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    Games to go ahead

  • Archive

    Category 1 Referees: Weekend of Action

  • Archive

    Scottish Cup Fourth Round Draw

  • Archive

    Brown reflects on Saints draw

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    St Mirren draw in pictures

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    St Mirren 1 – 1 Motherwell

  • Archive

    Murphy inspired by Saunders call-up

  • Archive

    Brown banks on bouncebackability

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    Steelmen sign deal with drinks giants

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    Legend Kirk feared for his life

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    Games to go ahead

    All six Clydesdale Bank Premier League fixtures across Saturday and Sunday will be played as scheduled despite the weekend of strike action by Scottish Category 1 referees.

    Neil Doncaster, Chief Executive of the SPL, said: “The Scottish FA has acted quickly to put contingency plans in place. FIFA listed or Category 1 match officials from overseas will take charge of all Clydesdale Bank Premier League games this weekend. The SPL fully supports these plans.

    “It is deeply regrettable that Scottish match officials will not be taking charge of Clydesdale Bank Premier League games this weekend.

    “The SPL is sympathetic towards referees and the criticism they have received in recent weeks but the way to address concerns is through dialogue, not to walk away from the situation.”

  • Archive

    Category 1 Referees: Weekend of Action

    The Scottish FA yesterday stood shoulder-to-shoulder with both the Scottish Premier League and the Scottish Football League in offering representatives of the Category 1 Referees unequivocal and tangible support in an attempt to avert the planned withdrawal of labour scheduled for this coming weekend.

    This included the promise of tougher and more immediate sanctions on players and club officials who abuse referees and match officials, and especially those who challenge their integrity and honesty. These new guidelines also incorporated a ban on all club officials commenting on referees in the build-up to matches and in the immediate aftermath.

    These measures received the full backing of the Scottish FA President and the Chief Executive.

    Regrettably, at midnight last night, the Scottish FA were informed that following a further meeting of Category 1 referees there would be no change of heart in relation to the strike and no suspension of action while the Scottish FA implements the measures proposed.

    Therefore, the weekend of action will proceed as planned and the Scottish FA will implement, where possible, a contingency plan to allow some fixtures to take place as planned this weekend, using officials from other international associations.

    Stewart Regan, Chief Executive of the Scottish FA: “This is a very sad day for Scottish football.  After further positive talks yesterday, and having received the backing of both the SPL and the SFL, I felt that we had shown our commitment to the refereeing fraternity and that they had recognised that substantial progress had been made.

    “If this withdrawal of labour goes ahead it will be the fans, clubs, sponsors and media partners who will suffer and that cannot be good for the game in this country.  I would urge the Category 1 referees to reconsider their decision and, having benefited from the wave of sympathy for their current situation, plus the offer of affirmative action, realise the potential impact of their actions.”

    Neil Doncaster, SPL Chief Executive: “It is deeply regrettable that Scottish match officials will not be taking charge of Clydesdale Bank Premier League games this weekend. The SPL is sympathetic towards referees and the criticism they have received in recent weeks but the way to address concerns is through dialogue, not to walk away from the situation.”

    David Longmuir, SFL Chief Executive: “The SFL is extremely disappointed that despite our efforts nothing could be done to avert the course of action about to be taken by our referee colleagues this weekend. Throughout the last few days we have tried to find a solution for both the short and long term which would have reinforced our existing support and admiration for all Scottish referees.

    “Our commitment to that is unchanged. However, as a result of the action planned for this weekend, many of our clubs and supporters will feel let down.”

  • Archive

    Scottish Cup Fourth Round Draw

    Motherwell have been drawn to face First Division side Dundee in the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup.

    The Dens Park men have had well publicised financial problems but have been performing well on the pitch and sit 4th in Division One, seven points off top albeit with an outstanding 25 point deduction hanging over their head.

    And, with Craig Brown being a former Dundee player and Archie Knox being a former Dark Blue manager, it has all the ingredients for a cracking Cup tie.

