Saturday, 3 January 2009

Doors close on Love St

St. Mirren bid farewell to Love St. in Paisley after 115 years today. Here's a slide show of some photos of the old ground. I first attended a football match here in August 1972 and can remember sitting on the grass at the top of the old Caledonia Street end, not my dad's and my usual position of later years (Cairter's Corner or the Love St. end itself) but one which afforded a splendid view of the whole of the oval ground and large pitch below. St. Mirren beat Brechin City 5-1 that day. Oh that such results would be repeated regularly in the following years!

Most of my memories of the ground run into one another like so many inept defenders of recent decades. I can vividly remember Fergie's Furies defeating Dundee Utd in a wonderful giant-killing 4-1 Cup victory and being soaked and disappointed as Celtic claimed a 3-3 draw when we were 3-1 ahead the following season (that was the only point they got off us that season though: 3 wins out of 4 for the Buddies!). The crowds dwindled as the stadium was reconstructed and seating wwas introduced in the eighties. The biggest crowd I remember was a crushing 29,000 for a League Cup replay against Celtic in the 80s when the capacity was supposed to have been reduced to only 25,000. Dad and I nearly turned away from the crush at the turnstiles and could barely see the game from the dozens deep crowd at the top of the Love St end. I could plunder more memories if I thought more deeply (hard-won and rare victories over the Old Firm mostly but early ones too like a 0-5 defeat by Queen of the South and a 6-3 win over Cowdenbeath) but even Sharon had a rare first visit when we defeated Clydebank 8-0 on our way to being Millenium champions of the first division. That remains the biggest win I've ever seen!

Footnote: Saints drew 0-0 with Motherwell, unable to extend their 4-match winning run (best in the Premier League since 1990) in front of a capacity 10,189 crowd. The highlights suggest it wasn't the greatest game but at least they didn't lose!

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