Season 2018/19 brought none of the thrills of the previous campaign but after a flirt with the dangerous end of the league table, Motherwell secured safety with time to spare. The fan owned club continued to embed itself in its community.
In June five arrivals were announced (Mark Gillespie, Liam Donnelly, Danny Johnson, Alex Rodriguez-Gorrin and Aaron Taylor-Sinclair. Later Christian Mbulu signed on for a year while Conor Sammon and Tom Aldred would join on loan. The significant departure was that of Cédric Kipré. The big defender had been transformed in a season from an ungainly trialist to a transfer target and he joined Wigan for a fee reported to be close to £1M. It was a terrific piece of business for the club.
Business on the pitch started with a Betfred Cup win over Edinburgh City and the league season opened with a loss at Easter Road. The first point of the new campaign came with a stirring 3-3 draw against Rangers at the end of August. It was a reminder of the spirit show often shown earlier in the year.
A win against Dundee followed before we produced a horrible run that saw us knocked out of the League Cup at Tynecastle and drop into the relegation zone with only one point from five attempts. Back to back wins over fellow strugglers St Mirren and Dundee offered respite but a 7-1 thrashing at Ibrox halted progress.
The win in Paisley in October provided a platform for David Turnbull. Not only did he score both goals but he showed such composure and touch in midfield that he became a fixture for the rest of the season. We knew our academy graduate had potential but few anticipated the plaudits that would come his way in the months ahead.
Goalkeeper Trevor Carson gave us a scare when he returned from international duty with Northern Ireland. He had developed deep vein thrombosis would not play for the rest of the season. As he recovered we were fortunate that his able replacement, Mark Gillespie, proved to be a first class guardian.
An unexpected home win over Aberdeen led us into a busy December. Eight games tested the squad almost to breaking point but a win in Perth and a joyous win at New Douglas Park had us almost comfortable in ninth place at the year end. It turned out that Dundee, St Mirren and Hamilton were poorer than us.
The first half of the season saw us rely on the direct football that supplied our twin strikers but Stephen Robinson indicated that a change was n the way. Young players would be given a chance and the ball would spend less time in the air. Fingers were crossed!
A new scoreboard shone its light over the renewed pitch complete with a new irrigation system. Astroturf run off areas were installed and the perimeter wall in front of the Phil O'Donnell stand disappeared. Eticketing had arrived along with a revamped website.
As the year ended the financial windfall from the previous season was revealed. The cup runs together with player sales produced a profit of £1.7M for the year ended May 2018. This was by some margin the best year’s trading in the history of MFC. At the AGM in December Jim McMahon explained that the board was undertaking a root and branch examination of every aspect of the club’s operation to ensure the future sustainability of the fan owned enterprise.