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  • First team

    McHugh: Our preparation is vital

  • Women

    Women prepare to face Aberdeen

  • Club

    The Cobra: Tommy Coyne

  • First team

    Thomson in charge for Celtic clash

  • Club

    Can you name that tune?

  • First team

    Preview: Motherwell v Celtic

  • First team

    Aldred: We’ll be ready

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Highlights as Under 20s lose to United

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Craigan: The better side won

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    U20s: Motherwell 0 – 2 Dundee Utd

  • First team

    McHugh: Our preparation is vital

    As the ball looped high off the head of Christophe Berra, it looked set for Harry Cochrane to hook the ball clear from danger, almost certainly resulting in a Scottish Cup quarter final replay between Hearts and Motherwell.

    But Carl McHugh burst forward to control the ball on his chest ahead of the young Jambo’s midfielder, before unleashing one of the most memorable strikes seen at Fir Park in a decade.

    On his apparently weaker right foot, Motherwell’s captain thundered an unstoppable volley in to the top corner from 25-yards to send the Steelmen back to Hampden.

    It is somewhat fitting that the midfielder scored the goal responsible for securing another semi final, given that he will be suspended for that very fixture on April 14.

    For Carl, as always, it isn’t about him.

    “It was a special goal, one that will live with me forever, but all that matters is the team,” he said.

    [pullquote]Sure it’s frustrating that I won’t be able to play in the semi’s, but the lads will go out there and give it their all like they do every week.[/pullquote]

    He added: “But to be honest, I’m not thinking that far ahead, because we have some huge games coming up, starting today.

    “While we’ve spoke about the Hearts game and the goal in this interview, that’s long gone in our minds now. We just have to be focused on the league and on picking up as many points as possible because we still have a lot to play for.”

    With Celtic set for Fir Park this afternoon, Motherwell’s number eight has his sight’s set on three important points.

    “Celtic have proved for a number of years now that they’re the best team in the country,” the midfielder said. “We’ll need to be at our very best if we hope to get a result.

    “But we’re here at home, where we’ve played well this season. It’s been something we’ve aimed to do; make Fir Park a hard place to come. I think that’s been the cornerstone of what success we’ve had this year.

    [pullquote]We’ve had a lot of good results here and we’re going to have to continue to do that if we want to finish the season strongly.[/pullquote]

    He added: “We put in a really good performance the last time Celtic came here, and we were unlucky not to get more than just a point from the game.

    “But we know how hard a game it will be this afternoon so we need to be sure we’re at our best from the first whistle.”

    In his second season with the club, and his first with the armband, Carl allows himself to reflect fondly on what has been a season of highs for the club so far.

    “I don’t think for a second that anyone in the dressing room would have been surprised if you told them we’d make it to a final, be challenging for the top six and be in the last four of the Scottish Cup,” the Irishman admitted.

    “Sure, it may have surprised the media, but for us as a group, we have high standards and huge determination.”

    That determination is something that has been ever-present in the dressing room this term.

    And following a disappointing defeat in last weekend’s Lanarkshire derby, the skipper knows him and his teammates will need to show that in abundance this afternoon.

    He said: “The defeat to Hamilton was a sore one to take, it’s never nice losing a derby match but I just felt we let ourselves down in our overall performance.

    [pullquote]We didn’t do enough on the day and ultimately paid for our mistakes, so we’ll need to be sure to be at it today so that we can bounce back.[/pullquote]

    “We’re big enough to admit that and take it on the chin. To be honest, it’s not just about today, if we can use that to bounce back for the next four hugely important games then it’ll help push us on for a strong end to the season.”

    And ahead of today’s clash with Brendan Rodgers side, the Steelmen have been focused in their preparations in training.

    “We were gutted after the game last weekend,” Carl admitted. “But the boys always bounce back, we don’t expect anything different.

    “We’ve done that when we’ve needed to most this season, we don’t sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. If you do that, you won’t get very far in football!

    “But training’s been very good this week, we’ve been working hard to ensure we go in with a game plan to get a result today.”

    Those preparations play a big role for the team, Carl reveals.

    “We work really, really hard on the training pitch and we have a real togetherness. I think when you go in to games with that sort of preparation and attitude you go in with a bit more confidence.

