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  • First team

    Robinson praises 18th clean sheet

  • First team

    Ross County 0 – 0 Motherwell

  • First team

    Preview: Ross County v Motherwell

  • First team

    Rose: A lot to play for

  • First team

    Robinson: The boys look sharp

  • Club

    Motherwell enter partnership with Ticketmaster

  • Club

    The career of Keith MacRae

  • Club

    Alan Burrows promoted to chief executive

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Highlights as Under 20s beat Partick Thistle

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Pleased with dominant performance

  • First team

    Robinson praises 18th clean sheet

    Stephen Robinson guided his side to an 18th clean sheet of the season with a hard-fought performance against Ross County. 

    The Steelmen kept the struggling Staggies at bay, but also came up against a resolute side fighting for survival.

    And Robinson admitted he could take a number of positives from his side’s third consecutive clean sheet.

    “Ross County are scrapping for their lives so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” the Northern Irishman said.

    “We were organised and disciplined. We also had the best chances of the game, but we’ll take the point.”

    He added: “That’s our 18th clean sheet now so that’s pleasing. If you don’t concede goals, you won’t lose games.

    “I’m relatively pleased today. It was a long journey up for the fans so it was good to come away with the point, but I think we could have won the game.”

  • First team

    Ross County 0 – 0 Motherwell

    Ross County 0 – 0 Motherwell

    Grant Russell at the Global Energy Stadium

    Motherwell claimed another point on the road in a battling performance away to relegation-threatened Ross County.

    Stephen Robinson’s men slightly edged a tight affair in terms of chances, with Curtis Main, Chris Cadden and Ryan Bowman all going agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock.

    The clean sheet also marked the 18th shutout of the season for the ‘Well defence, putting them just one off the club record.

    The Steelmen were unchanged from their emphatic 3-0 William Hill Scottish Cup semi final over Aberdeen. Carl McHugh returned from suspension to take up a spot on the bench.

    After the initial exchanges, both teams were forced into early changes through injury.

    Chris Routis was withdrawn for the hosts, with Jason Naismith taking his place, while Andy Rose was withdrawn shortly afterwards with a collarbone injury. McHugh took his place.

    Both sides had half chances in a scrappy first period. Harry Souttar tested Trevor Carson with a free header from a set play on the half hour mark for the hosts, while Curtis Main hit the side netting with a long-range shot as the first period wore to a close.

    Immediately County went on the offensive again. Schalk picked the ball up in the centre of the park 30 yards from goal but his ambitious drive sailed over the bar.

    Motherwell upped their intensity as they went in the search of an opener before the close of the first half. The end result was a corner kick which eventually found its way to Main whose header cannoned back off the far post, only for referee Alan Muir to adjudge a foul had been committed.

    County then almost took the lead on the stroke of the interval. Billy McKay found himself in acres of space 12 yards out with a potential shot at Carson but he chose to move the ball further right to Fraser. The recovering Charles Dunne, fortunately, was on hand to lunge in bravely to block the shot.

    The second half saw the game open up in spells, with Motherwell creating a succession of chances.

    Tom Aldred was first to give the visitors hope, with his header from a corner kick being headed clear of the line by Max Melbourne.

    Bowman then thought he had done enough to put Motherwell into the lead. Chris Cadden’s burst down the right led to the ball getting into the feet of Main. The big striker then laid off his strike partner, but his snap shot from the edge of the area was turned around the post by Scott Fox.

    Immediately from the corner Main met the ball at the back post, with his header across the face of goal bouncing just past the left post.

    County grew back into the game but as they pressed as pressed, it was Motherwell who nearly broke the deadlock with five mintues to spare.

    Main used his strength superbly to hold off the attentions of Souttar from a long ball, but his shot from outside the area went wide.

    Immediately County were back on the front foot. Schalk was next to trouble the travelling defence, but his ferocious shot from 20 yards was just over.

    The game flew from end to end. Next it was Cadden who came close, with his shot from the edge of the area, after being teed up by Aldred, agonisningly failing to dip in time as it cleared the crossbar.

    There was time for a late debut for James Scott in the 90th minute as he replaced Main, but he wasn’t presented with a scoring chance to make it a maiden appearance to remember.

  • First team

    Preview: Ross County v Motherwell

    Preview: Ross County v Motherwell

    Having narrowly missed out on the top six, Motherwell make the long trip to Dingwall in their first post-split fixture of the 2017/18 campaign.

