“We were on the floor. We’ve stood up and shown we are ready to fight again. That’s what a Motherwell team should be.”
- First team
Manager reacts to win at AberdeenSaturday 06 November 2021
- First team
Aberdeen 0-2 MotherwellSaturday 06 November 2021
Kevin van Veen’s clinically-taken double gave Motherwell the win at Aberdeen.
The Dutch striker’s two goals early in the second half did the damage to ensure the Steelmen ended their barren run with all three points taken.
Graham Alexander changed three men from the side which lost last time out to Rangers.
The suspended Stephen O’Donnell was replaced on the teamsheet by Juhani Ojala, with the Finn coming in at centre back and Bevis Mugabi switching to right back.
Callum Slattery and Connor Shields dropped to the bench, with Maguire and Van Veen their respective replacements.
Motherwell came north looking for a reaction to that loss but they found themselves under siege from the off at Pittodrie.
Solholm had to react quick to deny Watkins a free shot at goal from 10 yards early on, before Kelly was called into action soon after with a fingertip touch to turn away Ramirez’s goalbound header.
Motherwell settled but the Aberdeen attacks continued to come in waves.
Kelly just about got to a one-on-one with Watkins to clear, shortly before Ferguson slalomed his way through the ‘Well defence to only fire over from the right side of the area.
Hedges also saw a header from the corner flicked off the line by the head of Ojala, as Motherwell struggled to create any chances of their own in a challenging first half.
Motherwell though have proven time and again they are clinical when the chances do arrive and that proved to be the case just five minutes into the second half.
After a period in possession in attack, Goss swung a pinpoint cross to the near post where Van Veen found himself completely unmarked.
He still had work to do, but picked his spot perfectly to steer the ball across the face of goal and into the bottom-right corner of the net.
Motherwell were invigorated and were two ahead 10 minutes later.
A free-kick from the left was met at the back post by Lamie – on as a sub for the injured Ojala.
His header back across goal found Van Veen perfectly on the penalty spot, and he showed all the composure in the world to half-volley the ball into the net.
Motherwell switched to five at the back soon after and, against a wave of Aberdeen attacks, stood firm brilliantly.
They did have Kelly to thank again, with an unbelievable double save from Ramirez’s header keeping the Dons at bay.
- First team
Tony Watt is our October player of the monthFriday 05 November 2021
Tony Watt is our Paycare player of the month for October.
The striker netted three goals as the team’s standout performer across the month, a haul which already makes this season his most prolific while playing for a Scottish side.
Watt makes it three awards in a row, having also been named as the top player in August and September.
Aberdeen next up in SWPL1Friday 05 November 2021
Motherwell take on Aberdeen next in the final game of the first round of fixtures in SWPL1.
Kick-off on Sunday 7 November at Alliance Park is at 4pm.
Tickets will cost £5 for adults, while children go free.
Tale of the tape
Motherwell and Aberdeen faced off in the group stages of the SWPL Cup in August, with the Dons coming away with all three points in a tightly contested 1-0 victory.
The last league meeting came in 2018 in SWPL2, where Motherwell won comfortably 4-0.
Aberdeen’s victory in August was their first victory against the women of steel in the last four encounters.
Motherwell and Aberdeen are both locked on seven points after eight games, with an identical match record of two wins, one draw and five losses in SWPL1.
Aberdeen currently occupy sixth in the table due to a superior goal difference.
Motherwell returned to action after the international break with a 5-0 defeat against title-chasing Rangers on Wednesday night.
Prior to that, Motherwell claimed seven points in nine in the league.
Aberdeen also played on Wednesday night, where they fell to a 5-0 defeat to Glasgow City. Three days earlier, they lost 2-0 to Hibernian.
- First team
Manager looks ahead to AberdeenFriday 05 November 2021
Graham Alexander previews the weekend trip north in the cinch Premiership.
- First team
Tony Watt // The importance of food banksThursday 04 November 2021
Unfortunately, many in our local area are forced to rely on food banks to help them eat.
A host of local organisations do incredible work to ensure those in need can get help and – as a club – we were determined to help by calling on our supporters to bring what they could to a collection ahead of our recent game with Celtic.
