Celtic At Cappielow... Hopefully

Morton have been drawn at home to Celtic in the 4th round of the Active Nation Scottish Cup - but we'll have to beat Dumbarton in Saturday's 3rd round replay to get there first.

Today's draw was screened live on Sky Sports News (pictured). Morton were drawn out by former Rangers defender Richard Gough, while Celtic were drawn out by recently retired Celtic and Scotland defender John Kennedy.

Morton and Celtic last faced each other in the quarter-final of the same competition on the 8th March 1999. On that occasion a Celtic team including Henrik Larsson, Paul Lambert, Craig Burley and Mark Viduka ran out 3-0 winners. Viduka scored two, in what was his first start for the Parkhead side, while Celtic legend Larsson netted the other after a mistake by man of the match Paul Fenwick.

Sky Sports have chosen Hamilton Accies versus Rangers as the match they want to show live, so our tie will be played on Saturday 9th January 2010.

The full draw is as follows:

Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Motherwell
Hamilton Academical v Rangers
Greenock Morton or Dumbarton v Celtic
Hibernian v Irvine Meadow
St. Mirren v Cowdenbeath or Alloa Athletic
Raith Rovers or Peterhead v Airdrie United
Dunfermline Athletic v Stenhousemuir or Cove Rangers
Forfar Athletic v St. Johnstone
Clyde or Livingston v Dundee
Albion Rovers v Stirling Albion
Aberdeen v Heart of Midlothian
Edinburgh City v Montrose
Partick Thistle v Dundee United
Ross County v Inverurie Loco Works
Ayr United v Wick Academy or Brechin City
Kilmarnock v Falkirk

scottishfa.co.uk - The Active Nation Scottish Cup 4th Round Draw (30.11.2009)

gmfc.net - Active Nation Scottish Cup - 4th Round Draw (30.11.2009)

celticfc.net - Celtic's Scottish Cup Draw (30.11.2009)


Morton 0 - 0 Dumbarton

Morton 0 -
Dumbarton 0

Att: 1882

Up for the cup: second division Dumbarton came to Cappielow and emerged with a creditable 0-0 draw after a lacklustre Morton failed to match their lower league opponents for effort in the 3rd round of the Active Nation Scottish Cup.

There were few surprises in James Grady's team selection as he went with the same starting line-up for the fourth match in a row. Dumbarton included former Ton defender Chris Smith (pictured, below) at centre-half in a 4-5-1 formation designed to contain and frustrate the Cappielow men. Credit to Sons boss Jim Chapman though - it worked.

In newspaper previews Grady made a point of stating that we had to win the battles and match the effort of our lower league opponents. We didn't quite do that though. We weren't terrible; it just looked the players thought that all they had to do was turn up, and that a goal would come eventually.

Both goalkeepers ensured that there would be no goals at either end. In the first half Jan Vojacek, Dumbarton's Czech shot stopper, made saves to deny Jim McAlister, Ryan McGuffie and Brian Wake.

The second half belonged to Colin Stewart. While Vojacek could only watch as Paartalu's chested the ball down and sent a stunning dipping volley narrowly over and then almost gave away a penalty when he clumsily barged into Stewart Greacen, Stewart made important saves to deny Andy Geggan, Scott Chaplain and Roddy Hunter. Then, in the final minute, Ross Clark put Derek Carcary through on goal with just the Morton goalie to beat. Stewart kept his team in the cup by racing out to make the crucial block - a block that, it turned out, could earn his club thousands of pounds in revenue as the winners of the replay have been drawn to play at home to Celtic in the 4th round.

Brian Graham was the only player to manage to put the ball in the net, but the substitute's 67th minute strike (pictured, below) was ruled out as he was clearly offside. Unfortunately, Graham decided to take nip in to take the ball off the toes of Ryan McGuffie, who would've been allowed to run through on goal after timing his run to perfection.

Vojacek's first-half saves won him man of the match (probably because he was the goalkeeper for the underdogs), but in my opinion the award should've went to the Ton number one. Stewart has been one of the top performers in recent weeks. Grady has that ability that all great managers seem to have - the one where they regularly manage to get the best out of some of the less naturally gifted, and less confident, members of their squad. For example, guys like Stewart, Erik Paartalu, Brian Wake and Kevin Finlayson are flourishing under the Grady / McManus partnership.

Chris Smith was another star performer. Junior was widely criticised for his performances at left-back in his time at Cappielow. However, I always felt sorry for him as Davie Irons insisted on playing him at left-back - presumably, for the simple reason that he was naturally left-footed - even though he was a centre-half to trade. It was obvious that he was uncomfortable in the full-back position. He didn't have the poise, mobility or ball skills necessary to play there. His strengths were all physical in nature: he was good in the air, reasonably strong and robust in the tackle. I think that Chris proved that he wasn't as bad as some people thought, particularly in the way he dealt with Peter Weatherson.

Morton never really managed to get out of first gear and the match finished 0-0. The tie goes to a replay at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium next Saturday. Morton will need to raise their game considerably if they want to face Celtic in the next round.

Photographs courtesy of Tontastic

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 8
2. Van Zanten - 6
3. MacGregor - 6
4. Reid - 7
5. Greacen - 6
6. Paartalu - 7
7. Finlayson - 7
8. McGuffie - 5
9. Wake - 5
10. Weatherson - 6 (16. Graham - 60)
11. McAlister - 7

Unused Subs:

12. Monti
14. Kane
15. McManus
20. McWilliams

Booked: Reid

van Zanten Greacen MacGregor Reid
Finlayson Paartalu McGuffie McAlister
Wake Weatherson

Dumbarton: Vojacek, O'Donoghue, Smith, Dunlop, Gordon, McStay, Chisholm, Chaplain, Hunter (Carcary - 76), Geggan (Clark - 81), Murray.

