Erik Paartalu

Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu made his Morton debut against Queen Of The South on Saturday after signing for the club earlier in the day.

The first I'd heard of the news was in the Scottish Sun on Saturday morning. The match preview stated that Paartalu had been released by Gretna and that we had gained FIFA dispensation but needed to rush through his registration in order for him to play that day.

He took to the pitch wearing the number ten shirt and put in a decent display in the centre of midfield. He won most of his aerial battles and kept his passes simple (and effective) , rarely wasting possession.
Paartalu spent some of this season on loan at Stirling Albion and played for the Binos at Cappielow a few weeks back. If I remember correctly he played a sweeper role and looked okay that day.

There hasn't been any indication of the length of his contract anywhere but I'll post it on here if I find out.

Name: Erik Paartalu
Age: 21 ( d.o.b. - 3.5.1986)
Position: Centre Midfield
Height: 6' 2"
Nationality: Australian*
International Honours: Under-17
Former Clubs: Northern Spirit (Australia), Northern Tigers (Australia), Parramatta Eagles (Australia), Gretna, Stirling Albion [loan].

* One (or both) of Paartalu's parents is (are) Estonian. Estonia have been part of the European Union since 2004 so I assume that he is eligible to play in Scotland because he has a valid EU passport.

Queen Of The South 0 - 0 Morton

Queen Of The South 0
Morton 0

Att - 1,808

Morton (4-5-1):

1. Robinson - 7
2. MacGregor - 7
3. McLaughlin - 6
4. Millar - 7
5. Greacen - 7
6. Harding - 8
7. Finlayson - 6
8. McGuffie - 5
9. Weatherson (c) - 6
10. Paartalu - 7
11. McAlister - 7

Subs Not Used:

12. Russell
14. Wake
15. Walker
16. Keenan
20. McGurn

Booked: Weatherson.

MacGregor Greacen Harding McLaughlin
Finlayson McGuffie Paartalu Millar McAlister

Queen of the South: MacDonald, McCann (O'Neill 85), Aitken, Thomson, Reid, Harris, MacFarlane, McQuilken, Burns, O'Connor (Stewart 76), Dobbie. Subs Not Used: Grindlay, Gilmour, Campbell.

Booked: Harris, MacFarlane, Reid, Thomson.

My man of the match: Ryan Harding

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Team Sheet (click to enlarge)

BBC match report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_div_1/7317714.stm

Greenock Telegraph match report: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21863

Greenock Telegraph match reaction: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21870/


Lack Of Updates

Apologies for the lack of updates over the last week or so. I am having trouble removing a (non-porn related before anyone thinks it) virus from my PC - this causes my PC to go slower than Brian Wake chasing a through ball. I'm awaiting the delivery of an anti-virus disc from my brother in Inverness but this seems to be taking longer than expected.

Knowing Royal Mail at the moment I suspect the disc might be lying in a bag somewhere, maybe among this lot:


I will try to get on and update as often as I can. Here are a couple of updates from the last few days in the mean time.


1) We suffered a crushing blow to our survival hopes when Clyde won their game in hand on Tuesday night. A Clyde side inspired by Jorg Albertz - who scored a trade mark long range rocket shot - won 2-1 away to St. Johnstone. The Perth side also missed two penalties.


2) On Wednesday the Scottish Sun linked us with a move for Chris Innes. The defender had just been released by Gretna's administrators and was rumoured to be considering a 3 year deal at £1000 per-week with Morton.

Later in the day Clyde 1 was said to have reported that Innes had signed on at Cappielow but this later turned out to be false. Since then I haven't heard any further news on Innes' position.

3) On the same day the Daily Record reported that Barry Smith would have to retire at the end of the season and on retiring would take up a player(?)-coaching role at Valur - the club in Iceland he is on loan to us from.

They corrected their error the next day stating that he will not be retiring at the end of the season but will be continuing as a player-coach.

4) On Thursday the Greenock Telegraph informed us of the sad news that Davie Irons' father had passed away.

However Irons has made it clear he will still be in the dug out down at Palmerston tomorrow: “I don’t want to affect the players and will probably keep away from the dressing room before kick-off, but will take my usual place in the dugout.”



Morton 1 - 1 Livingston

Morton 1 - McAlister (30)
Livingston 1 - Snodgrass (59)

Att - 2,345

Morton (3-4-3):

17. Robinson - 7
2. MacGregor - 6
3. McLaughlin - 6
4. McGuffie - 6
5. Greacen - 7
6. Harding - 7
7. Finlayson - 6
8. Jenkins - 6
9. Weatherson (c) - 6
10. Russell - 6 (15. Wake - 70 mins)
11. McAlister - 8 (12. Stevenson - 54 mins)

Subs Not Used:

14. Walker
16. McAnespie
20. McGurn

Booked: Russell.

MacGregor Greacen Harding
Finlayson McGuffie Jenkins McLaughlin
Russell Weatherson McAlister

Livingston: Stewart, MacKay, James, McPake, McCaffrey, Tinkler (MacDonald 83), Dorrans, Walker, Griffiths, Craig (Davidson 47), Snodgrass. Subs Not Used: Malone, Weir, Lunn.

