Big Mitch saves the day!
Updated Thursday, 10th May 2012
Today marks the 15th anniversary of one of the most dramatic days in our recent history. Trailing to Dunfermline, we were heading for a horrific relegation play-off with Airdie until Mitchell Van Der Gaag smashed home a sensational equaliser.
But what is often forgotten is not the work on that last day but the comeback which took us to the position of having survival in our own hands. On January 4 we were second bottom, two points behind Kilmarnock but having played two games more. At the beginning of April we took a credible draw from Aberdeen but Hibs winning left us five points adrift in the play-off place and Raith Rovers were six behind in the automatic demotion spot - coming to Fir Park next.
That was the game the season turned as not only did we win, effectively to relegate Raith, a five goal thumping ensured our goal difference became slightly better than Hibs. However, with two games remaining they remained three points clear as we both faced the Old Firm. They duly lost to Celtic but with a trip to champions elect Rangers coming up, our situation looked desperate. Owen Coyle did the business with a neat finish and penalty and we were suddenly within touching distance of safety.
Of course, there is nothing to say we wouldn't have beaten Airdrie in the relegation play-off but it would have tested the nerve of even the most resolute of our fans. Airdrie lost to Hibs, never recovered and were soon on the path out existence. Hibs, despite surviving, collapsed to relegation the next year and we only escaped the trial of a play-off that season due to that game being scrapped before the introduction of the SPL. So we can only speculate how things would have turned out for us had big Mitch not found the net but we can probably be happy we didn't have to find out for sure!
If you're looking for more 'Well memories you need a copy of Motherwell: On this day