Subs Not Used: Craig, McNiff, White

My man of the match: Colin Stewart

Sponsor's man of the match: Jan Vojacek (Dumbarton)

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

Greenock Telegraph - Match Reaction

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

dumbartonfootballclub.com - Match Report

bbc sport - Match Report

tontastic pictures


One In, One Out

Morton have signed trialist Alan Reid until the end of the season - but have also released centre-half Ryan Harding.

Reid (pictured, left) signs on for his third spell with the club after playing three games as a trialist this month.

The news of Harding's release (by mutual consent) comes as a bit of a surprise, especially considering his contract ran until the end of the season and he was regularly featuring on the substitutes bench. However, I had heard a rumour that he was leaving and would be joining Jim McInally at East Stirling.

Ryan (pictured, below) signed from Livingston in March 2005. He made 151 starts, 5 substitute appearances and scored 6 goals - including that unforgettable winner at Easter Road last season - in all competitions during his four year spell at Cappielow.

James Grady said: "I'm very pleased to have Alan on board for the remainder of the season. He will bring great experience to the team, and his contribution in the last three matches has been invaluable."

gmfc.net - Player News (27.11.2009)

bbc.co.uk - Reid Wins A Contract With Morton (27.11.2009)


Dumbarton Replay Date Clash

Morton face Dumbarton in the Scottish Cup 3rd round this Saturday. If the match ends in a draw then the there will be a replay; the Lennox Herald has stated that a replay will be played at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium (pictured) on Saturday 5th December.

We are scheduled to visit Ross County in the league on the 5th December. Therefore, a draw against Dumbarton would mean that this fixture would have to be cancelled and played at later date.

We should beat the Sons this weekend but I'd advise anyone planning a trip to Dingwall - especially a rail journey - to hold off making any plans until we know the outcome of the cup match.

Lennox Herald - Preview Of Dumbarton FC v Greenock Morton (27.11.2009)


Reid To Sign This Week

Former Hibs and St. Mirren utility player Alan Reid is set to sign a deal with the club some time this week.

Reid - who had a spell on loan at Cappielow in season 2001/02 and as a trialist last season - has been listed as trialist in the last three matches and, according to the SFL and SFA rules, a trialist can only play in three league games and cannot play in the cups. Therefore, Reid must sign a deal before Saturday or he won't be eligible to play in the Scottish cup tie with Dumbarton.

Today manager James Grady told the Greenock Telegraph's Roger Graham of his intention to sign Reid (pictured): "We are hoping to sign him this week. It's a testament to the chairman because he's way over budget. We are trying to streamline the squad."

Greenock Telegraph - Cappielow Injuries Clearing (24.11.2009)


Airdrie United 2 - 4 Morton

Airdrie United 2 - Nixon (2), Baird (4)
Morton 4
- McGuffie (43) Wake (45+1, 53), van Zanten (67)

Att: 1164

It's not over 'til the fat lady sings: a Brian Wake inspired Morton made a stunning comeback after going down two nil in the first five minutes away to bottom club Airdrie United.

James Grady went with the same starting eleven for the third consecutive match. For me, this consistency of selection has been a key ingredient in our recent turnaround. The players now know that one mistake won't automatically result in them dropping right out of the match day squad and right into the manager's bad books. The stability generates confidence and also allows team mates to establish an understanding which results in the whole team functioning as a more coherent unit.

After the first four minutes at New Broomfield you'd have thought the words 'confidence', 'stability', 'functioning', and 'coherent' were alien concepts to the Morton defence. Some fans hadn't even taken their seats before we were two nil down.

In the second minute a sloppy pass by Erik Paartalu eventually lead to Airdrie winning a corner. Former Morton youngster Alan Trouten took the kick quickly and cut the ball back to the edge of the box where another ex-Morton player, Scott McLaughlin, was waiting. The man the Cappielow faithful love to hate seemed to swipe at his shot, but to the Diamonds' fortune the sliced effort landed perfectly for David Nixon who placed his shot under Colin Stewart to open the scoring.

The home team stunned everyone in the stadium by doubling their tally just two minutes later. A through ball from Diarmuid O'Carroll caught the otherwise immaculate David van Zanten a couple of yards behind the rest of the defensive line, thus playing John Baird onside. The former St. Mirren and Montrose striker raced through, took a touch to compose himself and slotted under Stewart with ease.

At this point our defence was all over the place, particularly David MacGregor. He wasn't directly at fault for either goal but he was having a torrid time. He was getting dragged out of position, turned with ease, out muscled; he just generally looked out of sorts beside Greacen in the centre. Alan Reid wasn't much better either. Reid, still listed as a trialist, was outside MacGregor at left-back and didn't do his chances of a permanent contract much good. Both players appeared unsure of themselves and this combination made our left-side stick out like a sore thumb, particularly for the Airdrie strikers who attempted to exploit this weakness time and again. I've always been a MacGregor fan, one who has defended him over the years but I believe the first half in this match was a real watershed in his Ton career. In spite of the fact he recovered his composure in the second half I believe it demonstrated that he is not of sufficient quality to play at centre-half in this division.

One player who has been totally rejuvenated under the new management team is Colin Stewart. The goalkeeper seems to be playing with a new lease of life and it was his save in the 34th minute that stopped Airdrie from scoring their 3rd, and looking at the bigger picture, probably saved his team from going into a position from which there would've been no comeback. The chance was disturbingly like the second goal in that a simple through ball from McLaughlin split our defence and sent Baird racing clear again; however, Stewart stood up, made himself look big and made the block.