    “We all know our jobs, we all know exactly what we’re doing on the pitch and I think when you can safely feel like the man next to you is just as prepared as you are, it ultimately makes you a better team.”

  • Women

    Women prepare to face Aberdeen

    Motherwell battled back from behind last weekend to defeat Central Girls 3-1, making it two wins from two at Braidhurst so far this season.

    Now both coach Eddie Wolecki Black and defender Ashley Nicholson are keen to make it three wins on the spin when Aberdeen make the long journey to Lanarkshire on Sunday.

    “The players have got confidence from playing at Braidhurst now and winning results will always breed confidence,” said Black. “We are all really looking forward to Sunday.”

    Nicholson added: “We’ve settled into playing at Braidhurst well and that’s really important. Winning our home games will be vital this season.”

    Following last weekend’s win, Black maintained there was room for improvement in terms of performance and the former Glasgow City gaffer has warned that spells danger for ‘Well’s league rivals.

    “We all agree we can play better than we have so far and that’s ominous for the other teams in the league, as when it does click then I think someone is going to be left with a bloody nose,” he added.

    “Aberdeen were touted as definite title contenders, we have to use this game as a gauge of how far we have done and perhaps how far we have to go.”

    Niamh Johnston meanwhile says there is a real buzz amongst the ‘Well squad right now, following an impressive start to their league campaign in which they have netted 11 times in their last two fixtures.

    “We have been really successful in our first two home games, at the start of every week we analyse and reflect on our performances, then kick on from there,” she said.

    “We’ve got such big ambitions within the squad and while we take everything one game at a time, looking into the horizon we are looking to reach new heights at Motherwell.”

  • Club

    The Cobra: Tommy Coyne

    Thomas Coyne was born in the shadow of Ibrox Stadium on a cold damp November day in what was the vintage year of our (m’lud) 1962.

    Thomas had grown up, like many of his peers, playing and loving the beautiful game. Schools and boys club football soon followed for Tommy before Jack Steedman, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, at Clydebank spotted the young striker playing for Hillwood boys club from Pollok. That particular boys club has served Motherwell well incidentally over the years, with Alex McLeish, Owen Coyle, Ross McCormack and Lee Hollis having all turned out for them.

    Coyne joined a very good Bankies side in a first division that included a certain football club from South Lanarkshire, at the beginning of 1981/2 season.

    It would be a decent start for the talented front man with nine goals in thirty-one appearances in red and white, finishing fourth in the table. Of course that was the campaign that Motherwell FC blew all other contenders away. Ninety-two goals and twenty-six victories helped the Fir Parkers return to the top flight at the third attempt.

    After improving his strike rate the following season as the Bankies narrowly missed out on promotion, bigger clubs began to take some notice of him. The start of 1983-4 season saw Coyne hit a purple patch with ten goals in eleven games which convinced legendary Dundee United manager Jim McLean to spend £60,000 on the hit man.

    There is little doubt that his 18-months at the bottom of Tannadice Street was a disappointment with only nine domestic goals to his name. He did, however, hit a very important goal at home to Lens at Tannadice to earn a place in the next round of the 1986/87 UEFA Cup – a cup run that would eventually see the Arabs famously eliminate the Catalans of Barcelona.

    Tommy was allowed to move up the road to Dens Park as Dundee manager Jocky Scott sought to make some inroads towards the dominant Tangerines of that time.

    The move to the Dark Blues was a success as he struck up a memorable partnership with Keith Wright. Fifty goals followed in thirty months, including finishing as top goal scorer in the 1987/88 Premier League, netting thirty-three goals.

    His strike rate was enough to alert Celtic manager Billy McNeil, who sanctioned a £500,000 bid for TC which was accepted.

    Tommy had mixed fortunes during his spell in Glasgow’s East End, and after a little over 100 appearances for the Hoops, he was off to English Championship side Tranmere Rovers.

    His brief time on Merseyside coincided with Tommy’s darkest hour, when his wife passed away in tragic and truly heartbreaking circumstances.