    Fourth Round draw:

    • Aberdeen v East Fife
    • Dundee United v Ross County
    • Queen of the South v Brechin City or Annan Athletic
    • Montrose v Dunfermline Athletic
    • Greenock Morton v Airdrie United or Beith
    • Falkirk v Partick Thistle
    • Berwick Rangers v Celtic
    • East Stirlingshire v Buckie Thistle
    • Rangers v Kilmarnock
    • Hibernian v Ayr United
    • Stenhousemuir or Threave Rovers v Stranraer
    • Hamilton Academical v Alloa Athletic
    • St Mirren v Peterhead
    • Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Elgin City
    • Dundee v Motherwell
    • Heart of Midlothian v St Johnstone

    Ties will be played on 8th and 9th January 2011

  • Archive

    Brown reflects on Saints draw

    ‘Well boss Craig Brown felt his side could have got more than just a point from this afternoon’s match with St Mirren.

    The Steelmen had to come back from a goal behind after former Cowdenbeath striker Gareth Wardlaw had headed Saints in front, seven minutes before the interval.

    Despite sustained pressure, it looked as Motherwell may slip to their second defeat in a week. However, a Nick Blackman thunderbolt fourteen minutes from time rescued a precious point.

    Brown said, “I am never satisfied with a point but when you are one goal down and you get a goal back, you have to be happy with a point.

    “Then for the rest of the game there was only one team going to win the game. But I need to credit St Mirren with a good performance; I said to our players that I saw them against Celtic and I think they had more possession when they hit the bar.

    “I thought then that they were a good side and I thought they played better against Celtic than they did against us, which is a compliment to our team.

    “Our first half performance should have been better, but in the second half we were. Even in the first half Darren Randolph hadn’t really a save to make in the game, while we hit the post at the other end.

    “I am biased but I think everyone is agreeing a draw was the right result but I think we just edged it.”

    Brown also reserved special praise for Nick Blackman who netted his 10th goal of the season in spectacular style.

    The on loan Blackburn Rovers man has been on sensational form since his move north, and Brown was quick to compliment the 20-year-old.

    “He turned and swivelled well to strike a great volley into the roof of the net,” Brown recalled.

    “It wasn’t his best game for Motherwell, other than that we are looking for something from him.

    “The best chance fell to Steve Jennings, who had supported brilliantly from midfield and some other chances from Humphrey cutting the ball back.”

    The Hall of Famer was also frustrated by the nature of the goal his side conceded: “To lose the goal the way we did was poor; the corner kick was cleared but the second ball into the box was headed in and I don’t know how he managed it with the people we had in there.

    “It wasn’t a great performance; we played better last week, particularly in the second half, and lost the game. We didn’t play quite so well today, but that is credit to Saints who are a good battling side who are getting better every week. I think they will cause a lot of teams some problems, particularly here at Paisley.”

  • Archive

    St Mirren draw in pictures

    Pictures from the 1-1 draw with St Mirren in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League at New St Mirre Park. These action shots and more are available to buy online at www.motherwellpics.com.

    [svgallery name=”stmirren20112010″]

  • Archive

    St Mirren 1 – 1 Motherwell

    [tab:Match report]

    A sensational strike from Nick Blackman gave Motherwell a share of the spoils at St Mirren Park this afternoon.

    Saints had earlier taken the lead late in the first half when Gareth Wardlaw met a Paul McGowan cross from the right to put his team in the driving seat.

    But Motherwell pushed and pushed for a leveller and it eventually came on the 74th minute when Blackman hammered a stunning drive high into the top corner leaving Craig Samson absolutely helpless.

    Craig Brown opted to start with the same side that lost at Easter Road seven days ago. But whilst the personnel remained the same, the side lined up slightly different with Blackman operating in a slightly wider role with Murphy utilised through the centre.

    Both teams started bright but it was the Steelmen who would create the first real chance through Alan Gow. The former Falkirk man launched a stinging free-kick that forced Samson into a decent one-handed save at the expense of a corner.

    Two minutes later, another free-kick, this time from Tom Hateley again caused problems for the keeper. His shot took a wicked deflection off the wall but the deflection proved kind for the Buddies as it cannoned back off the post before eventually being hooked clear.

    Motherwell continued to pick away and a long range effort from Blackman came within an inch of nestling in the top corner but skimmed over the top of the bar.

    Saints survived and almost scored somewhat against the run of play just two minutes after Blackman’s strike. David van Zanten sent a stinging half-volley just wide of Darren Randolph’s left hand upright with the former Charlton man at full stretch.