While it may have appeared that we were out of the game it was obvious to anyone there that Airdrie were no great shakes and that one goal would see them collapse. This isn't just me saying this with the benefit of hindsight - at two nil down my brother phoned me to ask what the hell was going on. I told him that I was reasonably assured we weren't out of it as Airdrie are a poor, poor side. All we needed was one goal and they could cave in; the only problem was that the way our defence was playing we could always concede a few more ourselves.

The goal we needed arrived in the 43rd minute. Kevin Finlayson whipped over an excellent cross from out on the right - not his first of the day either, as he'd already put the ball right on Brian Wake's head with laser beam precision but the big striker headed straight at Stephen Robertson from six yards - and Ryan McGuffie managed to get ahead of his marker to angle his header back across goal and in off the post. Finners had an excellent match and really seems to have worked on his crossing. He put over several superb crosses which, I believe, is testament to the work James Grady has been putting in. Both in instilling confidence in his players and working on their technique.

It was Morton's turn to stun their opponents as Wakey made it two goals in three minutes to, somewhat miraculously, send the teams in level at half-time. Peter Weatherson nipped past a couple of Airdrie players on the left hand side of the box, a lesser player might have crossed at this point, but Peter drove to the byline before passing inside to Wake. The in-form striker collected the ball with his back to goal, turned and smashed his shot into the roof of the net to level the score. The Airdrie players looked shell shocked and if we could shore up a bit at the back there would only be one winner.

We took the lead just nine minutes into the second half. The goalscorer? - who else but Brian Wake. Jim McAlister took advantage of confusion in the Airdrie defence to play the shaggy haired striker through on the keeper. The big man appeared to take a poor touch which gave Robertson the opportunity to race from his goalline; just when it seemed like the chance had gone the Wakester dinked the ball over the keeper and into the empty net with the outside of his left foot. This was a sublime finish - one that immediately reminded me of a goal Henrik Larsson scored for Celtic, although I can't remember when or who against - and it sent the Ton support into a state of delirium. There's just something different that hightens the goal celebration when it's Wake who produces these unexpected moments of genius.

Newly signed right-back David van Zanten completed the scoring in the 67th minute. Morton were awarded a free-kick right on the edge of the box, but Weatherson crashed his shot into the wall. Fortunately, the ball rebounded to van Zanten, who was lurking outside the box and the Irishman curled a classy left footed shot right into Robertson's top right-hand corner. The finish was particularly impressive as the pitch was soaking, the ball was coming at him at pace and on his weaker side yet van Zanten didn't even break his stride or decide to take a touch. He simply strode onto the loose ball and stroked it into the top corner from 25 yards. This guy is the best full-back we've had since Derek Collins circa 1996. I really hope we can nail him down until the end of the season.

This really was a sensational comeback - one that would never have happened under the previous management. What we have to do now is cut out the defensive errors and I'm sure we'll start to gain on the teams above us and achieve a comfortable mid-table position by the end of the season. The big bonus is that under Grady we will attempt to do this without resorting to route one football. The entertaining brand of football Grady and Allan McManus are starting to introduce might even see the return of the floating fans who were fed up watching our big, strong team punt aimless balls forward. Finally the future is starting to like bright for Morton.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 8
2. Van Zanten - 8
3. MacGregor - 4
4. Reid [Trialist] - 5
5. Greacen - 6
6. Paartalu - 6
7. Finlayson - 8
8. McGuffie - 7
9. Wake - 8 (15. Monti - 89 mins)
10. Weatherson - 8 (16. Graham - 90+2)
11. McAlister - 7

Unused Subs:

12. Harding
14. Kane
20. McWilliams

Booked: Paartalu

van Zanten Greacen MacGregor Reid
Finlayson Paartalu McGuffie McAlister
Wake Weatherson

Airdrie United: Robertson, McCann, Storey, McLaughlin, Donnelly, Nixon (McDonald - 46), Trouten (Watt - 80), Lagana (Keegan - 72), O'Carroll, Waddell, Baird.

Subs Not Used: Smith, Hollis.

Booked: Bobby Donnelly

My man of the match: Kevin Finlayson

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

Greenock Telegraph - Match Reaction

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

The Daily Record - Match Report

airdrieunitedfc.com - Match Report

bbc sport - Match Report

Bob Dalzell pics


Andy Ritchie - Flawed Genius

A new book about the flawed genuises of Scottish football features an indepth chapter on our very own Andy Ritchie.

The book, titled Flawed Genius: Scottish Football's Self Destructive Mavericks, is written by Greenock based Daily Mail sports writer Stephen McGowan. Stephen told me that the work began life as an Andy Ritchie biography, but he decided to change direction due to his publisher's concern that there was already an Andy Ritchie book on the market - John Riddle's disappointing effort The King Of Cappielow.

Stephen makes no secret of the fact that the chapter on Morton's Idle Idol (pictured, above left) is his favourite, he said: "Flawed Genius features a number of the Old Firm guys like Di Canio, Gascoigne, McAvennie, Goram and so on - but my favourite chapter is the warts and all account of Andy Ritchie's career. It's a chapter and verse documentation detailing his early life, his days at Celtic with Burns and Stein, the move to Cappielow, his problems with attitude and various vices and the personal breakdown he suffered three years ago."

The work also contains chapters on Hugh Gallacher, George Best, Frank McAvennie, Paul Gascoigne, Andy Goram, Jim Baxter, Chic Charnley, Jorge Cadete, Paolo Di Canio, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Willie Hamilton.