    With Tommy and his three young sons needing family around them, Coyne looked for a move home. After taking some advice from his big brother Jim, Motherwell boss Tommy Mclean offered terms and Tommy Coyne arrived at Fir Park. It’s fair to say that the tall blonde strikers arrival at Fir Park wasn’t welcomed with undiluted joy from the Motherwell fans, who were wary of time as an Old Firm player.

    His debut was in a 1-0 win over Partick Thistle at home on 30th November in front of over 5,000 punters, where Phil O’Donnell had nicked the winner. Tommy had came to a club that was clearly on the up, and when you look at the Steelmen’s line up that day, it was probably as good a side as a Motherwell fan could ever expect. In a 3-5-2 formation, Dykstra, Martin, McCart, Krivokapic, Shannon, Kirk, Lambert, O’Donnell, McKinnon, Arnott and Coyne.

    A little over a fortnight later, Tommy hit his first goals, a brace, for Motherwell in a 3-2 defeat at Easter Road. Four days further on, as the Steelmen returned to the capital to face Hearts, TC again hit a double, this time backed up with a Rab McKinnon drive to secure what was at that time a rare win at Tynecastle.

    Coyne played in all twenty-nine competitive games that the Fir Parkers played before the end of the season. His return to Scotland had yielded a decent thirteen goals as he began to strike up a terrific partnership with Dougie Arnott.

    The day where he perhaps turned the Motherwell fans firmly in his favour was when his head flick over the flailing arms of Carl Muggleton in the Celtic goal was enough to knock the Glasgow giants out of the Scottish Cup in a third round tie at Fir Park, much to the joy of everyone in claret and amber.

    Heading into April, Motherwell were firmly in the Championship race with Coyne now flying and the fans now declaring their undying love for him through the medium of song. At Easter Road, he was again on target before a late Krivokapic second secured a vital win, triggering wild celebrations behind the goals from the visiting fans.

    Next up were Rangers at Fir Park, and yet again the Fir Park side rose to the occasion as a Coyne penalty and a John Philliben pile driver sent the Light Blues home, desperately worried about the title challenge from South Lanarkshire.

    Four days later Tommy came up trumps again, netting the only goal at home to Kilmarnock leaving a Championship win well within our grasp with three games to go.

    When Dundee United visited mid week in May, ‘keeper Sieb Dykstra, who’d been a stalwart throughout the campaign, had his shakiest of ninety minutes, as our title hopes were extinguished in a 2-1 reverse.

    The arrival of Coyne had helped the Steelmen to their highest league position in thirty-five years, since the days of the Ancell Babes. Finishing just four points off the title with a team that was simply going to get better gave the Fir Park faithful major hopes that something special was about to be achieved in the near future.

    It was not only Motherwell who had benefited from Coyne’s contribution to the season, Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton had also taken a shine to the man the ‘Well fans had now christened “The Cobra.” Tommy had played himself into the starting line up of Ireland’s World Cup finals campaign in the United States. His appearance in the Republics 1-0 win over Italy in New York made him the first ever Motherwell player to feature in a World Cup finals tournament.

    When the Cobra showed up for pre-season back at Fir Park, he found one big difference. Tommy McLean, who without a shadow of a doubt is up there with Hunter and Stevenson in how this club has been shaped over the years, had left following a disagreement with the board over how the club should continue its evolution.

    Aberdeen and Scotland centre half Alex McLeish was the man the Motherwell directors turned to in a player-manager capacity, a move again the Fir Park support didn’t whole heartedly take to.

    McLeish didn’t alter things initially, pretty much leaving the squad McLean had left him alone, apart from signing two goalkeepers – Stevie Woods and Scott Howie.

    The change in management didn’t seem to hamper Coyne as we went into the new season. Tommy scored in five of his first six games against Havnar Boltfelag (UEFA Cup), Clydebank (League Cup), Rangers, Hearts and Kilmarnock (Premier League) as Motherwell made a steady if unspectacular start to the fledgling campaign.

    Our only defeat had been a controversial opening day one at Ibrox Stadium where a ten man Motherwell side lost out to a Duncan Ferguson winner for the hosts seven minutes into injury time, so Motherwell were yet again looking promising for the season ahead.