Booked: Snodgrass, James, McPake.

Red Cards: Davidson (89), Walker (90)

My man of the match: Jim McAlister

Sponsor's man of the match: Kevin Finlayson

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

BBC match report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_div_1/7306454.stm

Greenock Telegraph match report: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21649

Greenock Telegraph match reaction: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21652 & http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21657


Q & A Night

The following questions and answers are not reproduced word for word but are very close to, or are summaries of, what was originally said.

The panel was (from left to right as you look at the stage): Derek Collins, Crawford Rae, Douglas Rae, Davie Irons, Jim McColl and Gillian Donaldson.

The night was held in the Port Glasgow Town hall and the crowd wasn't the best, there were plenty of empty seats.

1) Unfortunately I missed the first question but I think it referred to Chris Millar and his move to St. Johnstone. *A post by Chrissboi on the Morton messageboard says that this question asked if there had been attempts to convince Chris Millar to stay at Cappielow. Douglas Rae said we have matched St. Johnstone's offer but Millar might want a new challenge. There was also a question prior to this in which someone asked why the previous manager was allowed to let strikers like Linn and Templeman go. Rae replied that he gives his managers total control over team affairs.*

2) Toby: You made a remark in the matchday programme suggesting that Celtic fans were the best supporters In Britain (ie better than Morton fans) This is the biggest insult a chairman could aim at his own fans. To my knowledge Morton fans have not: sung songs in support of terrorist organisations; attacked an opposing player after a late goal; thrown bottles at opposing players or had a plane diverted. You have never to my knowledge retracted these comments.

Douglas Rae (flustered by the question): You've said it all ... on the matter of Celtic fans I do think they know how to support their club. I do concede I aimed a comment at the fans when I meant to aim it at a small minority of fans. I apologise unreservedly for that. I'm not going to dwell on this matter tonight. (He then went on to talk about supporters not getting on the players backs etc). I accept the comments that you make but I think my comments were quite apt [regarding the Celtic support being supportive] and I will not be withdrawing any of them.

3) Unknown: What does the manager think the current strengths and weaknesses of the squad are, as I don't think the last manager actually knew (lots of laughs and nods)?

Davie Irons: I think the squad is unbalanced. We have too many midfielders and not enough defenders or attackers.

4) Chrissiboi: Can we have assuarances about the direction of the youth policy.

Jim McColl: We have three teams this season [u-13s, 15s, 17s]. We do not have plans in place with the new management team but these will discussed at our next board meeting.

Davie Irons: I have ambition to take Morton to the SPL and to get there the youth system must meet certain criteria. The youth set up will be improved accordingly, this will include the introduction of an under 19s team which is the pro-youth level.

Douglas Rae: ...begins to talk about Joe McLaughlin, implying that they did take the youth set up seriously because they had one person who was employed as head of the youth development but Chrissiboi cuts in to say McLaughlin didn't receive adequate backing. He then goes on criticising the current youth set up on various levels (they don't play enough games, the under 17s team that won their league were released rather than playing as an under 19s team and being allowed to make the progression into first team standard players, the club don't try to find sponsorship etc)... Rae quite flustered [again] hands over to Crawford Rae

Crawford Rae: Rangers have invested heavily in Murray Park but have no return from it[Nonsense - they recently sold Alan Hutton for £9 million]. These are recessionary times, it's hard to find sponsorship. (Basically implying that youth set ups are very expensive to run and that the returns are not good enough to justify the outlay).

5) Toby: Would it not be more beneficial for the youth teams to be coached by experienced ex-pros rather than current players?

Davie Irons: I'm all for current players coaching as it can be inspirational for young kids to be coached by players they can see on a Saturday. This can also attract kids to sign up at the club. However this should only be up to Under 13 level. Above that I think they need a higher level of coaching. But in saying that the boys who are doing the coaching (Peter, Jamie etc) do have some coaching badges, it's not as if they just turn up for the sake of it. I'd ask fans to be patient, we will get this right.

6) John Gisbey: I have concerns with our current tactics. I don't like to play with one up front at home and don't think 3 at the back suits us - particularly as it nullifies the threat of Jim McAlister - who I think is our most creative player - as he spends most of his time at left back.

Davie Irons (looking really interested in a tactical discussion): First I'd just like to say I agree about Jim [McAlister]. I think he is an absolute star in the making and will play at a very high level, although I can't take any credit for that. Quite simply I play 3 at the back because we have no natural full-backs (applause from the crowd). I'm not big fan of one up front but sometimes it's the best way to go, away at Hamilton for example. When I choose my system I try to get the best 11 players on the park and fit my team around that. There will be a new system on Saturday and I hope it will excite everyone.

7) Unknown: Are we interested in any Gretna players. If so will the funds be available to sign them?