    It was to prove the shot across the bow that the Steelmen failed to heed as Saints took the lead eight minutes before the interval. A corner from the right wasn’t properly cleared allowing Paul McGowan to collect on the right flank. His cross found Gareth Wardlaw inside the six yard box and he flicked a header in off the right hand post.

    Patrick Cregg fired a free-kick way over the bar and Higdon blasted a low shout bouncing wide of Randolph’s post before the interval but St Mirren couldn’t add to their tally.

    Into the second forty-five and a completely uneventful first ten minutes was rudely interrupted by Higdon who, after turning well inside the box, fluffed an effort high over the bar.

    It took Motherwell fifteen minutes to register an effort at goal but an Alan Gow free-kick from twenty yards out failed to trouble Samson.

    Set pieces were causing problems at both ends and Higdon came within an inch of putting his side two in front but was denied by a brilliant Randolph block.  His low strike clipped the wall, sending the ball spinning in the opposite direction but the Irishman did exceptionally well to get a toe out and blocked.

    It was a crucial save and proved the catalyst for the Steelmen getting back into the game.

    The leveller should’ve came through Steve Jennings; Alan Gow played in Chris Humphrey and his cutback from the touchline was perfect for the Liverpudlian but his low shot from sixteen yards screwed wide of the post when a goal seemed certain.

    Steven Saunders launched a volley way over the bar before ‘Well finally got level and it was a goal of some quality from Nick Blackman after seventh-four minutes.

    The on-loan Blackburn man picked up a neat pass from substitute Ross Forbes before turning and unleashing an unstoppable strike that rocketed past Samson into the top right hand corner. There was bedlam behind the goal, even more so when the 10-goal hitman jumped in to join them in sheer jubilation.

    The goal gave the Fir Parkers obvious confidence and they almost made it 2-1 when Gow combined with Sutton inside the area only for his controlled side footer to curl inches wide of the post.

    To make things worse for Saints, Michael Higdon was sent for an early bath for a second bookable offence. Whilst his trip on Stephen Craigan wasn’t the worst challenge in the game, the former Falkirk man had been lucky to remain on the pitch after lashing out at Jamie Murphy whilst already on a yellow card during the first forty-five.

    That meant a late flurry for the Steelmen who went in search of a winner. Mark Reynolds met a Hateley corner from the right but could only head over. John Sutton cushion a header of his own narrowly wide and, with virtually the last kick of the ball, Ross Forbes came within a whisker of the winner but his low bouncing shot dropped just wide of the post with Samson beaten.

    A game where Motherwell probably just shaded it but a draw was probably a fair result all things considered. Inverness’ impressive win over Hibs means Brown’s men drop to fifth in the table with third place Hearts the visitors to Fir Park next Sunday.

    [tab:As it happened]

    90+3: FT: St Mirren 1: 1 Motherwell

    90+3: Free-kick for Saints on the edge. Last kick of the ball stuff…

    89mins: Ross Forbes almost gives Motherwell the winner but his bouncing strike goes just wide. 

    85mins: Corner from the right is headed over by Reynolds! A Sutton header also drops wide as Well go in search of a winner.

    84mins: Higdon sent off for a foul on Craigan. He’s been walking a tightrope for most of the game,

    83mins: Sutton booked for dissent. He joins Blackman who was carded after his goal for juming into the ‘Well fans behind the goal.

    79mins: Almost 2-1 ‘Well! Great interplay on the right. Gow then flashes a shot just wide of the post. So unlucky there.

    74min: What a bloody belter from Blackman! Turn and strike from the edge of the area almost takes the net down…


    69mins: Saunders fires a volley over the bar following a Humphrey corner.

    65mins: Great chance for Motherwell. Gow plays Humphrey in: his cut-back finds Jennings but he screws his shot wide from 16 yards.

    65mins: Wardlaw booked for a bad challenge on Hateley.

    64mins: Saints almost make it two. Higdon free-kick hits the wall but Randolph makes a great save with his foot. Kept ‘Well in the game!

    61mins: John Sutton is on for Jamie Murphy.

    60mins: Alan Gow hits a curling effort into the arms of Samson! First chance of the second half for ‘Well but it’s easy for the Saints GK.