    After eliminating the Faroe Islanders, Havnar from the UEFA Cup, it was German cracks Borussia Dortmund who stood in the way of further progress in Europe. However, on the eve of the first leg in Germany, Motherwell accepted a bid of £1.75M upfront from Celtic for our young exciting midfielder Phil O’Donnell. It was an offer the club could not turn down, and off we went to the Westfalon Stadion minus a big part of our midfield.

    The performance by the Steelmen that night was immense against a team full of world class footballers. In particular, Coyne along with striker partner, Dougie Arnott caused all sorts of problems. Indeed twice, Tommy Coyne was inches from securing a result that would have shook the world. In the end, it was the home side who won it with an Andy Moeller second half strike.

    The disappointment of the much awaited second leg, which took place on a Tuesday afternoon to take advantage of the substantial cash on offer from German TV was soon forgotten as Motherwell again became a force domestically.

    After that first day defeat to Rangers, we went unbeaten for fifteen league games with the Cobra striking fourteen times. Included in this fabulous run were never to be forgotten wins at Pittodrie with goals from McKinnon, Kirk and Coyne, and Tynecastle with Shannon and Coyne the heroes.

    Also there was that game many Motherwell fans talk about as being the finest half of football ever seen at Fir Park as goals from Coyne, Davies and Arnott secured a win over Partick Thistle. In addition, who can forget the 2-2 draw at Hampden Park against Celtic, as Parkhead was getting rebuilt, when the Cobra struck twice to silence a massive home support.

    McLeish’s first season in charge ended with the Fir Parkers in the runners up spot for the first time in sixty-one years, although in truth a championship challenge was always some distance away from us.

    The next three seasons saw McLeish struggle to replace the quality side he had inherited with Tommy Coyne having to produce the goods in a team that were now flirting with the drop, only at Motherwell could we go from championship challengers to a relegation dog fight in twelve months!

    The 1995-96 season was a bit of a write off for Coyne with a knee injury hampering him for most of the campaign.

    The following season began with the loss of Paul Lambert and Rab McKinnon who both took advantage of the new Bosman ruling, and with money in increasingly short supply, the club began looking towards the youth system for replacements.

    A month after a memorable hat trick for Coyne at Rugby Park, two such products of the academy put their name in lights. After Scott Howie had been injured in a game against Celtic at Fir Park, Jamie Dolan took over the gloves with aplomb, leaving Ian Ross to bundle in an injury time winner to spark wild celebrations around three quarters of the old stadium.

    If the victory over Celtic was sweet, the win at Rangers five months later was simply divine. Motherwell were desperately trying to avoid a relegation play-off against Airdrie, whilst Rangers were looking for a point to clinch the much sought after “nine in a row”.

    Tommy Coyne played an integral part in a 2-0 win that forced the Rangers Directors to cancel a Championship party they’d arranged, and the planned “Conga” of Rangers fans from Ibrox to George Square after the game was ditched due to lack of interest.

    Season 1997-98 was another struggle for Motherwell, and would prove to be the Cobra’s last one at the club. With manager McLeish deciding to move to Hibernian in February, the club looked to Harri Kampman to try and change the downturn in fortunes. Coyne hit a double in Kampman’s first game in charge to seal a win at home to St. Johnstone, but come the end of the season for whatever reason, Tommy left the club to go back up to Dundee.

    Sixty-three goals in a little over four years, almost a goal every two games, was a great return considering a quality Motherwell squad was gradually being dismantled during his time. Tommy had a great ability to hold the ball up and play clever passes to retain possession. He was a number nine who perhaps lacked a yard of pace, but was good in the air and could protect the ball with ease. Coyne was never just a goal scorer, he was much more than that, being blessed with a football intelligence rarely seen below the top echelons of the game.

    Tommy rarely dealt with the press, and was never really one who interacted with fans, but for one special reason he’ll always be one of my heroes.

    He came over to my Dad’s house in May 1997 to watch the Scottish Cup final on TV as my ol’ man was in his last months, fighting a terminal illness. Tommy had known how big a ‘Well fan Fergie “senior” was, and couldn’t do enough to make his day. For a couple of hours Tommy wasn’t Motherwell’s star centre forward, he was one of the lads having a couple of beers, watching and talking about the football on the telly.