Davie Irons: We are keeping a close eye on the situation with Gretna but FIFA have to sanction any release of players from their contract, until then we wont know anything. So we don't know if we will be able to get them but we are monitoring the situation.

8) Unknown: This is for Derek (guy proceeds to flatter Collins about still being able to play etc)How big a factor in player performances is criticism from the terraces?

Derek Collins: The support can play a massive part in driving the club forward. We need a collective togetherness to do this and I will be very pro-active in meeting with supporters club to help bring them together to achieve this.

at this point Douglas re-addresses the question saying the man wanted to know if criticism influenced player performances [obviously because it suited his agenda regarding his comments criticising fans for our home record and comparing us unfavourably with Celtic]

Collins (non-committal, probably because he knows about Rae's comments and the fall out it caused): We have a fragile group, mostly young boys and encouragement and positivity will help us avoid relegation. Players don't respond to criticism, we need your support.

9) Unknown: I've noticed the high admission prices some teams charge when we travel to away games. Is there a standard price that clubs are recommended?

Gillian Donaldson: No. Recently relegated clubs (like Livingston) have costs that are the same as when they were in the SPL. This explains why their prices are higher.

Davie Irons: Can I just say it's great to turn up at away grounds and see a big support rather than one man and his dog (everyone laughs).

10) Unknown: What is our scouting network like? Do we have a named person in charge who goes out and looks at players and talks to youth clubs? There's one player, I'm not going to name names, but he has 3 goals in 23 games for his last club (obviously Brian Wake) - who's actually watching these players before we buy them.

Jim McColl: No we dont have one named person in charge. Jim McInally would have meetings with scouts and managers of juvenile clubs at Cappielow. We would also give trials to any players who were recommended to us.

Davie Irons: We will be looking at scouting closely [I took that he meant that he didn't think what we had previously was good enough and that we would be improving our scouting network but that didn't want to criticise what had gone on in the past]. Keep sending us letters and phoning us about players though as we wont ignore them, we are willing to give any young players a chance. If we dont we could miss that diamond in the rough.

During this question there was also mention of Hamilton youth system. Crawford Rae and Jim McColl both suggested that Hamilton's youth system was significantly aided by their artificial pitch, and financial help from their local council - who also rent offices at New Douglas Park.

11) Toby: Looking at the current situation with Gretna, I'd like to know if there are provisions in place to safeguard Morton's future when you are no longer with us.

Douglas Rae: Yes there are. I'm speaking for him here but Crawford will take over.

12) The Ocean Floor: Will we be bringing in any emergency loans?

Davie Irons: We have looked into it but it us proving difficult to get anyone. However I do think we have enough about the current squad to stay up.

Dougie Rae[not really getting that the question asked bringing in loan players]: Bringing in new players is a very expensive business. Three new players means a cost of £100,000 for the club over a year in wages. [He then goes on to talk about Inverclyde supporting an SPL club. The crowds aren't high enough and that people will turn out to support a winning team even in a lower division - using Carlisle to illustrate his point].

13) Unknown: Are there plans in place to redevelop Cappielow should we challenge for a place in the SPL?

Crawford Rae: Yes, we have a 2,3 maybe 4 year plan in place. We need to: increase the power of the floodlights, bring up the standard of half of the pitch, put floodlight towers on the cowshed roofand seat and cover the Wee Dublin End. This will all be expensive and up until now we have spent in excess of £1 million on stadium renovations.

Douglas Rae: We hope any renovations can be made in conjuction with the regeneration of the Riverside.

14) Unknown: I have two questions. Are the council willing to help the club [financially]? What's happening with Davie Nicholls and the trialists mentioned in todays Tele'?

Douglas Rae: No! The council are not inclined to help Morton financially, they don't have the money. If they owned the club, maybe they would.

Davie Irons: Davie Nicholl's has been training with us for the past 2 weeks. We are assessing him and one or two others closely. However there will not be many changes between now and the end of the season. [Irons also identified the need for more experienced players].

15) Unknown: Are there any plans to introduce free tickets for schools / clubs or reduced prices for children / the parent and child gate in an attempt to draw in the supporters of the future?

Gillian Donaldson: Our prices are very competitive - £4 for kids - and are designed to make football accessable to as many people as possible. We couldn't really drop the prices any lower.

16) Unknown: Why do we keep losing out on players like McMenamin, Mensing and the lad we had on trial [Jani Sturm] to less fashionable and less well supported clubs?

Douglas Rae: They went to Dundee and Hamilton because they felt they had better chance of playing in the SPL. Mensing is on £1000 per week at Hamilton. The Czechoslovakian, sorry Yugoslavian boy [Slovenian Dougie] we had, and who we put up in a hotel was supposed to sign for us . His agent then contacted us just before he was due to arrive to sign his contract to say he was signing for Dundee.

Davie Irons: Very often agents are behind these deals and influence the players. I was offered Jani Sturm [for Gretna] the night before he signed for Dundee. I also know that the lad McMenamin is on more than £1000 a week at Dundee.

