to be a keeper. However it's not all good news with the injury list for the CIS match increasing. Sean Webb will miss out and on the doubtful list are Jordan Tait, Chris Hay and Kevin Rutkiewicz. Ross Forsyth has recovered and is in the squad.
August 8th -John Connolly was not a happy man after the game. Speaking to the Sunday Mail he admitted the pressure was on already and said, "I am disappointed as it was bog standard and basic stuff that let us down. We switched off in the last five minutes and with that much time left you should take a draw, especially when you look at the other results in the league But we didn't lose by three or four so this is just an early warning sign for us. It makes it even more crucial for us to win next week. This will be a tough league but I'd like to think we will be up there fighting for it at the end of the season."
August 7th -Saints have
confirmed that we'll have the East Stand at New Buckfastfield today so
there's no mixing with the home thugs. Admission is £14 for adults
and £6 for the kids with £2 for the car park.
Paul Bernard should play today after missing last week's match through suspension. Speaking in the Courier he was happy about being kept on at the club. "I didnt think there would be such an overhaul and it was very disconcerting at the end of last season when there was such a big turnaround, with 10 or 11 players moving on. There was a time when you were wondering what was going to happen. Even when we came back wed signed a few players, but nowhere near as many as we needed. Slowly and surely the manager has brought players in and its shaping up to be a good squad. Hes said he wants a couple of players for every position and I think hes just about got that now. The confidence has grown in the squad as more and more players have come in. The manager has obviously impressed people outside the club if weve been made favourites by the bookies, but we learned to our cost last year when we were tipped to go up that it doesnt matter."
For today, Chris Hay, Sean Webb and Stephen McConalogue are still doubtful limiting the options available up front. John Connolly is looking forward to it though "I can see watching the lads in training that theyre gelling together and in this last week the team spirit has started to build up. This is the game weve all geared up for. We played a competitive match last weekend, but everybodys counting Airdrie as the big one and I think thats fair comment because obviously the league is the biggest priority. Airdrie will have had a measure of what this league is all about by playing Queen of the South last week, and this season will be like the last, with no easy games."
Elsewhere and Clyde have given up on the title race - how else can you explain their decision to sign Gary Bollan?
6.30 - Oh dear well it it wasn't the perfect start after all as a 1-0 defeat to Airdrie was topped by a shambolic performance echoing some of the mess of last weekend. Elsewhere and Clyde, QoS and St Midden all won their games.
6th - Saints have announced that their losses have reduced from £1m
a year to just £227,000. Geoff
Brown(right) admits that the club paid the price on the park for the
cost-cutting. The Saints chairman said, "We've attempted to go
about our business in a proper fashion. But the price we have paid is
First Division football for the past two seasons. Clubs like Motherwell,
Dundee and Livingston survived when we were relegated. They were living
way beyond their means, leaving others to mop up the mess. That will
rankle with me forever but at least the future of this club is secure."
The chairman also announced some boardroom changes (though if you read the programme last week you might have sussed them. Gone are vice-chairman Ian Dewar, Bob Reid, Jim Donnachie and Alastair McCracken though the last one is still club doctor. Doing his annual State of the Nation pre-season spiel, he went on, "I would like to thank them all for their efforts on behalf of the football club over the years and Im sure they will continue to do everything in their powers to support St Johnstone. But we are looking to the future by bringing in fresh blood, with a new generation to take the club forward. In the long term this may allow me to step back in due course. I did receive an approach to buy the club but have to say that, as a property developer myself, I was suspicious about the motives. Its not about money and never has been. Theres no money in owning St Johnstone. Its all about the best interests of the club and the Perth and Kinross community. Lots of people have worked hard down the years to build up assets to see the club through. The past couple of years have been among the toughest since I got involved in 1986. We are still facing big challenges but we are no longer carrying Premier League wages. Steps have been taken to get the club back on an even keel and we can just about live with the wages bill now."
Meanwhile Ross Forsyth will definitely miss out on the game tomorrow along with Sean Webb. Lee Hardy is fit though and elsewhere Peter MacDonald resumed training yesterday.
Off the park and Jim McQueen, the former Meadowbank keeper, as their part time goalkeeping coach. And we've been linked with a move for Hearts kid Stephen Simmons but a broken foot has killed that one off.
Speaking in the P.A., John Connolly(right) said, "Hopefully this is the start of a new era for the football club. There have been massive changes over the summer and we have been building with an eye to the future. Its shaping up as the toughest division in years, but the ultimate aim is to get this club back to the Premierleague. The team coming down from the top division usually warrants the favourites tag so I dont know why weve been singled out by the bookies. I think its generally recognised by managers that five or six clubs will be in contention. Its going to be extra tough this season. I always disregard the betting. It means nothing to me."
"We saw 10 players go at the end of the season and that was quite a clearout. Some of it was enforced because there were players of quality we wanted to keep. The task has been massive and it will take time to gel the new team. Every manager wants to put his own imprint on a football team and Ive had to do it quicker than most. It has and continues to be a massive challenge because ultimately this club has underachieved in recent years. But Im relishing the task. I stopped playing full-time football back in 1982 and in all that time, the St Johnstone job has been the one I wanted. Everyone knows how much this club means to me and my assistant Jim Weir. I hope that passion will come through and the fans will pick up on it. Ideally Id like to create something of the famous Liverpool bootroom atmosphere here, when Bill Shankley, Ronnie Moran and Bob Paisley would all get together and talk football. Its on a different level, but weve also got Atholl Henderson and Tommy Campbell here and they know what this club is all about."
"I want to create a feel good factor around the place. Its fair to say Ive served my apprenticeship so it will be a sweet moment for me sending out a full-time team against Airdrie this weekend. When it comes down to it, the league is really what its all about. Weve brought down the average age of the team and that was important for the future. We had to have a younger profile."
Photos copyright PPA. Used with permission.
August 4th -
Ross Forsyth is still a major doubt
ahead of Saturday's league opener in Buckfastland.
Chris Hay apparently picked up an injury
against Accies and Stephen McConalogue
has suffered an "adverse reaction" from his shift in
Monday's closed-doors win over Clyde. Better news for
Lee Hardy who has resumed training and
looking further ahead, Peter MacDonald
has had the plate removed from his leg and is about a month away from his
Off the park and it looks like McDiarmid could be the venue for the Pars European tie on August 26th after their Icelandic opponents refused to play on the East End Park artificial surface - so that's another nice wee earner then.
Finally and congratulations to Sean Webb who's been called up to the N Ireland U21 squad for their friendly on the 18th.
1pm - The draw for the 2nd round of the Challenge Cup has been made and Saints have another home tie against QoS
August 3rd -As well as yesterday's departures Stewart Kerr has decided to join them and give up on his comeback plans. The ex-Sellik goalie said, "The doc told me I would have done myself a lot of harm if I'd carried on."
2nd - New boy Paul Sheerin(right)
has set himself a 10-goal target after a summer of discontent was ended by
signing for Saints. Speaking to the Record, he said, "I could
have stayed at Aberdeen but I'm 29, touching 30, and I need games - so I
was more than happy to get away. I'm disappointed at not being in theSPL
as an Aberdeen player but that wasn't to be. I thought I might get a fresh
start but new boss Jimmy Calderwood knows the Scottish game and he felt he
could replace me with better players. He was honest and I knew I had to
find myself another club. I was lined up for Inverness but things happened
that were outwith my control. Then they signed Juanjo and that was their
budget spent. Saints have shown an interest in me all summer so it was
nice to be wanted. I've no regrets about my time at Pittodrie. I gave it
100 per cent from day one. I don't think I was as bad as some people made
out last -season but the lack of goals killed me. I know how tough this
league will be, with five or six clubs looking to challenge at the top. I
was delighted to sign here, because St Johnstone are a big club and
hopefully well be pushing to get into the Premier League."
Meanwhile the handbags-at-dawn bust-up at full-time on Saturday which saw Colin Marshall being shoved up the tunnel by Jim Weir has been described by John Connolly as "youthful exuberance".
5.30 - Saints have announced that the trialists currently at the club will be moving on. Chris McLeod and Alan Reid have joined 2 unnamed ones in leaving to try and get another club. No word yet on Stewart Kerr. According to the Official Saints Site some played in a 4-1 win against Clyde this afternoon but John Connolly said, "The game was a useful chance for us to run the rule over these guys and they did well. But we had to ask ourselves if they were good enough to go straight into our first team and the answer is that currently they are not, so on that basis and to be fair to the guys concerned, Ive advised them that we wont be following the matters up. There is only 4 weeks to go before the transfer window closes so you have to be fair to them and give them the chance to get fixed up elsewhere.
1st -John Connolly was happy
enough with yesterday's win. Speaking on the
Official Saints Site he
said, "It was a cup-tie today and all you can ask for is a win
we got that and we got it with a clean sheet as an additional bonus. I
think its fair to say that Hamilton were the better side in the
first half and we were certainly not happy at half time. However, we were
better after the break and had a lot of shots on goal. You have to keep in
mind that we had four players out today who probably would have played had
they been available so to win with the youngsters in the squad was
excellent. I thought we defended exceptionally well. The two centre halves
had a great game and the young lads alongside them did well also. I told
the players that the key thing was not to disappoint the home crowd. They
didnt, we won and kept a clean sheet so I have to be happy."
Scorer of the 2nd Michael Moore(right) was also pretty chuffed. Speaking to the Sunday Mail, he said, "I wanted to take the penalty but David is a senior player so I wasn't going to argue when he said it was. It was a great start getting the goal so early but the tempo dropped after that. The manager told us to lift it after half time and when I got the second goal that was it really. It was pretty sweet scoring against my old team although I was getting a bit of stick from their supporters. I'm delighted to be here and playing with players who have got great experience and ability - guys such as Paul Sheerin, who'd never trained with us before. "
Photo copyright PPA. Used with permission.
Top Of News
31st -First of all apologies for being offline yesterday - this was
due to an enviromental upgrade on the Temple (i.e. the PC room was
being decorated). Anyway nice to see I didn't miss much with the
now-traditional out-of-the-blue signing taking place. Yup
Paul Sheerin(right) signed a 2-yr deal
after being allowed to move from the Sheep for no fee.
Speaking on the Official Saints Site he said, Its great to have things sorted out before the season starts. I was first approached by the manager 4 or 5 weeks ago and I came down and had a look at the facilities and a talk to John. Its a Premier League set-up here and the manager has impressed me with this plans. Promotion has to be the aim and although Ive stepped down a league at the moment I have every intention of moving back to the top league with Saints. .
The manager was also happy and said, Im delighted. Ive been trying hard to find a left sided central midfielder and Paul has been in my sights for some time. In addition to his playing position, we have signed a player with a record for goals from the midfield and also someone with experience in the First Division and the SPL. I said earlier that we had a very young squad and the signing of Paul brings in some much-needed experience. . He reckons we still need another couple of players but as yet there has been no decision on any of the trialists at the club this week.
The new signing is added to the squad for today's game against Accies. However missing will be Paul Bernard who is suspended. Also out will be Lee Hardy who has a sore toe (ah diddums) and Ross Forsyth who has a thigh knock.
John Connolly said in today's Courier, "This is a serious match. It gives a chance to a few of the younger players however. This is a young squad and I would encourage our fans to give them their full support. When you lose three or four players these days it has to be youngsters who come in, because the days of carrying a squad of 20 experienced pros are gone.". One player who will start is Michael Moore and he said, "We beat Queen of the South last year and it set us on our way for a great seasonhopefully the same will happen this season. Its maybe not the biggest tournament but its a trophy to be won, plus we want to be going into the first league game against Airdrie in good form. I think Hamilton will surprise a few teams in our division this season and it would be good to get a win against them tomorrow. Im really pleased with the way pre-season has gone and it was good to get a few goals. Hopefully now I can get some more as the season starts for real. Leicester had the highest quality of players Ive ever played against and Id like to think that Ive learned a few things from the experience. Dion Dublin was excellent for them up front. I always thought he was a good player but you appreciate just how good he is when you see him at close quarters. You can learn things just from being on the same pitch. You see the way he holds the ball up and how he moves around the pitch. I really enjoyed the experience. I try to look after myself on the pitch but when I was face to face with him I was looking up at him and that doesnt normally happen!"
6pm - Well a good solid win with goals from skipper David Hannah and Michael Moore saw us get through to the next round in a 2-0 win over Accies. Only sour note seemed to be an altercation of sorts in the tunnel at full-time with Colin Marshall who seemed unhappy at the Saints manager for not allowing him onto the park despite being a stripped sub.
July 29th -Expect a decision on
this week's trialists in the next 24 hours. Saints aren't allowed to field
either Chris McLeod or
Stewart Kerr in the Challenge Cup and
John Connolly said, "We're
running out of time to see trialists in games but I'm hoping to sort
things out in the next couple of days - it's not fair to lead players on
so close to the season."
Leigh Hinds is apparently still a target according to some papers today with Saints, Clyde and Partick all chasing his signature.
27th -John Connolly has been
speaking of the performance of the two trialists at the weekend. The
Saints manager said, "Jordan
Tait(right) held his hand up for a pass which led to one of
Leicesters goals, but on the whole I felt he had a good game. Hes
showed hes a sound defender and we need competition in that
position. Chris McLeod was training
with Dunfermline and it was when he played against our under-19s that he
caught our eye. When a player like that becomes available you have to take
a look and hell be training with us this week."
Stewart Kerr is also on trial but with the keeper awaiting an insurance payout from Wigan following a spell out through injury, Saints won't be rushed into any decision.
5.45pm - Jordan Tait(right)signed a 1-yr deal today after his trialist appearance at the weekend. John Connolly said,"The right-back slot is one we've known we would need someone for since it became apparent that John Robertson was not returning to the club. We really only have Mark Baxter for that position and he has been injured for the past few weeks and game-wise has only played in the friendly at Forfar where he picked up the dead leg so it made our need for a new player more urgent. Jordan became available and I was aware of him from his time with Ross County and Ayr United so we brought him in to have a look at him in training, played him in the closed-doors game against Livingston and on Saturday against Leicester and I've seen enough of him to convince me he can be a real asset. Again, like our other summer signings, he is the right age, he's a very fit lad and he's mixed well with the lads in the short time he has been with us. Hes a good all-round defender and well work on him in terms of his game going forward."
As for the new boy he said, "I signed a two year deal for Ross County last summer but for various reasons, including a lot of unexpected travelling up and down from the northeast due to a family illness, it didn't work out. I joined Ayr United in January on a short-term deal but to be honest neither Ross County nor Ayr used me in my preferred position. I'm very pleased to be here. I had a couple of options in England but I was asked along to Saints and enjoyed my training sessions with the lads. I've been very impressed by John Connolly and Jim Weir and when I was offered a deal there no question that I would sign. I'm sure I can do a job for Saints."
26th -No new news today but John
Connolly has revealed that both Martin Keown and Leicester manager
Micky Adams has praise for the Saints youngsters after the game on
Saturday. He said, "Leicester are obviously a couple of steps up
in class from us but we created a couple of chances and I thought we were
good. We were missing several key playersPaul
Bernard, Kevin Rutkiewicz and
Lee Hardy were all outand when we
get them back it can only make us stronger. It was a brilliant experience
to play against guys like Dion Dublin and David Connolly and they have
done a couple of things today that we can learn from. They are Premiership
quality and I think we have been unlucky to lose 2-0, "...No word
on what's happening to either trialist from the weekend yet.
Saints have confirmed that they have entered into signing talks with Jordan Tait after he impressed at the weekend. And Chris McLeod could join him after a similar performance - John Connolly has decided to have a further look at the player in training this week. And as if that's not busy enough ex-Celtic keeper Stewart Kerr, recently at Wigan is also on trial at the club, along with ex-Hibs midfielder Alan Reid
Injury-wise David Hannah should be OK for this weekend despite a dead leg on Saturday. Kevin Rutkiewicz, Lee Hardy and Paul Bernard should also make the cup-tie against Accies. And Stephen McConalogue(right) has said he had no hesitation joining Saints. "A few other First Division clubs showed an interest in me, though, and St Johnstone was one of them. When my agent told me Saints were keen on me, it didn't take me long to make up my mind. They're a good, big club and I jumped at the chance of coming here.With respect to Clyde, St Johnstone are a bigger club and I'm happy here. I've signed for a year and St Johnstone has been like a new lease of life for me. Fingers crossed, this move will be a good one. John Connolly is certainly ambitious for the club and, as a Saints legend, he wants to do really well."
24th -In the end the stronger English side dominated and
Leicester won 2-0 although the Saints
side, which was missing several first-choice players more than gave a good
account of themselves. Jordan Tait
played at right-back for 70 minutes and looked solid enough and he was
joined by Chris McLeod(right) in
central defence. McLeod had an
excellent game in the centre of defence.
After the game John Connolly said, "We were playing against a team who have only just dropped out of the Premiership and they have a range of quality players. To be honest, its a bit of a worry going into a game like that when an essentially young, new side are facing opposition of that class it can do a lot of damage but I thought our players acquitted themselves well and it was a great game for them to be involved in. We had a very young side, particularly towards the end of the game. I thought Eddies attitude was brilliant today considering the events of this week. Hes a good young player. I also thought Colin Marshall played well, Maxy was excellent at the back and Ryan Stevenson did very well when he came on. We actually lost the goals at a time when we looked most comfortable but we failed to match the run for the first one and then a bad ball in the middle of the park led to the quality strike from Dublin. But there are a lot of good things to take from that today and it was another useful test fitness-wise before the big stuff next week."
23rd -As well as Dougie Cameron
being rejected by Saints it seems that Fergus
Tiernan is also not going to be joining Saints with the traditional
interest in the player "not being pursued"
However he's been replaced by right-sided player Jordan Tait(right) who has had spells at Ayr and Ross County and is here on trial.
It's Leicester city tomorrow though and speaking of the game, John Connolly said, "In every game weve stepped up a class and this is the toughest challenge of the lot. They are sure to be big, strong and skilful. Leicester were a Premiership club last season and their recent signings show they are determined to get back to the top level. It should be a right good spectacle for the fans and a massive test for us. Its one were looking forward to and hopefully our supporters will turn out in numbers to look at the new signings before our first game against Hamilton next week."
As for the Eddie Malone situation, the manager said, "Ive no problem holding onto Eddie. We thought long and hard about letting him go. He is a young player with real potential. But Clyde were pushing hard for him as part of any deal. These things happen in football and Eddie will knuckle down and concentrate on advancing his career here. Ian Harty didnt give us a reason for not coming to McDiarmid. If there had been a problem we could have addressed it. But the bottom line is that he didnt want to come here, for whatever reason, and I only want players fully committed to St Johnstone. We have four potentially very productive strikers, although Peter MacDonald is out until September or October. Ryan Stevenson has also done enough to suggest he can play up front. We are reasonably covered up front, but Harty would have been the icing on the cake. But now we are looking at other areas that have to be strengthened before the August 31 deadline."
Michael Moore is looking forward to taking the mickey out of Martin Keown tomorrow as well. Intent on adding to his five goals so far, the striker said, "Its pleasing to be getting goals. Its a great feeling scoring, even in friendlies. I treat every game in the same way. Im up for every game and getting among the goals quickly has been great for my confidence. Hopefully Keown will be playing for Leicester on Saturday. Hes a legend in the game and a tough competitor. He was the bedrock of one of the best defences in English football history. Hes won Premierships and FA Cups. Ive two Third Division medals from Hamilton and Stranraer! I cant compete with his medal collection, but playing against that sort of quality would be a great experience for me. Im really looking forward to my first game at McDiarmid. So far I havent even stepped foot on the park. I was a part-timer at Stranraer and Hamilton were in a bit of a mess when I was there. This is really my first taste of full-time football and Im loving it. Mind you, I managed to miss the pre-season running up Kinnoull Hill. The rest of the lads reckon I was lucky!"
Definitely out tomorrow are Kevin Rutkiewicz, Lee Hardy and Paul Bernard with David Hannah doubtful. It means the kids get a chance with Steve McManus, Andy Jackson and Kevin Moon drafted into the squad with reports that a couple of trialists might play (presumably one will be Jordan Tait). John Connolly wasn't too happy about the injuries saying, "Its very disappointing to have these guys out. With this being our last match before the competitive season begins I was looking to put out the team that I envisaged as my starting line-up next week but that wont be possible. However, well have a squad of guys out there who will do their best against quality opposition. The important thing is that the players who miss out tomorrow are ready for next Saturday."
22nd - David Hannah is happy
enough with the pre-season friendlies so far. He said, "I think
it's gone well. We acquitted ourselves very well at Montrose in our first
game together as a team and although I missed the game at Forfar, by all
accounts we played very well in the second half and ran out comfortable
winners. I thought we dominated at Brechin last Saturday and bar the two
strange decisions in the last five minutes we would have won the game so
we can't be too unhappy with that. We're still gelling as a team and it
may take a little while but I know we'll get there. I'm pleased with my
own fitness and a few games will sharpen me up further. Being made captain
is great for me personally, I'm absolutely delighted and I'll thrive on
the added responsibility. I like to communicate with those around me and
I'll make sure that I encourage the lads in the right manner whether it's
gentle persuasion or, if it's required, a boot up the backside!"
As for the weekend's game he said, "Leicester have some quality players in their side and we'll be given a tough test but it will stand us in good stead for the following Saturday. It's important that we make a good start against Hamilton."
Meanwhile Saints have decided not to pursue their interest in Scumdee's Dougie Cameron - whether that's because Eddie Malone is staying, he's not good enough or the quarantine regulations will hold things up is not clear. Meanwhile yesterday's not-so-friendly match against Livingston has left some walking wounded at Perth with Kevin Rutkiewicz with an ankle injury and David Hannah who's got a dead leg. John Connolly said,"They were going down like ninepins at one time and some are doubtful for Saturday. We'll have a head count and see who is fit to play against Leicester."...and the English side are apparently bringing a strong squad north including Martin Keown, David Connolly, Keith Gillespie and Dion Dublin. No Matt Elliot though so we'll may have to work to get a goal!
July 21st -The
Ian Harty saga is dragging on. Both
Saints and Clyde have agreed terms believed to be a £35,000
fee and Eddie Malone as well but the
Clyde striker hasn't signed the 3-year deal on offer.
John Connolly's latest proclamation
is that "There is a lot of stuff that needs to be sorted out.".
Initial talks weren't getting anywhere but the player's unnamed agent last
night got the ball rolling again.
John Connolly also spoked of Dougie Cameron who will play in this afternoon's closed-doors game along with Fergus Tiernan. The manager said, "Dundee were good enough to let Dougie join us for training this week and Id like to make a decision about him fairly quickly. If Eddie were to be leaving we would have a vacancy for a left-sided player so well involve Dougie against Livingston. I first came across Fergus when Aberdeen played Queen of the South two years ago. He seems to have lost his way since then but we feel its worth taking a look at him."
One 3-year deal that has been resolved is for ex-Saints keeper Alan Main who has joined the revolution at Gretna.
5.30pm - The Ian Harty deal looks dead after the player again rejected the 3-year contract offer. No reason given but John Connolly said, "That's twice we have held talks with the player and his agent and the player has now said no to a move to Perth so I would say it's probably not going to happen. I'm not going to say it's dead but it certainly does not look good. We were the only club he was prepared to talk to Morton and Queen of the South also had offers in so it looks like he is staying at Broadwood. It's disappointing but we have to move on now." As for today's game the manager said, "This is our last chance to try things in terms of positions and formation. Come Saturday, we'll be playing the shape that we'll be looking to have when the real stuff starts against Hamilton. We'll use substitutes a lot today as we attempt to ensure that all the players have had a similar amount of playing time during the pre-season preparations.". As it was Saints drew 1-1 with Livvy this afternoon in the closed-doors game. Dougie Cameron scored for Saints doing his chances of a deal no harm and Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) played which is good news. With the Ian Harty deal dead, Eddie Malone's future must be in doubt. He was due to head to Broadwood in part-exchange but John Connolly has confirmed he'll have discussions with the teenager before deciding his future. The manager also confirmed that Harty's reasons were a mystery saying, He gave no reason as to why he knocked us back. But at least he talked to us twice, whereas he didnt talk to some of the other clubs who wanted him." - I think the phrase is "crumbs of comfort"
Finally, another ex-Saintee on the move is Darren Dods who will be returning to the SPL after signing a deal with ICT.
20th -No word yet on a new signing but there will be a mystery
trialist playing against Livvy in a closed-doors game tomorrow.
5pm - With the Ian Harty situation still undecided, other reports suggest ex-Motherwell striker and current Dumbarton front man Iain Russell(right) is the subject of a 10 grand bid by Saints. The 21-yr old scored 10 goals in 27 starts last season.
As to what such a bid means for Harty we can only guess although the odds on the Clyde man joining Saints seem to be disappearing. The latest on the Ian Harty situation was summed up by John Connolly's simple statement - "Nothing's happened yet, but talks are ongoing". Dougie Cameron is still training and a decision will be made later on the week - part of this could depend on the outcome of the Harty talks as a proposed deal would see Eddie Malone leave McDiarmid leaving us short on the left side.
Mark Baxter is out of the trip to Livvy tomorrow but there are plenty of rumours of a "former England international" being linked with a trial at the game. No names yet but it's easy to identify the main candidate (Clue: Fat Geordie ex-Hun).
July 19th -John
Connolly was still more than a tad upset after the game at Brechin.
He said of the penalty, "If this had been a league or cup tie
game, there would have been a rammy after that decision.". As for
the rest of the game, he said, "I am very pleased with our
performance, and the way the game went until the last few minutes. This
was a big test for us because they have started very well. At no stage did
we look like we were going to lose a goal. We lost because of three very
dubious decisions. To lose that way is not good, but better these bad
decisions in a friendly, and we move on now. Over the piece, everybody
wor-ked their socks off and it was a great workout over a side that is
difficult to beat."