    And following the historic Scottish Cup semi final victory over Aberdeen, the Steelmen have the chance to confirm their top-flight status on Saturday.

    Victory would rule ‘Well out of any relegation or play-off scrap, whilst a win for hosts Ross County would give the Northerners a lifeline in their fight for survival.

    It makes for an intriguing Premiership encounter in the Highlands.

    But there is more to the clash than just survival for the players in claret and amber.

    Manager Stephen Robinson knows the importance of a good run of form at the end of the campaign, with the Scottish Cup final just around the corner.

    And the Northern Irishman has been impressed with his players reactions this week in training as they prepare for the challenge of the Staggies.

    “We’ve trained well and the boys look really sharp,” the Northern Irishman said. “Everyone is fighting for places now so the intensity hasn’t dropped at all.

    [pullquote]Sometimes you can get complacent, but that certainly hasn’t happened this week.[/pullquote]

    He added: “First and foremost we need the points to guarantee our safety. By no means will we be throwing any towel in and waiting just for the cup final, you can’t do that.

    “Players need to play football. It’s all well and good resting people and trying to save them, but we want to win the next five games and go in to the final in really good form.”

    Andy Rose echoes the sentiments of his manager.

    With 11th placed Ross County up next on, the midfielder is prepared to face a determined side at the Global Energy Stadium.

    But the Steelmen are equally determined, revealed the 28-year-old, with competition for places in the starting eleven rife, despite injuries.

    “We’ve got a lot more to achieve this season,” he said. “At the moment, that’s getting three points this weekend.

    [pullquote]We’ve shown against the top sides that we can compete and win. For us to take our game to the next level, we need to show consistency.[/pullquote]

    “We’re a relatively new group with a lot of new faces this season. I think a part of growing and maturing together is consistency.

    “For us to take our game to the next level, we need to show that consistency and turn in performances like Saturday’s on a weekly basis.

    “That’s all part of growing as a tea,” ‘Well’s number 15 added. “Those performances breed confidence, and now we need to be focused on the next league games to finish as high up the table as we can.”

    Tickets are available on the gate at Global Energy Stadium.

    Kick off on Saturday is at 3.00pm.

    Admission prices are as follows:

    ADULTS£24
    OVER 65 AND STUDENTS£14
    UNDER 18s£5

    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

    Rose: A lot to play for

    Andy Rose is expecting a tough few weeks as the Steelmen head in to the final stretch of the 2017/18 campaign.

    With 11th placed Ross County up next on Saturday, the midfielder is prepared to face a determined side at the Global Energy Stadium.

    But the Steelmen are equally determined, revealed the 28-year-old.

    “We’ve got a lot more to achieve this season,” he said. “At the moment, that’s getting three points this weekend.

    “We’re a relatively new group with a lot of new faces this season. I think a part of growing and maturing together is consistency.

    “We’ve shown against the top sides that we can compete and win. For us to take our game to the next level, we need to show that consistency and turn in performances like Saturday’s on a weekly basis.

    “That’s all part of growing as a tea,” ‘Well’s number 15 added. “Those performances breed confidence, and now we need to be focused on the next league games to finish as high up the table as we can.”

  • First team

    Robinson: The boys look sharp

    Stephen Robinson is eager to see his side go on a good run of form as the season draws to a close.

    In the first post-split match on Saturday, the Steelmen travel to Dingwall on the back of a historic Scottish Cup semi final win over Aberdeen.

    And the manager has been impressed with his players reactions this week in training.

    “We’ve trained well and the boys look really sharp,” the Northern Irishman said. “Everyone is fighting for places now so the intensity hasn’t dropped at all.

    “Sometimes you can get complacent, but that certainly hasn’t happened this week.”

    He added: “First and foremost we need the points to guarantee our safety. By no means will we be throwing any towel in and waiting just for the cup final, you can’t do that.

    “Players need to play football. It’s all well and good resting people and trying to save them, but we want to win the next five games and go in to the final in really good form.”

  • Club

    Motherwell enter partnership with Ticketmaster

    Motherwell Football Club have entered a partnership with Ticketmaster which will see the company become our official ticketing partner.

    From the start of the 2018/19 season, Ticketmaster will provide ticketing technology, a fully-branded Motherwell ticketing site, plus a range of services including access control, client and customer support.

    In addition, Ticketmaster will also manage ticket allocations for any future Hampden Park events from 2018/19 onwards.