Our fans rallied in huge numbers, providing hundreds of bags of food.
Charity and helping others is also in the heart of our striker Tony Watt, a local boy who knows he is in a fortunate position as a footballer and is motivated to ensure others get a fair shot at a good life.
With some late collections from fans and from the playing squad, Tony visited Motherwell’s Maranatha Food Bank to drop off more supplies and find out more about the work going in.
Tommy McLean to be inducted to Hall of FameThursday 04 November 2021
Tommy McLean is to be inducted into the Motherwell FC Hall of Fame.
The last Motherwell manager to lift aloft a major trophy will be inducted at our event on Saturday 13 November. Limited tickets remain available.
When Tommy McLean switched from Greenock Morton to Motherwell in 1984, he had one major job as manager.
Help keep the club alive.
He achieved that, and so much more.
Relegation from the top division before his arrival had put a hole in the finances at Fir Park. McLean was tasked with the job of not only balancing the books, but trying to get the Steelmen back up as quickly as possible.
Fees generated by the sales of Gary McAllister and Ally Mauchlen, followed by the further sales of Andy Walker, Tom Boyd and then Phil O’Donnell after McLean departed, have left a lasting legacy at Fir Park.
The construction of the Cooper and South Stands were part-financed by the glut of cash the youth production line brought in, helping to build infrastructure which is still crucial to today’s incumbents.
While McLean’s inaugural years at Fir Park were spent trying to secure Motherwell’s very survival, the events which would follow would take even greater significance.
Winning promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking, but still having to balance the books, the momentum started going in the Steelmen’s direction with the arrival of Davie Cooper in 1989.
By the time the 1990/91 Scottish Cup campaign started, Motherwell were on a 39-year hiatus from lifting the famous trophy.
That season, the club had a greater responsibility than ever. It was also carrying the escape for a town set to be decimated by the closure of Ravenscraig.
With optimism that run could be ended always present in fans’ minds, there was a dark cloud lingering over the town.
McLean set his men about giving the people an escape.
To get to Hampden however, an imposing path had to be navigated.
Aberdeen away in the first match yielded a 1-0 win, before a 4-2 home win over Falkirk. Morton lay in wait in the last eight, with a replay and penalties needed to separate the sides.
Celtic stood between the men in claret and amber from a place in the showpiece. A 0-0 draw in the first attempt at Hampden meant for another encounter in Mount Florida, with a famous 4-2 win sending ‘Well heading back in May.
The rest is history, of course, as Motherwell returned home with the trophy with victory over Dundee United on 18 May 1991.
Remarkably, an even greater achievement could have followed in the 1993/94 season.
The last Premier Division campaign played with a two-points-for-a-win system, ‘Well were in title contention right to the wire.
Four points, and a vastly superior Rangers goal difference, was what separated Motherwell from breaking Rangers’ eventual nine-in-a-row Championship charge and cementing a win which would have yielded a whole other set of club legends.
McLean would leave that summer. Recognition would follow in later years, where he was voted the club’s greatest-ever manager. A place in the Scottish Football Hall of Fame also was bestowed upon him.
Our Hall of Fame will welcome its new inductees in a special event in November.
Taking place at the Bothwell Bridge Hotel on Saturday 13 November, the event will induct the classes of both 2020 and 2021.
The event is priced at £60 for adults and £30 for children aged under 12. Limited tickets are available.
We will induct both the 2020 and 2021 intake at the event.
Current Hall of Famers include George Stevenson, Willie Pettigrew, Phil O’Donnell, Ally Maxwell and James McFadden.
The delayed 2020 class, who will also be inducted on the night, includes John Hunter, Andy Paton, Joe Wark, Davie Cooper and Steven Hammell.
Positives to take in SWPL1 defeat at RangersWednesday 03 November 2021
Motherwell showed fighting spirit but would ultimately suffer defeat to Rangers in a tough SWPL1 encounter on Wednesday.
Brianna Westrup fired the hosts in front midway through the first half at the Rangers Training Centre, before Rachel McLaughlin added a second on the stroke of half-time with a clinical finish.
