Punching Above Our Weight

Last updated : 26 July 2006 By Firparkcorner

The repetition of the phrase ‘punching above our weight' by senior members of the club and the press in the last year or two sparks debate among the fans with every appearance.

Terry Butcher used it regularly much to the annoyance of some. Did it advertise a lack of ambition? Was it the acceptance that an occasional cup run or top six finish should be the limit of the fans' hopes?

Some say that the phrase was used ahead of crunch games in an attempt to take the pressure off of the players. There was a belief that the role of hardworking underdog suited us.

John Boyle used the phrase earlier this month - "We want to be the very best that we can be," says Boyle. "We are a small provincial club with a dedicated support and good facilities, who have always punched above our weight. We are a community club and a family club, and we are very happy with what we are doing."

The phrase first appeared in 1993 (at least that's what the BBC thinks). It was used by the then Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd. By coincidence that year found us in the middle of a four year purple patch. There was a Scottish Cup win and two excellent league performances which saw is deservedly finish in second and third positions in that spell. That was in a team of mostly home based players, our usual home support and a tight financial regime.

The team did not lack ambition then. Arnott and Coyne lead the line with flair and skill. Lambert and O'Donnell were developing but there were no superstars. Philliben, Davies, McKinnon and Shannon contributed hugely to the squad without attracting generous transfer approaches. And yet they believed they were as good as any team in

Can the same mentality be found again? Malpas said when he was introduced to the press as our new manager, "Terry did a wonderful job here and I am sad to see him go, but I intend to match that and even better it, and one thing I will take from Terry is his drive and determination to win."

These are admirable sentiments but if they are to become a reality then talk of ‘punching above our weight' will have to end. What better way to demonstrate ambition that to announce it in front of the TV cameras on Sunday with a performance against Rangers.