17) Unknown: The turnstyles at Cappielow are very old. Do the club trust the integrity of the turnstyles [are they open to exploitation by dishonest memebers of staff]? Are there any plans to have them replaced?

Crawford Rae: We have had operators sacked on the spot. We know there are operators who have let youngsters jump over the turnstyle and that sort of thing. We know it goes on and do rely on supporters tipping us off to it. We looked into the full height turnstyles but the prices are exorbitant - these wont be getting installed in the forseeable future.

18) Unknown: Have the problems with the current home strip been sorted and what are the plans for strips next season, will there be another new home top?

Gillian Donaldson: The problems with the kits have been rectified after we went back to Bukta with the complaints. As far as I know there haven't been any further problems. [ My brother was in Smiths the other day and says all the tops still have faded blue hoops]. There will be a new home strip next season and a new third kit some time this year. [No mention if it will be with Bukta but I presume so].

19) Toby: Could we, if possible, announce the dates and destination of the pre-season tours as early as possible so that fans can book the time off work and organise accomodation?

Douglas Rae: Yes.

20) Emailed question: What was the criteria used to pick the new management team?

Douglas Rae: A proven track record, experience and good coaching skills. Dave had all of these.

For another take on the questions read Chrissiboi's post (#61) on this thread on the unofficial messageboard (his post also includes the first two questions I missed): http://www.greenockmorton.org/forum/index.php?showtopic=19893&st=50&gopid=422363&#entry422363

Nicholls On Trial

Davie Nicholls, the former Falkirk and Gretna midfielder, is on trial at Cappielow according to the Greenock Telegraph's Chris Fitzgerald.

Davie Irons ran the rule over Nicholls (particularly his fitness) in a bounce match against Hamilton Accies yesterday but wont make a decision on whether to sign him until he sees him in action again next week sometime.

Name: Davie Nicholls
Age: 35 (d.o.b. - 5.4.1972)
Position: Midfield / Defence
Height: 5' 8"
Nationality: Scottish
Former Clubs: Cork City (Ireland), Clydebank, Falkirk, Dunfermline, Gretna, Newcastle Blue Star (England)

Assistant manager Derek Collins revealed that we also have a goalkeeper and a striker on trial. He said: “The purpose of the bounce game was twofold. Firstly, we wanted to run the rule over the trialists. I can tell you one was a goalkeeper, one a striker and the other Davie Nicholls. We wanted to monitor Nicholls’ fitness. With Barry out, we need cover there."

Nicholls is now 35 years old and on that basis I had my doubts about how valuable a signing he could be, particularly as he was always one of those players who, to me, looked like being a candidate for piling on the weight as he got older. However I'm not as sceptical after reading that he would be signed as defensive back up - he might be worth a short term contract just to provide some cover.


Poll Results

St. Johnstone bound midfielder Chris Millar came out on top of the two most recent player of the month polls. Chris won the January award with 69% of the vote (25 out of 36 votes) - a landslide victory in comparison to the other player of the month awards. Barry Smith was his closest rival for the award with 3 votes.

Millar won the February player of the month award - making himself the only person to win consecutive awards so far - with 41% of the vote (18 out of 43 votes). An honourable mention must go to Jim McAlister who ran Midge close finishing with 34% (15 out of 43 votes).

Chris also won the award for November.

In another recent poll I asked readers if they were happy with the appointment of Davie Irons and Derek Collins as Morton's new management team. The results would suggest that most fans (who voted) were content or in some cases unsure of the appointment.
A slight majority of voters agreed with the option 'Yes, I'm Happy' (53% - 34 out of 64 votes). 'I'll wait and see' came second (23% - 15 votes) while 'Yes I'm Ecstatic' (10% - 7 votes) and 'Don't Know' (7% - 5 votes) came a bit further behind again.

Only three people registered a disappointment with the Irons and Collins partnership. 'No, I'm Unhappy' recieved 2 votes (3%) while one person (1%) went for 'No, I'm Gutted'.

Ayr Want Keenan Permanently

Ayr United manager Brian Reid - who had two spells as a player at Cappielow - wants to sign Morton loanee Dean Keenan for next season.

Keenan is quoted on the subject in Craig Anderson's Scottish Sun match report for Ayr United's loss at home to Ross County - and makes it clear he's he wont be committing to the Honest men just yet. He said: "Brian has already talked about it with me and said that he would like to have me here next season, but I want to weigh up my options in the summer first."

Keenan also points out that he returns to Morton after next Saturday's Ayr versus Cowdenbeath match. I'm unsure if this means he can play for us again this season as he is returning between transfer windows. I seem to remember that Chris Templeman was ineligible to play for us in the play-off matches with Peterhead even though he'd returned from his loan from Brechin City.

To read the article click on the image below:


'48 Cup Final Programme For Sale

I was just looking through the Morton items up for auction on eBay and noticed that a seller has the programme for the 1948 Scottish Cup Final - in which Morton played Rangers - up for sale.

I've no idea if this price is fair but the starting bid is set at £150. The auction closes at 9.42am this morning (Monday 17th of March). I usually have a glance through the Morton lots on eBay and this is only the second time I've seen this programme on there.

