The Scottish Cup visited the Ravenscraig sports facility where kids from Muirhouse Primary were joined by a surprise guest, ‘Well boss Stuart McCall.
The Scottish Cup visited the Ravenscraig sports facility where kids from Muirhouse Primary were joined by a surprise guest, ‘Well boss Stuart McCall.
Pupils at two North Lanarkshire primary schools got the chance to hold the world’s oldest national football trophy – the Scottish Cup.
The famous trophy was on show at Knowetop Primary, Motherwell on Thursday 3 March before youngsters from Muirhouse Primary got the chance to get to grips with the silverware at the Ravenscraig regional sports facility.
North Lanarkshire Council’s football development coaches organised the cup visit with the SFA and ‘Well boss Stuart McCall was also on hand to give the Muirhouse kids some coaching tips and talk about his own cup experiences.
McCall said: “The Scottish cup is a special trophy and the kids will always remember getting the chance to see it first hand. Many will have seen it on the telly before but to see it up close is exciting.”
Provost of North Lanarkshire Tom Curley, a former professional player himself, joined the Muirhouse pupils at Ravenscraig for the special tour. He said “During my playing days the Scottish Cup was the trophy every player wanted to get their hands on.
“It is really exciting for youngsters to see the trophy first-hand and I would like to thank the SFA for bringing the cup to North Lanarkshire.”
The Scottish cup was first played for in 1873-1874 and was held aloft for the first time by Queen’s Park.
Caitlyn Redford (11) from Muirhouse Primary said: “I was really happy to see the cup and to get a chance to lift it up” and Scott Crosby (11) added: “ We were all really looking forward to today and holding such a famous cup was brilliant.”
Tom Hateley is desperate to use the momentum gained from beating Celtic as ‘Well enter the final stages of a competitive fight for a top-six spot.
Hateley, like many others in claret and amber, was impeccable against Lennon’s side last weekend and is now chasing consistency after ‘Well proved they can match the very best the SPL has to offer.
“If we can carry on our momentum from last week and hopefully get consistency in our game then we have the belief that we can go and win anywhere,” a confident Hateley proclaimed. “I don’t think its naivety – we believe that we can beat anyone.
“It’s fair to say that we deserved to beat Celtic last week. It goes to show what we can achieve on our day. We’re just not consistent enough – that is shown when you lose to St Mirren and then beat Celtic.
“Consistency is the most important thing in football, and that is what we want to achieve.”
The quest for that elusive consistent streak will begin as the Steelmen travel to Inverness to face Terry Butcher’s seventh-placed Caley Thistle side.
It is a game made all the more vital due to the fact it is the first of a series of encounters against teams who are also chasing a berth in the top half of the SPL.
Positive results in the next four matches, against Inverness, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and Dundee United will see ‘Well secure a place in the ‘Championship Group’ after the split, and may even spark a chase for fourth place.
Motherwell’s 2009/10 Young Player of the Year continued: “From now until the split every game is massive. There are just so many teams in contention.
“It’s a important run of game coming up – we’ll take it one at a time and not get ahead of ourselves. There’s about eight or nine teams who will fancy a place in the top-six – we know how tight it is.
“That momentum has to continue going up to Inverness as that will be a huge game. If we can beat them – like we did last time in Inverness – then it will give us another cushion ahead of another team who could catch us.”
Monte Carlo-born Hateley also took a moment to praise Darren Randolph, who has surpassed John Ruddy’s record of 15 clean sheets in a season with his 16th against Celtic – and it’s only March.
It has been a remarkable achievement for the big Irish keeper, and makes a mockery of the fear around Fir Park at the beginning of this campaign that the excellent Ruddy would prove irreplaceable.
“You don’t get 16 clean sheets if you don’t put the work in,” Hateley praised. “It’s so good to know that you have a solid keeper behind you – someone you can trust to come and take crosses and make vital saves.
“Darren deserves all the plaudits he is given. I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
Saturday’s clash with Inverness represents the start of a run which will be pivotal to the success of ‘Well’s season, according to Stuart McCall.
The Steelmen face fellow top-six contenders Inverness, Kilmarnock, Aberdeen and Dundee United in the next four SPL matches, as the race for a top-half berth enters the final straight.
They also face the mouth-watering prospect of a trip to Tannadice for the Scottish Cup quarter-final on March 13th as ‘Well aim for a second trip to Hampden in 2011.
And McCall knows that the next few games could make or break this campaign for the men in claret and amber.
“It’s absolutely vital,” the gaffer acknowledged. “It will make it an exciting four or five games to go before the split, and if we can get positive results then we have an opportunity to get fourth.
“We’ve got five games before the split and they include Inverness and Kilmarnock away, and Aberdeen and Dundee United at home – then we go to Hearts.
“All managers will be thinking the same because down to St Johnstone they all think they can get a top-six spot, and rightly so.
