GLF 46: A Steelman's Slant
Article by GLF
Updated Monday, 25th November 2002
Eddie has a few heroes
A STEELMANS SLANT.
27 October 2002
Part of the joy of following a Football Club as a boy, is having heroes and idols who wear your "favourites" colours. Since I've always been an outsider supporting Motherwell, many of my Idols have been relatively unknown to my friends.
Growing up in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Linwood meant that all my schoolmates were exclusively Rangers, Celtic, Hearts, Hibs and (can you believe) St. Mirren fans. In all my time at school I was the only 'Well fan, and believe me that was tough, particularly on the back of the inevitable heavy defeats that came along at alarming regularity. I was the focal point of all the "banter" that was cast
around. Many a sleepless night was spent trying to come up with some excuse to explain away yet another defeat. The referee was to blame, or the ball was never over the line, or the Linesman was a mason (naw, that's just plain daft!). I found it hard sometimes, wondering what the hell I'd done to deserve this millstone weighing heavily around my neck. My Ol' Man called it character building. I didn't understand it then. Of course when the result went the way of the "Great and the Good", what a sensational feeling it was. I was king of the castle, and it seemed, the world new my name. What's the difference between a hero and an Idol?
To me a hero is a guy who you appreciate does a great service, and clearly feels something for your particular Club. An Idol however, is a special person with the heroes attributes but scores goals, dribbles past people, doesn't sign for the Ol Firm, has a certain "star " quality that attracts International honours, and maybe more importantly, interests the Glasgow based press gang! Heroes/Idols only really happen for you between the ages of say five to, maybe twenty-Five. After that cynicism begins to creep in and realism takes hold and a (happy) chapter of your career as a footy supporter comes to a close.
My first Idol was Keith McRae. This guy was special. He played in goals with an all black kit, a shock of ginger hair and on occasions played damn well at Left Midfield. Throw in that he also scored a few important goals which made this fans' eyes light up! Does it get any better? Yes it does. He never played for any other Scottish Club (so he's ours for ever). After Keith, I thought these guys grew on trees, but unfortunately I only ever had one more true Idol. Step forward Willie Pettigrew or "aw teeth an' talent" as my mum used to call him. I had the full strip back then. Indeed I used to go to bed with it on night after night after night. The memories Willie gave us Steelmen were awesome. Who can forget his run and shot from the halfway line to complete the comeback in the "Scottish" against Celtic. Or, Arthur Montford screaming, "chance of a lifetime for Pettigrew- He's done it!" commentating on a famous Parkhead victory. Or indeed, Hampden Park "echoing to the roar of Motherwell fans" (copyright. Evening Times) as my hero rattled in the opener at the 1975 Scottish Cup, Semi-Final. I realise that having WP as an Idol contradicts slightly my definition, as he also played for Dundee Utd, Accies, Morton and (whisper it ! )Hearts, but this man has done so much for this Club, and that cannot be ignored. He continues to support the Club and can be seen at games both home and away. He is a member of the elite list of Motherwell fans who've gone on to pull the Claret and Amber colours over their heads.
Something most of us could/can only dream about.
Enough of my twittering, the reason for kicking off this piece is that I've two boys aged 10 and 8. To say they are Motherwell daft is putting it mildly. Staying in Bishopton (halfway between Paisley and Greenock) I see history repeating itself. They are the only 'Well fans at school. None of their pals had heard of my boys' heroes, Brian Martin, Ged Brannan, Scott Leitch and Stevie Hammell. On September 10th 2002 that all changed. My boys had already sported a gel induced, red stripe through their hair on match days to tell the world that they had a hero. However that Tuesday night, James McFadden became their first Idol. My boys had somebody at last who could match up to Larsson and Ferguson. And somebody they could imagine they were, on the spare ground behind us without their mates screaming "who!!" at them. The Saturday following the Celtic game, Jamie (my eldest) and half his teammates in the school team had a red stripe through their hair against Langbank!!! Honestly to see him and his mates mimic a Motherwell player was something very special to this 'Well fan.
In this small part of Renfrewshire the main reason for not wanting James McFadden to go too soon, is that it could break the heart of two young boys who've just discovered the joy of Idolism. To conclude, we all have disagreements with each other at Fir Park or wherever. We all have our favourites and "donkeys", but if we stick together we can keep this Club alive and kicking for us, and the future Idols/Heroes of our kids. Remember the next time your hurling abuse at Corrigan/Adams or whoever, the wee boy sitting next to you might just have that player down for an Idol. They'll only have a couple in their lifetime, please don't spoil it for them.
God bless those who took a pay cut, I'm sure Willie Pettigrew would've.
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