A few words from Ricky
21 April 1997
Hi, all. I am a little unsure as to what to write just now simply because little will have been settled by the time I submit this, but what I will say is next season I am certain we will be operating in the Premier Division. It has been a very difficult season, in more ways much more difficult than last particularly as we were well safe by this stage a year ago, but all is not lost - no way.
As for the season we have just had to endure, a yo-yo would have had a more stable 9 months than Motherwell FC have had. We began the season with a lot more hope than before, confident we would not be suffering the same sort of nervous time as we had last year. However, right from the day we suffered the 5-0 reversal at Castle Greyskull, we have stuttered along on a general decline to sit perilously close to automatic relegation. Thankfully, we managed to produce a spectacular performance to crush Raith, the sort-of performance we all know Motherwell are more than capable of but have seldom shown.
The signs for me were there as far back as when we finished second in the league, but the slow decline to where we are now was never checked and if we go down (which I don`t think will happen) I doubt if we will ever be as good as we got. I think it will go down to the last day of the season, and it`s not impossible to imagine Raith beating Hibs and Motherwell defeating Dunfermline at Fir Park (after all, we are due a win over them). It would all go down to goal difference then, and at the moment we appear to have things narrowly in our favour. I think our general play has been good, defensively there have been howlers but on the whole efficient if not spectacular, though the thing which has always concerned me is the lack of speed which accompanies an attack up the park.
More than once over the course of the season we have been caught out with quick breakaway, but when we attempt one of our own the other team seem to have time to walk back to defend. But considering the injuries we have had this season, added to last season`s problems, I think these are the things which have seen us plummet to the lower depths more than anything else. I don`t believe blaming the Manager for everything is the right thing to do either - I threw my hat into the ring in favour of Eck a long time ago and I aint prepared to turn my back on the man now. Whilst he hasn`t got it right too often, when he has, anyone can see the potential our side has. And although it is an ageing side, there is a good sprinkling of youth coming through - look at Greig Denham`s recent performances, and Lee McCulloch to me is going to prove a brilliant striker in years to come.
Alex`s main problem is that he cannot strengthen the team. Agreed, some of his signings have not been great by any stretch of the imagination, but to be fair neither have previous Managers. And the people Eck has brought in have had to endure some pretty nasty injuries which do take a long time to recover from, you could go through the whole team and no-one has been injury-free. Of the players brought in during the season, Kevin Christie and Owen Coyle (along with Simo Valikarri) have been the pick of them, Owen proving the class striker he is, whilst Simo has given us that steel in mid-field we have been missing since Psycho had to retire so prematurely. Kevin is a good full-back who will prove to Aitken he made a huge blunder letting him go. Alex McLeish has only been in the job a relatively short time,
I fully believe he will get it right and will take us back up there where we belong. My information is that once we are sure of staying up the new broom will sweep through Fir Park at the Boardroom level, and money will be available to guarantee us of not only a stadium to be proud of, but also a team able to compete in a cut-throat environment. What I can`t understand is why wait until then, they could have come in earlier and the money spent to ensure we stay up. When the money is available, two defenders, a midfield play maker and a speedy forward have to be the priority - we mustn`t forget the squad is getting heavy in the age side of things, a good balance of youth and experience is essential.
I read somewhere that 87% of the TV revenue goes to the Big Two. I don`t know if this is strictly correct (in that what was meant that percentage goes to Premier League clubs) but I was appalled to read that The Govan Bigots and Crisis Park want more of the money. Strikes me of pure and utter greed from them, really is a disgrace that they should be whimpering on about wanting more cash when the practically have access to unlimited wads of the stuff. Castle Greyskull sicken me most. They have only just received a small lump sum from some daft tax-exile of £40,000,000, not as if they need the money is it? I know they are attempting to build a team capable of making it by the Preliminary Preliminary Round of the Champions League (now totally devalued by allowing teams which finish second in certain Leagues to qualify) but they must not be allowed to deprive the rest of Scottish Football from what it is entitled to.I ask you, is it any wonder fans of other clubs hate those two so much more than any other team (or teams)?
On a related topic, I would like to see the club release a highlights package on video. Virtually every club in England (virtually) and a good few up here do that, so why not us?. It would also give us a better record than having to tape the completely impartial Jim Sh...White prattling on in the background every Sunday. A better tape of the Cup Final surely would be in order covering the full 120 minutes. Also, they club would earn out of it all.
