It was one of the most exciting endings I’ve seen to a game: brave, desperate defending from the Saints, against ten-man Rangers attacks that seemed certain, certain, time after time, to nail an equalizer that astonishingly never came.
1-0 it remained, however, and then the big screenÂ next to my tableÂ in the Standard switched to Everton v Newcastle. At 2-0 to Everton, some cockney bloke rolledÂ in and started making whoopsÂ and monkey punches, dominating the space, forcing the hitherto quiet couples and groups to dip their heads. I’dÂ left by the time Toon got their equalizer, but I dare say some quiet satisfaction reigned..
1-0,Â then,Â and Rangers’ last visit to Love Street. TheÂ papersÂ have describedÂ it as “decrepit” this weekend. It didn’t look that way to me, butÂ nevertheless, the place that’s been the Paisley club’s home for the best of 110Â years is to be bulldozed for TescoÂ in a coupleÂ of months’ time. Many ofÂ the old groundsÂ have gone without their significance as local architecture being recognised, so I hopeÂ someone’s taking a camera around carefully before demolition starts.
It’s always sad when an old ground goes, but this time there’s a great deal to be said for it. I’ve beenÂ impressed, since gettingÂ here, with the way Scottish football clubs are being run with reference both to their financial future and the futureÂ of Scottish football tout court. St MirrenÂ is a good example.
The sale ofÂ the old ground will enable St Mirren toÂ move to an entirely new 8,000 seat stadiumÂ on the edge of the town, with all their debts cleared. Getting to this point has been a difficult job,Â with certain banks playing a less than supportive role. But nowÂ that the project isÂ nearly realised, it’s possible to step back and admire. The new site is brilliantly chosen, over the road from Paisley St James rail station, and within aÂ hairsbreadthÂ of junction 29 of the M8. It’ll be something of a symbol for the town, straight away, andÂ theÂ improved conditions canÂ only help theÂ club’s performancesÂ on the pitch.
There’s another good portent too. The team that beat Rangers came from a squad that is overwhelminglyÂ madeÂ up of Scottish players. These players are getting Premier Division experience against sides such as Rangers, who, don’t forget, reached a European finalÂ only last season, and Celtic, who have made theÂ last 16 ofÂ the European Cup with their current squad. To say nothing, for now, ofÂ the Edinburgh clubs.
ThisÂ is why Scottish football isÂ improving so quickly. There’s someÂ innovative training goingÂ on here for kids, too, which I’llÂ coverÂ in a later post.
It was a good victoryÂ on Sunday. ButÂ it won’t be the last.