Zoe Ness prodded home a third from close range minutes later to give the hosts a comfortable advantage at half-time. Then, in the second half, Kayla McCoy added a fourth, before Lizzie Arnot struck late on to seal a 5-0 defeat for Motherwell.
The hosts came close to the opener early on with Khym Ramsay performing heroics in the Motherwell goal.
Nicola Docherty’s floated corner fell kindly to Kirsten Reilly at the edge of the box, who set herself before drilling her effort across the face of goal. But Ramsay reacted quickly to parry her strike wide of the post.
Rangers would break the deadlock after 22 minutes. Docherty’s deep cross found Westrup unmarked in the box, and the defender’s perfectly timed volley sailed over the head of Ramsay into the back of the net.
The hosts doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time. Chelsea Cornet’s incisive pass sliced through the Motherwell defence leaving McLaughlin in space, and the forward maintained her composure to coolly slot her strike past Ramsay into the bottom right corner.
Rangers continued to threaten the Motherwell goal and added a third in quick succession. The visitors failed to clear McLaughlin’s floated delivery and Ness calmly placed her strike past Ramsay into the bottom corner from a few yards out.
With the women of steel chasing the game in the second half, Paul Brownlie’s side thought they should’ve been awarded a penalty after Carla Boyce’s effort appeared to strike the hand of Demi Vance.
However, the referee looked disinterested and waved play on despite the adamant pleas of the Motherwell players.
The hosts continued to press and added a fourth in the dying stages of the game.
Rangers skilfully broke through the Motherwell backline with a quick counter attack, and Cornet’s low-driven effort was unfortunately deflected past Ramsay into the bottom corner by the outstretching McCoy.
Rangers sealed all three points in the final minute with a fifth goal. Brogan Hay’s perfectly weighted through ball left Arnot one-on-one with the keeper, and the striker calmly placed her strike nto the bottom right corner to settle the tie.
Despite the scoreline, Motherwell will have plenty of positives to take into this weekend’s encounter with Aberdeen at Alliance Park after a spirited display.
When the Spurs got sent marching homeWednesday 03 November 2021
The last eight of the 1970/71 Texaco Cup saw Bill Nicholson’s Tottenham Hotspur head to Fir Park on 3 November with a 3-2 advantage from the first leg of the quarter-final tie.
The Spurs side featured a host of England internationalists, including Martin Peters who had sampled World Cup glory four years prior.
Despite their excellent pedigree, they would be swept aside by a stunning display of attacking flair by Bobby Howitt’s sublime Steelmen.
Spurs had already recorded convincing victories over Scottish opposition in the Texaco Cup having defeated Hearts 4-0 and Dunfermline 3-0.
In domestic competition, Spurs were also demonstrating their class and visited North Lanarkshire on the back of an eight-game undefeated run in the English First Division. It meant the North Londoners came marching into North Lanarkshire as firm favourites to build on their advantage and reach the semi-final.
Despite the daunting task ahead of them, there was an air of confidence from those inside Fir Park that the ‘Well could spring a surprise.
In the previous round they overcame Stoke City, with World Cup-winning keeper Gordon Banks in goal, on penalties but suffered a 5-0 home thrashing at the hands of Celtic just four days before taking on Tottenham.
That evening’s match programme – the first-ever ‘Fir Park News’ to carry colour – featured positive messages from Howitt, who stated his belief that there would be ‘no inferiority complex’. Skipper Jackie McInally added his captain’s notes titled ‘Yes we can win this tie’ and Sunday Mail columnist Don Morrison predicted a proud night for Scottish football.
Howitt went on to explain that the game had not just captured the attention of everyone in Lanarkshire, but everyone in Scotland. With the 22,688 crowd creating a raucous atmosphere – under the lights at Fir Park – the scene was set for a classic.
Included in Howitt’s starting side was right-sided defender Davie Whiteford, who alongside the legendary Joe Wark occupying the left-back position, combined their excellent defensive capabilities with an attacking flair.
It is an evening that Whiteford still recalls with great fondness, as well as the excitement of both players and supporters alike ahead of a meeting with one of the most accomplished sides in club football.
“People were coming from everywhere,” Whiteford said. “I can’t recall the exact figure, but there must have been around 25,000 people inside Fir Park that night.
