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    TV: Craigan expects tough Arabs test

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    Craigan at the ‘Craig

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    Tesco Bank Football Challenge Festival

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    O’Donnell tribute to be unveiled

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    TV: Reserves draw with Killie

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    TV: Saunders hoping for Spiders test

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    Scottish Cup 4th Round draw

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    New Sky Sports & ESPN TV Deal

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    Officials named for Utd clash

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    Over 25s Monday Night Football

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    TV: Craigan expects tough Arabs test

    ‘Well skipper Stephen Craigan today admitted he expects a rejuvenated Dundee United to pose a significant threat at Fir Park this Saturday.

    Peter Houston’s men have only lost once in their last five matches, and that was at Ibrox, and picked up an excellent three points against Hearts last Saturday.

    And 54-times capped Craigan, speaking as the Tesco Bank Football Challenge Festival in the Ravenscraig Sports Facility, knows ‘Well are in for a tough encounter.

    “If Peter can get his best eleven on the pitch, and he has just added Robbie Nielsen to the squad, then they are a threat to anyone,” he said.

    “They have improved, there is no about that, and there is no doubt they were in a false position. We have to guard against that and improve our own home form and that’s what we are looking to do.

    “Even when you look at the last game at Tannadice, we won 3-1 but got the goals at the right times in the game.

    “We scored just before half-time which knocked the stuffing out of them a little bit but there’s no doubt it will be a tough ninety minutes for us this weekend.”

    -WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW ONLY ON MFC TV-

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    Craigan at the ‘Craig

    Photos from the Ravenscraig’s Regional Sports Facility Children as Stephen Craigan meets local primary school kids at the Tesco Bank Football Challenge Festival.

    [svgallery name=”craiganatthecraig”]

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    Tesco Bank Football Challenge Festival

    Children from ten local primary schools from Cumbernauld and Motherwell had an amazing day of football and fun at a Tesco Bank Football Challenge Festival at Ravenscraig’s Regional Sports Facility as Stephen Craigan paid a special visit to over 500 participants.

    The schools are the latest to have taken part in six weeks of coaching sessions as part of the Scottish FA’s flagship participation programme and are now coming together for a finale to remember.

    The Tesco Bank Football Challenge is a four-year community programme run in partnership with the Scottish FA. The project introduces football to Primary 2 and Primary 3 children (six to eight years old) across Scotland to help get them engaged in a healthy and active lifestyle.

    Now in its second year 1000 boys and girls in the area have taken part, this year across ten schools.  Overall, more than 36,000 children across Scotland will have been involved in the Tesco Bank Football Challenge by June 2012.

    [pullquote]It was brilliant to see the children have so much fun at the Tesco Bank Football Challenge. I think it is superb programme and I’m really pleased to support it.[/pullquote]

    Nicola Ferguson, head teacher at Woodlands Primary School said: “The children had a fantastic day. The programme fits in really well to the Curriculum for Excellence, but more than anything else gets the children active at the same time as having a lot of fun. I cannot recommend the programme highly enough.”

    Motherwell captain Stephen Craigan added: “It was brilliant to see the children have so much fun at the Tesco Bank Football Challenge. I think it is superb programme and I’m really pleased to support it.

    Former Airdrie and Dunfermline star Andy Smith, now a football development officer in North Lanarkshire said commented: “At a time when participation is a big topic of discussion we are delighted to have the opportunity to get local kids involved in basic football activity through the Tesco Bank Football Challenge, which fits in entirely with the Scottish FA’s Scotland United 2020 strategy. The target to double the number of participants in football this year to 135,000 will be fantastically supported by programmes like this.”

    Adele Mills, Community Investment Manager at Tesco Bank added: “We are delighted our football programme gives children and teachers in the area the opportunity to get active and learn new skills.  It’s great to see the children in North Lanarkshire having such a fantastic time.”

    In the first year of the programme 479 schools across Scotland’s 32 local authorities participated in the programme, involving 19,061 boys and girls. There were 74 regional festivals and over 1000 teachers and volunteers went through the Scottish FA’s in-service programme.

    The primary schools involved in this year’s Tesco Bank Football Challenge in North Lanarkshire are: Woodlands Primary, Auchinloch Primary, Chryston Primary, St Helens Primary, Stepps Primary, Glencairn Primary, Cumbernauld Primary, Whitelees Primary, Holycross Primary, and Cathedral Primary.

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    O’Donnell tribute to be unveiled

    The Motherwell Supporters Trust will unveil the fans’ memorial to Phil O’Donnell at 1.30pm this Saturday (26 November) at Fir Park.