The item has the following description: "12 page issue for the game played 17.4.48 at Hampden Park. Has a slight split at the bottom of the spione [sic] but no writing and just a slight fold."

The match in question finished 1-1 and went to a replay which Rangers won 1-0.


Morton Want Innes And Fleming

With the crisis surrounding Gretna, some of their players refusal to play after their wages failed to materialise and the fact that Davie Irons is our manager it was inevitable that we would be linked to their players again at some point. In an article in today's News Of The World we are said to be 'on the trail of' Chris Innes and goalkeeper Greg Fleming (pictured).

Innes will be known to most Morton fans while Fleming may be more of an unknown quantity.

Name: Greg Fleming
Age: 21 (d.o.b. - 27.09.1986)
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 6' 2"
Nationality: Scottish
International Honours: Scotland Under-21 call up (unused substitute in a 4-0 friendly defeat away to The Netherlands)
Former Clubs: Livingston, Gretna.

To read the snippet click on the image below.



Soccerbase profile: http://www.soccerbase.com/players_details.sd?playerid=41248

Morton 0 - 0 Partick Thistle

Morton 0 - McGuffie missed pen (87)
Partick Thistle 0

Att - 2,682

Morton (3-5-2):

1. Robinson - 6
2. MacGregor - 8
3. McLaughlin - 7
4. Millar - 6 (14. McGuffie - 59 mins)
5. Greacen - 6
6. Harding - 5
7. Finlayson - 6
8. Jenkins - 6
9. Weatherson (c) - 5 (16. Wake - 83 mins)
10. Stevenson - 5 (12. Russell - 72 mins)
11. McAlister - 6

Subs Not Used:

15. Walker
20. McGurn

Booked: Greacen.

MacGregor Greacen Harding
Finlayson Millar McLaughlin Jenkins McAlister

Partick Thistle: Tuffey, Robertson, Kinniburgh, Archibald, Twaddle, Storey, Chaplain (Murray 70), Rowson, McKeown, Grey (McKinlay 81), Roberts (Keegan 62). Subs Not Used: Hinchcliffe, Harkins

Booked: Archibald, Kinniburgh.

My man of the match: David MacGregor

Sponsor's man of the match: Jim McAlister

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

BBC match report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_div_1/7296622.stm

Greenock Telegraph match report: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21250

Greenock Telegraph match reaction: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21252 & http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21251


Smith's Injury Worse Than Suspected

Barry Smith will be out for longer than expected after surgery revealed that he had torn cartilage in his knee.

The news appeared in an article by Chris Fitzgerald in today's Greenock Telegraph. The article doesn't say when Smith will be back but Smith does say: “I’m really hoping to get back in there before the end of the season and help the team stay up.”

I also hope that he's back as soon as possible. Smith brings experience - Davie Irons must agree, one of his first acts as manager was to install him as Captain - and calm to a back line that sorely needs these qualities.

Smith has incidated that he is keen to stay on at Cappielow beyond the end of his loan spell from Icelandic club Valur. However the aforementioned knee problems might mean that those in charge at Cappielow may not want to take the risk of extending his contract. If that is indeed the case alternative central defenders must be identified in the summer. Stewart Greacen and Ryan Harding just aren't consistent enough to be considered first team regulars at this level.


McInally Takes Over As East Stirling Manager

Former Morton manager Jim McInally has been appointed East Stirling manager.
According to the Shire's official website McInally will be assisted by Martin Clark. They will take training for the first time tomorrow.

For me this move is indicative of McInally's ability as a manager. If his work at Morton - especially his promotion last season - was valued he would have been offered a better position than the East Stirling managers job.


Clyde 1 - 1 Morton

Clyde 1 - Clarke (56)
Morton 1 - McGregor O.G. (26)

Att - 1,265

The combination of a swirling wind, driving rain, a churned up pitch and the fact this match was a crucial 'six pointer' in the relegation dogfight meant that this game was never going to be a classic. That, however, is a huge understatement as this was one of the ugliest matches I have watched in a long time.

We started the first half with our backs to the wind. Scott McLaughlin and Jim McAlister both used this to their advantage by whipping a series of corners and free-kicks right in on top of Clyde goalkeeper David Hutton. The opening goal came via this tactic. McAlister curled a corner in at the near post and from where the Morton fans were sitting it looked the ball went straight in at the near post. However the BBC match report later confirmed that the ball was guided into the net by Clyde's Neil McGregor.

Clyde equalised early in the second half. Ryan Harding took an eternity to try and clear at the back which allowed Pat Clarke to charge down the clearance. Harding them decided to blast the ball right at Clarke, the ball spun up in the air and into the strong wind. Instead of letting the ball come down and bounce and then judge when to go out and collect Lee Robinson charged out to meet the ball as if he was certain he could collect. The wind then carried the ball over his head leaving Clarke the simplest task of rolling the ball into the net.

