Morton Sign Russell And Gardyne

After a day of wheeling and dealing and a will he wont he saga Morton have signed Brechin's Iain Russell (right) and Celtic's Michael Gardyne (left).

Centre forward Russell signed a three year deal with Brechin receiving £40,000. Russell won the SPFA 2nd division player of the year award last season after scoring 23 goals for Brechin as they finished fourth. 4 of Russell's 23 goals were scored against Morton in the form of two doubles. He has already scored 6 goals this term.

I've been impressed with Russell going back to his days with Dumbarton where in the 2004-05 season he was the clubs top scorer as well as their young player and senior player of the year. I think he'll turn out to be a very useful signing.

According to http://www.celticfc.net/ Michael Gardyne has signed on a free transfer. This was after the Greenock Telegraph website carried a story indicating Celtic had let the club down by demanding a transfer fee after agreeing to let him go without a fee.

Gardyne spent half of last season on loan at Ross County. Two of my younger brothers (one of whom lives in Inverness) went to watch Ross County play Gretna on the last day of last season. They both said that Gardyne was outstanding, the best player on the park and scored a brilliant goal. They didn't agree on where he played though. One said he played just off the main striker, the other said he played wide sometimes drifting in field. Either way lets hope they are right in their assertion he is a very good player.


Jim Happy At Morton

Jim McAlister has told the Greenock Telegraph's Chris Fitzgerald that he is happy to stay at Morton when asked about his feeling on the Motherwell enquiry.

McAlister mainly points to the fact that he wants to be playing first team football and he gets that at Morton.


At Least 2 In For Saturday

"I'll have at least two players in for Saturday's game against Queen of the South." - Jim McInally's words as quoted by Chris Fitzgerald in today's Greenock Telegraph.

McInally seems confident that we will have at least two new players before the deadline closes which sounds promising. However he says he doesn't want to mention any names. Here's hoping the players turn out to be of the standard that could see us challenging for the title.

Dougie Imrie will definiely not be one of the players brought in. The same article reveals that Morton made the highest (and only formal) offer but Clyde have rejected it.

Read the article here : http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/article.php?sec=2&id=11392

Does Rae Have Too Much Influence Over Transfers?

While reading today's Tele' I picked out a couple of comments by Douglas Rae that concerned me. On Motherwell's enquiry about Jim McAlister Rae is quoted as saying : "It is myself and Jim who decide on transfers." and "No player at this club is for sale anyway."

Now it might just be me but there is no way Douglas Rae should be involved in deciding on transfers. Jim McInally should be left to identify players and decide who we should sell . The only part Douglas Rae should play is providing the funds to assist his manager in acquiring players he thinks could improve his team. Neither should Rae have the authority to decide that no one at Cappielow is for sale. If Jim McInallys decides a bid for a player is acceptable that's his decision, not the chairmans. Especially if the manager feels it would free up wages or provide additional funds for a player he would like to bring to the club.

In the past I have heard rumours that Alex Williams and Chris Templeman were signed not by the manager but by Douglas Rae. Also, this summer Jim McInally explicitly said that he didn't think Paul McGowan was worth more than £50,000 and that the deal was dead. A couple of days later Morton made a bid of £80,000 with a 25% sell on clause. Now that doesn't prove anything and it certainly doesn't confirm the rumours that the chairman signed Templeman and / or Williams but it does seem slightly suspicious that McInally says the deal is dead yet we make another bid.

It would also seem that I'm not alone in my thinking. A couple of letters in the Terrace Talk section of today's Greenock Telegraph appear to make the same point. You can read two of the letters by clicking on the images below to enlarge.

Hopefully Jim McInally is allowed to identify his own targets without Douglas Rae being involved in deciding on transfers - as he has said himself - as we really need them before the transfer window closes on Friday night. We especially need players who the manager has belief in, not just players who the manager and chairman agree upon.

McAlister Not For Sale

On Sunday the News Of The World claimed that Motherwell were interested in Morton winger Jim McAlister and that they would be prepared to offer Martyn Corrigan and cash. An article by Roger Graham and Chris Fitzgerald in today's Greenock Telegraph confirms that Motherwell did make an enquiry but they were told that Jim wasn't for sale.

The article quotes Motherwell boss (and ex-Morton player) Mark McGhee who admits that he made an enquiry but that it was knocked back.

The Tele' also spoke to Douglas Rae who seemed upset at the way the enquiry was made. The article ends with a quote from Rae, who says : "We're trying to build a team here, not dismantle one. I doubt Motherwell could afford Jim McAlister." It would seem that any bid for a Morton player would have to be an offer we couldn't refuse.


Motherwell Want McAlister

In today's News Of The World Kenny MacDonald writes a small article (pictured - click to enlarge) that says :

"Motherwell are set to swoop for Morton midfielder Jim McAlister. The new Fir Park boss Mark McGhee has been keeping tabs on the 21-year old and has been impressed. Now he's ready to make a cash-plus-player deal to land McAlister with the experienced Martyn Corrigan a likely candidate to head in the opposite direction."

I've followed McAlister's fortunes closely since he signed for us and after a few reserve matches I was convinced he'd make it and not just at Morton but at a higher level. Last season he blew hot and cold but he has produced some exceptional performances in his Morton career so far. Most notably Dumbarton away a couple of season ago and Dunfermline away this season.

As much as I like Jim I think this could be a good move for both parties. Corrigan is just what we need and I think it's probably about time Jim moved on to the next level in his career. The cash - depending on how much it is- will sweeten the deal.

