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Dyron Daal - Cult hero?. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 31st - Saints might be ending the news on a downbeat note for fans with the word that Rocco may not be playing for us after the bells toll, after the clubs failed to agree a fee to make his current loan deal permanent. In today's Courier, Derek McInnes is quoted saying, "It looks like Rocco is going back as no deal has been agreed. That’s disappointing for Rocco and for ourselves, because I believe he’d have been brilliant for us in the second half of the season, but we wish him all the best. " - the Parkhead club are believed to have been pleading biscuit-tin levels of poverty and placed a six-figure sum on the player's head. As for the weekend, the manager went on, "The boys who came in at Broadwood did well and have given me a problem. But I’m still looking to bring a couple of new players in for January 2 and I’ll pick the best 11 available to me for that game " One of those could be Morton midfielder Chris Millar. Having already signed a pre-contract agreement, he could be on the verge of moving early to Perth.
Back to Saturday though, and one of those who's returned to the fold is cult-hero-in-the-making Dyron Daal(right). The striker's hardly been seen all season but he said of his starting slot at the weekend where he missed a second-half sitter, "It’s been a long time since I started a game or got a standing ovation from the crowd. So this was a big thing for me today. The reaction from the fans was great. It’s nice to feel appreciated. The only way this feeling could be better is if I had taken that chance. I had to take a good look at myself because for a time there I wasn’t doing well enough. Since then I have worked my socks off to get back in the team. And now I’ve done that I’ll work my socks off not to let them down, although it’s entirely up to the gaffer whether he picks me. I know I have goals in me. I just need to get started. And there definitely wouldn’t be a better time to get that first goal than against Dundee on Wednesday. I enjoyed my time with them but I have to look out now for myself and Saints. "
Derek McInnes said of the win, "There’s been a question mark over whether we could grind results out at places like Clyde. And every one of the players came up with the right answer today. We had to dig in and fight our corner and we did that. I was as happy with how we won as the fact we won. It was a fantastic team performance. We’ve played better than that and lost this season but we’ve not worked harder as a team or competed that well. I left people out not because of form but to give us a bit of freshness and impetus. It had been a big ask for the ones who have been playing week in week out and I just wanted to raise the energy levels. ". And there was a bit of psychology in his praise for his striker as well, "Up front hasn’t been a problem area for us and I didn’t feel Dyron, who lets his head go down at times, had been doing enough to warrant a place. But I told him if he kept working away he’d get his chance, and against Clyde I felt we needed the presence he provides. There’s a question mark over Dyron concerning whether he puts himself about enough, but he certainly did today. He led the line well and I was delighted with his contribution "
Stuart McCaffrey4.30pm- Just when we thought it was going to be a quiet day, up steps a new loan signing with Caley Thistle defender Stuart McCaffrey(right) joining Saints on a 6-mth loan deal with a view to a permanent move. Speaking of the deal, Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "Stuart will be a good addition to the squad. He has a great deal of experience but at 28 still has a number of years in the game ahead of him and I am delighted to have secured his services.". There's still some paperwork to be completed but the plan is for him to go into an otherwise unchanged squad for the Scumdee visit on Wednesday. While we currently seem to be awash in central defenders the rumoured departure from full-time football in the summer of Andy Lawrie and Kevin Rutkiewicz (the latter apparently heading to Australia to no doubt be a wandering minstrel) means it might be an area we need to strengthen. The club have also announced that there will be a minute's applause ahead of the kick-off in memory of Phil O'Donnell who tragically died at the weekend. Wednesday's OF clash has already been cancelled after both clubs asked for a postponement, but the SFL fixtures will all proceed.
Tomorrow also sees the start of the transfer window and the current update on the pending / rumoured deals is:
Kenny Deuchar - Gone back to Gr£tna and despite all the talk while he was at Saints there's been little more said on a possible permanent deal so this looks dead.
Rocco Quinn - Despite Saints and the player agreeing everything, the Poverty-ridden Forces of Evil have decided that their biscuit tin isn't full enough so slapped a six-figure sum (rumoured to be around quarter of a million) on the player and based on the McBride-factor, it looks like this deal too is buried - at least until the summer when Rocco will no doubt be freed.
Chris Millar - The Morton player looks set to come to Saints sooner than the summer after Jim "Sulky Bugger" McInally threw a strop and dropped him from the squad for signing a pre-contract agreement with Saints.
John Stewart - Gone tae Falkirk. Not one who'll be missed.
Liam Craig - His month-long loan is up soon but neither Saints nor the Bairns have said anything about his future. Rumours abound that he's done a Stewart and had a bust-up with Yogi but with the Falkirk manager also possibly being linked with a departure to head to Easter Rd, things are still up in the air. No doubt he'll be suspended by then anyway.....

Savo - tasked with turning draws into wins. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 29th - Savo(right) is the pre-match pundit in the paper today and he's highlighted in the Courier how much draws are holding us back (next week he discusses how the Pope is a catholic and where bears shit). "We are a bit behind and we need to start turning these draws into victories and these are the kind of games we need to win. We’ve not done that this season and hopefully we can start to go on a bit of a run against Clyde and get a bit of confidence ahead of the Dundee game. No one here is thinking we are too far behind to catch Dundee and Hamilton. I don’t think there’s anything between us and on our day we can beat anybody as we’ve shown when we played Hamilton here and won 4-1. As for the game earlier in the season against Dundee at Dens, in the first half we battered them but they’ve come back second half and won the game which it’s hard to say they didn’t deserve to win because they took their chances. It’s quite hard to put your finger on it because we’ve played well in a lot of games that we should have won, but ended up drawing. We’ve been unlucky in some and in other games it’s been individual mistakes that have cost us, so we’ve just got to put that right starting tomorrow. I just think we’re nearly there and if we can string a few results together we’ve got a good chance. ". One away win all season though is hardly challenging form but he's happy with his own form and went on, "It’s been okay so far but the games are coming thick and fast just now so it’s pretty tough going when you’ve been out for as long as I have, so I’ve just got to get through this period. My form has been a bit up and down. I’ve played the last four games and played pretty well in two of them and the other two I’ve been disappointed in my own performance. The team’s performance hasn’t been good overall on those occasions either so I just hope we can get the win on Saturday and kick on from there. "
Rocco Quinn is still a doubt for what could be his final game after twisting his ankle but Saints are hopeful of extending his deal to the end of the season either as a loan extension or permanently.
7pm - It wasn't pretty but a changed Saints side ground out a 3-1 win over Clyde at Broadwood with goals coming from Andy Jackson, a Peter MacDonald penalty and Kevin Moon who had an impressive game in place of the injured Rocco. The result keeps in comfortable 3rd as both Accies and the Scum won their games.
Meanwhile Scottish football is in shock tonight over the sudden death of Motherwell's Phil O'Donnell who collapsed when going off in their game against Dundee United. The former Celt was only 35 and our thoughts go out to his family.

December 28th - Looks like Chris Millar is set to make an early appearance at McDiarmid with the Morton midfielder lined up for a move to Saints in the January transfer window. Derek McInnes told the Courier, "Chris was one we had originally earmarked for next season but in an ideal world we would get him sooner. The club has been speaking to Morton to try to get it resolved quicker than anyone had expected. I don’t think he will play again for Morton so it would be good to get him here in January." - which doesn't really make it any clearer. It also looks like agreement about a permanent move to Saints for Rocco Quinn is getting nearer after everyone's apparently agreed the terms of the move. The midfielder himself is a doubt for tomorrow after twisting an ankle against Stirling.
Elsewhere and Martin Hardie is stepping up his return to fitness. He's on track for the Januay 19th match against Dunfermline for a comeback.Kevin James is also improving greatly. He told the paper, "I hope to be back in full training in the middle of next month and we’ll take it from there. I’m undergoing a course of prolotherapy. That involves a dextrose solution being injected into the affected area to strengthen the ligaments which, unlike the muscles, don’t strengthen on their own. It’s better known in the USA than in this country but a specialist in Leicester offers the treatment and some high-profile players have been successfully treated in this way "
As for Wednesday's boredom-fest, the manager merely said, "It was disappointing at Stirling, especially after the weekend performance against Livi. That sums-up our season so far I suppose. Conditions were difficult but we really only played with the tempo and ball movement required for a 15-minute spell before half-time. We didn’t do enough to deserve a win. Stirling had done their homework and we faced two banks of four. You don’t always get the chance to play nice football. Sometimes it’s about digging in. If you want to compete for a title you have to go to places like Forthbank and Broadwood and win. Clyde are always right in your face so we know what to expect. But we also know we have to match the run-in we had to last season to give ourselves a chance. "

Peaso - too many slip-ups. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 27th - Peaso(right) provides the post-match quotes in the paper today and surprise, surprise with all the insight of indicating that grizzlies do indeed excrete bodily wastes in a forest-like environment, he reckons that draws are becoming a problem this season. As we failed to beat bottom of the table Stirling for the second time this season, the Saints striker told the Record, "It's very frustrating because we are trying to catch them. But all credit to Stirling who did well. They got in about us and could have stolen it at the end when we were pushing on. But we are not getting too down about it. We need to try to win every game because we keep getting draws ". He was even backed up by the manager who again failed to point out that the high ball is a pish way of playing football but told the paper, "We never really had a cutting edge and didn't produce enough good passing play to merit a win. It's another draw and a missed opportunity"

December 26th - Saints go to Stirling today with a fair bit of confidence surging through the ranks once more and loan signing Liam Craig has been impressed with his new teammates. He told the Courier, "have quickly noticed that we are a team capable of scoring goals. The lads up front all work so hard and that makes it easier for the midfielders. I didn’t know too much about Andy Jackson before coming here but we travel together to training every day. He was just saying he hadn’t scored for a while so I was delighted to see him back on the scorehseet against Livingston on Saturday. Stevie Milne was outstanding, too, and had a part in nearly every goal against Livi. He is a Premier League class striker, no question, and has great movement. He has told me he has had no ill effects from his knee operation and that is great news for him and St Johnstone. He reminds me of Pedro Moutinho at Falkirk, who was injured when he first came to Scotland. With training and hard work behind him, Falkirk are now seeing his class—and hopefully that’s the same with Savo. While it is great to have good strikers playing in front of you, it is also important for the midfielders to chip in so I was delighted to get a goal against Livi. It was a real morale boost for me "
"The gaffer wants us to play football and it’s the same at Falkirk, so it has been easy to settle in. As far as I am aware the loan is only for a month and Livi was just my second game but I am delighted to be here. Falkirk won again at Motherwell on Saturday so they might not take me back. Seriously, there are a lot of games coming up for St Johnstone and we want to take 12 points out of 12 over the festive period. Hopefully the front two will slip up and we can close the gap."
Derek McInnes has warned against complacency though. He said, "There was a lot to be pleased about on Saturday but we haven’t been too accomplished at producing back-to-back wins. So winning the game will be what counts for me and playing well again will be a bonus. Like ourselves, Stirling have drawn a lot of games, but they will know that a couple of victories will see them back in amongst it. We will need to reach a high standard once again if we are to get all three points."
7pm - Another big travelling support and another disappointing performance from Saints as we failed to keep the momentum going from Saturday's five-goal thriller and ended up with a rotten display to barely earn a point in a goalless draw away to Stirling Albion. And while the unchanged team didn't produce the goods there were more than a few worries tonight with Savo and Rocco Quinn both picking up knocks during the game. Elsewhere there was a small crumb of comfort with Accies only drawing at home to Clyde and the Scum losing - so at least we didn't slip any further behind.

December 24th - Rocco Quinn told the Courier today that he'll miss training tomorrow. He said, "The gaffer has given us Christmas Day off and that’s unusual for me because I have been used to training in previous years. As a footballer it is something you just get used to and accept as part of the job. It is great that this year he is allowing the lads to stay with their families. Although we are off, I will still be preparing the way I do for every game—so that means no turkey dinner. I will be having some pasta instead, but I might get my mum to keep me some food to have later in the week, maybe after the game at Stirling on Boxing Day. "
As for the weekend result he went on, "We are delighted with the performance, and that has sent us away really happy. We try to play a good passing game all the time and our training is geared up for that, so it is really pleasing when things click the way they did. Everything seemed to go right for us and on another day we would have scored even more goals. The quality of the goals was fantastic and, during the second half, we looked like we could score every time we went into their half. But we are not going to kid ourselves on and get carried away now. It was a great win, but we have a lot of hard work to do to get back on track—the main thing now is to keep it going into the next game. The lads here certainly feel we are capable of catching the teams at the top of the table. Hamilton and Dundee will slip up sooner or later, but the way it is just now we are not going to look too far ahead. The main focus has got to be on the Stirling game now "
Derek McInnes was happy as well and the manager said, "The boys were magnificent, especially to come back from a goal down and produce a performance like that. Our choice of pass and decision making was excellent—it was a real team performance. The goals seemed to get better with each one, and there were three or four moves we didn’t score from which were brilliant as well. I have known that we are capable of playing like that. The one thing for me in the past has been how we react when teams have a go at us, like Livi did early in the second half. But we kept our discipline, saw it out and then went on to control the game again. That really pleased me "

Jacko - 10 for the season. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 23rd - Andy Jackson(right) told the Sunday Mail today he's glad to get back on the goal trail. After hitting his 9th and 10th of the season yesterday, the Saints striker said, "It had been five weeks since I'd scored and obviously Kenny had left as well, so I was glad to get on the scoresheet. It also shows Savo and I can play alongside each other. Some people thought we were too similar - but they said that about Rooney and Tevez too " (didn't elaborate on who was who though!)
Derek McInnes was just as happy and he said, "It was a great attacking performance."

December 22nd - Derek McInnes made his first foray into the transfer market yesterday signing up Morton's Chris Millar on a pre-contract agreement. The right-sided midfielder might be arriving before that however as he seems to have pissed off his current employers with Morton saying that because they were kept in the dark about any possible moves, he'll "never play for the club again" which, one might argue, might see him head to Perth in the January transfer window.
Meanwhile with an important clash against Meadowbank today, Alan Main has promised to do better (though whether he even starts remains to be seen with Kevin Cuthbert talking about a possible McD January departure if he doesn't get a chance). The Saints keeper said in the Courier, "lost a bad goal and it was blatantly obvious it was my fault. I’m not going to hide behind the pitch. I am old enough to take responsibility for things. It wasn’t a great strike, nor was it that bad. But Gary Irvine has gone to block the shot and it’s gone through his legs and under my arm. The surface didn’t help. Early on Gary played a ball back to me along the ground and by the time it reached me it was six inches off the deck so I was expecting a bobble which didn’t happen. But no excuses. " (erm having just made them?) "The older you get the greater the scrutiny you find yourself subjected to. I’m under a lot more pressure second time around here at the age of 40 than I was during my first spell. But I’ll know myself when it’s time to say ‘That’s it’. If I wasn’t feeling right I wouldn’t kid myself on or cheat anyone else. But I lost goals when I was 20 and when I first came to Saints I’d a difficult time of it. Whatever age you are you just have to push through that. And I’m strong enough to cope with any criticism that’s flying my way. It’s not just myself who has to move on from losing to Hamilton. We’ve got to do that as a team because every game now is a massive one for us. We’ve a new manager and a new coach and, for as enjoyable as the training has been, it takes time to blend. But the games are obviously starting to run out so the pressure that’s on us to go out and perform is increasing. "
Derek McInnes is taking the glass half-full approach to today's encounter and he said, "If we can play in the same manner in which we did at Hamilton we can get the three points. Although we lost to Accies there were positives to take out of that game and I am optimistic. "
7.30pm - Well it's safe to say that the improvement on last week was more than noticeable as Saints slaughtered Livi 5-2 with goals from an Andy Jackson double, Rocco Quinn, Liam Craig and Peter MacDonald.

Goran - wants a new deal. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 21st - Goran(right) is in the Courier this morning saying how much he loves Saints and wants to end his career there.....though not until after next summer. The 35-yr old Macedonian has come in for a fair ole slagging this season for not meeting his own high standards and he told the paper, "I have been in Scotland for five years and I'd love to finish my playing days with Saints. This is my third season in Perth and I really enjoy everything about the club, the management, players, staff and supporters. If possible, I'd like to get another contract to keep me here."
"My performance levels haven't been as good as last season. But I have been training and playing with painkillers for weeks. I feel much better now though and hopefully I can get to the same levels of consistency as last season. It's disappointing to be so far behind the leaders. We didn't expect that. The problem is obviously the number of draws we've had. We have only lost three games and that's one less than Hamilton. But we have to get wins under our belt. People wrote us off last season in January when we were well behind Gretna. They didn't think we could catch them but we almost did it on the final day so it is far too early to say the league is finished.  We need to start getting victories though during the busy Christmas and New Year period."

Saints will train on Monday and have Xmas day off ahead of the Boxing Day trip to Stirling. Derek McInnes said of the plans, "When I was a player at West Brom, Gary Megson used to give the boys Christmas Day off and that's an example I intend following. There were times at West Brom, when we were away to Manchester City and Bolton, that we travelled on Christmas evening to spend the night in a hotel. But the day itself was spent with the family and I believe that's the way it should be. We'll train longer than normal on Monday and do all the talking about the match then. You don't do much physically the day before a game and I just feel there's little benefit in having boys travelling all the way from Edinburgh or Glasgow and being away from their families for up to five hours. New Year will be different though. We'll be in then."
Training has been different this week as well with the backroom staff trying to deal with our defensive problems. "I was happy enough with most aspects of our performance against Hamilton." (no irony there either), "But if we are to start winning games we've got to stop losing poor goals. And we have been working hard this week on trying to keep the back door shut." No word on the flug bug victims but Willie McLaren apparently had some teeth removed but should still play. (cue loads of witty responses to that)

December 19th - Papa Niang has left McDiarmid following his trial period. The club were unable to get a closed doors game arranged to have a closer look at the player and there's no word of any follow-up being planned.
Meanwhile both John Stewart and Savo have apparently been suffering from the flu but both are expected to recover for Saturday's home match against Livingston.

December 18th - Derek McInnes seems to know where the problems are in the side. He told today's Courier, "We may have drawn a blank on Saturday, but I am not too concerned about our ability to score goals. We do tend to create chances, and if we can just get someone in with height and presence to do the job Kenny Deuchar was doing for us before returning to Gretna we’ll be fine in that regard. What does concern me is the goals we’ve been losing in recent weeks. Looking back over the past three matches, all five of the goals we’ve conceded might have been avoided. The two against Partick were easy crosses into the box, Morton’s first goal was a catalogue of errors, and the second a long punt into the area which should have been dealt with. Then on Saturday Alan Main has accepted responsibility for the goal we lost. For me the problem has been lack of concentration, and we need to improve things in that regard."
Transfer moves are still going on with talks ongoing for Rocco Quinn and Kenny Deuchar while apparently we're keeping track on Simon Mensing's situation (someone who blotted his copybook with some hefty tackling at the weekend), with the manager being all enigmatic saying, "If Simon was to become available he is a player I’d be interested in.".
There's better news for Kevin James with a return to action still pencilled in for January. The manager said, "Kevin was back at the specialist last week and got a couple of injections to improve the healing process and strengthen the knee. But the specialist was more than pleased with the progress he is making. Kevin is getting frustrated at the speed of his recovery, but he’ll just have to show a bit of patience. He is starting to build things up and remains on course to return sometime between mid to late-January. "

December 16th - With Saints in 4th and 16 points off the pace, it seems that Derek McInnes is about the only one sticking to the cliches and not giving up (unlike most of his players yesterday). The manager told the Sunday Mail, "If we win our game in hand it's down to 13 points and nobody in our dressing room will ever give up. The demand at this club is to be in the SPL so of course we are disappointed to be where we are. But we were 12 points adrift last January and we took it right down to the final seconds of last season and we have to try and do that again. "

Liam Craig - in the squad. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 15th - Liam Craig(right) is straight into the squad for today's trip to leaders Hamilton. The midfielder told the Courier, "Tomorrow is a massive game to look forward to. Obviously Hamilton are top of the league so they must be doing something right, but hopefully I can get off to a good start with a win. From speaking to a couple of the lads, John Stewart and Rocco Quinn, I know that the team have been playing quite well but drawing a lot of games. Hopefully I can bring something to the team and help St Johnstone get some results. I’m here until January 10 and I’m really looking forward to it. When the manager said St Johnstone were interested in taking me on loan I didn’t have to think twice about agreeing. St Johnstone were actually the first professional club I trained with when I was a young boy. I think I was about 10 and I’m happy to be back again a few years later."
The Saints manager said, "He’s gives us another option in midfield. Liam's a good player with a lot of Premier League experience and has been frustrated playing reserve-team football this season. John Hughes was reluctant to let him go but saw the bigger picture and knows this loan spell will benefit him. Obviously everyone involved then will have recollections of what happened in our last game of the season at Hamilton. That day we were on the top of our game but we haven’t really got up to that level this time around. We have to realise the importance of this game. It’s a chance not only to get three points, but also to start making inroads into the gap between us and the leaders. Hamilton have been impressive and their home record is second to none, but we’re more than capable of winning. A win against the leaders would give everyone a great boost in confidence. "
Kevin Moon was again being talked up by Derek McInnes and the manager went on, "I rate him highly and it’s time he stepped up his progress by becoming a regular contender for a first-team place"
7pm - Another piss-poor performance saw a lacklustre Saints side go down 1-0 at Accies effectively killing off any hope of a title run this season.

December 13th - Alan Morgan's turned Saints down to sign an 18-month contract with Killie last night. But there was some signing news today with Saints announcing that Savo has signed a 2-year extension to his contract taking him through to the summer of 2010. Derek McInnes told the Official Site, "I spoke to Steven last week and I'm delighted it is sorted out. He is the first of a number of boys whose contracts I want to tie up because quite a few expire next summer. Savo has looked very sharp in training and probably would have been back in the side quicker had it not been for the form of Andy Jackson and Kenny Deuchar. I know what he can bring to the team and I sense a real hunger in him at the moment to get back playing regularly and scoring goals. It is a good bit of business by the club and I am delighted."
And Savo said, "I enjoy training and playing here and everything about the club so I am delighted to be extending my stay. I have been out for a while but ' touch wood' things seem to be settling down for me. I've had three operations but how I am at the moment is the best I have felt in all the time I have been here. I just want to get back playing and scoring goals for Saints."
11pm - And the first of a potential double signing for the weekend arrived tonight with the news that Saints have taken Falkirk's Liam Craig on a month's loan. The 21yr old left-sided midfielder can also cover in defence.

December 12th - The reserves chalked up a 3-1 win last night with the goals coming from an og, John Stewart and David Weatherston the latter providing the assists for the other two. There was no sign of any of the trialists in the side.
Meanwhile apparently an SPL club are also interested in signing Alan Morgan so it doesn't look too hopeful for the short-term deal we've offered the midfielder.

December 11th - While there's plenty of talk between Saints and Celtic about the future for Rocco Quinn he says he wants to concentrate on playing. The midfielder told the Courier, "I’m aware that the manager has been on the phone to Celtic but I don’t know much more than that and am quite relaxed about the whole thing. I have not really had time to think about anything other than preparing for games, training and playing. Thoughts of my future have been put to the back of my mind. Instead, I have been fully focused on what’s important, ie Saturday afternoon at three o’ clock and training. What matters is improving my game, helping the team as much as I can and winning games for St Johnstone. The whole point of coming here was to get first-team football and it’s been a great experience for me. I am in the middle of something and I would not mind seeing it through. It would be nice to see what the club can do between now and the end of season. The change of manager has not made a difference to my thoughts about that. Indeed, when Derek got the job after Owen Coyle left everybody was thrilled. For me, it could not happen to a better guy and the players are happy about it. "
"We know we have had too many draws and some of the results have been down to us letting victory slip away. Of course we want that to change. I know it will be a tough game on Saturday because Hamilton are the league leaders, but they were top when they came here earlier this season and we took four off them. So there’s nothing for us to fear. Some people might think we should be nervy about going there but, really, the boys can’t wait for the game to come around, especially after what we viewed as a missed chance on Saturday. I see it as an opportunity. Hamilton may look at it and say that if they win this one that will put St Johnstone to bed but for me and my players this is a real chance to make headway into the points deficit. I saw enough against Morton to be confident. I think we got anxious at times, made mistakes and took wrong decisions, but the second half performance was encouraging as we created opportunities and showed we can still be difficult to play against when we do the right things. We know we are capable of winning the game, as long as we realise what’s at stake. If we keep drawing matches we will not be up there challenging. Saturday was a poor point and there have been too many of them, there’s no getting away from that. Hamilton have lost four matches in this league campaign whereas we have lost only twice. We have suffered through dropping too many points. We have not had the ruthlessness required to go on a winning streak that we had in the run-in last season and we need to get it back. We need more clinical finishing and to stop gifting goals"
Saints have a Reserve League Cup tie at Montrose tonight. The game kicks off at 7.45pm and Saints could another new face. As well as Collin Samuel and Alan Morgan who have been training with the club, 24-yr old Senegalese defensive midfielder Papa Niang may also get a run out. He's had a trial at Coventry and is apparently on the fringes of the Senegalese national squad. Derek McInnes said, "I know what Sammy can give us and he has showed up well in training but that’s as far as it goes at the moment, while Craig Brewster is happy to let Alan train with us this week and he has been doing fine. Papa has been recommended to us and if all the paperwork is completed in time then I could have a look at him up at Montrose. He was down at Coventry for pre-season and has been playing over in Senegal more recently. He has also been with the French-based Senegalese players preparing for the African Nations Cup. They have a squad of 22 for the tournament and a back-up pool of six—he is in the latter. So he has a good pedigree and has shown himself to be really keen to be here. His attitude has been such that it’s only fair that I take a look at him " - if you want a photo, it looks like he had a spell in Finland with FC Opa
The manager has also seen the video footage from Saturday and after calming down a bit he's freed Kevin Rutkiewicz of blame for his second booking. "I was not too happy about the first one and told Kevin that but I have no complaints regarding the second booking as there was no contact. The referee has made a huge mistake and it’s had a bearing on the game—there’s no two ways about it. Having watched the video tape back there’s nothing in it. It wasn’t even a foul. "
6.30pm - This afternoon's update from McD seems to indicate that Derek McInnes is hoping to get his first signing on board for this weekend. Papa Niang holds dual nationality so assuming the red tape for tonight can be sorted out and he impresses at Montrose, he should be free to sign. Meanwhile Saints have made an offer to TFOE for Rocco Quinn and are awaiting a response while a short-term deal has also been offered to Allan Morgan and the club are waiting to hear from the player.

December 9th - As you'd expect, Derek McInnes wasn't too impressed by the start to yesterday's game. He told the Official Saints site, "One of the last things I said before we left the dressing room was not to overplay things at the back – and that is exactly what we did. Alan shouldn’t have given the ball to Goran, Goran shouldn’t have played it to Steven Anderson who obviously should have done something different with it to what he did! I thought we reacted well though and for the next 15 or 20 minutes took the game to them but overall the first half was poor from our perspective. The 3 against 1 at the back wasn’t working so I changed it at half-time and we were much better with a straight back four. We started the second half well and Morton stopped enjoying the game and I felt Andy Jackson dragged us back into the game. Steven Milne and Peter MacDonald were excellent throughout – Savo’s first touch on the long ball from Gary Irvine was excellent and got him into the position that brought the penalty."
As for the sending-off of Kevin Rutkiewicz, the gaffer has reserved judgement saying, "The first yellow card was cheap – it was petulant and not acceptable. I spoke to the referee at the end about the second yellow and he says that in the build up to the ball going out for a throw that Kevin caught their player but I would need to view the video before I committed myself"

Savo - starting today?. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 8th - Steven Milne(right) is hoping to start this afternoon but knows there will be a change in shape to the team with the departure of Kenny Deuchar. He told the Courier, "We played without a big striker before Kenny came here, so it’s something we’re used to. We’ve got players who like to pass the ball and get the ball wide, so I don’t think it should be a problem. Kenny did really well, and I’m not belittling what he’s done here, but I’m sure we can adjust and play more balls to feet or in behind the defenders for the strikers to run on to. With Kenny in the team the temptation was always there to lump it forward, which we were probably guilty of doing against Partick last weekend—and that suited them rather than us. Hopefully it might make a positive difference—that’s how we have to look at it."
"It’s 11 months since I last started, and hopefully I’ll get my chance today. I’ve been training fully for seven or eight weeks— I’ve played 90 minutes in the reserves a few times and I’ve come off the bench for the first team. My knee is fine and my fitness is good. It would be a dream to come back into the team and score, but my main target is to perform well for the team. A win is all that matters, and that will be the case for the next few games. We’ve been written off already by a lot of people, but everyone here still thinks we have a chance. Every game is important now—we need a win against Morton, which would set us up for the Hamilton game the following week. We can’t afford to keep drawing games—a good few of the matches we’ve drawn have been ridiculous. "
Derek McInnes isn't revealing anything about the starting lineup though. "We’ve got options, but none of them are the same as Kenny gives you. He gave us a real presence, and of course his goals were invaluable. They’re good players, though, and hopefully they’ll be hungry to make their mark. Kenny was an outlet to get us up the pitch when we were under pressure, but last week we played too many long balls. There can be a tendency to think it’s your only ball, and we’re a better side when we get it down and play. ". The manager may also play with Martin Hardie missing. "I was really disappointed with the goals we lost last week and we’ve worked on a few things ahead of tomorrow’s game—if we keep the back door shut I’m always confident we’ve got goals in us. We’re just doing okay at the moment, but just doing okay isn’t going to get us to where we want to go."
He also revealed that he rates Alan Morgan who is training with Saints and the plan is to have a closer look at him over the next week.
8.30pm - Well with our usual style we ballsed it up completely today throwing away a lead to draw 2-2 at home to Morton which thanks to Partick winning sees us drop to 4th. A Steven Anderson own goal and an error from Alan Main (one of many over the afternoon from the whole defence) gave Morton the goals either side of a Paul Sheerin penalty and a neat finish from Savo. And to add to the fun Kevin Rutkiewicz damaged his captain's reputation with a couple of stupid bookings to miss the Accies game next week. Another bad day at the office.

Rocco - talks started. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 7th - Tomorrow marks the first home match since Derek McInnes took over at the club and surprise, surprise it's against the team where he arguably made his name. Saints have no real injury worries other than the usual missing culprits - Gary Irvine, Goran Stanic and Allan McManus all recovered from their knocks and bugs this week. The manager told the Official Site, "I have the line-up for tomorrow in mind and I'll just need to be sure that there are no last minute problems. Kenny Deuchar will be a big loss in stature as well as his goal scoring contribution but I have to say that all the strikers are looking good in training. Players such as John Stewart, Dyron Daal and David Weatherston haven't featured as much as they would have liked and they will all quite rightly be seeing my move to the management role as the chance to start afresh. I have no problem with that and they will all be given the chance to show they deserve to be in the team. I know these lads strengths and weaknesses and I understand that their heads might have dropped a bit ? I know myself what it is like when you are not playing. To be fair, these boys understand that Andy Jackson and Kenny Deuchar have been playing exceptionally well together but that partnership is ended now so they have the chance to stake a claim."
As for tomorrow's opponents, he went on, "They were very good to me as a club. Allan McGraw and John Mcmaster gave me the chance and showed me how to be a professional footballer and I will always be grateful for that. I'm delighted that they are heading in the right direction and they have been a great addition to the First Division. Their supporters have high expectations and I know everyone at Cappielow is working hard to realise those. Saints fans made it a cup final at Dens in terms of numbers and noise and it would be great if the players could receive similar backing at McDiarmid. I appreciate that it is unlikely we can generate the cup final-type atmosphere but a noisy, supportive home crowd is a great tool for any team to have in its locker."
Meanwhile the club have opened talks with Rocco Quinn(right) and Celtic about the midfielder making his move to Saints a permanent one. His loan is up at the end of the month but he's already said he'd like to stay on.

Jinky - out till January. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 6th - There's little concrete news coming out of McD this week with the rest of the media concentrating on the sacking of Stephen Kenny in Parsland. The rumour mill hasn't stopped though with ex-Bairns and Airdrie striker and current TFOD reserve Alan Gow the latest name linked with a possible loan move to Perth.
6.30pm - Saints have confirmed that the Challenge Cup DVD will be on sale at the club shop on Saturday priced £10, with the historic win also available to order online from next Monday.
Meanwhile another victim for the treatment room with Jamie McCluskey(right) out for about 6 weeks after breaking his toe in training earlier in the week. Hopefully he'll be back soon since he's one of the players who thoroughly deserves a run in the first team. Elsewhere and 24yr old Alan Morgan is training with Saints after being released by Caley Thistle due to an apparent surplus of midfielders in the Highland capital.

December 4th - Martin Hardie's lay-off is talked about in the Courier today. Derek McInnes said, "They are opening up the groin a little and stretching it to address the fact he is still getting a bit of discomfort. The surgeon has carried out the same operation on Stephen Pearson, Bobo Balde and Steven Gerrard with 100% success. And he has given Martin confidence that he’ll come out the other end of the process completely pain free. He’s been told it’ll take four to six weeks for him to recover from the surgery, although I suspect six weeks is more realistic. It’s very disappointing to lose him because he is a talisman for us. But it’s more important he gets sorted out as this has been going on too long. We knew last week that he’d need the operation but the medical advice was that playing against Partick Thistle wouldn’t do any more harm which is why we included him I’m not entirely convinced, however, that it worked for us—although he was involved in the equalising goal. It would have been hard enough for Martin on a decent surface, but on a difficult pitch with a groin problem it was tough for him "
He was happier with the performance at Firhill (about the only one) but expects more. "To drag ourselves up to get something from the game after being 2-0 down was a fantastic effort from the boys and they deserve credit for that. We’ve drawn too many games this season and that is killing us. But Saturday was a good point all things considered."
With Kenny Deuchar returning to Gr£tna, Steven Milne has a chance to stake a claim for a starting jersey. The manager went on, "We have to focus now on the players who are here and in particular Stevie Milne who has possibly been unlucky not to start before. He is very much in my thoughts for Saturday, although he is a completely different type to Kenny. Savo is sharp as a tack, intelligent, pacey, a great finisher and works ever so hard. He has loads going for him. But having a bigger one would help take the weight off of him. I think it is good to have a big player as an option up front and this week we will be trying to get someone in if we can "
Savo knows how important the coming weeks are. He said, "I feel as if I could start a game now. “It might be another story whether I could finish it, though hopefully I could. It’s been good to get back involved as a substitute and now, with Kenny going, there’s an opportunity. I am available but would understand if I didn’t get straight back in the starting line-up when I’ve not started a match since January. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who’ve said to me Hamilton will start dropping points—but they aren’t so we need to be winning games not drawing as we did on Saturday. They are 14 points ahead of us and although we’ve a game in hand that’s a long way to be behind. The good thing is we play them in a couple of weeks time and if we can put together a run that includes beating them then we can change things a bit."
Meanwhile Saints have offered Colin Samuel training facilities while he is on his break from the MLS but haven't ruled out a move for the T&T winger. Derek McInnes said, "Sammy hasn’t played since October 20 and he asked if he could come in and train to keep his fitness up. I’m glad to do him a favour. There’s no more to it than that at this stage, although things could change. Colin’s contract with Toronto is finished but as we understand it he may still be tied to them. We are trying to find out exactly what the situation is. I’ve mentioned to Sammy the possibility of maybe getting him on loan for a month and he indicated he’d be interested in that if it were possible. But we’ll have to see. "

December 3rd - There was more bad news for Saints today with the announcement that Martin Hardie, who has just returned to the first team has gone under the knife to fix his groin injury - this means that the Saints midfielder faces a 4-6 week lay-off. No doubt the manager is already getting his boots ready for the weekend visit of his ex-club Morton. There was better news for Allan McManus with his calf injury clearing up so he should be fit for the weekend.

Del - praising players for some reason. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 2nd - Strangely enough Derek McInnes (right) was full of praise for his players (God knows why). He told the Sunday Mail, "I knew the team had character and fighting qualities but you've got to think you're dead and buried with such little time left. I'm delighted they kept going and judging by our second-half performance a draw was no more than we deserved. In the first half our crosses into the box weren't from good enough angles but we sorted that out in the second and played a lot better. Paul Sheerin did a tremendous job for us and stuck away the penalty and it was nice to see Big Kenny finishing his loan spell at the club with a goal. One of the first things I did when I took the job was to phone Gretna and see if we could keep him - but they want him back from Monday. Deuchar didn't have his best game but we wish him well. He's a fantastic lad and if things don't work out for him I'd obviously be interested in getting him again in January "

Rusty - due to start today. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.December 1st - Allan McManus is set to miss out with his calf injury today so it looks like an early start for Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) after his appearance at Dens off the bench last week. Just back from a year out, the defender-cum-popstar said in today's Courier, "My injuries have cleared up and I’m feeling stronger and fitter. I’m ready to go. “The gaffer knows everybody here and what they’re capable of, but as far as I’m concerned it’s a clean slate for all the players in terms of how the future is going to work out. A new manager will always have his own ideas. This is a transitional period for everyone, players and new management, and we have to adapt to it quickly. There may also be players leaving and new players coming in. But we have to keep the ball rolling from the cup final. That win has lifted everyone at the club and hopefully the fans will be right behind us. We’ve fallen a bit behind Hamilton and Dundee and it’s important that we claw the gap back by the time we get through the festive period. Last season I think a total of 66 points won the league and I don’t see that being beaten this year. Hamilton are well organised and Dundee are big and strong but there isn’t a team much better than the rest in this division. Coming second best is getting frustrating and we’re running out of excuses like bad starts and cup runs. "
As for the new manager, the defender went on, "It is strange calling him gaffer but we’ll soon get used to that. His knowledge of the game is second to none and he commands respect straight away from his playing career alone. He was already a big character in the dressing room as a player. He’s a thorough professional in the way he approaches games and he will expect the same attitude from his players. When Owen Coyle came here he had a good impact on the club and his enthusiasm brought St Johnstone to the attention of people outwith Perth. Derek comes to the job with similar experience that Owen brought to it so he can be just as successful "
The new manager can't wait to get going either - he told the paper, "The place is buzzing after our cup win and it’s important we use that to give us some momentum to go on the run that’s required to get in touch with Hamilton and Dundee. I firmly believe we can do it. Firhill is always a difficult place to go and I expect it to be a very competitive game. I’m really excited about my first match in charge and hopefully we can get off to a winning start. "
7.30pm - A rank rotten performance was only rescued by two goals in the final minutes from a Paul Sheerin spot kick and a farewell-for-now Kenny Deuchar header to share the points in a 2-2 draw against Partick which did us bugger all in terms of favours as both Accies and the Scum chalked up wins.

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November 30th - Derek McInnes has been praising his new assistant Tony Docherty with the Saints gaffer telling the Courier, "“I’m delighted to get Tony here and to get him here so quickly. I’ve got my chairman and Dundee United to thank for that. It was important that we got somebody in and Tony will be great. The boys will really enjoy working under him. He’s a top coach who really knows the game and will be great on the training pitch, which will be a big help to me. Tony has been around at every level— the SFA, youths, reserves and first team. In recent times he’s been heavily involved with the first team at Dundee United. Whichever role he’s had he has always done well. United are reaping the benefit of the young players he’s helped to bring through the ranks. Age doesn’t come into it. First and foremost you need somebody who is good at their job."
As for the new assistant manager he said, "I would have been at Tannadice five years come January. I’ve been very happy there, particularly this season, and the easiest thing would have been to sit there and continue to be number three. But I jumped at the chance to come here and be number two to Derek. It’s a big difference being first team coach to being assistant manager. This is a really exciting challenge and it’s an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. I knew there was a good squad here but after today’s session I’ve seen for myself that the standards are even higher than I thought "
Looking ahead to tomorrow, the manager has still to decide whether or not he'll play. Del said, "As far as playing goes, I’ll take every game as it comes. I’ll keep training every day, but I’ve still not made up my mind for Saturday. ". But Allan McManus may be missing with a calf injury. The gaffer said, "He only managed to train once ahead of the cup final because of a calf injury and he put himself on the line in that match, which is a credit to him. He’s not ruled out yet but he’s very doubtful".
Finally Del confirmed that if the Doc has to return to Gr£tna, Saints will be back in the hunt for him when the transfer window opens. He's also concentrating on trying to get Rocco Quinn to remain at the club.
3.30pm - The Official Site preview of the Partick game has mixed news about our loan signings. Not so good news for the Doc with Del quoted as saying, "It is really disappointing news but I have spoken to Davie Irons and I can understand that in Gretna’s position they are looking to start scoring more goals and Kenny is their player. Kenny has been good for us, not just in terms of the goals he has scored but also what he has done for the team overall. That said, I think we have been good for him too and he reiterated to me when I took over on Tuesday that he wanted to stay with us. However, it is not to be for the moment and although the chances of him returning to Perth in the future are not completely dead I have to move ahead and plan on the basis that he will not be here and I have told him that.". However the future looks like being a little less green for Rocco Quinn as the manager continued, "Rocco is happy here and has spoken to me indicating he would be keen to stay with us on a longer-term basis. I certainly want to keep him so we’ll need to speak to Celtic and try and take things forward."

The Doc - last game this weekend?. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.November 29th - First up and the club have announced that for a simple £2 donation to charity on Saturday, you can turn up to the Centenary Suite at McDiarmid and get your photo taken holding the Challenge Cup.
Derek McInnes is talking up the return of Savo to the first team in the Courier today. The manager said, "He has been worth his weight in gold to this club. He has looked terrific in training for a few weeks now and appears to be as sharp as ever. I would prefer to be cautious about asking too much of him too quickly, while the other strikers have been doing really well. Nevertheless it’s a terrific boost to have such an experienced striker back in the squad. ". And for his part, Alan Main has praised the managerial appointment (sook, sook!), "It is a good appointment as Derek has all the attributes. Owen didn’t have much experience when he came in and I think Derek is in a similar sort of position. However, he has played at the highest level and, once he has the backroom staff he wants, I am sure he will be fine. I can’t see his lack of experience being a problem, to be honest. Hopefully the new manager can provide the wee push that we need. We have to go on a run of wins to catch Dundee and Hamilton at the top of the table. "
Elsewhere and Saints and the Arabs have agreed compensation for Tony Docherty so expect his appointment to be announced this week. But with one arrival, we also have a departure as Kenny Deuchar(right) returns to Gr£tna this weekend after his loan ends. And while there's no way we can extend it, there is nothing stopping Saints making a bid for the striker in the January transfer window or earlier with special dispensation from the SFA. However that will involve a fee as Gr£tna "coach" Davie Irons said, "St Johnstone could only try and buy him in January as you can’t have another loan deal to the same club. But if they were to try and do that, it would involve a fee as we are not prepared to let Kenny go for zero pounds. As far as we are concerned, Kenny will be back here on Monday morning."
1.30pm - The 4th round of the Scottish Cup was drawn today and Saints face Raith Rovers at McDiarmid with the match set for January 12th 2008. It's also been confirmed that Tony Docherty has taken up his coaching position at the club.