Some have argued that the freak wind was to blame for this goal; I disagree, to an extent. I think Robinson's judgement was terrible. He charged out of goal with no consideration for the weather conditions. Harding also played his part by taking an eternity to clear and then smashing it off of Clarke but, for me, Robinson must take the Lion's share of the blame. Irons seemed to agree and said: “I’m disappointed to the lose the goal the way we did, though. It was just a catalogue of errors, what with ricochets and bad judgement calls." More specificaly he said: "Lee is in the dressing room with his head down. He made a poor judgement call for the equaliser but, other than that, I thought he did well. His handling was good and he keeps us in it with that save from Clarke late on." I hope to see David McGurn back in goal on Saturday.

Another cause for concern was the performances of some of our players, in particular the ex-Gretna pairing of Ryan McGuffie and Allan Jenkins. We needed these guys to come into the club and take games by the scruff of the neck but rather than do this they were two of our worst players. McGuffie hasn't put in a really good performance since he joined the club in January. I don't know if he's suffering from a severe lack of form and /or confidence but I thought Jamie Stevenson should have replaced him in the starting line-up for this match after the 3-0 defeat at Hamilton on Saturday. Surely Irons will now make this change for the Partick Thistle match.

Chris Millar was everything these two were not. He fought for every ball and when he got it he tried to compose himself and pick a pass along the ground or take a man on rather than whack it back up into the air. Millar looks a certainty to collect most of the supporters clubs player of the year awards this season and so the decision to fanny about with his contract, thus allowing St. Johnstone to secure him on a pre-contract, is looking more of a travesty as the weeks go past. I sincerely hope Midge changes his mind and stays at Cappielow.

The only other major incident to note was a Morton penalty claim turned down by referee O'Reilly. Millar was tackled by Clyde's Neil McGregor on the edge of the penalty area. The ref waved play on but to me it looked like McGregor lunged in two footed, missed the ball and then wrapped his legs around Millar's in scissors motion. Admittedly I was not in the best position to judge sitting among the Morton supporters on the opposite side of the pitch so the referee may have called this right.

My brother came into the house today saying it was an alright result last night and on paper I suppose it wasn't the end of the world but for those I spoke to at the game and on the bus home last night (including myself) it felt like it. The performance of certain key players and the disastrous goal we conceded after taking the lead combined to make this feel like a defeat rather than a draw. The consolation we can take is that we took an away point to a team we remain ahead of in the league. Clyde are a poor outfit and their game in hand is away to St. Johnstone on Tuesday the 25th of March - a match I don't think they have much hope of winning. I remain confident we will avoid the play-offs but only because Clyde are worse than us.

Morton (3-5-2):

1. Robinson - 5
2. MacGregor - 6
3. McLaughlin - 7
4. Millar - 7
5. Greacen - 6
6. Harding - 5
7. McGuffie - 5
8. Jenkins - 6
9. Weatherson (c) - 6
10. Russell - 5 (16. Graham - 62 mins)
11. McAlister - 7

Subs Not Used:

12. Stevenson
14. Finlayson
15. Walker
20. McGurn

Booked: Harding, MacGregor.

Greacen MacGregor Harding
McGuffie Millar McLaughlin Jenkins McAlister
Weatherson Russell

Clyde: Hutton, Neil McGregor, Billy Gibson, Higgins, Bestvina, Wilson (David McGowan 46), Bradley (Masterton 46), Smith, Clarke, Ruari MacLennan (McKay 80), Michael McGowan. Subs Not Used: Campbell, Cherrie.

Booked: Wilson, Clarke, Smith.

My man of the match: Chris Millar

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

BBC match report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_div_1/7288222.stm

Greenock Telegraph match report: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21019

Greenock Telegraph match reaction: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21022 & http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/21020


Wakey Wakey

On Saturday it was hard not to feel sorry for Morton striker Brian Wake. As he made his way along the front of the main stand to make a late substitute appearance at New Douglas Park the cheer from the Accies fans conjured images of a Filip Sebo appearance at Parkhead.

They laughed and clapped sarcastically and then burst into a chorus of "Wake, Wake, Brian Brian Wake. He gets the ball, does fuck all. Brian, Brian Wake." as he jogged down the touch line.

As I said, I felt for the guy but that sort of reaction from fans of the team we recently signed him from says it all. Their reaction confirmed what most of us have been thinking. It's fair to say he's looked a very mediocre player so far and, unfortunately, I think he will soon be added to the long list of Jim McInally panic signings who will be quickly moved out of Cappielow. I'd love him to prove me wrong as he seems an honest big player but I cant see it.

It looks like Davie Irons has a lot of work to do in the summer.

Morton Want Barr

According to the Supergoals pull-out in today's Scottish Sun we are competing with Hibs for the signature of Gretna right-back Craig Barr.

I cant say I've noticed him much this season so I'm not sure how good a signing this would be. It is encouraging to be linked with proper full-backs for a change - a position Jim McInally seemed to think he could play any player in and it would be okay.

If Hibs are interested there will be no way he'll be coming to Cappielow anyway.