Morton 0 - 2 Hamilton

Morton 0
Hamilton Academical 2 - Offiong (52, 66 pen)

Att - 3,189

League leaders Hamilton maintained their 100% record with a pretty comfortable win at Cappielow on Saturday.

Morton started with the same line up as the one that took the field against Stirling Albion last week but with Jamie Stevenson supporting Chris Templeman in a more attacking role. If anything this performance was less impressive than that one.

We were disjointed and looked to have no particular game plan. The midfield were anonymous and we had nothing up front. The transfer deadline is looming and going on this showing at least two signings are a must.

Our only real efforts on goal were a fierce volley over the top by Stevenson, a Stewart Greacen header comfortably saved by Halliwell and a few weak efforts straight at the keeper by Templeman - who appears to be a striker who cant shoot, every effort seems to be really weak unless he has the chance to swivel his body to get power behind the shot.

Hamilton took the lead in 52 minutes when Stewart Greacen -who was having a good much up until this point- made two vital errors. His first was a sliced clearance that allowed Gilhaney to cut in on the left and cut back for Offiong to head home. Greacen should have been marking Offiong but allowed him to hang back for a cut back while Greacen kept running forward without checking where the striker had gone. There's no point putting in great performances for the majority of the match and then just switching off and costing your team a goal.

Hamilton's and Offiong's second came from the penalty spot. Jay Shields was chasing Offiong in on goal but Shields didn't have the pace to keep up so he attempted a slide tackle from the side to dispossess the league's top scorer. It was a stone wall penalty and for me a definite red card. I can never understand fans who clap off a player who has just been sent off. Especially when he foolishly just ensured that his team had lost the match. Offiong cooly dispatched the penalty to confirm my pre-match predicition he would be the key man in this match and to make his tally for the season 6 goals in 6 matches.

We have until Friday to bring in new players. Our moves in the transfer market in the coming week will make or break our season.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Robinson - 6
2. Shields - 5
3. Walker - 4 (14. McAnespie- 25 mins - 6)
4. Harding - 5
5. Greacen - 6
6. Keenan - 5
7. Millar - 5 (12.Finlayson - 55 mins)
8. Stevenson - 5 (16. Coakley - 55 mins)
9. Templeman - 5
10. Weatherson - 5
11. McAlister - 6

Subs Not Used:

15. Graham
20. McGurn

Booked : Templeman

Sent Off : Shields(65)

Hamilton : Halliwell, Parratt (McLeod 79), Elebert, McLaughlin (Gibson 72), Easton, McArthur, Swailes, McCarthy, Neil, Gilhaney, Offiong (Wake 72). Subs Not Used: Winters, Cerny

My man of the match : Jim McAlister

Sponsors man of the match : Stewart Greacen

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)



Beat The Bookie - Morton v Hamilton

Morton Win

Best :Ladbrokes - 5/4
Others : Tote - 6/5, Coral -6/5, William Hill - 6/5


Best : All - 5/2

Hamilton Win

Best : William Hill - 13/8
Other : Coral, Tote - 8/5, Ladbrokes - 6/4

Latest Betfair Odds :

Morton : Back - 2.6, Lay - 2.62
Draw : Back - 3.6, Lay - 3.7
Hamilton : Back - 2.9, Lay - 2.92

Odds taken from here : http://www.oddschecker.com/football/scottish/scottish-division-one/morton-v-hamilton/win-market

Internet Betting Odds (Decimal format) : http://www.betexplorer.com/soccer/scotland/scottish-1st-division-2007-2008/nextmatch.php?matchid=6238821


Morton v Hamilton Preview

Morton entertain current table toppers Hamilton Accies at Cappielow tomorrow in what should be a very entertaining match.

Hamilton come to Cappielow with a 100% league record and look to be in great form. So far they have beaten Dunfermline 2-1 (home), Clyde 2-0 (away) and Queen of the South 1-0 (home). A recurring theme in these matches are Richard Offiong's (wikipedia profile - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Offiong) goals. So far this season he has 4 goals in 5 games in all competitions. He has scored in every league match. Offiong is a player I have never seen play before but going by press reports and his scoring record he will certainly be Hamilton's key man tomorrow - Stewart Greacen and Ryan Harding beware.

Hamilton gaffer Billy Reid expects a tough match and indicates he would be happy with a draw. In Bert Mitchell's Evening Times preview Reid is quoted as saying : "Morton are a great addition to the league and I think the kind of atmosphere we can expect at Cappielow tomorrow will underline that. With their big home crowd behind them, Ton will be a danger to anyone at their place and it's vital we keep the back door shut.But we will be at full strength for the game and although a draw would not be a bad result for us, we are going into every game looking for three points."

On the teams news front Morton are still without Scott McLaughlin and David MacGregor. Kieran McAnespie is definitely back but not ready for 90 minutes according to Jim McInally in Roger Graham's match preview. McInally also states that he could start with Bobby Linn and Chris Templemanup front but that he would have preferred Linn to get a few more reserve outings under his belt first. McInally is also quoted as saying he "wouldn't be against" partnering Jamie Stevenson with Templeman.

According to the BBC sport preview Hamilton have a full squad to choose from although David Winters is struggling for match sharpness.

My Prediction : Morton 1-1 Hamilton

Imrie Update

According to yesterday's Evening Times Morton are fighting it out with St. Johnstone and Partick Thistle for Dougie Imrie.

Bert Mitchell says that it is understood that Clyde rejected a bid of £25,000 by St. Johnstone and that Morton and Partick have made similar bids.

He goes on to say that Thistle are Imrie's preferred destination but that Morton and St. Johnstone can offer better wages.