    55mins: Higdon has the first chance of the second half but his turn and shot from close range goes high wide and not so handsome.

    46mins: Second half gets underway,….

    45+3: Half Time: St Mirren 1 – 0 Motherwell

    45+3: Shot from Higdon flies way wide of post: Big oooohhhh from the home fans but it was never going near the goal.

    45+1: Looks to be in trouble and is hobbling very bad. Not the first time a bad challenge has been missed by the ref I am afraid.

    45+1: Blackman is down again after a heavy kick. He looks hurt and JP is on to check. No free-kick from the ref though.

    45mins: Ball is eventually cleared but Higdon manages a shot that bounces harmlessly wide of the post.

    44mins: Saunders gives a needless corner kick there after a slice. Hope it’s not costly.

    42mins: Cregg free-kick troubles the back row of the North Stand more than Darren Randolph. Terrible effort…

    41mins: Reynolds booked for a foul on Higdon. Looked like a stumble from the defender but a foul and, as such, a yellow card.

    37mins: That was the first shot on target for Lennon’s men and they take the lead.

    37mins: Cross from the right by McGowan finds the former Cowdenbeath man in the six yard box and he heads home! Poor goal for ‘Well to lose

    GOAL St Mirren. Gareth Wardlaw!

    35mins: Higdon is lucky to stay on the pitch after swiping down Murphy! Can’t believe the ref hasn’t booked him after the card to Cregg.

    34mins: Cregg booked for a late foul on Hateley. Not sure if it was for back chat or the actual challenge itself?

    32mins: Absolutely freezing here at Saints. Ref isn’t helping with constantly stopping and starting things.

    24mins: Saints are starting to get the upper hand here. Few corners and half things on the edge of the box.

    23mins: Down the other end, van Zaten dipped a lovely half volley from the edge of the box just wide of the post. That too was close.

    22mins: Stinging long range drive from Blackman goes a foot or so over the bar… Close one.

    16mins: Police go in and remove some ‘Well fans for standing (I think). Meanwhile, Higdon is booked for a challenge on Randolph.

    14mins: Hateley hits the free-kick and it’s deflected onto the post… So close to 1-0 to ‘Well there!

    13mins: Another free-kick for the Steelmen at the edge of the box. Potter on Gow!

    12mins: Free-kick from Gow from about 30 yards forces Samson to touch over. Think it was heading over anyway but GK was right to make sure.

    11mins: van Zaten challenge on Blackman draws a foul. The big striker looks in some pain as he hobbles away. Hope he’s ok…

    7mins: Saints win a corner on the right: taken by McGowan but off the line by Hammell. Ref had blown up for a foul anyway…

    2mins: Kenny McLean has the first attempt at goal for Saints but his effort flies into the car park, Hope my brief is okay! :-s


    Motherwell manager Craig Brown:

    “I am never satisfied with a point but when you are one goal down and you get a goal back, you have to be happy with a point.

    “Then for the rest of the game there was only one team going to win the game. But I need to credit St Mirren with a good performance; I said to our players that I saw them against Celtic and I think they had more possession when they hit the bar.

    “I thought then that they were a good side and I thought they played better against Celtic than they did against us, which is a compliment to our team.

    “Our first half performance should have been better, but in the second half we were. Even in the first half Darren Randolph hadn’t really a save to make in the game, while we hit the post at the other end.

    “I am biased but I think everyone is agreeing a draw was the right result but I think we just edged it.”

    St Mirren manager Danny Lennon:

    “Over the piece I’ve probably not got any qualms with a draw. I felt the first half we defended very well but I’d like to have seen us taking more care of the ball.

    “I was absolutely delighted for Gareth Wardlaw. I think his efforts since coming here deserve more return than what he has at the moment so I was delighted to see him back on the scoresheet.

    “We go in 1-0 up albeit Motherwell have a lot of possession, but they don’t really carve us open in the first half. Anything they have is more from dead ball situations and silly free-kicks we were giving away very cheaply.

    “I felt for the initial period in the second half we could have taken another one to try to put the game more in control and that’s where I think we lost that wee bit of momentum. To be fair to Motherwell they asked questions, changed their system and stretched us again.