    That afternoon I found Tommy Coyne to be a quiet, intelligent, witty and kind man. A top bloke who had come through some tough times, but also happened to be a helluva football player.

  • First team

    Thomson in charge for Celtic clash

    Referee for Sunday’s Ladbrokes Premiership clash against Celtic is Craig Thomson.

    The 45-year old takes charge of his fourth Motherwell fixture of the season, after overseeing two wins and two defeats.

    Two of those were Lanarkshire derbies, in which the Steelmen won both, and another was a loss against St Johnstone.

    Most relevantly was his officiating of the Bettered Cup final, when ‘Well took on Celtic at Hampden, which ended in a 2-0 loss for Stephen Robinson’s side.

    One of the top Scottish referees in the game, Thomson has been in charge of fixtures at all levels, including the UEFA Champions League and World Cup Qualifiers.

    His record in charge of the Steelmen is a bit of a mixed bag with 18 wins from 53 matches. There have been 25 defeats and ten draws too.

    A total of 179 players have gone into the book, 93 were wearing claret and amber. Eleven players have been sent off whilst the official has been in charge, four of which have come this season, including the dismissals of Trevor Carson, Carl McHugh and Charles Dunne back in August in Perthshire, and Cédric Kipré in the cup final in November.

    Craig will be ably assisted by Ralph Gordon and Graeme Leslie, with Stephen Finnie on fourth official duties.

  • Club

    Can you name that tune?

    With Motherwell Makes Music starting on Friday night, the players go head to head with the coaches in a game of name that tune.

    The event returns for a second year with more than 30 bands performing in the town from March 16 to 18.

    Organised by Derek Watson from The Banter Thiefs, the event has attracted bands from all over the country, as well as big crowds.

    Tickets are available to buy here, as well as on the door each night.

  • First team

    Preview: Motherwell v Celtic

    Celtic stand in the way on Sunday as Motherwell look to bounce back from derby day disappointment. 

    The table toppers will be tough opposition for Stephen Robinson’s side, who are on the hunt for a spot in the top six.

    And with some crucial games on the horizon, Sunday’s showdown with the Hoops is a hurdle the Fir Park side are relishing.

    Stephen Robinson is aiming for some big performances and a few surprises from his Motherwell squad as they go into a tough run of fixtures.

    After the challenge of Celtic on Sunday, Rangers and Aberdeen come to Lanarkshire in quick succession.

    But the Northern Irishman is looking forward with a positive mind set.

    “The attitude we have is we’ll try and take maximum points from them all,” Robinson said.

    “Is that realistic? It’s definitely what we set out to do. Whether we achieve that remains to be seen.

    “We will go positive. We will go against people and make sure that we are competitive.

    “We do need to take points, of course. We’ve got the three games coming up at home and we’ve got a very good home record.

    [pullquote]We will make sure they are tough, tough games and we will go into them confident. Why not?[/pullquote]

    Motherwell will come off the run with an away trip to face St Johnstone, before heading to Hampden Park for the fourth time this season in their William Hill Scottish Cup semi final against Aberdeen.

    Expectations have long been surpassed in the cup competitions but Robinson says his targets remain the same as always.

    “My objective from the board is to stay in this division,” he said. “My aims are much higher than that. We’ve been able to achieve that this season with a final and a semi final. We’re sitting seventh in the league.

    “But first and foremost, let’s get the points that make sure we are in the division. Everything else is a bonus.”

    Centre back Tom Aldred is relishing the challenge of Celtic on Sunday.

    The centre back looked ahead to the first fixture of a tricky spell in which Rangers and Aberdeen will also visit Fir Park.

    The 27-year-old believes a positive performance could hold the club in good stead going in to those important games.

    “When you have a result like last weekend you need a reaction,” Aldred said. “We disappointed not just with the result but with the performance.

    “But to be honest, I don’t think you need much more incentive than we have when you go up against Celtic, so we’ll be ready.

    “We’ll be ready for the run of games coming up. As a player they’re the games that you don’t just look forward to but you pride yourself on going out and getting a result in, so we’ll be right up for it.”

    Tickets are available at the Fir Park ticket office or by calling 01698 333333.