In Dundee Newspaper The Evening Telegraph James Masson claims St. Johnstone are 'poised' to sign Imrie and that he could even be signed in time to play for the Saints against Clyde on Saturday.

Evening Times : http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/sport/display.var.1638078.0.thistle_leading_threeway_tussle_for_hitman_imrie.php

Evening Telegraph : http://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/output/2007/08/22/story10169779t0.shtm

Andy Ritchie - Set Piece King

Morton legend Andy Ritchie features in a two page centre spread exclusive by Ronnie MacKay in today's Supergoals pull-out in the Scottish Sun.

The article is supposed to be about Ritchie hailing Celtic's Shunsuke Nakamura's set pieces but is more or less about Ritchie and his free-kick taking ability.

Ritchie reveals that he was inspired to perfect his free kick taking ability after watching Brazilian star Rivelino training at the 1974 World Cup. Ritchie says that after watching Rivelino he himself would "practice and practice getting my feet in the right position - I spent years doing that." He goes onto say : "I probably practised free kicks harder than I trained. I used to spend about an hour before training practising free kicks. I would take every opportunity to do that".

On his technique Ritchie said "Sometimes I opted for power and sometimes I floated the ball in - it is something you can't coach".

As well as the main article there was a smaller story at the side (you can read by clicking on the image to the left to enlarge) in which Ritchie reveals his favourite free kick was against Peter Bonetti of Dundee United at Cappielow. The article also reveals that Pat Bonner considers his best ever save to be from a Ritchie free kick and a Ritchie free kick against Watford is the best former England manager Graham Taylor has ever seen scored.


Saints Join Race For Imrie

Two Greenock Telegraph articles over the last two two days have basically confirmed that Morton are in the hunt for Clyde striker Dougie Imrie (pictured - chesting the ball).

In today's Tele' Roger Graham has written a good opinion piece stating that in his opinion Morton must sign two quality strikers and a strong, experienced midfielder to challenge this season. He also says : "There is little doubt that Clyde striker Dougie Imrie has been identified by Jim McInally as a signing target. That may be unconfirmed by the Cappielow boss, but it has not been denied either, and other sources indicate strongly that Imrie is the man the manager wants." This would seem to confirm that the Sunday Mail's story that we are interested in Imrie was true.

However, on Wednesday Chris Fitzgerald wrote that the Telegraph believes that St. Johnstone have joined Morton in the race for Imrie's signature. Owen Coyle is quoted and does not mention Imrie by name but states they are looking at 'several' players.

I like Imrie as a player. He's pacy, direct and his a decent strike on him. I'm not sure he is the goal grabber we need at Cappielow but that's not to say I wouldn't like us to sign him. If Jim McInally has him down as the answer to his striking problems I'd imagine he'll have to use some of the money set aside for Paul McGowan to bid more than St. Johnstone to get his man.

McInally Denies Portuguese Trialist Story

Jim McInally has denied the Scottish Sun's story that Morton are interested in Portuguese striker André Martins.

In Wednesday's Greenock Telegraph Chris Fitzgerald quoted McInally as saying "We are not interested in bringing him to Morton, regardless of what was written in the papers. He’s not the type of player we need just now."

The quote appeared at the bottom of an article about Dougie Imrie.


Portuguese Striker Invited To Train With Morton

On Page 6 of the Supergoals pull-out in today's Scottish Sun a small story says that Morton have invited Portuguese striker Andre Martins (below right) to train with the club.

Martins has previously had a trial at Bayern Munich. His wikipedia profile also states that he has had trials at Dundee and Partick Thistle.

Doncaster Rovers are also rumoured to be interested in the player.


Name : André Filipe Saraiva Martins
Age : 20 (d.o.b. - 26.03.1987)
Position : Striker
Nationality : Portuguese
Height : 5' 11"
Former Club : Naval (Portugal)

Wikipedia profile : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andr%C3%A9_Martins

More Info from an article on a Dundee fan site : http://www.dundee.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=73735

Jim Duffy : Morton Could Be 1st Division Surprise Package

Former Morton defender Jim Duffy has praised the standard of this season's 1st division in today's Scotland On Sunday.

He describes Dundee, St Johnstone, Dunfermline, Partick Thistle and Morton as 'institutions' and says that these teams have the potential to attract big crowds if they are doing well. If all of them are vying for the championship with everything tight at the top Duffy expects regular crowds of 6,000 plus in the 1st division.

On Morton he says : "The surprise packages could be Morton. It has taken them a long time to escape the clutches of the Second Division but for three years they have been a side used to winning practically every week. They have a sharp young manager in Jim McInally and a few pennies to spend. Equally, as I know from experience, Cappielow is a ground with a knack for making visiting teams uneasy and, with crowds that will pour in there this season, Morton's home form could prove a springboard to a title challenge. You just don't know. But that uncertainty is a glorious, and increasing rare, facet of our game."


Morton Favourites To Land Imrie

Today's Sunday Mail (I know, I know) has a snippet on page 85 that says :
Morton boss Jim McInally could sign Clyde striker Dougie Imrie this week. Kilmarnock have already registered an interest in the ex-Lanark United player who is out of contract in January - but Ton are now favourites to land the hitman.

Stirling Albion 0 - 0 Morton

Stirling Albion 0
Morton 0

Att - 1,538

Yesterday Morton fought it out with Stirling and gained a point (I would argue missed out on two) on a miserable, rainy day. The admission price,the weather and the 15 minute delay (due to an accident on the Kingston Bridge) made this boring match seem all the more depressing.