    “They turned the momentum of the game in their favour. They got a great individual goal. The boy looks as if he’s got nothing and he turns wonderfully and gets a terrific finish. I’m not frightened to admit we were very much against it in the last 10 or 15 minutes.”


    [poll id=”22″]

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    Murphy inspired by Saunders call-up

    Having watched Steven Saunders make his Scotland debut, Jamie Murphy has now set his sights on being the next ‘Well star to pull on the dark blue.

    You could forgive Motherwell’s number nine for feeling a ping of jealousy watching his team mate make his debut for Scotland, especially considering he has been something of a regular for the U21s and has turned in several eye-catching displays this season. 

    On the contrary, Murphy thinks that Saunders’ recognition is evidence that he isn’t too far away from Scotland recognition himself.

    “It’s great for Saunders and it is always brilliant to see one of your team-mates get a cap for Scotland. He’s a down to earth lad and he was still doing his jobs and picking up the bibs yesterday – even though he is now a Scotland international,” Jamie smiled. “He’ll keep his feet on the ground.”

    “I look at all the new players in the Scotland set-up and think that if I keep playing well I could get recognition for myself.

    “I need to keep improving and prove to everyone that I am capable of playing at the very top level. It is, of course, up to the manager, but hopefully one day I will play for Scotland when the time is right.

    Murphy’s confidence regarding the future is understandable when you consider his form for Scotland’s Under 21 side. The youngster was a regular with Billy Starks’ young charges, and scored in the recent qualifier against Iceland.

    The likes of Barry Bannan, Danny Wilson and David Goodwillie have already made the step up, and Murphy has every right to believe he may be next.

    “I believe you could take any of that Under 21 batch and put them in the full squad,” the young forward insisted. “It’s a top side with a lot of good players who are playing at an excellent level. There are some fine players to come out of that age group.”

    Attention will switch away from international aspirations this weekend, and focus on SPL duty as The Steelmen travel to New St Mirren Park to face Danny Lennon’s men.

    Murphy has become something of a ‘Well stalwart at just 21, and is expected to start for Brown’s troops as they look to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Hibs at Easter Road.

    Motherwell’s all-time leading European goal scorer admitted: “I’ve played a lot of football this season, out wide and up front, and wherever I play I’m enjoying being part of the team week-in week-out.

    “It’s up to me to keep my place in the team and continue to do well, and hopefully that will bring the right results in the league.

    “Going to St Mirren is always a tough game, but we always feel like we can win, and we always think that we are going to do well. Saturday is no different; we will put in a good performance and hopefully come away with three points.”

  • Archive

    Brown banks on bouncebackability

    Craig Brown hopes Motherwell’s superb record of bouncing back from defeats can continue this weekend when his side take on St Mirren.

    The Steelmen have lost five SPL matches this campaign, and after every loss they have beaten their next league opponents. It is an illustration of the excellent spirit and belief in the camp and there are high hopes that the pattern can continue following last week’s defeat to Hibs.

    Yet the gaffer knows that it will be a tough test against Danny Lennon’s improving St Mirren side.

    “St Mirren played very well against Celtic last week, and only a small lapse in concentration stopped them from getting a point,” Brown warned. “It’s a warning to us that we will have to be at our best to get a win.

    “Our last two defeats (Hamilton and Hibs) were both unfortunate, and certain decisions didn’t go our way in both of those matches, but we beat Inverness away and then St Johnstone after recent defeats, so we hope to do the same against St Mirren.

    “I don’t think we played badly at Easter Road – our 58% of possession would back that up – so if we can play the same way in Paisley we can get a result.”

    In-form front-man Nick Blackman will be key to any positive result Brown’s men can attain against St Mirren.

    The on-loan Blackburn striker has scored five goals in his last three games, and Brown is visibly delighted by the contribution made by the 21-year old.

    “Nick is getting first-team football, and that is the most important thing for any young player – you can see it has improved him,” said the Scotland Hall of Famer.

    “He will definitely play regularly for the rest of the season, and we feel another six months at Motherwell will improve his play further.”

    Attention will soon turn to the quest to keep Nick Blackman at the club beyond the January expiry of his initial loan deal.

    Nine SPL goals certainly suggest he will be a vital figure in continuing ‘Well’s excellent campaign thus far – but ice-cool Craig Brown certainly isn’t unduly worried by the situation.