November 28th - Tony Docherty looks set to be the new assistant manager after the Arabs gave him permission to speak to Saints with only compensation to be sorted out. Meanwhile, Geoff Brown is expecting to see differences in the style of management under the new boss. He told the Courier, "Derek is a different personality to Owen Coyle but they do share certain qualities which is why Owen brought him here. And if he was good enough for Owen Coyle then he is good enough for me. I’ve seen Derek here and how he goes about his business and I believe he’s an individual who is more than capable of being our gaffer. At times he might be seen as being a wee bit aloof compared to other players because he is extremely self-disciplined. But that will benefit him. This (moving into management) has always been his aim, something that’s been planned in his head for a long time. And, while the chance may have come along a little earlier than he’d expected it to, he has all the attributes to be a success. I very much admire his attitude towards hard work. He is also very professional and fit. And as far as the fitness thing goes he will pay particular attention to others who may not have the same work ethic as he does, which isn’t a bad thing. "
And the first task for Derek McInnes is to sort out the future of Kenny Deuchar. The manager told the Courier, "I’d love to keep Kenny here and I’ve told him that. Anyone who has watched us can see what he brings, he’s a different kind of player to what we had and his scoring record is excellent. He’s brought the best out in the other strikers so he’s definitely someone we’re looking to hold on to. "
The new reign got off to a good start last night with the Reserves beating the Pars 3-2 in the Reserve League Cup with two goals from Savo and one from David Weatherston.

November 27th - Despote all the attempts at secrecy last night it seems certain that Derek McInnes(right) will be named as the new Saints manager this morning at a 09.30 press conference. There is talk this morning that it might be a combined player/manager role which isn't exactly gaining much favour on the forums but again a lot depends on who his assistant will be.
Meanwhile back to Sunday and Alan Main dedicated the cup win to the chairman and fans. He told the Courier, "It was a great occasion, one that meant a lot personally. I wasn’t sure I’d be playing and only found out a few hours beforehand that I was. And to pick up a winner’s medal after getting to a few finals without really winning anything is fantastic. But more than anything this was for the fans and the chairman. It’s been a long time coming for him. But the biggest thing was winning the trophy for the fans— and I’m not just saying that for the sake of it. They were fantastic and deserve it. A big thank you to them for the backing they gave us. The way we started the game was phenomenal. And although we let them back into things by conceding a sloppy goal it ended up a terrific day. But the incident just before half-time when Darren Young hit the post was really important to the outcome. If they’d gone in only 3-2 behind they’d have been coming down the hill in the second half with a bit of momentum. As it was, we still had to defend for our lives at times. However, we ended up winning —and that’s what matters."
Elsewhere and Kenny Deuchar wants his future sorted out. "At the moment I only have the one game left. And obviously with the manager leaving and not knowing who’ll replace him it’s difficult to sort something out. I don’t even know if I’d be in the plans here with a new gaffer coming in. But it has to be sorted out before Saturday or else I’m headed back to Gretna. Unless and until Saints and Gretna agree something, I have no option. The way it’s looking, a week from now I’ll be leaving McDiarmid Park. But I’ve had a great time here and as I’ve said before —why would I want to go somewhere else? ". And Peaso was also happy with the win. He said, "I had played in two semis prior to this final. But Sunday felt better. There may only have been 6500 people there, but it had more of an edge to it than when we played Celtic at Hampden or Hibs at Tynecastle. I thought our fans were magnificent. And if we could get the kind of backing we had at Dens every week it would be like having an extra man. There would be no stopping us. ". Sunday marked his 100th start for Saints and he went on, "I was surprised to start. Between injury and Jacko and Deuchs being on fire, I hadn’t started since the Dundee game back in August. But Sandy Stewart asked me to go in and do a job on the left side and try to support the front two as much as I could. I did my best and managed to get a goal out of the shift I put in, which was a bonus. Any goal is welcome, but one scored in a final is extra special. "
Del at the press conference to announce his appointment. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.Finally Owen Coyle is also interviewed in the Courier today and he said, "I was really chuffed for the players and Sandy Stewart, but most of all the chairman Geoff Brown and managing director Stewart Duff. The relationship I had with Stewart and Geoff was second to none and it is great that they have got something tangible to show for their commitment to St Johnstone. We really moved things on there over the past couple of years to the point where Saints have at last won a cup and are in a position to go on now and mount a challenge for promotion. I loved my time at McDiarmid Park and have left behind a fantastic club full of really good people. I never doubted they would win the cup and it was nice to be able to go into the dressing room at the end, both to congratulate them and say cheerio. "
09:45 - The managerial appointment was confirmed at this morning's press conference with Derek McInnes(right) being awarded a two and a half year contract. Plenty of quotes from the conference as well on the Official Site with Geoff Brown saying, "After the bombshell of Owen taking up the opportunity to go to Burnley we asked Sandy to take charge of the side for Sunday’s cup final which he duly did. In between times the Board of Directors discussed the way forward and although we were inundated with applicants for the post we felt that the club was in a not dissimilar position to when Paul Sturrock left and that if we could appoint from within we should do so. Derek has been in the game a long time and in the eleven months he has been here he has been a superb professional. He came to St Johnstone on the understanding that he could be involved in coaching the Under 19s and reserves and that has happened. Sandy Stewart advised me on Sunday evening that he was accepting Owen’s offer to join him at Burnley so it was never in the equation that Sandy could be offered the job and in Derek the Board of Directors believe they are making the correct appointment."
As for the new man he said, "It has come out of the blue but I am very excited about the opportunity. The focus for the last few days has very much been on the cup final and our fans made it a fantastic occasion and I’m delighted for everyone connected with the club that we won the trophy. Sandy was a strong candidate for the job but when I heard that he was leaving to join Owen at Burnley I turned my thoughts as to whether I should put my name forward for consideration for the post but before I could think about it too much I was contacted by the Chairman yesterday morning and offered the chance to take over. I am very excited by this opportunity and I’m desperate to get started". He's still likely to keep playing in the short-term. Meanwhile discussions are ongoing with a contracted coach to come on board as his assistant - with the new man expected to be Arabs coach Tony Docherty. The new gaffer finished by saying, "There is not a lot wrong at this club so there doesn’t need to be wholesale changes. There are aspects that I feel can be improved on but we have a fantastic set of lads in the dressing room who can take us forward. It has been great to be involved at such a good club and I can’t wait to do the hard work and the hours needed to bring success here."

Sandy Stewart - heading to Turf Moor. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.November 26th - Despite the stories all over the papers linking him to the Saints job, Sandy Stewart(right) has confirmed this morning that he's taken the option of joining Owen Coyle at Burnley. Speaking on the Official Site, the cup-winning caretaker said,"It is the hardest decision of my footballing career – particularly after yesterday – but in the end the opportunity to work down south and help Owen and the existing staff to try and take Burnley into the Premiership is just too great. Who knows, maybe in two or three years time I’ll look back and regret the decision but that is the chance you take and I know that I’ll regret it if I don’t take the opportunity to try it out.". He has agreed to stay until the new manager is appointed and went on, "Owen is keen to have me down there as soon as possible but he is very aware of the situation with Saints and is very grateful to them for the way they handled his departure and so won’t be putting pressure on me in terms of timescales. I’ll be in tomorrow to take training ahead of Saturday’s match at Firhill and unless I’m told otherwise or an appointment is made I’ll take the team against Partick Thistle."
In the meantime, more videos of yesterday's action are on the Putfile Video Archive
6.30pm- The new manager will be unveiled tomorrow with a press conference planned for McD at 09.30. Latest names in the frame are former player Billy Dodds with Derek McInnes as his assistant. Mind you going by the way the Saints board works, you can't rule anyone out at this stage.
Meanwhile Paul Sheerin has been commenting on the Official Site on the first medal of his career. The Saints midfielder said, "It is the first cup win in my career which is great and to score in the final makes it that bit more special. We were excellent for the opening 30 minutes but obviously their goal lifted them a bit before half time. I think if Rocco’s chance had gone in just after the break rather than hit the post then it would have been all over. I thought it went a bit flat after that for 20 minutes or so but then of course they get a massive lift from their penalty and it was a bit like the Alamo for a while after that! However, we held out for what I thought was a deserved win. There was a wee bit extra pressure because you know what is at stake and of course there were a few more supporters behind the goal than normal! Paul Gallacher went the right way which always gives you a split-second of worry but it went in which is all that matters. "
7.15pm - Latest rumour doing the rounds is that Derek McInnes will be announced as manager tomorrow morning with Radio Clyde apparently leaking the news already. Again this is all just speculation and tomorrow will confirm things one way or another. I must say though that if it is McInnes then I don't think we can expect much in the way of a kick up the arse that the team currently needs - even on Sunday we almost blew the final and in recent weeks there has been a real staleness creeping into the Saints performances.
7.45pm - It's being confirmed all over the media outlets and you can expect Derek McInnes to be named as Saints manager at tomorrow's press conference. No word yet on any assistant or the makeup of the rest of the backroom team.

November 25th - So it's finally here - the day of the final and no matter what anyone else says, this is a national competition and it is not a diddy tournament to the 4000 Saints fans that will be heading to Dens this afternoon. There's little real team news with a reported knock to an unnamed player who was being assessed at yesterday's light training session. Apart from that there's nothing more to do than wish the lads all the best!!!
7pm - We finally went and bloody did it with goals from a Paul Sheerin penalty, Peter MacDonald andKenny Deuchar putting us three-nil up within the first half hour at Dens this afternoon before, as only Saints can, we sat back and let the Pars pull it back to 3-2 before a nailbiting finish finally saw us 3-2 winners of the Challenge Cup. Derek McInnes was the man to lift up the Challenge Cup 2007 and send the 4000 Saints fans home with as big a smile on our faces as we could hope for - it'll be a long time before the memories of this afternoon fade. Even better was the return to the first team for Kevin Rutkiewicz, Savo and Mad Mental Martin who all came off the bench.

Chalky - lack of manager changes nothing. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.November 24th - Allan McManus reckons even losing our manager this week won't distract Saints from the biggest game of the season tomorrow with the boys intent on winning the cup. The Saints defender told the Courier, "It would have been absolutely fantastic if Owen Coyle had still been in the dugout. But I’m not that naive to think he could turn down such a fantastic opportunity as Burnley presented him with. The fact a team from the Championship came in for him shows how highly regarded he is. He thoroughly deserved the chance and nobody was more delighted for him than the boys in our changing room. Any young manager getting the chance to go and try their arm in the league below the Premiership in England would be silly to knock it back. And we wish him well. But we are professional enough to get on and do our jobs without him."
"This is final number four for me. I’ve won one as captain of Airdrieonians and been defeated with Airdrie United by Inverness Caley and Livingston by Airdrie. Hopefully I can even that out on Sunday and make it two apiece. I’ve been lucky. A lot of players far better than myself go through their careers never being involved in finals. And although this competition gets bad press at times, the bottom line is it’s a chance for clubs outside the Premier League to win a trophy. Challenge Cup finals have a habit of throwing up shocks and drama and all the ones I’ve been involved in have been good games. Sunday should be another interesting one. It is surprising that a club this size has never won a national trophy. They’ve been to one or two finals in the past but never picked up the silverware. And last year when we might have got to a major final it was the old hard- luck story for us again. But Sunday is a chance to put that right and we’ll be doing our utmost to bring the trophy back here. We’ve got match winners, experience and have some great young lads in our side. But so have Dunfermline. I think the teams are pretty evenly balanced and it’ll come down to who performs best on the day. We’ve had two goalless draws so far this season and something will have to give Sunday or else it’ll go to penalties. But with this being a cup-tie I wouldn’t think either team will be holding back. I can see it being an end-to-end game, hopefully with us scoring one more than them. "

The good news for tomorrow is that following a closed-doors game midweek against Morton both Savo and Mad Mental Martin are in the squad for the game with the former in with an excellent chance of playing.
On the managerial front, there are reports in the papers today that Sandy Stewart is a target for Burnley as well to join Owen Coyle as his number 2.

November 23rd - See? I go away for a wee rest prior to the Challenge Cup Final with a view to recharging the batteries following Scotland's defeat to Italy last weekend and all hell breaks loose. Sure there had been some paper talk and rumours of a managerial vacancy at Burnley but it was nothing serious with even Owen Coyle dismissing it as paper talk. Or so we thought. Even as I tried to relax in the spa, Stewart Duffand Geoff Brown were thrashing out the compensation deal and with the English side coughing up a reported six-figure sum to buy out Owen's 2010 contract, it all led to Thursday morning's announcement that the Saints manager had left McDiarmid to sign a three and a half year deal at Turf Moor. The man himself said that "I owe St Johnstone a lot because they have been great. Leaving St Johnstone was a wrench because of everything I have done at the football club. But as soon as Burnley came on the scene, it was a no brainer for me and the sooner I could get down here and get going, the better. In the end it was just too great an opportunity to turn down and there was no chance of that happening .". While most Saints fans have plenty of respect for Owen and what he's achieved over the last couple of years, there was a feeling that at times his tactics left a bit to be desired. Added to that, results this season had failed to live up to expectations after the semi-finals and dramatic end-of-season climax last summer. Despite a lot of rebuilding over the summer an abundance of draws has left us behind the leaders. Even so I think we all hoped the manager would be there for the long haul, and I never imagined he'd be poached by a Championship club at this stage of his career. It's hard to argue with his decision in terms of the opportunity it present and Geoff Brown said "Owen has done an excellent job for us, and whether we like it or not, St Johnstone is stepping stone. He was rewarded with a three-year contract in the summer, but Burnley have decided to come in so, unfortunately, here we go again. It’s a bitter blow, and one that has come completely out of the blue. There was stuff in the papers down in England last weekend and that disappointed me because, as usual, someone had spoken to Owen before speaking to the club. But I have no problem with Owen: from my perspective as the chairman he has been great to deal with. And as a career move he’s probably going up the league from number 100 to number 35, so if you take that into account we shouldn’t be too disappointed. He’ll need a bit of luck if he is to succeed down there, but he certainly has the capabilities. As we all know he has the gift of the gab, and when you have those attributes there’s not a lot to stop you. I would hope that Owen could eventually go to clubs who are higher up the league than Burnley. I’ve worked with a lot of managers and in 21 years I’ve had contact with a lot more and there are not many I’ve come across who are better than him. He’s done a wonderful job here for us ". And unlike the events surrounding the Sturrock departure in 1997, I personally wish Owen all the best in the next stage of his career.
As for a longer-term replacement, the club has invited applications but nothing is likely to be sorted out before next week, although at the same time, the club need to get a new man in soon to let him assess the squad before the January transfer window opens. It hasn't prevented the papers starting to link various people with the job hoever, with the list of names appearing on various websites and publications including the following :
Stirling gaffer and ex-Saints winger Alan Moore is one early favourite in some of the papers. A decent record with the Beanos might help him, but it's believed that he's not a favourite in the McD boardroom.
Russel Latapy has come out in the papers today and admitted his desire to move into management stating that he thought Saints was a "very good club with a good stadium and good working conditions". One added plus is that Bairn's manager John Hughes has said he wouldn't stand in Latapy's way should the chance present itself.
Graham Rix. The phrase "outside bet" springs to mind here.
Maurice Malpas - Linked by the Courier (surprise, surprise)
John Brown- Set to take over at Dumbarton but cited personal reasons for reneging on a handshake so who knows?
Jim McInally- Done well with Morton and may fit the criteria.
Jim Duffy. Twice in charge of the Scum, he at least knows the Scottish game well.
Billy Dodds. Still a popular former player and has definitely got the enthusiasm but a real lack of experience.
There's little doubt that Geoff Brown and the board are hoping to attract a surprise package with the odds likely to favour a manager getting on the first rung of the ladder. And given the situation at the club in terms of financial stability as well as the potential of the crowds and squad, we're more than likely to attract a high calibre of candidates for the job.
Of course the timing of his departure couldn't have been much worse as Saints prepare for the Cup Final. While there had been some talk of Owen being in charge of team selection, his new job takes priority and that means that Sandy Stewart (who as yet hasn't been included in the moves) is being given the caretaker role for Sunday. He's being assisted by Derek McInnes, although the latter is more than likely to take some part in the action on the park. Saints have announced though that Owen has been invited to Dens as a guest of the club to watch the cup final and "to let the Saints support show their appreciation and give the manager a proper farewell". And with Saints set to take 4,000 along the road to Scumdee, here's hoping we send him off with a victory. And for those of you stuck in foreign shores shock as the SFL catches up with the 21st century and the game has been made available online for the princely sum of £1.99 - see http://www.ScotlandFootballTV.com for details.

November 19th - OK so there haven't been many updates in the last few day but that's because we were all distracted by a certain game at Hampden. Now that's ended it's back to reality. The main news dominating the papers is a possible move for Owen Coyle as he is apparently on the 5-name shortlist for the vacant Burnley managerial job. Whilst the gaffer has laughed off the speculation, it's been covered in most of the media with the Championship club expected to name their new boss tomorrow.
Unfortunately the Temple won't be covering it - with a cup final to mentally prepare for it's time to skip the country - next update Friday.

November 13th - Latest coaching theory according to manager Owen Coyle is that a wee bit of hard work will see us back on form (preferably done around 3pm on match days). The manager said in a cliche-ridde quote in today's Courier, "On the evidence of the second half against Dunfermline, it was clear we could have won the game. It was always going to be hard because Dunfermline were up for it with everything that had been said about them in the lead up, but we should have had two stonewall penalties. Seeing them on the video again just vindicates what I said at the time, but sometimes you don’t get the decisions and you have to dust yourself down and get on with it. We’ve seen three games go by which we should have won with Clyde and then Dundee away—and we all know what happened in that one—and then Saturday again. But the bottom line is we have to get ourselves back on track and the only way to do that is with hard work. This isn’t a break for us as such because we’ve got to prepare for the Challenge Cup final which we are really looking forward to. More tickets went on sale for that today and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a sell-out from the Perth side. "
There's a bounce game against Falkirk this afternoon with a strong Saints side expected to take the field (and no doubt do some hard work into the bargain)

November 12th - Andy Jackson was less than happy with the result at the weekend. Speaking in today's Courier, the striker said, "I don’t think I had a chance at all. But I would say I should have had a definite penalty, the one where I’ve turned Sol Bamba. I can’t believe that one wasn’t a penalty, but obviously you get some and not others. I would rather have got the three points. It was a good game, quite fast-flowing but there weren’t many chances. We’re looking to win all our home games so we’re really disappointed. It feels like a defeat, especially with Hamilton winning as well. Dunfermline are a good team but this was probably the best time to play them "
Owen was also more intent in talking about the penalty incidents than the otherwise poor performance. He said, "I thought it was an even game, there were loads of chances at either end. I have to say that I thought there were a couple of stonewall penalties in the game. I am trying not to be biased but for the life of me I can’t see why they weren’t given. We know that Dunfermline have a good squad of players but having said that we were looking for three points so we are disappointed and a little bit frustrated. The second half was better from us, we forced the play and had to score when we were on top. A few chances went a begging. I don’t know if Deuchar impeded the lad in the first half. That was probably one of our better moves—down the left and a great cross and a great header from Kenny but the referee has deemed it to be a foul. When Bamba went through the back of Jackson, for the life of me the whole stadium and I thought that was a penalty. As it was it wasn’t given and these were big turning points in the game. "

Doc Goals - wants to stay a Saintee. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.November 10th - Kenny Deuchar has come out in the papers and admitted he wants to remain a Saint after his loan spell ends at the start of next month. The striker told the Courier, "People keep asking me what is going to happen with Gretna. The honest answer is that I really don’t know. Gretna and St Johnstone would have to sort something out before I had a decision to make. And Gretna hold all the cards But I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and would like to stay. Gretna basically washed their hands of me last season then sent people to watch me when I was at Northampton which I found a bit strange. Now it’s happening again. I have been with them three years so I can’t understand why they should be sending people to watch me. They should already know what I can do. I want to know exactly where I stand before the end of the loan because, while I can sign here permanently before the loan is up, I would have to go back to Gretna otherwise, even in the short term. I realise that what’s been happening there over the last few days is taking up most of their time and they won’t have been thinking of me too much. But hopefully they’ll sit down soon and decide what they are going to do about me."
"Why would I want to leave a place where I am enjoying myself ? I love coming into work here and it’s great to be appreciated again. That’s what you are looking for as a footballer. You want to feel part of things and that you are contributing to the team. That’s what it is like for me at St Johnstone. I’ve struck up a partnership with Andy Jackson which has been as enjoyable as it has been profitable. Jacko is great to play with. He works so hard and can turn a bad ball from me into a good one at times. He’s keen, enthusiastic and desperate to learn and because of that has been terrific to work with.".
He's looking to get back to winning ways after the last couple of games. He said, "We should have put last week’s game out of reach by half-time. We had the chances. But we’ve learned a valuable lesson from that. You learn more from a defeat than a win and hopefully we can take that on for the rest of the season. Me and Jacko have scored quite a lot of our goals in the last 10 games but I’m sure the other boys will start chipping in sooner or later. We had a chance to nick the first meeting at the end but didn’t take it. But getting them back at home now we’ve got to be confident of taking the three points "
6.30pm - Another dour goalless draw with the Pars did little to help our title chances as Accies won again and just as bad did even less to convince me or the other fans that the manager has managed to do anything to try and improve the recent poor run of form. Dull game with little goalmouth action and precious little real entertainment.

Savo - on his way back. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.November 9th - Despite only really lacking in match sharpness, Owen Coyle isn't planning on risking Savo (right) against the Pars. The manager said in the Courier, "Steven Milne has trained away fine again so we’re trying to get the Livingston game arranged for him to build it up. But even though he’s looking good in training and is a naturally fit boy I won’t be pushing him back too soon. He won’t be in the squad for Saturday because I don’t want to put pressure on him before he’s played a game. Once we get 90 minutes under his belt we’ll think about it but until then I’m going to leave him out. "
There was good news for Kevin James as well as he got permission to step up his training, while Martin Hardie is also on the way back. The gaffer went on, "Martin is about 80%, which is a lot better than he has been, but he’s not ready to join in yet. However, he’s having a fitness programme designed for him and I’m hoping that by the middle of next week he’ll be ready to come back and remain pain-free. It has been frustrating for him but he’s making progress and it’s important we manage his recovery the proper way. Kevin saw his specialist and he is pleased with the way his knee is looking and has allowed him to step up his rehab a bit. He’s still a long way away from being match-fit and I think it’s still going to be around Christmas at this rate before he’s ready for a game. "
As for the weekend's game, despite the Pars' woeful form in recent weeks which makes a change of manager almost inevitable, Owen isn't taking them lightly. "Dunfermline impressed me during the game we played against them at East End earlier in the season. And despite their recent results they are still dangerous opponents because they have a lot of experienced, quality players in their squad. They were the title favourites in the summer and rightly so because of the way they ended last season. They have players with a lot of SPL experience under their belt so they will be hurting badly because of the past few weeks. And in football one result kick-starts things again. We’ve just got to make sure it doesn’t come against us."
Derek McInnes is expecting a tough game though and told the Official site,   "Dunfermline are a good side as they showed against us at East End Park earlier in the season. They have had a few disappointments recently but player for player they are as good as any side in the league and are always dangerous. None of our players are being drawn into thinking that we are odds-on favourites tomorrow because of their recent results.  It was a huge disappointment for us all last week and we have to use that disappointment as motivation. We had enjoyed a great run up until then and there is no reason why we can?t get another run underway starting tomorrow."

Ando - looking for improvement at weekend. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.November 8th - Steven Anderson(right) has promised an improvement for fans this weekend as Saints take on the Pars. The defender is quoted in today's Courier saying, "We just have to put the Dundee game behind us and get back to winning games because we’ve some catching up to do. The good thing about last Saturday was that we created a lot of openings. And I am sure we will continue to create chances. It’s just a matter of taking them. Against Dundee I had a couple myself but didn’t take them. That’s life. You can’t help missing chances. All you can do is try and make sure next time you find yourself in that kind of situation you do better. However, as a defender my objective is to stop the opposition. Scoring at the other end isn't something I see as my main priority. My job first and foremost is to keep goals out. ".
Owen Coyle praised him as well saying, "Steven has come on a ton over the last while. Last year he played a lot of games without perhaps considering himself to be a regular. But I said to both him and Andy Jackson in the summer that he had to come back ready to play in the team week in week out, and he has done that. "

November 6th - The refereeing controversy from the weekend goes on and Saints have asked the SFA to clarify the last-man rules and why Gary McKenzie wasn't red-carded for his deliberate handball at the weekend. Owen Coyle told the Courier, "I thought ourselves and Dundee served up an excellent game, so the last thing you want to be talking about is refereeing decisions. But we could have been 1-0 up and playing against 10 men and what happened at the penalty was there for everybody to see. I’ve never seen anything like it. Somebody dives full length to keep the ball out of the net then I am told after the game that it wasn’t a goalscoring opportunity. I went to see Iain Brines, along with our managing director Stewart Duff, not advocating red cards but seeking an explanation of his decision. He indicated that he felt the ball was going to the goalkeeper. I can’t say whether it was or it wasn’t but the bottom line is this—why would Gary MacKenzie dive full length to save the ball with his hand if he thought the keeper was getting it? The intent was clearly to stop the ball going in the net, regardless of whether there were 10 people behind him. The player obviously thought the ball was going in and that’s why he did what he did. And the fact is he prevented a goal- scoring opportunity. Any shot on target is a goalscoring opportunity. I have phoned up Hugh Dallas—who is doing a good job along with Don McVicar in bringing things forward—looking for clarification of the decision. Hopefully they’ll have a look at the situation and give us a clear indication of what the rules are and how they should be applied. Nothing can change what happened on Saturday. But we are all for improving the game and if something good comes of that incident then great. ". The manager is particularly annoyed after another refereeing blunder at Almondvale almost cost us dear. "Saturday came on the back of three weeks ago when we scored a penalty at Livingston, then had an indirect free-kick awarded against us for encroachment when I’d have thought the response should have been a retake. I’m just waiting for the day we actually get a favourable decision! In fairness, refereeing is a thankless task and one I know refs don’t take lightly. But as managers and coaches all we look for is a bit of consistency. You need be in a position where if something happens in a game then everyone knows what the punishment will be. You have to know that if a player prevents a goal-scoring opportunity by diving to save the ball with his hand then it is a red card. Not a red card one week then a yellow the next."
He went on, "I don’t want that to detract from the match because both teams went out to win it. First half we were terrific and the game should have been put to bed regardless of the penalty incident. But we knew Dundee would come out fired up for the second half as they did. From my perspective we should have stood up better to that.“But we’ll take this kick in the teeth and bounce back again. The good thing is there were a lot of positives to take from the game, particularly the way we passed the ball against a very good Dundee side and created opportunity upon opportunity."

November 5th - Paul Sheerin wasn't sure why we lost as the weekend. He told the Courier, "We battered Dundee at the start but got a dose of our own medicine in the second-half. When chances fall to you, you have to take them. Kenny Deuchar and Andy Jackson have scored a barrowload recently but today they maybe only got one half chance between them. The opportunities we had fell to others and maybe the defenders and midfielders need to take on more responsibility." (so say all of us). As for the penalty, the midfielder was still confused as to why the Dundee defender didn't walk for deliberate handball. "I am not having a pop at the referee but I do find it strange he only booked the boy. Iain Brines said Sammy was behind him, but I thought the ball was going in and he’s stopped a goal."

November 3rd - All four injury worries returned to training yesterday so Owen Coyle is optimistic they'll be available for selection. The Courier quotes him saying, "The situation is slightly better. Some of them are still not 100% but they did enough to suggest they should be okay. We have no fresh injury worries. I hope that we’ll have the same squad that we had last week, apart from the long-term injured. I don’t think the games come any tougher in this league than Dundee away. Alex Rae has a good team there with some very fine individual players and we know it’s a very tough venue to go to. The good thing is that both teams, whether home or away, always look to try to win the games. We’ll go there and be positive and try to take the game to Dundee."
7.30pm - Paul Sheerin's penalty put us in front but poor defending and a pish last-minute winner gave the Scum the points as we crashed 2-1 at Dens with the only bright light on a dismal day being Accies defeat at Palmerston so we're no further off the pace of the leader's.

Owen - out for a win tomorrow. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.November 2nd - So much for yesterday's prediction with the news today a bug has done the rounds at McDiarmid with four players sent home as Owen Coyle(right) tries to protect the squad. The manager should still have the same squad to pick from and told the Courier, "It’s always a great game to be involved in with a brilliant atmosphere. Our fans always get right behind us at Dens and we’ll give them every effort and hopefully play our best football. The derbies have always been keenly fought contests and I’m sure this one will be no different. It’s got the makings of an absolutely cracking game. We’ll give Dundee every respect because they’re a big, strong side with some good young players. But we’ve got some good players ourselves and we go out to try and win every match we play in. This match will be no different and we’ll be looking to take it to them. Even though we only drew against Clyde last Saturday we’re still on a terrific run of 10 games unbeaten and we’re determined to keep that going. Both teams will be going all out to win this match and that’s the way it should be."
Allan McManus is also expecting a tough game after the first bruising encounter in August. "I think my nose is still moving about after that game. I got caught with a flying elbow that afternoon and I’ve lost count now of how many times it’s been broken. Derby games are always a bit spicy but there will be nothing carried over from that match. My philosophy is what happens on the pitch should stay there and be forgotten about afterwards. We’ve done really well recently. Saturday was a wee blip, but there’s nothing better than a derby game to get you back on track. We know they’re a big, physical side who have been going really well and we’ll have to be at the top of our game to beat them. We’ve set high standards as individuals and a team recently and the fact that dropping two points against Clyde was seen as a crisis shows that. "
Meanwhile one ex-Saints player who might be making a surprise appearance tomorrow is Eddie Malone with the wee ned apparently being farmed out on loan by the Paisly Thugs to their Dens Park counterparts - no doubt with him and Rae in the side we'll see the sort of fair sporting contest that we always enjoy when we visit Dens.
Away from the action on the park and Saints today announced that McD is turning into a concert venue next summer with Elton John set to play on Sunday July 6th. Tickets go on sale Monday (although not from the club) priced at £40 and £60 which hopefully means a pretty decent whack of cash heading for the Saints coffers.

November 1st - With the big derby looming this weekend, there's no sign of any new injury worries. For the Scum, there are reports they are trying to line up a loan signing from an SPL side in time to face us.

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October 30th - Peaso is in the paper today talking about the view from the bench. The striker is waiting on his 100th start for Saints but has been kept on the fringe thanks to the form of Kenny Deuchar and Jacko. He told the Courier, "It is frustrating not getting in the team, but Jacko has come in and done exceptionally well. Because of that he deserves to be in the side. No one can argue with that. If he slips up I’ll be waiting in the wings, but at the moment I can’t grumble. It seems like ages that I’ve been waiting for the 100th start, but it’ll come. And from the club’s perspective it’s a healthy situation having so many strikers to choose from. Apart from Kenny Deuchar and Jacko, there’s myself, Dyron Daal and John Stewart, and of course Steven Milne coming back. This is the strongest competition for striking places that I’ve seen in my time here. And over the course of the season we’ll no doubt make use of that. "
Savo is due to see his specialist today to hopefully get the all-clear to resume full training. Dyron Daal should also be fit for the weekend (although he's unlikely to get a start) while Andy Lawrie is still recovering from his neck injury.

October 29th - Kenny Deuchar reckons Saturday was just a blip in form for Saints. In this morning's Courier he said, "Obviously Hamilton have started the season well, but we are still on a good run and are unbeaten in the league. We have to just keep concentrating on what we are doing, and I think we can still take positives out of the Clyde game and look to get a good result up at Dundee next Saturday. It was disappointing not to take all three points from a home match—these are games we should be winning if we are to challenge at the top—but we did show character to come back after being a goal down. I got a break for the goal and we had other chances. Maybe we could have snatched it, but that perhaps would not have been fair on Clyde as they did very well to come here and put us under pressure. At half-time, with the game tied at 0-0, I thought we would get stronger as the game went on, and we did get back into it nearer the end. However, we were not really at the races."
Owen Coyle was just as disappointed saying, "We started the second half poorly and lost a terrible goal—it was naive defensively from us. We carried the fight after that without being fluent or passing and moving as well as have been doing. But we still looked to go and win the game. The goal we scored was fortuitous, but we had other chances—a few goalmouth scrambles—and how some of them didn’t hit the back of the net I’ll never know."

October 27th - Derek McInnes reckons the big difference between the Saints side that will play Clyde today compared with the one that lost to them earlier in the season is up front. He told the Courier, "The most important change since then is that we’re a real goal threat now. “We’ve shown in our subsequent games that we can create chances and, more importantly, take them—now we have to maintain that. There’s a bit of pace about the team which we probably lacked last season. Gary Irvine goes from strength to strength, and Rocco Quinn gets up and down the pitch and carries a real goal threat from midfield. If we’re going to achieve anything this season we have to keep our home record as good as it has been, because it’s an unbelievable one. I think we’ve only lost once in about 18 months. It’s a record that’s not really spoken about, but it’s a great record we have here and we want to continue it. If we’re at our best tomorrow we’ll take a bit of stopping. Everybody’s working hard, we’re in good form, and long may that continue. A few weeks back we said we were capable of going on a run—we’ve done that, but we need to keep it going because there’s a lot of ground still to catch up. Hamilton and Dundee are going well, but there’s a long way to go—we’re just through the first quarter of the campaign. "
Rocco managed to train on Thursday so should start in what is expected to be an unchanged starting eleven.
7pm- Well it was a bad performance but we managed to draw 1-1 at home to Clyde thanks to a late equaliser from Kenny Deuchar. Elsewhere Accies stretched their lead to ten points but Scumdee's draw with Partick means that it's still a four point gap between us going into next weeks game at Dens.

October 26th - Saints have announced the selling arrangements for the cup final tickets. Season ticket holders can purchase their briefs from Monday to Thursday, from 9.30am-6.30pm, Friday, from 9am-5pm and Monday, November 5, to Friday, November 9, from 9am-5pm, upon production of voucher number 30. They can buy two tickets per voucher. Also supporters who received a voucher at last Saturday’s home game against Queen of the South can buy one ticket per voucher during this time. Any tickets remaining will be on sale at McDiarmid Park during office hours (9am-5pm) from Monday, November 12. Tickets are priced £17 and £8 for concessions for the main stand at Dens Park. And tickets for the Bob Shankly stand are priced £15 and £8 for concessions
Meanwhile former Saints and voodoo-victim Davie Irons is obviously feeling the heat at Gr£tna with a wee rant in the papers yesterday about how we won't get to keep Kenny Deuchar beyond the December 3rd loan deadline. While still a Gr£tna player until the end of the season, it will be interesting to see what happens if Saints make an offer for the player's services on a more permanent basis!
As for tomorrow, Allan McManus says he's not taking tomorrow's "bogey team" lightly as we look to continue our winning streak. The defender told the Official Site, "We are playing with a bit of confidence at the moment and that comes from winning games. We couldn't buy a win at the start of the season and the only answer in those situations is to work hard in training and turn things around and all the boys have been doing that and getting the desired effect. Clyde are a hard side to beat as we have found on plenty of occasions during my time with Saints but we aim to put that right tomorrow. We have a good home record but we are never complacent - when you have worked as hard as we have to get things right then you are very aware of the need to guard against the danger of assuming the run of good results will continue. Clyde's record against us will ensure that we know what we have to do tomorrow."
Kevin Moon and Dyron Daal are on the injury list so miss out tomorrow but the starting eleven should remain unchanged. There are some late fitness tests required around the rest of the squad though.

Savo - back to reserve action. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.October 25th - There was good news on Tuesday night with a 7-0 win for the reserves featuring the added boost of a goal and 40-minute return to action for Savo(right). He told the Courier, "The knee feels great. There’s no swelling, no reaction and if we’d been in this morning I’d have been able to train. It’s obviously going to take a bit of time to get up to proper match fitness but my next target is to get a full 90 minutes under my belt. I had wanted to play 15-20 minutes of the game with Forfar last week, but the physio told me that was too soon. But with another week’s training under my belt I felt ready to be involved against Cowdenbeath. The original idea was to play the last 25 minutes or so, but Dyron Daal getting injured meant I had to go on earlier than planned. Tuesday night was just about getting a run out so to score within five minutes of coming on was a big bonus. I could have got another four to be honest but the more matches I play the sharper I’ll get. ". Dyron Daal, John Stewart, David Weatherston and Jamie McCluskey were also amongst the scorers.
Meanwhile, Martin Hardie is still a few weeks away from a return from his groin injury. The midfielder told the Courier, "I had been feeling the groin from the Raith Rovers Challenge Cup tie in mid August, but as it wasn’t affecting me playing I kept on going. But the longer I went the worse I got and as I’d learned my lesson at Kilmarnock I decided that was it. I played through an injury at Rugby Park and ended up being released at the end of the season. After the Dunfermline game I realised it was time to look after myself. It’s my body and I had to take care of it. It’s one thing carrying on when you’ve got minor injuries which don’t impede you playing. It’s another when you might be doing yourself harm. At Killie I had two calf injuries at the start of the season, which put me out for 10 weeks, then I developed a groin problem. I tried playing through it but I was in for two, out for two, and so it continued. Overall I started only 10 games that season and was sub for another 10 and when my contract was up in the summer Jim Jefferies let me go. That taught me that there are times when you have to put yourself first."
He's not enjoying being out though, "That’s five weeks I’ve been out since the Dunfermline game. And it’s been disappointing, to say the least, because I don’t like not playing or training. As much as you are in the dressing room with the boys, you are only there a couple of minutes to change before going to the physios’ room. You are missing out on so much. And I hate watching games. I am fortunate to be at a club where, when fit, the manager picks me most weeks. But I’m so bad a watcher that if I was at a bigger club where I wasn’t playing regularly I’d have to get away. I got an injection a week past Wednesday then had a week off to recover. Now it’s just a case of doing some rehab work. The specialist hasn’t put a date on when I might return, that’ll be down to the healing process. I’d like to think, though, that I’ll be back taking part in training some time next week. I’ve not done any physical stuff like running since the beginning of September so my fitness levels are down. But the fact I train the way I play means I’ll get those back up quite quickly. I definitely won’t be slacking on the training ground once I get the all clear."

Rocco - OC wants to sign him. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.October 23rd - Saints have announced limited edition training tops and polo shirts will be out this weekend to celebrate the Challenge Cup Final next month.
Meanwhile, Owen Coyle has spoken in the Courier about wanting to sign Rocco Quinn(right) on a permanent basis. The Saints manager told the paper, "Rocco is a terrific, gifted footballer. He knows there’s aspects of his game he can improve upon but he’s receptive to suggestions on how he can do that. We actually tried to sign him on a permanent basis at the outset but ran out of time, hence taking him on as a loan signing until January. What happens beyond that I don’t know but we are always interested in good players and he is certainly in that category. I think Rocco is really enjoying his football at this club and that’s showing in his play. It’s difficult for young lads at big, big clubs. And once they’ve gone out and sampled first-team football elsewhere they develop a craving for it. Equally, there comes a point where the clubs have to decide whether these boys are going to play for them or not. The thing is, to play in Rangers’ or Celtic’s first-team you have to be extra, extra special. Because of the demands of having to win week in week out and of course the Champions League, gone are the days when you might have got by being half decent. But Gary Irvine has shown there can be life after you leave the Old Firm and that sometimes you have to take a step back to take two forward. Gary has been getting better every game and I’m delighted with the contribution he has made to us. As far as Rocco’s situation is concerned though we’ll just have to wait and see "
More good news for Saints with Savo finally on the comeback trail and stepping up his training, though the manager is adamant that he won't be rushed this time.

October 21st - Owen Coyle was happy enough with the win yesterday. The manager told the Official Site, "I was really pleased with our first half performance, I thought we were terrific. Kenny Deuchar could have had three or four goals and I couldn’t believe it was only 1-0 at the interval. I thought there was a wee bit of a lull at the start of the second half before we started to pick things up again and I was pleased to see us get the second goal and there should have been more before the end". He also revealed that Rocco Quinn is fine and said, "He’ll be okay. As with all head and neck injuries these days, the medical staff are quite rightly very cautious but the doctor has indicated that there is no serious injury and at this early stage he looks as if he will be fine."