Jim McInally started with the 4-5-1 that was so effective against Dunfermline. The only difference was the personnel as Jay Shields came in for Brian Graham and played in a defensive midfield role. In my opinion this formation wasn't necessary in this game. We were playing arguably our easiest away game of the season at the home of part-timers Stirling Albion. If we have any ambition this season we should be going to Forthbank looking for a win. Another Morton supporter made a good point while talking to him in the pub last night. He basically said that yesterday's result wipes out the great result we got against Dunfermline as we failed to capitalise on the unexpected points we gained in that game.

From the outset it was clear that McInally was going to settle for the draw. This was made all the more obvious when late in the game - with the match crying out for the introduction of Bobby Linn - the manager introduced Brian Graham as a direct replacement for Chris Templeman. A manager looking for the win would've put Linn on for a midfielder. I felt quite sorry for Templeman. He worked himself into the ground but it was all fruitless as he lacked any decent support from the midfield. By the time he was subbed he was running on empty.

Morton started brightly as firstly Chris Templeman and then Jamie Stevenson took advantage of the greasy pitch to fire low shots at Myles Hogarth. Templeman's was taken comfortably but Stevenson's was a great effort that had Hogarth beaten but struck the base of the post.

Stirling Albion had a great chance to take the lead when an error by Lee Robinson allowed McKenna a chance at the back post but Morton's keeper recovered well by throwing himself at the strikers feet to block the goal-bound effort.

Former Morton midfielder Chris Aitken had both sets of fans clapping as his audacious lob from the half way line landed in the roof of the net after a poor clearance by Lee Robinson.

The 0-0 draw was a fair result and not exactly a disaster. A particular positive was the defensive performance and another clean sheet for the third match in a row. However, I really think we should have played with two up front and went looking for the three points. I think McInally gave Stirling too much respect and Allan Moore seemed to allude to this in a quote in today's Sunday Mail : "Morton only played with one up which is a huge compliment to us but maybe a reaction to them losing here last season."

A match to forget.

Morton (4-5-1):

1. Robinson - 6
2. Weatherson - 6
3. Walker - 7
4. Harding - 7
5. Greacen - 7
6. Keenan - 6
7. Millar - 6
8. Stevenson - 6 (12. Finlayson - 67 mins)
9. Templeman - 7 (15. Graham - 81 mins)
10. Shields - 7
11. McAlister - 6

Subs Not Used:

14. Linn
16. Coakley
20. McGurn

Booked : Templeman

Stirling Albion: Hogarth, Nugent, Devine, Ellis, Graham, Aitken, Bell, Murphy, Lilley, McKenna (Gribben 86), Taggart (Tomana 71). Subs Not Used: Hay, Harris, Christie.

My man of the match : Stewart Greacen

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)



Peterhead Away

Today Morton were drawn to play Peterhead at Balmoor in the second round of the Challenge cup.

This fixture has been a notoriously difficult one for Morton in the past. However last season's 4-0 and 2-1 wins give us some hope that we have finally broken our hoodoo that seemed to prevent us from winning at that stadium.

The match will be played on either Tuesday the 4th of Wednesday the 5th of September.



Challenge Cup Draw

The draw for the 2nd round of the Challenge Cup will take place at 2.30pm tomorrow (Thursday 16th August) at Hampden Park.

Morton will face one of the following teams : Ross County, St. Johnstone, Peterhead, Forfar Athletic, Montrose, Brechin City, Arbroath, Clyde, Ayr United, Queen's Park, East Stirlingshire, Berwick Rangers, Airdrie United, Dunfermline Athletic or Partick Thistle.

The 2nd round matches will be played on either Tuesday the 4th or Wednesday the 5th of September.

Adam Coakley On Six Month Deal

Adam Coakley has signed a 6 month deal with Morton according to Chris Fitzgerald in today's Greenock Telegraph.

There was no indication of when the deal was actually signed but Coakley has been listed by name (instead of as a trialist) since the friendly at Arthurlie.

The deal is similar to Jay Shields' short term contract and will keep Coakley at the club until Christmas.

Coakley deal mentioned in the 5th Paragraph : http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/article.php?sec=sport&id=9336

Morton 1 - 0 Livingston

Morton 1 - Graham (26)
Livingston 0

Att - 1,658

In a fairly boring match a gritty, hard working Morton side beat Livington 1 - 0 to progress to the second round of the Challenge Cup .

In an adventurous move - which was probably slightly influenced by injuries - Morton went with a 4-3-3 formation for this match. Davie McGurn and Jay Shields came in to replace Lee Robinson and Jamie Stevenson - both of whom picked up knocks at the weekend. Bobby Linn replaced Stewart Greacen who was 'rested' according to Roger Graham in today's Greenock Telegraph (http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/article.php?sec=sport&id=9329). This meant that Peter Weatherson partnered Ryan Harding in central defence and Brian Graham played in a more advanced role than Saturday.

Morton scored the only goal when Jay Shields flighted over a nice cross and Brian Graham looped a header towards goal. The ball didn't appear to be concerning Livi's Polish goalkeeper Liberda until the last second but by then it was too late and his scrambled dive was not enough to keep the ball out. This was Brian Graham's first goal at senior level and comes on the back of a very impressive ratio of almost a goal a game for the reserves last season. I've been very impressed with him in the reserves, friendlies and three first team appearances he has made. It would be nice to think Brian could follow the likes of Jim McAlister in the transition from reserve team player to valuable first team player in the coming season.