The Birlinn Limited website contains the following description:

Never before have the individual stories of these mavericks of Scottish football’s past been collated and told in one place. Flawed Genius does just that. Through the words of the men themselves – allied to testimonies from friends and close colleagues – Stephen McGowan recounts the in-depth stories of Gascoigne and Goram, Best and Baxter, Charnley and Cadette and the equally wayward figures of Paolo Di Canio, Andy Ritchie, Pierre can Hooijdonk and Willie Hamilton. Here, together for the first time, the colourful contributions of each and every player in the Scottish game’s rich tapestry of flawed genius are brought vividly back to life.

I'll be reviewing the book in the near future so watch this space.

birlinn.co.uk - Flawed Genius (Description)

amazon.co.uk - Flawed Genius (Two customer reviews)

Top Marks

Morton groundsman Mark Farrell has received a prestigious award for his work on the playing surface at Cappielow.

Mark (pictured, left) was voted 2009 Institute of Groundsmanship Scottish Football Groundsman of the Year for Irn-Bru League 1. The award is based on the pitch reports of visiting referees and the resources and equipment available to the ground staff.

Since Mark joined the club there has been a marked improvement in the playing surface at Cappielow. The pitch is absolutely fantastic all year round and this is demonstrated by the fact we hardly have any matches postponed anymore. Well done, Mark!

gmfc.net -
IOG Scottish Football Groundsman of the Year Competition, Season 2008-2009 (13.11.2009)

iog.org - IOG Scotsturf: A Success From Start To Finish (16.11.2009)

Scotsman - Changing Room Chat: Hayes Keeps Celtic Park On Top (20.11.2009)


TV Stars

Morton's new year fixture against Partick Thistle at Firhill is going to be shown live on BBC Alba.

The match was originally scheduled to be played on Saturday 2nd January 2010 but this has now been put back to the evening of Monday 4th January. The match will kick-off at 7.45pm.

This will be the first time we have featured in a live television match since Sky Sports screened the 1999 Scottish Cup quarter-final against Celtic (pictured, above left).

If you can't make the game you can watch it on Sky Digital channel 168. Television coverage starts at 7.30, but remember, the match commentary is in Gaelic!

gmfc.net - Live SFL Matches On BBC Alba (17.11.2009)


New Under-19s Coaches

Dunoon pals Neil MacFarlane and Davie MacGregor (pictured, left) have taken charge of the under-19s after Allan McManus and James Grady stepped up to fill the senior management positions at the club.

In a 'Youth Team News' column in the matchday programme kitman Andy Bryan said: "David MacGregor and Neil MacFarlane are making an impact in their new positions - whatever happened to their predecessors?"


Morton 5 - 0 Raith Rovers

Morton 5 - Paartalu (14), Wake (55, 60), Weatherson (62, 89)
Raith Rovers 0 -

Att: 1716

Turning the corner: a rampant Morton destroyed 10 man Raith Rovers to end a run of five successive defeats.

James Grady stuck with the same starting XI that lost 2-0 to Partick Thistle last week. In fact, there was only one change to the whole match day squad: under-19s left-back Nathan Shepherd took Carlo Monti's place on the bench. David van Zanten made his first start as a Morton player while Alan Reid was still listed as a trialist.

Morton started brightly and took the lead in the 14th minute. A cross from the right found Peter Weatherson lurking at the back post, his perfectly cushioned header back across goal found the onrushing Erik Paartalu who sent a powerful side footed volley past former Morton keeper David McGurn.

Raith Rovers should've equalised 10 minutes later. Morton failed to clear a Robert Sloan corner and the ball fell invitingly for Grégory Tadé but the French winger blasted over from six yards.

Morton were probably the better team in the first-half, but more importantly we were also leading 1-0. We've often been the best team in the first period but with nothing to show for our efforts.

The game swung entirely in our favour when Grant Murray was sent-off in the 53rd minute. Murray was given a second booking when he body checked van Zanten to end a great mazy dribble by the Irish right-back. From then on there was only one winner.

Brian Wake punished Rovers and put the game beyond doubt by scoring two and setting one up in an amazing seven minute spell. Just two minutes after the sending off he volleyed home (with what appeared to be his shin) from another Peter Weatherson knock down. Three minutes later Wakey made it three when he stuck out a leg to flick the ball past McGurn after Stewart Greacen had headered a Jim McAlister corner towards goal. Wake rounded off his sensational seven minute salvo when he skipped past two defenders on the left of the Raith box and cut back for Weatherson to side footed into an empty net. What a great way for the likeable striker to hit back at the critics - myself included - who laid a large portion of the blame for last week's defeat squarely at his feet.

Peter rounded off the win, and an excellent personal performance, with the fifth and final goal in the 89th minute. 17 year old substitute Ryan Kane (pictured, below) demonstrated both determination and skill as he forced his way past a couple of challenges down the right; including one stonewall foul that he decided to get up and play on from rather than wait for a foul, before firing over a superb deep cross to the far post from where Weatherson craned his neck to expertly head the ball back across McGurn and into the top corner.

This was a very good win and for the first time in a long time we played some excellent football. There was one move which involved around twenty passes as the whole team kept possession and worked the ball around the pitch until Jim McAlister cut in from the left and sent a stunning curling effort towards the top corner. Unfortunately, McGurn made a breathtaking save to deny McAlister one of the best goals ever scored at Cappielow. Special mention to the old guy standing at the seats down the front who was giving the "ole" shouts everytime we made a pass, as it was his incessant grunts that sort of made everyone take notice of how many passes we'd actually made without Raith getting a touch of the ball.