October 20th - Kenny Deuchar says he's keen to keep up his scoring record today to keep his gran happy after becoming a cult hero on Sky Sports. Speaking to the Courier, the Doc said, "Obviously I didn’t know about the ‘good doctor’ thing at the start because I was playing, but my grandma told me all about it. Eventually I thought I would send Jeff Stelling a Christmas card and I asked him if he could mention my granny next time I scored. Now every time I score he does it. Sky Sports came up and interviewed her and when Jeff was in Uddingston opening a call centre with me I brought her along to meet him. She’s happy at the moment because I hadn’t been scoring for ages, so now he’s talking about her again and I’m back in the good books with her again ". As for his striker partner, he was full of praise and continued, "I knew of Andy before I came here because we come from the same town, but I didn’t know much about him as a player. He’s grabbed his chance here and our partnership has just taken off. It was great for me personally to get my first goal for Saints 15 minutes into my second game at Ross County, and Jacko laid that one on a plate for me. Things have gone on from there and we’ve continued to score goals. He’s only 19 and if he’s able to score at this level at that age you can see the potential is there. ". His loan deal expires in December and he said, "The manager wants to keep me here and I’m enjoying my football, but I don’t know what’s happening between the two clubs. If I’m enjoying my football I don’t want to change anything and hopefully I can keep doing well. It’s out of my hands what happens off the pitch."
Owen Coyle is expecting a tough game today and said, "We’ve now got two home games coming up and we’ll be looking to win both. We want to pick up where we left off at Livingston and get another three points on the board"
8pm - While we didn't quite match the excitement of some of the recent performances, it was another solid day at the office for the boys in blue and white with goals from Kenny Deuchar and Jacko seeing us comfortable 2-0 winners over Queen of the South. Indeed the winning margin should have been more with the only cloud marring the day being the sight of Rocco Quinn being stretchered off with what looked like a head / neck injury midway through the second-half, although it was later revealed to be minor concussion - hopefully it's not too serious with the midfielder already a major influence in our current run of form. Elsewhere and both Scumdee and Accies scored emphatic wins with the former notching up a 4-1 victory at home to Livi and the latter an impressing 5-0 gubbing of the Pars which is sure to start the shoogly-nail comments about Stephen Kenny's future at the club.

October 19th - Not much news ahead of the resumption of the league campaign tomorrow. One player certain to be missing is Steven Doris who has gone out on loan to Montrose until the end of December.

Jacko - new deal. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.October 18th - Andy Jackson(right) has signed a 2-year extension to his contract today taking him through to the summer of 2010. Speaking of the deal, Owen Coyle said, "It is a reward to Andy for the impact he has had since breaking through in the opening months of the season and shows our determination to hold onto our best young players. On top of the recent contract extension given to Steven Anderson, it allows me a degree of continuity as I look to the future plans for the club. Andy is a great young prospect and he has made a great impact but he still has plenty to learn." Kenny Deuchar and Goran Stanic both trained today and Rocco Quinn has returned unscathed from U-21 duty with the national side.
More details on the Challenge Cup Final ticket allocation with 1700 season ticket holders being given the opportunity to purchase up to 2 tickets each. The rest of the 4200 allocation will be covered by 800 vouchers given out to paying customers at this weekend's QoS game. No details yet as to when the tickets will go on sale, but season ticket holders and voucher holders will be given a chance to get their briefs ahead of any general sale.

October 16th - The Saints Official site confirmed the ticket arrangements for the cup final with Saints getting a third of the main stand and the Bob Shankly stand (ie the traditional away end). No word yet on when the tickets will go on sale.
Meanwhile there are doubts over both Kenny Deuchar and Goran Stanic for this weekend's visit by Queen of the South with both players still nursing knocks picked up in the win over Meadowbank. Dyron Daal is one player who might come into contention though and he's due to turn out for the reserves tonight after missing the Forfarshire Cup defeat last Friday after heading home to celebrate his birthday. He's had a disappointing season so far and Owen Coyle told the Courier, "Dyron has ability and attributes—he is just lacking confidence. He was in the team at the start of the season but wasn’t scoring goals and the guys who’ve come in have been doing well. But if he gets his head down and things pick up for him then he can work his way back into the plans. "

October 15th - There's some initial information on the Challenge Cup Final ticket allocation on theOfficial Pars site with Saints apparently only getting 4500 tickets compared to 6200 for the Fife inbreds. It means we'll all be squeezed into the traditional away end and one-third of the main stand while the rest of Dens is given over to Dunfermline. No word from Saints yet on when tickets will go on sale but it's reasonable to assume season ticket holders will get preference.

Pamela - 2yr extension. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.October 12th - One surprising piece of news today with the Courier reporting that Steven Anderson(right) has been awarded for his performances with a new 2yr contract extension. Owen Coyle told the paper, "Steven’s been improving and we think there’s a lot more still to come from him. We believe he can get better. It’s unfair to say that he was just filling in places last season because he probably ended up playing as many games as most players, and one of his assets—like Simon Mensing—is that he can play in a number of positions. But this season he has become a first-team regular and played to a high standard. He’s enjoyed playing at centre-back consistently this season. Now it is up to him how far he goes in the game "
The defender was just as happy to sign and said, "I’m delighted to get this new deal, which gives me a bit of security. “It will be hard because big Kev is still to come back and we have a lot of good defenders at the club. “I’ve learned a lot from them. The manager has been a big influence as well, as was Jim Weir who would take me for one-on-one sessions when he was a coach here. "

October 11th - Owen Coyle states the obvious in the Courier today with the proclamation that he wants to sign Kenny Deuchar when his loan deal expires at the start of December. He said, "Kenny has been in fine form since he joined this club. I feel he has revitalised his career whilst playing for St Johnstone. Obviously I would be interested in him when the transfer window reopens. He has enjoyed his time at McDiarmid. We look to bring quality players to St Johnstone and he falls into that category."
There's a Forfarshire Cup tie at Tannadump tomorrow so expect a few first-teamers to get a runout. "This will give me the opportunity to give 90 minutes to Peaso, John Stewart and Jamie McCluskey. Some of these players have been on the bench lately, but this will give them the chance to have a game from the start."

Kenny - will he stay or go? Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.October 8th - For the first time Kenny "the Doc" Deuchar (right) has hinted he might not stay at Saints beyond the end of his loan spell in December. With most fans keen to see us make the move permanent given the success of his striking partnership with Andy Jackson, the on-loan striker told the Hootsman, "My aim in coming to the club was to score goals and move them up the league. If I leave in December I hope they will continue to challenge for the title. It is out of my hands to dream of winning a championship medal but I would like to win a Challenge Cup with them."
As for the penalty, it seems that the referee blew for too many players encroaching into the area but nobody knows why he didn't order a retake, with Owen Coyle simply saying, "There were a few weird incidents in the game"
6.30pm - With the club shut down for the next 2 weeks as the internationals start up, and Owen Coyle away on a coaching course, there's not too much to report on just now. The latest on the injury situation though, is that the fortnight's break should mean David Weatherston, Jamie McCluskey and possibly Martin Hardie will all be available for selection against QoS a week on Saturday - whether or not they will get into the team which has won three tough encounters over the last week remains to be seen. Kevin Rutkiewicz is already fully-fit but has been out of favour recently although according to the gaffer, the defender is still in his plans going forward

October 6th - With Accies playing Dundee today something is going to give near the top of the league, but Alan Main is focussing on our game at Livi first. The keeper told the Courier, "The other fixture is probably in the back of our minds and if we win we’ll be looking for that result straight afterwards. We could gain on one or both of the teams above us but the most important thing is making sure we beat Livingston. Things are looking a lot better. It was a great performance against Hamilton last weekend and we followed that up with another good win at Morton in the Challenge Cup in midweek. We should have won two or three of the games we drew at the start of the season and that’s why we’re a wee bit behind. I didn’t expect us to lose the goals we did but we knuckled down and we’ve picked up. The strikers and midfielders are scoring goals and we’re keeping it tighter at the back. “In the course of a season you get a dip in form and hopefully we’ve had ours "
Andy Jackson is the major doubt for Saints and it'll be a late call whether or not he plays. Owen Coyle said, "He’s got really bad bruising on his leg. He took a knock against Hamilton last weekend and the Morton player caught him on exactly the same place. We thought the injury might be a lot worse. It’s still tender but we’ll give him every chance of making the match and I’ll leave it to the last minute. "
6.30pm - A strange win today with a slow start finally paying off with a 2-0 victory at Meadowbank courtesy of Kenny Deuchar and Andy Jackson. We were awarded a penalty as well but despite Paul Sheerin scoring the referee decided to award a freekick to the defence instead of a retake. Who cares we got the points...

October 4th - Owen Coyle paid tribute to the players after Tuesday's result put us into our first final in yonks. After the disappointment of two semis last season he told the Courier, "It was a great result for us on Tuesday as Greenock is never an easy place to go. The victory was well deserved and the final against Dunfermline should be a fantastic occasion. Regardless of what people say about it, the Challenge Cup is something the players desperately want to win and there should be a great atmosphere for the final. We came close in both the main cups last year so it is nice to get all the way to a final"
There was some better news for Andy Jackson as well. Carried off at Cappielow, it looks like he just has severe bruising on his ankle and is in with a decent shout of returning at Livi on Saturday.

October 3rd - Thanks to yet another rare blast of common sense at the SFL offices, the Challenge Cup Final date has been switched to Dens Park on  Sunday November 25th with a 3pm kick-off. That means our game against the Scum scheduled for the 3rd goes ahead as normal with the Cup Final weekend already a free weekend for us and the Pars due to the byes we received for the Scottish Cup 3rd Round.

Gary Irvine - McD better than Sellik. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.October 2nd - Another Challenge Cup tie so it's another interview in the paper with Gary Irvine(right) - this time comparing the delights of Greenock with the possibility of a trip to the San Siro. Luckily the player opted for the joy of Saints ahead of Sellick 2nd XI and today's Courier quotes him as saying, "I needed to get away from Celtic to get my career moving. I still had two years left and might have got a place on the bench for games like Wednesday night’s but you have to be realistic. I would probably have been playing in the reserves and watching the match on the TV. I’m on a real high at the moment, enjoying my football, and St Johnstone are doing well, which is so much better than being at Celtic and watching the Champions League on the TV. I’m going for the double. I won it last year with Ross County, so the Challenge Cup holds good memories for me. It was a great day when we won it at McDiarmid and a really big deal for a club like Ross County. The competition becomes more serious the closer you get to the final. The manager has told us straight—he wants to win it and the players feel the same way. The team had great success in three competitions last season but came out of it with nothing to show for it. We’re desperate for silverware and the Challenge Cup would be a good start. The mentality here is about winning every game. "
Saturday's win has set us up nicely with the defender probably most folks Man of the Match. "It was a great result on Saturday and was just what we needed. Everything seemed to click and it was probably the best game I’ve played in for passing and movement. After the match the manager said to us that we can’t let our standards slip from that level and I think it’s a performance we can build on. I was going from reserve football at Celtic, where you get more time on the ball and players sit off you, to much more frantic and competitive football. I feel I’ve got used to it and my match fitness has improved as well. I played a lot as a wing-back at Celtic so I’ve been used to getting up and down the pitch and doing my bit in attack, which is an important part of my game ."
Owen Coyle isn't taking any chances tonight and said he'll field as strong a team as possible and said, "Opportunities to get to a cup final don’t come round all the time. Morton will present a difficult obstacle and I’m sure it will be a great cup tie with no shortage of excitement for the fans.". Rocco Quinn is the only doubt from Saturday's side.
11.30pm - Finally Saints managed to dump a few hoodoos with a deserved semi-final win over Morton on their own patch with the game even managing to finish in the regulation ninety minutes. The final score was 3-1 to Saintswith goals from Andy Jackson, Peaso and Rocco Quinn although Jacko's participation was curtailed as he was carried off (usual Cappielow stretchers) after 27 minutes with a bad ankle injury following a nasty challenge from Wetherston. It was the only cloud on the night though as Owen's boys lined up what looks likely to be a cracking final against the Pars on Sunday November 4th. The Fifers beat Ayr in the other semi-final by a single goal. Oh aye and let's hear it for Radio Scotland who spent most of the last hour of their programme talking up the TFOD win in the Diddy league with barely a mention for our result - bit of a change from last season when they seemed more than happy to cover our wee games when there were no glamour Euro ties eh?
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

Sheerin - penalty king. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.October 1st - Paul Sheerin(right) is officially the penalty king after his fifth of the season and the revelation in today's Courier that it's been a year since he scored from open play. The scorer of the first goal in the win over Accies said, "It’s coming up to a year since I scored in open play so it would be nice to step up and score a few more but I’m happy to keep scoring them from the spot. We got one penalty in the league last year and I managed to miss it so it’s always in the back of your mind you’re going to miss one again at some stage but you’ve just got to keep stepping up. Occasionally, I’ll get a wee bit of stick that it’s all penalties and I can’t score anything else but I’ll just be patient and so long as everybody else is scoring I’m quite happy "
As for the victory, he went on, "It was massive for us today because they are so good at home. Not many teams will beat them there and for them to open up a gap would have been huge so it was the proverbial six pointer for us today. If we go 14 points behind them it’s going to be difficult with their home form being so good but it puts us back to eight points which is something to go and chase now. Obviously we left it a bit late last season and we know in this league if teams get a run of results it’s hard to then claw them back, which we found out to our dismay last year. Hamilton have started well this year and now we’ve got a bit more time than we had last year when we were 15 points behind in January, so if we can manage to get a string of results together hopefully we can manage to hang onto their coat-tails. We’ve managed to re-group after a bad start "
Owen Coyle was just as happy with the result. "We stressed at half time we had to keep on believing in what we’re trying to do, passing and moving the ball wide and getting crosses in and we did that and started the second half tremendously. I don’t think there could be any argument about the outcome. It cuts the gap and I thought my players showed enormous courage and character because the bottom line is we were sitting there looking at being 14 points behind but they’ve shown the commitment and gone out in the second half and reduced it to eight. "

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September 30th - Andy Jackson admitted to the Sunday Mail that there was a real incentive to win yesterday - a certain tea-lady. The two-goal hero said, "There was no way we could have lost on her final game. She has been here nearly 30 years and wouldn't have been happy. The gaffer told us to make sure she left with a smile on her face and we didn't want to cross her by getting beat ". Owen Coyle said, "I told the players Aggie was going and we had to send her on the way with a win. The thought of her going without one scared them. This was our best display of the season by far "

September 29th - Derek McInnes reckons that the retirement of after today's game is all the motivation the players need to give her a good send off. He told the Courier, "It would be nice to win this game for Aggie. You have to respect anyone who gives a club the length of service she’s given this one. She is synonymous with St Johnstone—when people in the game think of Saints, Aggie immediately comes to mind. She will miss this place, and everyone here will miss her. Hopefully we can beat Hamilton—not just for ourselves, but to send her off on a winning note too. This is a fixture we’ve been looking forward to for a couple of weeks. Hamilton are flying high, but it’s an opportunity for us to claw back some of their lead. Early in the season though it still is, we cannot afford to let them get too far away from us. They’ve started terrific and deserve credit for that. With their home record they’ll take some stopping, therefore—when we do come up against them—it’s important we win the games. I don’t think we’ve got back to the level we were at towards the end of last season often enough so far. Individually, and as a team, we’ve not matched the standards we set then. But we’ve a good home record ourselves and are starting to score a few goals again. We’re more than capable of winning the game and going on the kind of run they have to drag ourselves back up there. We’ve improved over recent weeks, and there’s more to come."
More bad news for Saints yesterday with the traditional pre-match training injury. This week is was the turn of David Weatherston who had to have an X-ray after spraining his ankle - so guess who misses out today. Mad Mental Martin and Jamie McCluskey are definitely out as well but Rocco Quinn and Derek McInnes should return, with Peaso set to appear on the bench.
7pm - After going behind, an outstanding second-half performance saw goals courtesy of a Paul Sheerin penalty, one from Kenny Deuchar and a brace from Andy Jackson as we gubbed Accies 4-1 to move up to third place in the league.

September 28th - More praise for his strikers in the Courier today (as well as others) from Owen Coyle (which no doubt has nothing to do with a Gretna manager trying to mend bridges with a certain medical man). The gaffer said in the paper, "Kenny has done really well and Andy has been a tremendous foil for him. They’ve got seven goals between them in four games and long may that continue because it’s given everyone a lift. The lads at the back have taken heart from the fact these two are getting among the goals and that if they keep it tight we have a scoring threat. We had been controlling a lot of games without putting them to bed. Now we’re scoring the goals we need. It’s not just up front, though, that I’m seeing encouraging signs. Gary Irvine had a little settling-in period but has improved from week to week since then and taken his game to another level. And I thought Goran Stanic, who is important to the way we play, gave an improved performance in the Challenge Cup win over Brechin. "
Aggie - retires tomorrow. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.Tomorrow is the toughest game yet with high-flying Accies coming town unbeaten and on the back of a win over Killie midweek. The manager went on, "Hamilton aren’t leading the league by accident, they’re there on merit. They are a good side, as was borne out the other night when they beat Kilmarnock in the cup. For our part, though, we’ll be looking to continue our recent improvement. We’ve had three wins and two draws from the last five matches, now we are aiming to add another victory to that. We’re without some good players, but I believe we’ve still got the resources to win this game. "
In terms of team selection, Andy Jackson has a minor knock and Mad Mental Martin misses out but Owen did have some good news. "Peaso is back training, Rocco Quinn we are hopeful will train Friday and Derek McInnes should be OK". Elsewhere and youth striker Neil McCallum has joined Forfar on a three-month loan deal.
Finally though it's the end of an era tomorrow as Nemesis of Souness and Tea Lady to the stars, Aggie Moffat(right) retires after the game.It just won't be the same around McD.

September 27th - Owen Coyle wasn't exactly overjoyed after Tuesday night's win especially with the way we eased up in the second-half. The manager told the Courier, "Some of the passing and movement and great goals—and we could have had more—meant I was delighted with the first half. But you can get a bit comfortable in these situations and I wasn’t best pleased with the second half because of the standard we set, and we lost the kind of sloppy goal we shouldn’t be leaking before the game petered out. ". There was some individual praise though and he continued, "We had injuries but Kevin Moon would have played anyway because he is a good player who has been showing up well. David Weatherston still has a lot to learn but he scored his first goal and made another two and has some terrific attributes. And as a strike pair Andy Jackson and Kenny Deuchar have been terrific. They’ve worked well together and scored seven goals in the last four games, so long may that continue. "

Mooner - another start tonight. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.September 25th - Kevin Moon(right) looks like getting a starting jersey tonight in the centre of midfield in place of the injured Derek McInnes. His first start was in the CIS cup defeat but Mooner is hoping to do better tonight. He told the Courier, "I didn’t really feel as if I did myself justice against Partick. It was a bit of a thrill getting my first start, but the result was disappointing. At the start of the season all I wanted was to be more involved and it’s really encouraging that there are so many young players in the team. Andy Jackson and I came through together and I’m really happy that he’s taken his chance. Hopefully we can make further progress in the cup and I’ll get more chances to show what I can do.”
Owen Coyle is also hoping the 20yr old does well. He said, “There’s no doubt that Kevin has the ability,” he said. “Now it’s up to him to take the opportunity, just like Andy Jackson has. Our focus is very much on this game and both teams want to progress to the semi-final. Yes there will be changes and little continuity in the sides, but there will be players there that can win games.”
The final lineup isn't known yet but don't expect many of the injury victims to be risked. Kevin Cuthbert will start in goal.
11.00pm - First half goals from Kenny Deuchar(2), Andy Jackson and David Weatherston saw us cruise to semi-finals before a flat second-half in a 4-1 win over Brechin City. That means another nice wee trip to Greenock next Tuesday for the semi-final.

Gary Irvine - settled in. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.September 24th - Alan Main was disappointed at losing two goals at the weekend. In today's Courier, he pointed fingers at the defence and said, "For the first, the guy Templeman dummied it and our two centre backs went with the dummy and it fell for Russell. He took a touch and finished it well but I think it’s disappointing defending in that area of the pitch in that we could have cleared it. I pulled off a couple of saves but I’m perhaps a bit disappointed with the second goal. I set the wall and if the wall stays as big as it can then it hits it. However, it was straight through the wall and as it’s coming through it’s taken a deflection off Goran Stanic. I got a wee touch to it and maybe I should have saved it but he’s hit it really well. I’m adamant that if the wall had stayed big we wouldn’t have conceded that goal. "
Owen Coyle was pleased with the performance not the result. "Anyone watching the game must have enjoyed it, it was end-to-end and both teams went all out for the win. I was disappointed with the defending at the first goal but I thought we reacted very positively. The ref has a difficult job but I thought the whole stadium could see it was a stonewall penalty when Andy Jackson was brought down at 2-2 and if we’d scored then we’d be going away with the three points. We’re not any worse off than we were before the game but obviously we missed an opportunity to close the gap "
5.30pm - Expect some enforced changes for tomorrow night's Challenge Cup quarter-final (leccy bill payments permitting). Kevin Rutkiewicz, Derek McInnes and Rocco Quinn have apparently joined the injured list, while Jamie McCluskey is also very doubtful. That means some of the youngsters get a chance although hopefully there will be no danger of Owen taking the game lightly especially with the prospects of another bloody encounter at Cappielow for the victors.
Gary Irvine(right) is hoping to get a win tomorrow after getting a winners medal in the tournament while on loan at ross co last year. He spoke of his part in Morton's game as well in an interview on the Official Saints site. He said, "It was a good game to play in and a share of the points was probably about right. Morton are a good side with some quality players and big Chris Templeman is a handful for anybody. He offered them a lot as a target man and was good at holding onto the ball, very much like Kenny Deuchar does for us. We were disappointed to lose the goal from the free kick, a little deflection helped take it over Alan's hand. We want to win any competition we enter and the Challenge Cup is no exception. Personally speaking, it would actually be a nice double for me as I won the Challenge Cup last season with Ross County when we beat Clyde in the final in Perth and I would be delighted to experience a day like that again. McDiarmid Park has actually been a lucky ground for me in that respect -the final against Clyde last season was held here and I also won the Scottish Youth Cup for Celtic in the final which was also at McDiarmid Park."
As for his form since his move from Parkhead, he said, "It is a quite a step up from SPL reserve football to the First Division although having had time on loan with Ross County last season I was aware how quick and frantic it can be in this league, you certainly don't get much time on the ball. However, I'm starting to get used to it again and feeling more comfortable with each passing game. I'm learning the strengths and weaknesses of my team mates and they are doing the same with mine. I have grown up as an out and out defender but I do like to get forward and I'm fortunate that I am quite fit and can get up and down the park. It is an area of my game I am keen to progress."

September 22nd - Andy Jackson will start up front at Cappielow again today and told the Courier how much he's relishing finally getting a chance. The striker said, "I joined the club as a young lad but got my chance early on from John Connolly. I was getting 15 minutes here and there as a sub and then I went out on loan to try to develop my game. So I have had to wait, but this might just be my big opportunity and I am determined to take it. It is especially enjoyable playing alongside Kenny as he is so experienced and I am learning all the time from him. It was nice to hear he has said some good things about me as that can only help my confidence. I got my first senior goal against Ross County in the Challenge Cup a couple of weeks ago and it was great to then get the start against Partick. Hopefully the team can keep winning when we go to Morton and I can get another goal. We seem to be doing a bit better than we were earlier in the season, and if we do win this one I think we can say we are making solid progress. "
Jamie McCluskey has joined the potential absentee list after an ankle injury in training. Owen Coyle told the Courier, "We do have a lot of injuries but we will approach the game in a positive manner. Morton are a good, strong team from a football town and will have a big crowd behind them, but we are looking to get the three points. "
7pm - Saints move up one place after a great 2-2 draw at Cappielow. After going one down Andy Jackson drew us level with his first league goal for Saints before Paul Sheerin gave us the lead before the spot. Morton levelled with a cracking long-range freekick but we had chances to win it at death.

Derek McInnes - back to old haunts. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.September 21st - More injury worries for Saints look set to impact who makes the trip west to Greenock tomorrow. According to the Courier, Mad Mental Martin and Peaso are definitely out while Rocco Quinn is a doubt after getting a knock in training. Added to that Dyron Daal and Alan Main are both suffering from illness and are also doubtful. Owen Coyle told the Courier, "We’ll assess the situation tomorrow. Hopefully Rocco’s injury won’t prove to be too serious and Alan and Dyron will be able to take part in training. ". As for the game, he went on, "We’ve got a few good results to build on—a draw at Dunfermline, a win at Ross County and a win against Partick Thistle— and we’re looking to gain some momentum. Like every other match in the first division, this will be a tough one "
Not much more in terms of squad news but Willie Dyer definitely won't be heading to Greenock after joining Brechin on a one-month loan deal. Owen Coyle said,  "Willie needs games and he'll feature for them tomorrow against Airdrie United. We'll review things after the month is up."
Meanwhile Derek McInnes(right) is looking for a return to his old stamping ground at Cappielow (and hopefully less of the treatement he received from Saints fans last weekend). The midfielder said, "Morton are a great club and I have a lot of affection for them. I still try and watch them as often as I can with my son. You can't play for a club for 9 years and not have a soft spot for them. There are a lot a great people still at Cappielow who were good to me and I'm looking forward to seeing them. I think we have looked stronger in defence in recent weeks and it has been good to see the strikers get amongst the goals in the last couple of games. Morton's home record will be crucial to their progress this season and I know how influential they can be but Saints are one of the clubs capable of going down there and getting a win and we have to impose ourselves on them from the start."

September 20th - The big news today was that if we manage to keep the lights on long enough to satisfy Tayside police *and* beat Brechin the joy of another away draw for the semi-final will await us as a trip to Morton came out of the hat this afternoon for the game to be played on the 2nd or 3rd of October. Still it's not like we lost to them there in the same tournament last season did we?
If nothing else though, it certainly makes this weekend's trip to Greenock a bit more exciting.

September 18th - Dr Goals is upbeat ahead of tonight's quarter-final match against Brechin. Speaking in the Courier, he said, "It is always good to get into a winning habit and hopefully we can get through to the semis. This cup has not exactly been a good tournament for me because when I made my senior debut for Falkirk at Stranraer we got knocked out, then last year with Gretna we lost to Ross County after extra time. But that’s two victories and a draw I have been involved in now with Saints so it’s going well. I want to win every game I play in and if there is a trophy for us at the end of this then that would be great. It is a good draw at home and I am relishing the chance of playing at McDiarmid Park again. It is always good to get on the scoresheet early when you come to new club and I’ve managed a couple of goals "
Only the main stand is open tonight with admission pegged at a tenner for adults and fiver for concessions.
There are strong rumours that we are interested in bringing back out-of-favour Simon Mensing from Motherwell, while Dyron Daal may be about to go out on loan (which seems a strange one).
9pm - Well that was a fun evening with a lighting problem in the Main Stand meaning that most of us barely got into the car park to queue up before the game was postponed 5 minutes before kick-off. The game has been re-arranged for next Tuesday 25th at 7.45pm (Tayside Polis permitting). Anyway the official statement from Chief Exec Stewart Duff said, "We are extremely disappointed. Unfortunately, a set of lights in the West Stand tripped. We would never compromise in the area of health and safety and we certainly felt that the lighting was more than sufficient for the game to go ahead. We offered to relocate supporters to the East Stand but this was an option not taken up by the Match Commander. Supporters have been denied a game we felt should have been played and the Club wishes to apologise to the supporters who had made the effort to get to the game only to be left disappointed"

Rocco - first Saints goal vs Partick. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.September 17th - Scorer of the second goal against Partick, Rocco Quinn(right) was happy with his performance. He told the Courier, "I’ve not scored one of them for a while, so it was nice to get that one today. The manager wants me to be more of an attacking threat, and we’ve been working on that in training. At 2-0 up that should be that, but we’ve let them back in, and from then on we’ve probably become a bit nervous, a bit shaky—but we saw it out and got the three points, and that’s all that matters. That’s the monkey off our back. I’m delighted to be playing games. It’s what I need. I’m at an age where I need to be playing games, and I’m delighted to come here and play. This is the last year of my contract, so it’s a massive year for me. I spoke to the gaffer (Gordon Strachan), and to Tommy Burns as well, and they had such good things to say about Owen Coyle—and that’s what swung it for me, basically. It’s all about challenging myself, and the gaffer’s given me the chance to do that here. I’m here to do a job for St Johnstone, and that’s all I’m focusing on just now. I know what a good footballing side we can be— we do it in training every day—but we have to show it out on the park."

September 16th - Owen was happy enough after the win and told the Sunday Mail, "It was a tight game, not a lot of goalmouth chances if the truth be told. There was a nervousness about us but that's understandable after drawing matches we should have won. The game had gone flat and that's why I introduced Weatherston. He gave us the impetus in wide areas. After conceding a goal we gave ourselves a nervous last five minutes but the important thing was we got the monkey off our back with our first league win and hopefully we can start climbing the table "
Meanwhile goal hero Kenny Deuchar was just as happy. "I'm delighted with our first league win of the season. It's my first game for the club at McDiarmid Park so it's a great start and good to make an impact. It was great to get our first victory but it was a bit tight towards the end. Scoring goals is what it's all about for me. I may not be the best in the world but it's all about scoring goals "

September 15th - Mad Mental Martin is now "very doubtful" for this afternoon's match with Partick while Peaso and Andy Lawrie are both out. Goran Stanic should play though. Steven Anderson knows what we need to do to win the game though, and told the Courier, "The last few weeks we’ve done well defensively, but there’s still room for improvement The clean sheets have been welcome, but we need to be winning games. We can’t afford for the gap between ourselves and the top to grow. Thistle will be tough but we want to get back at them for putting us out of the CIS Cup. "
7pm - It wasn't the prettiest game but in the end goals from Kenny Deuchar and Rocco Quinn sealed the points in a 2-1 win over Partick with Saints running out deserved winners.

September 13th - Saints have plenty of injury problems ahead of the Partick match this weekend. Mad Mental Martin hasn't trained for 2 weeks while Andy Lawrie hasn't managed a session this week (cue loads of witty remarks about how it won't affect his game). And to add to the fun and games Peaso and Goran Stanic are both doubtful after a training ground collision. Still at least Kevin Rutkiewicz is back.

Andy Jackson - starts on Saturday. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.September 12th - Andy Jackson(right) is in the Courier today talking about his first league start on Saturday. With the manager set to keep faith in the strikers that won at Dingwall, he said, "It was about time.“I’d a chance against Clyde the other week that I should have done better with so it was good to get the goal up at Dingwall. And now I want to retain my place in the team and continue scoring. Owen Coyle said to me at the end of last season I just had to keep on doing what I had been and hopefully I’d be playing. So I just got my head down believing that eventually my chance would come. When I heard, during the summer, that the manager had signed Dyron Daal I was a bit concerned. But he’s been true to his word and now it’s up to me to keep my place. It was good playing up front with Kenny Deuchar against Ross County and the gaffer told us he kept us on for the full game because we’d done so well which is encouraging, especially considering he’d three strikers sitting on the bench that night. I’m only 19 and have a lot still to learn. And when Steven Milne comes back that’ll be us with seven strikers so competition here will be fierce. But the gaffer says whoever is playing well will play, so it’s in my own hands. "
Mad Mental Martin is still a doubt this week and two new arrivals in the treatement room are apparently Jamie McCluskey and Andy Lawrie
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

September 11th - There's not much happening with the internationals on just now but Owen is already planning for Saturday's visit of Partick to Saints. It looks like the new strike partnership of Kenny Deuchar and Andy Jackson will start up front and the gaffer told the Courier, "Outwith their goals, I thought Deuchar and Jackson were terrific for us at Ding-wall. Kenny led the line well against Dunfermline and stepped up on that effort last week, while Andy’s work ethic is second to none. The young lad will chase pigeons for you. We’re just trying to add a bit of guile to his game to make sure he gets the goals to go with his play. I’ve said all along that I want the strikers to make my mind up over which of them is in the team and the way they do that is by scoring. Deuchar and Jackson have obviously staked their claim. "
The injury situation is also easing with Kevin Rutkiewicz, Goran Stanic and Mad Mental Martin all back in action this week while Willie McLaren played the full 90 minutes against East Fife in last Friday's friendly (the result of which we won't mention here....)

September 7th - Saints have confirmed they're expecting a massive crowd for the Challenge Cup Quarter final with the news that admission prices have been pegged at a tenner for adults and a fiver for concessions with only the Main Stand open for the game.
Elsewhere and the away kit is officially launched today with Debenhams playing host at 2.30pm. No doubt the players won't be hanging round too long though with a friendly pencilled in for New Bayview tonight against East Fife with a 7.30pm kick-off.

September 6th - Owen was finally happy that the strikers broke their duck in last night's cup win. He told the Record, ""I'm always vocal on the sidelines as manager, just as I was as a player. Hopefully, that enthusiasm rubs off on your players. I dare say it might be a pain in the backside to some but it's just me. I love the game. I'm very satisfied with the performance and the result. I thought we scored two very good goals and, equally, their keeper had a couple of great saves."
Saints finally got a home cup tie and a decent draw at that with the boys set to play host to Brechin in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup. The game is set for Tuesday 18th at 7.45pm.

Paul Sheerin - miss cost us points. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.September 5th - Paul Sheerin(right) has managed to stick his head above the parapet after his miss at the weekend. The midfielder told the Courier, "We have got to get back amongst the goals and start turning draws into wins. And as far as the position we find ourselves in is concerned, there’s no bigger sinner around than myself after Sunday. I should have scored. I was too deliberate. I saw the keeper diving—trying to read my shot—so I opened my body and tried to place it in the opposite direction instead of hitting the target and seeing what happened. It was a terrible miss. "
Of course he's not the only sinner and with no goals in our last 300 minutes of football, the pressure is mounting. He went on, "It doesn’t matter how a goal comes—a ricochet off someone’s backside would do—just as long as we can get the tide to turn. Against Clyde we created a lot of chances. Against Dunfermline we didn’t—and that’s a wee concern. If you create lots of opportunities then the goals will eventually come. However, big Kenny Deuchar came in on Sunday and did well for us, and I’m confident it will turn for us. The recent programme has been demanding but, hopefully, if we get a good result at Dingwall the gaffer will be kind to us and give us Saturday and Sunday off. We’re under no illusions about hard it’ll be up there, but we need a win. "
The Cat seems set to start tonight.
09:45pm - Goals from Kenny Deuchar and Andy Jackson got us through in a 2-0 win at Dingwall with the strikers not only scoring but the game finishing in 90 minutes to put us into the quarter-finals of the cup.

September 4th - Owen still seems to have plenty of faith that things will improve this season, especially on the goalscoring front. The Saints manager told the Courier, "There’s a fine line between winning and what’s been happening to us this season. We just have to keep on banging at the door and it will open for us. If the gap between ourselves and the top was as it is with five games left then that would be a big concern, but there’s 31 games to go. We’ve had a couple of shut-outs now, and just need a goal to get us up and running. We have to go on a run though and close it. You only have to look at the fact Ross County put Dundee out in the last round and were unlucky to lose in the CIS Cup to Dundee United to realise this is another tough game for us. But against Dunfermline our workrate was incredible, and we defended with our lives. We just need a goal to go in for us to kick start things "
Saints have plenty of injury worries for tomorrow's trip up north. Kevin Rutkiewicz, Goran Stanic and Mad Mental Martin are all doubtful, while Rocco Quinn is away on duty with the Scotland U-21s. There may also be a surprise change between the sticks and the manager went on, "Kevin will be very frustrated at the moment because—day in, day out— in training he has been outstanding. We’ll have a look at whether to bring him in for the cup tie. "

September 3rd - Owen spoke to the Courier about the goalless encounter yesterday and especially the Paul Sheerin miss. The manager said, "If I had handpicked someone to run on to that chance it probably would have been Paul Sheerin. It was a magnificent chance, I have to say that. I think he was trying to be really deliberate with it and find the top corner but ended up putting his foot through the shot. The whole stadium thought it was going to be a goal but he will pick himself up. "
As for the rest of the game and the current third-bottom spot we occupy in the table, he went on, "Ordinarily a point at East End Park would be deemed a good one but we are playing catch-up after drawing so many of our games. Hamilton have been terrific and Dundee are going well, but the season lasts for 36 weeks and I am confident we will improve. "

September 2nd - Another lacklustre seventy minutes capped off with a decent closing twenty minutes still saw Saints drop points today although the Pars' goalscoring capabilities were just as poor as we witnessed a goalless draw at East End Park. Debuts for Kenny Deuchar and Rocco Quinn but it was Paul Sheerin who was the biggest culprit missing a simple sitter in the final minute. And we didn't even climb the bloody table.

Kenny Deuchar - into squad tomorrow. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.September 1st - Confirmation that we signed 22yr old Celtic midfielder Rocco Quinn on loan until Xmas before the transfer deadline last night. The right-sided player starred for Killie last season and the move to McDiarmid may become permanent if everything goes well. Owen told the Courier, "I’ve been looking to get Rocco all summer and I’m delighted that it’s happened as there was interest from Premier League clubs. “We’ll look at him training tomorrow before deciding if he’ll be in the squad at Dunfermline on Sunday. "
Saints also turned down a bid for Mad Mental Martin from Accies yesterday.
Kenny "Doctor Goals" Deuchar(right) is in the squad for tomorrow's game and he told the paper he's looking to get amongst the goals (a novelty for strikers wearing the Sacred White this season, "There’s pressure in football all the time. It’s on the defenders not to concede them and on the forwards to score them. I enjoy the pressure that’s placed on me and I feel I do better with it. This is a big challenge and I’m really looking forward to it. I just want to play and score goals. That’s all you want to do as a striker. Hopefully by the time December comes round we’ll be near the top of the league. I scored the last time I played at East End Park so hopefully I can do it again. I’ve also played a few times at McDiarmid Park without losing and I’ll be looking to continue that as a St Johnstone player ". He also talked about how the move came about and said, "I thought I would have to stay there when I wasn’t allowed to move in the summer when Gretna were looking for a substantial transfer fee and the manager Davie Irons said he wanted me for the Premier League. But at the start of the week he told me St Johnstone were interested and said it was up to me if I wanted to go. When a manager says that to you the only decision to make is that you’re going to go. I’ve declined to comment too much about what happened last year. All I’m prepared to say is we didn’t get on. I wasn’t even getting to play in the reserves. But when I went on loan to Northampton I scored a few goals and helped them climb the table. League One in England is a step up from the first division in Scotland. I learned a lot in those three months. "
Owen confirmed that the move may become permanent as well. He said, "Kenny had other offers so I’m delighted we’ve managed to get him. We don’t have a target man and he’s a proven goalscorer with a great track record. "

Top Of News


August 31st - Kenny Deuchar arrived this morning and the on-loan striker goes straight into the squad for Sunday's trip to East End Park. Owen said, "In my time with the club we've not had a target man as such and in Kenny we now have such a player who is also a proven goalscorer. He leads the line well and hopefully he can help to kick start our season. It's not just down to him though, that wouldn't be fair. The team as a whole has to be doing better in all departments, most obviously goal scoring, and I'm sure Kenny can help in that respect. I try to target players who believe that they have something to prove - Kenny dropped out of things at Gretna for whatever reason at the start of last season but then led the line well in what is a tough division for Northampton Town in the second half of last season."
The deals keep on coming with the latest player linked to a move before midnight tonight is Celtic midfielder Rocco Quinn possibly set to come on loan until Xmas. The 20yr old is another of their youth squad who seems unlikely to make the breakthrough but had a spell on loan at Killie last season. He's an attacking midfielder that can double as a striker.
Steven Anderson and Kevin Rutkiewicz both have knocks but should train today and make the game on Sunday.

August 30th - With the club basically keeping their heads down as the flak flies following Tuesday's cup defeat, the bad news keeps on mounting. Kevin James reportedly faces four months on the sidelines following his operation on Monday night. That's about it as far as Saints news is concerned just now and with the transfer deadline fast approaching at midnight tomorrow we can only hope the management have some irons in the fire otherwise it's going to be a long season.
7pm - Owen's finally stuck his head over the parapet today to give the players (including the "strikers") his backing - which kind of reduces the hope of any signings before midnight tomorrow. Speaking on the Official Site of the Partick shambles, he said, "The first half was a scrappy affair which Thistle shaded but from the hour mark onwards we were a much better outfit (that'll be when we brought some decent strikers on) and we created numerous opportunities. We scored what I thought was a perfectly good goal through Steven Anderson and I have to commend the spirit of and endeavour of the players for battling on after that disappointment. It was disappointing to lose the penalty shoot-out but there were a lot of positives to take from the final 30 minutes of regulation time and extra time. We just have to get the goal scoring touch on the end of some of the football that we are playing." Speaking of the squad, he said, "I have complete faith in the players I have getting into their stride. As an experienced striker myself, I know only too well that you can go through periods where you wonder where the goals are going to come from. Then one will go in off your knee or your backside and that is enough to get you back into the scoring way." No word on any signings although some moves are apparently ongoing but with the club already talking about emergency loans and free agents, you have to question if any new faces will arrive.
As for the skipper, it's been confirmed he's out for 3-4 months after his knee op. He's got a brace on his knee for 2 weeks and then 4-6 weeks with another looser brace before he can even contemplate returning to training.
10pm - Talk about speaking too soon. Saints tonight signed Gr£tna striker Kenny Deuchar on loan until December under the emergency loan rules (no me neither). The 6ft 3 27yr old striker has been a fringe player as Gr£tna showed how loyal they'd be to the guys that got them to the SPL and apparently if everything works out ok, the move could become permanent. The gaffer said, “I’m pleased to have secured Kenny’s services as I believe he will give us an option we don’t currently have up front. He will play with us until December and we will see what happens from there. A permanent transfer cannot be ruled out if all parties found it acceptable.”

Martin Hardie - wants a shot up front. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.August 28th - Saints head to Firhill tonight still searching for a 90-minute win this season. Mad Mental Martin(right) is even willing to have a go up front if required. Speaking in the Courier, he said, "I wouldn’t mind a shot up front. It’s no secret that since we lost the power of Jason Scotland we’ve been a bit lightweight in that area. I know we have signed Dyron Daal but he is more of a touch player than a target man. When Jason played we knew he wouldn’t be winning headers. But equally we knew that if the ball was played into his feet he was so strong he’d hold on to it and bring other players into it. That’s something we’ve got to find. We’ve got three or four players who are rather similar, small and wiry. Perhaps they need someone to feed off. Whether that’s me or someone else is up to the manager but I’ve played up there for every team I’ve been at and would do it again because someone is going to have to step up to the plate. One way or another we have to get back to scoring. Jason got 25 goals I think last season and his departure has left a big void. We are also without Savo (Steven Milne) who got 10 despite playing only a third of the season. It’s up to the people here now to fill the hole that’s there. The manager has tried a few combinations without finding the right pairing. We need somebody to show the gaffer that he’s the man to fill Jason’s boots. Maybe the players who’ve come here think we’ll create a vast number of chances.“But the reality is that if chances come along we have to put them in the back of the net. And if one gets missed then the next one has to be tucked away. "
That's echoed by his manager who said, "The harsh fact is that after five games our strikers have one goal between them. They’ve all had opportunities to play and score but it’s not happened for us. I’d be more concerned if we weren’t creating chances. However, we need people to fill the strikers’ jerseys and at this moment in time that’s not happening ". And it doesn't get any easier with David Weatherston, Kevin Rutkiewicz and Peaso all doubtful with various minor injuries.
11pm - What can we say about tonight - another spineless, heartless performance as we lost 5-4 on penalties to Partick after 120 minutes of sparse entertainment. Still it's only a diddy cup innit?

