By the middle of January we were making heavy weather of the league campaign and were hoping that Higdon's late goal at Tannadice might have signalled a turn in fortunes. The point he earned was only our second from a possible fifteen and we needed a few three pointers to recover our position. That game resulted in us dropping briefly to fifth place and an offer of a one match ban for the manner of Higdon's celebration. It was, in part, a reaction to the pressure the team was under.
Law and Ojamaa in good form
The month started with yet another woeful showing at Ibrox and a poor loss at home to Inverness. Bill Dickie's passing was duly marked but there was plenty of muttering in the stands as the statistics showed that we had recorded only one home win in eight attempts.
The first month also saw the introduction of Henrik Ojamaa. Nothing in his short career suggested that we should expect much from the young Estonian. He had already a long list of former clubs and seemed, at best, one for the long term. He was given a late debut as we polished off Queen's Park in the Cup and rounded off the afternoon with a fine goal. That cup tie was also noteworthy; it was Motherwell's first home draw at that stage of the competition in eleven attempts. We were to have another home tie in February when Morton were brushed aside.
Craigan takes a bow
Motherwell were soon restored to third position when wins against Dunfermline, St Johnstone, Hearts and Hibs gave us real hope of European qualification. Only a goalless draw in Paisley prevented a five in a row triumph. The catalyst was Ojamaa. His spirited running and deadly finishing seemed to give his team mates new life and we looked assured and confident.
February ended with a loss to Celtic but the month was rocked by the off field troubles at Ibrox. Rangers had called in the administrators - the talk was of a European ban and the possibility that third in the SPL might gain a place in the Champions League qualifiers!
A win against doomed Dunfermline was followed by an intriguing double header against Aberdeen. A cup quarter final and a league game against Craig Brown's team were to take place at Fir Park. The Dons were making slow progress in the bottom half of the table and we fancied our chances of earning a trip to Hampden. An inexplicable error by the linesman gave the visitors a corner and from it and they took an early lead. They scored again before the break and our only reply was a consolation from Law. Our cup hopes were ended.
MFC TV outside broadcast from Perth
A rare goal from Stevie Hammell gave us revenge a week later but we had a dip as the split approached with losses to Kilmarnock and Rangers and Celtic before earning a point at Easter Road. We prepared for the last five games with the comfort of a five point cushion and we were favourites to hold on to third place.
A major step in the transfer of the club’s ownership to the fans occurred when The Well Society reached its initial target with ease. More than £350,000 was raised and we await details the first formal meeting so that a board can be elected.
We had two wins and a draw in the top six and created an SPL points record into the bargain. A 5-1 thumping of St Johnstone and a win at Tynecastle were the highlights and as a bonus we took a point at Ibrox. Seven of the twelve league games we lost were to the Glasgow pair so our claim to be best of the rest was built on losing only five of the thirty fixtures against them, a fine record.
The team took to the field for the last time in season 2011/12 with the Champions League theme playing on the Fir Park sound system. Third place was secured and the party atmosphere was boosted a fiver a head gate price. Captain Craigan announced his retirement and he left the best wishes of all at Motherwell for his long service. Hammell was the first to accept renewed terms and we await decisions from several key players.
Keith Lasley won the Supporters association player of the Year award but few would have complained had Hutchinson, Jennings or Randolph been highlighted. Higdon contributed 16 goals, Murphy scored 13 and Ojamaa added 9 in half a season.
Bring on 2012/13!