    Celtic supporters should contact their club for ticket information.

    Kick off at Fir Park on Sunday is at 2.15pm.

    Admission prices are as follows:

    ADULTS£27/20
    CONCESSIONS£18/£16
    JUVENILES£14/£10
    FAMILY (1 ADULT + 1 JUNIOR)£27

    Concessions are applicable to 60 and over and full time students with a valid matriculation card. Juveniles are applicable to aged 15 and under. The cheaper price is for the John Hunter stand.

    Motherwell fans who require ambulant or wheelchair access should contact Brian Davidson on 07428 225254 or tickets@mfcdsa.com. Fans must contact Brian by Wednesday night before the match.

    If you can’t make it along, you can follow the match on Twitter @MotherwellFC. Live audio commentary will be available on mixlr.com/motherwellfc

    You can see the match highlights on MFC TV’s YouTube channel, as well as full reaction and a match report right here on the official website.

  • First team

    Aldred: We’ll be ready

    Tom Aldred is relishing the challenge of Celtic on Sunday as the Steelmen look to bounce back from a disappointing defeat against Hamilton Academical. 

    The centre back, who says he and his teammates will be ready for the challenge, looked ahead to the fixture as he spoke to the broadcast press.

    The 27-year-old said a positive performance could also hold the club in good stead going in to some important games.

    “When you have a result like last weekend you need a reaction,” Aldred said. “We disappointed not just with the result but with the performance.

    “But to be honest, I don’t think you need much more incentive than we have when you go up against Celtic, so we’ll be ready.

    “We’ll be ready for the run of games coming up. As a player they’re the games that you don’t just look forward to but you pride yourself on going out and getting a result in, so we’ll be right up for it.”

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Highlights as Under 20s lose to United

    Extended highlights from Motherwell Under 20s 2-0 defeat to Dundee United in the Development League. 

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Craigan: The better side won

    Stephen Craigan says his side lacked a cutting edge as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Dundee United Under 20s. 

    The Northern Irishman, who believed the better side on the day won, reflected on the 90 minutes at Forthbank Stadium.

    Speaking at full time, Craigan praised Dundee United and admitted his side weren’t at their best over the course of the game.

    “I think Dundee United probably deserved to win the game,” the Northern Irishman said.

    “They showed more desire than us and I think their side was a bit younger than ours, so credit to them.

    [pullquote]Overall, it was a bit frustrating yes, but hands up, I think the best team won.[/pullquote]

    “I think their back three dealt with our front two, whichever pairing we went with, and their front two caused our back three all sorts of problems.

    “But I always try to take the positives from the game and one of those is the fact that Shea Gordon has come back from injury.

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    U20s: Motherwell 0 – 2 Dundee Utd

    Motherwell Under 20s slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Dundee United in the Development League on Thursday afternoon.

    Stephen Craigan’s side played their second game of the week, after their 2-0 win over Kilmarnock on Monday evening.

    But a below par showing from the youngsters resulted in a loss against bottom-placed United.

    Craigan made five changes to his side from their victory at the start of the week, bringing PJ Morrison, Dylan King, Luke Watt and Jamie Semple in to the starting 11, as well as introducing Shea Gordon back in to the team after a lengthy spell out injured.

    The midfielder nearly made his mark with a decent effort from the edge of the area in the 11th minute, but his curled effort flew narrowly past the post.

    The visitors took the lead after 32 minutes when Declan Glass fired beyond Morrison from the edge of the area, spinning neatly and dispatching confidently to open the scoring.

    Eight minutes later, United were awarded a penalty, and it was an easy decision for the referee.

    Kieran Inglis burst in to the box before Krones bundled him to the deck. From the spot, Idris Kadded made it two.

    Craigan introduced Adam Livingstone at half time and the youngster’s delivery from set pieces proved a threat throughout the second 45.

    A swirling corner from Livingstone’s left foot caused all sorts of problems for Josh Donaldson in the United goal, but the young keeper managed to punch clear.

    James Scott should have halved the deficit with just seven minutes left on the clock when Jordan Armstrong’s inviting cross looked set to be headed home. But Donaldson did well to smother the danger.