August 27th - With the transfer window due to close in 5 days, there seems to be some sign of at least one signing at Saints this week with Karim Kerkar rumoured to have all but signed (well according to the Retard anyway)...although as always, the club are saying nothing. Hopefully more will become clear as the day progresses. Don't expect Imrie to come though with the midfielder apparently set to stay at Clyde until his deal runs out in January.
8pm - So much for the new faces with Karim Kerkar deciding against a move to Perth. Owen told the Official Site, "We had shaken hands on a deal to bring him to Saints but unfortunately, after he had returned home to France and discussed it with his wife, he has told me that he has opted to remain in that country." The gaffer is looking for the current squad to get the finger out and start earning their wages tomorrow night. Well he didn't phrase it quite like that but said,  "The only thing that is going to turn things around for us is more hard work. It's obvious that it was our failure to score from some great chances on Saturday that was our downfall and the strikers have to be brave enough to just get on with it, get themselves into scoring positions again and deal with what happens from there. The chances at Broadwood were not just half chances ? they were unbelievable misses but I am absolutely confident that the strikers I have got can and will turn it around."
It's not looking good for David Weatherston tomorrow either with his ankle knock putt ing him in the "extremely doubtful" category. Mad Mental Martin is available once more.

Owen - not happy. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.August 26th - Owen(right) has blasted the strikers in the papers but ruled out putting his own boots back on (Thank God). He told the Sunday Mail, "I don't think it's quite that extreme but I'm so disappointed in the way we lost. The chances we missed were beyond belief. We're not talking half-chances - some of these were tap-ins.". And on the Clyde site, he added, "I hope to never see another match were we miss such chances. Clyde started well but the chances were beyond belief not half chances but sitters. All credit to Clyde they battled away and they have some good players. Clyde were fortuitous with the goal as we had four players around the ball and they defended valiantly late on. We were missing some players through injury and suspension and did not get international clearance for another player. But I have to say that didn't affect the result as we missed some great opportunities. Daal should have had a hat-trick and later on Stewart and Jackson both should have done better but we paid the price "

August 25th - One interesting transfer rumour has Saints apparently seeking international clearance for former Clyde and Arabs midfielder Karim Kerkar. The 30yr old Algerian midfielder has been playing in the UAE, but there has been no confirmation or denial from the club yet. Meanwhile our newest signing Gary Irvine spoke to the Courier of his move to Saints and is glad to get back playing. He said, "I’ve had the best possible grounding in the game and you’re spoiled with luxuries at Celtic. It was an eye opener going on loan to Ross County but that gave me a taste for first team football and I loved it. The luxuries are great but this was going to be my fourth year in the reserves and I want competitive first team football. I’ve played against Queen’s Park Rangers in pre-season and I’ve played other pre-season matches in the past but it’s really hard to keep your place and the time has come to try and make a name for myself somewhere else. I know what I’m coming to and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve had a good pre-season and I feel ready if the manager selects me tomorrow. Right from the word go I was 100% committed to coming here. It’s a perfect move for me. It was just a case of getting things tied up with Celtic as I still had a two-year contract with them. This is a great club with great ambition and a manager who I’ve heard nothing but good things about. Everything about the move to St Johnstone is positive. "
The Dougie Imrie transfer rumour won't go away either but Partick and Morton are also believed to be in for the Clyde midfielder although he denies there have been any talks. Going into the game, we'll be without Martin Hardie cos he's naughty while Kevin James is definitely out and Goran Stanic doubtful. Allan McManus should play and while Kevin Rutkiewicz has a wee knock (possibly from doing some rock'n'roll thing for his charity gig in October) he should play.
7pm - So much for any optimism with one of the worst performances in recent years in terms of ineptitude and ability as we lost 1-0 to Clyde and dropped to 7th in the table with far too many players just a total disgrace to the badge. Absolutely nothing can excuse the constant high balls and lack of fight and teamwork today.

August 24th - No signing yet but Saints are "on the verge" (aren't we all) of signing Gary Irvine (and I think it's for real this time). The 22yr old is set to sign a 2yr contract and Owen told the Courier, "I’d like to think I am learning all the time. When I first came in I signed experienced players, but now we have that nucleus it is important we add good pace in the right areas to take that on. And that’s why most of the signings we’ve made are quick, younger lads. ". There is still hope that there will be another couple of signings before the transfer window slams shut next week with Dougie Imrie another name in the frame.
For tomorrow, Goran Stanic is a major doubt while Martin Hardie is suspended which means a likely start for Willie Dyer assuming he recovers from a viral complaint. Allan McManus will play after recovering from a close encounter with a Scumdee elbow which left him with a cracked nose and 2 black eyes (no complaints to the papers though unlike his Dens counterpart). The manager went on, "It’s strange, but since I arrived at the club we’ve never had a settled central defensive set-up. Whether it’s been a back three or four, we’ve been forced to chop and change all the time. And now we’ve lost Kevin James, our club captain and a big player for us, for a spell. Fortunately, though, Kevin Rutkiewicz has come back at the right time and been outstanding in the last two matches. And we also have Ando, who in my opinion could go a long way in the game. "
The big worry just now is the ongoing speculation linking the manager with the Caley job. The Inverness club have made an enquiry about Owen but as far as we know it's not an official approach and last night they were set to interview Brewster for the post. Allan McManus told the Courier, "Nobody wants to see the manager depart. Obviously he is going to be linked with so called bigger teams after the success we had last season. And one day he will go on to better things. But the boys have a lot of respect for him—he treats his players well and like adults— hopefully he’ll be around for a while yet. And we certainly can’t use speculation like this as an excuse because we’ve become used to it. We’ve had a slow start, but game by game we are improving and hopefully that first win is just around the corner "Gary Irvine. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.
7pm - Saints finally signed Gary Irvine(right) on a 2yr contract this afternoon. The ex-Sellic right-back goes into the squad tomorrow and Owen told the Official Saints site, "It has been a drawn-out process but not through any fault of Gary. I'm glad it's resolved and we can now give him the chance to show what he can do with Saints. I've been an admirer of his for some time Celtic played their reserve fixtures at Airdrie when Sandy and I were there and he impressed me in those games whenever I saw him. He's been a long time at Celtic but I know he feels that it is time to get his career going. You sometime shave to take a step back to take two forward and there is no reason why Gary cannot go on to have a terrific career in football starting with what he can do for Saints for the next two years. He?s match fit and played a full 90 minutes during the week against Aberdeen reserves. He can actually play at right centre half but he is predominantly a right full back."
Elsewhere and skipper Kevin James goes under the knife on Monday and hopefully once the op is over we'll know how long he will be out for.

August 23rd - Rumour central all over the place today with the main story being the apparent entry of Owen on the shortlist for the Caley Thistle job although Geoff Brown has already said that Saints "will not be easy to deal with" with a six-figure compensation fee due should the unthinkable happen and the gaffer be bought out of his contract which goes on to 2010. No official approach from the Highland club yet but it's known they're keen to get their man in place by the weekend.
Elsewhere and the transfer sagas drag on (although again it's interesting that these are going on if the manager's future is in doubt) with Gary "Bloody" Irvine reportedly all but signed today. No word on Dougie Imrie though.

Kevin James - knee op. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.August 22nd - Kevin James(right) is set to undergo an exploratory knee operation next week but there is some hope that the ongoing problems he's suffering will be corrected by this surgery. Elsewhere still no new faces but according to Owen, "We’re still working hard and we’re a wee bit closer. I would hope we can confirm something soon ", which tells us bugger all really.
7pm - Latest signing rumour has Clyde's Dougie Imrie linked to a move to Saints with the 24-yr old midfielder linked in today's Tully. As expected no official word from Saints but it could be an interesting signing especially with Saints set to face Clyde this weekend.

August 21st - The big news is the report in the Courier today that Saints are hopeful of making a signing today and that the player involved isn't Gary "Bloody Eternal Saga" Irvine. Owen Coyle simply told the paper that the deal with one of his targets had moved on and he was, "hopeful it will come to fruition tomorrow". Meanwhile the fallout from Martin Hardie's red card continued and with the Coags manager defending their striker for clobbering Andy Lawrie, Owen Coyle said of Martin Hardie's card (for allegedly elbowing Gary Mackenzie who was all over the papers like a scabby Coagie rash yesterday), "The lad has obviously said his piece but the video has shown that they fell over each other in the box. They’ve got up and Martin has pushed him, but there’s certainly no suggestion of an elbow to the throat. Martin was sick about getting sent off after the game. Nobody could make him feel any worse than he was feeling. "
7pm - The Ross County tie has been confirmed for Wed Sept 5th at 7.45pm. Meanwhile Owen Coyle has had a go on the Official Site about the rumours surrounding Kevin James. The defender gets the results of his scan today and while Owen expects him to be out for a while he wasn't too happy about the career-threatening stories that are doing the rounds and said, "I feel sorry for the player having to deal with this sort of story. It's scaremongering at best and I'm very disappointed that Kevin has had to field this sort of question. We don't know what the results will bring and only when we have those results and assessed them will we make any comment on how long Kevin will be out for."
Latest from the injury front is that Wee Wullie McLaren is back in light training. The news isn't so good for Goran Stanic though. After injuring his groin during the warmup on Saturday, the defender is a doubt for this weekend's trip to sunny (hah!) Broadwood.

August 20th - There's a bit of a war of words developing in the aftermath of Saturday's draw with Owen Coyle questioning the decision for the red card for Martin Hardie. The manager told the Official Site, "I thought we were very comfortable a goal up and with eleven men but then the red card changes it and Dundee naturally try to push home their numerical advantage. I have to say that I have already watched the incident on video and there seemed to be minimal contact but the referee has said that Martin used an elbow so I have to accept that. I’m disappointed not to win but I can’t fault the effort of the players and we are just a whisker away from turning the draws into wins. We have to take the positives from today and take them forward to Clyde next week.". Needless to say the Coags are seeing things differently.
Meanwhiile scorer John Stewart paid tribute to the assist from Paul Sheerin and told the Courier, "The guys were saying it was a great finish but basically all I had to do was get a bit of contact on it and the ball was in. It was a fantastic cross from Paul Sheerin. He plays balls in like that every day in training and if he carries that into games then I am sure myself, Peaso, Dyron Daal and Andy Jackson will score goals. Our defenders have been criticised for letting in too many goals, but up front we’ve not been scoring so we’re just as much to blame for the start we’ve made. However, in the circumstances, this result represents a step forward and I’m sure there’s better to come. "

August 18th - It's the biggest game of the season so far today as local rivals and all-round plague-carriers Scumdee come to town for a visit. Paul Sheerin is looking to add to his tally but not from the penalty spot. He told the Courier, "The fact I’ve scored three times from the spot this season has been alright considering we only got one penalty in the league all last season. But I’m not making too much noise about having three goals already because I was getting abuse the other night for not scoring from open play. There’s no appreciation at all for the contribution I’m making! ". He knows today will be a tough match and went on, "Dundee have started really well and look to have a much stronger squad than last year. The most disappointing aspect of our start has been the goals we’ve been conceding. And we need to rectify that. It’s a bit early to start worrying about gaps opening up though. Obviously you don’t want to be falling behind other teams given how tight a league this is and how difficult it is to claw points back. But if the worst were to happen against Dundee it would still be a bit soon to really be worrying. "...(well that's his opinion but I doubt that would wash with the Saints support).
Kevin James is out while he waits another scan and Kevin Rutkiewicz, Steven Anderson, Derek McInnes and Martin Hardie were all suffering from knocks this week.
Saints are still tracking Gary Irvine (surely we'll get pissed off sooner or later) with Owen Coyle saying, "We have made our offer and now it is just a case of waiting and hoping that everything turns out well.". The gaffer also spoke of today's game and said, "It is always a great occasion when Dundee come here and I am sure there will be a big crowd and a good atmosphere. We have drawn our last two league games but I believe the players have enough character to put on the performance we want from them."
7pm - A "fair" result in the end saw Saints draw 1-1 with the Scum with John Stewart finally opening his scoring account with a cracking goal before the Coags equalised after we had been reduced to ten men following a straight red card for Martin Hardie for use of an elbow.

Dyron Daal. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.August 17th - Dyron Daal(right) reckons tomorrow's derby encounter means as much to the tinks as it does to Saints. He told the Courier, "I played for Dundee in a loss here last season and could not help but be struck by how big a game it is. People say it’s a bigger match for St Johnstone and their supporters because Dundee’s ‘real’ derby is with United. But having seen the fixture from both sides I can tell you it’s just as important from a Dundee perspective. I know of the rivalry between the two teams in Dundee, but Dundee are no longer in the same division as United so this is their ‘derby’ and their players will be just as keen to do well in it. I have a lot to thank Dundee for. Going there after sitting on the bench at Aberdeen gave me back my enjoyment for the game and they treated me very well. I don’t have a bad word to say about them. But I don’t look back, only forward now. I am a St Johnstone player and, whatever happens on Saturday, it is far too early to be talking about who is going to win the championship. There will be a very long season left after that."
"Of course we are desperate to get up and running and it wouldn’t come any better than recording our first win against Dundee. I’d have loved to have got off the mark already. But it hasn’t worked out that way and now we have to redeem ourselves. If we win we’ll only be one point behind them and that is the position we aim to be in come Saturday evening."
. He was as critical of his own form as well and admitted, "We have four good strikers vying for two places. And for those of us involved it’s just a case of scoring goals and see what the manager does. As a front player the pressure is always on you to score. At the end of the day you can play as well as you can but if you don’t score goals then you are not doing what you are here for."
Kevin James meanwhile is definitely out this weekend and faces another scan next week with the problem diagnosed as a chipped bone or unstable ligament.

August 16th - So much for the deadline on Gary Irvine with the deal on hold until Sellik return from Russia although Saints have confirmed the offer is still on the table. Kevin Rutkiewicz should train tomorrow for the first time this week but it's not looking quite as good for Steven Anderson and Derek McInnes. Kevin James is still waiting on the report from the specialist.
4pm - The draw for the 2nd round of the Challenge Cup was made today and Saints are offski to Ross County for a delightful midweek tie on either the 4th or 5th September. Can't see many making that trip somehow.

August 15th - Owen Coyle was still pissed off with last night's win or more accurately the performance. He told the Official Site, "was quite pleased with our first half showing and I felt that we passed and moved the ball quite well. We tried something different with John Stewart in the lone striker role with Jamie McCluskey playing in behind him and it worked in spells. Raith looked good and the large part of the second half belonged to them. That said, we had some great chances to put the game beyond them – David Weatherston, Dyron Daal, Peter MacDonald and Martin Hardie all had chances which they couldn’t take and then we paid the price by losing the goal in the final minute. I thought we controlled extra time and then Alan Main has done his job with the penalty kicks"
More worries as well with Steven Anderson and Derek McInnes both major doubts for the Scumdee game while Kevin Rutkiewicz is still to resume training after his knock at the weekend and Kevin James has been ruled out until he's got the okay from the specialist about his knee.

Jamie McCluskey - starting tonight?. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.August 14th - Jamie McCluskey(right) is hoping to get a starting jersey for tonight's trip to Stark's Park. The midfielder told the Courier, "Before pre- season the last time I had played was in February with Hibs reserves. I feel now that my touch is starting to come back and I’m feeling fitter and stronger. I thought I did well when I came on on Saturday. The manager told me to get on the ball and try and make things happen for us and I think I managed to do that. The lads have been great as well, giving me lots of encouragement. Now I want to play games and hopefully I’ll get a start tomorrow night and we can get our first win of the season. It’s an important match because we need to get into the winning habit that the club had last season. ". Elsewhere tonight Steven Anderson is back but Kevin James is set to see a specialist about his knee injury.
Saints expect a decision on the move for Sellik right-back Gary Irvine today although the move is by no means certain. But after the saga dragging on for a week, Owen Coyle has put a deadline on a decision and told the paper, "Gary’s a player we’re keen on and we’ve spoken to him at length for over a week now. He’s had a couple of things to sort out with his club. We will know soon if it’s going to happen but if we don’t hear by tomorrow we will be moving on."
11.30pm - Another bloody mess tonight as slack play after a Paul Sheerin lead was lost in the final minute before Saints won 5-4 on penalties at Raith although there wasn't really that much to celebrate.

August 13th - Another Monday and another attempt to lift the fan's spirits with Martin Hardie this time appearing in the Courier. The Saints midfielder said, "I really don’t think there’s any effect from last season. I was hurting for a couple of days at the end of last season but, as far as I’m concerned, it was very much in the past after that. Unfortunately, I can’t put my finger on why we haven’t started well. We try to play good football but sometimes the ugly side of the game has to come into play as well. Sometimes you just have to battle your way through games. With all due respect to the teams we’ve played, we were looking for six points for a start. Queen of the South and Stirling Albion are both part-time teams and we should be expecting to beat them. We’ve got the experienced players here to do that. "
Next weekend is likely to be a much tougher affair though and he went on, "I’ve played in a few derbies in my career and they’re games where you really have to stand up and be counted. There will be a good crowd for the match and it’s one we’re looking forward to."
Owen Coyle was just as disappointed by the result. He told the Official Site, "I'm disappointed with the result and the level of performance. We've lost two soft goals - that's five goals in two games - although I felt we were denied two glaring penalties. I warned the players that they would come with two banks of four in an attempt to frustrate us. I thought we controlled the second half and I made changes which I felt could win the game and we certainly had the chances to do so. I'm certainly more disappointed today than I was at Dumfries." The defence is the biggest worry and he went on, "I was forced into playing Kevin Rutkiewicz today and he didn't let me down. Steven Anderson is now available which helps and I'm pursuing other players. One enquiry is more advanced than the others but the delay is not at our end so I just have to wait and see what next week brings."

Rusty - back in action. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.August 12th - Contrasting emotions today with Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) overjoyed at getting on the scoresheet. He's quoted in the Sunday Mail as saying, "I wanted to run to seven places at once when I scored. It was an emotional moment and it will take a couple of days to sink in. I've had my tough times in the last year. I'm normally an upbeat person but it was hard to come into the club and watch the boys go out to train and miss out on the cup runs and title challenge last season. It was difficult but I tried to stay positive and had the best players and management team around me. They kept my spirits up. I'm happy to have 90 minutes under my belt but now the hard work starts again. The surgeon in London will be getting a letter of thanks as he has performed miracles.". As for the performance of the team, he went on, "Even though I've been out you never lose that winning mentality, so I'm gutted we didn't win and we've lost ground in the league race."
That was echoed by the manager who told the paper, "When we went a goal up we should have taken the game on but never did. "We lost two soft goals and it's just not good enough. I'm disappointed with the result and the performance. "

August 11th - It's the first home game today and Goran Stanic is out to build on last season's Fortress McDiamird tag against Stirling. The left-back told the Courier, "Every game is important but this has a lot of significance because it is the first time most of our fans will have seen us play. We are determined to do well and get a victory. We did very well at McDiarmid Park last season and you need to do that if you are to challenge for promotion. We always have to look ahead and we have a difficult match against Stirling Albion to tackle now. They have just come up from the lower division but one thing I have learned about this league is that there is never a weak team."
Kevin James is unlikely to make the game but John Stewart managed to train yesterday and is in the squad. For Stirling, ex-Saints players John Paul McBride and Ross Forsyth will miss out through injury.
6.30pm - Another shambles in defence saw us chasing the game before drawing 2-2 with Stirling thanks to goals from Martin Hardie and a born-again Kevin Rutkiewicz. But the performance was a mess at times and apart from Jamie McCluskey coming off the bench for the last half-hour pretty much devoid of the sort of entertainment we've been looking for.

Geoff Brown - excellent season last year. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.August 10th - The financial results from last season are out and Saints have revealed a near half-million pound profit for last season, mainly due to the cup exploits. Geoff Brown(right) told the Courier, "Our corporate facilities continue to be well used but without the revenue generated by our cup runs an operating loss would have been reported.“While the club’s finances are in a healthy position, there are capital commitments of £115,000 made since the year end, with a further sum in excess of £200,000 being required to upgrade our floodlighting system, and the fact remains that little income is generated from the Scottish Football League. The financial side of the club, therefore, will continue to be of paramount importance and the directors and staff are committed to increasing all areas of our income stream. Last season was excellent, both in football and financial terms, and I have no reason to be other than optimistic for the forthcoming season. Our approach to the financial position of the club will continue to be sensible and prudent and this approach has stood us in good stead in recent years."
The chairman is full of hope for this season and went on, "We were so close to regaining promotion to the Premier League last season and promotion opportunities do not come around to often. It was galling for the season to finish the way it did but it was no disgrace to finish in second place in the first division. Without question the first division will be more competitive and promises to be an excellent spectacle for supporters. The manager will hopefully bring in at least two more players and he is receiving our backing, but we already have a good squad here. There are also a few other teams with good squads, though. Saturday’s set of results were great because it showed straight away that anybody could beat anybody. If that keeps happening, interest in the division will be high. If Dunfermline’s players thought they were a standard above the first division, they would have got the shock of their lives at Hamilton It wouldn’t have shocked the other teams in the first division, though, because everybody except for Hibs recently has struggled when they’ve been relegated. Put it this way, I would defy anybody to predict the six first division match results each weekend. It is going to be that tight. We could get some good attendances as well because the likes of Morton, Partick Thistle, Dundee and Dunfermline will hopefully all bring good travelling supports to Perth."
No more concrete news on the signings although Owen Coyle admitted he's trying to get an SPL player in who's not a striker. Otherwise, the managed said in the Courier, "This has been ongoing for about a week now and we have been vigorous in trying to move it forward. It is a bit frustrating but the player involved is still at another club and that makes it more complicated. We have had permission to speak to the player, which we have done, and he is keen to come here, so now it is a case of tying everything else up. ". As for tomorrow's encounter with the Beanos, he watched their win at Brechin on Tuesday night and went on, "I was impressed as they had a nice shape and have some good players. I will be concentrating on St Johnstone, though, because we know we are capable of getting goals. What we must do is not concede the soft goals we did against Queen of the South. We did have a couple of boys playing at the back who were not fully fit, while with Steven Anderson suspended and Kevin Rutkiewicz and Willie Dyer injured, we did not have a lot of depth in defence. Also, Willie McLaren has been told by the specialist who looked at his knee to rest it completely for three weeks. There is no point mumping and moaning about it, though, and we will get on with things just as we usually do "
Alan Main - home debut mk2. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.Alan Main(right) is looking forward to his home debut (again!) and told the Official Site, "I'm really looking forward to it. It will be great to see some familiar match day faces again and of course I'm looking forward to playing. I had a special relationship with the fans during my previous spell here and I would like to think that will continue but that is down to me - I need to show that I am here to do my best and perform consistently well for the club. As a goalkeeper it was obviously disappointing to lose three goals last week - we were all disappointed. But we had enough chances to win the game and although it wasn't the start we wanted we'll be doing all we can to win tomorrow. I know that we have a lot of new season ticket holders and we'll be looking to turn in the performances that create a good atmosphere at McDiarmid Park each game."
Kevin James is a major doubt for tomorrow and Owen Coyle also said, "Willie McLaren is out for a couple of weeks with a knee problem and of course Steven Milne is out of contention. I'm actively pursuing targets and I've not given up hope of having someone new in time for tomorrow. Having done all our pre-season preparations away from Perth I'm looking forward to having a home game as I'm sure all the supporters are. We have had a couple of training sessions on the new pitch which looks magnificent and will suite out style of play. We have a good home record over the past couple of seasons and I'll be looking to continue that but it won?t be easy tomorrow. I watched Stirling during week at Brechin and they are a good side."

August 9th - Still not a lot happening at McDiarmid with nothing to report on the signings front. The draw for the 2nd round of the CIS Cup has been made though and we're off to Partick on Tuesday 28th August at 7.45pm - well won't that be a fun trip?

August 7th - Despite the dramatic finish on Saturday, no one is taking things for granted about the performance. Owen Coyle told the Courier, "I’ve got a real mixture of emotions. I’m really angry at some of our defending which was schoolboy stuff at times. There was frustration at the way we passed the ball, which wasn’t up to the standards we expect. But by scoring two late goals I was proud at the never-say-die spirit that the players showed. They’ve proven again that they never know when they’re beaten. Without playing well we could have gone on to win the match had there been a few more minutes left. "
That opinion was backed up by Derek McInnes telling the Official Site, "We didn’t play as well as we can and I think everyone in the team will admit they could have performed better. However, we showed a resilience which was pleasing and I feel that we always carry a goal threat in the final third of the field even when we are not playing well. We definitely have to defend better as a team. Individual errors were made and we gave the ball away too often and too cheaply – myself included. When you score three goals away from home you expect to win the game and it is frustrating that we didn’t, although you have to credit Queen of the South who will give most teams a hard time at their ground. There wasn’t much satisfaction in taking a draw from the game because it was a game we wanted to win and on the balance of play and chances created we should have but at least we showed we still have the battling qualities which were in evidence last season. We have the talent to get the goals this season and we just need to shut the door at the back."

August 4th - The big day is finally here and a large travelling support are expected to head west to Dumfries for the opening league game. After the drama from April,Martin Hardie is ready to start all over again. The midfielder told the Retard, "It was an all-time low when the Gretna result came through. But it was done and dusted within a week and all I'm thinking about now is the challenge we face this season. "We know the division will be even tougher with Dunfermline and Morton added to the mix. We've lost Jason Scotland but new boys John Stewart and Dyron Daal will compete with Peter MacDonald and Andy Jackson up front ". No word on any signings yet but Owen Coyle is said to be chasing two players.
7:30pm- It was a pretty dismal start to the season, with only two late goals scraping a point in a 3-3 draw at Palmerston with Martin Hardie's last-minute equaliser adding to a brace of penalties from Paul Sheerin. Results elsewhere saw the Scum beat Meadowbank while Accies beat the Pars. Oh yeah and Gretna not only got shafted but seemed to have earned themselves some wonderfully crap PR by not allowing Rowan Alexander into Fir Park today.

Owen - expects a tough season. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.August 3rd - It's the eve of the league campaign in what's set to be one of the toughest leagues in Britain. Yet again we've avoided the curse of being favourites, with the Pars taking that honour and Owen Coyle(righ0 told the Courier, "Having just come down from the SPL and with players on big salaries, I think they deserve to be favourites. Dunfermline can pay two or three times more than everybody else, so there will be an expectancy for them to go on and win the league. By all accounts they were unfortunate to go down. However, this is a division that is notoriously difficult to get out of. Last year, some people said it was just a two-horse race between Gretna and us but it wasn’t easy to win any match. And now I would say it is difficult to predict where teams will finish next season—it’s that close. A lot of sides have strengthened. Dunfermline have kept a lot of their players, while Dundee have brought in eight or nine and I know a few of them to be very good signings. Morton will be strong and have a healthy support, while the likes of Partick Thistle and Queen of the South have added to their squads. I guess we all know what we are working with and will just get on with doing what is best for our football clubs. "
But we might have a new face on board as the manager went on, "We will see what transpires between now and the weekend. I am pleased how talks have gone so far but there is still work to be done. What was initially a tentative inquiry has moved on a bit so we will see what comes of it. "
John Stewart has been spoken to following the stories in the papers this week. Owen Coyle said, "John Stewart will be in our squad for Saturday. John was on his way to attend the young lad’s memorial service but his car broke down and obviously there have been crossed wires and the wrong story has been put about. Whether there is provocation or not he has an obligation both on and off the park to represent this club to the maximum. I have spoken to John and he is well aware of that. He appears to be the victim of a wrong story but he is under no illusions about the standards we expect at St Johnstone. "
6pm - With the new season less than 24 hours away, the Official Saints Site has undergone a revamp with the promise of future video highlights and podcasts. There's also a new offer to season ticket holders to get a wee plaque for £20 on their seat with their name on it for the coming season.
Elsewhere and no confirmation of the mystery signing yet but it's rumoured to be a Sellik target, although nothing is confirmed. Saints were hopeful of getting a deal done today and if so the mysterious player will go straight into the squad for Palmerston. There are a few knocks and minor injuries amongst the squad so team selection is going to be a late decision.

August 1st - Little to report as we head into the first game this weekend. Several players picked up minor knocks at the weekend, but all are expected to make the side for Saturday. We do have Steven Anderson suspended for the first two games and despite a loan rumour linking him with a short-term move to Brechin, Kevin Rutkiewicz should be available for Saints albeit lacking a bit in match fitness.
Elsewhere and the Retard's running another Alan Main quote saying he's aiming to be first choice for the coming campaign (with Kevin Cuthbert reportedly suffering from a knee injury). He said, "Winning what is sure to be a tough division would give me just as big a thrill as games against Monaco and finishing third in the top flight. It would be great for me"
6.30pm - The rumours about an incident involving on-loan striker John Stewart finally made the papers today with (surprise, surprise), the Daily Retard at the head of the queue. Apparently Stewart was drunk at a nightclub on Saturday night and while waiting for a taxi was heckled by a Falkirk fan. The Saints player unfortunately reacted, punching the Bairns fan and then lashing out and breaking the wing mirror of a parked car. He's paid £50 (apparently not enough for the car owner) in damages and the police aren't pressing charges but Owen Coyle is quoted as saying, "This is something I'll be talking to the boy about.".
While the reasons for his current acrimonious relationship with the Falkirk fans are well known, it's safe to say he's not done himself any favours with his new employers - let's face it, Saints aren't exactly notorious for a tolerant attitude to these sorts of activities. Given that he's more than likely burnt his bridges with Falkirk and Saints may be his only lifeline to a professional career he has to start knuckling down and getting on with doing his talking on the park. Hopefully this will be a one-off and Saints should discipline him but it has to be made clear that any further incidents of this nature will end any chance of a career at McDiarmid - the club's reputation (as well as that of the gaffer) is far too valuable to be damaged by one irresponsible player. And if that means John Stewart has to curb his social life in Falkirk so be it - at least it might keep him out of the papers and away from the sorts of Falkirk fans who will no doubt be looking to follow up Saturday's row.

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July 31st - Owen is still apparently unsure about the striking partnership going into the first game this weekend. He told the Courier, "I’ve got a team in my mind for Saturday, apart from the strikers. There’s real competition there and it will be a tough choice unless we change formation and play four strikers! They’ve all played with each other over the course of pre-season and now it’s about deciding which formation will be best-suited for this particular game against Queen of the South. The players have worked hard. “We’ve never had our full starting 11 in a game but we’ve got gradually closer to it in the last few games. “I thought that on Saturday in the first half in particular we passed the ball better than we had done all pre-season, and that match has set us up for a tough game in Dumfries. "
As for the squad, he went on, "I’m not finished yet with signings. I could get four or five guys in today that would add to our numbers but we want quality and I’m prepared to wait for that. Whoever we get has to enhance the squad. That might be a loan signing or a player from a higher division who we thought wouldn’t be available but becomes available when he isn’t playing at the start of the season. We’ll certainly be keeping up to date with what’s happening. "

July 28th - While it would be nice to see a full-strength lineup, expect a few faces missing from the side at Glebe Park today due to minor injuries. Owen told the Courier, "We’ve got a couple of guys with wee niggles. I’ve not had everybody fit who I would be looking to play next week at any one time but hopefully that will happen when it really matters. Pre-season has gone well and Brechin will provide another stiff test for us, as they always do.". Meanwhile there will be one familiar face in the Brechin lineup with Neil Janczyk having agreed a deal.
7.30pm - It was another good win to round off the performance with a brace for Peaso and one for Martin Hardie as we ran out 3-1 winners at Brechin

John Stewart - signed on a loan deal. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.July 27th - It's the final pre-season game tomorrow with the trip along the road to take on Brechin. John Stewart(right) is looking to the game to establish his credentials for a starting jersey for the league campaign next Saturday at Dumfries. The on-loan striker said on the Official site, "I've only been here a couple of weeks but there is a good atmosphere about the place and I am enjoying every minute of it so far. It's good to get amongst the goals in pre-season and it has helped my confidence a great deal and it is all about taking that into the competitive games now. When I was at Aberdeen Jimmy Calderwood said I was the best finisher at the club. I've seen myself described as a 'poacher' and I certainly don't mind picking up pieces and finishing from close range like I did in Ireland but the two goals on Wednesday hopefully showed that I can be composed and finish from distance as well. However, I'll take 20 tap-ins a season no problem!"
As for the rest of the squad he went on, "I played a few games alongside Dyron Daal when we were both at Aberdeen and Peaso is an experienced, class strike. I watched him when Saints beat Falkirk in the Scottish Cup last season and he was the best player on the park. Steven Milne will be an asset when he is fit and I'm already impressed with Andy Jackson so there will be no shortage of competition for places up front. I just want to get this last friendly out of the way and then all the focus will be on the league opener against Queen of the South."

July 25th - Not too much happening today. Ben Webster won't be signing for Saints after Owen decided not to pursue our interest in the right-back. Otherwise it's a first-team squad that are heading for New Bayview tonight to take on East Fife.
10.30pm - Saints had a comfortable 3-0 win over East Fife tonight. Goals came courtesy of a brace from John Stewart and one from Kevin James with a strong Saints side including Kevin Rutkiewicz who continued his return.

July 24th - The tour ended on a downer as a young Saints side lost 2-0 to Ballymena United in the final game of the Irish friendlies last night. The game did see a return to match action from injury for Kevin Rutkiewicz and Willie McLaren. Owen told the Official Site, "We played some terrific football for 30 minutes or so but then went behind to a real peach of a goal – the lad hit it on the half-volley from around 35 yards. We then lost another goal to a 30 yard free kick and we were not as fluent after that. I don’t like losing any game and it would have been nice to have made it three wins out of three over here but overall I’m pleased. In terms of improving fitness and team spirit the trip has more than fulfilled its requirement. Kevin Rutkiewicz got 20 minutes which is obviously a massive step for him after so long out of the game, Dyron Daal got 45 minutes and Willie McLaren got an hour so that is all good. It was a younger team tonight and it meant all the travelling squad got some match action."
Meanwhile the Challenge Cup 1st round was drawn today and Saints are offski to Kirkcaldy with a match against Raith on Tuesday August 14th. Kick-off 7.45pm

July 22nd - Another win on the Irish tour tonight with Saints beating Finn Harps 1-0 thanks to a John Stewart tap in in the 70th minute.

July 21st - The first game of the Irish tour last night saw Saints run out 4-1 winners over Coleraine with goals from Kevin James, two from Andy Jackson and one from John Stewart. Only down side was an injury to Martin Hardie which saw us, having used all the subs, finish with only 10 men. Trialist Ben Webster played for an hour.

July 20th - New signing John Stewart has denied he's been forced out of Falkirk for disciplinary reasons. He told the Courier, "I know people will think this is a direct result of all that. But it’s not the reason I am here. My joining St Johnstone is all about football. I had wanted to go out on loan and get back on track before all that happened. It was a misunderstanding. My car broke down and I didn’t have my mobile with me. No way was it a case of me not bothering to turn up, that would have been awful. But I never got the chance to explain myself. I’m glad to be here and have the chance to rebuild my confidence and learn from Owen Coyle. I am from Airdrie and my dad used to take me to see him play there. He is an Airdrie legend "

John Stewart - signed on a loan deal. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.July 19th - Latest news is that the English right-back who played at Berwick on Tuesday will be joining Saints on their pre-season tour of Ireland at the weekend. The other 3 trialists will be taking some part in the action in tonight's game at Forfar but expect a pretty young side to take the field at Station Park.
Elsewhere and there are reports that Falkirk striker John Stewart(right) is set to head to McD on a 6 month loan deal after the 22-yr old fell out of favour at Westfield following a row with Yogi. Where he'll fit in with the existing strikeforce remains to be seen.
6pm - Confirmation that John Stewart signed today on a 6-month loan spell with Owen telling the Official Site, "I tried to get John on two or three occasions while he was at Aberdeen without success and delighted that I have secured his services for the next few months. He is a good striker who hasn’t quite managed to make the breakthrough at Aberdeen or Falkirk but I am a big admirer of his and I’m sure he will do a job for us."
Finally for now, the trialist from Tuesday night who's heading to Ireland with the boys has been named as former Newcastle United right-back Ben Webster
11pm - It took a late Steven Doris penalty to get Saints a 3-2 win over Forfar tonight. All three Dutch trialists played but all were also subbed. The other two goals came from David Weatherston

Kevin Moon - got the third Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.July 17th - It'll be a mixed Saints side at Berwick for tonight's friendly with a lot of the youngsters set to get a run out. In additon the first batch of trialists will be joining the boys with up to three Dutchmen and one Englishmen set to try and win a deal at McD.
10:45pm - All the trialists played tonight although only the right-back seemed to have anything to offer, despite one of the others getting our opener in a 3-0 win at Berwick with Kevin Moon(right) and Andy Jackson the other scorers. Still it was a good workout and the youngsters given their chance all acquitted themselves well enough.

July 16th - Owen was happy enough with Saturday's win. He's quoted in today's Courier as saying, "I thought we were terrific in the first half and for half an hour played to the very high standard we set ourselves. We were not at full strength, with a few first-team players being rested and a couple of our senior guys coming off at half-time, and having Dyron Daal score twice in his first game for us was a real bonus and shows he knows what he’s about in front of goal. Fair play to Arbroath for coming back at us and scoring twice—we don’t like conceding goals—but there were a lot of pleasing aspect to the game, not least of which was winning the Forfarshire Cup. "

July 14th - Well the pre-season finally gets underway today and Saints head to Gayfield for the Forfarshire Cup final. Because of this it's going to be a bit different to the traditional friendlies. There are no trialists allowed and only three subs. Expect a strong first team as well as Owen told the Courier, "There will be a few lads with niggles who won’t play but other than that there will be a lot of first team players taking part."
7.30pm - Dyron Daal scored a brace and Peaso one himself as Saints raced into a 3-0 half-time lead at Gayfield before the traditional sleepy second-half ended up with us just running out 3-2 winners over Arbroath to take the Forfarshire Cup. David Weatherston and Jamie McCluskey both made impressive debuts while Kevin Moon also had a good 90 minutes in the centre of midfield.

July 13th - Plenty of coverage of Owen Coyle's new contract in the papers today but there's also an interesting titbit in the Courier linking us with a fresh move for Accies Richard Offiong after an earlier 25K bid fell well short of Hamilton's valuation of the player (believed to be six figures). Owen also praised the players for last season in the papers and said, "The players should have a great belief after last season, as I think the style of football we played against good sides is very positive. It’s not often that Celtic fans are shouting for the final whistle. It would be very easy to sit back after that but the players here are very resilient and want to do their best for the club. We don’t have the best players in the world but when they cross that line on a Saturday, rest assured they will give their best effort. The supporters recognise that and it’s important that we give them that. We had big followings at the cup runs last season but it took the fans a while to see what we were doing. Players are representatives of the fans, and supporters appreciate it when they are giving their best. We want to win games in an entertaining style and bring the fans back—and I think we are doing that. It will be an ultra-competitive league this season but one we look forward to. "
Meanwhile it's apparently the Arbroath Seafront Spectacular tomorrow so that means potential traffic and parking problems for those of us heading to Gayfield for the Forfarshire Cup Final. Kick-off is at 3pm, with admission £6 for adults and £3 for children and OAPs

July 12th - Two days to the first pre-season game and the talk from McD is deafening in it's silence. One player who won't be joining is ex-Pars defender Andy Tod with the veteran signing a 1-yr contract with Raith yesterday. Saints had offered him a one-month deal but he elected to go for security. Meanwhile Owen Coyle is expecting a couple of trialists to arrive at the club next week (believed to be foreigners) as he looks to strengthen the squad further.
Finally congratulations to new supplier Surridge Sports whose online shop has already been expanded to offer Saints training gear as well as the home kit. Puts Xara to shame.
Bit of a surprise today after a quiet period with the announcement from Geoff Brown that Owen Coyle has signed on for an additional year's extension to his current contract taking him through to May 2010. The chairman said on the Official Site, "I am obviously delighted that Owen has extended his contract. When he joined us his first year was transitional and last season proved to be very exciting - next year however will be tougher with an excellent league in prospect. Owen has created the sparkle which we hope will bring success - last season we played at a level above our Division and the players and fans responded well. There is an enthusiasm around McDiarmid Park and I remain optimistic regarding promotion to the SPL. I get asked if we want to go up but it is nonsense to suggest that we do not want promotion - we would not be extending Owen's contract if that was the case.Financially, it is very difficult in the Scottish Football League with no league sponsor and media income. There is always speculation in the media linking Owen with other clubs but we have had no contact from any other club regarding a managerial vacancy.".... that'll be a hint about the recent speculation assuming Owen would want to leave the gorgeous scenery of Perth for the Little Beirut atmosphere of Fir Park then..
As for the gaffer he said, "I am absolutely thrilled as I have a great feeling for the Club. I want to continue our progress and am looking forward to next season.I have a tremendous relationship with the Chairman and Stewart Duff, Managing Director and they have given me great backing during my time here. I am delighted to extend my contract as this provides stability at the Club. With regard to next season we have already replaced players whom we have lost and I am still looking to add to the squad but not just for the sake of it. The players should take heart and belief from their performances last season and look forward to next season. I appreciate the fans backing last season and hopefully this will continue."