The Caley Jags, managed by a former team-mate of McCall’s in Terry Butcher, have endured a difficult run of form of late, winning just two SPL matches in their last fourteen outings and coming to Fir Park on the back of a 2-0 home defeat to Dundee United.
However, the Motherwell boss is still extremely wary of the threat possessed by the side just four points behind the Steelmen in the table.
McCall continued: “We’re expecting a very difficult game. In one of my first games here we played Caley Thistle and they were unlucky not to be ahead after a good first half.
“Any team managed by big Terry, especially after a couple of defeats, will come out fighting and snarling but we’ve got to match them in the battle and play our football.
“The pitch seems to have held up well so I hope it will be a good footballing game.”
The Motherwell boss described his players as ‘buzzing’ following last weekend’s stunning victory over Celtic, but he has re-affirmed that he wants more of the same this weekend.
A lack of consistency has been a bugbear of McCall’s since his arrival, and it is something he wishes to remedy – starting in the Highlands on Saturday afternoon.
“The training has been sharp and everyone is looking forward to the next game,” the 46-year old insisted.
“After a day off for the lads, I had a meeting with them and said ‘that’s gone now.’ I want them to take the confidence and enjoy the slaps on the back, but we need to focus now on what will be a very difficult game in Inverness.”
The air of positivity around Fir Park is further enhanced by a squad which now possesses a healthy dose of competition, with the likes of Francis Jeffers and Stephen Craigan forced to battle for their place following the terrific performance against Celtic without their presence.
Also, with Stevie Saunders coming back into contention and Steve Jones relatively close to fitness, it seems as though the Steelmen will have something approaching a full strength squad for the race for the top-half.
“We lost four players over the winter period and I think people were getting in the team because of a lack of numbers,” McCall insisted. “Now we have options.
“I left Franny (Jeffers) out last week and Craigan was suspended. Saunders was out and he is coming back and Jones started training again this week – although Inverness will come too soon for him.”
“It’s a great problem to have and it is what all managers want for their team.”
Motherwell U19s will be keen to bounce back from their 8-1 capitulation at Rangers last week when the face Hearts tomorrow (Friday).
Young’s men have hit a difficult run of form after what was a promising opening half to the 2010/11 campaign.
That was demonstrated with last week’s defeat prompting Young to describe it as his worst moment in football.
Hearts, on the other hand, are flying high near the top of the table and although they are seven points adrift of leaders Rangers, they do have games in hand.
The Steelmen will also be keen for some revenge after Hearts ran out comfortable 5-0 winners the last time the teams met back in October.
The match will take place at Bathgate’s Creamery Park with kick-off at 12 noon. Entry for anyone wishing to go along is free of charge.
Motherwell travel north to take on Terry Butcher’s Inverness Caley side this weekend keen to build on Sunday’s success against Celtic.
The Fir Parkers’ form has been up and down of late; however, the win against Celtic has given everyone a massive boost.
Former ‘Well boss Terry Butcher, and his trusted lieutenant Maurice Malpas, have worked wonders with Caley Thistle and they currently occupy sixth spot.
With two games against Dundee United either side of Saturday’s match, the three fixtures will go a long way in determining whether Caley can finish in the top half of the table for the first time in their short history.
So, all the ingredients are there for an excellent match. Tickets will be available on the gate at the Caledonian Stadium with admission prices as follows:
The bus for Inverness will leave the Bentley Hotel at 10am. Phone Jim on (01698) 299650 or e-mail Christopher on firstname.lastname@example.org.
BELLSHILL & DISTRICT BRANCH
The Inverness bus will pick up at the Fir Park Club, Motherwell at 8.40am then the Carousel Bar, Bellshill at 8.50pm and finally the Holytown War Monument at 9.00am. To book seats, contact Brian Worton on 07763 061821 or after 6pm on (01698) 747644
The stadium is located in the Longman area of Inverness, next to the Kessock Bridge, and so is very easy to find.
Head towards Perth on the M9 and take the first exit at Broxden roundabaout on to the A9. Then take the second exit at Inveraimond roundabout (signposted Inverness).
Continue on the A9 towards Inverness and take the third exit at Longman roundabout. The stadium will be clearly visible on the left.
Parking is available for visiting fans behind the South Stand, priced at just £1.00 per car.
Several operators run buses to Inverness, departing every hour from Buchanan Station in Glasgow city centre.
Further information and timetables are available online at www.citylink.co.uk.
Inverness station is served by trains from Glasgow and is within walking distance of the ground.
Upon leaving the station, follow the signs for the car park and bus station. Cross through the car park, keeping the bus station on your left and on your right you can see a bridge crossing the railway line. Go across the bridge and then continue straight ahead along Longman Road. Eventually you will reach the stadium on your left.
Further information and timetables are available online at www.scotrail.co.uk
Referee for Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Inverness at the Caledonian Stadium is the familiar face of Iain Brines.