In Wednesday's Greenock Telegraph Stewart Greacen said that we weren't too far away. I think the big defender is right and Saturday appears to be strong evidence that the work Grady is doing is paying off and that things are beginning to move in the right direction. We need to keep the momentum going at New Broomfield next week and if we've got another positive result come 4.45pm this Saturday then I'll be more confident in saying we've turned the corner.

Photos courtesy of Tontastic

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 7
2. Van Zanten - 8
3. MacGregor - 6
4. Reid [Trialist] - 7
5. Greacen - 7
6. Paartalu - 8
7. Finlayson - 7
8. McGuffie - 6
9. Wake - 8 (14. Kane - 79 mins)
10. Weatherson - 9
11. McAlister - 6

Unused Subs:

12. Harding
15. Shepherd
16. Grady
20. McWilliams

Booked: van Zanten

van Zanten Greacen MacGregor Reid
Finlayson Paartalu McGuffie McAlister
Wake Weatherson

Raith Rovers: McGurn, Wilson, Ellis, Murray, Hill, Simmons (Ferry 70), Sloan (Wallas 77), Walker, Russell (Wedderburn 53), Tade, Smith.

Subs Not Used: Trialist, O'Connor.

Booked: Murray, Simmons, Hill.

Sent Off: Murray (53)

My man of the match: Peter Weatherson

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

Greenock Telegraph - Match Reaction

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

The Daily Record - Match Report

raithroversfc.com - Match Report

raithroversfc.com - Match Reaction (John McGlynn / Allan McManus)

bbc sport - Match Report

Tontastic Pics

raithroversfc.com - Pics


The Stars Roll Into Town

Last Friday Morton supporters of all ages came together to celebrate the 'Stars Of 79' - the Morton team of the 1979/80 season.

This great team - managed by Benny Rooney & Mike Jackson and featuring the club's best player of modern times (arguably of all time), Andy Ritchie - managed to go top of the Scottish Premier Division in November 1979 and were there as late as Christmas '79. The team eventually finished 6th which was still an amazing achievement considering this was essentially a group of part-time professionals competing against full-time giants such as Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen.

The night - organised by the Greenock Morton Supporters' Trust - has been declared a great success. Fans have heaped praise on the organisers and told how amazing the night was; guest speaker Chick Young has written about the event for his blog on the BBC website and Benny Rooney has described it as "one of his best ever nights in football" according to the Greenock Telegraph's Russell Steele.

Unfortunately, I had to work last Friday so can't write up a report of the actual event. However, fellow fan Russell Gordon did attend and kindly offered to write about his experience of the night, here it is:

by Russell Gordon

In these troubled times to be a Morton fan, there's probably a few of us who look for any shred of hope and inspiration. We didn't have to look too far on Friday night as Port Glasgow Town Hall hosted a night in celebration of arguably the greatest Morton side since the First World War. I joined hundreds of supporters and guest speakers Chick Young and Jimmy Nicholl for a night of nostalgia to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the club topping the Scottish Premier Division (as it was called at the time).

At the time the Ton topped the table, I was a mere four months old, so my memory of the draw with St. Mirren that took us to the top is somewhat vague. However, I think it's fair to say I was in the minority. When you see kids in awe of Cristiano Ronaldo and Steven Gerrard, it pales in comparison to the sight of some of the grown men fawning over Andy Ritchie - and no wonder. I've seen a good bit of footage of Ritchie on my time, and yes, the winning goal against Aberdeen in the cup was a peach, but why has nobody ever told me just how good a goal he scored against Celtic at Cappielow?!?

But whilst Ritchie was the undoubted star of this Morton side, the night was arranged in order to applaud the collective effort of the side, lead by Benny Rooney and his able assistant Mike Jackson, both of whom joined Ritchie in answering the fans' questions as we reminisced. As host Chick Young pointed out the evening was turning into "Andy Ritchie, This Is Your Life", Ritchie was quick to point out that he was not the best player of his generation at Cappielow - an accolade he bestowed upon Jim Holmes. I think that was the point I looked across my table and saw my pal's dad with a tear in his eye (don't worry Rab, I'll not tell anyone)!

However, Holmes may well not even have been at Cappielow had it not been for one man in particular. We've heard plenty of stories from that era, and a few came to light that I was unaware of, possibly only due to my relative youth, but one in particular made me take notice. I was introduced to Morton die-hard Tommy Taylor, who gave up his life insurance policy in order that the club could sign Holmes from Partick Thistle. Whilst plenty of us can claim to be devoted to the cause, that particular gesture must be looked at as above and beyond the call of duty. I take my hat off to him!

Will someone keep me a seat for the fortieth anniversary do please?

Tontastic Pics

greenockmorton.org - thread about the night

BBC - Chick Young's View (10.11.2009)

Morton...Scotland...You Decide

Morton have no plans to change the kick-off time for Saturday's match at home to Raith Rovers even though it clashes with the Wales versus Scotland friendly in Cardiff.

Both matches will kick-off at 3pm meaning that Ton fans will be denied the chance to go to Cappielow and then watch the Scotland fixture, which is being screened live on Sky Sports 1.

A snippet on the back page of today's Greenock Telegraph confirms that Morton have no plans to change the time:

Morton's match against Raith Rovers at Cappielow on Saturday will kick-off at the normal time of 3pm.


van Zanten Signs Until January

Morton trialist David van Zanten has signed a contract that will keep him at the club until the 5th January 2010.

The right-back signed after impressing as a trialist in the 2-0 loss at home to Partick Thistle on Saturday.