July 8th - Well I managed to get the last XXL top in Debenhams yesterday (Campus were sold out). There seems to be a bit of a fallout from the BHS side after the department store managed to get a bit of free publicity by hosting the launch (albeit with less than 100% enthusiasm according to some e-mails I've received). Either way BHS have stopped stocking the strips so it's Campus Sports, Debenhams or online. Frankly, that's a pretty pathetic attitude from the BHS management and stinks of them trying to get a quick bit of free publicity in a pathetic attempt to develop some "local" credentials while at the same time peddling the sort of OF-related crap that Perth has been so used to for so long. Hopefully it's going to backfire on them big time with several fans already talking about a future boycott of the store.

July 7th - Despite the home kit being launched at BHS yesterday, rumour has it that the store is not going to stock the new strip on a regular basis although you can still pick it up at Debenhams or Campus Sport. . It's also available online at Surridge Sports

July 5th - Jason Scotland finally got his work permit renewed yesterday and has completed his move to Swansea City.
Back at Saints, there's no sign of any further new arrivals yet but the manager told the Courier, "I’ve spoken to a few players but there is nothing imminent or concrete yet. But all it takes is a phone call and that could change. I have a couple of people in mind and would like to look at all areas of the team. Nothing has happened yet, but we are actively targetting some players "

July 4th - It looks like the transfer dealings haven't all been successful. Accies have turned down a bid from Saints (believed to be around £25,000 for Richard Offiong. The striker is also wanted by Clyde and it remains to be seen whether or not we increase the offer for the 24yr old who still has a year to go on his contract.

July 2nd - The new home kit is set to be launched on Friday afternoon at 2.30 in the Perth High St branch of BHS. Debenhams and Campus Sports in Perth are stocking it as well and new suppliers Surridge Sports will also be offering it online. As for the bananaesque away kit that's out in early September (God imagine that - reliable dates from the kit suppliers)

July 1st - Less than a fortnight to the opening game of the season and there are still believed to be additional new faces set to come on board. Meanwhile, Jamie McCluskey is looking forward to some first team action after a frustrating end to his Hibs career. He told the Official Site, "I had three and a half years with Hibs and things were progressing nicely. I was only 16 when I made my debut and Tony Mowbray indicated that he planned to ease me into the first team over a period of time. John Collins said the same thing to me when he took over and I felt I performed well in the reserves but I found myself well out of the picture and down the pecking order. I was offered a new contract but I have opted to come to Saints to play more regularly and prove myself. I know that Owen had tried to bring me to Perth on loan on a couple of occasions and his desire to have me was certainly an influence in me wanting to come to Saints"

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June 29th - Alan Main has shown he's not too bitter in an interview with the Retard today. Saints new keeper told the paper, "It feels strange coming back here but it was a good feeling walking through the doors, even if it is the 21st pre-season of my career. There is a good mix of experience and youth in the squad. The manager is getting the right blend."
He wasn't slow in hitting out at his former employers as well saying, "Gretna is all gone for me now. Because of the situation I was in Ihaven't missed it and I wasn't at any of their games. "But while I was there I gave a lot of effort and commitment to Gretna. Anything I have achieved in my career has been down to hard work, certainly not by cheating anyone. When I make a mistake I'm the first to admit it in the dressing room. This theory that I would deliberately throw a game is absolute nonsense. I'm not that type of person. I have had highs and lows throughout my career and it is about how you react to setbacks that counts. I was promised I would get a championship medal from Gretna but that has never arrived. It would be brilliant to get one this season with Saints. That would be one I'd treasure"

Jamie McCluskey - signed today. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.June 28th - There was another new signing today to coincide with the start of pre-season training as 19yr old Hibs winger Jamie McCluskey(right) (who we'd been linked with last summer) signed on one year contract. Also at the club was ex-Pars defender Andy Tod who has been given training facilities as he tries to get a new club.
The new signing had an offer of an extension at Hibs but opted for Saints. On the Official Site, Owen Coyle said of his new signing, "Jamie is an out and out gifted footballer and I want to give him the platform to go and play. There is not much of him in terms of height and build but a lack of physique is not necessarily a hindrance – I wasn’t the strongest of players myself but I survived! Jamie can play through the middle, out wide or behind the front two and he has plenty of ability although there will undoubtedly be aspects of his game we can work on. Just as important as his ability is his desire and hunger to achieve something and that is what I want at this club – players who want to push themselves to achieve something."
Also back at McD was Alan Main and the manager went on, "Alan is at the other end of the career spectrum from someone like Jamie but he too has already spoken to me of his desire to do well for us and to achieve something during his second spell with the club."
As for today he said, "The first few days of training will be about fitness levels – we’ve done a bit of running today and we’ll head to Dundee University tomorrow for proper fitness testing but I would expect levels to be high and if that is the case then I’m looking to get into the ball work very quickly."

Rusty - not being rushed back. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.June 26th - The rest of the lads are due back for pre-season on Thursday but already the recovered injury list from last season has begun pounding the track at the side of the new McD playing surface. Amongst them is Kevin Rutkiewicz(right) whose return after missing 99.9999999% of last season is long-awaited. However he's not being rushed and Owen Coyle said in today's Courier, "Kevin has done bits and pieces and I expect to see him join in training. But he has been out a long time so we won’t be pushing him. If he feels a reaction he’ll step out and go back in only when he is ready.’ "

June 23rd - Better late than never then - thanks to the incompetence of Demon's Homepages "upgrade", the Temple hasn't been updated since the 14th. And while the site is back to normal, Demon have revamped their homepages service that it runs under to place additional restrictions on both disk space and bandwidth. The upshot of this is that there is a real possibility the Temple is about to start it's final season - I can't afford the time or cost to run the site commercially (as well as it going against my principles). Therefore I'll be watching the bandwidth use and possibly placing fewer updates on the site as we head into pre-season.

June 18th - It looks like we're going to lose the services of Simon Mensing with the grapevine and the rest of the media pointing more and more towards the Saints midfielder (whose contract ran out on May 31st) heading to Fir Park and whatever manager they manage to con into taking the job.
6.30pm - As expected Simon Mensing has opted for the delights of Fir Park to further his career (the phrase "backwards step" springs to mind), with a signing expected tomorrow. He's been a good solid player for us and at least unlike some past departures, he's been up front and honest with the club. That was the news that greeted Owen Coyle on his return from holiday but the manager told the Official Saints Site, "I'm obviously disappointed that Simon won't be with us but the bottom line is that he wants to play in the SPL and I can understand that. He leaves with our best wishes and I thank him for what he has contributed to the team in the past couple of seasons." Apparently "two or three" players have already been targeted as possible replacements.

June 15th - First fixture change of the new season with the trip to Dunfermline on Sept 1st postponed until the Sunday due to the Fifers appearance in the UEFA Cup. Meanwhile the home kit is due out in the first week of July available in Debenhams and BHS in Perth priced at £35 for the top and £17 for the shorts (and a bit less if you want the youth version).

June 14th - Despite ruling himself out of the managerial vacancy, reports suggest new Clyde boss Colin Hendry wants Derek McInnes as his assistant. Simon Mensing has still not given a response to the contract offer with Motherwell the latest name linked to chasing his signature.
Meanwhile the big news later today will be the announcement of the league fixtures - unfortunately after last season's fun and games, the Temple can only mention one league game at a time. So we're off to Palmerston on August the 4th and for the rest of the scintillating campaign, check the Official Saints Site

June 13th - Simon Mensing has promised a decision soon as to whether or not he'll sign a new contract. Speaking in the Courier, he said, "I’ll come to a decision sooner rather than later but as we speak everything is up in the air. Since returning from holiday I’ve been down south visiting my mum and because of that I’ve put the issue of my future on the backburner. But I’ll be back up in the next couple of days when hopefully I’ll get something sorted out." . It's hard to see what to make of this with reports elsewhere linking him to several clubs. Either way, the length of time it's taking him to commit (if he's ever going to) to Saints isn't doing him any favours amongst the support.
Elsewhere and rumoured signing target Jamie McCunnie has apparently agreed a new deal with the Pars.

June 12th - Ok since my ISP has decided to keep the website access up today you can now enjoy the wonderful delights that are the 2007 TOSSA Results. A big thanks to all who voted.

June 11th - First of all the Temple will not be updated from Tuesday this week until Thursday due to some work going on with the Demon customer web pages which means I won't have access. The good news though is that the voting for the TOSSAs is now over and when I do the next updates the final results will be revealed in all their glory...or not depending on your point of view.
Little news today other than confirmation Saints will play Coleraine on Friday July 20th as the opening game on their weekend tour of Ireland.
On the playing side there seems to be little happening although some disturbing rumours are surfacing which suggest that Simon Mensing has rejected Saints latest offer and is pimping himself about other clubs with the Paisly Junkies the new front-runners. Owen Coyle is still trying to sneak glances up Snow White's skirt so nothing has been finalised yet (which means it's bound to be resolved one way or another by Thursday when the site isn't being updated)

David Weatherston signed at the end of MayJune 10th - Right I'm back and refreshed and full of unbounded optimism for the forthcoming season. And despite heading west to enjoy the delights of MickeyMouseLand (that's Florida as opposed to becoming John Boyle's latest beeitch at Fir Park), Owen Coyle hasn't wasted time in bringing in the new signings (although some have been rumoured to be on the cards since way back in the days when Alan Main was still popular at Raydale). So welcome first of all to 20-yr old Queen's Park striker David Weatherston(pictured right with the gaffer)who had been a rumoured target for Saints since the start of the season. He's joined on a 2-yr contract and Owen Coyle said on the Official Site of the new signing, "David is a young boy with a big future and I’m delighted to have signed him. We’ve watched him since last August and I spoke to Queen’s boss Billy Stark about him and he noted our interest in him and said he would keep us informed. We left it at that and allowed David to concentrate on his game and what he could do for Queen’s and I think Billy respected that we backed off at that stage. I have to thank Billy and Queen’s Park for their co-operation in bringing the move to a successful conclusion. David has pace and he showed last season that he has an eye for goal. We must now give him a platform to improve his game and take it onto the next level and I know he is keen to do the same. I have to say that when I sat down with David and his father we spoke for over an hour and talked only about football and how both parties could benefit were he to move to Perth. There was no mention of money and that is very refreshing and says a great deal for the lad. I know he had a concrete offer from one SPL club – more lucrative than what we could offer - and serious interest from another couple and the fact that he has chosen to come to Saints speaks volumes for his priorities and I think it is a terrific boost for us". As for the new striker, who scored 18 for the Hampden Park side last season, he said, "I hadn’t appreciated that Saints had been looking at me as far back as the beginning of last season and Billy Stark just let me concentrate on my own game with Queen’s Park. However, I was made aware of Saints’ interest a couple of weeks ago and I had a chat with Owen who impressed me very much. I think I will get more opportunity to play here, Saints clearly have ambitions to get into the SPL and I’m only 20 years old so I would like to learn more from Owen and Sandy and get into the SPL with Saints."
Dyron Daal signed for a yearBut that wasn't the end of the striker signings and only last week we gazumped our soap-dodging neighbours from along the Tay to snap up Dutch striker Dyron Daal(right) on a year's contract after he was freed by the Dons and had been enjoying a successful loan spell at Dens. 6 foot 4 tall he'll add a new dimension up front and Sandy Stewart said, "At six foot four inches Dyron is different from the other strikers we have at the club but that is not the only reason we have brought him to the club. He likes and is comfortable with the ball on the ground and our style of football will suit him in that respect plus he has a bit of pace as well. His height will do no harm but it doesn’t signal that we are intending to change the way we play.". The new arrival said, "I have enjoyed my time in Scotland so far but I am keen to play regularly and I got a very positive vibe from Owen Coyle and I like what I hear from him about his ambitions for the club. “St Johnstone did well last season and played very well against a range of SPL opposition and it is good that the core of that team is staying together for next season. I think the way that Saints play football will suit my game and I'm confident I can get goals. Now that the move is settled I’m going to have a short break and look forward to pre-season training starting"
Don't expect that to end the signings with another striker possibly on the horizon. And despite the stories and being interviewed for the Clyde job (apparently without Saints' permission), Derek McInnes has opted to stay at McDiarmid and continue his coaching apprenticeship at Saints.
Elsewhere and the club responded to criticism about the season ticket policy with a new £130 category for 16-18yr olds who can prove they are in full-time education and pegging admission prices to a tenner provided proof is shown each time.
Finally for now the pre-season list has been amended a bit with the Cowdenbeath game cancelled and replaced by a trip to Berwick on July 17th at 7.45pm. Additionally Saints are heading to Ireland the following weekend for games on the Friday (opposition to be confirmed), Finn Harps on the Sunday evening and Ballymena United on the Monday.
Apart from that not much been happening really (and yes I'm still wading through the TOSSA votes
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

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May 27th - OK so the 2007 TOSSA votes haven't been put through the hi-tech computers at the Temple yet (still half to go and thanks to everyone who has taken the time to put forward some "interesting" suggestions). The final results won't now be out until mid-June due to my urgent need to head for faraway shores as part of my continual search for that elusive right-winger for Saints (and to top up the tan at the same time). Anyway no more updates until June 9th and in the meantime get all your Saints news at the Official Saints Site.

May 25th - Bad news for Savo yesterday with the revelation that he'll need another op and will be out for 3-6 months missing the start of next season. So that'll be another striker to add to the shopping list then?
6pm - And just to add to that reports doing the rounds today say that Jason Scotland has signed a 2yr deal with Swansea subject to a work permit. While it's sad to see arguably our best player leave, it wasn't unexpected and at least he's not joining another Scottish side. Thanks for the goals Jason and best of luck in the future.

May 23rd - Little news over the last week. The reasoning behind the switch to a white top has been revealed as partly driven by sponsors George Wimpeys desire to keep their logo in corporate blue - so it was going to be a white top or a white band like last season.
Elsewhere and no signings are expected for a few days as Owen Coyle has headed off to Hong Kong for a veterans tournament. Kevin Rutkiewicz has been given the go-ahead to resume training but Savo has to go under the knife again for a tidy-up operation with the hope being that no new damage will be revealed.
Finally, I'm hoping to get the 2007 TOSSAs sorted by the weekend before I piss off on holiday so if you're going to vote, get your opinions in now!!

The new kitMay 17th - Another busy day at McDiarmid with the news that Paul Sheerin has signed a new 1yr contract. Owen Coyle said on the Official Site, "Paul is an important player to me and I am delighted he has chosen to extend his stay with us. It is another important step towards keeping last season’s squad as intact as possible. He still has a lot to offer this club and although he was mulling over other options I’ve encouraged him to remain on with us and continue to play at as high a level as he can for as long as he can."
Simon Mensing has been made an offer by the club but is away on holiday for a fortnight so there will be no response until then.
Elsewhere and Kevin Rutkiewicz and Willie Dyer modelled the new kit with Surridge Sports the new suppliers on a 3yr deal and a white home kit with the away a nice dayglo yellow. The club also announced an extension to the sponsorship by George Wimpey and Geoff Brown said, "George Wimpey have been excellent supporters of the Club and I am delighted that they have agreed to be our main sponsors for a further two seasons. We have enjoyed a great season and with George Wimpey’s ongoing support, we hope to build on our recent form.". Expect to see the home strip in the Perth shops by early July.
Finally Gr£tna have won over the "elite" and will be in the SPL next season.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

May 15th - No word on the talks with Paul Sheerin but in today's Courier, Owen Coyle is a bit more optimistic about Simon Mensing and told the paper, "We’d a good chat and now Simon is weighing everything up. I’m sure he’ll receive offers that, financially speaking, are better than the one we’ve made him but he loves it here so, in that respect, we’ve got something going for us. However, Simon is in no rush. I think he is going to take until the end of the month before making a decision and I understand where he is coming from. "
Meanwhile Swansea are now talking compensation with Saints with a decision on Jason Scotland expected by the end of the week.

May 14th - With the new season less than three months away (and some of us already chalking up the multi-trips to B&Q), Saints have announced a series of pre-season friendlies, all away from home. Saturday July 14th sees us at Arbroath, Tuesday 17th at Cowdenbeath at 7.30, Thursday 19th at Forfar, Wednesday 25th at East Fife and on Saturday 28th we're off to Brechin for a 3pm kick-off. Bet you can't wait. Anyway full details on the new 2007-08 Fixture list (although the usual petty-mindedness of the SFL means it won't contain everything).

May 13th - It's been a pretty quiet few days in Sainteeland. Jason Scotland is no nearer picking his next club although it looks more and more likely it won't be Saints with Swansea and the Arabs officially interested in the striker and Leeds the latest club to be linked with him.
Elsewhere and yesterday finalised the sided in Division One next season with Dunfermline finally consigned to the drop from the "elite" and Airdrie's loss to Stirling Albion seeing the Forthbank side replaced them as our opponents next season - no more dreich trips to the Shyberry Excelsios then, how sad is that?
Finally and the letters dropped through the post with the Season Ticket Application Forms with the bad news this year seeing some increases for all the East Stand prices and the Main Stand adult ones.

May 9th - Some initial hints as to the pre-season schedule are out today. With the playing surface at McD being relaid the pre-season sees Saints lining up possible trips to take on Arbroath at Gayfield on July 14th and East Fife on Wednesday July 25th.
Meanwhile Owen Coyle has confirmed an official note of interest from Dundee Utd in Jason Scotland. But the Saints manager warned the Record, "Craig called out of courtesy to let me know of his interest in Jason. I appreciated that gesture. We haven't given up on Jason but obviously finance always comes into play. Jason is under contract here until the end of August so we can play him for the first month of next season. Any club wanting him before then will have to pay compensation. There is also the work-permit issue to take on board by any club after Jason. "

May 8th - No confirmed transfer activity over the weekend, but it's believed that Owen Coyle was out and about watching targets. Meanwhile the other major doubt for a new contract has been confirmed as Simon Mensing with Accies, Scumdee and hometown club Swindon (now managed by Judas) all apparently tracking the midfielder.
6pm - More news on the signing front with the announcement that Sandy Stewart rejected an approach to be interviewed for the vacant managerial post at Firhill to stay as no2 at Perth. Also Saints confirmed today that Derek McInnes has signed a new 1yr contract. Owen Coyle said on the Official Site of the signing, "Although we had a gentleman’s agreement in place for him stay, I’m delighted that it is now official and that I can include Derek in my plans for next season. I thought the way he played and conducted himself during the second half of the season was exemplary and he sets a great example to the other players. “He was very keen to stay and indeed he has told me that his only regret is that he hadn’t joined us last August. For a man who has captained Rangers and West Bromwich Albion and played in France to say something like that speaks volumes for this club."
There are still plenty of other moves ongoing though and the manager went on, "There is a lot of interest in Jason Scotland as we knew there would be and I am meeting with Simon Mensing later in the week to try and progress matters there. Obviously, I would like to keep them both but we will just need to see what happens. I’ll be meeting with Paul Sheerin as well and I don’t think we are too far away from sorting something out with him. “I know the players that I want to bring into the club and talks are ongoing with a number of them and we will see what comes to fruition. I would like to have them in the fold for the start of pre-season training and I have no doubts that we will have some fresh faces in place when that starts but I won’t be signing people for the sake of signing them – I’m prepared to wait for the right players if necessary."
Finally departed striker has apparently signed for Scumdee.

May 4th - The transfer deals and rumours are hotting up. Latest reports suggest that both the Arabs and Jambos are set to bid for Jason Scotland. Residency rules for applying for a work permit have changed from 4 to 5 years (he's been here 4) and his agent said, "It's time for Jason to move on to a higher level. He has been at St Johnstone for two years and they have been good for him and he has been good for them. If they'd won promotion, who knows what would have happened - he may have stayed there. Jason is back in the Caribbean just now on private business so we'll keep our options open. " - which looks like any extension to his current deal at McDiarmid has been ruled out.
Meanwhile one name from the past Nathan Lowndes is apparently in Perth this week and has been linked with a move to the Scum by today's Courier although Owen Coyle is also quoted as being an admirer of the 29yr old saying, "Nathan is a very good player who has had an unlucky time with injuries. I have a lot of transfer targets this summer."
5pm - More re-signings today with Steven Anderson and Andy Jackson signing new one-year deals. Ando told the official site, "I was keen to stay and I am happy to get the contract sorted out quickly. I was happy with my performances during the season, particularly at centre half which is my natural position, and I am looking to continue my progress next season. There is a lot of competition for places in the centre of defence but I see no reason why I cannot make an impact. I'm still not over the disappointment of last Saturday and seeing Gretna with the trophy last night didn't help! However, it just makes me want to play a bigger part in making sure that it is us who have the trophy a year from now."
Andy Jackson said, "I was pleased to be in the squad a lot more during the season just ended but I have to come back next season and not be content with a place on the bench. The manager has told me he thinks I am ready to be more involved and it is up to me to get a good pre-season behind me and make an impact."
Most of the young players seem set to get offers but Mark Gallagher has been release with Owen commenting, "Mark is unfortunate because he plays a position in which I already have a number of options. I don't want to stunt his development and I have no doubts that he will go on and make a career in the game."

May 3rd - Last piece of competitive action for Saints tonight as the boys head to Raydale to spoil the Village People's party and the Reserve League Cup Final. Kick-off is at 7.30 and admission is a fiver for adults and a quid for kids - no doubt all the money is going to fund their minibus trips to Fir Park next season.
10pm - Some silverware at last as goals from Andy Jackson and Willie McLaren gave us a 2-0 win over the Village People at not-good-enough-for-the-SPL Raydale Park. Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "It was nice to finish the season with a wee bit of success with what was a very young side. The young kids were brilliant tonight – we had Darren Wilcox at left back who is just 15 years old and did really well. But they were all good and other than Kevin Cuthbert, Steven Anderson and Allan McManus it was just the young lads so I’m very pleased for them."
Meanwhile the contract resignings have begun in force with Willie Dyer and Goran Stanic signing new 1yr deals today after Kevin James signed a 2yr extension recently. The manager said, "Goran has been outstanding this season and I’m thrilled he has committed himself to us for next season. I spoke to him a month ago and told him that whatever league we were in I wanted him to stay and he indicated to me at that time that he was very happy to do so and had no desire to leave. Willie is a younger player who I have high hopes for and of course he is having to bide his time because of Goran’s fine form. However, I have told him I want him to come back fresh next season and fully recovered from his recent illness and really push for a first team place – to put Goran under pressure to retain his spot in the team. I’m close to tying up most of the squad although there are a couple of players weighing up their options which is their right to do"

May 1st - After a day off yesterday, it's back to reality for the players for the final time today as Owen Coyle has them in to announce who will be leaving the club and who will be offered new deals. The manager wasn't taking things easy after the title loss at the weekend and told the Official Site yesterday, "There are two things you can do. You can sit and wallow in pity or you can get on with things. I didn’t sleep much on Saturday night but come Sunday morning I was on the phone to a few contacts and spoke to a couple of players I would like to have here next season. That process has continued today and will obviously go for some time now. The players are in tomorrow for a final time and we’ll have a chat and a few will be told that their futures lie away from McDiarmid Park. We’ll be bigger, better and stronger for our experiences this season and I feel that we have something good going. Seeing most of New Douglas Park awash with blue and white on Saturday was a sight to behold as was the full East Stand against Queen of the South and the semi-finals at Tynecastle and Hampden. I want to see that on a more regular basis. I have a bunch of players who have and will continue to give their all for me and this club and I think the supporters have responded to that. In turn, the players have fed off the backing of the crowd. So I hope we can add to our number of season ticket holders next season and that a lot of ‘occasional’ fans come along more regularly. We’ll certainly be putting all our effort into taking things to a higher level."
Geoff - regrets his remarks. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.Meanwhile there's a bit of humble pie from Geoff Brown(right) today after the furore surrounding his "honest" comments at the weekend. The Saints chairman told the Courier, "I was asked a question and I gave an answer. As far as I’m concerned what I said is absolutely true. “There are none of the other SPL clubs who will see Gretna as bringing a lot to the party. “I said it on the back of our experiences in the first division with the likes of Stranraer, Brechin and Gretna who travel with no real support. “When we’re at home to Dundee we can sell our hospitality no problem but at home to Gretna we have great difficulty. It’s the same situation in the SPL. “Brooks Mileson can spend his money how he likes. Good luck to him. But I’m pointing out a fact of life which is that a town with a population of 2500 is not sustainable for the SPL. It will not strengthen it. ".
As for the season, he was full of praise and went on, "The obvious one is Owen Coyle, whose enthusiasm has got everybody at the club on the up, and all the players and background people have worked really hard as well. Last and by no means least are the supporters. I just feel that for years St Johnstone have plodded along and had a support that maybe hasn’t got behind the team with real feeling. This last month or so it’s been great to see the way people have reacted and given encouragement. I’m just hoping that after the dust settles they can recognise that they’ve been entertained this season. Going into next season I’d like to think they can back us in the same numbers which will make us a stronger team and club and hopefully bring success to Perth. A couple of players may move on for more money and you can’t do anything about that, but the nucleus of the squad will still be there next season and we’ll bring in another three or four to bolster the squad. ".
He also admitted that Saturday was as low as he's ever felt in his time in charge. "There was a photograph in one of the papers on Sunday of my granddaughter crying her eyes out and that reflects the feeling of a heck of a lot of us. Bill Shankly famously once said that football was more important than life or death and up until five or six years ago I might have agreed with him. But after the problems I had with cancer I got a different perspective. It was certainly an all-time low in respect that an unbelievable high was taken away from us. "
7pm - As expected the first departures have been announced with no real surprises with Derek Lilley, Neil Janczyk and Bryn Halliwell all leaving Saints, none of which really comes as a surprise. Also heading back to his employers is Filipe Morais after his loan spell from Millwall ended. No other departures are planned, although it's likely one or two might leave under a Bosman, with Owen Coyle stating that all the other players will be receiving new contract offers.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

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April 30th - Despite the gloating coming from teams that achieved a lot less than Saints this season, Owen Coyle has paid more tributes to his players. He told the Official Site, "I realise the word 'proud' is often over-used but tonight I have nothing but pride in this squad's achievements. They have stepped up to the mark week after week and their work ethic has been tremendous. I’m just sorry they have nothing tangible to show for their efforts. It was a very anxious wait in the dressing room, then came that sinking feeling but football is played over 90 minutes and I applaud Gretna for scoring late in the game, cruel as it was to us. That's football with its highs and lows. It was a big ask to begin with - Hamilton had only lost one game all season and we came here and scored four goals. It’s a kick in the teeth but we’ll take it and come back from it a better group of people."
Del - kicked in the teeth. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.Elsewhere Derek McInnes explained his feelings on hearing the news from Savo (the man with the radio in the dressing room), "I’ve had a few kicks in the teeth in football but never a harder one than this. If we’d come off the pitch knowing they were leading 3-2 you could have hardened yourself to it. But knowing it was 2-2 then listening to the radio was awful. Those five minutes waiting to find out what was happening were the worst you could imagine. But I just had a horrible feeling it was going to go against us. You anticipate the worst-case scenario—I certainly did—and that’s how it turned out. The performance today showed the drive we had as a group to go for promotion. But ultimately we came up short and it’s heartbreaking. We’ve gone to some difficult places recently and won. But we can also look back on certain games and know we should have taken more from them. There are so many ifs and buts. We’ve gone close to bringing some silverware to Perth after the run in the league and playing 13 cup ties but ultimately we’ve not been successful. However, we’ll just have to pick ourselves up and get ready for next year. It’s possible one or two boys will move on now but hopefully the team won’t get broken up too much. I’d like to think this group will stay together and have a right go at promotion next season. "
The midfielder is set to get a new 1yr deal and praised his manager saying, "I’m gutted for him because he’s put so much into it. There’s now doubt he is a Premierleague manager and one day he’ll manage there. I just hope it’s with St Johnstone. "
Simon Mensing meanwhile said, "This is the fifth time I’ve finished second and it’s the hardest to take by far. To be so close only for them to score was awful. The fact they were running late surely helped them. They knew we’d won and exactly what they had to do. It may have worked in their favour. There we were going up and it was cruelly snatched away from us. No words can describe how I feel. I’m gutted. ". And Owen Coyle summed it up in the Courier when he said, "You like to think you’ll be a better manager for any experience you have—but as long as I am a manager I don’t think I’ll ever experience a feeling as awful as this one."

April 29th - Right so we're all depressed and fed up of the patronising pish from the likes of Murdo McLeod on the radio. And to hell with the hangovers from yesterday's game and the aftermath. It's less than 3 months until pre-season and the fun and games begins all over again so it's time for the 2007 TOSSAs. Votings open until June (when some of us return from our get-away-from-the-Village-People-hype break) - any trouble with the online form and you can just e-mail the answers in this text file to tossa@grange.demon.co.uk.
Meanwhile I've added some photos to the match report from yesterday.

April 28th - Today's the big day and Kevin James is ready for one final push for glory at Hamilton. The Saints skipper told the Courier, "I would never kid the gaffer on and put my hand up to declare myself fit when I’m not. That would be cheating the gaffer and my team-mates who put their trust in you. Even though it’s a huge game, I’d say if I wasn’t ready. But I feel fine. I’ve had to wear strapping since I did my medial ligaments a few months ago. I’ve not had the chance to get it sorted properly because when it happened we had a league campaign to get back on track. If selected tomorrow the strapping will be back on for one final game. We’re going into the last game of the season with a chance of winning the title and I want to be on that pitch. There’s nothing to be nervous about as far as I’m concerned. It’s about excitement. It will certainly be a nerve jangling afternoon for our supporters, but the players won’t be too bad because we can lose ourselves in the game. We’re in a situation where I honestly feel there’s no pressure on us. After we lost to Livingston we had more hope than expectation because we were well behind Gretna and needed other teams to do us favours. We knew we had to win our last five games and that situation hasn’t changed. The pressure is greater when you have something to lose. Gretna are still clear favourites. Everything’s in their control and they have one hand on the trophy. I know their current form is poor but I would love to be in their position. It will probably be a test of mentality tomorrow and we’ll see if Gretna can handle the situation. We’re in a position that nobody thought we would be five weeks ago, and we’re ready to give one final effort. Hopefully it’s good enough but if not, nobody can say we didn’t try. I approach every match exactly the same whether it’s the first round of the Challenge Cup or the last game of the league that could win us the title. All you have to focus on is giving your all and getting a job done. Our results in the last few weeks have shown that the other guys are thinking the same. I know what we’re capable of "
Owen - very proud of the players. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.And in the same paper, Owen(right) did his best Fergie impersonation saying how pwoud he is of the players. "We’re hoping that things go our way, but even if we finish second it has been a super season. I couldn’t have asked for more from my players and I’ll say that to them before kick-off. We’ll give it one last big effort. Unfortunately it’s not in our hands but all we can do is concentrate on beating Hamilton. There could be twists and turns but I’m actually very relaxed about the whole thing because we’ve known for the last four weeks that the league would be over if Gretna won. " He also praised the fans with 3000 heading west today. "We’ve taken 6000 to the Celtic match, 5000 to the Hibs match and had 4200 at McDiarmid last week. The fans have got behind us and the players respond to that."
Elsewhere the mutual admiration continues in the Herald with Geoff Brown praising his manager. The chairman said, "Owen has done exceptionally well, essentially with a squad of 17 players. We have had people playing through injuries all season and they have all shown unbelievable character. He brought players in he knew he could trust and that has paid off. Anybody who knows him knows he is not quiet for long and that's a great attribute to have as a manager. What it means is he knows everyone and has great contacts in the game he can call upon when required. In his interview he named our squad from A to Z and told me all their strengths and weaknesses. I could easily have thought chancer' but I knew he'd enough experience to speak with authority "
Teamwise, it looks like we're at full strength with Kevin James a possible returnee to the side.
7pm - In the end the boys did their job with a fine, if nervous 4-3 win at Hamilton (Kevin James, Jason and a brace from Mad Mental Martin giving us the goals) only for a delayed kick-off at Dingwall see us lose the title to a late winner for Gretna (which also relegated Ross County). So congratulations to them but it's a cruel fate for a Saints side that gave so much over the season with the emotions in front of 3000-plus Saints fans at the end plain for all to see. No more updates tonight - the beer now beckons.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

April 27th - Owen seems to be trying to temper the hype and enthusiasm on the forums. Today's Courier mentions how Partick are the only team to have won at New Douglas Park this season and the Saints manager told the paper, "Hamilton do have a terrific home record. But I don’t think their park is going to be an issue for us. The one thing the Hamilton surface demands is that you pass the ball, and that’ll suit us. We went there twice last season and won and this season drew when we could have won, so it doesn’t hold any fears for us. We believe we can get the victory we need. But at the same time I recognise it’ll be a difficult game as Hamilton are a really good side. "
"If four or five weeks ago someone had said we’d be going there on the final day knowing that if we win there’s a chance we’ll win the league then we’d have grabbed that with both hands. Not so long ago it seemed promotion had just about gone. But we’ve clawed our way back into things while four times Gretna have been faced with winning a game to win the league and haven’t been able to do it. Of course the issue is still in their hands. All we can do is try and win the Hamilton match and see what that brings us. But at least we have a chance. I’m not going to be listening out for what’s happening in Dingwall because even if it were to be going our way there we’d still have to do the business ourselves. We have to be totally focused on winning. What happens elsewhere happens. The thing is Gretna could lose and if we don’t win they’ll still gain promotion. It could help us that Ross County are fighting to stay in the league. On the other hand nerves could come into it with their players. You just don’t know. And no one should under- estimate the challenge we face against Hamilton. People might think they’ve nothing to play for. But I know they are desperate to finish third, which would be a great achievement, and will be fired up to the hilt. The only guarantee about Saturday is it’ll be fraught for everyone involved."
Latest team news is that Kevin James will miss out while Peaso looks like making it and the Cat should be in the side despite suffering from a dead leg.
7pm - More from the gaffer on the Official Site with Owen being pretty blunt about what's needed tomorrow. "The destiny of the title is very much in Gretna’s hands. They have led the league for a long time and if they win tomorrow then they deserve it. All we can do is win our game and see what happens. It has been a good season for the club whatever the outcome tomorrow and I just hope that the players get the reward they deserve for their efforts. We have never made extravagant claims about what we can achieve this season and we just wait and see what tomorrow’s games bring."
Kevin James managed a light training session this morning so is in with a chance.

Peaso - hasn't trained. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 26th - Ex-Saintee Alan Kernaghan reckons we're now favourites to take the title on Saturday based on his experience of blowing things with Clyde a couple of years ago. Speaking in the Courier, he said, "I know from my own past experience what can happen. We went right down to the wire with Inverness and unfortunately it was them who got promoted, despite us leading for so long. Gretna will obviously be hoping that doesn’t happen to them but, of course, it’s possible. I think it’s fair to say the momentum is with St Johnstone at this stage. League titles are never won in the first half of the season and in the second half of the season Saints have really kept at it, so they deserve to be in with a shout. Their performances in the cup have been excellent and they’ve showed they’re well capable of anything on their day ". As or Gretna he went on, "I’m sure everyone had been expecting them to have things wrapped up by now because they were so far out in front. It’s squeaky-bum time for them. That’s how things get at this stage of proceedings. And it has a big effect on you. "
Saints have their own problems to seek though with Kevin James more than likely set to miss out while Peaso(right) hasn't trained due to the flu and the Cat injuing his finger in training.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

April 25th - Stewart Duff is in the Courier today and said of the additional tickets, "There were a few people missed out when we sold out on Monday so hopefully this will ensure everyone who wants to be there can see the game". They're on sale from 3pm and limited to two per person. And the police have apparently warned ticketless Saints fans heading through this weekend that they will be ejected if caught in the home section (where you can still pay cash). Of course how they would identify Saints fans with not colours showing remains to be seen.
Also the SFL have confirmed that the helicopter with the trophy will be sitting at House of Bruar on the A9 on Saturday afternoon waiting on the results to confirm whether to head for Dingwall or Hamilton.

Jason - excited about the weekend. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 24th - Jason(right) is hoping to pick up a championship medal this weekend to live up to a promise to his family. In today's Courier he said, "I’ve won championships back home but this would be bigger. I always take my medals home to my mum because she’s my biggest fan. When I was younger she always took me to football matches to watch my brothers and uncle play. I’ve brought home other trophies from Scotland like the player of the round award for the Scottish Cup, but never a winners’ medal. We speak every Saturday night and she knows how big this weekend’s game is going to be. I told the family during the season that I would help take St Johnstone up and hopefully it can still happen. "
Of course Saturday's result will go a long way to deciding his future as well and he went on, "I want to play at the top level—in the SPL or down south. If Saints can get there then there is a better chance of me staying. It would make it easier for me. We’d be a good asset to the SPL because we’ve already showed we can play well against teams in that division in the cups. There’s a bigger fan base here than at Gretna as well. I would always rather know what’s happening, even if Gretna are leading. Earlier this season when we were playing Airdrie we were drawing 1-1 and I was about to come on as a substitute. Just before I went on the manager told me that Gretna were losing to Queen of the South and I managed to score the winner. It was nervous for us on Saturday after we had won our match. We were gathered round the television waiting to see the Gretna final score. This weekend will be even more nervous. I’ve never experienced a finish to the season like this before but it will be exciting. Hopefully we’ll get the reward for our efforts in three competitions. When we arrived for training today we all saw the fans queueing for tickets so we know how important the match is to them. "
Owen meanwhile is being realistic and he said, "I would much rather be in their position knowing that winning the last match of the season guarantees the championship. The bottom line is that whatever we do at Hamilton will count for nothing if Gretna beat Ross County. If Gretna had taken three points from any of their last four games it would have been done and dusted by now. Nobody could have envisaged it going down to the last game when Gretna had built up a 12 point lead. We’ve been churning out wins, whittling down their lead, and I can’t speak highly enough of my players to get us into a position where it is down to one game. Hamilton will be tough opponents for us to overcome but, having said that, we won there twice last season and drew earlier this season. All we’ll be concentrating on is winning a very difficult game and seeing where we are at 4.45pm. I’ll be looking for one more big effort at the end of a super season and I can’t ask for any more than that. The supporters have responded. We got over 4000 on Saturday, which gave the players a great lift, and the fans will travel in their numbers to Hamilton. "
Kevin James is still a major doubt for the trip to New Douglas Park
7pm - There's going to be another 210 tickets available from McDiarmid for Saturday's game after Accies and the police agreed to increase our allocation in the main stand. These will be on sale from Saints from 3pm tomorrow until they're all gone (probably by 3.15 going by yesterday) and are limited to two per person.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

Simon - one more big push. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 23rd - Saturday's MoM Simon Mensing(right) is hoping that Saints form continues for another weekend. The midfielder/defender/man of many tricks told the Courier, "I’ve finished runner-up in the first division about four times since I’ve been up here, so it would be a nice feeling to do it at last. When I was with Clyde we finished runners-up three times and then last year with Saints as well. I don’t like finishing second, no one does, and it would be nice if there was a change come Saturday. Ross County are still fighting for the play-off position and it’s good that they’re going into a game that’s a must-win for them. Hopefully, they can do us a favour."
"There’s all to play for. Hamilton have a very good home record but we’ll just concentrate on getting the three points and hope that something happens somewhere else. We’ve just got to look after ourselves and make sure we get the win. At the end of the day, Gretna’s destiny is in their own hands. We have to rely on someone doing us a favour. Fingers crossed it happens on Saturday. There were a couple of times when we wondered if we were ever going to gain ground on them. Normally, when we had the chance to get closer we faltered, but never after a game did it enter our head that that was it. There was no chance the gaffer would let us do that, and I think you can see by the way we’ve been playing of late that the spirit in the dressing room’s really good and we’re on a high. "
Owen himself was full of praise and said, "I’m running out of words to describe that group of players because they just keep on digging and keep coming up trumps. We now go to Hamilton which is a notoriously difficult place, but I have to say we went there twice last season and won and we drew earlier this season. Hamilton won’t make it easy but we’ve given ourselves a chance. "
Finally the Village People did manage to win something last night with Colin McMenamin getting the Div One Player of the Year award.
8pm - Well don't go looking for a ticket for the Accies game at the weekend. Surprisingly (even to the most rabidly optimistic fan), we've sold all 2900 tickets from the allocation for the decider in one day. There are rumours that Hamilton might free up another 200 tickets but that's not been confirmed.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

April 21st - Despite getting one award yesterday, Mad Mental Martin reckons his season is far from over with two big games coming this and next weekend. The Saints midfielder told the Courier, "It’s a credit to all the lads that one of us has got this award and is a testament to their effort and commitment. When we lost to Livingston three weeks ago that was a real kick in the teeth for the boys. After that match it was a really subdued dressing room because we knew that the result wasn’t good enough. But we showed great character to bounce straight back and beat Gretna in the next game and then put in a really good performance against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final. We had to go again in midweek against Clyde and we won that as well to keep us in the hunt. Outwith our dressing room people thought the league was done and dusted after the Livingston game but that wasn’t how we felt. "
And speaking of last weekend's semi, he went on, "Once the gaffer had finished his post-match talk we got changed and our minds were already on the first division and how Gretna were getting on against Hamilton. Then we had our game against Clyde to focus on and we showed real character to dig out a win in that one. It was obviously great for me personally and for the team to do well against a team with the calibre of players that Celtic have, and it was pleasing to be awarded the goal. It was a great experience to play on the big stage and it’s something I want more of. Hopefully I’ll get that with St Johnstone in the SPL next season. The club have dropped admission prices so hopefully we’ll have a big support, which would be good for us. We can’t do anything about Gretna’s game. All we can do is make sure we win and get ourselves into a position that we can capitalise if they slip up again."
Owen was also full of praise for his top-scoring midfielder and said, "I know that whenever he crosses the white line I’ll get everything he has to offer. Martin can turn the ball over in midfield with his physical attributes, he is an unbelievable goal threat and people underestimate his passing ability. We want to take it to the last week of the season, when anything can happen. The effort the lads gave against Clyde was incredible and one of the most pleasing aspects has been they way in which they have responded to pressure. Since January they have always known that points dropped would cost them dear whereas Gretna have been able to play in the knowledge that they could afford slip-ups. The fans have been great. They get slaughtered from all quarters for sitting on their hands and not getting behind the team but the biggest problem we have at McDiarmid is pockets of fans being spread across the stadium. "
The only additional team news is that Savo has been ruled out for the last two games of the season.
6.30pm - Another excellent win saw Saints narrow the gap to 1 point behind the leaders as we ran out comfortable 3-0 wins over QoS thanks to goals from Andy Lawrie, Simon Mensing and a great finish from Willie McLaren. With Gretna forced into a goalless encounter with Clyde, it means a win for us at Accies next week (which is all-ticket with sales starting Monday to Saints fans) and anything less than a win for the Village People will see Saints celebrating a title win. Expect a lot of hype to start.

