St Mirren

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Colin Orr, Greenock Tele and St Mirren FC website

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Journalists' post

Fans of the big clubs go through life looking at things differently. They win trophies every year. They expect to. They get angry if they don’t.

But for the rest of us, a taste of glory only arrives once in a while – and when it does, you grab hold of it and you don’t let go

Because these are the magical memories which make sitting through the lean times worthwhile, the doomed pursuit of which see you turn up each season thinking ‘it might be our year’.

For me, a St Mirren fan, the First Division title-winning season of 1999/2000 is my magical memory.

To understand why it meant so much, age provides the context. I turned 18 during that season. That means my time at high school was played out to a footballing soundtrack of First Division mid-table mediocrity; throughout my formative years at primary school, St Mirren were a declining force, battling to avoid the drop from the top league.

Saints fans of a slightly older age could recall the highs of a triumphant spell under a young Alex Ferguson in the late 1970s, regular European football, the 1987 Scottish Cup win.

I, on the other hand, had gone through my entire childhood without ever having seen my team be any good.

And there wasn’t much indication that 1999/2000 was going to be different. With the club skint, St Mirren started the season as the second favourites to be relegated.

But an autumn run of eight straight wins saw the Buddies storm to the top of the league, a position from which they would not, as the song goes, be moved.

By April 29, 2000 (I didn’t have to look that date up) there was a trophy to be held aloft and an ensuing party which saw certain Paisley pubs run out of drink.

For me though, it wasn’t just the winning that made the season stand out – it was the style in which the feat was accomplished.

A young team under the gung-ho leadership of manager Tom Hendrie played as if open, attacking football was the only way they knew.

We believed they would win every match they played and so did the players, shown by their incredible – and repeated – knack of snatching victory in the dying seconds of games.

On one memorable Saturday in Kirkcaldy, they went one down after 85 minutes yet somehow were 2-1 up three minutes later.

Promotion itself was secured with a 95th-minute winner and impromptu pitch invasion at Somerset Park. I could go on...

Of course, the magic wore off in the end. The next season saw Hendrie’s side find the top division a harsh and unforgiving place, and they swiftly returned to where they had come from, with another half-decade of mid-table mediocrity set to follow.

But if sitting through that was the trade-off for a season of magical memories? It was worth it.

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