    Along with invited guests from the O’Donnell family, players and staff from Motherwell FC and representatives from Dundee United, the Trust extends an open invitation to Motherwell fans to meet at the Chapman Building where a short ceremony will end with the lighting of the artwork on the North wall of the Phil O’Donnell stand.

    The club captain passed away after leading Motherwell in a home game against Dundee United almost four years ago and it is fitting that they are the visitors to Fir Park this weekend.

    The football community came together united in shock and grief at the loss of a man in his prime.  He was 35 years old and left behind a wife and four children. 

    It was determined that a lasting memorial should be erected in his honour and to that end A Night for Phil was held in the Civic Centre and later a fundraising dinner took place.

    The Gorbals Art Project was asked to design and manufacture a suitable piece that would become part of the fabric of the stadium. 

    The process is now complete and it is hoped that this token of the fans’ remembrance of Uncle Phil will become a treasured part of the club’s history.

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    TV: Reserves draw with Killie

    Motherwell Reserves met Kilmarnock for the second time in three weeks and it was another goal fest, this time ending 3-3.

    The last time the teams met at Dalziel Park, ‘Well ran out 4-1 winners. However, at Garscube this time, ‘Well would not have it all their own way. Goals from Steven Howarth and a Ross Forbes doubled were cancelled out by James Dayton and a brace from Jorge Galán.

    Motherwell made a great start to the match when Ross Forbes opened the scoring early on. Collecting a lovely pass from fellow midfielder Stephen Hughes, the 22-year old took a good touch before smashing a shot past the keeper with the aid of a deflection.

    It was end to end stuff and Killie equalised shortly after. On-loan Osasuna striker Galán collected the ball some twenty-five yards from goal, wasted no time in turning before skipping past Tim Clancy and curling a lovely shot round Tom Bradley into the net.

    If the equaliser was quality, Motherwell’s second goal of the match with right out the top drawer. A superb passing move involving six players eventually led to Jordan Halsman feeding Forbes on the edge of the box. One touch to set himself, the former Scotland U21 International unleashed an unstoppable right-footed strike into the postage stamp corner; his second of the afternoon.

    The first-half scoring wasn’t done there though as Killie made it 2-2 before the break. James Dayton collected from deep, skipped past Jon Page to create space for himself before dinking a lovely shot over the outrushing Tom Bradley.

    Killie went ahead in the second half and it was that man Galán who was on target again. The home side capitalised on a Lawless slip five yards from the edge of the ‘Well penalty area. A terrific ball towards the back post was inviting for the Spaniard, and he duly obliged, heading home from close range.

    Motherwell would get a deserved draw from the match though – Page’s bursting from the back starting the counter attack. The Englishman’s ball wide to the right flank for the trialist striker was good, the ball across the face was even better. It allowed Steven Howarth the opportunity to finish and he needed no invitation, tucking home from underneath the crossbar to complete and excellent move.

    Motherwell: Bradley, Halsman, McKinnon, Page, Clancy, Hughes, Lawless, Carswell, Trialist, Smith, Forbes

    Subs On: Pollock, Howarth

    -WATCH HIGHLIGHTS EXCLUSIVELY ON MFC TV-

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    TV: Saunders hoping for Spiders test

    Steven Saunders is hoping for a clash with his former side as Motherwell were drawn against either Queen’s Park or Elgin City in the 4th Round of the Scottish Cup.

    Saunders came through the ranks with the Spiders before joining Motherwell in the summer of 2008.

    He has since gone on to play 72 times in Claret and Amber as well as representing Scotland at U19s, U21s and the full squad against the Faroe Islands at Pittodrie.

    Despite being months away from recovering from a terrible Achilles tendon tear, the 20-year old is keen to see his old side take on his current employers.

    “Obviously being the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, there were a number of tricky ties on offer so it’s good to be at Fir Park with the chance of a win,” he said.

    “In saying that, it would be a scalp for either of them so we’ll obviously have to guard against complacency and be at our very best to progress.

    “If I had to choose, obviously it would be great if it was my old side Queen’s Park got through and we played them. They still hold a special place in my heart but at the same time, it would be great to get one over of them.”

    -WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH STEVEN ON MFC TV-

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    Scottish Cup 4th Round draw

    Motherwell have been drawn against either Elgin or Queen’s Park in the fourth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

    The draw took place at Hamden this morning with World Champion boxer Ricky Burns pulling the teams.

    Matches are due to be played on the weekend of 7th and 8th of January 2012.

