Bands played; the crowd cheered; the new stadium looked splendid, and the game was dire. Still you can’t have everything, and nothing could spoil the day for St. Mirren. I stood at my upstairs window looking on to Greenhill Road about a hundred yards from the stadium and observed the unusual sight of lots of people walking up the road which is usually pedestrian free, my two faithful dogs Mollie and Bessie voted it a hit as they barked themselves hoarse at the unusual supply of people for them to threaten. They had a great time dashing from one window to the next in a fierce display of territorial aggression, this display turns to boisterous cuddling, face licking and ferocious tail wagging when anyone comes in the house, still they look the part, Saturday afternoons are going to be quite noisy from now on.
The pre. match celebrations culminated in an impressive black and white ticker tape welcome as the teams came out and the desire of the home team and their fans was palpable; too palpable perhaps as nerves took over the St. Mirren players, they seemed overcome by the occasion as Kilmarnock settled in quicker and made the better chances. This was familiar stuff from Killie as they showed themselves to be tougher and more physical than their opponents, adding to the home team’s woes was the lack of atmosphere as the fans found their new surroundings a bit strange.
The crowd suddenly woke up due to a refereeing blunder as Kilmarnock midfielder ‘Taouil’ was wrongly booked for simulation, refs. Of course don’t have TV replays this led to Saints chanting “cheat, cheat etc.” which was unfortunate because the player in question was one of the few on show who was showing any composure with his quick control and passing ability. This was followed by a Killie goal by the impressive Kyle; things were going wrong for Saints as their fans began to show their frustration by getting on the player’s backs.
The Saints fans were further enraged by another incident and on this occasion they were right; the Killie keeper came for a long ball which Dargo got to first and the keeper took him out inside the box, a clear penalty; a foul in this circumstance is a penalty but not necessarily a red card if the player is going away from goal; the ref. got that part right; what he got wrong big time was the actual foul, it was a reckless dangerous lunge which Dargo did well to survive without seeing flashing blue lights, this was a red card anywhere on the pitch and it should have been here, a howler by the ref. Hamilton made an absolute hash of the kick; the keeper could have saved it by throwing his cap on the ball as it trundled toward him, I am amazed always to see professional players take penalties on the ground I reckon that about 90 % of penalty saves are shots on the ground, still what do I know.
Saints scored in the 82nd. minute and finished with their tails up, you could argue that it was a fair result, while Killie looked the slightly better team and Saints looked nervous, Killie got out of jail with the keeper incident. Setanta played their traditional part on these big occasions by losing the picture in the 92nd. minute.
The undoubted highlight of the day was chairman Stuart Gilmour introducing First Minister Alex (the spiv) Salmond who strutted on to the pitch with various SNP sycophants hoping to touch the hem of his garment; only to be greeted by a chorus of loud boos and jeers, discerning football fans in Paisley for sure; they then sang a lurid chorus about the First Ministers personal habits; absolutely priceless. St. Mirren and their rather impatient fans withdrew happy at a point but, the overwhelming feeling was one of relief at avoiding defeat on day one at St. Mirren Park Greenhill Road Paisley, they will play better in future and the fans will settle and provide a better atmosphere, one last point, if you can’t control the ball and pass it on this pitch you are in the wrong job, here’s to the future.