Incredibly, Iain will be taking charge of his fifth ‘Well game of the current SPL campaign, having been the man in the middle for the games against St Johnstone in early September, St Mirren at Fir Park one month later, Rangers on Boxing Day and Dundee Utd at Tannadice in January.
A Nick Blackman wonder strike and an own-goal from Kevin Rutkiewicz was enough to earn the Steelmen all three points in Perth and late goals from Tom Hateley and Jamie Murphy gave ‘Well a 3-1 against Danny Lennon’s men.
Managerless ‘Well were thumped by Rangers despite John Sutton’s goal early in the second half. A Kenny Miller double along with goals from Vladmir Weiss and a Steven Saunders own goal gave Rangers a comfortable 4-1 win and last time out United were comfortable 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Johnny Russell and David Goodwillie
To his credit, Brines was excellent in all four matches with the game at McDiarmid Park passing off without a single caution; a rarity in modern football.
He will be a more than familiar face to ‘Well fans over the years. Last season, he looked after the games at Easter Road in December (2-0 defeat), the 1-0 home win against Kilmarnock in February and the 2-1 defeat at Celtic Park in April.
The 43-year-old, who has been a top-flight official for a decade and amongst FIFA’s elite group for five years, has had a busy campaign with Saturday being his tenth SPL fixture of the season.
His overall record in charge of the Steelmen is a bit of a mix bag. Of the 27 games he has taken charge of, Motherwell have won nine, draw four and lost fourteen.
In those games, 98 players have seen yellow, 45 of which in claret and amber, while three have been sent for an early bath.
Iain will be assisted by Gordon Middleton and Gary Cheyne with Alan Muir on fourth official duties.
The SFA are giving one lucky supporter the chance to win the Scottish Cup for the day & a pair of tickets to a quarter final match of their choice.
The world’s oldest Association trophy could be making its way to your home, school, workplace or club very soon and you and a friend could be taking in a quarter final match of your choice if you are selected as the lucky winner. You’ll have to be quick though, the closing date is tomorrow, Wednesday 2 March at midday.
To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, simply log onto the Scottish Cup Facebook page at www.facebook.com/scottishcup and click on the Win tab.
The SPL Board have announced that the 2011/12 Clydesdale Bank Premier League Season will start on Saturday 23 July 2011.
An earlier start date is an important part of the SPL’s strategic plan for Scottish football and should mean that SPL clubs involved in European qualifiers in July enter those games better prepared. A July start date will also reduce the number of mid-week games in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League during the winter months.
When determining the start date for season 2011/12, the SPL Board decided on a protocol that allows clubs to participate in summer tournaments, whilst also ensuring that all clubs and fans reap the benefits of an earlier start date for the season.
SPL clubs can request that one fixture early in the season be postponed to take part in such tournaments. As an example, the SPL Board has given permission for Celtic to participate in the Dublin Super Cup over the weekend of 30 and 31 July.
Click Here to read SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster’s blog.
John Sutton lashed home a brace to down Celtic and then demanded consistency as ‘Well chase fourth spot in the SPL.
The 26-year old was superb playing as the lone striker, and gave Daniel Majstorovic and, in particular, Charlie Mulgrew a torrid afternoon.
His two goals were the least the former Spurs trainee deserved for an afternoon of typical energy, work-rate and top class finishing.
“It was always going to be difficult to play Celtic, with the run they have been on, but I thought we were better than them and fully deserved the points,” the striker acknowledged. “We now need to keep that level of performance up now.
“As a striker you are always reliant on what is happening around you, and the boys were absolutely fantastic.
“I thought all over the pitch we were sharper than them. We’ll hopefully keep that standard up, although every game is different.
“The pressure is off you when you play either half of the Old Firm. You are playing a team which is expected to win and will come and attack you. The game up at Inverness will be different, but we will hopefully get a similar result.”
Sutton notched his 10th and 11th goals of the season against Lennon’s men, and he hopes that the victory over top-of-the-table Celtic will put all of the talk about the defeat to St Mirren to bed.
‘Well were disappointing against Sutton’s old club in a 1-0 home defeat – but things could not have been more different yesterday afternoon.
“None of us were happy after the midweek game. You have to credit St Mirren for how they played against us – they are no mugs, but we didn’t believe we did as well as we could,” Motherwell’s in-form striker conceded.
“We made amends for that today.”
The big striker, whose contract expires in the summer, was quick to bat away any suggestion that the Fir Park pitch had any bearing on the result.
The Steelmen played some attractive football on the understandably weather-beaten turf, but questions persisted regarding the state of the grass – despite Motherwell enjoying a relatively unimpeded winter calendar, unlike many other clubs in the SPL.
“The Fir Park pitch is only an issue if other teams talk about it. We don’t really talk about – it is what it is, and it is the same for both teams,” Sutton insisted.
“We showed that you can play some really decent football on it, and if you play on it with the right mentality then the pitch doesn’t make a difference.”