Throw Back Thursday
The club is delighted to launch it’s new Throw Back Thursday feature in which we hear from members of our alumni network and ask them to select their greatest ever Saints 11. To kick us off, we hear from former Secretary, President and 2nd Team / United Colleges stalwart Oliver Gill (2011-2016)
Ladies and gentlemen, my team will be playing four four … two.
Scores of players were unfortunate enough to take to the field with me during my 5 years at the Club, so narrowing it down is quite a challenge.
Good things happen to good people. It can’t be denied that Stirling’s African Cup of Nations social and subsequent points deduction was a real help to the 2s in the 2015 promotion race, but we certainly took full advantage to win a back to back title the following year, against the odds. Coach Lee Sibanda likened us with runaway Premier League leaders Leicester City. While I’m sure he and Claudio Ranieri have much in common on and off the field, I can’t say I really saw any resemblance between Danny Drinkwater and me. Three years later, in his first game back after a drunken rant outside a nightclub got him in a measure of bother, I watched him walk about the pitch in my team’s 4-1 loss against Manchester City, yards off the pace, dithering on the ball and failing miserably to find teammates with his passes. It all suddenly made sense.
Unsurprisingly, members of that distinguished 2s team feature prominently in my XI, without neglecting of course the collection of bleary-eyed, stale-breathed teammates from our excursions around Fife. Here goes:
With apologies to Cadz, and Frazer Hadfield, how could I not choose Iain the Ghoulie after all we went through in our five years? Some laughs we had. His cries of “Heavyyyy” to oblivious teammates from overseas as they were closed down never failed to amuse me, nor do recollections of his first night (and the morning after) in Budapest in 2015. Pint?
Ross McLennan (pronounced Mac-lenn-an, Sibby)
The only current student to make it into my team. Well, I assume he’s still there, despite commencing his degree two years before I did. What an engine. He atoned for his many wild passes by simply chasing after them and getting there before anybody else.
“You shall not pass” would be a fitting summary for the Rhino’s career at centre back. He was brilliant at tackling and heading though. First name on the team sheet, always first at our 7am training wearing one layer regardless of the weather, giving 100% regardless of the midday Modern History deadline he had been toiling towards all night. Shares in Lucozade Sport and Deep Heat plummeted once his stellar Saints career came to an end in 2016.
I had hours of fun with Scalpy in my first and second years, playing together as 4th and 5th choice centre backs for the Colleges on a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday. One game, he got up delighted with himself after one of the most impeccable, textbook, goal-saving sliding tackles you’re likely to see. His face when he saw referee Bob McLaren pointing to the penalty spot was an absolute treat. I nearly wet myself.
An archetypal “cracking left foot”. He should have taken charge of far more dead balls than he did, and, from memory, far fewer throw ins. I’m happy to forgive his disinclination to Saturday football given his consistency on a Wednesday, and the fact he can’t have been enjoying himself traipsing around the country watching Dundee every week.
It’s quite frightening how reliant we were on Buster’s set pieces at times. It even led to accusations from the 1s that we were a gang. His late free kick winner against Aberdeen lives especially long in the memory. We’d taken a bit of a mauling all game so to snatch it late on in that fashion and park ourselves at the top of the league early in the season was special, as was the contrast between Luke’s Wednesday and Saturday performances. State.
As I’m now seven players in I’m conscious that I should include the odd decent footballer in my All Time Saints XI. I ended up playing a few games with Dodger at the tail end of the Uni’s life in Fife League, notably a midweek 6-0 away win at Kirkcaldy YM. I recall a YM player being red carded for abusing the referee, the light being so bad in the second half that I could only hear rather than see Liggy’s incomprehensible tantrums on the far side, and Dodger scoring a hat-trick by thrice getting the ball around the half way line, just running past them all and passing it in the net. Easy.
From the sublime to the Stoobs. “Meet at the tennis courts to get the cars?” “Aye”. “Leave the bahs and bibs, get a DRA fresher to bring them”. Basic but enjoyable nostalgia. John showed me the ropes in my early years. We drove everywhere for the 2s, and worryingly tended to be first to order a pint of T back at the Fife boozers as the freshers sipped their tap water. His boundless energy and harrying would complement Dodger well in the middle. A rather more effective pairing, I suspect, than the several occasions when we had a team full of centre backs so nudged Finny T into the middle with him.
Anybody whose weaker foot is better than one’s supposed strong foot merits a place in my team. Ian Murray is hard done by here after carrying the 2s with him down that left wing and towards promotion pre-Christmas 2015. However, Okamura arguably carried the club’s social scene in his first few years, and he also provided the deft assist for my only BUCS goal (at the right end anyway), so he sneaks in.
You’ll understand from the above thoughts on Luke that aspersions were regularly cast on the 2s’ tactics. Nothing was more pleasing than bruised opposition bemoaning our style and questioning how on earth we were top of the league as they limped away, having lost. Big Ross epitomized all of that. We focused our “build up” play around his strengths, and his main strength was strength itself. He also struck sweet volleys, by the way.
The Platypus lived for the Fife League run in after Spring Break and must have notched more goals in that hectic month or two than in the prior six. Left foot, right foot, heeders, he had all the tools, but always wore his heart on his sleeve and sometimes left his brain in the library. After adding another yellow card to X’s tally, one old referee naturally asked to take the recipient’s name. “Xandre Miranda”. “Come again”. “Xandre.” “Whit’s that mean”. “I’m Brazilian.” “How do ye … nah, right son, forget the booking, you just behave yourself eh.”
Presented without comment