It is fair to say that the disappointment of the cup final will never completely heal but the club had a chance for some redemption when Rangers came to
We were sixth by a few points but with tough fixtures ahead, including contests with fellow mid-table competitors ICT and Killie, every point would be vital. Naturally enough though, Rangers came to Fir Park and thrashed us yet again. There is no rational explanation. Obviously they have good players and we struggle to deal with the likes of Prso and Novo but everyone else deals with them. It’s one of the worst Rangers teams in history we were up against, yet we could only put up the feeblest resistance. Gerry Britton failed to score but two late goals (a penalty and a deflection) gave the scoreline a much more favourable reflection (2-3). It also kept our vital goal difference advantage over our rivals intact.
The end of season 2004/5
The next match was one of the best of the season, a sensational 3-1 win at Pittodrie. Jim Hamilton finally opened his account for the club with a stunning long shot and McDonald scored a peach of a solo effort to secure the points.
The mid-week game between us and ICT was a disappointing affair. We went into the game knowing a single goal defeat was almost certainly good enough and that’s what we got. But after 25 minutes we had lost McBride to a long term injury, our ‘keeper to a red card and we were a goal down. ICT needed to go on and score a few but they were unsure of how to proceed and we actually looked better with a man missing. Indeed, Clarkson missed a great late chance to steal a point. So, it would all come down to the last pre-split match. For
There remained the possibility of a play off to decide the final top six spot – an occurrence which needed a 4-2 win for
Typically we made a nervous start and the visitors took the lead.
So, we had made it into the top half for a second season. How would we fair amongst the ‘elite’ of Scottish football this time? A tired performance allowed Aberdeen to take the points from
The season would end in dramatic fashion. Celtic were at Fir Park for the final match and with the title a near certainty their fans crammed into the ground. John Boyle agreed (reluctantly) to the fans wishes to keep the Cooper for home support but in reality this end was a 50-50 mix. Many feared of trouble in or out of the ground, remembering the scenes from a couple of years earlier when Celtic lost a late title at
Celtic knew that a win would secure the title and a first half strike from Sutton put them in the driving seat. Novo scored early in the second half at Easter Road to keep Rangers in with a chance but as Celtic turned the screw on us the title looked to be heading for Parkhead – if only after a huge party and presentation at
However, with 15 minutes to go Celtic had missed all their chances and had resolved instead to defend. It was amazing to see them fall back deeper and deeper – much like we do now! – and make little attempt to keep possession.
Then with moments left, McDonald took a mis-hit shot on his chest and hooked the ball high into the net.
We were to finish sixth again but considering we not only reached a cup final but increased our finishing points tally to 48 it was a clear improvement. If only we hadn’t thrown away the late points against Hibs and stuck away the penalty against Hearts we would have been fifth – but it is always easy to go back over these things. We finished with another wonderful top half finish and another superb up and down season gave the fans many great memories and a very enjoyable summer to come!