Another problem I have felt has been overlooked this season has been the number of decisions we have had go against us, for whatever reasons is open to speculation but I know my opinion on them. Some may say it`s incompetent officials that are to blame - true, but why do the worst examples always seem to happen to Motherwell?? It just seems some Referees (and linesmen for that matter) simply do not like Motherwell FC. The worst example of this is Kenny Clark. We must have been given the extremely short straw whenever Refereeing appointments have been made, for we had to face The Govan Bigots twice at Fir Park with him in charge - and on both occasions crucial decisions went in their favour, more so in January. In stead of sitting level at 2-2 and looking more likely to win, aided and abetted by his incompetent linesmen, Mr Clark decides two perfectly good goals are disallowed but that Fatman`s (who makes Goram look like Kate Moss) miles off-side effort is fine by him. Then, not content with that, our "good* friend Kenny puts his flag up when Dougie runs from a clearly on-side position to slot the ball under Stillie up at the Sheep Pen for what would have been a crucial late winner, that one in particular defied belief. To say anyone is cheating is wrong (and also slanderous), but you have to question why so many decisions have gone the way they have. Another one is bawldy of Kirkcaldy - I cannot recall so many errors in a match to rival his performance at the Gorgie Road heap in December. I bet the linesman that day was a relation of a certain K.Clark.
I also learned from the Scottish League that Hugh Dallas has not refused to referee a Motherwell match, but he has not exactly been begging to do one either. Now, the Weejie Mejia tell us that all Referees are impartial, but if that is the case, then why has Hugh not been officiating at a Motherwell match? It is time, long overdue, that Referees were ungagged so that we can learn the truths to so many decisions, and so much speculation.
Something which enraged me recently was the brainless comment made by the normally respectable Bob Crampsey on Radio Scotland on Tuesday night, the night when all the 9-in-a-row bragging could at last stop (some hope). When they were having the after-match party in the Commentary booth, Bob said with some cheer that all Rangers would have to do on May 5th is turn up at Ibrox and the title would be theirs. NO mention of Motherwell, just a total disregard of we Motherwell fans and players and our chances on the day. I was really angry at this, can you imagine the uproar if some Commentator had said Juventus were going to gub the Bigots or if anyone dared to suggest Falkirk might hold Crisis Park to a draw in the Cup Semi? All Radio Scotland would say was the complaint would be passed onto their Producer, so I wrote a letter to them as well which I am awaiting a reply. I heard the "apology* about 3.10 on Saturday during the match (when most would not be listening), all bungling Bob did was make fun of the fact only one person complained. It`s just not on to make a comment like that, not on air whether in jest or otherwise. What the players should now do is go and cuff that Scum to spoil their "party*, if recent years are anything to go by we are in for at worst a draw. Oh, I wouldn`t mind a as much if we still had to do the play-off just to wipe that smug, arrogant grin from those hordes of bigoted "good-time* Scum "fans*. I ask them, where were you when your team played to 5000 at Castle Greyskull 12 years ago?
Now that we are at the end of the season, thoughts turn to a Player-of-the-Year, and at Fir Park I would give it to Big Mitch who I think has had as solid a season as anyone in recent years. He has also scored some crucial goals for us as well, and kept a dodgy defence intact when under pressure. Lee McCulloch would get my vote for Young Player of the Year, and anyone who joined my Fiance and I at Peterlee in November surely would be eligible for an award of the utmost merit. The attendance was of the Drogheda variety (as in about a dozen), and the pitch of the Easter Road condition (as in shite). It was bloody freezing that day, but we were treated to the rare sight of a goal from none other than departed to Sweden Andy Roddie. Yes, and it was a good one too. Not only that, but 8 goals from Motherwell in the one match. A year or so back we didn`t have eight spread over 18 weeks I think!!!!
And so, the season is almost over. I desperately hope we can avoid the play-offs (I am sure of it), otherwise I will miss my first match home or away since late August 1993, as I am off to Portugal on May 17 and the suggestion that we delay our holiday wasn`t exactly met with much enthusiasm (if you know what I mean). I believe we will stay up be it before on after a play-off, and if it`s the later, W e WILL stuff the Airdire lot. To all Motherwell fans I wish a Happy Holiday time, and thanks for supporting the Well through a difficult year, we need to stick together not split apart. Next Season will be better, believe it!!
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