Ton manager James Grady told the Greenock Telegraph's Roger Graham that he hopes van Zanten (pictured, above) will stay on until the end of the season but that the former Celtic, St. Mirren and Hibs man has ambitions to play at a higher level, he said: "He enjoyed it on Saturday the way we are playing, especially the first half. He wants to play at a higher level, which we understand, but we've got him until 5 January for now.

"Hopefully we may get the opportunity to extend that to the end of the season. That's a testament to the chairman who shares the same ambitions as Allan and me."

Greenock Telegraph - Morton Bring In Van Zanten Until January (10.11.2009)


Rumour: Peter To Partick

There are pretty strong rumours circulating that suggest Peter Weatherson will sign a pre-contract agreement with Partick Thistle in January.

I've also heard it said that Peter would like the move to go through in January. Presumably this would result in Thistle paying Morton a token sum in compensation - similar to when St. Johnstone offered £10,000 to take Chris Millar early in the 2007/08 season.

As I've said before, I don't usually post rumours but I've now heard this from several reliable sources. One of which is supposed to have come from a fan talking to Peter. In this conversation Peter is said to have stated that he doesn't feel appreciated by the Morton fans and would like a new start.

Thistle manager Ian McCall has made no secret of his admiration of Weatherson and once described him as the best striker of his kind in the division.

As I stated at the outset, this is only a rumour and may not be true, or turn out to be true, but the sources are pretty solid and it looks like Weatherson might be leaving Cappielow after seven seasons of goals and controversy.

greenockmorton.org thread about the rumours


Morton 0 - 2 Partick Thistle

Morton 0 -
Partick Thistle 2 - Buchanan (53), Donnelly (56)

Att: 2738

A game of two halves: failing to take our chances when we were on top meant that we got nothing out of a match that we could've, and should've, won.

James Grady has been given permission to make some badly needed additions to the playing squad by chairman Douglas Rae and the result was the appearance of two trialists in today's starting line-up. Interestingly, and encouragingly, Grady has taken days to try and sort out a problem that other managers have ignored for years - the full-backs; Alan Reid started at left-back with David van Zanten on the right. Reid should be familiar to most Morton fans having had two previous spells with the club (on loan in 2001/02 and two trialist appearances last season). van Zanten has an impressive pedigree having just been released by Hibs after spells with Celtic and St. Mirren.

The arrival of full-backs meant a reshuffle elsewhere: David MacGregor moved in one to centre-half; Allan McManus dropped out of the squad; Kevin Finlayson moved forward to right-midfield and Ryan McGuffie movied infield to centre-mid. Young Ryan Kane and player/manager James Grady kept their places on the bench.

It seems to have been the story of our season so far - we start brightly but miss several good chances, chances you just know our opponents more clinical strikers would be taking. Then, as the game goes on our opponents capitalise on some poor defending to open the scoring. From then on all our good work goes out the window as the team's confidence instantly drains away and we go on to concede more shocking goals.

The sequence started not long after kick-off as Peter Weatherson burst from midfield and when faced with two options - play in Wake or shoot - when he got to the edge of the box he couldn't make up his mind and eventually stumbled over the ball conceding possession in the process.

Weatherson had another good chance in the 20th minute. The Englishman arrived right on cue to meet Finalyson's cross from the right but his header looped over the bar and landed on the roof of the net.

Four minutes before half-time it was Brian Wake's turn to pass up an excellent chance. To the big striker's credit he fashioned the chance for himself by dancing past a few Thistle defenders in the box but just when he'd got beyond the opposition rearguard, and with the goal at his mercy, he stabbed his shot straight at Jonny Tuffey in the Thistle goal. It was so frustrating to see him do all the hard work and then lose all composure and blast the ball with his toe when all that was required was a calm side footed finish into the bottom corner. "Easy for you to say" I hear you say, but then I'm not paid to score goals for a living - Wake is.

That wasn't our last opportunity in the half, just two minutes after Wake missed Peter passed up a good chance when he drilled a shot into the side netting. For a split second it looked to me as if the ball had gone in. Unfortunately, my eyes deceived me - the ball had rippled the net on the wrong side.

The away team weren't without their chances. Thistle's Liam Buchanan wasted an excellent opportunity of his own in the 31st minute. Simon Donelly's flick on found Buchanan in behind the Ton defence but the ex-Cowdenbeath striker snatched at the chance and hooked the ball wide of Colin Stewart's right hand post. It wasn't far wide though and I thought it was actually in when he hit it. Unfortunately, for us Buchanan would make up for his miss by scoring later on.

Donnelly was also denied minutes before half-time when MacGregor got back to head off the line after Stewart had fumbled.

The two sides went in level at half-time and Grady had reason to be pleased with his team's performance. We were playing the better football and creating more chances but you just knew our failure to convert any of those chances would come back to haunt us in the second half.

And so it came to pass. Two identical goals three minutes apart sealed the win. David Rowson burst into the box and despite Alan Reid's desperate lunge managed to cut back for Buchanan to slot home the 1st in the 53rd minute. Then, in the 56th minute, it was Buchanan who turned provider. The pacy frontman left MacGregor trailing in his wake as he raced down the left before squaring for player-coach Donnelly to side-foot home. I was at the Wee Dublin End of the Cowshed (and talking during the lead up both goals) so I'm not really in a position to analyse them in detail but Reid and MacGregor both seem suspect as both goals came down the side, were almost identical and happened minutes apart.

The game died a death and even though McGuffie had a header from a corner cleared off the line we were a beaten team. It was so obvious that even the (decent) Thistle away support knew it and rubbed salt in the wounds by singing 'You're going down with the Airdrie, down with the Airdrie'. Five straight defeats says they might be right if things don't change soon. Getting a fast striker in on loan and van Zanten - who had a very good game - signed on a short-term deal before someone else snaps him up would be a great start.