April 20th - Bad news for Saints ahead of tomorrow's big game with the news that Kevin James has next to no chance of being fit for the match against QoS after his second-half heroics against Clyde. Owen told the Courier, "Kevin is very, very doubtful for Saturday. In fact I would say there is almost no chance of him featuring against Queen of the South. It is a blow but confidence is high and we will just get on with it, as we have done all season. Several of the players have been performing with bumps and bruises but they have just gone out there and done their bit. They have given absolutely everything for the club this season - I do not think anybody can doubt that. As a manager you cannot ask for more than what I have been given and I know everybody will be up for it again come Saturday ".
5pm- The skipper himself expects patience to be required tomorrow as we take on the in-form QoS side. He told the Official Site, "It is pleasing that the gap is down to three points and that we are still in with a shout but it is not in our hands and all we can do is concentrate on beating Queen of the South – that in itself will not be easy as they have had a great run of form since the turn of the year including a win over us in Dumfries. We really have to concentrate on our game – if we don’t win then it becomes immaterial what Gretna do."
He also took time out to praise the Saints fans for their backing in recent weeks. "The backing throughout the season has been great but particularly within the last week at Hampden and Broadwood. The players really do appreciate it as we know it isn’t cheap to travel and buy tickets. I would appeal to the fans to turn out again tomorrow and help us get the three points. However, it is very much a game where the need for a victory is more important than the level of performance and patience might be required. Tuesday night was a great example of where the crowd stayed with us and we all got our reward in the latter stages of the game and it might be the same tomorrow."
Finally, congratulations to Martin Hardie who got the Division One Player of the Month award for March.

Hardie - no pressure at all. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 19th - Man of the moment and overall cult Saints hero Martin Hardie(right) reckons all the pressure is on the Village People going into the final games of the season. The midfielder told the Courier, "There are no nerves at all because there’s nothing for us to worry about apart from going to win a game of football. I can take you back maybe five years ago when I was with Partick and we were going at it with Airdrie for the title. They played Clyde one midweek and I was in the house sitting with the Teletext on. I was saying to myself ‘You beauty’ when I saw they’d only drawn. I don’t know if Gretna have been checking our results, because the title’s totally in their hands and they don’t need to look. But if they are looking it maybe puts a bit more pressure on. After being top for a long time they can only throw it away. "
The squad is down to its bare bones and he went on, "There are a few of us hanging by a thread in there. It’s been a long, hard season for us, but we’ll kick on and we’re full of confidence for Saturday. The whole squad is totally fired up to get us up to the SPL. We’re in it together and the most important thing is to make sure we win these next two games. We’re all running on total adrenaline and Voltranol—but we’re enjoying it! "
That was echoed byOwen who said, "Only seven players who started against Clyde had been able to train on Monday, and there is no doubt that getting this latest result was a big, big ask after all the lads had given against Celtic at the weekend. But they showed incredible desire and character—as I knew they would. And regardless of what the result against Clyde had been, I’d be sitting here saying the same thing. I take immense satisfaction from how much these players are prepared to give for the staff here and this football club. ". He also went on to explain his substitution decisions after the Saints support "questioned" replacing Peaso in the second-half. "With the exception of Bryn Halliwell and young right-back Adam Monaghan, who only entered the club’s YTS scheme two months ago and has only three reserve outings to his credit, all our subs were forwards. So when it came to making changes that was the area of the team which was always going to be involved. Peaso had been terrific but he’d run his race. That’s why he came off. We also took Jason off later on as we sought to complete the job we’d set out to do "
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

April 18th - Saints are pushing the boat out this weekend with reduced admission prices at all areas of the ground. It's going to be £10 for adults, £5 for OAPS and £2 for kids and they'll even let you bring in and waive your flags about.

April 17th - Paul Sheerin is happy that we're still in the title race tonight ahead of the trip to Clyde. The wizard explained to the Courier, "After we lost to Livingston at home I thought that was promotion gone for us. But again Gretna slipped up, then we beat them and suddenly it’s opened up again. Our destiny is still outwith our own hands and goal difference clearly is a factor. We’re 12 goals behind them at the minute which is probably worth an extra point. But we’ll be giving it everything. It would take two massive results from us to claw that back but we can at least try to take it to final day of the season. The news that Gretna had slipped up against Hamilton on Saturday cushioned the blow of losing the semi a bit. It was a boost. The result we were looking for at 4.40. But now we have to take advantage. Broadwood will be a completely different situation to Hampden and coming out of one or two big games this season we’ve then had bad results so we’ll need to be careful. But we haven’t played midweek for a while so we are reasonably fresh and should be ready to go. "
About the semi-final he admitted it still sticks in the throat. "I was devastated to lose on Saturday because that was as good a chance as we could have to get to a cup final against a Celtic team. I thought they were average on the day and it was frustrating to say the least that we didn’t capitalise. I keep hearing that the fact we played so well must be some consolation but, to be honest, it isn’t. If we’d given 100% but been battered then maybe it’s would have been easier to take. But we’ve probably been the better team in both the semis we’ve reached this season and it’s really disappointing we didn’t get through either game. "
Elsewhere and with thoughts turning to next season (no matter what league) it looks like Derek McInnes will be offered a deal after the midfielder made the requisite number of appearances under his current one to trigger the offer of a new contract.
11pn - That man Martin Hardie struck again midway through the second-half to give us a 1-0 win at Broadwood over Clyde and narrow the gap at the top of the table to three points - whether it's going to be enough remains to be seen. We can also expect more changes at the weekend as the walking wounded and tired legs were there for all to see tonight. After the game, the manager said, "I think we probably just shaded it. Clyde are a young team, full of energy and it was always going to be a difficult game for us. We've played an awful lot of games and the character and desire shown by my players after Saturday's Scottish Cup semi-final speaks volumes for them. "

Kevin James - result hurts. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 16th - Kevin James(right) knows he has to get the team to pick up the pieces in the aftermath after the semi-final at the weekend with a vital trip to Broadwood on the cards for tomorrow. The Saints skipper told the Courier, "We’ll end up being tagged the nearly men after losing two semi-finals to Hibs and now Celtic, but we’re not giving up on the league yet and hopefully we can still turn it around and lose that tag. If we don’t it would be hard to take. I was very proud to be captain of that team. To a man the lads did their club proud and we have to take the positives and the plaudits and build on it. We might not be feeling great about things just now, but by the start of the week we have to look to take that performance into our league match against Clyde. No disrespect to Hibs, but the feeling we have now is worse than after we lost the League Cup semi-final because of the standing Celtic have in the Scottish game. They’re by far the best team in the country and it’s a horrible, horrible feeling to know that we should have got something from the game. The boys put in a great shift and played tremendously and I feel I have to mention Martin Hardie and Paul Sheerin who were immense in the middle of the park against international players. " As for the performance itself, he went on, "If Celtic had cut us open with great skill and movement it would maybe be easier to take, but the goals we lost were scrappy and that’s a bad feeling. They were there to be beaten but the sign of a good team like Celtic is being able to win a match like that. "
Simon Mensing (who along with Filipe Morais and Allan McManus is suspended) said, "I thought we were terrific and certainly matched them. They’re by far the best team in the country but I thought we made it really hard for them and there were certainly times when we were in charge of the match."
Meanwhile the slag-off-Cuthbert media campaign continues with the Scotsman today managing to blame him for the second goal as well as the first. Nowt like a scapegoat then eh?
7pm - Owen Coyle had some praise for the fans from the weekend game. About the match, he told the Official Site, “Did I enjoy it? No – I was there to win a football match and we didn’t do that. I said before the game that we would be positive in our approach but I didn’t envisage that we would have so much possession and territory. Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve and that was the case at Hampden. I’ve nothing but praise for the supporters who were there on Saturday. In terms of the numbers and the vocal support they were second to none. I know that Saints fans sometimes get criticised for their lack of numbers and vocal backing but they showed to a worldwide Sky audience how good they can be. I hope that many of them will be encouraged to go along to Broadwood tomorrow.”
And speaking of tomorrow, with Allan McManus, Filipe Morais and Simon Mensing all suspended, Savo has been added to the squad along with 17 year olds Bobby Barr and Adam Monaghan. The manager said, "I’m going to have to include Savo in the 16 although he has only had two sessions in the past three months. Steven Doris is out of contention with his foot injury so Adam and Bobby will be included in the squad. It is the nature of things this season that our success in the cups has meant that games come thick and fast and our lack of strength in numbers is a problem". He's not expecting a cup hangover either and went on, "I’ll be reminding the players that after the disappointment of losing the CIS Cup semi-final against Hibs we turned in a great display to defeat Falkirk a few days later. They know which of those two differing reactions I’ll be looking for tomorrow.”

April 15th - Plenty of arguments in the papers today about the alleged penalty for Sellik's first goal at Hampden. Kevin is adamant (and TV pix seem to back him up) that he never touched VenerealWhoeofScepticTank and told the Sunday Mail, ""I wouldn't say Big Jan conned the ref but he used his experience like the good player he is. I dived out but didn't catch him with my hand. But he's gone round me and stood on my back. I don't think there was much in it and on another day maybe the ref wouldn't have given it. It was one of those things. I had a decision to make and it wasn't the right one but I hadn't made ANY right decisions up to the point. It was disappointing. We felt hard done by but we had to try and forget it and focus on the game "
He was backed up by Derek McInnes who said, "Kevin said he never touched him and I felt it looked a soft decision"
Back to more mundane matters and the latest rumour is that we're finally set to ditch Xara as kit suppliers and use Surridge Sports instead who are already down to supply QoS.

Goran - up for the game. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 14th - After all the hype, the big day has finally dawned as Saints and the fans head to Hampden with the knowledge that we're two games away from lifting the Scottish Cup. Of course for all the plaudits in the media, nobody expects us to win (even Strachan seems to be treating us with contempt going by his interview on TV last night) with the bookies offering 10/1 for a Saints victory. But one man who knows what it's like to pull off such an achievement is Goran Stanic(right) when his unfancied Lerida side beat Barca in the Catalonian Cup a few years ago. He told the Courier, "The Barcelona team we defeated included the likes of Patrick Kluivert and Miguel Nadal. Rivaldo didn’t play but Van Gaal put out a strong team. After winning 4-3 we lost to Espanyol 2-1 in the final and I remember that Samuel Eto’o came off the bench that day. I’ve also played in a Macedonian cup final with Sloga so it would be great to play in a Scottish Cup final with St Johnstone and make it three finals in three different countries. “This game against Celtic will be bigger than the Barcelona match because the Catalonian Cup does not have the prestige of the Scottish Cup. What the Barcelona game does show is that in every cup competition across the world the smaller club can beat the bigger club. It is only one game over 90 minutes. If Celtic have a bad day we can definitely beat them. It will be very difficult but it can happen. It would be the biggest win of my career. Celtic are big favourites but we’re going to enjoy this game the same as we have enjoyed all the matches on the way to the semi-final. It will be special to play at Hampden Park because it will be the first time for me, and a lot of the other boys, to play there. But, for me, the most important thing is not where we are playing, but who we are playing. When you’re young you think there are possibilities to do everything in the game but when you get to 34 there isn’t long left in your career. So I will enjoy the occasion of playing one of the biggest clubs in the best stadium in the country. "
He's had a tough year with the loss of his father but went on, "I’ve told my mother that I will bring her across to Scotland if we get to the cup final. My mum can’t travel just now because of other things but if we get to the final we will try to do it. She has never been to Scotland before. It has been a really hard time for all of the family and this gives me extra motivation. The first couple of months after my father died were very difficult for me. I tried to give my best but sometimes your mind isn’t focused on football. From February onwards, though, I began enjoying the game again. Life still goes on. I have my mum, sister, wife and kids, and you can’t just stop living. "
It looks like it will be a late decision if Filipe Morais makes the squad with Savo and the boss himself on standby to make up the numbers. Owen Coyle said, "As a player I always wanted to play in the big matches and the players should be relishing the opportunity to play top-drawer stars at the national stadium and show everybody watching on television what they can do. You can’t really single out Celtic dangermen because they’ve got 11 of them. They’ve got so many options. It is an enormous task for us to beat Celtic and it would be a massive shock. All I can ask of my players is to give everything they’ve got and if that’s good enough to win that will be brilliant."
As for the rest of us, it's 5am and I personally am wide awake and buzzing. Days like these don't come round too often for Saints fans so we, and the team should make the most of it. Go get 'em Saints!
9.30pm - In the end it was a step too far but Saints did themselves, the SFL and a happy travelling support proud as we undeservedly lost 2-1 to TFOE at Hampden with Martin Hardie getting our goal courtesy of a McManus deflection. The performance was excellent though and we deserved more. Owen Coyle said afterwards, "We certainly didn't deserve to lose on the day. It's hard to take. I'm pleased we pushed the SPL leaders all the way but the bottom line is that we're out of the cup. I can't ask for any more than the players gave. I'm gutted for them. It's not often Celtic fans are calling for the final whistle like that. ". As for the controversial penalty decision he went on, "At the time I thought it was soft. It could have been given, but equally I've seen them not given. That shows you, when you're playing these real quality teams you have to concentrate, and goals change games. But credit to my players for their response, and their attitude and desire to get back into the game against the SPL champions - they're a First Division side, you've got to remember. I thought the spirit they showed was second to none. To go 1-0 down against the champions it would be very easy to buckle, but nothing could be further from the truth. We came back and then some, and took the game on and looked to try to win. "
Elsewhere and in the league the Village People only managed a draw at Accies meaning the title race is still well and truly on.

April 13th - One day to go so time for even more hype in the papers with Kevin Cuthbert hoping to play tomorrow after his suspension last weekend. The Saints goalie spoke to the Courier about the biggest game of his career so far and his memories of the 1989 semi against TFOD where we took them to a replay. "I was only young but I remember clearly being at Parkhead for the 0-0 draw against Rangers. St Johnstone were a part-time team in those days and it was obviously a huge result to take Rangers, who were champions, to a replay. It would be a great achievement if we could actually beat Celtic this time and hopefully we can do it. It would be a massive feat to get to the Scottish Cup final, especially when you see that we’ve had SPL teams in every round of the competition except one. All the players will have their families and friends at Hampden Park but I’ll know a lot of other people from Perth in the crowd. That’s something which will be special for me and hopefully, if I’m playing, I can reward them with a good result. "
The final decision as to which keeper will start with Bryn Halliwell keeping a clean sheet against the Village People. Kevin went on, "Bryn couldn’t do any more than that really. Having said that, I was dropped after keeping a clean sheet last season, so I would know how he felt if it happened. Bryn and I will make sure whoever plays is mentally ready. It’s rivalry, but it’s a friendly rivalry. We’ll both be preparing as if we’re going to be playing because even if you don’t start you could be called into action at any time. If I play it will definitely be the biggest game I’ve played in. We played in the CIS League Cup semi-final a few months ago, but the Scottish Cup is a bigger, more prestigious competition. There’s no argument about that. We’re in the semi-final and playing the Scottish champions at the national stadium and all the boys have been looking forward to it for a while. Now it’s here, we want to give a good account of ourselves. We’ve got a few players —Kevin James, Jason, and Allan McManus—who have won semi-finals before so hopefully that will stand us in good stead. "
He's also hopeful of putting behind the CIS semi-final defeat to Hibs when they scored a soft freekick in extra-time. "It was a difficult one to take, because of the stakes involved. But at every level of football mistakes are made in every game, not just by goalkeepers. You have to put an error behind you. It was a burden at the time, but anything that doesn’t break you, makes you stronger. It’s not an experience I would want to go through again but you move on. "
In terms of team news we have some worries though with Filipe Morais missing training all week due to a virus and Savo still only an outside bet for a subs spot. Owen Coyle said, "I know exactly what my starting 11 will be and you wouldn’t need to be a rocket scientist to work it out. We’ll be ready. Yes, we’re short in numbers in terms of strength in depth and trying to get 16, but I’ve got my 11."

Sheerinho - knows no fear. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 12th - After the saturation coverage in some papers yesterday, the hype continues today with Jason again the subject of more probing journalism by the Courier - whether it's the player's agent driving the PR or more the Courier wanting to speak with their favourite ex-Arab is unknown. Anyway the Saints striker told the paper, "I enjoyed myself at United after coming from Trinidad. They made me feel at home. During the first year here I actually thought maybe I would go back to United. I was disappointed having to leave. I felt I was sure to go back to Dundee United because I had a love for the club. They brought me across here and I enjoyed being there. Collin Samuel is a good mate and I enjoyed going out with the boys there. But two years have past and it’s time for me to move on now. Other clubs were interested in signing me after the work permit problems. I could have played professional football back home. But my agent said St Johnstone were interested in me. I was keeping my options open. In a sense it was good. Maybe this is a good stepping stone. I am playing every week for Saints and doing well. I have done better this season than last year. At United I wasn’t getting as much game time as I’d have wanted. As a player you want to be playing every week. The priority at St Johnstone has been winning the league, and the cup is a bonus. We are all looking forward to the game "
"This is an opportunity for me. Obviously I’m doing something good if clubs are looking at me. I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, and scoring goals. If you’re doing that bigger clubs are going to take a look. The Celtic game is a big opportunity for me because the game is being televised worldwide. Every player in the St Johnstone dressing room will be motivated for a big game like this. It’s a chance to show what we can do. Our motivation is to play at a higher level. It’s a big game and my team-mates seem to think these bring out the best in me. Maybe it’s down to the atmosphere and playing against quality players. People think I’m laid back but I do get nervous sometimes if it’s a big game. From my point of view that’s good. After I get the first touch everything seems to flow "
7pm - Congratulations as well to Jason and Goran Stanic who have been nominated for the SPFA Player of the Year award for Division One. Gretna's Colin McMenamin and Partick's Mark Roberts are also in the frame.
Meanwhile Paul Sheerin(right) did his bit for the media on the Official Site this morning after the last training session before the lads head to Wegieland. He said of Saturday's game, "It is a massive occasion for the players, the club and the supporters. We intend to approach the match in the same manner as we have done for our other cup ties this season and that attitude hasn’t let us down yet. We’ll give it 100% and I would echo the manager’s comments that whatever the outcome, we don’t want to be heading away from the ground feeling that we didn’t give our best and haven’t done ourselves justice. I was in the Ayr United side that got to the semi-finals in 2002. Ironically, that was against Celtic at Hampden as well. We gave a good account of ourselves although Celtic scored through Henrik Larsson and led 1-0 but they brought on Alan Thompson and he scored twice to make it 3-0. It was a great experience and I’ll look to draw on that this Saturday." He also knows how to take on and beat Sellick in their own patch and went on, "While I was with Aberdeen we went down there with a really young side and we beat them – it ended a very lengthy unbeaten run they had enjoyed. Between that and what I experienced with Caley Thistle I know it is possible for the underdogs to come out on top and if we can play to the top of our game and they are anything below 100% then we have a chance. We will give it a go."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

Owen - not taking things for granted. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 11th - Today's media coverage sees Saints in the spotlight after the media were all over training yesterday. Owen Coyle(right) was first up in the Courier and despite all the media attention on the West Coast in recent weeks over the SPL leaders form, he's not taking anything for granted. "I have to say that I find it incredible. “For me, we’re playing the champions of Scotland. It is a case of when they will win the SPL, rather than if, and when they do it, the league will have been won in emphatic style, as it was last season. A few weeks ago they were a blow of the referee’s whistle from knocking AC Milan out of the Champions League, when they should have had a penalty. That shows you the enormity of the task we face and we’re under no illusions about that. People tell me Celtic aren’t playing well but they’re still winning games and they have quality from back to front. Make no mistake, we’re big, big underdogs in this game. "
"Having said all that, we’re in this semi-final on merit. I think that everybody’s aware from our previous good performances against SPL teams— Dundee United, Rangers, Hibernian, Falkirk and Motherwell—how good our performance levels can be, and if we’re to have any chance we have to get to that level again. With that level of performance we’ll need Celtic to be slightly off their game and then we’ll have a chance. As I said before our CIS League Cup semi-final against Hibs, what I don’t want is our players coming off the pitch with any regrets. If we give everything we’ve got and are beaten by a better team then we’ll accept that, but coming off thinking about what might have been will leave a sour taste in the mouth. I’m looking for the guys to give everything they’ve got and express themselves. We’ll look to play our game and one thing we definitely won’t do is sit back. There will be times when Celtic will have us pinned back because we expect them to have the bulk of the possession, but when we have the ball we’ll be committing players forward. As a player I would hate it if we were set out to play for a 0-0 draw, and there will be nothing negative about this St Johnstone team. There’s no doubt that St Johnstone have had a super season. When you analyse things you would agree that the fantastic cup runs have had a detrimental impact on the league at points because we don’t have a big squad. We’ve got players out injured and if anybody gets injured this week yours truly will be in the 16! My players have tremendous team spirit and that has been proven throughout the season. If you get honest endeavour you can’t ask for any more. "
Peaso - slagging off Jason. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.Elsewhere and Peaso(right) reckons the stage is set for Jason on Saturday. He told the Courier, "Jason and I are different players. He’s a lazy git! Ability wise though, not many players can touch him, even in the SPL. He does some incredible things in training. It must be a Trinidadian thing about how they’re brought up, going at half pace, smoking a cigar! He’s a special player when he wants to be. It wouldn’t surprise me if he stars on Saturday and I hope he does. But we’ve got a lot of other good players apart from Jason. We’ve got boys like Martin Hardie who will graft hard to give us a platform to play "
He's been happy with his own season as well and went on, "It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good run in the team like this, probably about three years ago under John Connolly. I’m loving it and I feel like I’m getting fitter day by day and week by week.". As for the game he said, "We’ll show them the utmost respect because they’re Celtic and they’re the SPL champions. In a way it’s daunting to play them. The teams that we’ve beaten in the SPL haven’t been of the calibre of Celtic. This will be stepping up another level. But we’ll be looking to get in about them and see how they like it. We base everything on not giving our opposition time to play and then hopefully someone like Jason can come up with a piece of magic for us. We enjoy going in against good teams where we can show people how good we are. This is a big stage for the boys and hopefully we can rise to the occasion. Having said that, I’d take winning the league over getting to a cup final every time "
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

April 10th - Derek McInnes is providing the quotes for the cup in the Courier today. The midfielder, who arguably had his best game of the season at Raydale said, "The season has already had some good moments but we don’t want to fall short in the league and not get to a cup final. Ultimately if this team is to be remembered, we’ll have to get to the Scottish Cup final or win the championship. There is more pressure on a club like Celtic to get to finals but I’d like to see us put ourselves under pressure to do it. This will be a great week for the players but you can get caught up in all the hullabaloo. You have to keep focused on the game at the end of it, and it’s an opportunity to get to a cup final. We want to enjoy the afternoon but that will only happen if we win it. There’s no satisfaction in giving a good account of yourselves and being unlucky losers. We’ve shown we can more than hold our own against top teams and in a semi-final. We got caught cold in the first five minutes against Hibs and lost an early goal but I would like to think that won’t happen again. If we’re at our best, Celtic will have to play well to win the match. That’s what I genuinely believe. There’s a quiet confidence that if we play to our full potential we’ll have a fighting chance. "
The club are hopeful that Savo will be able to resume training this week and be able to at least make the semi-final squad.

Kevin James - not happy. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 9th - Despite the comfortable win at the weekend, skipper Kevin James(right) wasn't that happy knowing that the Village People are still in control in the title race. He told the Courier, "I actually feel quite disappointed and I know that sounds daft after beating the league leaders 2-0 away from home. It just shows you what could have been possible had we got the right results earlier on. On the plus side, the gap is down to five points with three games still to go so we won’t give up. It is a great result and hopefully we can carry the momentum on to the Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic next Saturday. When you look at the players we have in our team, on our day we are capable of beating anybody, although we have shown that more so in cups this season than the league. "
As for the game, he went on, "Jason was terrific and that’s why clubs in the English Championship are looking at him. Their fans were brilliant to clap him like that and it was an appreciation of a very good footballer. Sometimes he just doesn’t turn up but this time he won the game for us himself with his skill and hold-up play. Having trained and played with Jason, one thing you notice is that he is built like the side of a house. So he has strength and there is no doubting his ability. It is just a question of whether he brings his tools with him at times. "
Looking ahead to the cup game he said, "Jason has been bumping his gums about how Hampden can be a great showcase for him. It is a bonus game for us. We are not expected to win but we will give 100% and not give up without a fight. “I think we showed that we mean business when we faced Gretna. The gaffer told us that if we did not perform then we would put ourselves under pressure as regards getting into the team for next week. Nobody pulled out of a tackle and we worked our socks off."
Owen Coyle was a bit happier. "We came down to win the game and reduce the points gap to five and I think if you watched the game you could be in no doubt about the outcome. You could not argue that we did not deserve to win and I thought some of our football was excellent. I happen to think we have had a super season and there is no doubt that our cup exploits have had a detrimental effect on our league form, there has been a kickback. The great thing is, though, that we have shown we are a really good team and can now look forward to a great occasion against Celtic with confidence."
6pm - While it looked like just a few knocks at training today, Saints plans were wrecked just a bit more with the news that Stephen Doris is out of the semi trip and the rest of the season after breaking his metatarsal playing for the U19s yesterday. It's also been confirmed that Derek Lilley will also miss out due to being cup-tied. Assistant Sandy Stewart told the Official Site, "There is an upbeat mood today with the players pleased with both the result and the performance at Raydale Park. It puts us in a good frame of mind for the semi-final and preparations for that began today and will continue throughout the week. We are not as familiar with Celtic as we are with our league opponents so we will talk more in-depth about them as opponents than we perhaps do against sides in the First Division who we meet four times a season. That is what Owen has done for the previous cup ties this season and the results are there for all to see and it should stand us in good stead for Saturday. It is a nice break from the league business and it is a glamour tie. I dare say some fans would have liked one of the other sides left in the competition but we are playing a big club with the added glamour of Sky TV and it is an occasion we should all look forward to."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

April 8th - No sooner is one big game out the way than the hype has started building for the semi-final next weekend. Owen Coyle is first up in the Scotland on Sunday today and he's said that Saints will give their all. "I was always frustrated when we went to stadiums we were expected to get beat in and the manager, for whatever reason, decided we would sit in and play for 0-0. "I genuinely believe that you have an obligation to try and win every game. You have to do that within a structure and not be gung-ho. We will not go to Hampden to sit back and play defensively. For one, it would be absolute folly because with their quality ultimately they'll unlock the door. We will have a go and whether that materialises will be up to Celtic. We will try to impose ourselves, as we have this season, and feel if we can play to our maximum and Celtic aren't at that, then we have a chance. People spoke about us getting Rangers at the right time, but there is never a right time to go to Ibrox because they have quality. It will be the same again at the weekend and if we sit back and admire they will dictate. When we have a chance we have to go and express ourselves - we have players who can cause teams problems. "
Elsewhere and in the Sunday Mail "Sellick-daft" Martin Hardie (here we go again) said, "If there's a shoot-out again when we play Celtic I would gladly take a penalty. And I would know where I will put it this time - in the net. I've never scored against Celtic. I've never even beaten them with Partick Thistle and Kilmarnock. But being a fan just makes you want to beat them. Celtic look forward to these occasions all the time whereas we usually watch them on TV. It will be a bigger occasion for us but we're not going for a day out. We're looking to lift the trophy. Only Kevin James and Allan McManus from our squad have been to a final. But we got to the CIS Cup semi-final against Hibs earlier this season and I played at Tynecastle. It was a magnificent night for us although the result didn't go our way. However, the Celtic game is something to look forward to and all the boys are up for the challenge. We raise our game against SPL sides and they won't like playing us. "

April 7th - Allan McManus is another Saints player who knows what's at stake today with anything less than three points ending our title chances. The defender is banned for the last three league games so his final league appearance will be this afternoon and he spoke to the Courier saying, "Gretna only drawing with Airdrie on Tuesday night keeps us hanging in there. But as Martin Hardie and I were agreeing the other day, it’s a case of holding on to the edge of the cliff with one hand and an itch! It wasn’t until Thursday morning I found out the result. I’d become fed-up checking out their scores and hoping to find out they’d dropped points. The truth is if we’d taken the numerous opportunities we’ve had to close on them that wouldn’t have been an issue. We’ve had several chances to peg them right back and we’ve only ourselves to blame for not capitalising. Now it’s last orders in the Last Chance Saloon. We know what has to be done. We simply have to get three points down there and at least put the pressure on them for another week. I firmly believe that if we play to our capabilities then we’ll win. “But talk’s cheap—we have to go and deliver on the park. Everything we’ve got will have to be put into these 90 minutes. It’s a case of one last push then see what happens. "
Don't expect too many changes to the side as Owen Coyle said, "We don’t have a big enough squad to ring the changes. The boys have done well throughout the season and, though we lost last week, I felt we were the dominant team. I’m not really interested in Gretna. I’m only interested in St Johnstone and the fact that we can cut their lead to five points."...And if anyone isn't making the trip to the border, the game is live on Sportsound.
7pm - A cracking performance from Saints with two first-half goals from Jason saw us win 2-0 at Gretna and spoil their party plans, keeping the title race open until at least the Clyde game in ten days time. Of course it wasn't all smiles with Filipe Morais seeing red in the second-half for a second booking, both for kicking the ball away (as last week though the inconsistency of the referee was shocking).

Bryn - first start for a while this weekend. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 6th - Willie Dyer has been ruled out for the season after having his appendix removed. Owen Coyle explained in today's Courier, "Willie was complaining of stomach pains on Monday and was taken into hospital with suspected appendicitis. After blood tests came back he was operated on the following morning. That effectively rules him out for the rest of the season and that’s a real blow because he would have been one of the two under-21s on our bench for the semi. I’m absolutely gutted for the boy. To miss out on a showpiece occasion at his age is terrible and of course it leaves us another number short. But the most important thing is his health."
Elsewhere and the manager has warned clubs that if they want Jason, they'll have to stump up the cash. "If bigger clubs come in for players then they tend to move on—that’s football. But there’s been no dialogue between ourselves and any other clubs about Jason and, while he could sign a pre-contract, I think I’ve got a relationship with him that would ensure that if something like that was going to happen he’d tell me. And it’s worth pointing out that Jason is actually under contract to us until August so it’s not just a matter of him leaving in May. If he did want to join someone else he couldn’t do that until August, which is a handy position for us in as much as St Johnstone could get some sort of revenue in exchange for letting him leave in time for pre-season training. "
As for tomorrow, there will be no appeal against the red card for The Cat after the manager revealed that the video had all the quality of one of STV's finest moments. "We would have had to lodge any appeal earlier this week and having looked at the video we decided not to pursue it. Unfortunately the frame which shows the ball striking Kevin’s arm rather than him deliberately handling doesn’t show the two defenders on the line. “In the build-up to that you see them making their way back into the box but there’s no single frame which shows the whole picture. And we just thought it would have been all too easy for the panel to reject our appeal when there was no corroborating evidence ". That means Bryn "I'm a goalie get me out of here" Halliwell(right) returns for his first start in months and he told the papers, "I’m really looking forward to it after such a long time out. The gaffer made some changes after we had a blip after beating Rangers in the CIS Cup and unfortunately I was one of them. I made a few costly errors, as goalkeepers do, and the gaffer decided to freshen things up. The weeks have turned into months and, through a lack of reserves games or friendlies and the fact I also split my elbow open while training on the astro, I’d not played much. But I’ve had a couple of outings in the last two weeks and I’m ready. I couldn’t believe that Kevin was sent off. Nor could I believe it when the referee told me Kev had deliberately handled the ball. But these things happen and I’ve now got to try and take this chance with both hands. Getting back in the team is like a bolt out of the blue, but I’m going to Gretna looking to give the manager something to think about when he comes to pick the team for the semi-final. "
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

Jason - bound for St Andrews?. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 4th - A combination of the season being all but over in the league and a cup-tie against one half of the Wegie's favourite Bigot Brothers has naturally started the rumours going and today the Retard reports that Jason Scotland(right) might be a target for Birmingham City with a Brummie scout apparently having watched him against Livi at the weekend (whether that means he's done himself any favours remains to be seen).
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

April 3rd - Time for the stiff upper lip at McDiarmid with Saints needing a win on Saturday to prevent the Village People taking the title assuming they beat Airdrie tonight (even then defeat on Saturday for Saints would still see them take the title). Owen Coyle told the Courier, "We were always chasing our tails, needing to win every game. But now Gretna have a terrific advantage and if they win on Wednesday the lead would be unassailable. Regardless of whether that happens, however, we have to go to Gretna on Saturday and win."
Martin Hardie added, "It’s not done yet, but Gretna can only throw it away. It would take a spectacular collapse for them to lose the league now. And fair play to them, they’ve been up there to be shot at for months and maintained that pretty much as St Mirren did last year. I’d still like to think Airdrie can do us a turn. “I know some of the boys there feel the way they play is suited to doing well against Gretna, so we’ll see. But whatever happens we’ll go to Gretna on Saturday and look to beat them. We don’t want to be the team they clinch the league against, not after the two of us have been chasing that prize all season. We don’t want to be there when they are partying. "
The fallout continues from the controversial sending-off of The Cat on Saturday and Saints are still debating whether or not to appeal. Of course that would mean the authorities having to apply common sense and the manager went on, "I knew when I watched the incident at the time that it was never a sending off. And the video just enhances that opinion. Kevin’s hands were at his side and the boy has struck him with the ball. We are thinking about an appeal, but the question is how likely is it the authorities will stick by the decision of the referee that he denied a goal- scoring opportunity? It was a big, big decision in the game—a hammer blow. But we contributed to the result ourselves by conceding two poor goals and not taking our chances. The first goal was terrible, the second poor. "
Elsewhere and Kevin Rutkiewicz and Steven Milne head to London this week to see specialists about their injuries. Owen said, "It’s a precautionary thing with both of them. Steven has developed a problem at the top of his thigh and we want to know whether that’s happened through his being over protective of the knee. We just want to clarify that he hasn’t done anything which would represent a setback. Kevin is in a similar situation. He has come on great and was very close to playing a bounce game, but then he got a bit of discomfort in the ankle. We want to see whether that was just something to be expected or not "

April 2nd - One of the few bright points of Saturday's defeat Filipe Morais has admitted that he's not likely to take a medal back to Millwall in the summer. The winger said, "It would have been amazing to have gone back south in the summer with a league medal. I have to admit it’s not looking too good just now with Gretna winning, but it’s still possible, mathematically, so I’ll not be giving up. We know Gretna can win the league if they beat us there, so we definitely don’t want that to happen.".

The Cat - red-carded. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.April 1st - Despite the poor performance yesterday, Owen Coyle was angrier at the referee for the decision which arguably led to the turning point in the game as Kevin Cuthbert(right) was red-carded for alleged handball. The Saints manager told the Official Site, "I’ve just watched the red card incident on video and it confirms my belief that Kevin should not have been sent off. He had no intention of handling the ball and made no move to do so, we had two men on the goal line and yet it is deemed the denial of a goalscoring opportunity? It is beyond belief. I don’t envy referees their jobs but I have invited Mr Smith into my room to watch the video but he has declined"....no word of an appeal yet but surely it would be worthwhile?
As for the game he went on, "We let our standards slip in the opening ten minutes of the second half but even at 1-1 I felt we could go on and win the game. I’m frustrated, angry and disappointed but we have to take the medicine, re-group on Monday and fight on until the mathematics say we can do no more." (which I think is about 9.15pm on Tuesday night)
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

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March 31st - Saints look set to take on Meadowbank today with a depleted squad but Kevin Cuthbert is looking for a better performance than the monsoon job at Almondvale earlier in the year. The Saints keeper told the Courier, "That was one of the coldest days of my life. The wind and rain was so bad the game should have been called off. Football is supposed to be an entertainment but entertaining was just impossible in those conditions. There wasn’t a pass played in the whole 90 minutes. You couldn’t have got a better advert for summer football! ". He knows points are more important than entertainment today though and went on, "Gretna have Partick then Airdrie on Tuesday before we meet them next weekend and it is imperative we beat Livingston. Whatever happens with Gretna is out of our hands but I am hopeful they might slip up somewhere along the line. The fact Thistle have changed manager could work in our favour. They’ve got some good players and what’s happened there this week could spur them on. So, too, could the fact Gretna have battered them twice this season. Hopefully, Partick do us a favour and Airdrie, against whom Gretna don’t have the best of records, too. But before we can capitalise on any dropped point we need to beat Livingston. Livi being the only team to have beaten us at McDiarmid Park this season is something which irks. There shouldn’t be a team in this league we go through the whole season without beating "
No more word on the injury situation and Owen Coyle said, "We have to leave it to the last minute before deciding on the team as we have no option."
6.30pm - Jason scored but a red card for Kevin Cuthbert for alleged handball, a simply shite second-half performance from Saints and a 2-1 defeat to Livi has all but handed the title to the Village People who can seal things with a win this midweek and suddenly make the trip to their piss-hole next Saturday look less than appetising.

March 30th - Being the brave wee soldier he is, Kevin James has said he's got no qualms about risking life and braincell after last weekends head clash ended his participation in the win over the Scum. Speaking to the Courier, the Saints skipper said, "People might look at what happened and question why at 2-0 up so late in the game I went for a 40-60 ball like that. But I did actually win it and if similar circumstances arose this week or any week I’d go for it again. You have to play the game the same way from start to finish. Too many times over the past couple of seasons we’ve switched off when matches have appeared won and it’s cost us points. I realise it looked bad when I got stretchered off and to be honest I can’t remember anything that happened after I picked up the head knock. But I’ve seen the doc and I’ll be fine for Saturday. We are in a do or die situation as far as the league is concerned, so when it comes to injury you have to try and soldier on "
The injury list has grown a bit as well with Steven Anderson and Peaso carrying knocks although both are expected to be fit to start against Meadowbank tomorrow. Owen Coyle said, "We won’t have everyone who played against Dundee available but I have got guys who’ll turn out even if they aren’t 100%. We have to ensure we win this one. If Gretna are to lift the title then we want to make them earn it by winning matches not because we have dropped points. We’ve taken nine points out of the last 12. The aim now is to win each of the games we have left. "

March 29th - It looks like Saints won't have their problems to seek ahead of this weekend's match against Livi. So far (deep breath), Kevin James, Allan McManus, Martin Hardie, Derek McInnes, Steven Milne, Willie McLaren and Filipe Morais are injured while Jason has a virus and Andy Jackson a suspected broken thumb. Simon Mensing is already out through suspension and Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "It’s a worrying situation and although one or two of the guys might make training tomorrow it looks like it will be a patched up squad for Saturday. However, they have done it for me before and if necessary I will have no hesitation in pitching in some of the youngsters. Kevin James should be okay but I’m not prepared to risk him doing too much after his head knock, Allan McManus has to be the most doubtful with a groin problem, Derek McInnes picked up an ankle injury against Dundee and McLaren and Morais both got knocks in Tuesday’s reserve game.”

March 28th - Some news of more potential silverware this season with the result from the Reserve League Cup semi-final last night seeing Saints 3-0 victors over Cowdenbeath, goals coming courtesy of a brace from Derek Lilley and one from Andy Jackson.

March 27th - Belated congratulations to Owen Coyle who picked up the gong for Manager of the Month for February (based on a couple of nice Scottish Cup wins one presumes). And speaking of the manager he's been praising the boys in the Courier after their Sabbath derby win. "All the games are tough in this league but we were delighted to get the three points against Dundee, It was certainly an important result for us and I was delighted with the overall performance. We will continue to do everything in our power to close the gap yet further. We are taking it one game at a time and both the players and I are now fully focused on the game against Livingston on Saturday. With the gap now at four points we are full of confidence and determined to keep on winning."

March 26th - Owen Coyle was happy enough with yesterday's win and told today's Courier, "We had to win to keep the league campaign going and we’ve done that. But now we have to carry this on. The league is Gretna’s to lose but we’ve still got to play them and we’ve seen before how big leads are eaten into and nerves start to play a part. I thought we were a bit edgy ourselves for the first 15-20 minutes today but then we started to get the ball down and pass it and from that point on I felt we were dominant."
Good news for skipper Kevin James as he made a full recovery. Tthe manager said, "It was just precautionary with Kevin. We just didn’t want to take any chances and I’d expect him to be training on Tuesday."
Saints play Cowdenbeath in the Reserve League Cup Final on Tuesday night at McDiarmid Park. And elsewhere, Saints have confirmed that the big clash at Gretna on April 7th will not be all-ticket.

March 25th - Another good 2nd half performance with goals from Jason and Martin Hardie saw us easy winners in a 2-0 victory over Scumdee, although the joy at the three points was tempered Kevin James was stretchered off at the end with a head knock. Still, that's the gap closed to four points for a week at least.