Name: Craig Barr
Age: 20 (d.o.b. - 29.3.1987)
Position: Defender (right-back)
Height: 5' 11"
Nationality: Scottish
Former Clubs: Blackburn Rovers, Gretna.

To read the article click on the image below:



Hamilton Academical 3 - 0 Morton

Hamilton Academical 3 - Graham (36), Stevenson (54 pen), Gibson (70)
Morton 0

Att - 1,980

Morton (4-5-1):

1. McGurn - 6
2. MacGregor - 6
3. McLaughlin - 5
4. Millar - 7
5. Greacen - 5
6. Harding - 5
7. Finlayson - 5 (15. Stevenson - 58 mins)
8. McGuffie - 6 (12. Russell - 69 mins)
9. Weatherson (c) - 6 (14. Wake - 82 mins)
10. Jenkins - 6
11. McAlister - 7

Subs Not Used:

16. Walker
20. Robinson

MacGregor Greacen Harding McLaughlin
Finlayson Millar Jenkins McGuffie McAlister

Hamilton: Cerny, Parratt (Gibson 20), Easton, McCarthy, Elebert (Swailes 74), McLaughlin, Graham, Mensing, Offiong (Waterworth 74), Stevenson, Gilhaney.Subs Not Used: Barrau, Halliwell.

Booked: Mensing.

My man of the match: Chris Millar

Sponsor's man of the match: David Graham (Hamilton Accies)

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

BBC match report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_div_1/7281564.stm

Greenock Telegraph match reaction: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/20955


Q & A Session Announced

Morton have announced that they will be holding a question and answer session in the Port Glasgow town hall on the 19th of March.
The doors open at 6.30pm and the panel including Douglas Rae, Davie Irons and Derek Collins will answer questions from 7.30pm.

The last time there was a gathering of management, directors, players and fans was at the Championship party in the sports centre (pictured) last summer.


Wylie Appointed Goalkeeper Coach

Former Morton goalkeeper David Wylie has returned to Cappielow as a part-time goalkeeping coach. According to today's Greenock Telegraph he will work with David McGurn and Lee Robinson two days a week.

The man affectionately known as The Cat was most recently scouting for Dundee after a spell as goalkeeping coach at Gretna.

A news story on the BBC sport website dated 2.5.02 claims Wylie has already been employed as a coach at Cappielow but I can't remember if this actually happened and if it did, when he left.

Wylie played 536 times for Morton between 1985 and 1998. He went on to play for Clyde, Clydebank and Gretna before retiring in 2004.




Irons Visits Brann Bergen For UEFA Pro License Module

In his match report for the Morton's 2-1 win over Stirling Albion the Greenock Telegraph's Roger Graham mentioned that Morton boss Davie Irons left for Norway on Sunday to visit SK Brann Bergen (their ground, the Brann stadion, is pictured left) as part of his UEFA pro license: "Irons left for Norway yesterday [Sunday] to undertake part of his pro license which involves a visit to a European club. "I'm away out to Brann Bergen," he said. "I''ll be taking my sunblock with me"."

I was interested to learn more about the UEFA Pro license after reading this. The extent of my knowledge on this qualification was that any manager who wants to manage a top level club in Europe must have it according to UEFA's coaching rules - and the only reason I knew that was when it was brought to my attention by the story revealing that Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate was given special dispensation to gain the qualification because he didn't have it when he took on the Boro hotseat.

After reading an excellent article on the BBC website I've found out that the award is more about management than coaching. To pass the course Davie Irons will have to prove - over the course of a year - that he can:

  • Plan and evaluate his team's strategic season programme
  • Succeed in one key fixture during the season
  • Improve the performance of one key player
  • Improve his own interpersonal skills
  • Build upon his existing coaching skills with specific emphasis

There are three major projects the coach in question must complete which are on the following topics: handling professional players, match-related training methods and analysis of a key fixture.

According to John Murphy (Colorado Rapids assistant manager in the MLS) - who is taking the qualification in Scotland - each national FA is allowed to run the license how they see fit. Of the SFA's method he says: "Within UEFA, there are minimum requirements across the board for all countries to adhere to, and various FA’s run their courses differently. As examples, England has many more conference calls where 2-3 coaches discuss assignments over the phone and email. Germany has several 5-day residential meetings to complete requirements. Since Scotland is such a small country, the SFA feels it is beneficial to meet more often face to face. There are 16 of us, mostly managers based in Scotland, several of them well known in the international game. We have met regularly for about once a month with 2-3 day modules."

Irons' trip to Norway is part of the 'study visit' module (1 of 16 modules). A stage at which the manager must travel to another European club (Brann Bergen in Davie's case) outwith his own country to get "a technical and structural overview of the club." At his final residential meeting in June he will present a debrief of his study visit.

This module appears to be one of the last a manager needs to complete to gain the license however the BBC article does say that the modules are flexible so Irons might not be at that stage yet. When he does complete the course he will be in some illustrious company - Arsene Wenger, Rafa Bentitez, Davie Moyes and Sven-Goran Eriksson are examples of managers who already hold the qualification. Roy Keane and Gareth Southgate are currently taking the course.