Livingston had a Lee Matthew's goal chopped off for offside and spurned a great chance to score when Davie McGurn pulled off an excellent save from a shot from close range. Apart from that Livingston didn't really threaten. From what I have seen of our opponents so far I think I - and a lot of Morton fan's - have both overestimated our opponents and underestimated our own team this season. Morton weren't far off a reserve team tonight but we still disposed of Livingston fairly comfortably. Going on their performance tonight and recent match reports I've read Livi must be candidates for the drop. I also think we will finish comfortably mid-table and with a couple of signings could push into the top four.

Morton had a couple of great chances towards the end. Substitute Adam Coakley (who must've signed a contract) looked lively when he came on and had a great chance to finish the game but he shot straight at Liberda. Shortly afterwards he flighted a superb ball to Templeman at the far post but his header was weak and poorly directed. Chris really has to work on this aspect of his game. For a big guy he doesn't get the power or direction behind any of the headed chances he gets and for someone his size working on this could add a few more goals to his tally at the end of the season.

Another positive I've taken from tonight's match was the performance of Jay Shields at right back. Jay is ferocious in the tackle and looks like he really relishes the physical aspect of the game. Hopefully his combative style will rub off on some of his team mates as it's certainly something that most of our players have failed to show in recent seasons.

Another home game in round two please.

Morton (4-3-3):

1. McGurn - 7
2. Weatherson - 7
3. Walker - 7
4. Harding - 7
5. Keenan - 7
6. Shields - 8 (15. Black - 90 mins)
7. Millar - 7
8. Linn - 6 (14. Coakley - 70 mins)
9. Templeman - 7
10. Graham - 7 (12. Greacen - 75 mins)
11. McAlister - 7

Subs Not Used:

16. McGeough
20. Robinson

Livingston: Liberda, Mitchell (Snodgrass 71), MacKay, Noubissie (Weir 71), McCaffrey, Dorrans, McPake, Kennedy, Hamill, Matthews (Pesir 61), Fox. Subs Not Used: James, Stewart

My man of the match : Jay Shields
Sponsors nan of the match : Jay Shields

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)


Post Match Interviews : http://www.livingstonfc.co.uk/audio.php?media_id=135


Dunfermline Athletic 0 - 1 Morton

Dunfermline Athletic 0
Morton 1 - Weatherson (21)

Att - 4,748

Morton produced an heroic performance to emerge from East End Park with all 3 points on Saturday.

Morton lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Peter Weatherson returning to his familiar right-back role and young striker Brian Graham started his second game for the club on the left hand side of midfield. His performance was especially impressive as he was originally scheduled to be a sub but was called into the starting eleven when it emerged Jay Shields was stuck in traffic.

Dunfermline controlled the first half and had the majority of possession without looking too dangerous. Kevin Harper was seeing a lot of the ball on the right and the movement of McManus, Crawford and Burchill was impressive at times but they rarely threatened with serious attempts on goal. The one main attempt came when Lee Robinson blocked Crawford's close range effort and scrambled to gather at the second attempt.

In this period Morton scored against the run of play when Peter Weatherson strode forward from right back feigned a shot and neatly stepped inside the defender before delicately chipping the ball over McKenzie and in off the back post. I have always been of the opinion that Peter should be used further forward either in midfield or in a striking role. However Saturday convinced me that right-back might be the position he is most suited to, particularly in relation to the other players in the team. I believe he has a calming effect on Harding and Greacen at the back adding some solidity and an ability to pass out of trouble rather than hoof it forward. He's also a real threat coming forward and adds a signifant goal threat. In addition apart from his midfield performances against poor Forfar side I think he has been unimpressive there and as Jim McInally said in the press today he is not fit enough to play up front.

Morton were inspirational in the second half. They contained Dunfermline by working extremely hard to close down every Dunfermline player in possession. The defence were solid under pressure and some of our counter attacks were inspirational. Special mention to Jim McAlister who seemed to be everywhere. He was running from deep and causing the Pars defence all sorts of problems. Roddy McKenzie made a great save from Jim after he skinned one man then nicked it past another to put himself one-on-one but the referee and linesman gave the goal kick.

Morton could have made it two at the death as substitute Coakley was played in but his first touch was heavy and allowed the keeper to gather comfortably.

An all round great day. If the team continue to perform like this then we could surprise a few people this season. I can't help but think (especially after Saturday) that a couple of strong signings this summer could have seen us with a genuine chance of challenging for promotion.

Morton (4-5-1):

1. Robinson - 7
2. Weatherson - 8
3. Walker - 7
4. Harding - 8
5. Greacen - 8
6. Keenan - 7
7. Millar - 8
8. Stevenson - 7 (12. Shields - 87 mins)
9. Templeman - 7 (15. Coakley - 91 mins)
10. Graham - 7 (14. Linn - 77 mins)
11. McAlister - 9

Subs Not Used:

16. Black
20. McGurn

Booked - Stevenson, Templeman, McAlister

Dunfermline: McKenzie, Shields, Muirhead, Young (Hamilton 80), Bamba, Scott Thomson, Harper, McManus, Burchill (Owen Morrison 56), Crawford (Simmons 76), Glass. Subs Not Used: Woods, Murdoch

My man of the match : Jim McAlister

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)



Des McKeown Criticises Celtic

Former Stenhousemuir manager Des McKeown has today criticised Celtic for rejecting Morton's bids for young striker Paul McGowan.

The criticism appeared in McKeown's regular column in the Scottish Sun's Supergoals pull-out.

The crux of McKeown's criticism is that Celtic were wrong to reject Morton's bid because the offer is generous by today's transfer standards and McGowan has no real chance of making a break through at Parkhead anyway. He also states that the only reason Celtic value him at £150,000 is because of his performances for Morton.