6.15pm - We still await news on a possible signing although the manager still hopes to bring two or three players in. In the meantime someone's finally bothered to submit a photo for the Rogues Gallery so if you want to see what the new tannoy man looks like head over there.
Mark Baxter and Kevin Rutkiewicz should play against Livvy and Michael Moore will get another runout. The Saints striker said, "Now that Ive had my first full week of full-time training with Saints, I feel fitter than Ive ever felt. I loved it at Stranraer, but am happy to be at St Johnstone, an ambitious club with a great stadium. A £50,000 move to Gretna fell through in January, but now Im at Saints and, hopefully, my scoring run will continue."
July 17th -It's all go again
ahead of the Brechin match with a report in the Sun suggesting Saints have
agreed a deal worth £40,000 with Clyde for
Ian Harty with
Eddie Malone heading to Broadwood. No
official confirmation on this yet.
One man who looks almost certain not to be joining us is Paul Sheerin with the ex-Ayr man set to move from the Sheep back to ICT.
Off the park though and congratulations to Ian Maxwell whose wife gave birth to their daughter this week.
6pm - It was slip-up time today as a dodgy ref helped Brechin beat Saints 3-2 although another good performance saw Michael Moore(right) bag a brace. Even more entertaining was the sight of John Connolly invading the pitch at full-time to remonstrate with the referee over his decisions which cost us two late goals.
16th -Despite earlier rumours that Martin
Hardie was set to sign a six-month deal for Saints today, the club
have changed their minds and withdrawn their interest.
John Connolly explained, "Martin
passed the medical but the difficulty I had was his present fitness
condition. He has basically not trained for the best part of six months
and after discussions with the club medical staff we reckoned it would be
the best part of two months before his fitness levels were up sufficiently
for him to be pushing for a first team place and that is simply too long
Looking ahead to Brechin tomorrow (2pm kick-off!!), the manager said."This is another step up in the quality of opposition and as Saints fans, players and I know from Brechins efforts in the First Division last season they will be tough opposition on their own patch. They have added a couple of quality players to their squad and by all accounts they have played very well in their other friendly matches so far." Colin Marshall(right) has been added to the squad along with Ian Maxwell. Mark Baxter will be out with a dead leg whilst Kevin Rutkiewicz won't be risked.
8.15pm - Well it's all go with two new faces being lined up. Dougie Cameron is a 21-yr old left-sided player freed by Scumdee who is apparently on trial at McDiarmid whilst latest reports suggest that Fergus Tiernan, the 22-yr old Sheep midfielder is in talks about a possible move to Perth.
July 15th -Mark Baxter's ankle knock is apparently only a minor one and he'll be ok to face Brechin on Saturday. David Hannah has also recovered and will play but it's not so good news for Kevin Rutkiewicz who is currently only rated at 50-50.
July 14th -The Alloa cup-tie has
been confirmed as the 10th August with admission set at a tenner
for adults and fiver for the rest - season tickets are valid though.
Meanwhile it's farewell to Mark Robinson as Saints confirmed today they won't be interested in signing him. John Connolly said, "Mark's a good lad and a good type of player. I would say he is as good as anything we have here at the moment - but not better. That has to be the name of the game - bringing in players who are better than we already have. We wish him well in his attempts to get a club"
As for last night, the manager went on, "The first half display was very poor - in fact, not acceptable by the standards we are trying to achieve here. I had words at half-time and they responded well and in the end ran out deserved winners. To be fair, it was a young side last night, particularly the back four and more so towards the end of the game. I was pleased with the fitness levels shown and I thought the finishes for the goals were exceptional.
13th -It's been revealed that Saints bid £35,000 for
Ian Harty which the club says they had
been "led to believe it would be acceptable" before
Clyde changed their mind. Paul Sheerin
and Martin Hardie are still possible
One confirmation made today though is that David Hannah will be club captain for the coming season.
No more word on team news for tonight's Forfar game. Mark Robinson is set to play and Mark Baxter could return. Kick-off is at 7.30pm wiith admission prices pegged at £6 and £3. Also, the club have announced that only the West Stand will be open for the Leicester friendly on the 24th. Season tickets are valid but if you need to splash the cash it'll be £10 and £5 to get in.
And another date for the diaries is the CIS Cup 1st Round tie which sees Saints at home to Alloa on either the 10th or 11th of August.
11pm - Not a brilliant performance but a comfortable 4-1 win over Forfar with Michael Moore's first-half double added to by Chris Hay(right) and Lee Hardy in spectacular style in the second half. The only downside was the late removal of Mark Baxter with what looked like an ankle injury.
12th -Latest news is that the bid for Ian
Harty has been rejected and Saints don't look set to follow it up.
Paul Sheerin and
Martin Hardie are still potential new
recruits. Also in with a chance of a deal is
Mark Robinson. Despite going off
with a knock at Montrose, the left-sided former Hartlepool player is set
to play at Forfar tomorrow night. As for the rest of the team
John Connolly said, "It was
all about fitness and in that respect it proved a good workout for both
sides. To score three goals without conceding at the other end was a good
exercise.". Another happy chappy wasRyan
the Rocket(right) who banged a couple in in the 3-0 win. He said,
"I was pleased to get a couple of goals but other aspects of my
game could have been better. The first goal turned out well but to be
honest if I had hit it cleanly it would probably have gone over the roof
of the enclosure. As it was, I caught as much turf as I did ball and I was
pleasantly suprised to see it sail into the net!"
Finally there could be UEFA Cup football at Perth this season with the Pars set to possibly move their home ties to McDiarmid should their opponents object to playing on the East End Park Plastic Pitch.
July 10th -Michael
Moore won't be making his Saints debut today as the manager wants to
assess his fitness before throwing him into a match. However the rest of
the new boys are available and John
Connolly also said, "Pre-season is about building up
fitness and putting in place team structures that we want to see during
As for the Ian Harty situation the club have confirmed a formal bid has been submitted to Clyde for the striker although it's understood that the Weans had a bid of around £30,000 rejected. And while Martin Hardie has had some "informal" talks about a move to Perth he apparently has other options available. Also on the horizon could be a move for Paul Sheerin with the Retard reporting that John Connolly has the permission of the board to try and get him as well.
Finally don't expect the usual scintillating report from today's first friendly - just for a change I'm doing something else today so will have to miss the game....
8.25pm - Well the official report covers our 3-0 win with Michael Moore's finish in the 2nd half adding to two Ryan Stevenson efforts.
The big rumour though is that the latest apparent deal for Ian Harty is Eddie Malone plus £25,000 - however if that does go ahead it could leave us without real cover at left-back.
July 9th - It looks like the
signings aren't over yet with reports that Ian
Harty could be the next striker to join Saints. Reports suggest that
we're in contention with the Weans for the striker's signature with
Clyde's financial problems meaning that they're unlikely to reject any
So with another signing rumoured to be unveiled today (possibly Ian Harty or Martin Hardie), John Connolly spoke more of his admiration for Michael Moore saying, "Weve now got four strikers and even though theyre all goal- scorers every one of them is a different type. We now have real competition for places. Ive always liked Michael since he played for Hamilton against Queen of the South and I actually came close to signing him at Queens. Hes another player at a good age, he plays the game in a physical manner and defences will know all about him. Hes the type of player we needed and he gives us another dimension. There was interest from other clubs because all managers are looking for that type of player and we did really well to bring him to Perth."
Meanwhile it's been confirmed that Simon Donnelly is now training with the Pars - so it's farewell to him.
8pm - No new signing today but Saints confirmed that Martin Hardie was at McDiarmid for "preliminary talks" yesterday with the manager saying, "It's early days and we'll see what transpires on that one".
Looking ahead and Ian Maxwell and Mark Baxter are doubts for the Montrose game tomorrow. Colin Marshall is definitely out through injury and several other players apparently have minor knocks and John Connolly has said that no one will be risked if they're carrying a knock.
And finally Mark Ferry is apparently having a trial with Clyde - best of luck to him.
8th -Saints have confirmed that Paul
Sheerin won't be joining John
Connolly's Perth revolution, with the former Ayr midfielder opting
to remain at Pittodrie and waste away his career there. So what's next on
the shopping list?
Meanwhile admission prices for Saturday's trip to Montrose have been set at £6 for adults and £3 for kiddies and auld yins, with similar prices in place for Tuesday's trip to Forfar.
6pm - Well the next one on the list was identified today as John Connolly finally managed to spend the transfer money that's been burning a hole in his pocket. Stranraer's highly-rated striker Michael Moore(right with the boss)moved to Perth after Saints agreed a £35,000 fee with the west coast club. Despite just signing a new deal with Stranraer, the 6ft2 striker turned up to sign a 3-year deal after Saints offer outbid one from Morton. The 7th new signing of the summer said, "It will be a great test to see if I can play at this level. St. Johnstone are a massive team, they've got a great stadium and a brilliant support. I only heard about the chance of a move to Saints yesterday morning and it's great to have it all settled so quickly. This is a great opportunity for me to try myself at a higher level and I know I'll get good coaching here. I take a bit of pride in the fact that St Johnstone have spent a not insubstantial sum of money on me and have given me a three year deal - neither of those things happen too often in the lower leagues these days.".
The Saints boss was just as cheerful saying, "This is an important part of the jigsaw for the new season. Tall strikers are thin on the ground and Michael is a great talent who can get in behind defences and give them a real handful to deal with. Other clubs were pursuing him so I'm delighted we have been successful. As with the majority of our summer signings he's the right age and he's a player that will develop with a return to full-time training and I believe can do a job if we make the step up into the SPL. That's what we're trying to build here."
Also in the frame for a move to McDiarmid is ex-Killie midfielder Martin Hardie. Formerly at Partick he suffered due to injury last season but a move to Perth looks a possibility now.
Definitely out of the picture though is left-back Jamie McQuilken. With Ross Forsyth ahead of him in the queue under the new 4-4-2 formation, he's gone to Gretna on loan until December. John Connolly said of the move "Jamie came to me recently a bit concerned about where he would fit into the set-up I have indicated that I intend to play and I told him that I saw him as a left midfielder rather than a wing back and as such he would be competing for a place with Lee Hardy. We had a chat and decided that it might be best if he went somewhere else for spell to see what develops and Gretna have taken him on board which suits all three parties.",
July 7th -Charity stuff first of
all and there's a signed Saints ball up for auction on
for the Mad Englishmen who are intent on doing a run round all the
Scottish League grounds in 48 hours. So for a chance to get
JC's signature head over there.
Elsewhere and Mark Robinson is set to play this weekend at Montrose whilst John Connolly is still planning to add to the squad. He said, "Were talking to a few players and if there arent any signings this week Id be hopeful we might have a couple in the early part of next week."
July 6th -John
Connolly has spoken of the options available up front following
yesterday's increase in the Saints strike force. He said, "With
Stephens arrival we now have
three guys at the club who will get goals. What we have to do, of course,
is ensure that Peter and
Chris Hay are on the park more often. "
As for Sid the door is not quite closed yet according to the manager. "We would take Simon back because he is a good player who can play in a variety of positions. But to be honest, as each week passes, it seems there is less and less chance of him returning."
Off the park Saints have announced season ticket sales are running at the 1200 mark.
6pm - Meanwhile, back on the playing front, manager John Connolly is continuing his pursuit of targeted players which means two new faces on trial this week although one is a bit more familiar. Alan Main is getting training facilities from Saints and in turn is doing some coaching work with who has been granted training facilities at the club and is providing some coaching to Kevin Cuthbert and Craig Nelson. But also here on trial is left-back Mark Robinson, who was with Hartlepool United last season.
Finally, the club will be holding it's annual Open Day on Sunday 8th August. This year, the event is being run in conjunction with the Jim Weir Testimonial Committee so there will be a bit more going on.
5th -Well despite a lack of reports in the media it seems that
Saints are set to unveil at least one new signing today. Of course as is
the way with these things the names remain a mystery but you can take bets
on whether Peaso will re-sign today
and be joined by one (or more) of Leigh
Hinds, Paul Sheerin or possibly
a more familiar face in the shape of Kieran
McAnespie who is rumoured to be the subject of a swap deal with
Falkirk for Jamie McQuilken with the
latter slipping down the selection list due to the form of
Ross Forsyth at left-back. No doubt
all will be revealed........
Well we were all caught out as not only did Peaso sign a 12-month extension to his current deal but 23-yr old right-sided striker Stephen McConalogue(right) joined from Clyde.
Peaso said of the protracted negotiations, "It's good to have it done and dusted and I now just have to concentrate on getting fit. My pre-season has been restricted to just running, swimming and gym work but I'm down at Harley Street in London on the 23rd of this month to have the plate removed from my foot and it's all systems go from there. I'm desperate to get going but I can't afford to do too much prior to the operation as if I got a kick to the plate just now it could be a real setback.". As for the new deal he said, "The manager made it clear from the start that he wanted me to stay at the club and that was a big boost. Billy Stark had indicated the same to me but obviously when a new manager comes in you don't know if he has the same train of thought. I'm looking at a September comeback."
As for Stephen McConalogue, he's happy to be moving to Perth. He said, "I was one of six players at Broadwood who were initially offered terms but then advised that the offers had been withdrawn. Ive gone six weeks without a wage now which hasn't been nice but when I was made aware of John Connolly's interest in me I jumped at the chance from a professional point of view as I believe Saints are a Premier League side in the First Division. It's a step up for me in footballing terms and I share the manager's ambitions to get the club back into the SPL."
And finally Saints and County have spared us the trip to Dingwall on New Year's Day. Instead you can have a lie in with a hangover and make the trip on Monday January 3rd instead for a 3pm kick-off.
3rd -Well the results are in, the votes counted and the dodgy
acceptance speeches about to begin - yup the 2004
TOSSAs can be found here. As usual a big thank you to everyone who
took the time to vote (even the ones that took it way, way too seriously).
Meanwhile back on Planet Saintee, Peaso's final, last, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die decision regarding his future will be clarified on Monday. At the same time Saints are hoping to announce the signing of not one but two whole players. John Connolly said, "We hope to have two signings on Monday but I dont want to say any more until everything is done"....ach why not JC?
4.30pm - The target that turned us down has been revealed as Ayr Striker Stewart Kean who failed to agree personal terms with Saints after the clubs had agreed a £25,000 fee.
2nd - Expect a decision today regarding
John Connolly said last night, "Peaso
has still to chat to his agent but I believe there will be a resolution to
As for John Fraser the manager said, "We have pulled back from that one a wee bit. We have priorities in other areas of the team and are concentrating on them."
5.30pm - Saints varied pre-season training looks like paying dividends according to John Connolly. With the players having a tour of Taysides' fitness venues, the manager said, "They have been training very hard. You must prepare well so that by the start of the season we can say that were ready for it. After that its all down to the players. Pre-season training is pretty standard, everybody is doing similar things. Football hasn't changed that much. People might say it has, but it hasn't. It's still about keeping hold of the ball and good movement. But the hard work has to be put in - its a case of 'no pain, no gain.' You have to do two weeks of hard training, mainly running, before you think about having a game. We will have them running up Kinnoull Hill on Friday and Monday and then do more ball work after that."
As for the transfer situation he said, "We're still speaking to two or three players, including one who I'm hopeful we will get. But his agent is away on holiday just now. I've spoken to several managers and everybody is in the same boat. A lot of them will want to look at their players before they make decisions. And this means guys like Jimmy Calderwood, Davie Hay and Allan Preston, might release some of their players in two to three weeks' time - players who are surplus to their requirements, and possibly ones we are interested in.". Stewart Duff's return from holiday will enable some of the negotiations to get underway once more. John Fraser has been ruled out though of the manager's plans. John Connolly said, "We decided not to pursue John as we feel we are well covered in that area. We have Martyn Fotheringham, Ryan Stevenson, Paul Bernard, David Hannah and Colin Marshall, who are all right-sided midfield players.". As for Peaso, the gaffer said, "He's been made an offer and it's close to decision time. If he says 'yes' that's good, but if he says 'no' we have to move on. We will know in around three days time. But I can assure the fans that we will have our targets in place for the start of the season".
Latest this afternoon is that a hoped-for signing has fallen through with the unnamed player deciding not to switch to Perth. However it looks like there will be one definite signing on Monday although the player remains unnamed.
1st -With things relatively quiet just now the news is mainly about
ex-Saintees today with Darren Dods
training with ICT this week.
From the Saints camp itself it seems that Peaso is still talking to the club about the terms of his deal although all reports suggest that he will sign. He has rejected the club's first offer but more talks are scheduled for today. As for the other deals, John Connolly said, "We are talking to two or three people but nothing moves quickly nowadays".
6.30pm - Latest transfer rumour is that Paul Sheerin(right) was seen at McDiarmid with his agent yesterday afternoon. After a move from Ayr to the Sheep, the 29-yr old left-sided midfielder is one of those being shown the door this summer at Pittodrie although it will take money to bring him to Perth.
In other transfer news Saints are still talking to Sid about a new deal despite rumours of a switch to the Pars. And John Fraser might still sign. John Connolly said, "He may be back in to train with us next week and we can continue talks then". Leigh Hinds is also being linked with a move to Perth.
Meanwhile for anyone starting to get impatient, the club have announced that season tickets are being posted out over the next week with the first batch going out today.
Finally and Sandy Clark is set to rely on his media role more and more after being punted as youth coach by the Pars.
Top Of News
June 29th - It looks like some
new faces will be in place this week with John
Connolly confirming that the club are in talks with three players.
He said, "We're after two or three players and the reality is
that we need a striker or a couple of strikers badly. But I'm also looking
at a full-back and a left-sided midfield player. We would hope to have a
couple of these players signed by the end of the week. But we have also to
be wary that we don't reach the stage where we can't bring players here on
loan - that's something we will have to watch." He also spoke of
Keigan's departure for the seaside,
saying, "I only worked with Keigan for three games but I'm
disappointed to see him go. He showed exactly the kind of things I'm
looking for and if he had stayed I would have hoped to have made him a
better player. He has tremendous pace and it's difficult for us to replace
quality players like him and Simon
Donnelly. But that's football - we knew he was talking to other
clubs and we have to move on."
Also on the move was John Robertson who today signed for Ross County - quite how he'll fit in commuting from his beloved Ayr to Dingwall remains to be seen.
June 28th -Latest transfer
rumours today have Saints linked with a possible move for Clyde midfielder
John Fraser. Meanwhile Ross County are
the latest big-name club to be showing an interest in
4pm - Saints have confirmed that John Fraser is training at McDiarmid with John Connolly saying a "decision will be made on him by the end of the week".
June 27th -Well a few days away and it looks like feck all has been happening. Keigan Parker has finally made a decision about his future with a 12-month deal at Blackpool (it's easier to dive into a sandpit you see?). Other than that the Fixtures for 2004-05 are out and it's tetanus jab time before we open the league-winning campaign with a trip to Junkieland a.k.a. New Broomfield.
24th -Well we're still "talking to two or three players"
but John Connolly(right) doesn't
expect anything to significant to happen until next week.
So with that in mind, there won't be any more updates until Sunday night as in a desperate last-ditch quest for some unbiased Euro 2004 commentary yours truly is off to the Land of the Wiggy ex-TFOD Managers to watch the footie. In the meantime, Official Saints Site should keep you going.
Finally, the TOSSAs will be out Monday so get your votes in by Sunday night.
June 23rd -Well at least they've
finally sorted out the SPL farce and Partick have managed to make
themselves look magnanimous by refusing to challenge yesterday's vote
meaning ICT get their deserved promotion and we get to go to Maryhill
twice next season. Oh joy.
And with the boys back in pre-season training today it looks like Simon Donnelly and Keigan Parker will be playing elsewhere next season, the former in the SPL and the latter darn sarf. John Connolly said, "I'm working on the assumption that these players will not be back. They had all been made offers but indicated their desires to go elsewhere and as they have not turned up this morning, I think we know where we stand."
Speaking after the first sessions, John Connolly said, "It's good to have the players back, you get the feel that things are starting to happen again and although a small number are still on holiday, we are back before the vast majority of other sides, so that should stand us in good stead as the season progresses. These first few days are about easing the players in but they will hit the ground running from Monday when all the players are here and we up the pace. The players will be going through to the university in Dundee and will take part in various sports science measurements and they will repeat the process six weeks later to assess their progress in terms of their fitness."
June 21st -The YTS players returned to training today 48 hours ahead of the rest of the squad. They spent the day learning their chores from Jim Weir (which no doubt involve maintaining his Burberry collection) and the coach said, "These lads will have great facilities at their disposal and obviously we owe it to them to coach and encourage them in a professional manner and we will certainly do that. However, a lot is down to how much they as individuals want to learn and want to succeed. That can be the difference between carving out a career and football and not."
June 20th -Latest name Saints have been linked with is Ayr United's Stewart Kean. However the Somerset Park side have turned down any moves by Saints for the 21-yr old striker.
June 19th - Not much real news
to report. Paddy Connolly has fixed
himself up with a 1-year deal at Ayr United although he's had to go
Closer to home and it looks like Simon Donnelly's future will be settled soon with the Pars now current favourites to sign him. Nothing official yet though.
June 18th -Little Saints news to report today. However, elsewhere in the First Division, Clyde manager and ex-Saintee Alan Kernaghan has left Broadwood to become Allan Preston's assistant at Livingston.
16th -Colin Marshall should
be unveiled today but it's looking more and more like
Steve Bowey won't be the name to
complete the midfield. John Connolly
said, "Weve not heard anything directly from the club we
made an offer to for one of their players but my feeling is that transfer
probably isnt going to happen."
5pm - Colin Marshall(right) signed a 1-year deal today. After a spell at Villa and on loan to Clyde last season the 19-yr old midfielder is set to join the John Connolly revolution. Speaking after signing, he said, "I'm really looking forward to my time with Saints. I had the option of a further year with Villa but I'm keen to play first team football and with a club the size of Villa there was certainly no guarantee of that or even regular reserve team football so I'm delighted to commit myself to St Johnstone. The manager has mapped out his plans to me but to be honest even before I spoke to him, I was impressed with Saints as a club. They were among the best footballing sides in the division."
June 15th - Still no sign of any
new signings today but Saints are expecting new faces (with a midfielder
and the forwards positions a priority) by the end of the week. And it
looks like Keigan Parker might stay in
Scotland, although a step up to the SPL seems likely with Livi the latest
club to show an interest in his future.
Speaking of the comings and goings John Connolly said, "There are still certain areas that need to be looked at and one is a striker. But there are several teams who are also after a forward so it makes it quite difficult. Its a quiet time just now, with both players and managers away on holiday. But I expect things to start moving on when pre-season training starts and we can get a few more players in then. But Im happy with the ones weve got and am looking forward to the challenge. "
And confirmation that we've been spared the Elephant Man with Jim Hamilton going to Livi.
June 14th -Colin Marshall is set to sign for Saints tomorrow - believe it when you see it though. Elsewhere though and Geoff Brown has said that stories linking Jim Hamilton with a move to Perth were "idle speculation and news to me"....phew!!!
June 12th -Peter MacDonald has apparently been offered a 1-yr deal but it will be the 24th and his return from holiday before his decision is known. Elsewhere and Jim Hamilton is allegedly being targeted by Saints.......not the most inspiring of signings.
June 11th -David
Hannah has admitted that he turned down a move to Saints last
summer. The new arrival said, "I met Billy Stark last year twice
before committing to Ross County. At the time I felt one year wasnt
giving me the security I was looking for and County offered me three
years. Now Ive got a two-year contract at St Johnstone and hopefully
I can win the first division here. Theres no point in coming to a
club of this stature if youre not going to try to achieve something.
Ive only spent one year out of the Premier League and I want to be
back playing at Ibrox, Parkhead and in the Tayside derbies."
As for the skipper's role John Connolly says he's still to make up his mind as to the new captain. David Hannah is putting himself forward as a candidate after filling the role at Dingwall. He said, "I always believe you need your captain to be vocal on the pitch, and thats something which comes naturally to me. I took great pride in being captain at Ross County and if Im offered it here Ill relish the chance."
Saints have confirmed they've made a written offer for another midfielder (Steve Bowey anyone?) and are awaiting a response.
June 10th -Colin
Marshall is expected to be unveiled as the latest signing today. Not
so good news in the attempt to sign Steve
Bowey with Queen of the South apprently having rejected our bid.
Elsewhere Stuart Taylor has signed for Ross County.
17.30The mystery midfielder signed for Saints this morning. And just to prove how wrong we could be, ex-Arab and TFOE midfielder and (as of yesterday) released Ross County player, David Hannah(right) signed a 2-year deal. Obviously well-chuffed at joining our wonderful mob he said, "Saints are a club who have clear ambitions to return to the SPL and I'm very pleased to become part of that plan. I'm 31 in August but I believe I have a good five or six years left in me and have a lot to offer John Connolly." He also revealed that there were family reasons for moving back south after his wife was promoted at a law firm. He praised County for allowing him out of his contract early saying, "I had two years to run on my contract at Dingwall and it was very difficult telling Alex Smith and the County Chairman that I needed to move back to Dundee. However, they have been absolutely first class about the situation although they are obviously disappointed to have lost their club captain. The role of captain was one which meant a great deal to me. Getting a more settled family life means a lot to me and it will help me on the football pitch as well and hopefully Saints will see the benefit of that."
John Connolly is just as chuffed and said, "It was only in the past few days that the possibility of David coming to Perth arose and I'm delighted to have it cut and dried so quickly. This is a big signing for the club and we're very fortunate to have him on board. He has massive experience at the top level, he's a great organiser on the pitch and I've been very impressed by his attitude towards his thoughts on St Johnstone as a club. It's another piece in the jigsaw as we build for next season."....still no word on when the jigsaw will be complete though.
