It would be unfair to say that we made a very slow start to 2005.We played three league games and one cup match in January without scoring a goal.Whilst we were still looking forward to the League Cup semi final, the pathetic effort we turned in at Rugby Park in the Scottish Cup third round was hugely disappointing.Our one point came from an exhilarating 0-0 draw with Aberdeen at FirPark whilst the remaining games were 2-0 defeats at RugbyPark (again) and Celtic.
Live the Dream
If January was a let down, we made a sensational start to February.The decision to play our semi final against Hearts in ‘neutral’ Edinburgh caused some consternation amongst Motherwell fans and officials but this was forgotten by kick off time.We were enjoying a good run of form against Hearts and there was little in the early play to suggest this would change.Craigan gave us the lead and although we conceded a lot of possession to Hearts they rarely threatened.Late in the second half McDonald won a penalty, Foran converted and we were on the way to Hampden.Or we should have been.Hearts pulled one back, Clarkson missed a sitter (in his defence it bobbled as he was about to strike) and then the Jambos levelled in injury time.We were lucky to crawl into the extra periods without our goal being breached once more but an inspirational talk from Gordon Marshall lifted the side.Skippy looked to have won it but was denied by the offside flag before Marc Fitzpatrick surged into the box in the 120th minute and fired home to spark bedlam amongst the ‘Well support.After fourteen years, we would grace another final.
Naturally enough we had a let down in the next match, wasting many chances in an undeserved 2-1 loss at Dens.We picked up a good point from Hibs thanks to the now prolific Craigan and yet another win over Hearts meant we were two points clear in sixth.Fitzpatrick did the damage again although our now customary penalty was missed by Jim Hamilton who had wrestled the ball from regular taker McBride.
Cup final month started with a mind numbing 0-0 on Dunfermline’s plastic before Dundee United were dispatched with minimal effort at FirPark.Tickets for Hampden were in huge demand and Motherwell sold out a remarkable 17,000 allocation.Fans were also delighted to ‘live the dream’ and the club cashed in by selling wristbands in massive numbers.The final league game before our Hampden appearance was a 1-1 at Livingston – a dropped two points but the bigger concern was emerging from the 90 minutes with no injuries.
A sea of claret and amber greeted the players at Hampden but the day was to end in heart break.The fans may have had a good day out and were undoubtedly proud to be there but let’s not kid ourselves on, the players failed to perform and no one will know that more than them.
Rangers destroyed us 5-1 and if they had put away even half of their chances the final tally would have been much higher.Any year that Motherwell make a cup final is always memorable and this is no exception.The cup semi final was one of the best occasions in the lives of many fans and the day of the final will also bring back pleasant memories.As we look ahead to 2006 we have another huge game coming up at Hampden, this time a semi final against Celtic.We can only hope that the players (and management) have learned from our last visit and we can make a better impression on the pitch.The fans will certainly have an enjoyable day, at least until kick off comes!
An international break the week after the cup final gave us an extended period in which to lick our wounds.The first half of April would give us four games which would make or break our top six place.Having been present in the upper half all season, would we take the required points to secure our position?It would be tense…
Part 2 is here