Its summer 19 59 and a group of boys are gathered at the Braehead roundabout in Glenburn, waiting for the local bus to take us to Gilmour St. Terminus in Paisley, it’s a Saturday and the sun is shining and there is only one subject, football. Myself and Joe O’Donnell are holding court because we had played that morning and helped St. Peter’s Primary School to a victory, yours truly scored a goal, all roads then led to Love Street, St. Mirren were playing Hearts. The St. Mirren forward line was Rodger, Bryceland, Baker, Gemmel and Miller, they finished that season at Hampden by winning the Scottish Cup, everyone wanted to be Tommy Bryceland, check the pictures of the time and you will see why; the word is “Gallous”
There were we two and John McCabe, my brother Hugh, Archie Miller, Rusty Pollock (RIP) Rab Mitchell, Dunky Walker, Matt White and several others all completely convinced that we would one day be professional football players, the usual plan was put into action as we skipped our bus fares and met up behind the Love St. end goal after splitting up to gain access to the ground by various methods such as scaling walls, fences, crawling through holes in fences and getting “lifted ower the turnstile” St. Mirren won that game as they regularly did in those days and we all went home happy, we sometimes bought chips and walked it back to Glenburn in the sunshine, or am I dreaming this ?
Yesterday, Saturday; saw St.Mirren’s last game at Love Street and there was a full house, by all accounts the emotion was such that there wasn’t a dry seat in the stadium, for people of my generation that would be 50 years of going to Love St. difficult I would imagine not to feel emotional. Past friends and relatives would have been remembered as the good and bad times were recalled, the soaring victories and the crushing defeats, above all the feeling of belonging; the feeling that this was their club, as synonymous with Paisley as the Abbey and the Paisley Pattern. The fans have a reputation for being paid up members of the awkward squad, a defiant bunch with a siege mentality borne of being a near neighbour to two of the biggest football clubs in the world; Celtic and Rangers, this proximity has traditionally made the Love St. meetings resemble a war zone over the years.
Celtic and Rangers of course represent St. Mirren’s biggest problem in that more fans leave Paisley to watch them than go to watch St. Mirren “mea culpa” I did what most boys do when they are old enough, they go to watch the team there fathers and uncles watched, to the detriment of the local team, it was ever thus and I would point out that of those boys listed above only one to my knowledge is still a St. Mirren diehard Dunky Walker.
The new Stadium is 150 yds. from my house and looks great, the team’s debt is paid and the future beckons. I am proud to say that I was instrumental in moving the motion through the planning dept. at Renfrewshire Council which saw St. Mirren go ahead with their plans; despite an officer recommendation to refuse them. As a result of this I was sent emails and letters from all around the world which I must admit gave me a surprise, Saints fans from America, Canada, Australia as well as from serving soldiers came flooding in to thank me, it was my pleasure. For the sake of all those loyal awkward sods who are devoted to their team past and present I want to wish them well as I said at the planning meeting “The idea of Paisley without St. Mirren is inconceivable, I vote in their favour” Here’s to the next 100 odd years.