June 9th -Colin
Marshall is reported to have signed for Saints. According to the
papers today, the 19-yr old right winger, who was freed last week by Aston
Villa is quoted as saying, "I had a look around, spoke with the
manager and like what they have here. They will be pushing hard for the
title". However there is still no official confirmation.
Meanwhile departed Saintee John Robertson is rumoured to be set for a move to either Falkirk or Partick.
8th -Saints have confirmed that a "five-figure sum"
has been tabled for each of a midfielder and a striker. It's believed the
midfielder is Palmerston star Steve
Bowey(right) who was probably the best player in the division last
year. John Connolly would only state
that "The chairman is prepared to pay some money if the right
player is available to us but we wont be paying over our valuation".
As for the striker the name's still unknown but the initial bid is understood to have been rejected.
5pm - The striker being bid for is believed to be ex-Saintee David Bingham. Currently at ICT he's expressed a desire to return to the central belt and his home in Livingston.
Meanwhile John Connolly has confirmed that there will be no more pre-season friendlies on top of the four already arranged for the first team, although some additional practice matches might be set up for the younger players.
June 7th -John
Connolly has said that talk over Steven
Tarditi joining Saints for pre-season is "premature".
The Saints manager said, "We are looking for a big striker and in
a conversation with an agent Tarditis name was mentioned to me. I
did indicate we might be interested in having a look at him in the
pre-season but nothing was agreed."
Meanwhile just to annoy the manager even more, the latest speculation has a move for former TFOE and Arab midfielder David Hannah on the cards. Currently one year into a 3-yr deal he's said to be set to leave County with Saints the alleged favourites to sign him.
5.15pm- Saints managing director Stewart Duff has confirmed that we've put in bids for a midfielder and a forward. David Hannah is believed to be the midfielder but the striker is still unknown.
6th -Another trialist is set to join Saints for pre-season
training. Airdrie-born Steven
Tarditi(right), a 19-yr old striker freed by the Sheep only made one
sub appearance at Pittodrie but showed plenty of scoring form in the U-18s
and U-21s. 6ft 2 tall he's hopefully a candidate for the target man slot.
Meanwhile it's sadder news for ex-Saintee John McQuillan who has had to retire from the game at the age of 34 due to a back injury. All the best for the future John.
June 4th -The signings keep
coming and John Connolly has admitted
that he's bulking up the squad. Speaking after another 6-footer in
Sean Webb joined, he said, "Were
trying to take the size of the team up a bit. When youve got
Brian McLaughlin and
Mark Reilly, youve not got a big
team. You have to be big in the right areas of the team. Clyde and
Inverness were both strong, physical sides and its the same at all
levels nowyou only need to look at Arsenal and Celtic. Its a
conscious thing that we have to try and become a bigger side."
As for future players coming in, the manager said, "Things are moving on and were talking to two or three others. We have one playera right-sided boywho has agreed a deal which will hopefully be signed when he comes back from his holidays." - no words as to the identity of this player but former Clyde winger Colin Marshall, who was on loan to them from Villa last season has been mentioned.
5.15pm -Willie DyerYouth coach Tommy Campbell has been speaking of the new players joining the full-timers next season. Joining Steve McManus, who is kept on from last year are
Paddy Deary (15 years old) a defender or midfielder
Blair Batchelor(16) a fullback or midfielder, carrying on the traditions of wonderful names.
Andy Jackson (16) a forward
Kevin Moon (16) a midfielder
Peter Haughen (17) who plays wide left
Willie Dyerr (17) a left back or central defender.
Tommy said "I'm pleased for all the boys and their families and it's up to them now to show what they can do. Five out of the six that are being taken on were not even at the club a year ago so their progress is particularly pleasing. It's good that two of the players are left sided because that sort of player is not so easy to find" Saints are expanding their youth policy with sides at U-14, U-15, U-16,U-17 and U-19 levels. Tommy went on,"The Under 19s will be more challenging for the boys we have taken on and they will grow up quicker. I'm looking for these lads to make an impression at that level and also try to get some reserve games under their belts as the season progresses."
Finally more info on the Colin Marshall(right) signing story with the player apparently in talks at McDiarmid last night with his agent.
3rd -Saints are apparently set to announce another signing this
morning with the latest name in the frame Ross County's Irish U-21
centre-half Sean Webb. However there's
been no confirmation as to the name of the signing and there are more than
enough players being bandied about to surprise us.
7.30pmIn the end the club didn't waste any time and an 09.30 announcement was made that we'd signed Sean Webb(right) on a 1-yr deal from Ross County. A right-sided centre-half, he was at County for four years and said of the move,"Saints are a good club with clear ambitions to regain their SPL status and I want to be part of that. I've enjoyed my spell in Dingwall but I feel it's time to move up a level and take on a new challenge and John Connolly has outlined what he sees as my role in the season ahead." As for the manager he's happy that the squad is increasing in numbers. He said "It's important that we have sufficient cover for all areas of the team and Sean's arrival adds to my existing options of Ian Maxwell, Kevin Rutkiewicz and Stephen Fraser. At 21, Sean fits the bill in terms of the age of player we are looking to bring in and he is a player I always admired when Queen of the South played Ross County. He's been capped at Under 21 level for Northern Ireland so I'm delighted to have brought him to Perth."
Meanwhile Andy Jackson, Kevin Moon, Peter Haugen and Willie Dyer have joined the groundstaff at Saints. Elsewhere and Keigan's future is still unclear with Derby the latest name linked with the Saints striker.
2nd -Yesterday's signing was only the first of many according to
John Connolly(right). Speaking of the
arrival of Lee Hardy the Saints manager
said, "Lee gets up and down the park and has a great left peg.
His delivery is as good as anyone in the First Division and being 6ft 1in
he offers added stature as well. At the moment I have only 14 players
signed for next season. However, we are talking to three or four people
and I am hopeful that number will rise to 16 within the next four to five
days."... One name rumoured to be in the frame is former Clyde
midfielder Colin Marshall who was on loan to the Bully Wee from
Aston Villa last season.
As for the remaining rebel he had some words of warning. "Simons agent has asked for another two to three weeks before making a decision but in the meantime Ill be looking about for strikers. Chris Hay is our only signed front man at the moment and I feel well need four strikers for next season. If we make the signings we need between now and Simon coming back to us we may look at his situation in a different light. "
Elsewhere and the cartel that is the SPL have done another closed shop deal and blocked ICT's application which means (pending an appeal) we'll be making the trip north twice next season instead of to the delights of Firhill.
5.45pm - First up and the Official Saints Site has again given us the opportunity to splash out £20 and get a cardboard fan in the Ormond Stand again - go on you know you want to.
On a more serious note and there's a petition up at http://www.petitiononline.com/spl/petition.html where you can register your protest against the SPL closed shop (along with almost everyone else in Scotland going by the papers today).
1st -Simon Donnelly(right)
looks like keeping us all waiting before making a decision about his
future. The striker is keen to return to the SPL despite Saints making him
an improved offer. Stewart Duff said of
the delay, "Simons agent has told us he is appreciative of
the offer we made him but is asking if we would give the player two or
three weeks before having to provide an answer. He admitted that during
the period in question they would be looking to try to get Simon fixed up
with an SPL team. If hes not accepting the offer weve made him
theres nothing we can do about that. ".... Perhaps not but
if the player wants to have the respect of any of the fans he'll sign up
sooner rather than later. As it stands, it's difficult to see how much
longer John Connolly's patience will
Of the signing targets, Simon Mensing has apparently committed himself to a new deal with Clyde for next season.
1.30pm - Ian Maxwell finally put pen to paper on a new 1yr deal today. John Connolly said, "Im pleased to have Ians services secured. Hes an experienced player who knows what this level of the game is all about and hes naturally left sided not something there is an abundance of. Two or three other clubs were making overtures for his services but hes committed himself to Saints, weve had a chat and he knows there is a lot of hard work to be done"
7.30pm - Well it's all go today with Lee Hardy(right) becoming John Connolly's first signing. The 22-yr old winger was released by Ayr and has signed a 1-year deal with Saints. Speaking of his move, the 6ft Prestonian said, "Its a great move for me. Saints clearly have ambitions to go up and John Connolly has made it clear to me what role he expects me to fulfil. I believe he has said publicly that he will be running with a 4-4-2 system and he has asked me to fill the left wing spot although he is aware that I can play at wing-back if necessary. Crossing the ball is one of the main strengths of my game so hopefully I can provide a few goals. Having that spell with Ayr means that the league isnt foreign to me so I know what to expect."
Top Of News
May 31st -Saints have finally
announced their new sponsor for 2004-05. Out go Citylink and in come
megabus.com the el-cheapo service run by Stagecoach. The one-season deal
was welcomed by Geoff Brown who said,
"I'm very appreciative of the support provided by megabus.com.
I'm particularly pleased that we have not only once again managed to
attract a significant major organisation to become associated with the
club, but one which has its roots firmly in Perth."
Speaking for the company Brian Soutar, Stagecoach head honcho said, "We are delighted megabus.com is teaming up with St Johnstone to become the club's new shirt sponsor. Stagecoach is now an international transport company with operations around the world, but we have always kept close links with our home town of Perth. Megabus.com has grown tremendously in a very short space of time and is now the No 1 choice for thousands of passengers every week. We wish St Johnstone similar success in the coming season."
May 30th -Another slow news day. Paddy Connolly looks set to sign for Airdrie United. Ian Maxwell meanwhile has been linked with a move to Caley Thistle whilst Sid's supposedly got a deal with the Pars - whether or not there's any truth in either rumour remains to be seen.
May 29th -Not too much in the papers today but Saints are reported to be in talks with freed Ayr winger Lee Hardy with a deal hoping to be concluded next week.
28th -With pre-season training set to start on June 23rd,
John Connolly has spoken more about
his decision to appoint Jim Weir as his
right-hand man. The Saints manager said, "This is a great signing
in my book. But it isn't a sentimental appointment. We've only been
working together for a few weeks but we've bonded quickly. This is my
appointment and it's an important one for the football club. When I took
the job I was told it was down to me who was appointed on the coaching
side. Jim and I went through some coaching badges together at Largs and
we'll be working closely together. He will be my right hand man. Now it's
all systems go as we look forward to pre-season training starting on June
23. In the modern game coaching credentials are becoming more and more
important. We will work together on the training field. I will be
overseeing training as much as possible because as a manager you have to
be working closely with your players. But when it comes to the reserves,
maybe one or two of the more experienced players will get a chance to see
what coaching is about."
As for the signings, the holiday season isn't helping the new boss sort his team out. But he managed to sign up Craig Nelson this week and said, "Like all the players I've told Craig and Kevin Cuthbert that we start with a level playing field. There is no number one right now. It's up to every player to stake a claim for a first team place. No matter how big the name, there's no guarantee of a first team jersey."
"It's a quiet and frustrating time because so many managers, players and even agents are away. Our first priority was to offer contracts to players we wanted to keep. We have irons in the fire as regards new signings and I'd like to think we will make progress over the next week or so. We are talking to three or four players. I think players we've offered deals to can do a job for me so I would be disappointed if they didn't sign up. But we will turn our attention elsewhere if there is a problem."
The latest name to be linked with a possible move to Perth is freed Clyde defender Simon Mensing. One player set to probably torment us next season is Mixu - he's finally made up his mind and signed a player-coach deal with St Midden, shattering the Perth bakery trade in the progress.
Finally, it's diaries out time as the Bells Cup 1st round sees us play host to Accies on July 31st. After meeting them as often as TFOD in recent years in various cup tournaments it will be a tough test for the new look Saints as Hamilton have splashed the cash this summer following their promotion to Division One. Still a home draw at least means the season tickets will have a bit more value!
27th -Jim Weir(right) has confirmed
that he's hanging up his boots as part of his new role as assistant
manager.He will be registered as a player but only for emergency use.
Speaking of the decision, he said, "It was a difficult decision
to stop playing after getting myself back fit towards end of season. But
this gives me a chance to remain at a club who have looked after me in the
last 10 years. The injuries Ive had to contend with were a factor in
reaching the decision. I spoke to my wife and close family and friends whove
had to put up with the real lows Ive had in recent years. And I
reached the con- clusion that the last thing I wanted to do was keep on
visiting specialists and undertaking rehab and giving nothing back to the
club. Im delighted at way things have gone so far under the new
manager John Connolly. We get on
really well and I am flattered to be given this chance. Ill take a
bit of time to find my feet but I think I have a lot of respect from the
players. They know how I was as captain and the standards Ill demand
as coach.". As for his playing status, he said "Ill
stay in shape in case I have to be called upon. But that would only be in
John Connolly himself said, "I hope this appointment sends a message to the fans about the type of person we want to have here. Jim Weir, like myself, is St Johnstone through and through. To give up playing must have been a hard decision for Jim, but I dont believe he could have done both jobs. "
Meanwhile the contract saga drags on. Craig Nelson's one-year deal sees him off the rebel list with the manager saying, "Im delighted with that because now we know where we stand on the goalkeeping front."
However, Mixu was back in talks yesterday and had a last meeting at the club. John Connolly said of the talks, "We had a chat during which I told Mixu that we wanted to keep him. Hes now gone away to think things through and we hope to get an answer from him in the next day or two."
May 26th -Confused? You will be
- despite yesterday's comments, the Courier today reports that
John Connolly is set to have "one
last go" at persuading Mixu to
stay. However the Finn has confirmed he's opened talks with St. Midden and
Queen of the South.
Elsewhere and the only other signing news is that Craig Nelson is expected to sign today.
6.15pm - This afternoon's announcement was that Saints have appointed Jim Weir as no2 to John Connolly. The manager, with his finger on the pulse as usual said, "The appointment was made by me. Jim's a fully-qualified coach with St Johnstone in his blood and that's what I want." The other players were all in talks today but Craig Nelson has signed a new deal. However even if they sign, there are still expected to be seven or eight additions to the playing staff for the new season. Two youngsters also joined the groundstaff today. Blair Batchelor and Paddy Deery play in defence or midfield.
25th -Well it wasn't totally unexpected the way negotiations were
dragging on but Saints confirmed that Mixu
Paatelainen(right) and John
Robertson have left the club.
Stewart Duff said , "Miksu has exercised his right under Bosman and is speaking to other clubs In the case of John Robertson, the player had told us he simply wants a change." The Finn had only been offered a playing deal down on his player-coach terms of last season - he was also rumoured to have been seen at Love Street yesterday afternoon, obviously the only player to fit Barry Lavety's leftover kit.
Of the remainder, Craig Nelson should give an answer today along with Ian Maxwell who has just returned from holiday. Sid has been made an improved offer and has promised an answer within the next 48 hours.
7pm - The debate over the contract situation took a new twist this afternoon. Saints have said that the door is still open for Mixu although the Finn appears to be speaking to all and sundry with Queen of the South the latest club to have talks with the striker.
John Connolly seems to be in a less forgiving mood especially with the delays in getting decisions from players. Sid and Peaso are getting extra time because they're on holiday but the manager said, "Players have been given more than enough time to make up their minds. I was offered the job here on the Sunday and signed on the Monday. I know agents will be hawking them around other clubs and that's the way of football nowadays. I'm speaking to agents myself about players. But we have made what we consider to be decent offers and now it is decision time as far as I'm concerned. I need a commitment that they want to play for St Johnstone. It's an easy yes or no decision. This is a great club with a great set-up. Do they want to be here or elsewhere? It's make your mind up time. I can't be hanging around. If it drags on much longer it will be getting ridiculous."
Meanwhile Paddy Connolly(right) said his goodbyes to the Saints fans in the papers today after a disappointing 6 injury-plagued years at the club. He said, "I got a good reception when I came on during Jim Weir's testimonial game against Newcastle and hopefully the club will go forward again.I'm hoping Geoff Brown, Stewart Duff and the other directors can turn it around and take Saints back to the SPL." As for the future he went on, "I am hoping a club takes a chance on me and allows me to prove my fitness. I ran out of time at Perth for first team games but I've no intention of chucking it. I'm confident I can do a job for someone at the First Division level. With a new manager coming in I suspected I would be allowed to go. It was still a sore one, but I was ready for it. And maybe a change like this is what the club was needing."
May 24th -The season officially
finished at the weekend (though for most of us it was around December
going by some of the TOSSA Voting (what do you
mean you've not sent it in yet - naughty, naughty). So without any further
ado the 2004-05 Fixture List,
Transfer Rumours , Referee
Voting and Falsehood pages are now up and
Nothing else in the papers today as Saints await the decisions by the contract rebels.
May 22nd -John Connolly has extended the deadline for the rebels until Monday due to holidays and problems contacting agents yesterday but the Saints boss is getting more and more frustrated with the players. He said, "If the players have not given us a decision by close of play on Monday we will take it as a no. Time is moving on and we need answers as I need to know what positions to look at. If they dont sign up I may be looking for a right-back, centre-back and strikerits a simple equation." - Mixu Paatelainen, Ian Maxwell, John Robertson and Craig Nelson and Sid are the players in question.
21st -Saints have finally announced Season
Ticket Prices for 2004-05 and in a kind gesture to the Temple
they've not altered the prices one jot. There's a discount until the 30th
of June then the price goes up a wee bit but at least this year we're not
the most expensive season tickets in the division (eh Clyde?)
One player not happy with prices staying the same is Brian McLaughlin(right). After seeing his demand for a "substantial increase" in terms rejected, Tiny Tim has officially become an ex-Saintee with rumour having it that the Doonhamers, in the best Take That impersonation, "want him back". Meanwhile, Mixu Paatelainen, Ian Maxwell, John Robertson and Craig Nelson have been told to reply by the end of today or face seeing their offers withdrawn.
Negotiations with Jim Weir are apparently taking a back seat until the other players are sorted out.
Speaking of the moves, John Connolly said, "The reality is that this club has had to live with some players on SPL wages, but now the majority of them are leaving the club. If you look around the whole country, its happening everywhere but that means we have to cut our cloth, live within our budget. Im not going to pretend to anyone that its not a big challenge and we have to run as a professional business and that can make it difficult. But everyone seems to be in the same boat. Look at Clyde releasing several players this week. We want to bring in quality players with the right attitude. But this will definitely be the hardest First Division for years. There will be a lot of clubs up there challenging and we have to make sure that were one of them."
May 20th -Talks are continuing with the so-called "rebel 8" who have been reluctant to commit their futures to Saints. Mixu Paatelainen,Simon Donnelly , Craig Nelson,Jim Weir, Brian McLaughlin, Peaso, Ian Maxwell and John Robertson are all still keeping John Connolly waiting but the Saints manager has said that he "won't wait forever" on them to make up their minds, although at least one is expected to give an answer by tomorrow (possibly Cyprus-holiday bound Peaso).
19th -Latest contract news sees Brian
McLaughlin and Ian Maxwell
apparently unwilling to sign new deals with the latter said to be in talks
with another Div One club (who said Accies). The former is believed to
have been offered a player-coach deal at Palmerston. However one new face
linked with Saints is Ayr United's 23-yr old English left-winger
Lee Hardy(right) who has just been
released by the Somerset Park side.
It's been confirmed that Kevin Rutkiewicz has signed a 2-yr contract.
John Connolly has also been linked with a move for ex-Arab Craig Easton and said, "You have to be interested in a player of Craigs calibre but I recognise there is great interest in him from elsewhere and understandably hell want to play at the highest level he can."
And so much for Mark Reilly retiring from full-time football - he's apparently set to sign for St Midden.
May 18th - As you'd expect the
news is drying up although it's been confirmed that
Martyn Fotheringham has signed a new
deal. On the way out of Saints though are youngsters
Craig Johnston and
And elsewhere it's bad news for Callum Davidson who's become one of Leicester City's freed players. Never mind Callum, we'll make them pay for that in July!
Otherwise the contract talks go on with Mixu Paatelainen, Chris Hay, Craig Nelson,Jim Weir and Brian McLaughlin set to discuss the deals they've been offered. Talks with Simon Donnelly won't be held until next week.
John Connolly said of the moves, "We'll be in a better position later this week to say who is signing up. Obviously I would like to keep players like Jim and Mixu and we've made them offers, but we'll have to wait and see what happens. Only then will I know what positions we are strong or weak in and I can make moves to bring players in. I have certain targets in mind in key positions."
7pm - Just as it looked like being a quiet day, the contracts have been signed all over the place. First up Chris Hay has signed a new one-year deal. An ex-Sheep defender Kevin Rutkiewicz has signed a pre-contract agreement after being told his deal at Pittodrie wouldn't be renewed. The central defender is 24 and played 40 games for Aberdeen since 1998. John Connolly said of his signings, "I'm delighted to get Kevin. At 24, he's the right sort of age I'm looking for and has a bit of aggression about him. With Darren Dods having left the club we needed someone for that area of the central defence and Kevin came to my attention during three different cup ties with Aberdeen when I was at Queen of the South. We're very hopeful Chris can put his injury troubles behind him and get a good pre-season in. Goalscorers are thin on the ground and I am keen to hang onto a natural like Chris. " As for the other signings he went on, "There is still a lot of talking to be done with some players but hopefully the signing of someone with as much SPL experience as Kevin sends out a message that we mean business. He didn't take long to make up his mind to come here and in fact cancelled a holiday to give him time to get the deal complete and I think that says a lot about his commitment."
Sid has been made an offer but talks with Peaso and Craig Nelson are said to be "continuing".
Finally Saints have confirmed that along with Keigan Parker, Paddy Connolly, Mark Ferry, Darren Dodsand Stuart Taylor have all left McDiarmid - the Temple wishes them all the best for the future.
May 16th - Well another season
of misery draws to a close to in that great tradition of years gone by,
the 2004 TOSSA Nominations are now open - send
me your votes and I'll aim to publish the list of winners and losers next
Little in the papers today, with the media attention rightly focussed on ICT's title party. John Connolly's post-match quote showed that the new manager is in danger of starting the cliches early with another "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do" mantra.
15th - Ryan Stevenson is
looking forward to a fresh start under the new manager despite thinking he
was on the way out. The teenager said, "When I was told the
manager wanted to see me I feared it would be bad news. Because I hadnt
been playing under Billy Stark I
wondered if John Connolly had ever actually seen me play or even knew who
I was. But he told me he wanted to keep me and that came as a huge relief.
In fact sitting there opposite him I let out a big sigh when he said what
he did! It was brilliant news because I was concerned I might be out of a
job next year. Football isnt in the best of states at the moment and
as a 19-year-old boy you are particularly vulnerable. But the arrival of
John Connolly has been a positive for
me. Ive started both of the games he has been in charge for and now
Ive got the contract. I suffered this season through the manager
wanting to go for experience. He played me five or six games midway
through the season but then pulled me in and said he didnt feel it
was right to be relying on a young lad and that he wanted to bring in
experienced players because we were going for the title. But the new
manager seems prepared to give me a chance and hopefully Ill take
it. The fact Ive got two years when a lot of players at a lot of
clubs are only getting one year is a massive bonus. That gives me a bit of
security and stability and lessens the pressure. When your contract is up
at the end of the season, once you get to Christmas that is always at the
back of your mind. Then come March its never out of your head. Thats
certainly been the case with me this season. But with two years its
so much better. This deal means I can get my head down for a year and just
concentrate on working hard instead of worrying. "
The injury list for this afternoon is pretty horrendous though. Ian Maxwell, John Robertson, Paul Bernard, Stuart Taylor and Mixu Paatelainen are all out through injury. Rudi Vata won't be considered but Mark Baxter should start in defence.
Off the field it's all go. Ross Forsyth(right) signed a new 1-yr deal last night and Martyn Fotheringham is expected to do the same today. Mixu Paatelainen, Chris Hay, Craig Nelson,Jim Weir and Brian McLaughlin have all been offered deals. Definitely on the way out though are Darren Dods, Stuart Taylor, Paddy Connolly andMark Ferry.
John Connolly has confirmed Saints interest in 24-yr old ex-Sheep defender Kevin Rutkiewicz saying, "We plan to talk to Kevins agent and hopefully something can be sorted out"
8.30pm - Saints tried to spoil the party in Inverness this afternoon but some atrocious defending and an injury-ravaged squad meant we ended up losing 3-1 as Caley Thistle clinched the title leaving Clyde second and Saints in third. Keigan Parker scored our goal and it was a beauty. Elsewhere and Hamilton Accies will join Airdrie in adding a certain glamour to the First Division's proceedings next term.
14th - Saints have confirmed that Rudi
Vata and Mark Reilly(right) will
be leaving the club, with the latter retiring from full-time football.
John Connolly said, "Mark
has a new business he wants to start up and feels now is the time. I
respect that decision and as he has been a good servant to St Johnstone we
wish him well. "
Aberdeen defender Kevin Rutkiewicz is a signing target but the manager isn't going to be rushed into a decision. He said, "The fact this club has finished third top shows there is something to work on and I want to keep the quality players we have here. People will be given reasonable time to give an answer to any offer we make them. However, we wont wait all day because as there are going to be lots of players looking for clubs this summer well have plenty of options. Ideally we will retain the majority of the present squad and beyond that I do have ideas of who I might want to bring in. However, until we find out who is and isnt staying the situation regarding new signings is up in the air. ". As for the quality of the targets he went on, "We have six or seven players out injured at the moment and that is something no club can afford on a regular basis. Before we make any signing well be doing our homework and looking into the individual concerneds injury history."
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Stuart Taylor has joined the doubtful list after picking up a minor knock in training midweek. The manager said, "Ill hold my hands up and admit I want to see the season finished, but I still want to see us go up there and try to win the game. We dont want to be watching them celebrating at the final whistle. The fact there are a few lads missing means other people will have an opportunity to make an impression on me and perhaps Ill learn a bit about the character of some of the boys on Saturday. Its a massive game for Inverness but it could also be a massive game for some of our players because if I am not happy with what I see then dont discount contract offers that weve made being withdrawn come Monday!"