    More to follow…

    THE FULL DRAW:

    Ross County v Stenhousemuir
    Livingston v Ayr United or Montrose
    Raith Rovers v Morton
    Hearts v Auchinleck Talbot
    Cowdenbeath v Hibernian
    St Johnstone v Brechin City
    Stranraer or Forfar Athletic v Aberdeen
    Culter or Partick Thistle v Queen of the South
    Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Dunfermline Athletic
    Falkirk v East Fife
    Motherwell v Elgin City or Queen’s Park
    Arbroath v Rangers
    Peterhead v Celtic
    Airdrie United v Dundee United
    Dundee v Kilmarnock
    St Mirren v Hamilton Academical

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    New Sky Sports & ESPN TV Deal

    The Scottish Premier League today announced a new five-year deal with Sky Sports and ESPN for the live rights to Clydesdale Bank Premier League games.

    The clubs agreed a deal on improved terms which will run from season 2012/13 to the end of season 2016/17.  

    Each broadcaster will continue to show 30 live games per season across the UK.

    Neil Doncaster, Chief Executive of the SPL, said: “Sky Sports and ESPN are two of the biggest names in sports broadcasting and the SPL has enjoyed an excellent relationship with both broadcasters over the course of the current contract, a period which has seen a 28% increase in viewing figures.

    “In the current economic climate, announcing an increase in value is excellent news for our clubs. We are very much looking forward to working with both broadcasters over the coming seasons to continue to raise the profile of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and provide fans with excellent coverage of their league.”

    Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: “We’re delighted to agree this deal with the SPL and continue our partnership with Scottish football that began 20 years ago.  This long-term agreement means Sky Sports viewers can continue to enjoy coverage of 30 live matches a season, including each Old Firm head-to-head, across TV, mobile, online and tablet devices.”  

    Ross Hair, Managing Director, ESPN – Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: “The Clydesdale Bank Premier League has been an important part of our schedule in these first two-and-a-half seasons of our local ESPN channel in the UK and Ireland.

    “Scottish football has performed well on ESPN as we work to build our brand locally and develop our long-term business. We are very proud of the coverage that we have delivered to fans and are very pleased that they have responded with great support and an increasing connection to ESPN on TV and across digital media. We are very excited to continue our coverage and pleased to extend a great partnership with the league.”

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    Officials named for Utd clash

    Referee for Saturday’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash with Dundee Utd is the experienced Iain Brines.

    Iain will be handling his second Motherwell match of the campaign; he was in charge for the 1-0 win over St Mirren back in August when a last-minute Tom Hateley free-kick gave the Steelmen all three points.

    He will be a familiar face to ‘Well fans over the years, none more so than last season where he handled six Motherwell matches, more than any other official.

    He was 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, Saturday’s opponents Dundee Utd at Tannadice in January, Inverness in the Highlands last March and the Scottish Cup Semi Final against St Johnstone.

    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.

    United were comfortable 2-0 winners thanks to goals from Johnny Russell and David Goodwillie and Inverness ran out 3-0 winners courtesy of goals from Sutherland, Foran and MacDonald – arguable the worst performance of the season.

    Prior to that Saints game three months ago, his most recent appointment was that fantastic day at Hampden when Craigan, Murphy and Sutton booked ‘Well a spot in the Final.

    To his credit, Brines was excellent in all six matches with the games at McDiarmid Park and the Caledonian Stadium passing off without a single caution; a rarity in modern football.

    The 44-year-old, who has been a top-flight official for a decade and amongst FIFA’s elite group for five years, has already handled SPL games at Easter Road, Ibrox, St Mirren Park, Pittodrie, East End Park and Rugby Park.

    His overall record in charge of the Steelmen is a bit of a mix bag. Of the 30 games he has taken charge of, Motherwell have won eleven, draw four and lost fifteen.

    In those games, 106 players have seen yellow, 48 of which in claret and amber, while three have been sent for an early bath.

    Iain will be assisted by Gary Cheyne and David Watt with John Beaton on fourth official duties.

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    Over 25s Monday Night Football

    Enjoy watching footy at the weekend? Fancy a kick about? Why not get involved in our new over 25s Monday Night Football project at Fir Park.

    The programme, that will take place on the Astroturf facility behind the East Stand, will concentrate more on the fun aspect rather than the toils and spoils of competitive football.

    Whilst building your fitness levels, our emphasis will be more on style and skill so you can express yourself in a fun, friendly and relaxed way.

    So, if you are over 25 and looking to take part in our fun football evening, then get involved for just £3 per week.

    • 10 week block booking
    • Starts Monday 5th December 2011 – 9 – 10pm

    You can book online at www.motherwellsoccerschools.com or by phoning 01698 239926.