Photos courtesy of Tam S (aka moneton!!!)

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 6
2. Van Zanten [Trialist] - 8
3. MacGregor - 5
4. Reid [Trialist] - 6
5. Greacen - 6
6. Paartalu - 6
7. Finlayson - 6 (15. Kane - 76 mins)
8. McGuffie - 6
9. Wake - 6 (16. Grady - 67 mins)
10. Weatherson - 5
11. McAlister - 5

Unused Subs:

12. Harding
15. Monti
20. McWilliams

van Zanten Greacen MacGregor Reid
Finlayson Paartalu McGuffie McAlister
Wake Weatherson

Partick Thistle: Tuffey, Paton, Archibald, Hodge (Adams, 46), Robertson, Maxwell, Cairney, Rowson, Buchanan (Lovell, 65), Donnelly, Erskine (Corcoran, 68).

Subs Not Used: Corrigan, Hinchcliffe.

My man of the match: David Van Zanten

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

Greenock Telegraph - Match Reaction

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

The Daily Record - Match Report

ptfc.co.uk - Match Report

ptfc.co.uk - Match Reaction (Ian McCall)

bbc sport - Match Report

moneton!!!'s Flickr Pics

Tontastic Pics

ptfc.co.uk - Pics


Neil Warnock Pledges Allegiance To The Ton

Greenock Morton is important to you and I, but I never thought I'd see the day that the club were of such significance that the Prime Minister would be discussing us at 10 Downing Street - but that's exactly what happened earlier this week.

On Monday afternoon, Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock accompanied Sean Scannell - one of his players at Palace - to Number 10 after he had been invited because he won the Championship Apprentice of the Year award last season. Warnock and Gordon Brown got chatting and, somewhat inevitably, the conversation turned to football. Warnock had this to say about the discussion in his regular Independent column:

As soon as Gordon Brown saw me he came over and I couldn't stop him talking. Straight away he said, "Unlucky that goal at Bristol" – you remember Freddie Sears' "goal" that went in but the ref didn't realise. I asked him about his Raith Rovers allegiance and told him mine was for Greenock Morton as that's where Sharon's grandparents live. He knew all about the area, and how much it's changed in recent years. We were chatting so much one of his staff had to interrupt and tell him to circulate.
Warnock has made no secret of his soft spot for the Ton. In the summer of 2006 be brought his Sheffield United side north for a pre-season friendly (pictured, above left: Warnock shares some advice with Jim McInally) and bought a brick for the wall outside the main stand - now he's gone a step further and done what we've all done: bore someone else to tears by talking about the Ton, only he managed to do it with the Prime Minister. You're welcome back at Cappielow anytime Neil (just bring a few loan players with you if you don't mind).

The Independent - Neil Warnock: What I've Learnt This Week (07.11.2009)


Truth In Reid Rumours

In the last couple of days posts on the Pie and Bovril and greenockmorton.org forums have both linked Morton with a move for free agent Alan Reid.

I thought these were just the usual rumours that circulate on football messageboards until I read an article in today's Scottish Sun. The article in question is about how all the players in the Ton and Partick Thistle squads are growing moustaches for the Movember campaign ahead of Saturday's match between the two sides. The story is accompanied by pictures of both squads sporting fake moustaches and Alan Reid is right behind James Grady in the Morton photograph (pictured, below).

Bryn Halliwell - who was with the club for a month at the start of the season - is also in the picture.

Reid made two sub appearances for us as a trialist last year. He later attacked Davie Irons in The Sun, claiming he said he'd get a contract then failed to deliver: greenockmortonfc.blogspot.com - Shafted.

He also had a spell on loan with us in 2001/02 in which he made 11 appearances and scored 2 goals.

Scottish Sun - Morton v Partick Bristle (04.11.2009)


Grady Given Until The End Of The Season

Morton caretaker manager James Grady has been handed the job until the end of the season.

Grady (pictured, left: in the dugout against Dundee) had been joint caretaker with Allan McManus for the last five games but it looks like Grady will now take full control with McManus his assistant. In Saturday's Scottish Sun Robert Grieve wrote:

The 38-year-old will be named as the Cappielow club's new boss today ahead of their clash with Inverness Caley Thistle. Ton defender Allan McManus will work with Grady as his No2 after getting the nod from chairman Douglas Rae last night.
The Greenock Telegraph didn't have the story in their paper on Saturday but did break the news online. Grady told the Tele's Roger Graham of his hopes for the future:

It's up to Allan and me now to deliver and show that the club have made the right decision. I am a very ambitious person and want to be successful. I want to there when we are playing in front of a sell-out crowd going into the Premier League. This decision brings stability. We will help the players and it is our aim to bring the fans back with attractive football. We know we can bring success once we start getting the boys back fit.

The new player/manager didn't get off to the best of starts as his Morton side - including Grady, as he came on as a late substitute - went down 4-1 away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Greenock Telegraph - Grady And McManus Get Job (31.10.2009)

Inverness Caledonian Thistle 4 - 1 Morton

Inverness C. T. 4 - Rooney (19, 42, 51 pen), Bulvitus (31)
Morton 1 - Paartalu (33)

Att: 3021

Hallowe'en horror show: Caley hat-trick hero Adam Rooney made sure it was a miserable start for newly installed Ton manager James Grady as the Irish striker's treble helped earn his side a comfortable 4-1 victory at the Tulloch Caledonian stadium.