13th - Saints last night lost 1-0 to Accies in the U-17 cup
semi-final so it looks like we're just settling for three reserve trophies
John Connolly, has been saying that he was a wee bit more chuffed following the performance against Newcastle on Tuesday night. "I thought the performance against Newcastle was very good. It was so much better than Saturdaylike night and day. They were playing against a very lively Newcastle side and the three guys who came on in the second half were just frightening. It gives me an indication of what the players can do, though." As for his tactics he went on, "We went with the three because we just dont have the bodies available as we are without John Robertson and Mark Baxter who are the only two natural right backs. On Saturday we tried Eddie Malone there, which was maybe a bit unfair to him as its not his real position. We are more suited to three at this moment so we have had to react to that."
Re-signing stories are now the main topic and the manager said he hoped to have "two or three" of the out-of-contract players re-signed by the end of the week. 5.30pm - The latest on the arrangements for Saturday is that Saints fans will be behind the goal only with admission set at £9 for adults and £3 for concessions. No main stand access this time and we're all being told to get there early.
Meanwhile the rumours about the backroom staff are also starting with the latest being that former Newcastle coach Steve Smith is set to become no2 to John Connolly. What this means for Jim Weir remains to be seen but it looks like Mixu is set to leave the club.
On the playing side three players signed new deals today. Ryan Stevenson(right) has signed a new 2-yr deal whilst Paul Bernard and Stephen Fraser signed 1-yr deals each. John Connolly said, "Its been a very hectic seven or eight days and Im speaking to all the players as quickly as I can whilst fitting in training and the various other commitments. Im delighted that process has been given a boost by these three players signing up. In Ryan and Stephen we have two lads with great potential and obviously with Paul we have a player of real quality who has a proven track record. These three have shown a real commitment to the club by signing up and Im hoping that will kick-start the process for several others we have asked to stay."
For his part, Ryan Stevenson said, "Im pleased to have the new deal settled and to know my situation for the next couple of years. Im happy at Saints and determined to make a bigger impact next season."
May 12th - Jim
Weir has thanked the almost-3000 crowd that turned out last night at
McDiarmid saying, "Its a night Ill never forget. The
fans were absolutely superb and to get a crowd of nearly 3000 on a night
like this is more than I could have dreamed of."
Meanwhile championship-decider day is approaching with Saints and Brechin the teams that can help decide the title. Caley Thistle have confirmed that the away end will be cash as usual. Home fans do need a ticket though and because of this and the reduced terracing available to the away support, it means getting there a fair bit earlier on Saturday.
Saints have also confirmed some more pre-season friendlies. They are all away and the boys take on Montrose on Saturday the 10th of July, Forfar on the 13th and Brechin on the 17th.
11th - It's set to be an emotional evening for
Jim Weir(right) tonight with the Saints
skipper getting his testimonial game against Newcastle Utd. Kick-off is at
7.45pm and it's £10 for adults and £5 for concessions. The star
is out of contract in the summer and faces an uncertain future. He spoke
of tonight saying, "It will be a special night for me and my
family. Im an emotional kind of guy and maybe the tears will be
flowing. Ive always been proud of leading out St Johnstone and there
might not be many other opportunities to do it. Im not getting any
younger and maybe injuries are now taking their toll. There is a chance it
could be my last game for St Johnstone and if that turns out to be the
case then I will be finishing on a high. Well have to wait and see
what the future holds."
Speaking of his time at Saints he said, "When I came from Hearts, Luggy told me I was the type of player who rolled up my sleeves, got stuck in and gave everything I had for the team. He thought the Saints supporters would appreciate that and they are probably the biggest reason Im still here. Through the dark days they stuck by me and encouraged me to get back playing. One of my very best memories is winning the first division championship and seeing a double decker bus roll up at our house in Perth to take me on a pub crawl with the fans! The celebrations just went on for days."
He will play tonight and his 3 kids are set to be mascots. "My family and close friends will be there and I know the memories will live with me forever. Living in Perth, Ive had tremendous support from the people, especially when Ive been coming back from injury. Its a special place for me and my family. This is our home now.".
John Connolly has said that he's treating the game tonight as part of next season's preparations. Newcastle will have a strong reserve side out containing several U-21 internationals and the Saints boss said, "I know Newcastle will have a crop of promising stars coming through their youth academy. No one here should think because its a testimonial game they will be able to stroll it against any Newcastle outfit, and it gives me another chance to see them in action. "
11.15pm - Saints went down 2-1 to Newcastle in Jim Weir's testimonial with Keigan Parker getting our goal. But the performances were much improved over Saturday with Ryan Stevenson and Martyn Fotheringham both playing well. Despite the wet conditions there was a good turnout for the game and the fans were entertained to an excellent game.
10th - With just one week of the season left, the rumours about
who's staying and whose going next season have begun to do the rounds in
earnest. Paul Bernard(right) is
believed to have been offered a deal and accepted it.
Ian Maxwell and
Simon Donnelly are also on the list
of players that John Connolly wants
to keep although the shambles last weekend might change his opinion of
As for the game, the manager wasn't slow in holding back. "It was strange to think people were playing for contracts out there. I have talked to seven or eight players about contracts but on that performance Ive got to say I might hang on a bit because there are 400-500 players coming on the market very soon. In a strange way it may not be a bad thing. If we had won today I could have been lulled into a false sense of security. I have seen the players in training and have been trying to make decisions without seeing them in a true light. I have seen that now and that wasnt good enough. On that performance I have a massive rebuilding programme to do. We have three games from me taking over, including Jim Weirs testimonial on Tuesday night, and it is very much a case of them determining who is going to be staying or leavingbut on that performance there will be a lot leaving. "
6pm - Despite being one of the players rumoured to have a new deal in front of him, it looks like Keigan Parker is set to go with Coventry City rumoured to be leading the chase for his signature.
8th - The signs are in place for the new era at Saints to begin
today. And Brian McLaughlin(right)
believes that the 2004-05 season really begins for the players today as
the new manager stamps his authority. He said, "The season is
finished for us in a way but there are two games left which we can use to
start rebuilding. We are just starting again and Johns already said
we are going to play 4-4-2, so he is obviously looking at these two games
as part of the process for next year. So in a way it is a good thing
because we have got an advantage over other teams because we are starting
earlier so there is a lot to play for. They become two games we have got
to win as it basically becomes part of next season now. " And he
went on "If you analyse the whole season, the points dropped
against St Mirren, Ayr United and Brechin, especially at home, have come
back to haunt us. There are no easy games, but at home you have to look to
win every one of your gamesbut unfortunately this year weve
dropped home points to teams which other sides havent and thats
why theyre up there challenging and were not."
John Connolly meanwhile has already begun speaking to players he wants to keep for next season as the rebuilding work goes. No word on any decisions until he's spoken to the whole squad though, something which won't be complete until next week. He said, "I have spoken to various players and the reception to them staying here has been goodthere are a lot of players who want to stay at the club. In an ideal world we could set aside a week to do the whole squad but so far Ive just seen two or three at a time, told them where we want the club to go and asked if they want to be part of it."
Team-wise, Mark Baxter, Paul Bernard and Chris Hay look set to miss out. Mixu Paatelainen will play with Jim Weir set to direct things from the dugout as the new boss keeps more of an objective view from the dugout.
8.00pm - A poor debut for the new manager with a 3-1 defeat to St Midden, with Keigan Parker getting the Saints goal. Elsewhere ICT beat Clyde 2-1 which means a win for them next week will give them the title. Ayr were relegated and Hamilton now lead Morton in the chase for the 2nd promotion spot.
7th - A quick plug for the St
Johnstone Goals Archive which is starting to fill up with the video
highlights of days gone by.
Meanwhile the cliches are coming thick and fast ahead of tomorrow's game. John Connolly(right) has stated his aims saying, "The least we can put out on the pitch is a team that gives 110% every week. Thats the very least we can give, and the fans will know that. I want the team to play with a high tempo, but whatever style it is it has to be a style that wins games. Well work hard on team spirit because thats what good teams always have. The players who are here have to have the right attitude and if they have a bit of quality then youre going in the right direction. Im here to win games and to move the club forward."
And the manager has started trying to sign players up on new deals. Peaso, who's out till October has apparently been offered a new 2-yr deal but is stalling with both Partick and Killie showing interest.
John Connolly has spoken of his plans for Saints. "Hopefully this is the start of an exciting new era for the club. Naturally I'm looking forward to it and I've decided I'll be in the dug-out rather than sitting in the stand. It's been a long wait to manage a full-time football club but 18 months ago I was at a dinner when Sir Alex Ferguson said managers had to serve their apprenticeship before they could expect to land a top job. I've served that apprenticeship - and, make no mistake, I regard this as a top job."
As for his own memories of Saints, he said of his debut, "I was just 17 and like now it was at the end of a season. I scored and my career took off from there under Willie Ormond. He was a huge influence on my playing career. I played for him at Perth, for Hibs and he gave me my only Scotland cap against Switzerland. I worked under the likes of Sir Alf Ramsay and Billy Bingham, the Northern Ireland manager. But Willie was special. Like him, I want to see my teams playing with movement and at a tempo. But the aim still has to be to win matches. That is the bottom line. I'm not daft and I know that nostalgia and my reputation as a player here won't count for much if the team isn't getting results. Let's not kid ourselves. But I'm here because of my track record in management at Queen of the South, where I won a championship for the first time in 51 years and their first ever national trophy. I want to play football in the proper manner because we're in the entertainment business. Hopefully we will be good to watch and bring fans into the stadium. That Ormond side I played in was a right good football team. But we also had a share of bruisers. And like him I'll be working hard on creating the right team spirit. Maybe tactics weren't as important in Willie's day but I remember him saying something which some people might think sounds daft - but it's true. He said try to sign good players, whatever the budget. And get guys with the right attitude. Willie has been a huge influence on me. Now I find myself following him as a St Johnstone manager and it's a job I've wanted for a long, long time. It really is a dream come true coming back to the club which gave me the fondest memories of my playing days. It was arguably the best period in the club's history, with a League Cup final against what was effectively the Lisbon Lions, and that famous win over Hamburg."
May 6th - Saints are planning to
put on a show this weekend to welcome John
Connolly. With a hoped for boost in the crowd, the new manager will
be paraded to the fans before the game. And at half-time the youngsters
will be out showing off the 3 reserve trophies.
Stewart Duff is hopeful that it will mean
a bigger crowd for next Tuesday's testimonial as well. He said, "There
has been a very positive response to Johns appointment and we hope
that will be reflected in the crowd not only this weekend but also for
Jim Weirs testimonial game. Jim has
been a great servant to St Johnstoneindeed he is arguably one of the
best clubmen we have had in many, many years. His commitment on the park
and in the local community could not have been surpassed."
Mixu meanwhile is out to prove himself to the new boss. "I feel as if I've got at least another one or two seasons left in me yet. I would love to stay here because St Johnstone are a great club but we'll need to wait and see. "
Finally the new manager has confirmed it'll be 4-4-2. He said, "That's the way I play the game and I want to have a look at the players here over the last two games of the season. I'll be in the dugout for the first time against St Mirren. I had thought of watching from the stand but that's not my style."
May 5th - New boss
John Connolly looks set to switch
Saints back to a 4-4-2 formation. The new boss said, "Ill
be changing the system to a 4-4-2. All the best teams have played that way
over the years and thats the way I like to play the game. ".
He's spoken to Mixu and
Jim but admits that it will be next week
before he has a "clearer picture" over the backroom
staff. The coaches will be in the dugout this weekend and will have a big
say in the team selection.
In the longer term he's looking for about 5 pre-season friendlies before the season starts on July 31st, as well as identifying the players needed to strengthen the squad.
4th - The reserves (mainly consisting of youngsters) drew 1-1 at
Arbroath last night with Andy Jackson getting the goal.
So not a winning start for the new boss but he knows the task ahead. John Connolly(right) said, "Its all very well being a popular selection for the fans but the reality in football is results. If I dont get results popularity can go very quickly. I do have a great love for this club because I probably enjoyed the best times of my playing career in Perth. I played with big clubs in England but at St Johnstone we got into Europe, played in a cup final, played against the likes of Real Madrid and finished top of the old first division. Ill always have a love for the club and Im delighted to come here and face the challenge of trying to get them back into the Premier League. Ive been mentioned in connection with jobs that have come up over the last couple of years but if you asked me which would have been my number one choice it would have been this one. There are a lot of good guys not in jobs, and Im a lucky man. Its always been an ambition of mine to work with players on a daily basis and this was a challenge that was too much for me to pass up. "
Now the nice bit's out of the way he has to get on with the job at hand. "I know it wont be an easy task and there will be a lot to get on with in the next 10 days or so. Only four or five players are under contract and Ill be assessing staff quickly. Obviously, Queen of the South have played St Johnstone eight times in the last two years and Ive a fair idea of the players here, but its only an idea based on how they played against us. Well prepare professionally in pre-season and be ready to give it our best shot at the start of next season. I will meet up with the players first thing on Tuesday morning when I take my first training session and I will immediately have to start talking to players about new contracts, because I am quite sure that other clubs are looking at the players here. I am not even sure what kind of deals the players are on here but I will be sitting down with the chairman to discuss everything."
No word on backroom staff changes yet but rumour has it that his team from Palmerston are unwilling to come to McDiarmid, leaving Mixu and Jim as assistants just now.
Finally, if you want to relive some Euro glory a home movie from Monaco has been uploaded by some Saints fans here.
3rd - Not much new information on the Soap Opera. The
Courier believes John Connolly is now
favourite for the job and quotes him as saying, "Im in a
bit of limbo at the moment, but I know that Queen of the South have given
St Johnstone permission to speak to me. Ive got very good memories
of St Johnstone and it was really nice to get a good reception from the
Saints fans. ". The Scotsman has pretty much the same view whilst
the Retard is well behind the times (as usual).
5pm - After a lunchtime of speculation, Saints announced at a press conference that John Connolly(right) was taking over as manager of the club. So now we can go into all the cliches about how the Messiah, Prodigal Son etc has come home (especially with those initials). The new manager has been given a 2 year contract. Geoff Brown said, "All the St. Johnstone directors are in agreement that he is the man to carry us on our way to better things." There's no word yet as to any compensation for Queen of the South.
John Connolly said of his new role "I'm over the moon to be coming to St Johnstone. If you asked me which club would be the No. 1 choice for me to come to, this would be it. It was the best time of my playing career at St Johnstone, when we qualified for Europe, got to a cup final and finished third in the old First Division. I'm delighted to now have the challenge of taking them into the Premierleague. I've not been able to sleep for the last few days because I've been so desperate to get the job." No immediate changes are planned to the backroom staff with the new manager planning to meet with Mixu and Jim before making any final decisions.
May 2nd - Well the Great
Managerial Soap Opera is taking more twists and turns than Saints form
this season. Down at Dumfries it seems that John Connolly is the
man for the job. Over at Scotland on Sunday has Penfold ready to
fold Livvy than sell up to a man who will put Davie Hay out of a job - the
paper seems certain Allan Preston will
go to Easter Rd as no2 to Alan Kernaghan.
Mind you the same paper thinks the Saints fans wouldn't be bothered if
Russell Latapy took the Saints job so read into that what you
And just to add another wee twist, the Sunday Mail reports that Allan Preston isn't even the current no2 at Almondvale these days - that role belongs to Billy Kirkwood
Back to yesterday and with John Connolly dismissing speculation over his future post-match with a terse "don't even go there", Mixu Paatelainen concentrated on the game saying, "'We were poor in the early stages but it is up to the players to stay focused and get on with the job. Of course we are disappointed not to have held hold on for the three points but the guys hung in there and credit to them. "
12.00 It's looking more and more like John Connolly with the Queen of the South website posting a quote from chairman David Rae stating ""After yesterday's match I was approached by St.Johnstone Chairman Geoff Brown who asked for the club's permission to talk to manager John Connolly concerning the managerial vacancy at McDermid Park. Permission was granted and our manager was informed"."
1st - With the managerial situation still up in the air
Simon Donnelly(right) has spoken
about the uncertainty over his own and other players' futures at Saints.
He's not committing to anything beyond this season until a new manager is
appointed and even then nothing's definite. The striker said, "Its
up in the air at the moment. Thats the same for everybody else apart
from the four guys who are under contract. We have to wait and see what
happens before committing and thats the way everybody is looking at
it. We just have to get through the last three games now, finish well and
take it from there. I said at the time I signed that
Billy Stark was a major factor in me
coming here and Ive enjoyed working under him, but Ive been in
football long enough to know that you cant just look at it like
that. My own situation is one Im quite relaxed about because I was
in this position last year. From a football point of view weve just
got to get on with things. Weve got three games left, starting at
Queen of the South tomorrow, and we need to be as professional as
possible. Obviously Im disappointed from a personal point of view
that the gaffers gone but thats football and Ive seen it
happen so many times before. "
As for his former boss, he said, "The aim was to win the league and obviously we have failed in that. Its only natural that players feel guilty because the manager can only pick the side, and when we go on the pitch its up to us. Ultimately weve not done well enough because weve not got into the top flight. Nobody likes to see people lose their job, especially someone as hard-working as Billy Stark. Id imagine hell be back in the game pretty soon. People have accused Claudio Ranieri at Chelsea of being too nice as well, but I dont think you need to be a horrible person to be a good manager. You gain respect from the players by the way you go about your job and how much effort you put in. Billy falls into that category. It just happens that hes a nice guy too. You dont see the other side of Billy unless you work with him. Managers dont get anything out of players by lambasting them in the Press. Behind closed doors if we hadnt done well enough we knew about it."
Meanwhile QoS have another surprise problem today with Derek Allan suspended after picking up a red card at the end of their game last weekend.
So enough about the football - what about the latest managerial saga? Word from various sources is that Allan Preston looks odds-on to get the job although nothing is expected to be confirmed before Monday.
8pm - Saints took the lead today thanks to a Sid penalty but Queen's equalised later in the half for a 1-1 draw at Palmerston, probably a fair result.
The main news continued in the Managerial soap opera off the park, which threw up some more twists and turns today. First of all the situation at Meadowbank has changed, with prospective new owner Pearse Flynn apparently set to dump current manager Davie Hay in the summer in favour of the current no 2 Allan Preston who was also thought to Be favourite for the Saints job this morning.
Oh yeah and a wee word of praise for Billy Stark for keeping his dignity when asked about thr circumstances leading to his departure on Radio Scotland today. Unlike his predecessor Sandy "Bitter" Clark (right)who informed the listening audience that Stark was "lucky to get away from that club". Wonder which of the pair will have retained any respect from the Saints support?
Top Of News
30th - Latest on the Great Jobhunt is that the favourites are down
to three with John Connolly, Allan
Preston and Maurice Malpas all on the shortlist -
Alan Kernaghan(right) now believed to be
reluctant to return to McDiarmid. As well as the other
previously-mentioned applicants another ex-Saintee is thought to have
applied - Colin Miller, currently working in Canada.
Nevertheless and despite being out of the running himself (despite what the Retard says), Mixu is looking forward to a hopefully short-reign as co-manager. He said, "Its funny how these things happen in football and of course it adds spice to the match. Im sure John Connolly will want to win this game but that wont change anything on the pitch. The chairman spoke to us on Tuesday morning and he said he wants an experienced manager with a lot of contacts. I understand that perfectly and I fully respect it. Id love to stay here next season because this is a great football club but it will be up to whoever is the new manager. If he wanted me to carry on playing I would, but if he didnt then I wouldntit would be totally up to him."
5pm - Geoff Brown(right) has spoken of the new directors at the club as he approaches his 18th anniversary in charge of Saints. He said,"Where possible I'll be able to take a back seat, but you won't get rid of me that easily. I had a choice of selling up. There was a company which would have taken over the club in a minute but the only good reason to take it on is to skin the assets. I certainly didn't want that to happen. In an ideal world we'd leave everything as it is, with the club there for the benefit of Perth and Kinross. This has always been my way of putting something back into the community. These guys coming onto the board represent a younger generation and they're around the same age as when I got involved with the club. I wanted people I believe can do a job for St Johnstone. They're working at the front end and I hope they can bring the community at large closer to the football club."
It's been confirmed that Alan Kernaghan isn't looking to come to Saints so he's definitely out. leaving the three others as the main candidates. It has been clarified that the new man will be able to appoint his own number two which places a question mark over Mixu Paatelainen and Jim Weir, neither of whom have new deals.
Looking ahead to tomorrow and Mixu Paatelainen has said that no major changes are expected to the squad for the trip to Palmerston delivering another snub for the treble-winning reserves.
April 29th - The McDiarmid
postie is a busy man these days. According to Stewart
Duff, "We have received a good number of applications so
far from both this country and abroad. Well sit down and assess them
towards the end of the week and then move forward.". No clues as
to who is the front runner yet so it's quite possible that we'll see an
outsider suddenly appear.
The rumour mill meanwhile has John Connolly starting to lose ground in the job hunt with various club sources alleged to discount him due to age. Allan Preston seems to be the big unknown with different people linking him with a possible move to Easter Rd as David Hay's assistant with the Livvy boss expected to be offered the Hibs position this week. And finally one other name whose applied for the job is Russell Latapy!!!!! I'm telling you it's like a soap opera these days...
Finally, for a quick piece of nostalgia, head over to The Saints goals archive where you can download the goals from a certain win over Airdrie 14 years ago.
6.45pm - It looks like the Malpas bandwagon is gathering pace with today's Sun reporting him as the "shock favourite" for the job. There's been no official comment from the club though. Meanwhile Billy Stark could be set for a quick return with reports suggesting that he could become the no 2 to Tommy Burns should the latter get the job at Easter Rd.
Away from the head-hunting and dealings off the park, stand-in co-manager Mixu said that the team was in a "chirpy" mood. Now before you all get over-imaginative with mental images of Paddy in a chicken costume doing the birdie dance, Mixu provided the following quote full of his own "fledgling" cliches. "Obviously, it was a strange feeling earlier in the week with Billy leaving the club. But the boys are very professional and they're building up nicely to Saturday's away game against QOS. Everyone is on their toes and looking ahead to the match."
Ian Maxwell is still suspended for the trip West but with Cap'n Co-Manager Jim coming through Tuesday's cup final unscathed he's expected to be added to the squad and could partnerDarren Dods.
7.15pm - And no sooner was that news out than the club have announced 3 new directors, Steve "Son of Geoff" Brown, Charlie Gallagher and Steve Park have joined the board. And whilst the new guys came out with the usual cliches, Geoff Brown said, "Its an injection of fresh blood. These guys represent a younger generation and theyre around the same age as I was when I became involved with Saints at Muirton Park nearly 18 years ago. They are all Perth men and St Johnstone supporters through and through. Hopefully they will bring the community at large closer to the football club"
28th - Saints retained the Reserve Leage Cup last night with a 3-1
win at Love St. Goals came courtesy of a brace from
Keigan(right) and one from Andy
Jackson. Paddy got another hour's
runout to improve his match fitness.
But of course the main news is the hunt for a replacement for Billy Stark. Latest is that a new man should be in place before the St. Mirren game a week on Saturday. Stewart Duff said, "It is important we make the correct decision and we will, over the next day or two, be looking at all the options. We wont rush into this but we would like everything settled as quickly as possible to allow the new man an opportunity to look over the squad we have and decide which players he wants to keep for next season." .
As for who that man will be the shortlist still seems to be Allan Preston, John Connolly and Alan Kernaghan. Outside bets though for Motherwell assistant Maurice Malpas (that'll be the Courier then) and according to today's Retard, Rangers ex-Youth coach John McGregor.
Mixu Paatelainen(right) says he still hopes to make the step up into management but it won't be with Saints but found time to pay tribute to his former boss. He said, "It's a tough job because some people will never be happy no matter what youdo. I would like to give it ago some day and working beside Billy has been a great experience. I'm always ready to face a challenge and that's one of the attractions of becoming a manager." As for the short-term he went on, "The chairman has been very frank. He said it was only short-term until he brings in someone else with more experience. 'My contract is up in the summer and, of course, I would love to stay at the club. But the situation is out of my hands. I'm devastated for Billy because of the work he put in to try and bring success to the club. But the players didn't do themselves justice and that's why we didn't get the results on the pitch. I've worked under a lot of managers in the game and none of them worked as hard as Billy to get success. The players have to take responsibility.We didn't show the mental toughness that makes a difference. We had too many draws in games that should have been won. I'd love to have been part of a team being promoted back to the SPL but it wasn't to be. And I suppose there was always a chance the manager would pay the price if promotion wasn't achieved. Everyone is disappointed and it seems strange not having Billy here. But we have to be professional. People may be gutted but they have to go out and perform for the club."
8.45pm - Meanwhile Geoff Brown has been reported as stating that the club are looking for an experienced manager. Speaking on Radio Scotland he said that current caretakers Mixu Paatelainen and Jim Weir had expressed an interest but he was looking for a manager with an "good track record in charge". Latest name in the frame courtesy of West Coast rumours is former Dons manager Paul Hegarty - not a name that has the forums buzzing with excitement.
John Connolly has also played down speculation despite his comments in the media this week. Speaking to the Dumfries press he said, "I am fed up of answering these questions but I suppose it shows that we are doing something right that I am being mentioned. I am already planning for next season here. But you just have to deal with it. If we were sitting at the bottom of the league and not doing well your name does not come up. It is all speculation until such times as St Johnstone or any other club try to make contact."
27th - Billy Stark's spoken out
about the treatement he got from a section of the fans saying, "Of
course Im desperately disappointed because I always had belief that
I would be a success. I dont have any argument with the chairman in
terms of the commercial side and fan pressure. I know the chairman well
enough that fan pressure wouldnt influence him, but it is a negative
factor. We can all speculate how large or small that group of fans is. For
me, when it started we were only seven games into last season when we lost
our first game. I felt that was totally unfair at the time. It undermines
things a bit and I can understand that it has been a factor in the
chairmans decision. This has been a terrific club to work at with
great people. You analyse your time but I dont have any regrets. You
look back and you could say, I should have done this and I should have
done that, but thats the same with all managers."