March 24th - Paul Sheerin is expecting to start on the bench tomorrow after being dropped there for the Airdrie game last weekend after 78 consecutive starts. In today's Courier, the midfielder said, "When you’ve started so many games it’s a bit different being on the bench. But to be fair I can’t blame the gaffer. He could have left a few boys out based on performances of late. But I’ve not been performing well so I can’t complain that I was one of those to suffer that fate. And the decisions he made selection wise were vindicated by the fact we went and won away from home for the first time in the league this year. Maybe I shouldn’t be saying this when I’m hoping for a recall. But I thought the second half performance at Airdrie was as well as we’ve played for a while and I doubt I’ll get back in. I think I’ll have to show patience. When the gaffer first came in I spent the first six or seven games on the bench. It could be I’m facing up to the same thing again. But better players than me have been left out and had to bide their time. "
As for tomorrow, he went on, "It’s a massive game for us—but then all six we’ve got left fall into that category. If we won the lot of them I think that could be enough to clinch promotion. But, of course, we’ve got to go and do that. We’ve been in the position where we could put pressure on Gretna before and not taken advantage. Hopefully, this time, though, we’ll do that and then see how they respond "
For tomorrow, Savo is still struggling to make the game but Jason is expected to be in the starting lineup

March 23rd - Simon Mensing spoke out yesterday about his upcoming suspension. He told the Courier, "I’m disappointed to be suspended because it was a silly booking which took me over the points threshold. “And the timing couldn’t be worse considering the importance of the games I’ll miss. To be honest if I was going to get banned I’d rather it had happened earlier in the season. Having said that, in another way, I’m more than happy to have reached the end of March before picking up a suspension. The role I play can lend itself to getting booked. At some stage each season I expect to be banned. Players like myself are going to get cautioned more often than others. That’s a fact. If you are someone whose game is about making tackles inevitably you are at greater risk of yellow cards. You don’t need to be intending to hurt someone or malicious in your challenges. Simply mistiming tackles can get you into bother. And the Scottish disciplinary system isn’t a good one for the likes of myself. I didn’t realise until now that being banned the previous season impacts on the number of games you miss if you get suspended again. I assumed that you started each year with a clean slate. That’s what happens down south "
He is available for the weekend though and said of Sunday's big derby, "Getting a few days off this week was good after playing so many games in so short a space of time. Now we are raring to go for Sunday and no-one more so than me. I want to go out on a high. "

March 21st - Confirmation has come through that Simon Mensing's booking at the weekend means he's picked up a nice three-match ban. He's available for Sunday's match against Scumdee but then will miss the games against Livi, Gretna and Clyde although is ok for the cup semi-final. And speaking of Clyde the game there has been rearranged for Tuesday April 17th at 7.45pm

March 20th - Sandy Stewart is in the papers today as the players continue to enjoy their rest. The Saints no2 told the Courier that they boys have to keep the pressure on Gretna (and as a follow-up that bears do indeed shit in the woods and that Dundee smells). With the Village People lazing about this weekend as we take on the Scum, he said, "The way we are looking at it, this is an opportunity to put added pressure on Gretna. We’ve had chances before and not taken them. This time we have to. Before we meet Gretna on April 7 we’ve also got Livingston to play while they have Partick and Airdrie. We want to get as close to them as possible before then and the fact Thistle and Airdrie both have something to play for could help us. Having said that, neither Dundee nor Livingston represent easy games for ourselves. That’s the thing about this division—everyone is either going for the league, trying to finish as far up the table as they can, wanting to avoid getting dragged into the dogfight or battling relegation. There’s not one team that’s put the tools away for the season. "
Meanwhile if we don't deal with Sellik straight away on the 14th, the replay will be at Hampden on Wednesday April 25th.

March 19th - A wee bit of controversy in the papers today with Martin Hardie confessing he didn't just use his head on Saturday for the opening goal. The Saints midfielder told the Courier, "When the ball came across I headed it but it might have then hit my pinky, to be fair. I was claiming it anyway—a goal’s a goal—and I am happy with that. I got a wee bit of a dressing-down from the gaffer because I wasn’t happy going back into midfield. But I was enjoying myself up front and thought there were more goals to be had, especially given the way we were playing in the second half. ". As for the dwindling title chances, he went on, "If Gretna keep going then fair play to them because should they get full points between now and the end of the season then there is not much we can do about that. If not, then we need to be ready to capitalise and we won’t be giving up. We have had a lot of games over the past few weeks so it’s a credit to the boys that we won this one. There has been a match every three days or so and your body just does not allow you to be at your best all the time. We need all 22 players who are in squad because of the injuries and suspensions that we are bound to get. Now, though, there should be no more midweek matches for us, so that will help.". He had some sympathy for his old club as well. "I knew from being an ex-Airdrie player that St Johnstone’s record at this place was poor—no wins here before today—but we dug in and in the second half in particular we passed the ball a bit better and created more chances. I am a St Johnstone player now and as we are near the top of the table fighting for promotion we had a lot at stake. I do, though, still have a lot of friends here at Airdrie and feel for the club. They are in the unfortunate position that they need to win games so they maybe feel a bit aggrieved at the final result. "

Allan McManus - wants fans to back him. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.March 17th - Time's running out and again nothing less thant three points will do as we try for our first away league win in six months this afternoon at Airdrie. Steven Anderson misses out through suspension while Kevin James seems set to also miss out with his hamstring strain. Added to that Savo and Peaso are both carrying knocks so expect a different starting lineup at 3pm.
Allan McManus(right), who was the subject of some alleged exchanges with the fans at half-time on Tuesday night during the Firhill shambles will therefore likely skipper the side and he told the Courier that time is running out. "We’d like to think we’re one of the better teams in this league, so that away record we have really is horrendous. Maybe we haven’t been strong enough mentally. You need to be able to show mental toughness to shut up shop when you go in front, and we’ve given away cheap goals which have cost us dearly. It can’t happen any more because it’s got to be victories from now on. We’ve not managed to take advantage of our games in hand, or Gretna dropping points, so there’s no point talking about them while we’re not winning ourselves. We have to keep winning from now until the end of the season and see where that takes us. Let’s be honest, we’re just not playing well. “The effort is definitely there but the quality has to be there as well and we all know that. “It’s up to us to sort it out because the standard of our play has to get up to the level of the commitment "
Assistant Sandy Stewart returns to Airdrie for the first time since he was punted by them earlier in the season and the skipper went on, "It would be nice to win for Sandy. I played with him at Airdrie and for him and I know what a great job he did there on a limited budget. It was harsh that he had to leave. St Johnstone have had a tough time at Broomfield on a number of occasions and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is a match we need to win. The fans have every right to be annoyed at the moment but we really need their backing. "
Owen Coyle meanwhile is looking for a reaction from his players and said, "We’re bitterly disappointed about losing to Partick Thistle on Tuesday but we’ve taken our kick in the teeth and now and it’s all about how we react to it. Five games in 13 days has been a big ask for the players and that is the result of having two very successful cup runs. Gretna are big, big favourites but we have to focus on winning every one of our last seven games. A winning run has to start at Airdrie tomorrow. Our squad is down to the bare bones just now, but if I’m able to freshen things up I’ll do it. Airdrie has certainly not been a happy hunting ground for us. We’ve beaten them plenty of times here but have found it difficult at Broomfield. They’re fighting for their lives and it will be a tough match because of that "
6.30pm - The hoodoo was finally broken today with Saints notching up three points in a 2-1 win at Airdrie thanks to goals from Martin Hardie and sub Jason although the performance still wasn't the inspiring stuff we've been crying out for. At least it meant the gap was narrowed to seven points at the top as Gretna dropped two points at Livi.
Owen Coyle was happy tonight though and told the Official Site, "“I’m delighted with the win and to some extent it gets the monkey off our back about the lack of an away win in the league for so long. I thought we started slowly but improved as the game went on. To be honest, after so many games in such a short period of time I was worried at half-time that our second half performance might be sluggish but the opposite was true - I thought we showed the spirit, passion, energy and hunger to win this game. We can certainly play better than we did today but it was all about getting the win". The squad has been given time off until Thursday to recharge their batteries (or charge them up in the case of some lazy members)

March 16th - With the league title all but slipped out of our hands, the rumours have started about moves with Jason Scotland unsurprisingly the main subject - both Aberdeen and Cardiff have been linked with pre-contract deals for the Saints striker. Owen Coyle is quoted in today's Courier commenting on the tales though and saying, "I can state categorically that there has been no contact from Aberdeen, Cardiff or anybody else regarding Jason. I know that with him being out of contract come the end of the season that there will be clubs looking at him. We, ourselves, have signed goalkeeper Alan Main on a pre-contract agreement but what we did was contact Gretna to keep them informed with what was going on. With that being the way I work I don’t think it would be too much to ask for a similar courtesy to be shown by others "
Kevin James is still a major doubt for tomorrow with his hamstring injury which with Steven Anderson suspended leaves us well and truly short at the back.

March 14th - Token excuses time in the papers today after the crap last night. The Waily Retard merely quotes Owen Coyle saying, "We came to win but lost an early goal and we missed a couple of chances. We did well in the second half but everyone in the stadium could see it was a foul on our keeper for their second goal. We're nine points behind Gretna but we certainly won't give up the chase. ". He might not have given up but the rest of us have after that mess last night. And for all the spiel about us "doing well", their keeper hardly had a save to make while we had Kevin Cuthbert to thank for keeping the score respectable. Simply not good enough.

Derek McInnes - still has faith. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.March 13th - Time is running out for a title chase for Saints but Derek McInnes(right) reckons we can still do it. The veteran midfielder is quoted in today's Courier, saying, "When I won promotion with West Brom we were 12 points behind Wolves in March, went on a fantastic run, won 11 out of our last 12, and I think Wolves only won four. We overtook them and by the last game of the season it was in our own hands. All we had to do was beat Crystal Palace to go up and we did it. So it shows it can be done. I think Wolves thought they were home and dry but we managed to peg them back. The manager Gary Megson stressed to us then that it was all about us winning our games and applying pressure because when you get to the end of the season and you’re trying to win things or stay up, pressure can do strange things. It’s never straightforward. We can’t let our heads go down when Gretna win a game and we have to keep applying the pressure. We’ve already had a couple of opportunities to close the gap and it would be the worst feeling in the world at the end of the season if we don’t do all we can to push them right to the end. I expect there to be a few twists and turns left yet and the players have to keep believing, but that will count for nothing if we don’t do our own job. I know we’ve had a lot of big games this season, and we’ve got a Scottish Cup semi-final against Celtic still to come, but for me this is our biggest game of the season. "
As for his own fitness following the plague he said, "On Thursday and Friday I was really bad. I tried to force myself to eat something on Friday and Saturday but it wasn’t really happening. I felt lethargic the whole way through but the manager wanted me to give an hour, and the most important thing was the team got the win. "
The injuries are still a concern with skipper Kevin James all but ruled out. Owen Coyle said, "I’ll be very surprised if Kevin is anywhere near making it. When he came off with 15 minutes to go on Saturday he didn’t realise we had used all three subs. He wanted to go back on and he was supposed to just stay up front, but there were times when I had to tell him to stop running about. I’d rather have that type of player in my squad than the type who get a tweak and then say they’re struggling. As captain, he’s desperate to be out there playing ". The manager's also not letting the shocking away form affect us and went on, "I’m certainly not worried about our performances on the road. It’s about putting the ‘could have wons and should have wons’ to bed. At the stage of the season we’re at it’s all about standing up and being counted and home or away doesn’t really come into it. If we can win this match to close the gap to six points I still think we’ll have every chance. "
11pm - An absolutely shocking performance saw Saints lose 2-0 at Firhill blowing any slim title chances in the process. With indiscipline and poor refereeing we also finished the game with ten men after Steven Anderson was red carded in the second half. Saints were poor all over tonight and if any of these players think they deserve a starting jersey at the semi-final never mind the honour of wearing the blue next season they have a long think coming.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

March 12th - With Scumdee letting down their Tayside neighbours yesterday as they lost to the Village People, focus now is on tomorrow's trip to Partick and the rematch with the Bunnet. And speaking of the Village People, Kevin Cuthbert is in the paper today talking about the prospective battle for the goalkeepers jersey next season against his one-time mentor Alan Main. The Cat told the Courier, "No matter who comes here I have to keep them out of the team. In my opinion, Gretna are losing their best player. Alan has signed this pre-contract and I am still under contract next season so it’s something we will have to look at then. One of us has to play but that is in three to four months’ time. There are still eight games left this season and I want to concentrate on them. phoned me up and wished me all the best which was nice of him; I appreciate that. It will be great to work with him again. He’s a great professional. How many goalkeepers can say they are still playing at the age of 39? He’ll certainly be coming here to push for a place but I’m looking forward to it, competition is good for the team. But I have to concentrate on myself right now. "
And speaking of the game, Owen Coyle said, "I’m not a lover of the pre-contract and never have been. I think it’s a very poor rule but it’s one we have to cope with. It would be naive of me not to deal with it. I wouldn’t be doing my job properly otherwise. I don’t recall Cuthbert having a save in the game, but we scored two very good goals. The important thing was that we got the result. There were players out there who were not 100% fit and we played the last 15 minutes, effectively, with 10 men due to Kevin James' hamstring injury. We were under pressure to close the gap and I’m delighted we did that "
6.30pm - Injury worries aplenty though for tomorrow with Kevin James a major doubt and Peaso joining him on the list. Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "At this stage I have to say I will be very surprised if Kevin makes it tomorrow. As you know he picked up another knock on Saturday and only stayed on the park to give us a presence up front rather than play a man short."
As well as that Andy Jackson and Willie McLaren have picked up a virus believed to be passed on by Derek "Typhoid Mary" McInnes who was suffering from the same bug towards the end of last week. On the plus side though Dick Campbell's Bunnet is believed to have made a full recovery.

Martin Hardie - two goals. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.March 10th - Savo is in the Courier today asking for his old employers to do Saints a favour with Scumdee due to take on the Village People tomorrow. He told the Courier, "We need Gretna to drop points and hopefully Dundee can give us a helping hand. I believe they might just do that because they are a good team, especially at home, and they have plenty of incentive themselves. A win would move them to within eight points of Gretna and they would probably feel that was them back in the hunt. But, first and foremost, after two disappointing results ourselves, we need to start winning games again. And there is no denying that these two matches against Thistle are must-wins. Granted, we get the six points off Partick then I am still optimistic we will catch Gretna because, at worst, we would only be six points behind with a game against them to come. ". As for his own fitness, he said, "As I have not had a bounce game to help my match fitness, I am having to take things slowly, building up the length of substitute appearances I am getting. I wouldn’t expect to start in the short term but after Thistle next midweek hopefully I will be able to work on my fitness. "
6.30pm- Well it was a pish game but Martin Hardie(right) livened things up with both goals in a 2-0 win over Partick that had Partick boss Dick Campbell sent to the stand for Dangerous Use of a Bunnet. Not so good news for Kevin James who played the last five minutes or so with a thigh strain and looks a doubt for the return encounter on Tuesday at Firhill.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

March 9th - Some good news for a change with Kevin Rutkiewicz revealing that he might be available before the end of the season. Out since last September, the defender told the Courier, "I’m back in light jogging, kicking a ball with the physio and doing some squats in the gym It’s progressing well and I’m a wee bit ahead of schedule. But getting back before the end of the season would be a bonus. There’s a lot of incentives for me to do that what with the club chasing a title and a bit of cup glory. But how the team are doing will likely dictate whether I manage a couple of games. Had we been in a luxury position where the league was won with a game or two to spare or someone else had run away with it then I might have got in. But the fact of the matter is it’s probably going to go right to the wire. However, I’d be happy just to be available for selection. It’s a frustrating injury more than anything because sometimes it feels ready to take things a step further and our physio Nick Summersgill has to rein me in. But I always knew the recovery process would be long term. Wear and tear over the years had meant that the only ligaments still intact in my ankle were the lateral ones. So when I tore them that was the final nail in the coffin. They had to rebuild the joint using tendons to replace the ligaments and that’s why the rehab has taken so long. "
One player who will be back this weekend for the visit of Partick as the first part of the double-header against them is Martin Hardie. Paul Sheerin is looking to get back on track after the last couple of weeks with two wins in the Partick double-header. The midfielder told the Official Site, "The last two games have been most disappointing but they are done now and we have to get on with it. All the players firmly believe that we still have an opportunity to win the league and tomorrow’s match gives us the chance to narrow the gap on Gretna before they play Dundee on Sunday. Our poor away form is there for all to see and I don't know what the problem is away from McDiarmid Park. It is maybe becoming a mentality thing but our home record is good and we have a great record down at Firhill and so there is not reason why we cannot come out of the games against Thistle with full points and see where that takes us."

March 8th - First up and there's a planned meeting for any Edinburgh-based Saints fans for Friday 16th at Mathers Bar in Broughtoun St from 6pm onwards with a view to seeing if there's enough interest in putting together bus trips to games and getting a supporters club going.
Back to Saints though and it's more of the same from the club as Owen Coyle tries to get the players to pick themselves up after Tuesday's defeat. The manager told the Official Site, "There is no doubt we have passed up a wonderful opportunity to narrow the gap. We started well at Palmerston and should have been in front and then – and I know I’m saying this for the umpteenth time this season – we lost an awfully soft goal. Goran Stanic was clearly fouled in the build up and then a deflection from the attempted clearance by Andy Lawrie fell nicely for them. We just didn’t get the break. We were all over the place for 10 or 15 minutes after the goal for whatever reason and Queens were always dangerous on the break but we missed some absolute sitters. The one thing we do in every game is create lots of chances but we are not clinical enough and six or seven players have all had chances to do better in front of goal than they have done in the past two games."
And he went on, "Tuesday night was as disappointed as I have been in my career with an individual result but what we have to do is analyse the reasons for the defeat and work on the failings and I firmly believe the disappointment of the last two results will make us more resilient. If we beat Partick Thistle on Saturday then the gap is down to six points ahead of Gretna’s game on Sunday. We have bounced back before and we will do it again."

March 7th - To cheer us up after last nights shambles, the ticket details for the semi-final are out with Saints getting a 4-4500 initial allocation (with another 3500 for later if we sell out the first batch). Prices are from 15-25 quid and detailed on the official site with season ticket holders getting first dibs. Sale starts on Tuesday 27th.

March 6th - Kevin James says he's set to play tonight at Palmerston despite picking up an injury at the weekend. The Saints skipper told the Courier, "I twisted my hip at Dingwall and we’ll have to see how it is. I’ve possibly played too many times with injuries. But that’s part and parcel of the game. There are occasions when you just have to grit the teeth, take a few pain-killers and soldier on. And a big game like this one comes into that category. This next week offers us the chance to apply some real pressure on Gretna. On balance I’d still prefer to be in their position but if we take nine points from the next three matches we’ll have got as close to them as we possibly can. Getting the right result from Dumfries, though, will be no easy task. Queen of the South made a few astute signings in the transfer window and have picked up since. And the fact they’ve just beaten the top team in the league 3-0 away from home is a warning to us. There’s no way we can take them lightly. Their league position is a false one and they’ve as much to play for as we have. "
Owen Coyle has targetted maximum points though to close the gap to 3 points by Saturday night (The Village People don't play Scumdee until Sunday). He said, "It’s a massive week for everybody involved. When we were idle a week past Saturday, Gretna had the opportunity to go 13 points clear. Now, with their not playing until Sunday, we’ve the chance to reduce the gap to three points. Matches don’t come any tougher at this present moment than Queen of the South away. But we won down there earlier in the season and if we play the way we can we are more than capable of doing so again. "
Martin Hardie sits this one out while Simon Mensing is apparently one booking away from another longer ban.
9.45pm - I wasn't at the game but the live radio commentary made it sound like the same old story with Saints missing a ton of chances and losing 1-0 to QoS to leave us 9 points behind the Village People (whose manager has left on a leave of absence) with only one game in hand.

March 5th - The Courier has finally reported today on what was one of the worst kept secrets with the news that former keeper Alan Main is set to leave Gretna in the summer for a return to Saints after signing a pre-contract agreement on a 2-year deal last week. No doubt that will add a bit more spark to the currenl title race with the Gr£tna side now set to replace him for the rest of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Simon Mensing admitted that the players were disappointed after the weekend result. He said, "Unless come the end of the season it turns out to be the point which wins us the league, today’s a case of two points dropped. We could have been two or three goals up by half-time. But in the second half a few of the boys started suffering from tired legs and Ross County capitalised. We aren’t making things easy for ourselves. It seems every time Gretna slip up it’s the same story with us. We need to start winning dirty and see out games.". The Saints midfielder also spoke out about the flashpoint when Derek McInnes was booked for a late tackle saying, "There’s no need for a manager to come on the pitch. The challenge was late but it wasn’t malicious. And for him to come storming on the park claiming it had been two footed, which it wasn’t, and looking for the individual concerned to be sent-off, that’s not what football’s about. If he stays on the sidelines and vents his frustration from there, fair enough. But what he did certainly annoyed a lot of our boys and blew things out of all proportion."

Sheerinho - 75 in a row. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.March 3rd - Paul Sheerin thinks we've got to start closing the gap on Gretna today. Making his 75th consecutive start, the Wizard of the Win told the Courier, "Every game we play from now counts for something. We’ve said it so many times before that we need to go on a run of winning games. But now, more than ever, if we can manage four wins in a row, what an opportunity we’ve got to go on and win the league. We’ve had so many opportunities to close gaps on teams over the last couple of seasons. We couldn’t manage to do it last season when we had the chance to get closer to St Mirren and now it’s massively important that we win tomorrow, win our first game in hand against Queen of the South in midweek and then hopefully take things on from there."
Owen Coyle is expecting nothing less than three points today. He said, "We should have had that game put to bed by half-time. Our first-half performance was as good as we’ve had all season. We know this will be a very difficult game. They’re involved in a dog fight at the bottom of the table and need points just as much as we do. You always get a tough afternoon in Dingwall. Wednesday night is history now. Because of our cup runs we now have a fixture backlog and Gretna have points in the bag. We don’t have a big squad and everybody will need to dig deep. It’s a big ask, but we’ll give it everything we’ve got. "
9pm- It wasn't the prettiest game we'll ever see and the performances overall left a lot to be desired but we managed a 1-1 draw at Dingwall with Peaso giving us an early lead with a cracking finish before Higgins hit back in the second as Saints suffered from some walking wounded - both Kevin James and Simon Mensing picked up hefty knocks which must be a worry going into the Palmerston encounter on Tuesday night. Still on the plus side, the Doonhamers did us a wee favour this afternoon by shafting Gretna 3-0 at Raydale meaning that at least we've managed to narrow the gap to nine points and theoretically it's all in our own hands (assuming we win all our remaining games and bang in a barrowload of goals in the process).

March 2nd - Geoff Brown reckons this season's cup heroics make it our best season ever (although the memories from 1998-9 seem to disagree with this) due to the teams we've beaten on the way. He told the Courier, "For a first division club like St Johnstone to get to two major cup semi-finals by beating clubs above our station twice in each cup—Dundee United and Rangers in the CIS League Cup and Falkirk and Motherwell in the Scottish Cup—is a remarkable achievement. Certainly, in my time as chairman, when we’ve gone on cup runs in the past we have always beaten teams below us. This is the first time in the club’s history, as far as I’m aware, that we have had this sort of cup success. I know that I might be getting carried away a bit but we’re either one or two games away from European football next season. It’s absolutely tremendous. The big difference between this squad and previous ones in recent years is that there are now quite a number of winners in the team. These are guys who hate to get beaten and that has come over loud and clear in our cup runs. It was actually probably best summed up in the only game we lost to SPL opposition, against Hibs, when we bounced back from the loss of an early goal and a bombardment at the start to take the game to extra-time. For last night’s game the pressure was on after doing so well against other SPL teams, but there was no doubt that our players genuinely believed they would win the game despite the fact that Motherwell are a mid-table SPL club in good form "
The main concern now is the league fixture pile up with 5 games in 13 days. Owen Coyle said though, "Before the Motherwell game we were looking at something like six games in 17 days. That’s obviously a lot of football, but we’ll just have to get on with it. I can’t guarantee we’ll win games but I can guarantee the effort and commitment that the players will show when they pull on a St Johnstone jersey. Our last semi-against Hibs was played at Tyne-castle and I’m thrilled for the lads that they will get the chance to play at Hampden in the Scottish Cup semi next month. It really is fully deserved. We don’t want to stop there, though. We want to go further in the competition and I’ve always said that winning the league would be the most important achievement.". Commenting on the semi-final draw against TFOE, the manager went on, "If you are honest the last draw you’d have wanted was the champions and best side in the country. But if you have any designs on winning the cup then you are likely going to have to face them along the way. We were always going to be underdogs whoever we got. The fact it’s Celtic just makes us bigger underdogs. But it’s a tie, facing the best in the tremendous setting that Hampden is, to look forward to and there’s no way we’ll go there just to make up the numbers. "
No word on any injuries from Wednesday night but Martin Hardie returns to the stand although Derek Lilley, Steven Anderson and Derek McInnes are all available for the trip to Dingwall tomorrow.
7pm - It's been confirmed that the semi-final against Celtic will be live on Sky and that means a lunchtime kick-off at 12.30pm on Saturday April 14th.
Meanwhile Owen Coyle admits there will be changes tomorrow. Speaking on the Official Site, he said, "There are a few knocks and three players were unable to train this morning. Given the run of games coming up I am not prepared to take chances with players so we will have a think about things tonight in Inverness and one or two might have to be brought in tomorrow"

Jason - subject to racist chants at Fir Park. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.March 1st - Some controversy from last night's win at Fir Park with the news that a bunch of neanderthals amongst the home support spent a spell at the start of the game making monkey noises towards Jason Scotland(right). The Saints striker scored our second and told the Courier, "I am disappointed because I have carried the name of Scotland on my back and to get abuse here is awful. But it is the first time it has happened like that. I was trying not to think about it and play my normal game, although I did hear it. I did not want to give it any attention and I guess I answered them in the best way by scoring the goal. "
Owen Coyle meanwhile is optimistic ahead of the draw tonight on Reporting Scotland and he told the Scotsman, "Before the CIS Cup semi-final draw, I wanted to avoid Hibs, but we ended up being so close to beating them. We are delighted to be in another semi and I'm sure the other three teams will all be crying out to get us."
7pm - Surprise, surprise the hot and cold balls were separated once more and we've drawn Celtic in the semi-final with Hibs v Pars the other tie, with Saints looking set for the Sunday on Sky.
Finally congratulations to Motherwell who have been quick to issue an official apology to Saints and Jason Scotland(right) for the racial abuse dished out by their fans last night.Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

Top Of News


February 28th - Kevin James believes we can get a result tonight. The Saints skipper told the Courier, "It is a good thing to have faith in yourself and your team-mates. That is not over-confidence, merely self-belief. The thing is, we know that if we play to the level we have done against those other SPL sides that we have a fighting chance of reaching the semi-finals. The statistics show how well we have done in the cups this season and it is nice to have that good record behind us. Even if we did not, we would still be positive and upbeat about this match. That is not cockiness and we are certainly not shouting about doing this or that. Our lads aren’t like that. I read in the paper about Gretna players saying five or six more wins and they would be winning the league but doing things like that sets you up for a fall. We will respect Motherwell because they are from a league above us but we won’t be shaking in our boots because we know we can compete. "
Owen Coyle knows what it expected though and he said, "We will need self-belief and we do have it in the squad. We know that when we play to our maximum then we are a half-decent side. It will be important to play our own game and not be dictated to by the opposition. That has worked well for us in the past. As manager I am well aware that I have been asking the same group to reach a high standard often this season. Even those who have not been 100% fit have been prepared to work for the club and I think that sums up the team spirit we have here. Now we have a chance to progress to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup which, for me, is such an exciting competition, with the final being the showpiece occasion at the end of the season."
Latest injury news is that Allan McManus managed to train yesterday and is likely to play while either the manager or semi-fit Steven Milne will be on the bench as the squad is down to it's bare bones. No word on any pitch inspection but according to Motherwell fans the rain yesterday means there might be some doubt over the surface although with TV money at stake, it's likely everything will be done to ensure the match goes ahead.
Finally Saints have failed to move the QoS game from next Tuesday to March 21st - league rules stating the game should be played at the first opportunity despite both clubs in agreement.
11.30pm - Goals from Peaso and Jason Scotland only demonstrated part of the utter domination of our play tonight as we ran out 2-1 winners at Fir Park and sealed a spot in the Scottish Cup semi-finals next month with a wee trip to Hampden. Saints were simply immense tonight and we thoroughly deserved the win. After the game, the gaffer told the BBC, "Obviously we're very pleased. We had a scary five minutes at 2-1, but we always looked a threat going forward. We're not saying we are the 'bee's knees', but we have great camaraderie and we've got two or three players who can play a bit. We're in the last four on merit and we'll give it everything we've got."

February 27th - Allan McManus reckons he's still in with a chance tomorrow but won't take the risk. He told the Courier, "I worked hard all last week, really pushed myself over the weekend and the boots were on today,” he said yesterday. So, it has been positive so far and I have my fingers crossed that there will be no after-effects. I feel I have given myself a great chance to be fit and I don’t want to miss this game—who would? But if I do not feel right then there will be no chances taken. That wouldn’t be fair on the manager or my team-mates. There is so much at stake against Motherwell and I wouldn’t want to let them down. I want to play but I will be sensible about it. "
Meanwhile Kevin Cuthbert is keen to put the CIS semi memories behind him. "The squad put that Hibs defeat behind us and I think I have tried to put my error behind me as well. That game was over and done with some time ago and in the Scottish Cup match straight after at Falkirk we won 3-0 with a great performance. Yes, we could have reached a major cup final but it didn’t happen and now my focus is on Wednesday night and Motherwell "
Owen Coyle merely said that we were up for the tie. He told the paper, "We won’t be sitting in and playing it cagey. Anyone who has seen St Johnstone in recent years will know that we play to win, be it home or away. We will be attack-minded again, although obviously Motherwell will have a say in how the game develops. What I don’t want is for anybody to come off the pitch thinking about what might have been. This is a big game on live TV so it is an opportunity to show the nation that we have a good team here in Perth. We are big underdogs and Motherwell have great players who work very hard and within that unit are some very good individuals. They will be dangerous opponents but we feel that we have players at this club capable of causing most teams problems "

February 26th - After another football free weekend, the latest ahead of Wednesday night's game is that Allan McManus managed some training this morning so a decision on his fitness will be left to tomorrow.
Meanwhile, unfortunately I'm going to have to remove all details of Saints fixtures for this and future seasons (at least until they are played) - scores and reports will still appear on this page. This is due to an e-mail received today, from the "Football Data Co Limited" who obviously see the Temple as being a major threat to the future existence of the SFL.
We write on behalf of the Football Data Co Limited which is the appointed licensee of the FA Premier League, the Football League, the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League ("the Leagues") in respect of the licensing of certain intellectual property rights of the Leagues, including those in the fixture lists for this season August 2006 - May 2007 ("the Fixture Lists"), for use by third parties.
We have noticed that your website is displaying Football Fixtures. In order to display the Fixture Lists you must either obtain the necessary license from Football DataCo (dfolker@football-dataco.com) or be an officially nominated fanzine for your chosen club. If you are not nominated as the official club fanzine and you do not wish to purchase a fixture license you can post a link to your clubs official site. Without nominated fanzine status or a license there is no provision for any fixture to appear in advance of the match being played.
However, if there is an editorial preview of the next upcoming match in which the fixture is mentioned then this is unlikely to be objected to provided this is done in a clearly editorial form. Mentioning more than one fixture would not be accepted. We thank you for your cooperation
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Having checked with other websites and being the total skinflint I am and too lazy to sort out a licence, I've decided to no longer display future fixtures - no doubt you can get all the details by using up the bandwidth of the Official Saints Site

February 22nd - Owen Coyle has set a deadline of Monday for Allan McManus to resume training after his groin strain, otherwise he won't take part in next Wednesday's Scottish Cup Quarter-Final. The maanger told the Courier, "Allan will have to be back training by Monday because there’s no way you can go into a Scottish Cup quarter-final if you’ve not trained for 10 days. If he can’t make it for the start of the week then I’ll just have to change things around. Both Andy Lawrie and Simon Mensing are capable of slotting into the middle of the defence, albeit moving either of them in there would take away from other areas of the team. "
Martin Hardie will definitely play in one of the few forthcoming games he's not suspended from.

February 21st - A young Saints side (with a few exceptions) beat Brechin last night at McD to qualify for the Forfarshire Cup final. Goals came from Owen Coyle, Steven Anderson and a freekick from Filipe Morais.

February 20th - Allan McManus has been confirmed as suffering from a groin strain when he limped off on Saturday and is already a worry for the cup game at Motherwell next Wednesday. Steven Anderson is already suspended leaving us short of central defenders and Owen Coyle said, "Allan came off after less than 10 minutes on Saturday with a groin injury. With Steven suspended, it obviously would be far from ideal, but we’ll just have to see what happens and whether we have to look at playing somebody else. "
Saints play Brechin in the Forfarshire cup tonight at McD so it's a chance for some of the fringe players to get a run out although it's too soon for Savo.

February 19th - A nice debate this morning between whether Filipe Morais or Simon Mensing scored the better goal on Saturday. Simon Mensing is in the Courier and he said of his teammates chip for the fourth, "It was a great finish. Mine was more about aggression and anger. To be honest, I’d been caught out by their equaliser. They’d taken a quick corner and I’d switched off and it was my man who scored, so I was angry with myself and just lashed at the ball. I let myself and the team down for the equaliser so it was good to get that one. I owed it to the boys. I enjoyed my goal against Morton in the cup with my left foot earlier in the season from a fair distance out, but I’d have to say that one was probably the best I’ve ever scored. Although it was good to get on the scoresheet, it was more pleasing to get the three points. The be all and end all was to get the result. The fact that we scored four goals, including a couple of decent ones, was good and some of our play was good as well at times. "
Filipe is still waiting for his first start though and Simon went on, "We know what Fil’s got and he’s champing at the bit to get a start,” he said. You can see he’s electric and he’s got loads of skill to go with that. He’s certainly a good player to come off the bench and add a bit of life and energy into the side but in saying that, he’s more than capable of starting a game so he’s definitely one to watch out for. "

February 18th - Filipe Morais dedicated his goal to his girlfriend yesterday. He's quoted in the Sunday Mail saying, "I would like to dedicate my goal to Lisa. She has ben ill lately and I was not at training on Friday as the manager gave me the time off to be with here. She has had a hard time since giving birth to our baby son Tiago seven months ago and has been in a lot of pain. I have been really worried for her but the manager just told me to take whatever time I need off. He and the club have been very understanding and they are helping us get through this. I just hope she gets better soon. I can forget about my problems off the pitch when I'm playing. I'm able to block them out, to escape from it. "
As for the classiness of the win, Owen Coyle seemed happy enough. "We always want to win but we have an obligation to entertain and I felt we did that as we played some fantastic football. Any neutrals would have enjoyed it. Simon's goal was all about power and Filipe's chip was terrific but had it not gone in I'd have given him a bollocking. "
Meanwhile it seems that forgotten man Neil Janczyk has signed for Stranraer on an initial month's loan - he lined up in their 2-0 win at Stirling yesterday.

Filipe - wants to start. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.February 17th - Filipe Morais(right) is the pre-match interview in the Courier today and the on-loan winger reckons we're better then Gr£tna. He said, "Since I arrived at this club I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the set-up. I just think we have a much bigger squad, a stronger foundation and better players than Gretna. When we played them here a few weeks back and won 2-1 I was surprised that they were top of the league. You would have thought we were the leaders and not them. Maybe they just had a really bad game against us and, I’ll admit, I haven’t seen them a lot this season. There is no doubt in my mind, though, that this club has the potential to play in the SPL and there is still a feeling we can get there. We are adopting the old one-game-at-a-time approach. I feel the pressure is all on Gretna because people have been ruling us out, certainly since I arrived. But we have already shown, by knocking Premierleague sides out of the cups, that we can beat the odds. We certainly intend to push them all the way until the end of the season. We could still surprise a few people. "
He's hoping to start today after sitting on the bench in the last few weeks and went on, "I have had to be patient but I knew I was arriving at a big time for the club, with us involved in the cups and trying to catch Gretna in the league. I do think I have been decent when I have come on and have managed to create things and make a contribution. That’s all I can do and hope the manager gives me an opportunity. I was standing on the sidelines aching to get on against Hibs in the CIS Cup semi-final and when I did I put over the cross for the goal. “That night was a massive experience for me even though we ended up losing in extra-time. "
Whether he starts is up to the manager and Owen Coyle said, "Hamilton are a decent side but if we play to our strengths then I’m sure we can get back to the standards we’ve set for ourselves"
6.30pm - Filipe Morais(right) didn't start but he got the fourth with a cheeky chip as Saints beat Accies 4-2 with the other goals coming courtesy of a brace from Jason Scotland and a cracking 30-yard volley from all people Simon Mensing. Elsewhere it wasn't too good with Gretna also banging in four against Ross County to maintain their ten-point gap.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

February 16th - After giving the players a bollocking at Dens last weekend, Owen Coyle is hoping it serves as a boost tomorrow for the visit of Hamilton. The Saints manager told the Courier, "The players would be the first to acknowledge that they let themselves down at Dundee and it has sunk in. We had that match won then went on to lose it and we did not play the kind of football we had been playing in previous matches. What is great about the game is that there is always another opportunity around the corner and we have a great chance to get back on track against Hamilton. "
With Martin Hardie suspended for the next three league games after being an arse last weekend, both Willie McLaren and Filipe Morais come into contention for the vacant midfield slot. The gaffer went on, "Filipe has been terrific in training and has had an impact on the games he has been involved in, while Willie was doing really well until he missed the Hibs game because he was cup-tied"

February 14th - Surprise, surprise after all the PR work of the last couple of weeks there's been narely a peep from the ramparts of Fortress McDiarmid since the shambles at Dens. It has been confirmed that Martin Hardie is suspended for the weekend hosting of Accies but Owen Coyle merely talked about how much of a blow it was saying how the midfielder has been, "playing out of his skin" with nothing about how the damage he does to his opponent's skin is the reason behind the suspension.
Elsewhere and the Retard reports that Forfar want Andy Jackson on loan until the end of the season but any decision on this will have to wait until our cup run ends.

February 11th - Owen Coyle apparently gave his players a deserved bollocking after yesterday's defeat but was a bit more defensive in the Sunday Mail saying, "It was a disappointing result but we offered enough to take something from the game. It was a terrific goal to win it from their point of view but I felt it was a cheap one to lose. I wasn't sure about their first goal either and felt the boy just tripped over Lawrie's studs."

February 10th - So much for the strongest Saints side as a lacklustre performance in shite conditions saw us go down 2-1 at Dens despite taking the lead after Jason Scotland scored (following a penalty miss by Paul Sheerin). Poor defending saw the Scum come back and win thanks to a penalty and a Swankie chip while the afternoon was rounded off with Martin Hardie sent off at the end for a second bookable offence. If there was a bit of light in the dismal afternoon it was the news that Gretna had only managed to increase their lead by a point to 10.

February 9th - It was finally confirmed last night that Jim Weir had ended his 12 year links with Saints to step up for the manager's job at Montrose. He said on the Official Site, "It is a very emotional day for me. It is tough to leave but I am delighted to be joining Montrose. They have very ambitious people at the helm and I am looking forward to working with them, the players and the backroom staff. I would like to sincerely thank the Saints supporters who have been terrific to me throughout my twelve and a half years with the club. From a personal point of view my Testimonial Year was an obvious highlight but I have many, many fond memories of my time with the club – winning the league and getting into Europe being just a couple of them. Going on the team bus on the way to the stadium in Monaco and seeing the public square packed with Saints fans is an image that will live with me forever!". There was also praise from Owen Coyle who said in the Courier, "Jim was a terrific assistant and I wish him nothing but success"
The former skipper racked up 230 appearances for Saints and has arguably been one of the most loyal and passionate players to have worn the Sacred Blue. From a personal point of view it's sad to see him leave since the last links with the European squad of 1999 have now left the coaching and playing staff. But at the same time he leaves with everyone's best wishes for the future and hopefully a successful move into management.
That of course leaves a vacancy at Saints and Owen Coyle looks set to link up with his former manager at Airdrie Sandy Stewart, of whom the Saints manager said, "Sandy has a tremendous work ethic and is highly regarded within the game". There's also the small matter of a weekend derby to consider and nobody is expecting an easy game. The gaffer told the Courier, "Dundee have come on in leaps and bounds and are playing out of their skins at the moment. It should be a cracking game."
Saints have also announced the rearranged dates for the league games - we now head to QoS on March 6th and Partick on March 13th.
3pm - Confirmation that Sandy Stewart has undergone the post-Airdrie quarantine and debriefing in order to elevate himself up to the no2 position at Saints. Speaking of the move, Owen Coyle said on the Official Site, "For the sake of continuity it was important that I moved quickly to replace Jim and in Sandy I have recruited someone who I know inside out and who will be a tremendous addition to our set-up".
Bryn Halliwell is a doubt tomorrow after getting stitches in an elbow injury but Gordon O'Brien is on standby. Allan McManus and Derek Lilley are available after missing out last week and it looks like Goran Stanic has recovered from his knock.

Jim Weir - set for Montrose job. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.February 8th - Jim Weir(right) seems set to leave McDiarmid after 12 years service as player and coach today to take over the reins at Montrose. The Saints no2 has emerged as the front-runner for the vacant manager's position after a series of boardroom changes at Montrose saw a new chairman installed. Despite signing an extension to his deal last season, it looks likely he'll leave with Saints unwilling to stand in his way of his managerial ambitions. Expect some sort of announcement today.
Some good news on the injury side of things though with Steven Milne set to start jogging again this week with a possible return to playing in about three weeks.

February 6th - Owen Coyle looks like having the nice problem of too many players to pick from for Saturday's trip to take on the Scum with Allan McManus and Derek Lilley available again. The manager told the Courier, "I have to say that I thought about freshening things up on Saturday after the players’ efforts over 120 minutes against Hibs. But the other school of thought was that I had to show loyalty to the guys who had done so well and it would have been a kick in the teeth to leave some of them out. Allan McManus had played really well in the semi but he was suspended for the Falkirk match on Saturday and Steven Anderson replaced him and did brilliantly. Also, Willie McLaren has been playing really well recently but had to miss out against Hibs because he was cup-tied and he could feel aggrieved that he didn’t start at Falkirk. Leaving people out of the team is one of the hardest parts of football but it’s a good problem to have for a manager. I’ll keep judging it game by game. "
Goran Stanic missed training yesterday after limping off at Falkirk but Saints are hopeful he'll be ok by the end of the week
4.15pm - TV strikes again and it's time for another fixture merry-go-round. The BBC in their infinite wisdom have picked the Motherwell v Saints tie for live coverage - so that's now moved to Wednesday February 28th with a 8.05pm kick-off. That in turn means the Partick game which had already been rescheduled for the 27th will have to be moved again, while the QoS game for the 24th is also awaiting rearrangement cos they're still in the cup and will play on the 24th. Fun isn't it?