Gilbride Joins Stenhousemuir On 6 Month Loan

A news story on the official Stenhousemuir website has confirmed rumours that Alan Gilbride has joined Stenhousemuir on loan.

According to the story Gilbride is on loan at Ochilview until January.


Gilbride On Loan To Stenny?

A Stenhousemuir fan has posted a rumour on the 1st division forum on http://www.pieandbovril.com/ that Morton defender Alan Gilbride has signed for Stenhousemuir either on loan or permanently.

Gilbride played well against Stenhousemuir in pre-season (pictured - he is on the far left) and this signing may have been made on the basis of that match.

The poster goes on to say that Gilbride is in the Stenny squad for tomorrow's match away at Forfar.


Injury Crisis At Cappielow

Team news in today's papers suggest that Morton's injury situation is developing into something of a crisis.

David MacGregor, Kieran McAnespie (pictured) and Kevin Finlayson are added to an injury list that includes Scott McLaughlin.

Bobby Linn has also missed most of our pre-season matches and the first two competitive encounters against Clyde and Dundee. There is no mention of him being unfit for Saturday so he may feature. He will certainly lack match sharpness though.

Jim McInally isn't downbeat about the injuries - well publicly at least. He told the Evening Times' Bert Mitchell : "We have options to cover for these injuries. Obviously two games into the season you don't want to be without four starting players, but Jay Shields and Dean Keenan will come into the equation and I am confident we can cope."

Dunfermline at East End Park isn't the type of fixture you want to go into with an already small squad that's decimated by injury.



Morton Youth Set Up

Morton will be running three youth teams next season according to today's Greenock Telegraph. They will be :

Under-17s coached by Jamie Stevenson (pictured) who will be assisted by Paul Nisbet.

Under-15s coached by Chris Millar and Graham Anderson.

Under-13s coached by Alan Gilbride and David McLeod.

Celtic Want £100,000 For McGowan

A story on the Evening Times website today says that it is 'believed' Celtic will sell Paul McGowan if Morton bid £100,000.
Most rumours - including a story by Jim Scott in today's Scottish Sun pull-out Supergoals - have suggested that Celtic will not sell McGowan for under £150,000.


Inverclyde Memories - Sports Clubs

The Greenock Telegraph has released the latest edition in their series of special publications to celebrate the paper's 150th anniversary. The specials are titled Inverclyde Memories and each edition focuses upon a different aspect of Inverclyde's history.

The latest edition is all about local sports clubs and is written by Morton fan Russell Steele. The front cover (pictured - click to enlarge) is dominated by a picture of Morton's 1922 Scottish Cup winning side and the story of the final is told inside. The Morton protest rally in 2000 features in another article.

The special costs £1.

Increased Bid For McGowan Rejected

A news item on http://www.gmfc.net/ reveals that Morton have had an increased bid of £80,000 and a 25% sell on clause rejected by Celtic.

This smacks of chairman Douglas Rae having too much to do with who we sign and how much we pay when you consider that last week manager Jim McInally publicly declared the McGowan deal dead and that he considered Douglas Rae's valuation (and bid) of £65,000 to be excessive.

In my opinion this is a bad thing on many fronts. The chairman is bidding well above Paul McGowan's real value - the money could be put to much better use by signing more than one player for a couple of key positions rather than just one. The fact he keeps increasing his bids will encourage Celtic in the thinking that we will eventually crack and pay what they want. Finally, in my opinion Douglas Rae has undermined Jim McInally by raising our offer after McInally declared the deal dead and £65,000 to be excessive.

Video of McGowan's two goals against Finn Harps : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRVxQsd4X-8

Dundee 2 - 0 Morton

Dundee 2 - Zemlik (47), Swankie (52)
Morton 0

Att - 2942

The less said about this match the better.

Morton exited the CIS Insurance cup after a timid performance against Dundee at Dens Park.

The first half was a non-event that ended nil nil.

Dundee took the lead early in the second half when giant Czech striker Jan Zemlik instinctively shot out a long leg to intentionally deflect the ball past the helpless Lee Robinson in goal.

Dundee's second came from a Morton attack. The ball fell to Templeman at the back post, he attempted to twist and turn but was easily dispossessed. Dundee burst forward down the left and Swankie eventually cut in to drive a low shot into the far corner.

Morton's only real chance of the night fell to young substitute Brian Graham. He ghosted in at the back post, knocked the ball past a defender and struck a fierce close range effort but Roy reacted well and forced the ball over the bar.

Morton were exposed at the back while the midfield and attack were non existent. A friend used the word toothless to describe our performance tonight and I agree wholeheartedly. We need a striker and a strong midfielder and to a lesser extent a centre back. Hopefully tonight will give Jim McInally food for thought.

Morton Team

1. Robinson - 8
2. Weatherson - 5
3. Walker - 7
4. Harding - 5
5. Greacen - 5
6. Finlayson - 4 (12. Shields - 46 mins)
7. Millar - 5 (14. Keenan - 54 mins)
8. Stevenson - 5 (15. Graham - 74 mins)
9. Templeman - 5
10. McAnespie - 6
11. McAlister - 6

Unused Subs
16. Coakley
20. McGurn

Dundee Team : Roy, Worrell, Griffin, Palenik, Dixon, Daquin (O'Brien 62), McDonald, Robertson, Swankie, Zemlik (Lyle 76), Sturm.
Subs Not Used: McHale, Davidson, Samson.

Matchday Programme (click to enlarge)

BBC Match Report : http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_cups/6933818.stm


Sturm Expects Backlash From Ton Fans

Jani Sturm expects Morton fans to give him a hard time tomorrow night after he snubbed Morton to sign for CIS Insurance cup opponents Dundee.