    “Nick is still here, and he will be here until January,” the boss clarified.

    “I’ll wait for a couple of weeks, until closer to the deadline, before we get in touch with Blackburn. I don’t want to alert Sam (Allardyce) while he has other things on his mind, but he has been supportive of us and Nick Blackman so I am hopeful of getting sympathetic consideration.

    “If Sam feels he can play a part in the English Premier League then we will have to look elsewhere, so we’ll wait and see, but we have also seen a big improvement in our own boys; in Bob McHugh and, in particular, Esteban Casagolda. We’ve watched them progress and they have been patient, so if we were to lose nick that could be a chance for one of those players.

    The experienced Motherwell manager also confirmed that Keith Lasley is working exceedingly hard to be fit for the weekend, but can only be considered an outsider for the trip to St Mirren Park.

  • Archive

    Steelmen sign deal with drinks giants

    Motherwell Football Club are today delighted to announce a deal with the nations favourite milkshake company YAZOO.

    YAZOO has all the qualities of an excellent re-hydrating drink, containing protein and helping to replace vital nutrients such as calcium after sport.

    Refuelling the body swiftly after exercise is essential to achieve maximum results and ensure swift post-workout recovery. Milk drinks may not be a first choice for hydration after training session, but drinking flavoured milk, such as YAZOO, is scientifically proven to hydrate the body four times longer than most expensive sports drinks or even water.

    Research has also shown that milk is the go-to drink for maximum results after resistance training, demonstrating measured growth in lean muscle mass as well as reduced body fat levels for overall improved body tone and performance.

    What is more, YAZOO is high in calcium and low in fat and is made with a clean recipe meaning there are no artificial additives or flavourings.

    Graeme Clark , Managing Director of Scot Serve Ltd, who help broker the deal, said, “We’re delighted Motherwell Football Club have chosen to align themselves with the YAZOO product.

    “The proven scientific benefits of the using milk products such as YAZOO are well known and, as a Motherwell fan with a family who have supporter the club for nearly 80 years, I hope this helps the team perform even better on the pitch.”

    ‘Well boss Craig Brown added, “We’re extremely grateful to YAZOO and the people involved in establishing this deal.

    “Milk drinks are the perfect recovery aid for all types of exercise, as they combine the right mix of carbohydrates, protein, water and electrolytes to refuel the body.

    “The protein provides amino acids for muscle tissue repair and can improve water absorption from the intestines to assist muscle hydration which helps relieve post-workout aches and pains.”

  • Archive

    Legend Kirk feared for his life

    Stevie Kirk opened his eyes as he lay in a Florida hospital bed and asked wife Kay a simple question. “Am I still here?”

    Having battled through emergency heart surgery, the legendary Motherwell striker had come perilously close to dying while on holiday in America.

    Even now, after the most traumatic experience of his life, the 47-year-old admits he struggles to sleep at night. Kirk is scared he might never wake up. Incredibly, the former Fir Park striker almost became the fifth member of Well’s 1991 Scottish Cup-winning squad to die at a tragically young age.

    If it wasn’t for the medical staff at Orlando South Hospital, Kirk could have suffered the same fate as Davie Cooper, Phil O’Donnell, Jamie Dolan and Paul McGrillen.

    But his determination and will to live saw him survive to tell the tale.

    In his first interview since he suffered serious heart problems last month, Kirk recalls the moment where his life flashed in front of his eyes and how he’s coming to terms with the ordeal.

    He told Record Sport: “It’s been a devastating time for me and I’m still in shock at what happened.

    “It was so bad that at one point, I remember coming round in the hospital and I looked at my wife. My exact words to here were, ‘Am I still here?’

    “I was looking forward to our holiday so much, we all thought it was going to be great. On October 3 I felt unwell – it was a burning sensation and sharp pains in my chest.

    “I’d had the same feeling for two or three days so I went to a walk-in clinic in America. I was kept in hospital overnight. I got X-rays, scans, everything and the following morning I had an ‘episode’ on the monitor – my heart was racing.

    “I was transferred to Orlando by helicopter. When they did that I realised it must be something serious.