He went on, "I knew how difficult the job was going to be, with the squad we had and the expectations there were. What you dont see is the dramatic change in Scottish football that has happened. There has been a big change from say Paul Sturrocks time, because then you could build a squad and get continuity. Nowadays its almost like starting afresh every season. That makes the situation more volatile. I still think this squad was good enough and I dont think we were far away, but weve fallen down with our defending at McDiarmid Park. We scored enough goals to win the league."
As for who is going to take over John Connolly and Allan Preston(top right) are favourites with other names mentioned including ICT's John Robertson, Brechin's Dick Campbell, Motherwell assistant Maurice Malpas and Pars assistant Jimmy Nicholl although it's looking more and more like one of the two favourites.
The Retard is first on the ball quoting John Connolly(right) as saying, "'It's no secret St Johnstone are a club very close to me. I spent the first five years of my professional life there. They should be operating in the SPL. At the moment it's pure speculation and until there is an approach I will continue to do my best for Queens. I'm lucky I'm still in a job I love. It's my long-term ambition to work with full-timers and it's been a source of frustration to fight away on a part-time basis against full-time sides. "
Finally, it's the Reserve League Cup Final at Paisley tonight where the two Saints will battle it out.
8.15pm - Geoff Brown is now looking forward to the hunt for a new manager and despite a report in the Sun at the weekend he's stressing that he'll still be in charge at the club. As for the new appointment with all and sundry being linked with the vacancy he said, "There will be no shortage of applicants and we will go through the process.". However there are a lot of players out of contract soon and most expect a new manager to be in place sooner rather than later.
With Meadowbank still in administration and no new contract talks opened with any of the staff, Biscuits has come out and said he's still concentrating on his current employers despite being linked with Saints and a possible no.2 job at Easter Rd. He said, "I think there's a job in Asda that I haven't been linked with, but in all seriousness I've not heard a thing from anyone. It's very flattering but it's all speculation and to be honest the priority for me right now is to try and get our own players' futures sorted. We're all in the same boat - the manager, coaching staff and players - in that our deals are running out in the summer but there's more demand for the players than us."
26th - Billy Stark(right) was
sacked as manager of St. Johnstone at lunchtime today. Following a poor 2
and a half years in charge which has seen us relegated and fail to come
close to being promoted again Geoff Brown
and the board decided enough was enough.
The chairman said, "I met with Billy on Sunday and, after discussions, it was mutually agreed that we part company. It is with regret that I have had to take this decision as Billy was working extremely hard and this is the toughest decision I have had to make. He was appointed when the club was on a 'down' and with St Johnstone always wishing to run the club in a sensible manner and also remain solvent, there was always financial constraints placed upon him. After the success of reaching Europe, fan's demands have been unrealistic at times but the club remains ambitious and wishes to regain our position in the top flight of Scottish football. Football is now commercially led and it is important for St Johnstone to sell to remain financially solvent."
Stark himself said, "I am desperately disappointed as I have the belief that I would have been successful but fully understand the reasoning behind the club's decision."
Mixu Paatelainen and Jim Weir are in temporary charge. Saints will be advertising for a new manager with the chairman saying the search starts immediately. As for who will take over it remains to be seen with Saints legend and current QoS boss John Connolly and ex-Saints player Allan Preston sure to be amongst the favourites. Expect Tommy Burns to be linked with the job as well......
EDITORIAL TIME (Again)Unfortunately Billy Stark is more likely to be remembered alongside the McLellands of the club's history than the Sturrocks or Tottens. There's no doubt he tried his best but he never managed to win the Saints fans over. Even then he didn't make things easy for himself with some strange signings combined with mystifying tactics and a tendency to stick with what seemed to be his favourites even when their form had dipped. As for the youth policy despite the Saints youngsters winning cups and leagues galore in the reserves there hasn't been much sign of them getting a fair chance in the first team - and even when they do they're undoubtedly dropped as soon as a so-called experienced player becomes available again. But for all that Stark was at least relatively decent in his dealings with the fans and players and there's no doubt he had the loyalty of the dressing-room for a large part of his time here - he certainly didn't deserve a lot of the personal abuse that was targetted at him at times. Of course as with other ex-managers whether or not he will be remembered like this depends on how long it takes before the media give us his inside story exclusive on how he was treated - his football reputation might not be too great with the fans just now but it would be a pity to see his personal one go the same way.
24th - Both Jamie
McQuilken(right) and Jim Weir are
set to play in the last-chance saloon encounter at Somerset today when
we'll no doubt see the final nail hit the title chances. If the latter
fails a fitness test, expect to see Ross
Forsyth move to central defence in place of the suspended
Ian Maxwell. Saints could relegate Ayr
though if we take the at least a point and Raith beat Caley Thistle.
And whilst disappointed at the season, Jazza says he has no regrets about joining Saints ahead of Clyde. "I definitely made the right decision, Ive no doubts about that. Theres a lot of uncertainty with Clyde and all that were lacking here is Premierleague football, but Im sure that will come. This is a tough league to get out of but hopefully the experience gained in the last couple of seasons will stand us in good stead next year. Job security is the most important thing in football at the moment and Im fortunate enough to have another year on my contract. Boys will be starting to wonder whats going to happen but hopefully the manager is able to keep the nucleus of the team together over the summer because were definitely not far away."
The main publicity is overKeigan's impending departure and Billy Stark said, "It was pretty much common knowledge that Keigans earnings would take a big, big dip for him to stay here. So Keigan being Keigan that amounts to him leaving because hell be looking to get the same elsewhere, and I wouldnt blame him one bit for that." As for the rebuilding it looks like the manager isn't planning wholesale changes despite only having 4 players signed on beyond the end of the season. He said, "Ill fight my case with anybody in terms of the players Ive brought here. Managers are always judged by the players they bring in and I would defend the people Ive brought here to the hilt. I dont think many have been a failure. We scored enough goals to win the league but weve lost a bit defensively from last season."
Finally for those wanting the quote of the season, from today's Retard comes the classic Starkism - "I don't want to sound like Comical Ali but we are going to fight right to the bitter end." - the mental image that the statement generates is more than enough to depress the average Saints fan.
7.00pm - A1-1 draw saw Saints title hopes killed off completely. Chris Hay got a cracking second-half equaliser after Ross Forsyth gave Ayr a 2nd half lead with a spectacular own goal. But it was a poor game overall and really the season can't end quick enough now. Saints might still have some say in the title's destination though with Caley Thistle's win over Raith seeing them sit just 2 points behind Clyde tonight.
23rd - First up and start planning for the summer friendlies.
Saints have announced that Leicester City will be making their
first visit to McDiarmid for a friendly on Saturday July 24th at 3pm - the
first home friendly we've played in ages.
Not much team news but Geoff Brown has publicly stated we won't go part-time next season. He said, "Due to the financial state of the game players will have to accept realistic wages but we are staying full-time for next season".
Finally ex-Saints youngster Colin Strickland who signed for Hearts last summer has become one of the first clearout casualties at Tynecastle, being released this week.
7pm - Don't expect any major lineup changes with Billy Stark determined to stick with the old guard whilst there's still a chance of catching Clyde. However Ian Maxwell misses out with a two match ban set to start tomorrow which leaves Jim Weir on standby after restarting training. In terms of the game, the manager said, "We are not giving up in any shape or form so I'll be fielding the strongest side available. I know that catching Clyde is an unlikely scenario but I can guarantee you that something like that will have happened somewhere before and it would be remiss of me to get the players to approach the game differently from any other. Ayr are fighting for their First Division lives and although their chances of success seem as slim as ours in terms of our respective aims, Campbell Money won't be giving up and as always they will give us a tough game on a difficult pitch. If the best we can do is make Clyde and Inverness go to the very end of the season for one of them to secure the title then that's what we'll do."
As for the players' individual performances he pointed out most are playing for their future whether here or elsewhere. "At any club such a scenario brings an edge to games for the players out of contract to show what they can do from an individual point of view"
One player not hanging around will be Keigan Parker(right). He's confirmed he's definitely quitting McDiarmid in the summer, probably for England. And the striker seems intent to blame selection problems at Saints rather than his own form. He said, "I'm disappointed not to have started more games this season...maybe a fresh start somewhere else is exactly what I need.". but the reality is that Saints can't afford to keep him with his current SPL wages meaning that Saints could bring in 3 players if he leaves without putting costs up.
April 22nd - Jamie McQuilken looks like recovering from his knee injury and making Saturday's trip to Ayr. Robbo will still be missing and Jim Weir is apparently "doubtful".
April 21st - Saints won the Forfarshire Cup last night with a 2-0 win over Montrose. Both sides fielded a young eleven (including 3 U-17s for Saints) but goals from Ryan Stevenson(right) and Martyn Fotheringham in the 40th and 88th minutes ensured we retained the trophy - Keigan Parker even had time to miss a penalty. And the former ensured he'd grab the Saints and Sinner tag with a red card in the 2nd half as both sides went onto finish with 10 men.
April 20th - Saints are planning on playing the youngsters who got us there in tonight's Forfarshire Cup final game against Montrose at McD. Paddy is set to join them along with Mark Baxter. Kick-off is at 7.30pm with cash admission priced at £4/£2 with season tickets also valid.
April 19th - Paul
Bernard has admitted that Saturday's draw typified Saints' season.
"The reason its demoralising when you lose a goal like that
is because its happened too often. Too many times, especially at
home, weve given goals away. You can easily recite the games when it
has happened, and it becomes a case of here we go again. Inconsistency has
been there from the start. In some games weve taken a grip and
imposed ourselves, but in others we could barely string two passes
together. Thats been really frustrating, particularly with the
quality we have in the squad. But you need everything in a teamdesire,
passion and urgency. Too often everything hasnt been there and thats
why we are where we are. Clyde might not be the prettiest team to watch,
but theyve got grit. You look around our dressing-room and realise
what a good squad we have on paper, but too many times we havent
taken it on to the pitch."
And he's twigged that we're not going to win the league saying, " Well fight to the end of the season, but winning the league is fairly unrealistic. Its not just about this game, weve made it difficult for ourselves all season. The manager, quite rightly, will be expecting everybody to give their all right to the end of the season. Just about everybody is out of contract and were playing for our livelihoods. I know better than anybody that there are no guarantees in football. The lads, myself included, have got to prove that were worth another offer."
April 18th - It's fair to say now that yesterday's result, which ended out title chances has meant that the knives are now out for the manager as well as most of the squad. Billy Stark has to take the blame for some or even most of the shocking half-hearted performances we had to witness yesterday but too many players have shirked their own responsibilities on the park and with a number out of contract in the summer it will take a big effort to win some of the fans back over to their side. As for yesterday's shambles, the manager trotted out the usual post-match comment. "'We lost a ridiculous goal after we got ourselves in front. We are now off the pace but while it is still mathematically possible we will keep on going." Why bother Billy?
April 17th - With today's match
at McDiarmid another in the must-win category,
Billy Stark still believes we have a
chance of promotion. "Youre always thinking ahead and you
go through a few things in your mind. But Im not able to do anything
too specific because its difficult to make decisions when you dont
know what the scenario is going to be. Hopefully, that uncertainty
continues up to the last game of the season against Inverness because that
will mean were still right in there. Every week since about 12 games
ago I think Ive been asked the question, do we need to win every
game? Who knows? I dont know what Clyde and Inverness are going to
do so I cant answer that question. The only way we can look at it is
we have to win our next game, which is against Ross County. I think the
players have done remarkably well since the turn of the year to keep
things going. There have been a lot of good results, with resilient
performances. I couldnt have asked for much more from the players
and what theyve done has been absolutely tremendous. "
As for whether or not the men from Dingwall who are out of both the promotion and relegation battles will mean an easy win the manager isn't taking any chances. "I dont think there is a manager in this league who will allow his players to switch off. Also, a team which is relaxed can be dangerous."
No changes to the selection with Jamie McQuilken now said to be "doubtful" with a knee injury.
6.45pm - Chris Hay gave us a 2nd minute lead but thanks to a spectacular Darren Dods own-goal we ended up with a 1-1 draw with Ross County which thanks to ICT and Clyde both scoring 4-1 wins today all but ends our championship hopes with what in the end was a very disappointing performance.
April 16th - Jim Weir will miss out again this weekend but Paul Bernard is in contention for a place in the side to face Ross County at McDiarmid tomorrow. Billy Stark(right) said last night, "Paul has trained again which is obviously a good sign. We will see how he gets on again tomorrow and just hope he can finish off the week. If he does he will certainly be putting himself in contention for Saturday.". Not so good news for Jamie McQuilken who's troubled by a knee injury. The manager said, "It is a case of wait and see with Jamie. His knee is still giving him a bit of trouble and we will continue to monitor the situation."
April 14th - Billy
Stark has said he was more than happy with
Paddy's comeback on Monday night. "Originally
we only planned to give Paddy 20 minutes of the match but he was able to
carry on until half-time, which was a big bonus. He scored as well which
psychologically is a real boost for him. He trained this morning and was
feeling fine, which is also good news. Paddys coming back from a
long-term injury so well keep building his fitness up slowly."
Paul Bernard has managed to train twice this week so there's a chance he'll be able to take some part in the game against Ross County this weekend.
April 13th - Simon
Donnelly's spoken at his relief at scoring the spot-kick on
Saturday. Saints first penalty in the league this season was taken by a
player who hadn't kicked one in three years but
Sid was happy enough to get the goal.
He said, "I only learned afterwards that it was our first penalty
in the league this season. Mixu scored from the spot against St Mirren,
but that was in one of the cups. He fancied taking this one, but I felt
confident and had the ball in my hands! There was the usual nonsense while
they delayed the kick, trying to put me off. But it got us right back in
the game and I thought we'd go on to win. I took a few penalties for
Celtic, but only one at Sheffield Wednesday. That was in an FA Cup penalty
shoot-out when we beat Wolves. It's always good to have an opportunity to
score a goal and that's the way I view penalties."
As for the game he was philosophical "We probably did enough to win, but luck didn't go for us. We're in a situation where we're chasing Clyde and it was disappointing not to close the gap to five points. There was a handball before their goal, but the referee didn't think it was deliberate. We didn't get the decision and up pops the same guy to score. Now games are running out for us. There's five left and we're seven points behind. We just have to keep hoping Clyde falter." Billy Stark meanwhile isn't giving up. "I'll make sure every single one of them continues to give it everything they've got in the games remaining. We have to ensure that we put as much pressure on Clyde as possible in an ultra-competitive league. It's good that Inverness are also in there. Somewhere along the way we have to rely on a result that isn't budgeted for. But you can be absolutely certain that we will give it the full shift. We are in the hunt for a league championship as far as I'm concerned. Whatever the cynics might say, the players deserve great credit for the way they've played since the turn of the year."
John Robertson's hairline fracture of the foot means he'll be out for another three weeks. And the defender has also been linked with a summer move to Walsall.
Finally, Saints played a closed-doors game at Hamilton last night with Paddy enjoying his comeback so much he scored a goal.
10th - Saints have confirmed the Forfarshire Cup Final date. Hey
it's a trophy so don't knock it. The game against Montrose is set for
Tuesday 20th April at McDiarmid Park.The match will start at 7.30pm with
season tickets valid and other admission set at £4 for adults and £2
Meanwhile looking ahead to today's trip to Stark's Park, Billy Stark has been praising Mark Baxter's(right) return to the side. The manager said, "Mark had the second season syndrome earlier in the year but thats a big part of the learning process for a young player. If theyre clever enough they learn more through that than when they break into the team and everything is going well for them. Over the last five or six weeks hes looked better in training and in reserve games and now showed good form in the last two first team matches. He was one of the few who played well in both halves of the Falkirk game last Saturday."
The youngster will start again today after a scan revealed John Robertson has a hairline fracture in his foot. And Beaky's keen to take his chance. "John was playing real well this season so I didnt have much of a complaint. Its great to be back in the team, though, and Im really enjoying it. I feel like Im back to my old self. Its been a hard season being out of the team, but I was sort of expecting it because the manager told me it would be like that at the end of last season. Hopefully I can keep my form going now and keep my place"
As well asRobbo missing out today it looks like neither Paul Bernard or Jim Weir will be risked either.
Finally for just now the Daily Retard has an "exclusive" today revealing the Saints player who revealed all (well the bottom half) on TVs All New Naughtiest Blunders 14 this week (See the censored photo on the right)- just 72 hours behind the rest of the planet. Anyway suffice to say young Peaso is going to come in for a lot of slagging in the near future despite his protests as to the outside temperature. He said, "'The lads always have a good laugh at training. There's great team spirit at St Johnstone and we enjoy a bit of banter. It was a spur of the moment thing when I saw Simon being interviewed. But I didn't realise it was a female reporter. She had a tammy and an anorak on. I thought it was a guy."
7.00pm - In the end it was a frustrating 1-1 draw with the biggest cheats in the division with a Simon Donnelly penalty saving our blushes after Raith took the lead in the first half. Billy Stark wasn't happy with the Raith goal though as he, along with almost everyone else in the ground had spotted a handball in the build-up. He said, "We were not quite lively enough in the first half but totally dominated the second period".
April 9th - Billy
Stark says he's not underestimating the opposition in tomorrow's
trip to Kirkaldy despite Saints' recent convincing wins over the Fifers.
"Back in January, after wed beaten Raith 5-2, I said they
would be dangerous opponents for everybody in the league and recent events
have shown that to be correct. Over the last six to eight games their form
has been as good as anyones and with the results theyve been
getting will have come confidence. What well have to do on Saturday
is try to impose ourselves on them."
Paul Bernard, Jim Weir and John Robertson will know today whether they'll make the trip. The former pair have done some light training whilst the latter had another scan on his foot injury.
April 8th - Paddy
Connolly's comeback is progressing with the striker set to make a
return to the reserves in the near future. Billy
Stark said, "Paddys getting really involved in
training now. There are only two reserve games leftthe cup final
against St Mirren on April 27 and a game against Arbroath, which I think
is the week after. Ill probably arrange a couple of closed-doors
games as well, and hopefully Paddy can get involved.".
Not so good for Jim Weir whose achilles injury is said to still be "troubling".
7th - Paul Bernard(right) has
finally been given the all-clear by the mysterious neck specialist to
return to training. Billy Stark said,
"Paul did a wee bit of running today and was still feeling the
neck a little. But hes not that far away from starting full
training. In fact its possible hell be back into it later this
Not so good for John Robertson who faces a scan on his knee.
Finally and it's charity plug time with a bunch of idiots from Barnsley heading North to visit all 42 Scottish grounds in 24 hours in July. Full details at http://www.scots42tour.co.uk
April 6th - Billy Stark is still full of praise for the comeback against Falkirk but there are still worries about our defence. He said, "I am delighted with the result because it was vitally important that we did not lose any more ground on Clyde. Falkirk were always going to be one of the biggest tests we had left in the remaining games this season. I did not like what I saw in the first half but it is not just down to the guys at the back. We defend as a team and neither the midfield nor the forwards did enough to hustle Falkirk out of their stride. However, we changed our shape 10 minutes before the break and became more compact and things improved from there. "
April 5th - Stuart
Taylor has admitted that it was a lambasting from the normally
mild-mannered Billy Stark at half-time
on Saturday that helped turn things round. The midfielder said, "Ive
never seen the gaffer like that but we deserved it and more, although I
dont think he could have given any more. We deserved everything that
was thrown at us. Without swearing I cant really say much of what
was said! There were a few things kicked in the dressing room and a few
people got a close up of him. Maybe it was the Ferguson influence coming
in. We were thinking about what would he have been like if we hadnt
got the goal back? There were a few twitches in the dressing room and a
few boys were changing their tops but I think a few others were changing
their shorts as well!"
As for the manager he commented, "I got into the players at half time because they looked a bit sorry for themselves in the first half and let themselves down a bit. But they turned it around well and while there werent a lot of chances we took the game to Falkirk and looked more likely to get the goal and so it proved."
4th - Billy Stark knows we got
off lightly yesterday after a dismal first-half performance against the
Weans. Speaking after the game he said, "Players like Latapy and
John O'Neil love the wide open spaces of McDiarmid Park and we saw that in
the first half hour. They should have had us buried in that spell but in
the last 10 or 15 minutes of the first half we started to hold our own a
bit. The goal just before half-time was crucial and after the break I felt
we took the game to Falkirk. From then on we looked likelier to score.
Chris(right) has had injury problems which
have been frustrating for him and us but when he is fit he is worth 20
goals a season."
The goalscorer himself was more than happy. He said, "We know we don't really have any room for error and have to keep winning while relying on other teams dropping points. We haven't closed the gap on Clyde because they won today but they have difficult games coming up against Falkirk and Inverness so we have to hope for the best. It was a brilliant boost to get the goal just before half-time but the manager still gave us a roasting. I didn't realise there was so little time left when I got the second so it was a bit of a relief."
3rd - Stuart Taylor(right) is
the pre-match warm-up man today and he reckons we're every bit as good as
the Weans side that walked the league last year. Speaking before this
afternoons game he said, "It takes a lot of hard work and you
need to grind out results every week. I think weve been on a
remarkable runthere was a hiccup against Clyde, but no more than
that. We stepped right back up against Brechin, scoring two goals and
keeping a clean sheet, something I think few will do this season. We just
need to keep going. If you look at the dressing room we are all
experienced and a number more so than me, with the presence in the squad
of players such as Rudi Vata and Jim Weir. Even the younger members of the
squad have a number of games behind them and I dont think we have
anything to worry about with them. There are the right kind of players in
our dressing room and we look out for each other."
Team-wise, both Jim Weir and John Robertson managed to train yesterday but are still doubtful. And Keigan Parker has joined that category after suffering a severe migraine on Thursday.
6.45pm - Two goals from Chris Hay saw Saints come from behind to beat Falkirk 2-1 in an entertaining game at McDiarmid today. Unfortunately we're still 7 points off the lead as Clyde dumped QoS 2-0. Caley managed a goalless draw at Love St.
April 2nd - Billy
Stark has said that Falkirk's groundshare news this week won't
affect Saints preparations for tomorrow. The Saints manager said of
tomorrow's game, "It might make them fight that bit more and give
them a boost, but on the other hand it might put on that bit extra
pressure. But it doesnt really matter to us and wont change
anything as far as we are concerned. We just have to keep ploughing away
and looking to gain the points we need to cut the lead "
Meanwhile both Jim Weir and John Robertson will miss out - they've still not trained this week. Jamie McQuilken resumed training yesterday along with Brian McLaughlin. Paul Bernard will see a neck specialst today.
April 1st - No real Saints news today. Montrose beat Brechin last night to win the right to play us in the final of the Forfarshire Cup. Oh and the Saints programme was voted 4th in the Programme of the Year awards for the First Division with Clyde the winners.
Top Of News
March 31st - Cap'n
Jim's achilles problem is getting better and he might be able to
resume training tomorrow. The manager is happy that both he and
Jamie McQuilken are likely to make
the Falkirk game at the weekend.
Meanwhile off the park and it was a busy day for the SFL yesterday. Clyde and Falkirk were given permission to ground-share at Killie and Dunfermline should they win the league which guarantees promotion to the SPL for them. It's put the frighteners up Partick. However, if ICT win the First Division, they've been denied permission to put up temporary seating so would not be admitted to the so-called elite. Whether or not Clyde could manage a full season playing rent to Killie whilst trying to keep their heads above water on a home support of around 1000 remains to be seen.
March 30th - Saints injury list is getting worse with Jamie McQuilken(right) and Brian McLaughlin joining John Robertson, Paul Bernard and Cap'n Jim as doubts for the Falkirk game this weekend. Billy Stark said, "Paul had a scan done on his neck and it wasnt quite clear, so we will need to investigate that one further. Jim has an achilles problem and we had to rest it but we will assess the injury again in the middle of the week. Johns foot is still giving him discomfort so we will have to see how it goes with him. Also, Jamie tweaked his medial ligament and Brian has hurt his neck and back, so we are not without our injury problems ."
March 29th - Billy
Stark has taken part of the blame for the lack of entertainment on
show at Brechin. Speaking of the win he said, "I must confess
that, because of the pitch and out of respect for Brechin, we didnt
set out to try to pass the ball today. But we defended welland thats
not something Ive been able to say too often this season. Now with
seven games to go theres plenty left to play for." He also
praised comeback man Mark Baxter's
performance saying, "Mark has suffered a bit this year after
coming in and doing brilliantly last season. But after losing his way a
little he has looked a lot better in the last month and I had no fears
about playing him. "
The youngster himseld was happy with his goal and said, "Ive been injured and in and out of the team all season so I just hope Ive done myself a favour today. Its hard to come here and win, but weve done that and the promotion door has opened a wee bit again. "
27th - Mixu(right) has come out
looking for more goals to boost this season's tally of 14. Speaking ahead
of today's trip to Glebe Park he said, "My best tally ever was 20
for Aberdeen, but Ive been close to that on several occasions.
However, its not really important how many I score, whether it be 14
or 24, as long as Im contributing to a winning side. Fourteen goalsIm
quite happy with that. It could have been a couple more but Im
reasonably happy. I have quite a few assists so I feel that Ive
contributed to the team."......interesting that last bit,
especially since he's only stuck one in the net since January!
As for today's game, the striker said, "Apart from when we won 1-0 at Glebe Park earlier in the season, I think Ive only ever played there once before, in a friendly for United. Its a difficult venue with the tight pitch and the slope. You have to play a certain type of football there. Its very important wide players stay wide and make the most of the space that is there. Although we won 1-0 there last time that means nothing now.". After last week unfortunately most things mean nothing now but he was happy to see the reserves win their league after his coaching this season. "Im really enjoying the coaching side of things. Its been good and we have plenty of good youngsters in our squad."