Sturm is quoted in Graeme Day's article on The Courier website as saying : "I don’t know what sort of response they’ll [Morton fans] give me now, though. There’s a good chance they will give me a few boos and whistles, but I’ll just have to cope with that. I had the option of signing for Morton, but I just thought Dundee was the best place for me to come to. I suppose we’ll find out after the game if it was the right decision."

He also praises the club, players and fans in the article : "I spent 10 days with Morton and got on very well with the players there. It was a very friendly place to be and I would have signed for them if Dundee had not offered me a contract. I played three games on trial there including a local cup match against St Mirren and the fans were great."

I think it's safe to say that Jani Sturm is right in assuming he will be getting boos and whistles from the Morton support at Dens tomorrow night.



Morton Photograph In FourFourTwo

Morton have popped up in football magazine FourFourTwo again this month (September edition - pictured).

An article called Happy Snaps features a series of football photographs by Stuart Clarke. The pictures in the article are his all time favourites. One of those is a picture of Morton fans queuing in the rain for a bus outside the ground after a match against Dunfermline in 1995.

The picture that appears can be viewed here (third from the left in the top row) : http://www.homesoffootball.co.uk/gallery/search/?query=morton&x=13&y=13

Morton 3 - 2 Clyde

Morton 3 - Weatherson (29), McAlister (42), Stevenson (pen 57)
Clyde 2 - Masterton (10), Higgins (45)

Att : 3,784

Morton got off to a great start in this season's 1st division campaign with an exciting 3-2 win.

Morton went 1-0 down when Masterton drove a powerful free kick past Lee Robinson in the Morton goal. Needless fouls and defending the resultant set pices seemed to be a big problem for us on Saturday. I'd suggest it's something Jim McInally will have to address on the training ground.

We equalised when Peter Weatherson stooped to glance a header past the Clyde goalkeeper after Kieran McAnespie's inswinging corner. Peter is pictured celebrating (top left - click to enlarge).

Dead ball specialist McAnespie then curled a superb free kick off the underside of the bar and down over the line - everyone I spoke to agreed it was McAnespie's goal. However the referee didn't agree and officially credited the goal to Jim McAlister who followed up and rammed home the rebound. Morton were now 2-1 in front.

The Cumbernauld men levelled the match right on half time. Harding gave away the second of our needless free kicks out on the touchline. The cross was whipped in and Higgins glanced the ball on to score a similar goal to Peter Weatherson's.

The winner came in the 65th minute via a Jamie Stevenson penalty. The ref pointed to the spot after a Clyde player decided to have a wrestle with Jim McAlister in the box. Stevenson confidently stepped up and drilled his penalty low to the keeper's right.

Colin Hendry thought his side had equalised right at the death but the linesman ruled out their goal for offside. Once again a needless freekick was given away around the box, the resulting freekick was whipped in to the Morton area and found its way in to the net. If it was touched on the way in - as the linesman argued it had - it would have been the merest of touches. No one associated with Morton was complaining though and this incident allowed us to enjoy our big day back in the 1st division.

Morton Team

1. Robinson - 7
2. Weatherson - 6
3. Walker - 6
4. Harding - 6
5. Greacen - 7
6. Finlayson - 6
7. Millar - 7
8. Stevenson - 8 (12. Shields, 71 mins)
9. Templeman - 7 (15. Graham, 87 mins)
10. McAnespie - 9 (14. Keenan, 79 mins)
11. McAlister - 7

Unused Subs

16. Coakley [Trialist]
20. McGurn

Booked : Greacen, Millar, Finlayson.

Clyde Team : Hutton, Michael McGowan, Higgins, Potter, McGregor, Smith (MacLennan 68), Masterton, Bradley, Wilson (David McGowan 82), Arbuckle, Imrie. Subs Not Used: A Trialist, McKenna, Traub.

My Man of the Match : Kieran McAnespie
Sponsors Man of the Match : Jamie Stevenson

BBC Match report with audio match report and audio interview with Jim McInally : http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_div_1/6930380.stm

Video of the Golden Lions : http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JKvxkMCJlRw


£65,000 McGowan Bid Rejected

Today in the Greenock Telegraph Russell Steele reveals that Morton bidded £65,000 for Paul McGowan but that it has been rejected by Celtic.

In the article Jim McInally is quoted as saying that chairman Douglas Rae was excessive in his valuation of McGowan.

Beat The Bookie - Morton v Clyde

With the new season starting I'm going to try and put up the odds from all the high street bookmakers for Morton's matches.

Morton Win

Best :Ladbrokes - Evens
Others : Tote - 20/21 , Coral -10/11, William Hill - 19/20


Best : Coral - 11/5
Others : Tote - 21/10, Ladbrokes - 2/1, William Hill - 21/10

Clyde Win

Best : Tote, Coral, William Hill - 5/2
Other : Ladbrokes - 12/5

Odds taken from here : http://www.oddschecker.com/football/scottish/scottish-division-one/morton-v-clyde/win-market


Clyde Preview

Tomorrow Morton return to the first division for the first time since relegation in 2000/01 - 6 long years.

Our first match back is against Colin Hendry's Clyde at Cappielow and if last season's cup match is anything to go by we should be in for a tough, physical encounter.

Hendry hadn't made many signings until yesterday when he swooped to sign three new players and renew the contract of another : Christian Smith (Port Vale), Craig Potter (Airdrie United), Andrew Traub (Celtic) and Gary Arbuckle (who signed a new contract).