“I think there were quite a few people inside the stadium who shouldn’t have been there. They got in by hook or by crook. It was one of the best atmospheres I can remember inside Fir Park. It was terrific.
“Don’t forget we went down there and lost 3-2, with Spurs scoring the winner late on. We felt like we could turn the tie around and that we were just as good as Tottenham.
“Pat Jennings was their keeper in the first leg, though Jimmy Hancock played in the game up here.
“They had so many brilliant players such as Martin Peters, Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean, Alan Mullery and Phil Beal. The list seemed endless.”
Lifelong ‘Well fan Graham Barnstaple was one of the lucky punters to cram inside the stadium to see his beloved team achieve a legendary triumph.
Having missed the penalty shootout success over Stoke City in the last 16, Graham was desperate to avoid the disappointment of being denied the opportunity to see his team take on English opposition on home soil. However, he would need to call in a few favours to do so – including from his school headmaster.
“My family had moved to Prestwick in Ayrshire, and with my dad now working in Glasgow it seemed impossible I could get to Motherwell to see the game,” he recalls. “After weeks of persistent nagging of my parents about finding a way to get me there, a plan was finally hatched.
“My gran suggested to my mum that she would come down, take me to Motherwell on the bus and meet my dad ahead of the game.
“The only thing was at that time the bus took about two hours to get from Prestwick to Motherwell. That meant I would need to get away from school early.
“Thankfully, our headmaster was a football man. He knew my passion for the ‘Well mainly down to me wearing my ‘Well strip at every football practice and therefore agreed I could leave school early for the bus journey to Fir Park for the big game.”
Hopes of a memorable evening for the Steelmen were dampened in the early exchanges of the clash at Fir Park when Jimmy Pearce headed home Martin Chivers’ long throw to break the deadlock and extend Spurs’ aggregate advantage to 4-2.
Despite looking on the brink of exiting the competition to their star-studded opponents, Motherwell had other ideas. And the home crowd erupted six minutes before the break when Dixie Deans found Brian Heron, who raced through on goal before driving the ball beyond Jimmy Hancock in the away goal.
Hancock replaced the acclaimed Northern Irish keeper Jennings between the sticks for the second leg to make one of only three appearances for Spurs.
Jennings had conceded twice in the first fixture between the sides, and his understudy would be unable to thwart the ruthless ‘Well attack in the second half.
With 15 minutes remaining, Tom Donnelly fired Motherwell ahead with a long-range drive that nestled in the net via the post to level the scores on aggregate.
Fir Park was rocking, and the near 23,000 crowd would be celebrating again when the Steelmen captain Bobby Watson steered home to clinch victory and book a place in the last four.
“The people that were there will remember it forever,” beamed Whiteford. “We really had great footballers. We took on the same attitude as the Ancell Babes. We had the ability and the belief that we could play good football and get results.
“It’s incredible to think that 50 years have passed since that night and unfortunately we’ve not got everyone here with us to mark the anniversary.
“The likes of Joe Wark and Tam Forsyth have sadly passed away, and it’s sad to consider that some of the guys who played in that terrific football match are no longer with us.”
Graham recalls a similarly exhilarating occasion. A day that began with leaving school early and a long bus journey accompanied by his gran, who would have to endure detailed analysis of what might happen at Fir Park later that night, had ended in the euphoria of witnessing one of the most famous victories in the club’s history.
“I still remember how quickly the journey in my dad’s car back to Prestwick flew by,” he added. “I was on such a high having seen my team overcome an English giant with six full internationals in their side.
“It’s an evening that I’ll never forget, and I’m so thankful that I was one of the supporters inside the ground for what was a historic victory.”
The first Texaco Cup was set up for teams that had not qualified for European competition from England, Ireland and Scotland. It featured the likes of Nottingham Forrest, Wolves, West Brom and Shamrock Rovers, as well as Airdrie, Dundee, Dunfermline, Hearts and Morton from north of the border.
It was one of the first club competitions to receive sponsorship, with American petroleum company Texaco ploughing in £100,000 – ensuring it was lucrative not only for the teams taking part, but also the players.