    The agreement will allow supporters to continue to buy match tickets at the stadium as before but also benefit from being able to buy and print in advance online. There will be no booking fees applied for home matches or season tickets.

    Alan Burrows, the club’s chief executive, said of the news: “We are pleased to welcome Ticketmaster as our official ticketing partners.

    “We recognised that there was a pressing need for Motherwell FC to modernise how supporters could purchase their tickets, both for attending matches and also season tickets.

    “A survey of Well Society members earlier this year told us that 75% believed the current ticketing system at the club was not fit for purpose. Furthermore, 73% told us they would like the ability to buy their tickets either on their computers or using their smartphones.

    “Entering this agreement with Ticketmaster allows us to meet the expectations of our fans.

    “We will also be modernising how supporters get into Fir Park. We will migrate from the traditional season book to season cards, as well as using electronic scanners handled by our turnstile operators. We will release more information on this in due course but fans shouldn’t experience any drastic difference in how they enter the stadium.”

    Information on season ticket pricing for the 2018/19 season will be announced shortly.

    Chris Belt, Ticketmaster Sport business development director, added: “We’re delighted to be working with Motherwell FC and to provide them with best-in-class technology and services.

    “We look forward to what will undoubtedly be an exciting new season for the club and its fans.”

  • Club

    The career of Keith MacRae

    The career of Keith MacRae

    I remember it as if it was yesterday. Saturday, 21st August 1968 was a lovely summer’s day in North Lanarkshire where most of the locals were excited at the prospect of rolling up to Fir Park to take in a league match for the first time in four months. It was also a very special day indeed for myself. I was seven years old, and my Motherwell supporting Dad had decided to help me avoid the “pitfalls” I was dangerously close to falling into, in my Glasgow community.

    On the back of the Fir Park side being relegated, he saw it as the perfect opportunity to introduce me to this very special football club which seemed a million miles removed from the two which all my friends supported. It was also the day that Keith Alexander MacRae came into my life, and do you know what, he’s never really left it.

    My dad sat me on the wee white wall that used to surround Fir Park, and for the first time I saw a Motherwell team run out one by one on to Fir Park, resplendent in their claret and amber kit.

    As good as the players looked, it was the guy in an all green kit who came out second in line, with a shock of almost afro ginger hair that really caught my imagination.

    MacRae, Whiteford, Wark, Donnelly, McCallum, Muir, Campbell, Forsyth, Deans, McInally and Wilson, a team etched in my memory. So awestruck was I, that the opponents could have been anybody. As it happens, it was Albion Rovers who would be steam rolled seven goals to nil.

    The dream competitive debut for Keith was in stark contrast to his first appearance three weeks earlier. MacRae, who had only just signed on at Fir Park as a part timer, due to him also training to be a journalist with the Scottish Daily Express, was selected to play against Tranmere Rovers in a friendly.

    Sadly, he was injured within a couple of minutes, to be replaced between the sticks by Joe Wark. Although “Josie” went on to keep a clean sheet in the 2-0 win, secured by two goals from youngster Jim “Jumbo” Muir, it was a less than auspicious start for the ‘keeper who would go on to be one of the brightest talents this club had ever seen.

    Despite the unfortunate injury, Keith kept his place in the side for the first nine league and league cup ties which returned five wins and three defeats, all by a single goal. His tenth appearance for the club came in the penultimate league cup sectional tie up in Montrose, incredibly, as a left midfielder. Whatever manager Bobby Howitt was thinking, it worked to a degree. Keith MacRae prodded the ball home at the far stick to score his first goal in Motherwell colours, although it wasn’t enough to stop the “Gable Endies” winning 2-1 to end the Fir Parkers interest in the cup for another year.

    Howitt tried the same trick again in Paisley a few days later with MacRae taking his position in the outfield, but again it only contributed to a defeat, as the Buddies ran out comfortable winners 2-0. After the Love Street loss, Keith picked up an injury that hampered him and he was nowhere to be seen either in the green goalkeeper kit or the amber outfield kit, his places taken by Peter McCloy and Jackie McInally respectively, until February.

    When he did reappear, again on the left side of midfield, he did so with another goal in a four goal romp at home to Alloa, which was the club’s twentieth league victory in twenty three outings as Motherwell closed in on a record breaking championship win.

    The following 1969/70 season saw Keith rather playing second fiddle to Peter McCloy who was nicknamed the “Girvan Lighthouse”, save a start and a substitute appearance, both at left midfield against Dundee United and Hearts respectively.