I'd identify Clyde's Dougie Imrie as their key man. The nippy striker (who can also play on the wing) is very direct and pacey and is sure to cause Stewart Greacen and Ryan Harding problems tomorrow should he play.

According to today's Greenock Telegraph Scott McLaughlin and Bobby Linn are definitely out while Davie McGurn, David MacGregor and Kieran McAnespie are doubtful. McAnespie played the first 45 minutes against Arthurlie last night and David MacGregor was subbed during the first half due to injury so their chances of playing don't look very promising. Today's news that our bid for Paul McGowan was rejected means we are very light in the striking department. All of this leaves Morton with a significantly weakened squad for tomorrow's match but I have a feeling we will do okay - or maybe it's the unplaced optimism a new season can bring.

I was down at Cappielow picking up my season ticket today and the place was buzzing with activity. The pitch looked immaculate but I was particularly impressed with the new floodlights that have been built on the roof of the main stand ( pictured - click to enlarge. For better pics click here : http://ahms.org.uk/index/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=30). Personally I think Cappielow is looking better than it has done in years.

Tomorrow Morton unfurl the Second Division Championship flag which will be presented by the Golden Lions parachute team (well done to the guys at the Albert for organising this). Lets hope the players rise to the occasion on the park and make Morton's return the 1st division a memorable one on and off the field.

My precition : Morton 1 - 0 Clyde - Weatherson

Match Details : http://www.gmfc.net/club-news/news-view.asp?id=198

Evening Times Preview : http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/sport/display.var.1593304.0.0.php

McGowan Bid Rejected

A story on Inverclyde Now today says that Celtic have rejected Morton's written offer for Paul McGowan.

McInally is quoted as saying : “They turned us down. They are wanting far too much. That’s dead now."
He also goes on to say that he has other striking targets in mind.


Arthurlie 2 - 0 Morton XI

Arthurlie 2 - McKeown (6), Docherty (65)
Morton XI 0

Tonight a Morton second string were easily taken apart by Barrhead junior side Arthurlie.

The Morton team featured a mix of youth, fringe and trialist players but were out played and out fought by their opponents. Although this match was only a pre-season run out there were no real positives to take, only new concerns particularly that the performance showed that our squad is threadbare and those on the fringes are certainly not good enough for the 1st division. In fact I'd have doubts that some of our players are of junior standard.

Arthurlie took the lead in the sixth minute when tall defender Frank McKeown crashed home at the back post.

Morton had the chance to equalise in the 61st minute after French trialist Fabrice Seidou was fouled in the box. Young striker Brian Graham stepped up and smacked his penalty against the base of the post and out to safety. I've uploaded a video of the penalty from my phone to youtube - again apologies for the quality.

Arthurlie made Morton pay for this miss by scoring four minutes later. Good combination play down the left led to a far post cross which was easily nodded home by substitute Jamie Docherty (picture - Docherty celebrating with Gilbride and No. 4 Trialist throwing his hands in the air).

Morton were not at the races in this match and rarely threatened while Arthurlie had a few more chances and should have won by more than two. Former Rangers youngster John Johnston passed up an open goal and saved Morton more embarrassment.

The performance of Adam Coakley was particularly disappointing - if Jim McInally thinks this boy is the answer to our striking problems he has to have a serious look at whether he should be a manager or not. Another point to note was that Arthurlie's tannoy announcer read out Morton's number four and Seidou as trialists but read out Coakley's name.

Fabrice Seidou came on as a substitute in the second half and apart from winning the penalty didn't do enough to earn a contract in my opinion.

The one positive I did take was the performance of Darren McGeough who displayed a good range of passing and looked quite composed on the ball.

Morton Team

1. McGurn - 6
2. Black - 6
3. McLeod - 6 (15. Phillips, 70 mins)
4. Trialist - 6
5. Gilbride - 5
6. Keenan (c) - 6 (12. Laughran - 6, 57 mins)
7. MacGregor - 5 (14. Mitchell - 5, 28 mins)
8. McGeough - 7
9. Graham - 6
10. Coakley - 4 (16. Kerrigan, 70 mins)
11. McAnespie - 6 (17. Seidou - 6, 46 mins)

Arthurlie : Evans, Ballantyne, Williams, Baxter, McKeown, Gallacher, Johnston, Stevie Aitken (ex-Morton), Bradford, Hughes, McFadden. Subs Wardle, Shields, Winter, Blair, Docherty

More pictures and a small match report at : http://www.arthurlie.com/

Morton Disappointed With Sturm

Today's Greenock Telegraph back page focuses on Morton's disappointment on missing out on Jani Sturm.

Roger Graham spoke to Douglas Rae who said that he was 'bitterly disappointed' on missing out on Sturm because he thought Sturm had agreed to join the club and that he was supposed to be coming in to sign a contract on the Wednesday morning with Jay Shields.

The agent phoned on Wednesday morning to say he would be going to Dundee and Rae believes 'another person' was assisting agent Sinisa Latkovic in arranging the move to Dundee rather than Morton.

A concerning aspect of Graham's article is at the end Douglas Rae is asked whether they will target someone in place of Sturm, Rae says "No , I think the manager may want to consider Adam Coakley." For anyone who wasn't that impressed with Sturm's performance against St. Mirren just consider that Coakley was on the bench and didn't get on the pitch even though we made five substitutions.

Jay Shields Signs For Morton

Former Hibs right-back Jay Shields has signed a six month contract with Morton according to Roger Graham in the Greenock Telegraph.

Shields is quoted as saying he will treat the six months as a trial to win a longer deal and that the team play good football and that he thinks the team and manager are all 'good guys'.