Morton's continuing injury crisis meant that Grady had little choice but to stick with the same team that lost 3-1 at Dunfermline the previous week. The substitutes bench was more indicative of how stretched our playing resources were with the manager forced to include himself, an unfit Ryan Harding and three under-19s in Chris Gordon, Ryan McWilliams and Ryan Kane.

We are, undoubtedly, missing a few very good players but, for me, that is no excuse for this sort of performance. We were truly woeful in every department and probably lucky to escape with a 4-1 scoreline.

The route started in the 19th minute. Stuart Golabek's long ball from the left-back position found a Morton defence in disarray. First Dougie Imrie was unmarked and under little pressure when he knocked the ball back across from the right to Adam Rooney who hooked the ball past Colin Stewart into the bottom corner (pictured, below). This was schoolboy defending.

To compare the second goal to schoolboys would be offensive - to the schoolboys. The Morton defence were fast asleep as Caley took a short corner out on the left. Imrie collected the ball and whipped in a near post cross that Rooney flicked towards goal but Stewart got down well to make the save. However, his parry was very weak and only succeeded in pushing the ball out in front of goal from where Latvian defender Nauris Bulvitis smashed the ball into the roof of the net to make it 2-0. It was only 31 minutes in and some fans had already seen enough. You know what you're watching is bad when fans are willing to chuck it only a half hour into a match they've made a 7 hour round journey to see.

Two minutes later the very same fans might've been ruing their decision to leave as Erik Paartalu skipped past Caley captain Grant Munro and Bulvitus before using the inside of his right foot to place a tidy finish under Ryan Esson in the Inverness goal. To be fair they probably weren't ruing their decision that much as it was fairly obvious to everyone that this was a false dawn and the only team likely to score again was the home side.

The inevitable came three minutes before half-time. Another Golabek long ball found Richie Foran just inside the Ton box. The Irishman was strong enough to hold off Stewart Greacen before passing the ball inside to his compatriot Rooney who side-footed past Stewart for his second of the afternoon. This was another catalogue of errors as Greacen should've maybe done more to prevent Foran from holding him off so easily (although that might be a wee bit harsh on him) while Allan McManus's and Davie MacGregor's poor communication and positioning (particularly McManus's strange decision to come across towards Greacen and Foran) allowed Rooney find a gap between the two of them in which to grab his goal. This goal really was the end and more away fans headed for the exits; the rest remained out of loyalty rather than expectation.

The game was put beyond any reasonable doubt in the 51st minute as Rooney completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot (pictured, below: Rooney steps up). The former Stoke City striker put Stewart the wrong way after MacGregor had blatantly pulled Imrie inside the box. It was a ridiculous foul and given that I could see it from the other end of the stadium one that Davie was never going to get away with. I hate to say this - I've always admired David MacGregor as a person and a dedicated professional athlete and even voted for him as my player of the year in season 2002/03 - but I think MacGregor is starting to become a real liability at left-back. Most of our goals are coming down that side, he lacks pace and is starting to find it difficult to adjust his feet as tricky wingers run at him and twist and turn before delivering the fatal crosses that are costing us dear. His pull on Imrie was a real sign of desperation. I hope that the manager finds a solution to the left-back problem - preferably a natural left-footer - as Davie isn't suited to the position. I'm not sure if that's because he just isn't good enough for first division level or simply due the fact he is right-footed and this means that he is unbalanced when players run at him down his weaker side and / or as a centre-half by trade he is unsure positionally and tactically.

The one bright spot on a bleak afternoon was the introduction of under-19s striker Ryan Kane. The 17-year-old came on with 24 minutes left to play and impressed with his hold up play and general confidence on the ball. Although Grady's inclusion of under-19s like Kane, Jamie Docherty and Chris Gordon has been due to circumstances outwith his control, namely numerous injuries, I am encouraged by his willingness to show a bit of faith in the players he'd managed with McManus and to give youth a chance. He could've decided to throw himself on instead of Kane but didn't. He did do this eventually - and in his nine minutes or so on the pitch he made more of an impact than Brian Wake did in the other eighy one.

Despite this small positive this really was a depressing performance and result. It actually reminded me of a match at the same venue in 2000 when we were hammered 6-2 with a selection of youths and reserves in the team. There's absolutely no doubt that Grady has a real tough job on his hands. He'll need to get his phone book out and get in touch with some friends in the game to pull a few sensational loan signings out of the top drawer or his first season as a manager could end in relegation.

Morton (4-4-2):

1. Stewart - 6
2. MacGregor - 4
3. Monti - 6
4. McManus - 5
5. Greacen - 5
6. Paartalu - 6
7. Finlayson - 6
8. McGuffie - 5
9. Wake - 5 (12. Kane - 66 mins)
10. Weatherson - 6 (16. Grady - 81 mins)
11. McAlister - 5

Unused Subs:

14. Harding
15. Gordon
20. McWilliams

Booked: Paartalu, McManus.

Finlayson Greacen McManus MacGregor
McGuffie Paartalu Monti McAlister
Wake Weatherson

Inverness C.T.: Esson, Tokely, Bulvitis, Munro, Golabek, Proctor, Sanchez, Duncan, Foran (Hayes 63), Rooney (Barrowman 86), Imrie (Cox 80).

Subs Not Used: Stratford, Allison.

Booked: Foran, Duncan.

My man of the match: Adam Rooney (ICT)

Sponsor's man of the match:

Matchday Programme (Click to enlarge)

Match Ticket

Greenock Telegraph - Match Report

The Scottish Sun - Match Report

The Daily Record - Match Report

ictfc.premiumtv.co.uk - Match Report

ictfc.premiumtv.co.uk - Match Reaction (Terry Butcher)

bbc sport - Match Report

caleyjags.com - Pictures