No new team news for Saints but Brechin's lengthy injury list has recovered a bit.
7pm - Saints ground out a 2-0 win at Brechin thanks to goals from Chris Hay and Mark Baxter but there was little in the way of entertainment on show as Saints ground out a result. Elsewhere and Clyde dropped two points at home to St Mirren but there wasn't much else to get optimistic about.
March 26th - Well we're not
quite desperate but the paper talk today is of Saints putting together
8-wins in a row to gain the maximum 24 points from the rest of the season.
Billy Stark trying to be the eternal
optimist said, "A run like that would certainly do. When you look
at the situation right now you would probably say that we need that, but
as you go along the perspective changes. But we have to look at it that
way just now. We were 12 points behind Clyde two weeks ago, so were
actually a bit better off now than we were then after a busy spell of
games. A win against Clyde would have given us a really good chance, but
we still have a chance. If I was manager of Inverness just now I would be
quite happy. Theyre six points behind Clyde with a better goal
difference, and were only three points behind Inverness. You can
understand why people wrote us off after Saturday because the game was
built up, and Clyde definitely checked our momentum. But I think it was
over the top and we still have to remain positive. It certainly isnt
Stuart Taylor is expected to play and Paul Bernard has trained but Cap'n Jim is now an official doubt.
March 25th - There is now a St.
Johnstone newsfeed available to keep you up-to-date with news from the
Temple and some of the more official media sites. It's in beta mode at the
moment but to check it out go
There's also a mailer to automatically notify you when it's updated. For
this, send a blank email with the subject line "subscribe"
to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you'll be added
Meanwhile the name in the papers today is forgotten hit-man Paddy Connolly. Nowhere near a playing return he is on the way back (probably just in time to be freed). Billy Stark said, "Paddy came into training yesterday and was able to take part in the warm-up and the passing exercises. Its still a long way back but we were hoping to get him involved in training by the end of March and hes achieved that"
Looking ahead to Saturday and John Robertson is rated as very doubtful. Paul Bernard and Cap'n Jim have both had their usual niggling injuries to let them skive training but the good news is that Stuart Taylor should return after coming through Tuesday's reserve game.
6.30pm - Rumours going round today that Keigan has signed a pre-contract agreement with Stockport County.
24th - First some good news and it's congratulations to the
reserves who clinched the Reserve League East title with a 3-0 win
over East Fife last night. Goals game from Mark
Baxter(right), Chris Hay and
youngster Neil McCallum
Despite everything and it's never-say-die for Cap'n Jim. Speaking of the weekend disappointment he said, "It was a huge disappointment. We didnt play well as a team and I didnt play well as an individual. We gifted them easy goals and didnt give ourselves a chance of picking up the result we needed to peg Clydes lead back to just three points. It was a mighty result for Clyde, opening up the gap again, and it was one they deserved. They also have an advantage over Inverness. We know were running out of games and we blew a great chance at the weekend. But we have a duty to ourselves and to the club and the supporters to keep going and try to put pressure on Clyde in the remaining games. I know people are saying its all over for us and Clyde can only chuck it away. But its certainly not in my nature to throw in the towel."
As for the longer-term implications the skipper went on, "Theres no doubt players are worried about their futures and its been in their minds. I know there will be guys looking to leave in the summer and others who might not be wanted. I cant speak for anyone else, but I know Im playing for my own future, whether its here or somewhere else. The result against Clyde had a huge effect on me over the weekend. But there is still a desire to do well for myself and the club. The remaining games are still important and we have to be ready to take advantage if Clyde do slip up."
And even under-fire-again Billy Stark knows there is a major question mark over his own future at the club. With a contract due to end in October and more than likely to be terminated before then if the club listen to the fans, the manager said, "Im well aware of the situation, but Im the first one that has to stay positive. Its part of a managers job. As long as youre doing everything to the best of your ability you cant do any more. Its as simple as that."
Last night's rearranged Division One match saw Raith beat Queen of the South 3-1. And at Forfar on-loan Mark Ferry scored in their 3-1 defeat.
23rd - First up and the club have announced the date of the Reserve
League Cup Final where Saints hope to bring a wee bit of cheer into the
season by holding onto the trophy. The final, against Paisley's finest is
set for Love St on Tuesday April 27th with a 7.30pm
On the park and apparently the players haven't given up hope yet. Billy Stark is in his best "clutching at straws" mode and said, "Saturday was an opportunity to get within touching distance of the top and we did not take it. However, saying that, it is important to remember that there is still a bit to go. We really need to keep on winning to put pressure on Clyde and Inverness. We are still capable of doing it. Everybody needed a bit of a lift after the game as it was a very disappointing result. The game had been built up and the players were understandably totally deflated after it. Nevertheless, in the cold light of day there is still plenty to play for. We had a poor one defensively on Saturday and gave away a couple of bad goals in the first half but I have no doubt that the players can lift themselves and will give their all in the remainder of the season."
Meanwhile John Robertson(right) has picked up a foot knock to keep him out for a few days.
And finally, the reserves are in action tonight at McDiardmid against East Fife where a win will guarantee the Reserve League East title. Kick-off is at 7.15pm
March 22nd - Despite the
predictable optimistic sounds from the stadium, most of the media have
joined the Saints faithful and effectively written off the season with
most of the attention turning to the rebuilding exercise for next season
and, more importantly, who will be in charge for it.
Billy Stark has already spoken out about
the time required comparing himself to another ex-manager who took 3 years
to get us out of Div One but that's unlikely to wash with an increasingly
Mark Reilly was the stubborn mule post-match on Saturday and said of the game, "We are going to keep plugging away because in football anything can happen, but it is going to be difficult. The one thing in our favour is that the league is so competitive. With it being so tight at the bottom theres a lot of teams still with something to play for. But I must admit this was a very disappointing result and performance. We lost two really bad goals in the first-half and never gave ourselves a chance in the game. Clyde were able to sit in and defend their box after that and to be honest we looked a bit flat. We had a bit of possession but didnt do enough with it."
March 21st - Billy
Stark has spoken out about the stupid goals Saints gave away in
yesterday's defat to Clyde. Speaking after the end of our title chances he
said, "Weve chosen today to start gifting cheap goals
again. There were signs early on that we were competitive in the middle of
the park and tidy at the back but then the loss of the early goal changes
it and once they get in front Clyde are expert at defending what theyve
got, they get so many bodies in to guard the way to goal. Their keeper had
a magnificent save from Brian
McLaughlin that could have changed things. We took the game to Clyde
after the interval as I had told them to do, we had the territorial
advantage which you would expect but we rarely got near their goal.
Ian Maxwell had a chance which he
needed to take at that stage but generally we didnt grab the
opportunity and the chances to make it our day."
As for the discipline on the park he said, "We needed more players making cool decisions today to turn things our way and it didnt happen. One of their goals came initially from Paul Bernard and Rudi Vata both going for the same ball in an aerial challenge just two players determined to do their best but the ball lands kindly to them and the next thing you know its in the back of the net. Take nothing away from Clyde though, they took their chances and played their defensive game well. Im not going to criticise my players their effort and application was been superb and we now just need to pick ourselves up again and keep going as there is a lot still to happen in this league."....unfortunately from where I'm sitting it's unlikely to involve Saints. Still never wanted to go back to Ibrox anyway.....
20th - Today sees the big one at McDiarmid as we attempt to really
catch up on league leaders Clyde. Both Paul
Bernard and Cap'n Jim(right) face
late fitness tests today (as usual). The latter said, "I am in a
wee bit of discomfort but did manage to train today. Well have to
see if theres any reaction to that but Im hopeful of making
the match. Having been out for so long this season five games in two weeks
has been quite tough. I do seem to be getting wee muscle problems more
than most. But the run of games weve had has taken its toll both
physically and mentally on everybody. Fortunately, the results weve
had have been a real positive, though. If we hadnt put these 10
points on the board the players would be feeling a lot worse."
No matter what happens today the skipper knows it's not the end of the season for either club with the title race likely to go to the wire. He went on, "Weve got ourselves into a position where we can do something about promotion and this game is as big as they come. Theres no point looking to what lies further ahead at this stage. We need to concentrate on this match because if we dont get the result here it becomes increasingly difficult. We have to channel all our energies and focus on getting a result tomorrow because if we are to mount a serious challenge we have to be looking for these three points. But this one game wont settle anything. It is not a championship decider, far from it. We arent going into this one thinking that if we win it well have won the league because there will still be a lot of points to be won and lost in the coming weeks."
Stuart Taylor has been passed fit but is unlikely to play due to a lack of match practice. Billy Stark, meanwhile is hoping that the fans can make the difference at McD today. "We wont add 1000 to the gate or anything like that. But we got 200 more against Inverness and Id hope these people would be back along with maybe another 200 because that would certainly help us."
6.30pm - We blew it in the end going down 3-1 at home to Clyde thanks to losing 2 easy first-half goals and a 2nd half Harty counter. Keigan Parker got the late consolation for us whilst Ian Maxwell and Paul Bernard hit the woodwork. Calls for the manager's head meant it was like the last fortnight's optimism had never happened.
Elsewhere ICT drew 1-1 at Ayr whilst Falkirk at Ross County and Brechin's trip to Paisley also ended all-square.
March 19th - Billy Stark expects Cap'n Jim to be leading the players onto the park for the biggest game of the season tomorrow. His knock's cleared up whilst Paul Bernard faces another late fitness test. The manager said, "Jims achilles didnt look too clever after the match but he felt better yesterday and again today, so were quite hopeful. Paul has had problems with his back, hamstring and calf so we will have to wait and see as far as he is concerned. Hell certainly be desperate to play, thats for sure." . A decision is still awaited on Stuart Taylor's trip to the specialist.
18th - Billy Stark believes that
it's the additional experience in the side which is making the difference
now. He said, "Before January the only really experienced man we
had available was Mixu. But gradually we
have seen Mark Reilly and
Jim Weir return following injuries, while
we also signed Rudi Vata. So I would say
the major reason behind our better form and results is the core of
experienced players we now have."
He went on, "We knew the match would be difficult because St Mirren are battling hard for points just as we are, but it was the terrible weather that made it really tough. We could not really use the quality in our team because of conditions. But it was an important point and the key thing was that Clyde lost up at Inverness at the same time. They now come here on Saturday and there will be a lot of attention focused on that game."
Jamie McQuilken(right) is in no doubt about what we have to do. "We have made a real fist of it and it is just a case of keeping the momentum going. The first game in our recent series of four against Clyde at Broadwood when wewon 3-2 was a real morale booster for us. If we lost that match we would have trailed Clyde by 15 points and been out of the title race altogether. But we didn't and now we have them at our place knowing if we beat themwe will be just three points behind them. Ten days ago we would have bitten people's hands off to be playing Clyde to go three points behind them. At the minute the games cannot come quick enough for us after our recent run of results."
Injury-wise, Paul Bernard's hamstring and Jim Weir's achilles are the only minor knocks but both are expected to make Saturday's big game.
March 17th - No word on any after-effects from last night's exertions but there might still be some consequences to come from the ICT match. Stewart Duff has been told that Saints might still be in trouble after the mini-pitch invasion after Keigan scored on Saturday. He said, "The club has been advised by the match referee that he is obliged to report the trackside incursion. While we understand supporters were exuberant, the club requests that they are confined to the stands in the future."
March 16th - Sid
believes that this week can see Saints turn round their season and become
real title challengers. He said, "In December we were in winning
positions in virtually every one of the games we played. But our results
then are the reason for the gap at the top being so difficult to peg back.
Our three wins so far this month have given us a great chance now, though.
Weve known for a while that we need to win virtually all our games,
and thats the pressure we have to deal with. Winning against St
Mirren will be just as important as the other three matches we won, but
just as hard, because they are close to being dragged into the relegation
battle. We know theres no room for error so we cant afford to
go into the game thinking it might be easier than the three which have
gone before. If we approach the match with the same attitude as we have
recently, hopefully well get the right result. With Inverness
playing Clyde, its an especially important match."
Billy Stark is concerned about getting the players to raise their game for the 4th time in 10 days. "Tiredness is going to be a factor. But I knew that would be the case during this spell. It's about mental tiredness as much as anything and the goals we lost on Saturday were down to pure fatigue. Hopefully belief is growing, and when you go through what we went through in the last week you become stronger as a group. Thats something well be looking to draw on as the season continues. Its all the more satisfying because people questioned the players character earlier in the season."
For tonight's trip, Stuart Taylor is out as he has to see a specialist to get permission to resume training. Paul Bernard faces a late fitness test.
11.30pm In the end we had to settle for a share of the points in a 1-1 draw at Love St thanks to a John Robertson equaliser in the 2nd half. But it wasn't all bad news with Clyde getting thumped 3-1 by an ICT side down to 10 men for most of the 2nd half. Which means we're 6 points off the pace with the leaders coming to Perth this weekend.
15th - Rudi Vata(right) is one
player whose been through the promotion chase before with Energie Cottbus
in the Bundesliga. Speaking after Saturday's late winner he said, "I
have been in a situation like this with Cottbus back in 1999. We were in
the second division and we were determined to get promoted to the
Bundesliga. We did it in the last or second last game of the season and
got promoted for the first time in the clubs history and it was a
As for Saturday he went on, "You can say we had a bit of luck at the end of the game, but we worked hard and luck comes with hard work. In general we deserved to win. We played very well in the first half and we should perhaps have scored another goal and killed the game off. Every game is a battle and we need to keep working hard and, hopefully, well be there the last game of the season. We had two very physical games against Clyde and against Falkirk and everybody was magnificent, and this one was a big game also. As we keep winning the games become bigger and bigger for us. The belief is there in our team and we really believe we can do it."
March 14th - Keigan
Parker has spoken about yesterday's winner. He said, "I
didn't realise it was so late in the game. If I did I'd have tried to
score a couple of minutes earlier. It was a good ball from Chris and I
didn't have much time to think about it. David Bingham had a go at me just
before it he called me a diving so and so but it should have been a foul.
'When I scored I wanted to let him know I'd had the last laugh, just as he
would do to me." .
Meanwhile there's Media Falsehoods galore in the papers today with the Sunday Mail scoring 3.
13th - Ian Maxwell(right)
reckons today will be another one-goal-decides-all affair. The central
defender scored against them last time we beat them and said, "That
was our first shutout for a while. Weve not done as well defensively
as last season so it was nice to keep a clean sheet and especially when it
was as important a game as that one. Its good for the team to know
were defending well and to go in thinking, One goal will be
enough. I scored against Inverness last season and would love to get
another one. And if thats enough to beat them then great. As an
ex-Ross County player it would be nice to put one over on them. "
As for the leaders he said, "We definitely feel we can catch them. These two results have given us confidence. There are not many teams who would go to Broadwood on a Saturday and win and then follow it up with a win at Falkirk. These were games we simply had to win so everybodys buzzing. Nine points is a lot to be behind, but if it had gone to 12 or even 15 that would have more or less killed us. Next weeks a big week because Clyde are up at Caley and then theyre here at McDiarmid. Theres no point in getting too caught up in all the what ifs. Its a case of getting as good a run going as possible and see where that takes us. The way we look at it is we want as many teams involved as possible so that every game means something."
The team could be unchanged. Paul Bernard and Jim Weir face fitness tests over their hamstring but should play. Stuart Taylor comes into the doubtful category whilst Mark Baxter is ruled out with a groin injury.
7pm - Well we left it late again but a Keigan Parker(right) strike in the 91st minute sealed the points in a thrilling 3-2 win over ICT adding to first-half goals from Sid and Mixu before ICT came back into it. Even better was Clyde's goalless draw with Brechin at Broadwood meaning we're now just 7 points off the pace. After the game Billy "Apeshit in the Dugout" Stark said, "Its unbelievable. In all my time in football I dont think I can remember a situation where a team has had three such huge, vital games in quick succession and won them all by way of late goals. Any criticism that team has had in recent times has, for me, been blown out of the water today. I cannot find the words to praise them highly enough. I didnt budget for that level of performance after the tough week weve had. Honestly, people do not realise what games like last weeks at Clyde and Tuesday night at Falkirk take out of the players physically at this time of the season. Inverness were rested in midweek and that showed. As the game progressed our players just got knackered and they were dragging themselves around the pitch. They brought on David Bingham arguably the best player in the division and we just couldnt find that extra bit strength to get close to him or that extra wee spring to meet the cross balls. To hold out against one of the best footballing sides in the league in those circumstances and then win it at the end is just astonishing."
12th - Despite the setback on Wednesday night,
Mavis(right) is still determined that
Saints will keep their run of form going tomorrow. "The players
have shown a real will to win in the last couple of games and its
paid dividends. The football hasnt been pretty but thats often
the case in big pressure games. Were determined that same desire
will be evident against Caley. Hopefully well play better football
but three points is the crucial thing and how its done isnt
the be all and end all". As for not having even taken a point off
ICT this season, he's not too worried. "Its not a crucial
factor but certainly its an added incentive because weve lost
both the games against Inverness this season and it would be good to get a
win not least because it would keep the momentum going."
He's also not expecting too much in the way of entertaining football as both teams aim for three points but his own performances have been okay. "Theres so much at stake and the teams have been so much up for these two games you often find that quality play is the victim in those circumstances especially on a midweek night at Ochilview where the playing surface isnt the best. I think we will see more quality football against Inverness than weve seen in the past two matches put together. Were determined to impose ourselves on the opposition and get the win. Im my own harshest critic but to be honest how Im playing is less important than how the team is playing as whole. Rudi Vata and Jim Weir have brought solidity to the system you can feel it within the team and hopefully we can carry on the winning way and make further progress up the league"
11th - Even though results didn't go our way last night,
Billy Stark is still praising the Saints
players' attitude. "Neither the Falkirk nor the Clyde game was a
great spectacle if youre talking about nice football but it makes
you feel really good about the boys that they have come through these two
tough battles. Against Falkirk there was very little if any football
played. Both teams knew exactly how much was riding on the match and it
was a titanic battle in terms of having to fight our corner all over the
pitch. Theyve got a lot of really big lads and I knew we would have
to deal with that. I thought we defended really well. Nobody would have
complained if the result had stayed 0-0 but the one bit of real quality in
the game gave us the win. It really was a terrific goal to win the match."
Whilst there's no new injury worries, the bruised players will be given time to recuperate before this weekend. The manager said, "Their bodies have taken a battering over the last week and theyll need to rest up over the next few days so that we can find that wee edge on Saturday again"
Paul Bernard(right) and Jim Weir have both been given treatment for a tight hamstring although their cuts aren't a problem despite both players needing stitches on the night. Stuart Taylor isn't ruled out yet but will see a specialist before the weekend.
March 10th - Billy
"Smiler" Stark was a happy man again last night after the
late win over the Weans. The Saints manager said, "Chances were
few and far between but at half-time I told the players they needed the
mental strength to not be intimidated and to dig out a result. Even if we
had drawn I would not have conceded that we were out of it but I cant
praise the players highly enough thats two mega results
against Clyde and Falkirk. Now there are more big games to come.".
The better news is that there are no major injuries from the game with only a few bruises to worry about ahead of Saturday's visit by Caley Thistle.
10pm - Unfortunately tonight's results didn't go our way - Clyde beat QoS 2-1 to restore their 9pt lead over us. Brechin and Raith shared the points in a 1-1 draw in the other game.
9th - Billy Stark believes
Saturday turned things round for us and he's confident we can go onto a
strong finish. With the understatement of the season, the manager said,
"The fact that there are a few teams pushing for promotion and
the relegation issue is still live means pretty much every game at the
moment has something riding on it. And if every match is a minefield then
the likes of ourselves and Inverness can feel confident that Clyde will
drop points. Of course, the challenge we face is avoiding these same
He also showed his new "street cred" when speaking of the weekeend win. "Clyde was a mega game for us. We couldnt hide from that, even if we didnt want to build it up too much beforehand. The circumstances surrounding it certainly contributed to the type of match it was. We can play better but I knew we couldnt just rely on playing well. Broadwood is an intimidating place to go to and Clyde didnt have to win the game, which I felt was reflected in their not becoming adventurous until they went behind. This should be a more open match because Falkirk are in a similar situation to ourselves in that theyll feel they have to win it."
Kevin Cuthbert(right) has spoken about how glad he was to get the recall at the weekend after being dropped before Xmas. "At the time he decided to leave me out I think the manager was able to look at a few mistakes in my game and opted for experience. At the end of the day its his job to make decisions like these and you have to accept that. Its obviously not ideal playing in the reserves when you want to be playing first-team football every week. When you see the club suffering a few frustrating results, you are bursting to get out there on the pitch and help get them up the league. I was just delighted that my chance came round again on Saturday. It was a strange game in that although it produced five goals, there werent too many chances created and neither keeper had a lot to do. It was more a midfield battle. But were pleased just to get the win, especially when we scored in the last minute which is not something we tend to do. Now we face another tough game because Falkirk are an attacking team with a good aerial presence. Well need to defend well and take our chances when they come along.It was good to score twice from set-pieces at the weekend because wed worked hard on that in training. Hopefully well get a few more goals from set-pieces because its important to be scoring from that source. Look at Celtic. A lot of their goals come from set-plays and they are flying at the top of the Premier League."
Team-wise don't expect too much in the way of changes. Stuart Taylor is set to miss out and the manager commented, "Stuart saw a specialist this morning and has been told to leave it until the end of the week as there is still a bit of blood in the eye. Hell likely be a doubt for Saturday too and its a big blow losing him because hes a goalscorer."
11pm - Another late winner, courtesy of Chris Hay gave us a 1-0 win over Falkirk in what was not the prettiest of games. The result puts us up to 3rd and has Chic Young wetting himself at the thought that we might yet go up.
8th - Two-goal hero Simon
Donnelly(right) has spoken of Saturday's win but he knows that it
won't count for anything unless the points keep coming starting at
Ochilview tomorrow night. "This was a great win but it is only
one win and in the position we are in we need another one on Tuesday
night. That may sound a bit boring but thats how we have to look at
it. Weve got a dozen games left and have got to win pretty much all
of them." As for the performance on Saturday he went on, "We
were pretty disappointed at 2-2 because thats been our downfall this
season. Too often weve got into winning positions and not seen the
game out. The month of December kind of killed it for us. While Clyde were
winning we had too many draws and that allowed them to open up a gap and
leave us with an uphill task. But fortunately we have still to play them
again after this. And they have some difficult games coming up themselves.
Billy Stark meanwhile praised the player's for matching Clyde physically. "Clyde are a big, intimidating side and did what they can do in the game. Their supporters seemed to think we were quite aggressive but this is quite an intimidating place. I know that sounds ridiculous when you have only a small crowd in the stadium. But every time there is a challenge going in they want a foul. Fortunately my players showed the character required to stand up to that and came back to get their reward.". The manager was also playing down the clash between Sid and Kevin Fotheringham in the tunnel after the game. The police calmed things down and whilst Mixu Paatelainen was summoned to the referee's room after his attempt at diplomacy failed, the referee won't be reporting any individuals since he was still coming off the park. Billy Stark said, "I didnt see any punches being thrown. It was just everybody getting involved to stop everybody else and Mixu, with his blond hair, being the size he is and the loudest, was the one who stood out. The police got involved at the time but Stuart Duff has spoken to the referee and he has indicated he didnt see any misconduct from players."
5pm Latest news ahead of tomorrow's trip to Ochilview is that there are no new injuries from the game at Broadwood. Stuart Taylor is still being monitored. For the Weans Kevin James is out so their main goalscoring threat's just been nullified. Remember that it's all-ticket tomorrow as well but if you can't go we're apparently being covered on Radio Scotland 810MW.
March 7th - Not much coverage of
the Battle of Broadwood although the Clyde manager seems to be blaming us.
Alan Kernaghan said, "One of
their players said something to one of ours in the tunnel but I don't
think there was anything much in it. There ended up being a mass of bodies
involved but no punches were thrown I don't think - we've got no fat lips
anyway! It was all split up and nobody was called into the ref's office."
- see it was all nasty St. Johnstone's fault after all.....
There's an interview with Paul Bernard in today's Sunday Mail mainly concentrating on his time at Pittodrie but ending with "'I'm really enjoying it at St Johnstone - it's probably the longest run of games I have had in years. I'm still working towards getting back to the way I used to play, but my family are settled here and I would like to stay for a few more years."
6th - Mixu Paatelainen(right)
summed up the pre-match "every game is vital" routine
yesterday insisting that only all 3 points will do from today's trip to
Broadwood. "We cant afford to go 15 points behind, or even
stay 12 points behind. This is a massive game. We know it, Clyde know it,
everybody knows it. Its vital that we win the game and thats
what well be going all out to do. Its as simple as that. We
know all about their team and how they play. Tomorrow will be about how we
play and thats all we should be worrying about. If we do what we aim
to do in the game then Im sure well get the result were
looking for. Every game is a cup final from now until the end of the
season for us, theres no hiding from that. But this is the biggest
game of the season so far and we wont be looking any further ahead
than tomorrow afternoon. There should be no need for motivation for this
one. We certainly wont have to get each other going in the dressing
room before kick-off. You could sense the size of the game in training
Billy Stark is hoping for more today despite the training problems this week "Training has been far from ideal over the last few weeks but there are a few players who would not have been available had last Saturdays game against St Mirren gone ahead. Clyde have given themselves a good cushion, theres no doubt about that, and everybody knows the importance of this game. Im happy that were the team who has the chance to dunt Clyde tomorrow, because thats what is needing done. We dont need to rely on anybody else this weekend. Theyre a side suited to playing for a draw, which will make our job that bit more difficult. Theyll be quite happy to let us have the ball in front of them. Ive spoken to the players about that. We need to get the balance right and Ive spoken to the players about that. Well be looking to test them but our defence will have a big part to play in dealing with what comes up the park if were pushing on."
