Lilley Signs For Stirling

Former Morton striker Derek Lilley has signed for Allan Moore's Stirling Albion on a part-time basis. According to today's Scottish Sun Vialli will combine playing for the Binos with a job working for a bank in Edinburgh.

I have been following Morton since 1995 - a Morton newcomer relative to most Morton fans - and in the 12 or so years I have followed the club Derek Lilley is my all time favourite Morton player.

Unforunately I was far too young to see or remember guys like Andy Ritchie or even Rowan Alexander in their prime. As an impressionable 13 year old your team's goalscorer is more often than not the easy and obvious choice to be your favourite player. I was no different and after watching Lilley's electric pace and explosive finishing I became Lilley '7' in the playground and out on the street. Older fans with a keener eye for the game would have focused on the class of Lindberg or McInnes but for me and my pals it was the more exciting players like Lilley and Rajamaki who struck a chord.

When he left Morton for Leeds United for a fee reported to be around £500,000 in 1997 I was certain he would make an impact at Elland Road and go onto play for Scotland (Joe Jordan style). Apart from a dramatic winner for Leeds in a 3-2 win againt Barnsley it never worked out at Leeds and he went onto have similarly unproductive spells at Bury, Oxford, Dundee United and Hearts.

He was to return to prominence with Livingston in the 2003/04 season. Lilley had a tremendous season at Almondvale scoring around 18 goals in all competitions including one in the Scottish League Cup Final as his Livingston side beat Hibs 2-0 to lift the trophy. This will go down as the highlight of Lilley's playing career. I remember being especially happy for him that afternoon even though I'm not a big Livingston fan (like most other Scottish football fans I'd imagine).

Unfortunately his next season didn't match the previous campaign. As a result Lilley was released and returned 'home' as one fan put it to him in a pre-season friendly at Northwich in his unofficial second debut. That night I had doubts over Lilley's ability to recapture former glories at Cappielow and I think the next couple of season proved to be a bit of a disappointment. Personally, I put this down to age. Lilley had lost his electric pace and this was, for me, the key element in his game. Without this he wasn't half the player he was in the past and there was no way he was going to adapt to the target man role he seemed to take on - or had forced upon him. His poor form lead to his release from Cappielow in the middle of last season. He spent the second half of the season on the bench at St. Johnstone but he wasn't kept on which brings us up to the present day and the next (and final ?) chapter in Derek Lilley's career which is to be played out at Stirling Albion.

I think cases like Lilley's (and similarly Mahood, Hawke and Collins) are examples of why teams should never go back over old ground. It's never the same the second time and great memories can be tarnished by memories that are less favourable but much fresher. I wish Lilley all the best at Forthbank (except against us) and even though his second spell wasn't as good as first time around I'll never forget those days when I'd come home raving about 'Vialli' every saturday night.

Wikipedia profile : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Lilley

Soccerbase profile : http://www.soccerbase.com/players_details.sd?playerid=10434

Leeds fansite profile : http://www.leedsfans.org.uk/leeds/players/505.html


lee naylor said...

Good article.

But Barnsley and not Blackburn perhaps...?

And get the 'bene' sorted near the top. Shoody subbing if I ever saw it ;o)

Jonathan Mitchell said...


Yep, you would be right about Barnsley (http://www.barnsley-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=306929) I really should check things properly instead of relying on memory.

btw , what's shoody ??? haha