    Of course this was the campaign which featured an epic league cup quarter final tie with Morton. Having been taken apart down at the tail o’ the bank to the tune of 3-0, the Steelmen were written off, but no one told the players as goals from Jumbo Muir, McInally and Tam Forsyth at Fir Park earned a replay at Ibrox.

    Injuries would mean that Keith MacRae would play at right back as Motherwell edged a titanic struggle, with Muir firing home four minutes from time to earn a Hampden Park date with a cracking St. Johnstone team.

    That occasion would be a disappointment to ‘Well, Keith, and a certain seven year old kid who witnessed his first, and certainly not last, semi final defeat.

    Within a month, Keith had reclaimed his place between the sticks, with McCloy playing reserve team football. A few weeks later at New Year, I remember vividly sitting in our living room and watching the sports reporter blurt out the line I had grown to dread. “Rangers have concluded a transfer deal for Motherwell goalkeeper…” My heart sank, I was devastated… “Peter McCloy.” I cheered. My hero was staying at Fir Park.

    MacRae’s first game as Motherwell’s undisputed number one came at home to Ayr United in a ‘Well side that contained the “makeweights” in the deal that took McCloy to Govan, Bobby Watson and Brian Heron. Both of these guys would soon be adored by the Fir Park faithful as they looked to rebuild their careers from the limited opportunities they got at Rangers. In that first game, they certainly got off to a flyer with the Steelmen securing a 3-0 win with a terrific display capped with goals from Deans, Heron and Wark, with MacRae celebrating his newfound status with a well-deserved clean sheet.

    Another great cup-tie of that season saw Kilmarnock roll up Airbles Road in the Scottish Cup quarter finals. A crowd of almost 17,000 witnessed a breathtaking display from visiting ‘keeper Sandy McLaughlin to keep the Steelmen at bay, before Ross Mathie beat MacRae with a powerful header to send the Ayrshire side through to a Hampden semi.

    By the end of the campaign, newly promoted Motherwell were safely tucked up in mid table as manager Howitt succeeded in his primary task of avoiding the drop. That close season was a difficult one for Keith as he underwent a bone graft operation on his wrist which had been giving him some discomfort. The club moved in that summer to get cover for MacRae, and signed ex-Rangers goalie Billy Ritchie from Partick Thistle.

    Ritchie began the season with the gloves while Keith was still recovering from his injury, and played in all six league cup sectional games before MacRae made his first appearance as the league got under way, with a 4-1 hammering of Kilmarnock at Fir Park. It would be a successful season for the young keeper as he earned ten clean sheets, playing in all 34 league games. He also came, for the first time, to the attention of the big English clubs with his displays in the inaugural Texaco Cup in this season.

    Motherwell were drawn against Stoke City in the first round, who had the world’s best goalkeeper in their side, Gordon Banks. A terrific display from Banks in the first leg kept his side in the tie with John Goldthorpe scoring the only goal in an enthralling match at Fir Park.

    In the return at the Victoria Ground, it was Keith MacRae’s turn to impress the punters, as he produced an almost faultless display which afterwards drew admiration from the legendary Banks. The second leg finished 2-1 to Stoke City after extra time, which left us with a penalty shoot out to determine the winners. Keith MacRae emerged from the Potteries that night as a Motherwell hero, making two terrific saves to send the Steelmen through to meet Tottenham Hotspur in the quarters.

    The Spurs side, packed with superstars, edged the first leg at White Hart Lane 3-2, leaving ‘Well hopeful for the return at Fir Park. The atmosphere that night was red hot as the Fir Park fans looked to help unsettle the big names from down south.

    Martin Chivers and Brian Heron had exchanged goals in a first half that left the 22,500 fans inside the old ground breathless. The second half would be even better as MacRae pulled off a wonder save that some fans still talk about today, to deny Alan Gilzean. Minutes later, Fir Park erupted as goals from Bobby Watson and Tom Donnelly secured the 5-4 win on aggregate.

    The semi final would prove to be a disappointment though when MacRae picked up an injury which kept him out of the second leg at Fir Park, and Hearts scrambled a last gasp winner to take the spot in the final and leave the ‘Well fans in the 25,000 crowd stunned.

    Such was his performances over this period, Keith MacRae was deservedly called into the full Scotland squad for the end of season British Home International Championships as under study to Aberdeen’s Bobby Clark. Sadly for Keith, this would be as close as he’d ever get to gaining a full cap for his country, although he did represent the Scottish League.

