I think it is fairly well known that I was brought up in Hamilton and my father insisted that I supported the local team. It was a pleasure in those days to go to the old Douglas Park and watch Accies and I’ve always remained a Hamilton fan.
However, unlike Motherwell, Accies never ever employed me so my allegiance is firmly with the ‘Well. Naturally, I wish Billy Reid and his side every success, as I always do, but certainly not in games against their Lanarkshire rivals.
I am well aware that Hamilton are in a false position in the table. I look for their results, TV Clips and match reports with great interest. Clearly, they are much better than second bottom of the SPL but again, I repeat, I hope their recovery begins next week and not here at Fir Park.
Anyway, enough about Hamilton!
My sole concern is the welfare of our club. Along with my colleagues on the staff and the players, we are desperate to appease our loyal fan base. We received great support right to the end of the game and that was influential, I am sure, in us getting that winning goal.
Some people have complained about the quality of our play in the second game with Dundee United but I am sure most agree that there were mitigating circumstances. We lost Keith Lasley before the game, Jamie Murphy early in the game and playing a team for whom we were very familiar. The same obviously applied to Peter Houston’s men given the experience of the league match four days earlier.
Inevitably, we cancelled each other for most of the match but I still think we shaded it. The stats indicate that we were well ahead in terms of possession, had more chances and scored that all important goal.
We invariably have as many as eight or nine U21 players in the squad for any one SPL game but, with the reduced listing in Co-op Cup ties, we only listed seven last night; six of those played. Getting past a team as good as Dundee United with such a young squad is an excellent achievement.
Moving on, it’s difficult to avoid the contentious subject of referees although I must admit, I often hope that it is never an issue. However, as winners of the Fair Play award last year and the team who currently sit top of this year’s table, I feel we’re in a pretty solid position to comment.
I have always been hugely supportive of Scottish officials having had experience of sixteen years of International football, getting the alleged best referees Europe has to offer. Believe me, Scottish officials are as good, if not better, than their counterparts on the continent and that also goes for the full-timers in England!
I thought our game in midweek was very well handled by Willie Collum in difficult circumstances. I always insist that referees are respected as are their decisions and that’s the way it has got to be.
Just finally, I would like to welcome Gavin Lawson, an Accies season ticket holder, along with his son Fraser, Robin Fisher and Jim Finlay who are my guests at Fir Park this afternoon. Gavin is a great family friend and I hope they all enjoy the game, but not too much!