The fourth inductee into the Motherwell FC Hall of Fame class of 2019 is James McFadden.
McFadden was a product of what is now the club’s youth academy and – after impressing for the reserves – made his top-team debut on Boxing Day in 2000 in a 3-0 reverse at home to Dundee.
Few in the swollen 6,000-plus crowd that afternoon would have envisaged what an indelible and important mark the young Glaswegian would not only have on Motherwell, but Scottish football over the next two decades.
By the time the club had crashed into administration in May 2002, Faddy was a mainstay and indeed, scored a memorable goal away to Kilmarnock in a 4-1 win when a packed Chadwick Stand, full of worried ‘Well fans, cheered on their new talisman.
It was around that time McFadden was selected by the then-national team boss Berti Vogts for a tour of the Far East. Aged just 19, McFadden earned his first cap against South Africa and even managed to miss his flight home after a night out. It only added to the intrigue as the nation began to fall in love with this talented “cheeky boy”.
With ‘Well being run by administrator Bryan Jackson and the club clinging for survival, McFadden was a light through those dark days.
He netted 19 times in 35 matches for the Steelmen during the 2002/03 season, collecting 15 cautions and a red card to boot, but couldn’t stop a Terry Butcher-led Motherwell finishing bottom of the SPL table, despite memorable wins over Rangers, Celtic and Hearts.
However, Falkirk’s lack of a stadium at the time saved ‘Well from the oblivion of relegation.
McFadden finished that season in style, netting a cracking hat-trick against Livingston on the final day, including an audacious “Panenka” penalty, firmly establishing himself as the hottest property in Scottish football.
‘Well fans were counting down the days to the end of the summer window of 2003 in the hope their hero would still wear the claret and amber that campaign. But on the last day, 1 September, the inevitable happened and he joined English Premier League side Everton for a deal that would eventually land ‘Well close to £2m.
It’s never been told publicly, but McFadden gave up his share of that fee to ensure Motherwell, or more so the creditors the club had at the time, could be better recompensed. His transfer was the main reason the club could emerge from the stranglehold of the court-appointed accountants less than eight months later.
McFadden went on to become an important player in the David Moyes story at Everton, and more so, established himself as a national hero as the focal point of the national team for numerous campaigns.
His 48 caps brought many fond and special memories, none more so than the incredible goal in Paris as Alex McLeish’s Scotland stunned former world champions France.
Multi-million pound moves to Birmingham, then back to Everton, before a short spell at Sunderland were next, before an emotional return home to Motherwell in February 2013, making his mark on his first appearance as ‘Well saw off Celtic 2-1 at Fir Park.
He then rolled back the years with his first goal of his second coming with a cracker against Hibs in a 4-1 win in front of the ESPN cameras at Fir Park.
Motherwell would finish second behind Celtic that season, with Faddy contributing five goals in 11 starts, and second again the following season, when they pipped Aberdeen on the last day of the campaign at Pittodrie.
A brief year at St Johnstone was next before a third spell at ‘Well, when Mark McGhee signed him initially as a player, before making him his assistant for the 2016/2017 season.
An unforgettable player, a coach, an assistant manager, a Scotland hero and a man who provided inspiration and hope to a group of supporters in their darkest of days. James McFadden will always be known as one of Motherwell’s most important figures.
He will be inducted at a dinner at the Bothwell Bridge Hotel on Saturday, 23 November, along with George Stevenson, Willie Pettigrew, Ally Maxwell. Hosted by Tam Cowan, our event is now sold out.
You can still choose who you want to see in the Hall of Fame through our fan vote that will be announced on the night. Click here to cast your vote.