    Season 1971/72 started well again for Keith and his mates, with decent results over the first fourteen league games, and an international call up for Keith to the Scotland Under 23 setup. However, it all went a little pear shaped one afternoon at Firhill, which no-one saw coming.

    MacRae picked up an injury early on and struggled throughout as the Jags ran eight goals by him. MacRae’s season was finished, bar three outings in February, which brought three clean sheets. It was an interesting season for Motherwell keepers, with no less than six occupants of our goals, McRae, Ritchie, a young Tommy Burns and experienced John Fallon all started games. Joe Wark and fellow outfield player, Davie Main had also taken over as ‘keeper following injuries during matches.

    MacRae started the following season again on the treatment table, as Billy Ritchie took over the goalkeeping duties. It was mid-September before Keith was ready, making his return in a 2-2 draw at Muirton Park against St. Johnstone.

    Another nine clean sheets from MacRae helped the Steelmen improve their league position again in a season where Bobby Howitt had resigned following some disaffection from the Fir Park terraces. The eighth place finish was the best the club had achieved since the hey days of the Ancell Babes.

    By the time the new season began, several teams in England were showing a marked interest in MacRae, which heightened with nine clean sheets in the first seventeen games. In retrospect it was an epic League Cup quarter final tie against Celtic which proved irresistible to the sky blue half of Manchester. Keith MacRae turned in three performances like a Motherwell ‘keeper has rarely produced, as the Steelmen went toe to toe with the Glasgow giants.

    The first leg at Fir Park saw Celtic win 2-1, with John Goldthorpe inches away from earning a draw with a pile driver that crashed off the underside of the bar, before bouncing clear late on.

    The second leg would be a historic one for Motherwell, as we won at Celtic park for the first time in twenty three years, the first win of any kind over the Hoops in fourteen attempts. Goldthorpe again was the hero for the Steelmen, picking up the ball in his own half before powering a fantastic drive into the net to put the visitors one up.

    Midway through the second half, Keith MacRae produced a simply stunning save from a George Connolly penalty which secured a replay for Motherwell. MacRae only played one more game for the Steelmen, a 2-1 home defeat to Partick Thistle, before Manchester City arrived at Fir Park with a cheque for £100,000.

    It was too good an offer to turn down and Keith headed to Maine Road, finally clutching a full time contract with the blessing of everyone at the club, leaving manager Ian St. John to turn to Falkirk reserve ‘keeper, Stuart Rennie, to fill the huge gap left in the Motherwell rearguard. Motherwell lost the next game against Ayr United, with a certain Alex Ferguson heading the winner.

    Keith MacRae was one of the most remarkable players ever to play for this club, with his ability to play every position on the field. He is without doubt the most agile and athletic ‘keeper I’ve ever seen at Fir Park, which he probably had to be given that he wasn’t the tallest of custodians.

    He exuded a confidence in dominating his penalty box, collecting crosses with consummate ease before often sparking a counter attack, the first goalie I ever saw do this.

    But it is probably his shot stopping, which at times bordered on the truly ridiculous, allied with his iconic all black kit which I recall most vividly. In the end, Keith may only have turned out 119 times for the Steelmen, scoring twice, but to fans of a certain age he remains an absolute legend of this club.

    Had I not taken such a shine to him that afternoon almost fifty years ago, I might have been writing for an Old Firm audience instead, and that just wouldn’t have felt right.

    Eddie Ferguson

     

  • Club

    Alan Burrows promoted to chief executive

    Alan Burrows promoted to chief executive

    The board of Motherwell Football Club is delighted to announce Alan Burrows has been promoted to the role of chief executive.

    The 35-year old has worked with the club for over a decade, having been communications manager for seven years, before promotions to general manager and most recently, chief operating officer.

    The decision was taken to reflect Alan’s daily duties and responsibilities within his job title.

    “Alan is a dedicated and innovative individual whose main driving force is his desire to see the club progress,” chairman Jim McMahon said.

    “It is invigorating to work with him, a view I know is shared by everyone at Motherwell.

    “He has been a key factor in the success the club has had since its move to fan ownership.”

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Highlights as Under 20s beat Partick Thistle

    Watch as Adam Livingstone’s first half strike secures all three point for Stephen Craigan’s youngsters.

  • Reserves & Under 18s

    Pleased with dominant performance

    Under 20s boss Stephen Craigan reflects on his side’s 1-0 victory over Partick Thistle in the Development League.