February 5th - Andy Lawrie joined in the praise for Kevin James in today's Courier. The Saints right-back said, "It’s been a great few days for us. We started out with a win or bust game against Gretna and came away with a victory. Then, disappointing though the result against Hibs was, the performance we gave was pretty good. Now this caps things off. We came here fancying our chances after the League Cup run we had. And we’ve come up with a great result, one that should fill us with confidence for the rest of the league campaign. Everybody was disappointed to lose in midweek but we’ve bounced back with a great team performance. No-one was below par for us but I thought Steven Anderson did particularly well. He’s been out for the last couple of weeks after big Kevin came back but with Chalky (Allan McManus) suspended he’s come in alongside Kev and was brilliant. The lad is only 20 and what a prospect he is "
And with the quarter-final set for the weekend of Feb 24th, expect the second trip to Palmerston to be postponed with both sides involved in the cup

February 4th - It's another happy camp at McDiarmid today after the cup win yesterday. Kevin James was especially happy to stick one over on his old club and dedicated his goal to his eldest. He told the Sunday Mail, "My goal is for my eldest daughter. When I left Falkirk she was only nine and didn't really understand. She didn't realise in football that's the way it is - you move from one club to another. It's also ironic I scored it 10 years on from playing in the Scottish Cup Final for Falkirk. I KNEW I'd do it. I never scored at this ground as a player for the club but for some reason every time I come back I score against them. I did it while on loan to Morton from Hearts and did it again here. I was surprised I managed to get so much space at corners. Normally there are two men on me at all times because I stand out like a big drip but I managed to shrug off the challengers. It was a great afternoon and one we'll remember for a long time. This win means a lot to us but the league means so much more. I would swap everything we've done in the cups this season for wins in the league because in the long term we want to be back in the SPL. We're behind Gretna and need to start showing this sort of form to catch them. But it is still nice to be in the cup. There's a chance to do something - if the draw is kind with a home tie. Maybe now we'll become one of the teams to be shot at just because of who we have beaten."
Owen Coyle was also a chuffed manager saying, "It's a great result because I rate Falkirk highly, especially given the week we've had. We had a game against Gretna, extra-time with Hibs and a kick in the teeth from that defeat. All of that makes this one special "
3pm - Well the cup draw wasn't too bad for us although it's another difficult away trip with Saints heading to Motherwell on Saturday Feb 24th in the quarter-finals. Other ties see ICT v Celtis, QoS v Hibs and the Pars at home to Partick.

Kevin James - once more into the breach. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.February 3rd - Skipper Kevin James(right) reckons there's enough energy left for the trip to Falkirk despite the tired legs after the midweek cup heroics. He told the Courier, "The only thing we can do is take positives out of Wednesday’s match because they definitely outweigh the negatives big time. We took Hibs to a draw over 90 minutes and we’ve beaten Gretna, so our form is good. We’ve put in a lot of effort in our last two games and the boys are tired just now, but we’ll be looking forward to getting going again and we’ll be raring to go come kick-off. We spoke in the dressing room after the game that we now have to go on and win the first division, but we’ve got a Scottish Cup game to win first. We’re all desperate to go on another cup run and a win would help pick us up after being distraught the other night. I would say that we’ve played like that for five games—the last two, as well as against Rangers, Dundee United and Ross County away. The question has to be—where has it been for the rest of the games? We have to maintain those standards now and the gaffer will make sure of that "
Of course he's returning to the club where he made his name (along with half the squad) but said, "I’ll just be concentrating on my own job. I really don’t know what the reaction to me will be because football is a fickle game. I got them money when they sold me to Hearts and then I helped them to two league titles in my second spell—but I could still get booed. Whatever happens, it will be water off a duck’s back. I was getting stick from the Hibs fans the other night every time I went near the touchline, but when you’re six foot seven and thin as a rake you get used to taking abuse! When I left Falkirk I wasn’t happy at my work, but I will always keep the reasons for that to myself. Once I’d spoken to Owen I had a feeling that it was time for a change. I’ve never regretted the decision, even though Falkirk are playing in the SPL. I’m really enjoying being at St Johnstone. It’s not about going back with grudges, I’m going back to help St Johnstone win a game "
Expect Steven Anderson to start instead of the suspended Allan McManus and Owen Coyle says he's going to freshen things up. "This is the third time in a week we’ve been cast as underdogs, but it doesn’t faze us. We’ll give this game everything, as we have our last two. The most pleasing aspect of Wednesday night was that we outplayed Hibs for long spells. The bottom line is we didn’t win, but I was thrilled with the display and the beauty of football is we have a chance tomorrow to go on another cup run. Falkirk are another quality passing side. Obviously, I know the club well from my time there and they’ve got players like Russell Latapy and Alan Gow who are capable of winning matches against any opposition. But I’m sure they’ll have seen we can play and will treat us with respect. "
6.45pm - It just gets better as an inspired Saints side slaughtered Falkirk 3-0 at Westfield with Martin Hardie, an inspirational MoM Kevin James(right) and Peaso all scored to put us into the quarter-finals. Still at least we get a week off now.....

February 2nd - Not much to report this morning with the players getting the day off yesterday. One interesting rumour in the Courier though has no2 Jim Weir linked with the vacant Montrose job. Although he's not been interviewed for the post the Dundee journos seem to think he is a contender (cue Marlon Brando impressions)
9pm - Expect the changes tomorrow with the news that Allan McManus is suspended and Derek Lilley cup-tied for the trip to Falkirk. At least Willie McLaren is available.

February 1st - In the end it was the bravest of brave performances as TV-land and a packed Tynecastle saw Saints come from behind to take the semi-final to extra-time before losing 3-1 in the end to Hibs and leaving the tournament. Jason Scotland was the man to get our goal but the entire team were simply magnificent on the night.
Owen Coyle was a proud man after the game and told the BBC site, "We're not looking for sympathy. I asked for them to believe in themselves and they did that. I'm proud of them, but the bottom line is we're out of the final when we had a chance. But we have another cup game on Saturday and we just have to pick ourselves up and beat Falkirk "
There was token consolation for skipper Kevin James who was named man of the match and he said, "We did the club proud, but ultimately we're out and it's going to be a hard on to take. When you are First Division club and beat Dundee United and Rangers, to come so close is devastating."
6.15pm- Despite the plaudits being spouted by the fifth columnists in the Scottish media today it's back to reality for Saints. One fixture change has been announced with the midweek visit of Scumdee originally scheduled for Tues April 3rd, now being brought forward to Sunday March 25th (that's the international weekend) with a 3pm kick-off.

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Owen - self-belief is the key. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.January 31st - Today arguably sees Saints preparing for their biggest game of the season with a place at Hampden against Killie up for grabs. Owen Coyle(right) is looking for the players to show the sort of self-belief they'll need in front of a big crowd at Tynie tonight. He told the Courier, "I’ve watched Hibs four times over the last month and on a couple of occasions I wished I hadn’t because they were that good. Personally, I think that in full flight Hibs are the most entertaining team in the country. They pass and move the ball with pace and power and have some fantastic young players. But I’ve told the lads to give it their best shot and make sure they play to their maximum. If that doesn’t prove to be good enough, then we can accept that. What would be galling would be if we don’t do ourselves justice. That would haunt the players. If we lose to a better team that will be acceptable—but I don’t want there to be any regrets, particularly in a semi-final."
He went on, "We won’t be standing back and admiring Hibs. We’ll be trying to make a real cup tie of it. We’ve shown against Rangers and Dundee United that we have good players in abundance and that they are capable of winning big games. I thought we got very little credit for those two wins because when a small club beats a big club the focus is always on the loser. I want my players to show everybody watching on television how good they are. We know Hibs have some fantastic young players but I want mine to go out there with the intention of showing they can match up against the individual they’re against. We know we’re massive underdogs for a number of reasons and nobody outside of Perth will give us a chance. I think that’s a scenario which suits my team. We weren’t expected to beat United and we certainly weren’t given a chance against Rangers. The pressure is on Hibs in that they’re favourites to not only win the semi, but to win the final as well, and they know that if they don’t it will be called a disaster. But I genuinely feel we have the players who can hurt the opposition and we have a real chance of getting to the cup final. "
With Willie McLaren and Derek Lilley cup-tied, the Saints squad will see some younger players get their chance. The manager said, "Andy Jackson, Stephen Doris and Willie Dyer are all under 19 and certainly two of them will be involved in a semi-final, which will be a tremendous experience for them."
One player who will miss out for Hibs is Kevin Thomson who turned flight and headed to the Death Star in a £2m deal last night.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

Jason - out to repeat cup feat over Hibs. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.January 30th - The cup hype has begun and Jason Scotland(right) is out to repeat the cup heroics of a couple of years ago when he knocked Hibs out of the semi-final of the Scottish Cup. He told the Courier, "I was a bit of a super sub for United at the time. When I went on to the pitch, Hibs were a goal ahead but somehow I helped to totally change the game. Jim McIntyre got us level, then I scored my goal and we went on to win. I have really good memories of that day, playing at Hampden in such a big match. Not only did we get into the cup final but we also qualified for the UEFA Cup. I think about those times a lot and it was a shame that I didn’t get to play in Europe after scoring the goal that got United there. Now I have the chance to get back to Hampden if we win on Wednesday. However, we can’t really afford to look past the Hibs game as they are a dangerous team. Any side in the SPL will tell you that. We have had difficult draws but we have played well and deserved to win both those previous games. That was because we performed to such a high standard and we hope to do so again against Hibs. We know we have players capable of winning the tie but it depends on what happens on the night. At Ibrox we started off brightly and took it from there. I firmly believe we can do well again in what is such a big game. I am certainly looking forward to it and it should be a great occasion for the fans. "
There is a good mood in the Saints camp as well after the Gubbing of Gretna and he went on, "As the gaffer said, everybody gave their all on Saturday and if that happens on a more consistent basis then we can have a good finish to the season. We dominated for long periods against Gretna and should have been two or three goals up before they scored. The heads maybe went down at that stage but we showed character to come back and win the game. The guys were all buzzing afterwards and if we can carry on playing our football to that standard I am sure we can do something on Wednesday "
Willie McLaren and Derek Lilley are both cup-tie, but Derek McInnes and Filipe Morais can both play with the former telling the paper, "Hibs are favourites and rightly so because on any given day they can be one of best sides in the country. The game is also being staged in Edinburgh and I am sure they will have a big support behind them. I remember playing for Dundee United against Hibs in the Scottish Cup semi at Hampden a couple of years ago and the backing they had was unbelievable. Still, we beat them that day. We will give them respect but if we give it our best shot then they will have to play very well to beat us. The expectation is all on Hibs but I think a big thing in our favour is that we have a lot of character in our dressing room. I don’t think nerves will come into it for us and we have plenty of players who know what it takes to win games like this one. Before I came here, the boys showed they can do it by beating both Rangers and United in earlier rounds. Now we have the chance to get to a final and could be only two wins away from lifting a trophy. It is all about making the most of this opportunity and playing well on the night. Games like these don’t come round too often in any player’s career—no matter how old you are—so you have to make the most of them. I’m sure our lads will do just that."
Latest injury news is that Peaso bruised his knee on Saturday but should play. Owen Coyle is still looking for new faces to bring in ahead of midnight tomorrow but said, "Getting to a semi-final is an achievement in itself for a club like St Johnstone but by that I don’t mean we are satisfied with just getting there. On the contrary, we are determined to do all we can to win "
7pm - With no new faces likely before the window closes, the world is concentrating on the players thoughts ahead of a certain wee game tomorrow night in Edinburgh. Simon Mensing has been spouting forth on the Official Site and said, "It is going to be a good occasion and it is great for the Club to have reached this stage of the competition. However, we are not going down there with an underdog mentality. We are quietly confident that we can cause an upset and I think our record in this competition already this season shows that we need have nothing to fear. I know that the manager has watched Hibs a few times and the scouts have watched them in other matches so we know their strengths and what they are capable of but to be honest we are focusing on our capabilities and what we can do to them. It is my first semi-final and also the first time I have played at Tynecastle so I am very much looking forward to it. The wins over Dundee United and particularly Rangers have been the highlights of my career so far so tomorrow night will be very special for me. I’ve got quite a few family members coming along to the game and I know that a few others who cannot make it will be watching it on television." It looks like around 3300 Saintees will make the trip and Simon continued, "The backing we got from the support against Dundee United and especially the 1,000 that went down to Ibrox was tremendous and we are looking forward to playing in front of a Saints support that will be bigger in number than most of us have experienced before. We need them to make themselves heard and get behind us throughout the game and we will do what we can to make it a night to remember."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

January 29th - The Alan Main rumour won't go away and Kevin Cuthbert has spoken to the Courier after the weekend victory. He said "Alan schooled me when I was a YTS signing. A lot of my progress is down to him. He passed on a lot of his wisdom and I’m grateful for that. I’ve kept in contact with him and he’s given me a lot of advice in tough times. I have to admit I’ve had a lot of tough times in my career, sitting on the bench watching game after game, getting dropped and feeling downhearted about it, and he’s kept me going. I keep in contact with Alan a lot, but we’ve not really spoken about it this week. It’s not really something I need to concern myself with because what happens happens. I played in all the pre-season games but then Bryn came in and did well. I then got injured and had to get myself fit and fight for my place in the team just like anyone else."
As for the weekend win, he went on, "It was a game we had to win really. We’ve dug in a lot this season and won games we haven’t looked like winning. I think Gretna would have been delighted with 1-1, but I think we deserved to win "

January 28th - More news on the Battle of the Dugouts yesterday. Apparently the Gretna management OTT celebrations at their equaliser spurred Saints on according to Martin Hardie who told the Sunday Mail, "The way they celebrated after they scored was as if they had won. It made us dig in that wee bit deeper. As for my goal, I took a fresh air swipe at it and luckily it went in! Three points get us back into the title race with the game in hand over Partick Thistle. If we had lost today it would have been all over ". Nobody is sure what the real story but reports have it that the Gretna management went a wee bit OTT celebrating in front of the Saints dugout and when our winner went in Jim Weir and Willie McLaren reciprocated although in their exuberance Willie is alleged to have pushed Davie "Voodoo" Irons to the ground although the Gretna assistant says he just "tripped over his bootlace".
Owen Coyle was just as full of praise and told Scotland on Sunday, "From the outset I have said we could challenge for the title, and although I would love to be in Gretna's position, it's game on. The team's spirit drove us on when the match went 1-1 and although the players could have been thinking about the big cup game coming up, they still went looking for the winner."
With just 3 days of the transfer window to go and Saints having wee cup semi to worry about the transfer rumours continue. After apparently ruining his relationship with the Gretna fans by daring to waive to us yesterday Alan Main is being strongly linked with a return to Perth tomorrow. Another ex-Gretna and Saints player rumoured for a return to the Sacred Turf is 33-yr old Steven Tosh with the midfielder still negotiating his departure money from Raydale. And finally, and for a change, we've got an U-30 player linked with a move with Airdrie (surprise,surprise) midfielder Graeme Holmes said to be lined up on a pre-contract move.
Looking ahead to Wednesday and Paul Sheerin reckons we've not got a better chance for a trophy. He told the Sunday Mail, "When you look at the teams left, you have to say it's a great chance for us to get our hands on a trophy. Hopefully Wednesday will be a good night for our fans.".
Elsewhere and Kevin James knows we'll be in for a tough game. "We were underdogs against Rangers but then it's maybe not of the same magnitude with Hibs. We're looking to frustrate them, to show the same application and decision-making as we did at Ibrox. Usually, there is an element of luck involved, but that was not the case against Rangers. We deserved our win. And we beat Dundee United convincingly too. Hibs have their weaknesses and it's up to us to pick up on them. On song, they're a very good team. John Collins has got them performing in the right manner to entice the crowds to Easter Road. They have a lot of quality players - and I suppose the main danger is their starting XI! It's a great achievement for the manager to get us to where we are now. It shows how far we have come under the gaffer. But he'll probably argue it's not enough."

January 27thKevin James - motivating the lads. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission. - Today arguably sees the start of the biggest week for Saints in years, certainly of this season with a good chance the campaigns will be over in all three tournaments by next Sunday. Skipper Kevin James(right) agrees and told the Courier, "This is a massive week for the club. It’s the most important week we’ve had and will probably shape our season. “The lads have done tremendously well to set up Wednesday’s night’s cup semi-final against Hibs and another big Scottish Cup match against Falkirk straight after it. But there’s no doubt in my mind that tomorrow’s game is the most important of the three. Other people might think that a cup semi-final is bigger—but that’s not the case as far as I’m concerned. To beat Hibs and Falkirk but lose to Gretna would make it a bad week. Our main goal at the start of the season was to win the league and it’s still our main goal now. Cup competitions are great to be involved in for players and fans, and some might say that getting to a national cup final would be a bigger achievement, but our season will ultimately be judged on whether or not we get promotion. "
He's been doing the Mr Motivator bit as well and went on, "Over the last few weeks the players have spoken about how we’re still in with a chance and how we need to cut the deficit. Now we need to start doing it. I’ve chatted with the lads this week about how we need to go out there and do something about it because it all comes back to the old phrase, ‘actions speak louder than words.’ Now we’ll see if we can do it. The lads know how important this match is and it’s the one we’ve been waiting for. We’re all disappointed we’re not at the top of the league just now, but we’ve got the chance to start to rectify that. This is a massive game and we need the fans behind us. We’re all in this together. In our last game against Airdrie we weren’t good in the second half but we got the win. We had the fans cheering us one minute and then booing us the next. Hopefully, it will be all cheers tomorrow. It would be a huge boost to get to within nine points of Gretna, with the incentive of winning our game in hand to make it six. It would also be a big boost to know we’ve beaten them for the first time, with another game against them still to come."
It looks like all the injury worries have cleared and the skipper, along with Allan McManus, Martin Hardie and Peaso are all set to play.
6.45pm - There were the usual nervy moments but a much more confident performance saw Saints run out deserved2-1 winners over Gretna with the goals coming from shots from Kevin James(right) and a late winner from Martin Hardie in an afternoon which saw us narrow the gap to 9 points.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

January 26th - Savo's set to miss out on the big games next week but is targeting the cup final for a comeback. Ever-optimistic, the Saints striker told the Courier, "It’s really disappointing to miss out on these big games. It’s a massive week for the club. But I’m ahead of schedule after surgery and it would be great to have a CIS Cup final to come back to. The win over Rangers was memorable for the club and it’s the only time I’ve scored with an overhead kick in first-team football. But that’s in the past now and the lads have some big games coming up. We need a win against Gretna to peg them back in the league. We have three important games in seven days and the lads will be going all out to win them all. Hibs are a fine team with plenty of enthusiasm and pace. But we won’t be going to the semi-final to make up the numbers next week." . Saints have sold almost 3000 tickets for the semi-final.
Derek Lilley - signed to the end of the season. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.For the weekend, it seems that Peaso has joined the injury list but he has managed some light training and Owen Coyle said, "This is a top-of-the-table meeting and is a big, big game for us. We do have some players with knocks. Peter MacDonald did some light training today but we will have to assess him tomorrow in full flight. If we win this game we will be nine points behind and we have a game in hand to bring us right back in there. "
Finally Simon Mensing has been reported as being a target for Accies, but Owen Coyle has opened talks with him about a new contract.
6.30pmWell we asked for it and today Owen came up with the sort of inspirational signing that brings to mind the likes of Rudi Vata and Wullie Falconer. In has come striker Derek Lilley(right) until the summer, freed by Morton and at the age of 32 a relative youngster compared to some in the squad. Owen said of his man (who he knew from his time at Dundee United), "I was after Derek when I first joined Saints but he opted to go back to Morton from Livingston. However I’m delighted to have him here now at an important time for us and he is in the squad for tomorrow. I think he is a different type of striker from what we have at the moment, more physical and robust and he will give us a different dimension.". The new boy goes straight into the squad for the Gretna game tomorrow after training with the boys this morning.
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

January 24th - Despite all the denials coming out of McDiarmid yesterday, it seems that the Alan Main rumour just isn't going to go away with the "no smoke without fire" brigade getting plenty of ammo. The Courier re-iterates the managers statement that "Alan Main is a very good goalkeeper but, categorically, he has not signed a pre-contract agreement with us nor has he been offered a pre-contract by us. Normally I would be loathe to comment, but we play Gretna on Saturday and I want to put this to bed now."

January 23rd - There are a few knocks following the win over Airdrie with Allan McManus, Kevin James and Martin Hardie all picking up injuries, although none are expected to be serious. Meanwhile Bryn Halliwell's bit at the weekend about wanting a move and having loads of clubs interested has been commented on by the gaffer. Owen Coyle said he wouldn't keep him in the dark about any offers and went on, "Bryn and I had a chat last week and I said to him that I want him here fighting for his place. As a player you always want to be playing and I told him that if anybody makes an offer I will make him aware of it. "
7.30pm- Some strange rumours surfaced this morning with reports suggesting that former keeper Alan Main is set to return to Perth from his current Gretna employment with a rumoured 3-yr player/coaching deal on offer for the 39-yr old rejecting a 1-yr deal from Gretna and 18 months from QoS. Owen Coyle has rejected it though and told the Tully, "I’m the manager and it’s news to me. This is the first I’ve heard of it.". Time will tell no doubt, although given the return to form of the Cat it's interesting that someone seems to think we need to strengthen this position. On the Official site he's gone further saying, "I do not like to speak about other club's players and am always very loathe to do it. However, I am aware of the stories and would wish it to be known that I can catagorically state that we have not signed Alan Main on any sort of pre-contract arrangement. "
Meanwhile there was a closed doors game against Morton today with Filipe getting 45 minutes alongside the kids and fringe players - it finished 1-1 with Bobby Barr getting our goal. No word on new signings although a mystery Irish striker has been ruled out because his club wanted too much dosh.

Filipe Morais - good debut. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.January 21st - Owen Coyle was reasonably happy after yesterday's win but the defence is still giving conern. He told the Official site, "We should have been out of reach in that game and at 3-0 we deserved to have that sort of advantage. However, we lost a cheap goal and that gave them a bit of belief and we then proceeded to concede a further two goals from corner kicks. I certainly didn’t envisage it being 3-3 and at that stage I felt we were really showing the effects of the 120 minutes in the cup tie at Ayr on Wednesday. But we showed great character and Willie McLaren – who I though was terrific all day – scored a great goal. We deserved to win, there is no doubt about that but we should be defending better and it would be naive of me not to be concerned at that."
As for the new guy Filipe Morais(right), the manager went on, "He showed some nice touches and was very involved. He only flew up last night and met his team mates this morning so I am looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the side when he has settled in."
Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.

January 20th - Willie McLaren is hoping to chalk up a win over his former employers today. The Saints winger told the Courier, "I’ll always be thankful to the people at Airdrie who helped me. I want to see them stay up, and think they will, but I also want to beat them because we really need the points. With the lead Gretna have over us we have to win against Airdrie then beat them and go on to win a few more games in a row. I thought I was coming to St Johnstone to play most of the time but the gaffer decides the team and I am just going to have to wait for my chance. I feel I have settled in OK and am finding my feet. But the team have been playing pretty well so I am having to be patient. "
No more injury news with both Kevin James and Martin Hardie set to face late fitness tests.
6.45pm- We struggled at times but in the end a Tierner og, a brace from Jason Scotland and a cracking late finish from Willie McLaren saw Saints beat Airdrie 4-3 although questions have to be asked of the defence that let a 3-0 lead slip away to 3-3. New signing Filipe Morais made his debut off the bench and set up the fourth goal in a good performance.

January 19th - Kevin James is being praised by Owen Coyle after his return to action in Wednesday's cup win. The manager told the Courier, "Kevin as well as being our on-field leader is also a tremendous character and I cannot speak highly enough about him lining-up for us on Wednesday night. He said he wanted to give playing through the pain a go and although he was nothing like 100% against Ayr he made a contribution to our victory. The problem now of course is that with the game having gone to extra-time he’ll probably be struggling for Airdrie on Saturday. ".
The plaudits were being dished out though and Peaso was also on the receiving end. "Peaso had six or seven decent chances during the game and was denied by two wonder saves from Mark McGeown. But he kept banging away and got his reward with a tremendous goal."
Kevin James and Martin Hardie (with a back injury) are the only worries ahead of tomorrow's visit by Airdrie.
6.30pm- The big news this afternoon was that we've actually got a new face almost on board. Portuguese U-21 right winger (hallelujah) Filipe Morais has signed from Millwall on loan till the end of the season, but don't look for anything beyond that as the London club have already said they want the ex-Chelsea man back. Apparently we've got the influence of Derek McInnes to thank for that and Owen told the Official Site, "Filipe had been recommended to me by Derek McInnes and I spoke to Millwall and they indicated that he is very much part of their plans but that they want him to go back to them for the start of next season with a bit of first team action and experience under his belt. He has a bit of pace about him and I think he will be a valuable addition to what we already have." As with all Saints plans, he won't actually travel north until tomorrow so is only an outside chance of playing in the Airdrie game.
Speaking of that, Allan McManus was also on the Official site wittering on about the need to get back to form. The stand-in skipper said, "I know a lot of eyes are on the game against Gretna in a weeks time but the bottom line is that if we don’t get the three points against Airdrie United and Gretna beat Livingston to extend their lead over us then the game against them takes on a different complexion in several respects. We simply cannot afford not to win tomorrow. From a personal point of view I was very happy with my form up until December and then I felt it shaded a little and I think a few players feel the same about their own form. However, I see signs of us getting better and players such as Willie McLaren, Derek McInnes and Andy Jackson are helping to freshen things up a bit."

January 17th - Andy Lawrie reckons Savo will be back in action as fit as ever. He told the Courier, "Savo has been brilliant for us this season. He’s a big player for St Johnstone and we’ll miss him. But Peaso is a prolific scorer and this is a great chance for him to get a few starts and a few goals.’ ". The defender is as keen as anyone to win at Ayr tonight as a trip to his previous employers awaits the winner in the next round. He went on, "We didn’t play well when Ayr came here, and finished up with a disappointing result. But we’ve got a chance to rectify that in the replay. It would be great to get through this round and face Falkirk. But that’s something to talk about if and when we make it into the fourth round. The thing about the cup is that you cannot really look forward to what might await you further into the competition until you are certain of being there. If you start considering the prospect of the next round before you are in it that tends to come back and bite you on the backside. We have to focus completely on going to Ayr and getting a result. I’d still say we are favourites. But it’ll be a hard game for us especially as our away form has been pretty disappointing. "
11.30pm- We left it as late as possible but Peaso's winner two minutes from the end of extra-time saw us through 2-1 winners over Ayr after Jason Scotland opened the scoring in five minutes with a brilliant freekick. Another unconvincing performance from a lot of the side though and big improvements will be required before we face Falkirk in the 4th round. After the game Owen Coyle told the BBC, "I don't think it's conducive to good football when the wind is as strong as that. We scored a good goal early on and then Ayr put us under pressure. We should have put the game to bed but couldn't get the goal. We've got a lovely tie against Falkirk - who we know well. We feel we can do better and we're a bit short in terms of numbers in the squad. It's an important month."

January 16th - Well the news was slightly better than expected and Savo has had his knee op and will be out for around 6 weeks. Elsewhere Goran Stanic looks like recovering from his thigh knock and should play at Ayr tomorrow night.

January 15th - Owen Coyle seems to be backtracking today in the Courier and refusing to blame the conditions. He said, "They were appalling, but they were the same for both teams. We’ve no argument on that score, though I admit it wasn’t conducive to good football. I’m a bit disappointed not to have taken anything from the game. We lost a ‘comic cuts’ goal for the second and the third was a terrible one from our point of view. We had a couple of good chances and I thought we had a stonewall penalty claim. Simon Mensing had a great header and the player on the line clearly punched it. The ref may have been unsighted but it was a big decision in the game "
Savo - out for ages. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.Meanwhile stand-in skipper Allan McManus has held his hand up for the second goal saying, "I lost my footing. It could have happened anywhere on the park but it happened in the wrong area and we were punished accordingly. The park was fine and we’ve no problems playing in the rain. There was a lot of surface water but the ball played truly. The big problem was the wind but it was the same for both teams so that’s no excuse. We’re absolutely gutted. With us having the wind in the second half I felt we might go on to win it, but we didn’t really play. Individual mistakes are killing us right now and I put my hand up for that especially. We’ll need to turn the corner very quickly. Gretna dropped two points today but there’s no point worrying about anyone else when our own ship isn’t in order. We have a bunch of players here who we believe can fight to the very death. It’s a very experienced squad. A lot of guys in our team have played at a higher level so they know what it takes to make the next step up. However, we can’t really afford to drop any more points. "
6.30pm - Well the good news keeps piling up with the announcement that Steven Milne(right) is having his delayed operation on his knee in London today. Owen Coyle told the Official Site, "Steven was really toiling on Thursday and Friday with pain from the knee and it was apparent that we couldn't delay things any longer so he is down south today for the operation. Only when the surgeon has seen the damage will we be able to assess the likely recovery time - he could be out for the rest of the season or just a couple of weeks. We'll just need to wait on the medical advice."
No word on any new signings and Goran Stanic is also now a doubt for Wednesday's trip to Ayr after being subbed on Saturday after getting a thigh knock. The manager said, "That was part of the reason Goran was taken off on Saturday. I also felt he looked a bit jaded - as you know he was allowed home last week to pay his respects to his late father and unfortunately his flight back was cancelled and he didn’t land in Edinburgh until 12.45 on Saturday so it is a credit to him that he played at all."

January 14th - Owen Coyle was fairly succinct in his post-match comments yesterday. After the Livi defeat in dreadful conditions he simply commented, "I don't want this to sound like sour grapes, but you have to question the playing in conditions like that."...pity it sounds exactly like that though.

January 13th - More from Owen Coyle in the Courier today as he says a draw would be ok but we want a win. The Saints manager is quoted as saying, "To go to Livingston and get a point would be looked upon as a creditable result. We did that earlier in the season and, if truth be told, we probably should have won the match. But we’re in second place in the league just now and looking to make inroads into Gretna’s lead, so we’re focused on trying to win tomorrow. We’ve taken 10 points out of our last 12 and we want to continue that run. We speak openly and it’s fair to say that we have a few players playing below their usual standards. We don’t have a big pool so it’s important that when we’re down in numbers with injuries the guys who we usually rely on are performing to the levels we expect of them. We’ve got to get ourselves playing to those levels and get our big players imposing themselves on the game. ".
Allan McManus - keep grinding out the results. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.Meanwhile acting skipper Allan McManus(right) says that we need to keep grinding out the results. "We’ve not been great in the last few weeks but we’ve got results, and that’s the most important thing. The bottom line is we have to keep winning. We know that we have to up our game 40 or 50% from our performance in last weekend’s cup draw against Ayr United to get a win against Livingston tomorrow, which is vital. The only positive we could really take out of that match was that we got a clean sheet. We’ve had flashes of good form since we beat Rangers in the CIS Cup but we haven’t shown it for 90 minutes. That’s what we have to do. One thing we have shown recently is that, no matter how well or otherwise we are playing, the towel will never be thrown in. We’ll keep going right to the death in games and I’m a believer that you earn your luck late in games by working hard through the week and during a game "
No more word on the injury crisis with Martin Hardie and Jason Scotland joined by Steven Milne in the serious injury stakes although the manager is hopeful of having two of the three available this afternoon.
....oh aye and still no hint of any new signings....
6.30pm - A disappointing day in miserable conditions saw another poor performance end in a 3-2 defeat at Livi with Saints goals coming from a cracking drive from Andy Lawrie and a late consolation from sub Willie McLaren. Of course Gretna managed a draw so the 12 point gap now looks unsurmountable - especially given the lack of improvement over the transfer window.

January 12th - Saints go into tomorrow's game at Livi with both teams looking off-form. The latest team news hasKevin James still missing but Martin Hardie and Jason Scotland may return with both of them having managed to train this week. That will give Owen Coyle some options in midfield with Mad Mental Martin able to play alongside Paul Sheerin and Derek McInnes. The manager told the Tele, " Paul is very important for us. He's a terrific player with a great football brain, and he's having a good season. We're going there in a positive frame of mind"
No word of any new faces and with Hibs losing Chris Killen for the rest of the season and lacking cover in the striking department it looks unlikely that Sam Morrow will be allowed to leave on loan.

January 10th - Martin Hardie and Jason Scotland didn't train yesterday but Owen Coyle is still hopeful the pair will be available for the weekend. As for new signings there's nothing definite yet and the manager told the Courier, "We are still talking to other clubs with regard to a few targets. We are vigorously pursuing these people and are actively trying to bring players in. It would be hard to say something is certain to happen in the next few days as these things are always very difficult to predict"

January 9th - The injury problems are mounting for Saints again. Kevin James has had an injection in his knee but is unlikely to play against Livi or in the cup replay. Martin Hardie and Jason Scotland didn't train yesterday and both are already doubtful for the weekend trip to Almondvale with the latter suffering from a hamstring strain fromt he weekend draw. As for new signings, the news is just as bleak with the manager stating, "We are speaking to various people but there’s nothing imminent."

January 8th - Paul Sheerin spoke after Saturday's disappointment about the lacklustre Saints performance. The midfielder told the Courier, "I’ve obviously had a few great cup nights down at Somerset myself and the fans generate a good atmosphere so it will be really tough for us to go there now. On the plus side we have a slight knowledge of them now which we didn’t have as players, although the management have had them watched. But they have taken it to their home ground and I’m sure they will have real confidence about them. It was pretty bland to say the least and certainly wasn’t a classic. It had 0-0 written all over it and it’s hard to remember a clear-cut chance—maybe myself in the first half from Jason’s cut-back—but in terms of chances, there wasn’t really anything to talk about and it’s hard to explain that. It was flat from the first whistle and I wish I knew why. They came and worked hard and cancelled out our wide men well, stopping us getting wide—but we’ve got to have a lot more about us and create more chances, which has probably been our strong point throughout the season. They will probably feel the same as they didn’t create much at all either, but as players there is very little we can take from the game—certainly we can’t take many positives. "
Owen Coyle was just as disappointed and said, "I’m very frustrated. We had chances here and there and Mark McGeown made some great saves, but we never got to the level of performance we’re capable of and never had enough sustained pressure for any period of time. The first half was a non-event. The game was flat and that might have been because it was very stop-start with a lot of fouls and free-kicks. In the second half, we lifted it a little bit but not to the standard we hope to achieve. Credit to Ayr, who will be delighted and rightly so—their players gave everything they could. The positive is that we are still in the draw for the next round, but we know that was nowhere near the level we are looking to get ."

January 7th - One small scrap of comfort for Saints after yesterday and should we beat Ayr at Somerset Park in the 3rd round replay, expect the delights of a trip to Falkirk in the 4th round. Bet you can't wait...

January 6th - Steven Anderson is expecting a tough game today with Ayr the underdogs for the cup tie. He told the Courier, "We all know from our own experience in the CIS Cup just what smaller sides can achieve against bigger ones. Teams do raise their games and if you are not careful you could get caught out. We just have to be professional against Ayr and make sure we all do our individual jobs right. Getting through to the next round would be brilliant—but we won’t be complacent at all. I always look forward to playing in the cups as a change from the league and am really keen for us to go on a run in this competition."
Confirmation too that Stephen Dobbie signed for QoS last night.
7pm - A pish-poor performance from a lacklustre Saints side saw a 0-0 draw with Ayr mean the delights of a replay on Wed Jan 17th at 7.45pm. No doubt we'll all be really keen to make that bloody journey. Boos at full-time and a lot of disgruntled Saints fans leaving the ground told their own story after one of the poorest performances for a while and no real sign of improvement.

January 5th - The first new signing of the transfer window Derek McInnes has spoken in the Courier of his move to McDiarmid. There are still some loose ends to apparently be tied up if he's to make his debut tomorrow against Ayr, but the midfielder said, "This move to St Johnstone is ideal because they are a club that has always had a good reputation and the set-up here is great. I knew the manager wanted me as he tried to sign me when I was still at United and he has stayed in touch. That made it a bit easier to come here. There is always a bit of a settling in period as a new player but once you get training and playing you are one of the boys and the football takes over. I hope we can make it a memorable season and there is a lot of hope for the future because we have a good squad. I am told we have only lost once at home in 17 months and that’s an unbelievable record—there can’t be a lot wrong. “Gretna are doing really well in the league but we still hope to take that top spot and a Scottish Cup run would be nice too."
There's no progress on the injury front and Owen has also come out to criticise the minority of fans that seemed to delight in booing one player on Tuesday (Willie McLaren being the principle target). The manager said, "It is not nice to hear people getting booed. So I would ask the fans to give us their backing as much as possible. I have seen the support they can give us. I particularly remember the Dundee United CIS Cup game here when we got a fantastic response from them."
7pm - Owen Coyle is looking for a better performance in the cup tomorrow as opposed to recent years. He told the Official site, "After our CIS cup exploits this season you could say that the boot is on the other foot tomorrow. We have shown with our wins over Dundee United and Rangers that lower league sides can still enjoy success against teams from a higher league so we have to be wary that we do not become the victims tomorrow. Ayr are a quality side with some good, experienced players such as Jerome Veraille and Eddie Forrest and we will have to play to full capacity to ensure that our name is in the 4th round draw." Derek McInnes is set to play tomorrow but Kevin James is out for a fortnight while Martin Hardie is still very doubtful. Don't expect any new faces before the Livi game next week, although Owen is hopeful of getting someone in by then. But there is a possible departure before then with Stephen Dobbie set to sign for QoS today or early next week in an 18-month deal. The gaffer said, "Stephen realises that he is down the pecking order here and asked me that if someone came in for him that he be allowed to move on. Ian McCall has made contact about Stephen and a move looks likely and if it is completed then he leaves here with our very best wishes."

Kevin James - out again? Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.January 4th - Kevin James(right) should find out this week if he's going to have another spell on the sidelines with the Saints defender having a checkup on the knee injury he picked up against Clyde and which kept him out of the County game. Owen told the Courier, "Kevin hurt his knee when he was shooting in the Clyde match on Boxing Day. It was swollen and painful, as well as affecting his mobility so he has been examined by the surgeon who has treated him over the years. We now have to wait and see what he says.”
That's not the only injury worry with Martin Hardie already a major doubt for Saturday's cup-tie with a calf knock.
Latest signing rumours have 2 Hibs kids striker Sam Morrow and midfielder Jamie McCluskey possibly coming to Saints on loan for the rest of the season although nothing official has been announced yet.

January 3rd - Owen had some praise for the Saints players after their win yesterday. The manager told the Courier, "We were getting chance after chance at the end and there’s no doubt we deserved the three points. The players kept believing and there is still a long, long way to go in this league.". And the man that got the winning goal, Allan McManus added, "My goals don’t come around too often and it was a relief because I felt I could have done better with the equaliser we conceded. It was crucial that we got the win which keeps us hanging in there."
Saints have also confirmed that youth player Danny O'Donnell has been released.

January 2nd - Martin Hardie reckons it's make-or-break for Saints today. He's quoted in the Retard as saying, "When we played County earlier this season we put in a performance for 45 minutes which was the best we've played this term but still drew 2-2. It was one a few missed opportunities for us this season and we're at the stage where we can't concede any more ground to Gretna. They are 11 points ahead and we need to hope they start slipping up and we continue to win. It was a blow to have our weekend game with Partick Thistle cancelled. We've been out of action for 10 days and are bursting to get back "........well it's only been a week but never mind.
6.30pm - We left it late again but Simon Mensing got the opener and Allan McManus fired in a cracking last-minute winner to give us a 2-1 win over Ross County although truth be told we should have won by more than that.
Finally confirmation today that Ryan Stevenson has signed a 3 1/2 year contract with Ayr United for a "five-figure" sum which seems a decent piece of business by Saints.

Derek McInnes. Photo copyright PPA (www.ppapix.co.uk). Used with permission.January 1st - Well the Happy New Year for Saints fans has got off to an interesting start with the signing this morning of veteran midfielder and all round permatan man Derek McInnes(right) on a player-coach deal until the summer. The arrival of the 35yr old was widely predicted and he told the Official Site, “I’m very pleased that it is all sorted out and I am keen to get started. I’ve known of Owen’s interest for a couple of weeks and I have nothing but the highest praise for the way I have been treated by Millwall. I went there in the summer on a two year deal but with an understanding that I would review things after six months to see how I was getting on with the travelling - my family stayed on in Scotland - but I missed the family when I was down south during the week and my wife is pregnant so I felt it was right to come back to Scotland. Millwall are such a professional club with great facilities and I would have loved to have gone there earlier in my career. It was just a case of the right club at the wrong time. I’ve seen Saints a couple of times this season and have been impressed with them and given the league position there doesn’t appear to be too much wrong. Hopefully I can add to what we already have here.”
Owen meanwhile commented, "I’m delighted to have Derek here now. I tried to get him in the summer and we came very close to signing him but then Millwall came in with an unbelievable offer. However, I heard recently that although he was enjoying his time with them that he was finding the strain of travelling and being away from his wife and family a bit much and I pursued things from there. Derek has signed until the end of the season but very much with a view to extending his stay beyond that. To be fair to him he had a couple of concrete offers which were eighteen months in duration and an SPL club also made a last minute attempt to get him so for him to choose to join me here speaks volumes for what he wants out of this and hopefully sends out a message of what I am trying to achieve here. Derek brings experience and leadership to the team and we have perhaps lacked that a bit sometimes, particularly when Kevin James has been out. I would like eleven captains out on that pitch but that isn’t possible because the players have a range of different personalities but they do all have determination in abundance and I know Derek will bring more of that plus some vital experience."
The manager also said that the new signing will be involved in coaching the youngsters with Kevin Moon and Neil McCallum extending their loan spells at Forfar and Alloa until the summer. He said, “It is a continuation of the chance given to these two lads to prove that they are good enough to play for St Johnstone. Kevin has benefited from playing for Forfar and I was keen to give Neil the chance to play more with Alloa as he missed a couple of months due to injury.”
Don't expect any new signings ahead of tomorrow's game with Ross County and whether or not Derek McInnes plays will depend on clearance papers arriving from Millwall in time.

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