Meanwhile Clyde have their own problems off the park with work on a new fourth stand a Broadwood suspended by the council until the club coughs up a £250,000 debt.
6.30pm - Well it's not over yet as Saints beat Clyde 3-2 thanks to a brace from Simon Donnelly and an 89th minute winner from Paul Bernard in a scrappy blood-and-guts affair at Broadwood tarnished by an apparent punch-up in the tunnel after the game. The result puts us up to fourth place.
March 5th - After the good news
that Jim Weir might return the jinx has
struck again with Stuart Taylor now
doubtful after being struck in the eye with a ball during training!!. He's
got bleeding in the eye and is due to see a specialist. Meanwhile,
Simon Donnelly has recovered from
some food poisoning and flu victims Keigan
Parker and Jamie McQuilken
have also passed muster for tomorrow's trip to Broadwood.
As for the supreme leader he believes Falkirk's win over Caley in midweek might have helped us. Billy Stark said, "Theres a bit of pressure on Clyde now. Theyll have got a bit more excited after that result on Tuesday. They now have a three-point lead with two games in hand on their nearest challengers and they know that people will say that they can only blow it."
Billy Stark is still hoping Stuart Taylor will be passed fit for the trip to Cumbernauld although the freak injury was a scare to the team. He said, "The worry is that the retina was bleeding. Naturally Stuart got a real fright. Hopefully it isn't anything serious but he has to be checked out. He hasn't managed much training over the last two weeks and that means another session missed. As you might imagine, Stuart was a bit down after the incident. Hopefully he will get the all-clear."
4th - First up is the "shock" (aye right) news
that ex-Saints manager Paul "Judas"
Sturrockboss has shown that some things don't change with Plymouth
Argyle fans being treated like Saints were in 1998 as the jug-eared judas
is set to ship to take over at Southampton. Talk about history repeating
itself. Mind you going by the reports the 30 pieces of silver from 6 years
ago is now around 3/4 of a million.
8.30pm - Saints have announced that Cap'n Jim's(right) testimonial will see us play Newcastle United on Tuesday May 11th at 7.45pm. And the skipper was quick to praise the organisers - though he hasn't lost sight of the really important things. "I'm thrilled with the way the whole testimonial year is shaping up and to have Newcastle coming up to Perth is just absolutely fantastic. It's more than I expected and I must say a huge thank you to everyone involved in getting this arranged. It's a night that myself and my family can look forward to and hopefully the supporters feel the same. First things first: we've got a lot of crucial league fixtures coming up and that's all I'm concentrating on at the moment. It's a nice thing to have tucked away to look forward to though. It was such a disappointment to have to leave the field so early against Ross County but it's proved to be the correct decision as I'm fit now. Had I played on in Dingwall I might have done further damage."
March 3rd - Saints slipped to sixth place last night thanks to the Weans 2-1 win over Caley Thistle. Nothing else happening though....
2nd - First up there's a morning inspection arranged for Love St
although the game is still very doubtful for tonight. If it does go ahead
the injury list from the weekend hasn't improved much.
Keigan Parker and
Jamie McQuilken are in with a slight
chance of playing but are still "major doubts".
Stuart Taylor is definitely out and
whilst Jim Weir and
John Robertson trained yesterday
their earliest return would be at Broadwood on Saturday.
Billy Stark(right) is calling for the players to show some grit and said, "Were all human and feel down when we get a defeat like last weeks at Ross County, or get criticism. The one thing you have to develop though, particularly as a manager, is a bit of resilience. Ive been in the game long enough to have hopefully developed that. The players have got to show that theyre ready to give it a real go. It would be easy to just feel sorry for ourselves, but we just have to keep things going. I have to try to make sure the players dont feel sorry for themselves. They have to find that bit extra when they see team-mates dropping out. We had a test of character last season to get back into it and we passed that. We put a run together then and I think we have a better set of players this time around. The players need to show old fashioned values tomorrowbig hearts, strong legs, composure and that bit of quality which we have."
As for overtaking Clyde the manager still has some faith (someone has to I suppose). "I still firmly believe we can do it. We obviously have to win games, but I think its perfectly possible that Clyde will start to drop points. They got themselves in front quite quickly but theyve got a tough programme coming up and it can all go very quickly for them. Gaining 31 points out of 33 is a phenomenal run and you have to take your hat off to them. It wouldnt have surprised me that they would put together an unbeaten run but, without being disrespectful, I cant understand how theyve won all those games. Clyde are a team who live off errors, and theyve been given them. But that wont continue to the end of the season. If we win games I firmly believe well be in with a shout. The crux of the matter for me is that its not the same situation as with Falkirk. We have to think positively and I know it can be done."
4.30pm - As expected the St Midden game was called off this morning due to a frozen Love St pitch. The new date is in a fortnight - Tuesday March 16th with a 7.45pm kick-off.
March 1st - Despite agreeing
with St Midden to replay Saturday's postponed game on Tuesday March
16th, it looks like SFL rules will force the game to be replayed TOMORROW
night (being the first available date) despite the pitch almost certain to
still be frozen. Both clubs are appealing against the decision and a
ruling is expected today.
16.45 Forget about any ruling - according to SFL rules any postponed fixture must be played as soon as possible after March 1st. Which means that in theory we're set for a trip to Love St for a 7.30pm kick-off tomorrow night although sources in Paisley have said that the pitch is still frozen solid with the game more than likely to be called off for a second time. Christ it's like being back in the SPL.
Top Of News
February 29th - With the entire First Division card falling victim to the weather yesterday, there wasn't much to report. The re-arranged date for the Love St trip is apparently Tuesday March 16th with I presume a 7.30pm kick-off.
27th - The McDiarmid virus has hit Saints hard with preparations
for tomorrow's trip to Love St in a mess with several first team players
set to be ruled out. Stuart Taylor(right),
Jamie McQuilken and
Keigan Parker are almost certainly
ruled out thanks to the mystery plague. Cap'n
Jim, Bernard have strains and
are set to join J-Ro on the
Billy Stark said, "Well need to see how it pans out tomorrow but the three lads with the virus are all almost certainly out. Even without taking into account Peter MacDonald and Paddy Connolly, were faced with losing five players. Taylor and McQuilken have just settled in so this is a real body blow"
5pm - Tomorrow's game has been called off due to several overnight frosts making the Love St pitch unplayable. Clyde's trip to Caley Thistle and Ross County's game at Queen of the South are also off.
February 25th - The reserves won
2-0 last night thanks to goals from Martyn
Fotheringham and 15-yr old youth player Richard Bowers.
That's the good news - the bad news concerns Saturday's injury list. Cap'n Jim looks like missing out on the trip to Love St thanks to his hamstring injury (although it's not as bad as first feared), whilst Stuart Taylor is apparently struggling to shake off the flu virus and seems to have passed it onto Jamie McQuilken who was sent home with symptoms yesterday. Bernard faces a fitness test tomorrow on his calf strain.
7pm - And following their dismissal from the Scottish Cup last night, Clyde have moved their rearranged game against Saints to Saturday March 6th at 3pm.
February 24th - Stuart
Taylor has resumed training after missing out at the weekend due to
flu. Saturday's injury victims skipped it though as
Cap'n Jim, Donnelly
and Bernard all received treatment for
Remember that the reserves take on Raith tonight at McD with a 7.15pm kick-off.
22nd - Under-fire manager Billy
Stark(right) (actually under massive artillery bombardment after
Saturday's disappointment) has spoken out after the Dingwall defeat
typified by the way we lost the first goal. He said, "It was a
ridiculous goal to lose just before half time and down to individual
errors a recurring theme this season. Its so frustrating
you can work as hard as you want in training through the week but it can
all be undone by a simple error. In this case,
Craigs goal-kick was poor and
then Rudi tried to play his way out of
trouble when he would have been better letting the ball pass him by.
Approaching the interval I felt we had taken the sting out of them a bit
and with Mixu ready to play a part in the
second half I felt a 0-0 at the interval would allow us to cause them
problems in the second half. Then we lose the goal and its a
different game were then having to chase it. That said, we
created nothing ourselves in the first half which was very disappointing.
We were better territorially but we didnt create near enough
although Ross County defended well and played on the break. Unfortunately
for us, Alex Smiths men are probably the best equipped side in the
league to play that way as they have pace up front and so it proved with
their second goal."
As for the injuries he said, "Jims hamstring gave him problems early on when one of their players got a strong block on an attempted clearance. He played on for a while but then he went for the ball in the middle of the pitch and aggravated it further so he had to come off. In the final quarter Donnelly and Bernard were also carrying injuries but they just had to play the game out as all the subs had been committed by that time."
The reserves play Raith at McD tomorrow night at 7.15pm - hopefully some arsekicking will be done this week as well.
21st - No new team news for today's game but
Ryan Stevenson(right) looks set to
replace J-Ro in the right wing-back
role of the new-look Saints side. He said, "I watched the win
over Ayr last weekend on the television on Sunday and I thought we looked
awesome. The confidence is growing in the team on the back of a few
results. Its like a snowball effect if we can keep things going.
There is certainly nobody that we should fear in this league, though
can see that when we play well were a very good team. You only have
to look at how we outplayed a good Premier League team like Dunfermline.
You can see the benefit of having guys like Rudi
Vata and Jim Weir in the team
because the defence has been excellent recently. Hopefully, with the
experience we have in the team now, we can go on a good run. Im just
a young player early on in my career but these guys have seen it all
before. Its make or break time really because we cant afford
to lose many of the games we have left. The way we have to look at it is
to try and win every game for the rest of the season "
With the exception of J-Ro the rest of the injured list returned to training yesterday although Billy Stark said that one of the squad is a "major doubt" with flu.
9:00pm - Saints blew their title chances today with one of the most suicidal performances of the season ending in a 2-0 defeat at Dingwall with Nelson doing his bit to give away both goals aided by a crap defence. Elsewhere ICT went down 2-1 at Dumfries but Clyde's 3-0 win at Rait puts them 12 points ahead of Saints. The new era we all hoped was coming last week has turned into another false alarm and the knives are, it's safe to say, well and truly out for Billy Stark.
20th - Team news for tomorrow sees J-Ro
ruled out with his twisted knee. Maxie(right),
Paul Bernard and
Flash all face late fitness tests
after the knocks and strains picked up last weekend.
Mixu is fit but looks set to start from
And in the Friday hotseat for the "vital game" ritual is Maxie(right). Speaking of the trip to face his ex-employers, the big defender is hoping for a better outcome than the last journey up north which saw us lose to Caley Thistle. He said, "It's too far to travel without getting a result. Winning up there makes for a great trip back. The last time we blew County away in the first half and it was all laughing and joking and the card school got into full swing. The bus was buzzing. But after the defeat from Inverness, no one was talking. It takes more than two hours and it seemed much, much longer. Maybe we can use those memories as an added incentive. I'd take any sort of victory. Clyde have managed a lot of scrappy 1-0 results and you need that over the course of a season. It's all about winning now. Clyde and ICT are also away so it's a big weekend. It was good to put in an impressive display at home last weekend because most of our better performances have been away. I went over the ankle and there was no chance of playing on after half-time but this is a game I don't want to miss."
February 19th - Better news
today from the treatment room with the word that
J-Ro's knee injury isn't as bad as
first feared. Billy Stark said, "Weve
got the result of the scan and its not as bad as we feared. He
twisted his knee on Saturday and we were worried that there was major
damage that would keep him out for months. Fortunately that is not be the
case and instead he should be missing for weeks. Its positive news."
- that'll be the "glass half-full" opinion then. Either way it
leaves room for Dods or
Mark Baxter to make the step up to the
Elsewhere and most of Saturday's other crocks are fine again with the exception of Paul Bernard who still hasn't trained. The manager is still apparently concerned about the lack of preparation and training that they've managed this week though so expect some changes on Saturday.
February 18th - Midfielder Neil Gibson hit a 30-yarder last night for the reserves to give Saints a 1-0 win over Raith in the Reserve League Cup semi-final. The only down side was a red card for Ryan Stevenson for some scrapping with a Raith player towards the end of the game. We now play St Midden or Albion Rovers in the final in a bid to retain the trophy.
February 17th - Mixed news on
the injury front. Maxie didn't train
yesterday but should make the trip to play his old side on Saturday. Not
so good for J-Ro who has had a scan
on his knee - the club are still hopeful it's not too serious though.
Paul Bernard and
Mixu both trained and should make
Saturday's game (although who they'd replace in the new winning line-up
remains to be seen).
Meanwhile the reserves are in action tonight at McD. It's a 7.15 kick-off for the Reserve League Cup semi against Raith Rovers.
It looks like Peaso is out for the season with the scan on his foot leading to surgeons reckoning he won't be back until September - and with the striker out of contract in the summer he's not got his troubles to seek. Recuperating after a bone graft and with a temporary steel plate in his foot, he said, "The timing couldn't have been worse. But there's no reason why I can't get back playing again. I've got to remain positive. I'm a big boy now and I have to get my head round it. The surgeons are always cautious when they talk about lay-offs so I reckon I'll be back before September. But that's it for the season. I know I've got to be more patient this time. After last year's foot operation I probably tried to come back too quickly. I had been getting sharp pain trying to turn quickly and the hard ground didn't help. I wanted to play on and risk it. Maybe it was just a matter of time before this happened. I'm not getting much sleep, I'm knackered and all I can do is sit and watch the telly. I'm going out of contract in the summer and every day I pick up the papers and read about clubs going into administration and players' wages being cut. I don't know where I'll stand with the club. I'm just hoping for a change of luck now."
16th - Paul Bernard missed out
on Saturday due to a tight calf muscle apparently. And
Billy Stark said that both
J-Ro picked up minor knocks with the
former going over on his ankle and the latter twisting his knee. Neither
is thought to be too serious. And it appears that
Mixu managed a full training session on
Saturday and should be available for the trip to Dingwall next weekend.
As for last Saturday's performance, the manager was reasonably happy. He said, "I think thats as good as weve played in that sort of game this season and I couldnt fault anyone at all. Hopefully the fans enjoyed our passing game today and I thought we were nice and aggressive in the way we went about taking the game to Ayr. If I was to be critical then perhaps we should have scored more goals."
And man of the match Brian McLaughlin(right) is looking to build on the two wins. He said, "We go to Ross County next and that match will be all were thinking about, not the three away games after that. But well be going there with a lot of confidence. Weve scored five against Raith and then three against Ayr and the defence have kept a clean sheet. Building up our confidence is important because it doesnt matter how experienced the players in our team are, everybody needs confidence and theres no doubt that it was missing. Weve got to string a few results together because Clyde and Inverness have a big advantage. Well only start worrying about them when we play them though, because the main thing for us is just winning games."
14th - Sid (right)is looking
forward to his new partnership with Chris Hay
for Valentine's Day (cue all the jokes). With only a few pieces of "ex-Celtic"
in the press, the blonde one said, "The manager played me up
front last weekend in the Forfarshire Cup against Dundee United and I
enjoy playing there. Its where I started out playing and ironically
it was Billy Stark and Tommy Burns at
Celtic who pulled me back to play deeper. I look on myself as an attacking
player, whether its up front or coming from midfield, and if its
up front tomorrow then great. I played a few first team games at Celtic up
front with Chris and a lot of reserve and
under-18 games when we were coming through the ranks. I know his game and
he knows mine, which always helps if youre trying to form a
partnership, so if the two of us play together hopefully it will work out."
Of course no pre-match words of wisdom would be completed without the "vital game" piece so without further ado, he went on, "You always want to start but we hadnt been getting the right performances in the run-up to the Raith game and the manager wanted to freshen things up a bit. It was a bit of a new look team, everything went well and we got the win, which is the most important thing. We need to be racking up wins now. Its good that weve got competition for places because weve got a really hectic spell coming up with two postponed fixtures. Weve had a bit of a wait after our good result against Raith but were still hoping that we can build on that performance. Losing late on at Ayr was really disappointing because we worked so hard to get in front. Hopefully we can put that right tomorrow. Im sure if we produce a performance like the one we did against Raith well get the three points."
Rudi Vata faces a late fitness test after hardly training for the last fortnight due to the blood on his muscle.
6.30pm- In the end the "vital" game was one of the most one-sided of the season with Saints easy 3-0 winners over Ayr thanks to goals from Maxie, McQuilken and Sid with the only downside being the half-time substitution of Maxie through injury. The result puts us up to third in the league.
13th - No word on what the makeshift strike force will be for
tomorrow's visit by Ayr to Perth with a likelihood that Saints will go for
a repeat of last week's Forfarshire Cup semi pairing of
Chris Hay and
Stark said, "Hay got himself a couple of goals, while
Donnelly was a forward player for a large part of his career. The fact
that he can play in a number of positions is the beauty of a player like
Simon." . Keigan Parker has a
chest infrection but should take some part in the game.
Rudi Vata's hip knock means he's the only
J-Ro(right) is the latest candidate for the pre-match "this game is vital" routine as Saints look for their first win over the West Coasters. He said of tomorrow's game against his previous employers, "We needed that win against Raith Rovers and it's been very frustrating that the victory has been followed by two Saturdays without a match. Just as you want to get back into action after a defeat so that you can rectify the mistakes which have been made, so you want to get back into action after a win so that you can attempt to build on that success. The manager has reminded us that four of the points we have lost this term have been due to losing late goals against Ayr United and everyone knows that it's the draws which have been doing the damage to our promotion hopes. However, if we can win on Saturday then we have a run of games coming up including the vital re-arranged ones at Clyde and Falkirk which we all firmly believe gives us the chance to build a momentum which will see us through."
As for his own form he went on, "We're back living in Kilmarnock again after a spell in Perth and being surrounded by family and friends has definitely helped. I enjoyed living in Perth but unfortunately the only colleagues I had staying there were Jim Weir and Tommy Løvenkrands and they both had families to keep them occupied so it was difficult for us."
February 11th - Last night's
reserve fixture saw Saints go down 2-1 to Montrose with
Ryan Stevenson getting our goal.
Jim Weir and
Paul Bernard both played.
Injury-wise and Rudi Vata has a minor hip knock whilst Flash hasn't trained since Friday's cup win over the Arabs after going over on his ankle. Mixu is in a similar situation but the manager says he is, "improving every day".
The two postponed Division One games have been rearranged. We're off to Clyde on Tuesday March 2nd and Falkirk on Tuesday March 9th. Kick-off times for both games still to be confirmed but it's almost certain they'll start between 7 and 8pm!! Despite having a free weekend in between, we can't play Falkirk at Ochilview cos Stenny have a game and Clyde still don't know if they're in the Cup quarter-finals yet. Oh the joys of it all....
February 10th - It's bad news
today for Peaso with the news that
his foot injury is a long-term one. A scan has revealed that he needed
more surgery yesterday in London. Billy
Stark said, "Weve not put a timescale on it and I
wouldnt want to say he wont play again this campaign but theres
no doubt that its a long-term injury. He had a screw fitted in his
foot the last time he was injured. Its still in place but there has
been some damage on the other side of it. ".
Mixu is also a doubt for this weekend's
visit by Ayr.
Meanwhile there's a reserve match against Montrose tonight at McD with a 7.15pm kick-off.
February 8th - Geoff Brown has hit out at the state that Meadowbank and their pals have let themselves get into. In an interview in the Scotland on Sunday, the Saints chairman says, "We were relegated because we didnt get ourselves into as much debt as anybody else. They were spending money that they didnt have, and we are the ones who suffer. It is all wrong. We all have to take some of the blame, including myself. There were times when I didnt stick by my principles either, but I soon realised my mistake, and we are not in as big a mess as everyone else. We have no debt whatsoever at this club. We may not be top of the First Division, but we are top of the league as far as solvency goes."
February 7th - Hey we're in a cup-final with a 2-1 win over the Arabs thanks to a brace from Chris Hay(right) in the first-half last night at McD in a pretty dull game. Still the new signings looked more comfortable and we deserved the win - full team was Nelson, J-Ro, McQuilken, Flash, Dods, Maxie, Hay, Mavis, Sid, Taylor and Wee Brian. Saints go on to play either Scumdee or Arbroath in the final.
February 6th - Whilst it's going to be a strong side tonight, it looks like Jim Weir, Rudi Vata and Paul Bernard will miss out with Billy Stark saying they all have "minor strains". Admission tonight is £5 and £3 with season ticket holders getting in for nothing - kick-off is at 7.15.
February 4th - A good win for
the reserves last night with a 3-0 win over Forfar.
Simon Donnelly and
Martyn Fotheringham got the goals.
On the injury side it's not looking too good for the strikers. Mixu has a muscle tear in his thigh and is set to be out for a fortnight ruling him out of the visit by Ayr in a fortnight. Peaso could be out for a similar period - he underwent a scan yesterday on his foot but the results won't be known until tomorrow.
February 3rd - The transfer
deadline passed with no new deals although of course the plight of "Ambitious"
Meadowbank is dominating the press with Penfold and co set to put the
club into administration today. And as you might have expected, it was
only a matter of time before the tabloids looked to
Geoff Brown for a soundbite following
his well-publicised row with Penfold and his chums a few years ago when
they began to poach some of our players for what now seems to be
exorbitant amounts of cash. Unfortunately for the hacks, he's not rising
to the bait and refuses to gloat over the West Lothian club's plight
saying ''I wasn't attacking Dominic Keane when I made those comments
and I take no satisfaction from Livingston's plight. 'But it boils down to
Livingston and other clubs living beyond their means to retain their place
in the SPL.'' .
Aye well he might not be gloating but there's a certain air of smug satisfaction around the 1st Division supporters these days - we're more entertaining than the top league and surprise, surprise, we're not in danger of starting next season with a negative points tally.
On the park and we've got bad news with both Peaso and Mixu picking up foot and thigh knocks on the training ground. Mixu looks set to be out for a fortnight or so whilst Peaso awaits the results of a scan on his foot.
And speaking of the departure of Paul Lovering, Billy Stark said, "There was a combination of reasons for it. Paul didnt do pre-season and was playing catch-up right away. He got a couple of games and then broke two toes which kept him out to November. We were then well into the season and he struggled a bit with his fitness. Jamie McQuilken became available and when players are on one-year contracts you have to make these decisions sometimes. Its good that hes gone to a decent club and its a credit to him that he wanted to go and play."
February 1st - Not much happening and with the transfer deadline set for tomorrow lunchtime there's little in the way of rumours of any further new faces at the club.
Top Of News
January 31st - Despite the rain
there's no word of any danger to the game at Ochilview. Either way, new
boy Stuart Taylor who did a stint
with the Weans last season is expecting a tough match. "After
going 2-0 up and then losing to Clyde theyll be totally gutted and
we can make it really difficult for them by winning tomorrow. John Hughes
has a never-say-die attitude though and that rubs off on the rest of the
players. When I was there last season the team always worked really hard
and I can still see that work ethic under Hughes management. This
will definitely be a good game to play in and a good one to watch because
there will be no holding back from either side. Both teams need to go on a
run and climb up the table. I had a great time at Brockville but Im
at St Johnstone now and I want to be as successful here as I was at
Falkirk and win the championship."
Paul Bernard is back from suspension which is causing a selection headache for the manager. Billy Stark said, "Its a difficult one. If youve got everybody fit you will have these problems. If you want to be successful though there will inevitably be good players who wont even get on the bench. Its definitely a squad game now. I have to look at each game on its merits and come up with the strongest team.". Peter MacDonald is a doubt with a foot injury whilst the Weans have several players doubtful.
Meanwhile is you need a Saintee fix next weekend the Forfarshire Cup semi-final goes ahead at McD on Friday night at 7.15pm against the Arabs. With both sides out of the cup expect a strong team to be put out. Only the West Stand is open and it's cash at the gate although season ticket holders can get in for hee-haw.
Finally Paul Lovering has signed for Airdrie United until the end of the season.
11.00am - Just been announced that there's an 11.15am pitch inspection at Ochilview - apparently pissing down there as well.
11.20am- Game off. Bugger etc etc etc....
30th - Back to normal after the delights of Milan (see the pic on
the right for a sight a lot more attractive than any designer Italian
clothes horse) and it's good to see not much has changed in the last week.
Geoff Brown has come out with a quick
"nae chance" to a proposal from Caley Thistle to
ground-share at McD next season if they win the title. He said, "Caley
have approached us but it wont happen. For a start, the home club
must have priority over fixtures and if Caley were promoted and we were to
stay in the first division this would be totally impractical. If both
teams are in the same league it is not so much of a problem but the
situation was never onit is not even a consideration for us."
Meanwhile Billy Stark who's had a relatively easy week in the slagging columns, isn't ruling out another transfer move before the window shuts this weekend. However there's no sign of anyone coming ahead of tomorrow's trip to Ochilview which going by the weather forecast is going to join most of Scotland in being in major doubt despite the covers apparently being down. It looks like the same defence as last week as well and Ian Maxwell said, "Its been quite buoyant this week but it always is after any win. If you lose, the period from the Saturday through to the Wednesday is always a bit subdued but its been good all week following the Raith win. However, theres a realism as well we know we cant afford to lose many in fact any games now if we are going to close that gap so whilst happy after last week, were very focussed".
ever so slightly more relieved Billy
Stark(right) has been speaking of yesterday's win. "Im
obviously delighted. We scored some great goals today and although we got
nervous at 4-2 perhaps understandably we got a fifth goal
which pleased me greatly. I was also delighted with the second goal as it
showed a determination by the team to bounce back quickly from their
equaliser. Raith didnt lose the place and kept passing but we did
everything that was required of us today" - apart from let in a
couple of daft goals that is. Still he had plenty of praise for the boys
on the park as well. "I thought all four new guys did
well. Jim Weir was outstanding,
Rudi Vata had a good debut despite
picking up a dead leg in the second half, Jamie
McQuilken showed why Ive been after him for a while and
Stuart Taylor took his goal well and
generally contributed a lot. But the other players did well too
Chris Hay showed what he can do if he
stays fit and Mark Reilly's performance
was out of the same mould as Jim Weirs" - OK the last part
showed the post-match champers had gone to his head but it's not every day
we score five goals. Of course all the praise in the world count's for
less than a gnat's fart if we don't take it forward. The manager
continued, "We need to build on that now. Any of the chasing
teams can still win it and I include Falkirk in that despite their
result today so we just need to try and make inroads". It
ain't over yet then?
