GLF 50: What's Going On?

Last updated : 03 December 2003 By GLF

What's Going On?

In the middle of last year I applied to spend a year of my university degree in Stockholm. As we struggled, and ultimately failed, to get off the bottom of the league, I reflected that being out of the country probably would be no bad thing for the season ahead. The Dundee game was bad but at least we were up against quality opposition. By the end of the Livingston game I was wishing I had not delayed my flight to see one more match.

Of course after a week away from Scottish newspapers, Irn Bru and square sausage, I was desperate to find out how we did against Kilmarnock. The BBC text commentry was excruciating to watch but as it brought news of our dramatic late win I could put up with it. This was obviously a crucial win for us to get us off the mark but it sounded like Kilmarnock just had an especially bad day and the manner in which we squeezed past them did not fill me with confidence. My worries seemed to be justified when we twice blew leads against Partick Thistle at Fir Park although the fact we had ten men did seem to make it a more acceptable result.

This is when the twighlight zone music started. As most Motherwell fans know, we do not win at Easter Road. Ever. Even when we pounded them for the first half and went in one up at the break, I would have settled for a point. However, the team were beginning to show a maturity which was lacking last season. The players were comfortable on the ball and whilst we were not making chances like before, we were comfortable in possession and easily containing our hosts. Clarkson's second wrapped it up and we had our first victory at Easter Road in nine years.

The Celtic match was a predictable throw back to last season, as was Forfar. This is a positive, if slightly stunned, article though so those performances will not be dwelt on. Things began to get really bizarre when we visited Tannadice. By a strange quirk of fate, my best mate over here is an Arab. He shared my view that no matter how good we were or how bad they were, a home win was the most probable outcome. Having recently seen the highlights of the game, I think that this match, rather than Hibs, was when things really started to go right. Last year every bit of luck we received was bad and things went wrong whenever possible. This time we were awarded the soft penalty against the run of play and even when the referee evened things up, McIntyre fluffed his kick. Owen Coyle is getting on a bit but you would have put your mortgage on him equalising late on - instead, he missed the unmissable.

It is worth remembering that the last time we had a season when we felt lucky was 1999 / 2000. Our season was filled with late goals and flukey moments - none more so than the late 2-1 win over St Johnstone in April to keep us fourth when a loss would have dropped us to sixth. It is clear that this year we are much better side than we were before for a variety of reasons but perhaps we are getting the breaks we previously found so hard to find.

The 1-1 draw against Rangers was another pleasing performance but, as arrogant as it sounds, we have grown accustomed to shocking the Old Firm at Fir Park. What has confirmed the potential in this side was the win at Pittodrie. You are only marginally more likely to see Motherwell win in Aberdeen than you are to spot snowballs in hell. Whilst we deserved our win in the north east, we had our share of luck again. Aberdeen did make chances but they managed to miss them all. We managed to punish them when last year we might have let them off the hook. If you are wondering how rare it is for our away form to be so good, then here's the answer. Even in our great years of mid-nineties we never managed to win away to Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hibs in the same season. For that, you have to go all the way back to 1961 / 1962 and then the only league win was against Hibs.

It has occured to me on several occasions that our good run of form has coincided with me leaving the country. You will all be sad to hear that I do plan to return for the crucial Christmas period although I do feel that losses to Celtic and Hearts should not earn me a life ban from Fir Park. If we lose to Dundee United as well though, I suspect my friends will investigate having my season ticket removed for good. A very small, very petty part of me is insanely jealous at missing our recent results. I managed to watch seventeen or so away league games last season and got the return of one win and a few draws. What have I done to deserve missing the victory at graveyard of graveyard's, Easter Road?!?! At least I can console myself that if things do continue the way there are, I'll be able to catch European football again next season. And with cheap Ryanair flights flying to Prestwick, at least coming home for the cup final won't be too expensive......

Derek Wilson

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