    “On October 5, they decided to cut my groin and slid an electrode up my artery to my heart. They try to replicate the beat of your heart but they couldn’t do it. The following day I had another ‘episode’ so they had to do it all over again.

    “This time they thought they’d fixed it and I was released on the Friday. All the time, the doctors had told me it wasn’t life-threatening, it was the top chamber of my heart.

    “But they wanted to fit a monitor. They did that and I was taking my son Stuart to the airport in Tampa the following day – he was coming home earlier than us.

    “I had two ‘episodes’ in Tampa, one in a car park and the other in the shopping precinct. It was sheer pain in my chest. At the airport I was hanging on to cars in a bid to keep myself up. I just wanted into my car to cool myself down because it was boiling hot.

    “In the precinct, my wife and daughter were in one of the shops when I felt it happening again. I was holding on to a railing before getting myself on to a couch, in the middle of the mall.

    “I couldn’t get my breath, it was the worst one I had. It lasted 35 minutes and a young girl came up and asked if she could help me.

    “I knew she was there but I couldn’t speak. In fact, I couldn’t tell you what she looked like because I had no focus.

    “All I kept thinking was ‘the doctor told me it wasn’t life-threatening’. But at that point, I thought I was done. I was convinced I would die and my life flashed in front of my eyes.”

    In the middle of the night, Kirk suffered more chest pains and couldn’t take it any longer.

    Kay immediately took him back to the hospital where it was discovered he had suffered another ‘episode’ which had come from the life-threatening lower chamber of his heart. His arteries were almost completely blocked and the reality of what was happening to him was gradually hitting home to Stevie and his family.

    He said: “They have put two stents in my heart, as the arteries were 70 per cent blocked. The stents are metal coils which will stay in there permanently.

    “The doctors didn’t see it coming, it was totally unexpected. In Tampa, it had come from the bottom chamber and I know now that’s life-threatening.

    “I was told I’d been very lucky. If the artery had clotted, it would have been burst and there would have been no way back.

    “When I got back I visited Stewart Hillis, the former Scotland doctor, and he read my records from America. It said they’d found scarring of the heart from a previous ‘episode’ in my life. That’s a heart attack I wasn’t aware of.

    “I’d led a normal, healthy life before this happened and it’s brought a lot of things home to me. It puts life in perspective and it was traumatic for Kay and the kids as well.

    “They were brilliant with me but my daughter Kirsten thought I was going to die in Tampa. That says it all really.”

    Kirk was working as a community coach with Motherwell before the illfated holiday in America and aims to be back at Fir Park in the next fortnight helping local kids develop their skills.

    He became a hero with the Steelmen when he scored the winning goal against Dundee United at Hampden 19 years ago to help Well lift the Scottish Cup.

    No one could have predicted the tragedy that would beset Tommy McLean’s squad in later life, with Cooper, O’Donnell, Dolan and McGrillen dying before reaching their 40th birthday.

    Craig Paterson, another starter in the Cup Final XI, suffered a cancer scare two years ago, when he had a growth removed.

    Kirk admits he’s still trying to come to terms with what happened in America and can’t understand the “bizarre” curse which has struck a number of his former team-mates.

    He said: “Thankfully my problem has been fixed and it’s unlikely to happen again. I’ve still to get a monitor fixed this week to make sure my heart is beating properly.

    “But I should be back in Motherwell in two weeks, doing a bit of coaching with the kids.

    “I’ll take it from there but I have to be careful – I won’t be running around like a mad man and won’t be appearing in charity games any more.

    “I’m struggling to cope with what happened to me. It’s hard to get over it. I find it difficult sleeping – I’m frightened in case I don’t wake up. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from medical staff but it’s a personal, psychological thing. I was sitting the other night and it hit me just how close I was to dying.

    “Most professional footballers think this will never happen to them. I thought I was bullet-proof.

    “But obviously I look at Davie who had an aneurism and Phil and Jamie had heart problems. We’ve also lost Paul.

    “You’re not safe in life. You think you’re untouchable but sometimes you have to take stock and calm yourself down.

    “It’s very bizarre what’s happened to some of the boys from the cup-winning team.

    “When it’s actually happening to you, you do think about it. I just thank God I was in the right place to be treated.”

    Words: Scott McDermott, Daily Record