Finally, no more updates until Friday night - with a nice quiet midweek ahead, the Temple is closing down for a wee holiday. "What dear, there is a football stadium near the hotel - who plays at this San Siro then?"
24th - Mark Reilly reckons we
have the strongest squad in the league just now (note he didn't say the
best). "We played a practice match yesterday and when you looked
at all the players available now, with our new additions, its a
strong squad. You could probably field both of those teams in the first
division and on paper wed be looking to do OK. Hopefully all the new
signings will add something to the team. Im sure they will, and we
can get the result against Raith that we need.".
He believes the team are ready for one of the most important games of the season. "This weeks training has been great because its the first one Ive had on grass since coming back from injury. The hard ground was far from ideal for me but hopefully a good week of training will stand me in good stead for this match. Everybody knew how important the Clyde game was going to be and it was obviously disappointing to get the phone call just before setting off that the match was off. Tomorrow is equally important, though, because its another match that we have to win and the boys are ready for it."
Meanwhile despite what the Retard says, Mixu's wee brothers are not over at McD for a trial.
7pm - In the end Chris Hay(right) managed to play and scored twice as a new-look Saints side beat Raith Robers 5-2 with the other goals coming from Brian McLaughlin, Stuart Taylor and sub Peter MacDonald. Results elsewhere mean we're still 9 points off the pace but move up to 4th.
23rd - Mixu(right) is going to have
some company over the next few weeks on the training ground in the shape
of his younger brothers Mikko, 23and Markus, 21. The two
junior siblings are strikers in their native Finalnd with AC Allianssi and
with the Finnish season closed for the winter, they're coming over to see
their big brother tomorrow for three weeks and training with Saints
although Billy Stark was quick to say
that there's no chance of fans seeing them in action. He said, "Mixus
two brothers are taking advantage of the mid-winter break in the Finnish
league season to come across for a family visit, Mixu asked if it would be
possible for them to use the clubs training facilities and I was
delighted to say yes. However, there is no question of this being a trial
or anything of the sort. They are signed players with their Finnish club
so I couldnt even play them in a reserve match without international
clearance. They could only play in a bounce game but I dont
even have plans to do that as I dont think their club would be too
happy if they picked up an injury. However, it will be a pleasure to have
them at McDiarmid for a couple of weeks and well soon see who has
the real talent in the Paatelainen family!"
Meanwhile team news sees little change from the proposed Clyde line-up last week. and Rudi will start whilst Paul Bernard is suspended. Chris Hay is doubtful though after picking up a deadleg in the reserve game on Tuesday which has prevented him from training since. Speaking of the importance of the match, the manager said, "We need to start making inroads into Clydes lead. Five games ago we were joint top but four draws and a defeat since then has left us in a position where weve got a bit of ground to make up. The disappointing thing is we were ahead in four of those matches only to allow victories to be turned into draws. Weve got to ensure that from now on when we get in front we stay there."
January 22nd - Billy Stark has been accentuating the positives after the reserve win. "We got everything we had hoped from the match because Arbroath had quite a strong team out as well so it was good exercise. The first team is what really counts but players can take confidence from a good performance like that and try and take that into Saturday." There was also praise for 2-goal new boy Stuart Taylor. "He can get forward and get goals and hopefully he can do the same for the first team. Hes always been a good finisher so with a bit of luck, which every player needs, he can add a few goals from the midfield and add that to the team.". As for the experimental back-three formation that was tried out, there is no guarantee he'll go with that on Saturday. Or not as the case may be.....
21st - Saints reserves chalked up a nice 7-0 victory over Arbroath
last night with Stuart Taylor and
Chris Hay(right) getting a brace each.
Cap'n Jim and Rudi
got another game under their belts as part of a 3-man defence alongside
Ian Maxwell. Elsewhere and new loan
boy Mark Ferry got Forfar's consolation
in their 2-1 defeat at Accies.
Meanwhile it's been confirmed that Saints are willing to let Paul Lovering leave during the transfer window. Out with injury for most of his time here, the left-back's dropped down the pecking order with the arrival of Jamie McQuilken. Billy Stark said of the player, whose deal is up in the summer anyway, "Paul wants to be playing and well listen to anything that comes along for him"
Finally, Mixu Paatelainen is on Off the Ball tonight on 810MW at 10pm
January 20th - Billy
Stark has been paying tribute to Eddie
Malone who has signed a 1-yr extension to his current deal to take
him through to summer 2005. The manager said, "Im delighted
to tie Eddie up. We gave him a deal last summer and I said to him at that
time that if he continued to progress he wouldnt have to wait until
the end of the season to be offered a new contract. Hes only 18 and
is still learning his trade but hes been involved in about 80% of
our squads and done really well, which is amazing for such a young lad."
Both Cap'n Jim and Rudi are set to play for the reserves tonight in order to, in the words of the manager, "give them a chance to improve their understanding".
January 19th - There's
apparently no rush to play the postponed Clyde game from the weekend. A
provisional date of Saturday March 6th has been pencilled in which
is the weekend of the Scottish Cup 5th round ties. Obviously this is
dependent upon Clyde beating the Pars in their 4th round match.
The reserves are in action this week though with a 7.15 kick-off set for the McDiarmid clash with Arbroath tomorrow night.
18th - Despite not falling further behind the leaders for the first
time in ages yesterday, Saints still managed to slip to 6th thanks to the
Weans 2-0 win over Ross County.
Still there's some coverage in the papers with new recruit Rudi Vata praising Aggie Moffat(right) cooking. Speaking of his time in Japan the new signing said, ''I tried most foods but definitely not sushi. It was served at the club every day but raw fish just didn't appeal to me and I much prefer Aggie's soup. ''It's great to be back at club where there's a real buzz about the dressing room. You canhave a bit of fun at a Scottish club.''
Meanwhile Cap'n Jim hasn't been slow to welcome Rudi with the new man already christened Shellsuit Bob "after the River City soap ned" The skipper said "Rudi must be sponsored by Hummel because he has shell suits in every colour. He's been getting slaughtered. He looks like an astronaut in the silver one and this week one of the young lads taped a NASA sign on his back. Rudi was wandering around for a while before he noticed. But he's fitted in really well. Everybody knows you need a sense of humour to survive in a Scottish dressing room."
17th - Well it might be a hint for the planning next season but
Eddie Malone(right) has apparently
signed a 1-yr extension to his current deal keeping him at Saints until
Meanwhile the comeback king, Cap'n Jim has spoken about today's return to the first team. He said, "The boss has one or two options available to him for the Clyde game but hopefully if the chance comes along I can take it. There was a period when I never thought I would be back playing and pulling that St Johnstone first team jersey on again. That for me will be the most satisfying thing. There is no doubt that I owe the gaffer a lot. Ive had a series of operations on my right knee. I got back from that and ended up fracturing my cheekbone, so I missed almost all of the gaffers first season here. Like every other club in Scotland there are financial restraints and you cant have passengers in your squad. Last year, at the start of the season, I ended up with a ruptured tendon in my knee. I had that repaired and the boss stuck by me and gave me another years contract. I had got myself back fit before the end of last season and the gaffer said hed seen enough to merit another contract but unfortunately another injury put a dampener on it. I would just like to get a run of games to give him something back for the faith hes shown in me."
Simon Donnelly and Mixu Paatelainen both trained yesterday and should play.
12 noon .....or not as the case may be with the game postponed at 11.55 due to a frozen pitch. No word on a rearranged date yet.
One other piece of news is that Mark Ferry has gone on loan to Forfar until the end of the season.
16th - New signing Rudi Vata is
looking forward to the pressure-pot of Scottish football after having it
easy in the J-League. Making the traditional new signing speech he said
"Football in Japan is totally different. They have invested a lot
of money in the game for the World Cup, they pay very good salaries, they
are very respectful of foreigners and they want to move forward. It is a
good standard of football, but it is not the same atmosphere as you find
over here. Japanese people are shy and the feeling about the game is not
the same. In Europe if you dont get a result people shout at you and
you get criticised day after day. In Japan even if you lose a match 3-0 or
4-0 the people will still applaud you and thank you for the game. I didnt
really like that. Without criticism you cannot go forward. There will be a
lot of pressure at St Johnstone until the end of the season, but if you
are successful under that pressure there is more satisfaction in the
achievement. It is always good to work with a club which wants to achieve
things, and that is the case here. We want to be first in this league and
that brings pressure. We have to be strong enough to deal with it. The
Clyde match on Saturday will be St Johnstones key match of the
season because if we win it were back in the race for first place.
Everything is in place here and I believe we can do better and turn things
He's apparently set to start at Broadwood along with Cap'n Jim(right) after both came through the 5-3 closed-doors win against Queen's Park. Billy Stark said of it all "Weve had spells this season when weve been OK but in a general sense weve not defended as well as we did last year. Weve lost goals which have been costly and were searching for the right balance which will see us improve in the last part of the season. Its a gamble every time you put a team on the park, and both have had enough games now. Jim has shown an improvement in each game and his competitive streak and determination can help the side. Vata is a strong player as well and thats something well need on Saturday because Clyde are a physical team and we need to stand up to them. "
Stuart Taylor will start in midfield in place of the suspended Paul Bernard. Simon Donnelly and Mixu Paatelainen are again doubts with a thigh strain and flu respectively.
Finally tickets are now on sale for the trip for Falkirk in a fortnight priced £12 for the terracing and £14 for the privelige of looking at the Scotsport camcorder operator's backside. Contact the club ticket office on 01738 455000 for details.
15th - After the reserve game was called off Saints managed a
closed doors match in Glasgow against Queen's Park last night to give
Rudi Vata(right) and
Cap'n Jim a run out.
Rudi Vata(right) signed for Saints
yesterday until the end of the season but neither player is guaranteed a
start against Clyde at the weekend according to
Billy Stark who said, "If
either shows theyre in good shape they wont play the full
game. Theyre both experienced players and match sharpness isnt
quite as important in their positions as it is with a front player. Its
a case of seeing how they look and both can make a case for the weekend.
It could prove to be a very important bounce game."
Elsewhere and Simon Donnelly has a thigh strain which has prevented him training this week but he should be back in action today.
January 14th - Last night's
reserve game at McD was postponed due to snow which scuppered
Jim Weir's continued comeback and any
plans that Billy Stark had for his
skipper to appear in yet another reshaped defence at Broadwood this
weekend in the Game That Is Not A Must-Win.
The other big hope for the manager to keep his job is for Comrade Rudi to sign and he apparently was due back in Scotland late last night.
January 13th - Billy
Stark's latest proclamation is that this weekend's trip to Broadwood
isn't a make-or-break game. "There is no denying it is a big, big
game for us but I would not go as far as saying it is a must-win match. I
can understand why people see it that way but I would disagree for the
simple reason that you never know what can happen in football in a
relatively short space of time. Just a few weeks ago we were level on
points with Clyde but they kept winning while we had too many draws. So
things can change pretty quickly. What we have to do is prepare to attack
the game and do everything that is required of us to take the three
points. Clyde are a solid defensive unit so it could be a physical match
but we have shown when we have met them this season that we can give as
good as we get."
Comrade Rudi is apparently due back tonight and assuming the paperwork is sorted out still might sign although going by the manager's comments things are perhaps not as cut and dried as they seemed last week. He said, "We should see Rudi tomorrow and if that is the case he will train on Wednesday then we will have a look at him over the following couple of days".
January 12th - Apparently we're
now concentrating on the league - well there's bugger all else to play for
this season. New boy Jamie McQuilken
was as disappointed as the rest of us, and as one of the few who managed
an average performance on Saturday he's at least got a right to be. "Its
always nice to get a run in the cup. But our next match is far more
important. Its the biggest game of the season for the club. As far
as Im concerned its got to be a must win game. I dont
think anything less than a victory will do us any good, and certainly if
we lost and went 12 points behind Clyde it would be asking a lot to come
back from that.".
As for the Billy Stark, Monday morning brings the same dismal quotes although he's getting even more deserved flak for saying that "We started the way I had hoped" - compare that with Well boss Terry Butcher who gave his players a bollocking at half-time for sloppy play despite being 2-0 up. We can only hope that changes are on the way.
January 11th - More utterings from the manager about his "tactics" yesterday. Billy Stark said, I felt I had to make changes at the back but the unfamiliarity of the back four played a part in our downfall as we were certainly all over the place for the second goal. . So the blame continues. For anyone expecting (nay praying) for a quick change Geoff Brown is apparently on holiday in Tenerife so missed yesterday's game. Let's hope he's got net access for the fans' opinions.
10th - New boy Stuart Taylor
has spoken of his delight at becoming a Halo-ed one. "A few clubs
were interested but Im delighted to be joining St Johnstone. Its
always been a club I have thought highly of. People are ruling St
Johnstone out of the championship running, but I dont see it that
way. There are a lot of good players here -
Jamie McQuilken will be a good
signing - and that was a factor in my decision. Were nine points
behind Clyde but I like a challenge and its not a gap which is too
big. Im really looking forward to the rest of the season. Ive
got one first division winners medal and I want to repeat that with
St Johnstone. I definitely believe its possible."
Billy Stark said of his new signing, "Hes the type of player we dont have and I think hell be an asset in the remaining months of the season. A bit of freshness does help. Even if we were sitting top of the league I would still have been looking to bring a new player in.". Although having said all that he also commented that players moving out are a "distinct possibility" - whether this refers to the rumours going round that Paul Lovering has been freed remains to be seen.
Team-wise today and both Mixu Paatelainen and Simon Donnelly should play. Other than that it's a pretty crucial game for Saints with some suggestion that it's the last chance for the manager to hold onto his job.
7pm- Well a typical shite performance means that we lost 3-0 to Motherwell ending the cup dreams for another year and on today's performance possibly the managerial career of Billy Stark(right) at McDiarmid. As for what he had to say after the game revel in the quotes of the manager. "The first goal was a class finish but we could have done more to prevent them scoring. We defended very poorly when they got the 2nd and that knocked the stuffing out of us. Their third goal was bad because our defender just let the ball go past him and that's typical of how poor we have been this season at the back.".
EDITORIAL (Again) - Well that's it for me. No more chances. We've been waiting on the board to do something for a long time now to give these players a kick up the arse but I'm sick and tired of seeing the same so-called "experienced" professionals disgracing the blue shirts. Motherwell showed today that younger players have more hunger and passion for their team - there was absolutely none of that on display from the home side. Not helped either by a manager who was content to sit in his dugout for the entire game showing no passion for the match or the performance he was witnessing. Several East Stand fans got up and walked out of the ground after half an hour today when we went 2-0 down. The board need to take action now to try and resurrect the hopes and dreams of these fans. Even if this season is a total write-off the rebuilding has to start now. And that begins with a change off the park. And if the manager will not leave willingly it's time for the board to pay him off. Get Stark out now before we end up in the pre-Totten days.
9th - No word on any new signings yet but
Billy Stark is still apparently chasing
a midfielder (cue Benny Hill imagery).
On the departures front, the Sheep have signed another Sellik youth player and admitted that Keigan Parker won't be heading north. Steve Patterson said, "Parker is a player St Johnstone are trying to move on and he is one that we looked at, but at the minute he is not one of our targets. I wouldnt say that it is completely dead, but there are other players that we are looking at before Parker. "
More importantly it seems as though Mixu Paatelainen has succumbed to the flu doing the rounds at McD although the manager is still hopeful he'll make it for Saturday. He said, "Mixu seems to have picked up something...and we will just have to wait and see how he reacts. Obviously he is the kind of player we do not want to have do without against Motherwell and hopefully he will recover in time."
9pm - Stuart Taylor(right) has signed until the end of the season. The 29-yr old 6-foot midfielder was at Falkirk last year before moving to Partick in the summer. He's in the squad for the cup game tomorrow along with the un-suspended Paul Bernard. Mixu Paatelainen and Simon Donnelly are hoping to recover from their flu as well.
As for Comrade Rudi, Stewart Duff has said it's the most difficult transfer he's done in 10 years. "Rudi now has to return to the place he is domiciled. I have spoken to senior Embassy officials and they have been most helpful. We are not anticipating a problem now. He won't be able to face Motherwell, but we expect Rudi to be signed up for the league game against Clyde next weekend. Fans will wonder why this couldn't have been ironed out earlier because he has been training with us. But it only emerged after an agreement had been reached with a player who was also sought by Partick Thistle. We couldn't progress the matter and the player didn't anticipate these difficulties getting official consent to work again in this country. "
Billy Stark said, "It's all very unfortunate, especially given Rudi's strong ties with Scotland. It is disappointing he won't be able to play against Motherwell but there's no point bleating about it. He is going back to Albania and should get the clearance needed first thing on Monday morning. Having spoken to the Embassy people himself he thinks it will be pretty straightforward."
Meanwhile the Daily Record has reported that Paul Lovering has been told he's surplus to requirements and can leave, following the signing of Jamie McQuilken.
8th - The wheeling and dealing in the transfer market continues.
Darren Mackie is now out the picture having elected to go on loan
to Caley Thistle.
However, Jamie McQuilken(right) did sign for Saints last night in an 18-month deal. The 29-yr old ex-Bairn picked Saints over Clyde. Billy Stark said of his new signing, "Jamie was the best left sided player in the league last year and I'm delighted to be able to sign him despite competition from other clubs. Aberdeen had previously signed him for £60,000 so we're very fortunate to have him on board.". He's straight into the squad for the cup tie at the weekend. Talks are still apparently ongoing to sign Rudi Vata until the end of the season whilst another ex-Bairn Stuart Taylor has been linked with a no-fee move from Partick to Saints for a similar deal.
The Rudi Vata situation is a complicated one. The move to Saints is apparently being held up by red tape in Albania which means that despite training today and tomorrow, he's unlikely to sign in time for the cup game with a journey to Eastern Europe required to sort out the paperwork.
As well as all that Simon Donnelly has come down with the flu and is a doubt for the cup tie.
January 7th - It looks like
Rudi Vata will finally sign for Saints
sometime today. As for the other names linked with the club, any move by
Martin Hardie has apparently been ruled out by Killie.
Billy Stark has apparently said he "wouldn't
rule out" another signing by the weekend. And Paul Fenwick
can be ruled out - he's off to Partick.
As for Keigan Parker the latest is that despite all the rumours, no formal interest has been made to Saints - although reports from Aberdeen suggest that Steve Patterson has spoken to Billy Stark about the player. In addition Keigan Parker is reported to have missed training yesterday due to "personal reasons".
Away from the transfer side of things and another closed doors game is set for today to give Jim Weir a run out, whilst Mark Reilly has managed to train this week despite picking up an ankle knock at the weekend.
Finally for now, Kevin Toner is the man in charge at the weekend and the BBC have apparently decided to make the Saints v Well tie their main game on Saturday night. Public humiliation is a wonderful thing.
6th - Saints have dismissed reports on a possible
Keigan Parker move to Aberdeen as "merely
speculation". Despite that the media are still trying to
substantiate the rumours with the latest suggestion being that Saints
won't require much to get rid of one of their biggest wage-earners.
One move which has taken place is Mark Robertson who has signed with Stockport County until the end of the season.
On the park and Billy Stark is still adamant that despite what is meant to be a decent youth policy that Saints are desperate for cover in midfield ( Mark Ferry, Martyn Fotheringham and Ryan Stevenson please stand over there for a ritual kick in the teeth). The manager said, "There is a nervousness there in our play at the moment. But another problem on Saturday was being down to the bear bones in midfield where Mark Reilly was our solitary experienced natural...and he was only half fit! Thats why I went for broke and it did pay off in the first-half when on quality chances we could have been 6-0 up. But we came back out for the second-half and, as against Ayr a couple of weeks ago, quickly conceded a wonder goal and the nerves crept in. The shortage of experience in the middle of the park was definitely an issue. But the good news is that Reilly has come through the game OK and Paul Bernard(right) is now free of suspension and if we can get Rudi Vata signed up this week suddenly its a totally different scenario in that area of the team. " - and if the Albanian doesn't sign and given that Paul Bernard is suspended for the trip to Broadwood, hands up all those who expect similar excuses to be trotted out in a fortnight - assuming the same man is still in charge of the team.
6pm - Well it's transfer rumours galore. Despite weekend reports seeing Jamie McQuilken going to Clyde, today's papers have Saints linked with Aberdeen's former Falkirk left-back with the 29-yr old one of the 8 told they can leave Pittodrie yesterday. Apparently Rudi Vata is expected back from Albania later in the week and with clearance received from the Japanese FA, it looks like he'll be a Saints player in time for Saturday's cup-tie.Billy Stark has denied any interest in Darren Mackie though, whilst it's also been confirmed that Aberdeen scouts did watch Keigan Parker against Brechin last weekend.
Latest name in the frame though is 27-yr old Killie midfielder Martin Hardie. On the fringes at Rugby Park he was a big hit in Partick's promotion season.
Meanwhile with Well visiting on Saturday it means Off The Ball will be coming from the ground. And at 4.45 McD will also play host to the 4th round draw - not that we expect to be in it these days.
5th - The latest rumour doing the rounds has
Keigan Parker set to move to Pittodrie
this week in an exchange for ex-Weans defender Jamie McQuilken and
striker Laurent D'Jaffo as well as some dosh. With his contract up
in the summer it looks like he could be on the way out. As for the
Rudi Vata, apparently there are still a
"couple of technicalities" to sort out.
Meanwhile the fallout from the weekend goes on with Mixu Paatelainen the latest to indulge in some self-abuse over the performance. "We are guttedit was terrible. There is no hiding from this and it was just not good enough. We were 2-0 up at half-time and the manager was pointing out that we needed a good start to the second half. If we were positive, gave nothing away and concentrated we could have killed the game. But a minute after the break they scored a goal then we did not pass the ball well enough after doing just that in the first half. We have let everybody down. Players have to take responsibility and make sure they do the right things. We are losing soft goals. Its scandalous and simply not good enough. No matter what the manager does during the week at training, if on match day the players dont do their jobs there is a problem. We started to panic. That has happened in a few games recently when have gone 1-0 up then lost the leadwe cant let that happen.We need to adopt the old Arsenal mentality so if we get ahead we stay ahead. We have to learn to close the door but we dont have that determination and ruthlessness at all."
4th - With the pressure piling up on him again,
Billy Stark(right) had another of his
tantrums at the post-match press conference with yet another Mr Angry
routine. Spake the boss, "I couldnt be more angry. We were
down to the bare bones selection-wise today but we sent out a team to play
attacking football and they did what was asked of them in that first half
and really should have been four or five ahead at the interval"....but
then it went all wrong in the 2nd 45 and he went on, "The last
thing I said to them as they left the dressing room after the interval was
to start the second half properly and reminded them of the Ross County
game when we lost a goal within a minute. What do we do? Let the same
thing happen again".
As for the 2nd Brechin "goal", the manager said, "It looked well offside to me but then I expressly told the team not to play an offside game but they did and they got punished. Im desperately, desperately disappointed and Ill be seriously exploring what scope there is for changing things."....as no doubt is the board. And excuse me but what can we do when the players don't do what the manager tells them?
3rd - Well it's been confirmed there won't be any new faces at
McDiarmid today for the Brechin game. Rudi
Vata is expected to sign until the end of the season but that won't
be completed until Monday when the Japanese FA re-open to process his
registration. One ex-Saints moving is Stuart
McCluskey who's signed for Clyde until the summer.
Billy Stark meanwhile is looking for a much-improved performance over last week's shambles. "That was the first time Ive brought the players in for training on a Sunday after a match and you have to say that we were disappointing in every area of the pitch. Its been a long week for the players. Normally you would look to tone things down when the conditions arent as good for training as has been the case this week, but it was important the players did a lot of work.". Mind you the festive spirit's still going through his veins going by the next comment "The thing is, even though we played badly, we should still have got away with it in Inverness. It took us gifting them a goal to lose and thats the one positive you can use. As poor as we were, we should still have got a 0-0 result.". Aye right.
By the looks of things, Mark Reilly(right) will start in midfield instead of Paul Bernard. The manager said, "The personnel in the squad will be the same because, if you look at it, we dont really have a great deal of options. There are only two centre-backs fully fit, weve been light in numbers for midfield, and weve been using all four strikers.".
7pm- A game of two halves with Saints blowing a 2-0 lead and in the end scraping a 2-2 draw with Brechin in a game which saw the boos bid farewell to the team at the end of the game. The league position hasn't changed but we're now 9 off the lead and looking like the shapeless, indisciplined, uninterested bunch of players we all feared we could become if the confidence took a knock. It's going to be another loooooong weekend.
January 2nd - First of all
forget any chance of the prodigal son returning to McD with the news that
Danny Griffin is finally quitting
Tannadump for Stockport County today.
For Saints though the Rudi Vata saga goes on. He's unlikely to be a Saintee before the Brechin game tomorrow but Billy Stark wasn't unduly concerned despite a "big selection headache" due to the enforced midfield shake-up. As for the newly-opened transfer window, the manager said, "The transfer window gives us an opportunity to strengthen the squad and I will certainly be trying to take advantage of that" - make of that what you will.
January 1st - Well it's a big holiday today so sod-all in the way of news re the manager / signings / injuries / comebacks. Anyway in the meantime have a Happy New Year - let's hope it's a bloody better one than 2003 (or 2002, or 2001, or 2000...etc etc)
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