Throw Back Thursday
The next alumni member to have a go at their greatest saints 11 comes from a former men’s 1st team captain and midfield maestro, James Fazackerley.
I couldn’t resist putting together my Greatest of All Time Saints XI. Hopefully it will provide some light entertainment during your lockdown routine.
Charles warned me ‘it takes a lot longer than you realise’. Understandable, considering the sheer quantity of teammates adored and games competed in our respective four (five) years in St Andrews.
Indeed, many hours were spent sifting through memories tinged with St Leonards green and St Andrews royal blue. These were heart-warming hours.
Again, echoing Charles, some huge names miss out. However, as Sven Goran Eriksson learned in Portugal in 2004, many stars don’t necessarily make a team.
Manager – Stuart Milne
It was touch and go as to who would take my GOAT Saints XI. Myself or Milne? There’s only one man who can claim victory against the perennial Fife champions, and it ain’t the man from Muchty.
However, that fabled smash-and-grab away to the mighty Kennoway has spurred Stuart on to bigger and better things. His absence morphed into achievement and, subsequently, he deserves his spot on the touchline. His strategies are sound, his pathways are clear. He surely is a true St Andrews boy.
Milne manages my XI.
Goalkeeper – Alistair ‘The Ghoul’ Cummings
Sitting distressingly high on the positive ape index, the Ghoul managed to touch things with his tentacles you wouldn’t have thought possible.
A genuine shot-stopper and first-class distributor, his levers preserved many victories for the Saints and earned him several MOMs.
A worthy member of the Fife Select.
LB – Sebastian Grueneisen
Back in simpler times when you could nickname a German ‘the Bomber’ and still get along, Seb Grueneisen PhD epitomised the no-nonsense defender.
With piercing blue eyes and a jaw carved from marble, the Bomber’s devastating good looks and demeanour usually had his opposite number beaten before the first whistle was blown.
Solid at the back on the pitch and just quietly an absolute charmer off it
CB – James Cotter and Wallace Brown
Maldini and Nesta. Gentile and Scirea. McCleish and Miller. You can’t have one without the other. And so it goes for Cotter and Brown.
Forged in the bubbling cauldrons of Liverpool and Dumfries respectively, Cotter and Brown arrived in the Auld Grey Toon with CVs already boasting Fife’s many requirements. The Saints had waited decades for such a partnership, and its patience was rewarded in 2009.
The cool heads, quick feet and telepathic positioning of these two centre backs did not disappoint.
RB – John Henderson
The command ‘go and give 100%’ gets thrown around a lot, often to the point of obscurity. But if there’s one man who can never be accused of not putting in a shift, it’s John Henderson. Be it on a bleak Methil winter morning, or in a clammy Krakow strip dungeon, Hendo always gave it his all.
Standing at approximately 5’6 on a good day, opponents would often underestimate wee Hendo. They were immediately left regretful, feeling the full force of the Aberdonian just as soon as he was let off the leash.
The only man who’s caused me to wince before he challenged for the ball.
LW – Charlie Hopkinson
Many teams struggle with filling the left wing as they lack a true left-footer. My team suffers no such curse. Hoppo had the touch, ping and stamina to engineer a consistently productive left wing, serving sublime crosses that obviously no one was going to convert. A soft-spoken gentleman that assuaged even the foulest Fife ogre.
Gave new meaning to ‘hugs the touchline’.
RW – Ramsey Ross
A genuine gas merchant. This enigmatic individual possessed a highly questionable conversion rate and so makes it into my GOAT XI through physical ability alone. When Ramsey was convinced to take the pitch, the team’s tactics quickly simplified to slotting through balls, followed by a ‘go on Ramsey!’.
Once missed a game because he’d run to Dundee and back the day before because he “felt like it.”
CM – Duncan Monteith
The only man to roll over from Cat’s starting XI into mine, Duncan Peter Monteith migrates from his debuted position between the sticks to centre midfield. DPM often brought a much-needed sense of professionalism to proceedings on the pitch, and not so much off it!
Possessing an unquestionable love for the game and unwavering loyalty to the Saints, Monty continued to attend matches on crutches after suffering a particularly nasty Saturday ankle break. A true motivator in the centre of the park.
Chinning a full Bratislavan giraffe likely remains his greatest achievement to date.
CM – Marc ‘Beadle’ Murray
If you’d want one man running the engine room, it’d be Marc Murray. Complementing Monty’s vocal prowess, Beadle will perform the CM’s tasks with diligence and enthusiasm: win the ball and lay it off.
Earned his nicknamed through playing with a consistently claw-like grip, rumoured to be the source of his powers.
Once demolished an entire jar of peanut butter with said claw.
CM – Alex Wilson (C)
Playing just in front of those two rottweilers is Alex Wilson. Willow only played a short while for the Saints, but this was all he required to demonstrate his class. Will bring some much-needed intuitiveness to the centre of the park.
A man you’d instinctively want to follow, Willow takes the armband to lead my GOAT XI.
FW – Guillermo ‘Gary’ Royo-Villanova
Guillermo arrived in England at 13 not being able to speak a word of English. At 18 his situation hadn’t improved much, and the Saints were anxious communication would be an issue.
The anxiety turned out to be unfounded, as Gary simply let his feet do the talking. Possessing the holy trinity of strength, control and pace, the young Spaniard was unplayable on his day.
Struggled with his weight and eventually hung up his kit to shuffle around Sunday League.
Every great XI requires reinforcements…
George Michael’s Fiat Panda has seen more games than the valuables bag. A consistent squad man and MOM for the infamous 2-1 win away to Kennoway, Ally deserves a spot on the bench for that long diagonal alone.
Gregor ‘Neebor’ Smith (VC)
No Saints team would be complete without a true neebor in its ranks. Gregor knows Fife like the back of hand, having transported bodies in the legendary Green Machine since time immemorial.
Sometimes the boys will need reminding where their priorities lie… In his own words, “I’d rather you take a ping and hit the bar than score a tap-in.”
In as vice-captain.
Andreas ‘Thor’ Andersen
If you’re looking for impact off the bench, or on the d-floor, look no further than Andreas. When given the right encouragement, this sensitive giant would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
After his messy dismissal from the Bongo Ball the night prior, Thor made a second half appearance at home against a formidable Bayside team, single-handedly dragging the Saints back from 3-0 down to enjoy a 4-3 victory.
Always plays to his potential when given a pre-determined stint on the pitch. A string of injuries kept McGrath from showcasing his trademark in-step passing for any decent length of time, but he always sniffed his way back to the first team. What he now lacks in pace he more than makes up for in noise.
Has the uncanny ability to make you think he’s closer than he really is.
Bobby P takes the last spot on the bench, despite his hanging tracksuits. The man from Dunblane will offer a touch of class should the team require it, being able to start or finish a game strongly.
Lacked aggression, but perfectly capable of running the show on a Wednesday afternoon.