“I think the Texaco Cup captured the imagination of everybody, fans and players alike,” Whiteford added. “It was one of the first sponsored tournaments, and the bonuses were absolutely amazing.
“Just to put you in the picture, the wages at that time were about £35 to £40 a week, and we got a £10 bonus for each point in a league game.
“For beating Stoke, we got a bonus of £250 and then £300 for beating Tottenham. At least the board were magnanimous enough to pass some of the money on to the players for going out and winning the game.
“That was a big thing for the likes of Tam Forsyth, Joe Wark and myself who weren’t long married and in the process of buying things for the houses we were putting together. That’s how real it was, and it was a fantastic feeling.”
Next up for Motherwell after defeating Spurs was a semi-final meeting with a much more familiar foe in Hearts.
The first fixture took place at Tynecastle and finished 1-1, and due to a dispute over the date for the second leg, it was almost three months later when the deciding fixture took place in North Lanarkshire.
The majority of the 25,300 crowd were dreaming of the final when Heron opened the scoring with 56 minutes on the clock, though they suffered late heartbreak when George Fleming levelled in the last few seconds of normal time.
The ‘Well players were shattered after seeing victory slip through their fingers, and the momentum swung the way of the visitors during extra time.
Their Texaco Cup dream would come to an end when Donald Ford shot under Billy Ritchie with five minutes left, and despite their best efforts, there would be no repeat of their heroic comeback against Tottenham.
“We always felt like we got robbed against Hearts in the next round,” reflected Whiteford. “We were leading in that game, and they got an equaliser with the last kick of the ball,”
“The equaliser came from a corner that shouldn’t have been awarded, and they went on to score again in extra time.
“It was so disappointing, though despite the disappointment against Hearts, the memories of the Stoke City and Spurs games are incredible. The big games under the lights at Fir Park are so special.
“It was a shame that as a team we couldn’t win any trophies, though many of our big players kept getting pinched away from us.
“We lost Tam Forsyth to Rangers and Dixie Deans to Celtic. Taking those players out of the squad was a massive loss, and it still happens to this day to Motherwell.”
Hearts would go on to face Wolves in the first-ever Texaco Cup final, with the English side narrowly clinching glory after a 3-2 aggregate triumph.
The European credentials and qualities of both Tottenham and Wolves were backed up in the following season were backed up when the two sides contested the 1972 UEFA Cup final, with Nicholson’s men lifting the trophy following a fiercely contested two fixtures.
The Texaco Cup would continue for a further four seasons, with Motherwell taking part in three of the four tournaments.
The Troubles in Ireland led to the withdrawal of all Irish sides following the 1971/72 Texaco Cup, which began the steady decline of the competition.
Organisers reacted to dwindling crowds by changing the format in 1975, with the tournament becoming the Anglo-Scottish Cup which was contested until 1981.
Unfortunately, the status of the English sides during that time gradually declined, and many opted to play drastically weakened sides. That included one instance where Newcastle were disqualified from the competition after they were adjudged to have fielded an under-strength team in their 3-0 defeat against Ayr at Somerset Park.
Another factor in the decline in the popularity of the tournament was increased success for British sides in European competition and a result the focus of both clubs and supporters shifted.
Despite the Texaco Cup grinding to a reasonably unspectacular end – and five decades having passed since those memorable evenings under the Fir Park lights – Whiteford feels the tournament would be a welcome addition to the calendar if it were ever to make a return.
“I think the very fact we were playing the top teams in the English game captured the imagination of the fans and the players,” he added.
“It petered out, but I think it would certainly be a popular tournament if it were to return. It could be a shot in the arm if it were to be resurrected.”
By Andy Ross.
- First team
Juhani Ojala called up by FinlandWednesday 03 November 2021
Juhani Ojala is in the Finland selection for their crucial FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.
The defender’s national team take on Bosnia away on 13 November, before hosting France three days later.
Finland sit a point off second-placed Ukraine – who have played a game more – and four behind group leaders France.
The group winners qualify automatically for the tournament in Qatar, with the runners-up going into the play-off.
Ojala has been capped 31 times by his country, and was in the last selection for their October matches.