Hopefully Davie can use the knowledge gained on the course to keep us in the 1st division this season and then to challenge for the title next season. Then he can put his qualification to good use back in the SPL.


Read about the UEFA Pro License here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/6189330.stm

John Murphy on taking the license in Scotland: http://www.coloradorapids.com/news/NewsDetails.aspx?NID=xf+radZ0AiY=

UEFA's coaching convention: http://www.uefa.com/uefa/keytopics/kind=256/newsid=657322.html

Was Peter Offside?

In today's Greenock Telegraph Brian Wake told Chris Fitzgerald that he thought the late goal he laid on for Peter Weatherson should have stood because, in his opinion, Weatherson was behind him.

He said: “I could have had a shot myself, but there was a man on the line and he had narrowed the angle, so I squared to Peter. We both thought it was a goal because there was a man on the line.
But when we asked the referee why he disallowed it he said you have to have two men on the line if the keeper is out for it to be on onside. It’s a new one on me, especially as I thought Peter was behind me when I played the ball to him."

I have to admit that until I watched the gmfc.net highlights tonight I thought Wake was talking nonsense. After looking at it again I think he might have a point.

The image below is taken just after Wake has played the ball and Weatherson looks in line with him to me - to be offside he has to be closer to the goal than both the second last opponent and the ball. It certainly isn't conclusive but both players look to be a similar distance from the six yard line. The linesman had the best view of this and gave the goal. The referee claimed the goal was disallowed because there was only one player on the line but this is irrelevant.

Click image to enlarge. The picture quality isn't the best as it's a mobile phone camera picture(2mp) of a PC monitor playing the clips on gmfc.net.

Read Wake's comments here: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/20660

Download the clip here and make up your own mind: http://www.gmfc.net/webcast-video-clips.asp


Douglas Rae Apologises To The Fans

Morton chairman Douglas Rae has apologised to Morton fans for comments he made about them in his press release about Jim McInally's resignation last month.
Rae hinted that the fans at Cappielow were to blame for our poor home record this season by comparing our home and away records and connecting that to his own opinion that the away fans are more supportive than the home fans. He said: "It is interesting to note, when examining our performances, that we have won 15 points from away fixtures, the third highest in the league, while at home we have gained the fewest points, only 9 out of a possible 36, this suggests our players appear to have suffered more from the criticism level at home games than when playing in front of our more supportive travelling fan base."

However in his column in Saturday's programme for the Stirling Albion match he apologised for those earlier comments. He said: "I would like to apologise unreservedly to the supporters that I offended when I compared the 'away' support with the 'home' support which I suggested was more critical vocally in us earning fewer points at home than away."

He goes on to say that he should, in fact, have aimed his comments at a 'small minority' rather than the home support as a whole. He finishes by asking everyone to pull together and makes a promise to the fans: "Assuming that you forgive me I will ensure that I choose my words more carefully in future!! Honestly!".

Read the full piece by clicking on the images below.

Morton 2 - 1 Stirling Albion

Morton 2 - Jenkins (22), Russell (72) + missed pen (43)
Stirling Albion 1 - Rodriguez (90)

Att - 2,283

Morton (3-5-2):

1. McGurn - 6
2. McGuffie - 6 (16. MacGregor - 53 mins)
3. McLaughlin - 6
4. Millar - 7
5. Greacen - 7
6. Harding - 7
7. Finlayson - 6
8. Jenkins - 8
9. Weatherson - 8
10. Russell - 7 (12. Wake - 85 mins)
11. McAlister - 6

Subs Not Used:
14. Walker
15. Stevenson
20. Robinson

McGuffie Greacen Harding
Finlayson Millar McLaughlin Jenkins McAlister
Russell Weatherson

Stirling Albion: Hogarth, Nugent, McKay, Lithgow (Cramb 46), Ellis (Rodriguez 65), Aitken, McBride, Paartalu, Malloy, McKenna, Taggart. Subs Not Used: Graham, Moffat, Christie.

Booked: Aitken, Malloy, Moffat.

My man of the match: Peter Weatherson

Sponsor's man of the match: Chris Millar

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

BBC match report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/scot_div_1/7270227.stm

Greenock Telegraph match reaction: http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/articles/2/20659

Video Clip of the match highlights: http://www.gmfc.net/webcast-video-clips.asp


Robert Cochrane's Row Z Fanzine Column

I don't know about anyone else but everytime I read Robert Cochrane's piece in the Daily Record fanzine I can't help but get annoyed at the stuff he comes out with.

This week he labels Davie Irons and Derek Collins 'Gretna misfits'. He compares our innovative half-time warm up to a Monty Python sketch and finishes by saying that we are playing Stirling Albion away tomorrow.

He also shows he doesn't know what he's talking about by saying that Derek Collins left a sour taste after he deserted us the last time - which isn't the whole truth.

Time for someone else to have a go in my opinion.