Paisley way back in the Victorian mists of 1877, St Mirren can rightly be described as one of the most historic teams in Scottish football. One of only five remaining clubs from the foundation of the Scottish League in 1890, they played one of the first night games in history that same year when Morton's ground was lit by gaslamps. They are named after St Mirin of Benchor, an Irish monk and missionary who was the founder of Paisley Abbey in the sixth century, and wenty on to become the town's patron saint.
They played at their famous and evocative Love Street ground between 1894 and 2009, the stadium seeing their record, pre-health and safety attendance of 47,438 for a game against Celtic in 1949. However, in 2005 they decided to move away from their historic base and move to a new purpose-built stadium to help clear their significant debts. The last match to be played at Love Street was a goalless draw against Motherwell on 3 January 2009 - a highly emotional afternoon before a sell out crowd.
Their next home game a couple of weeks later was at the newly built St Mirren Park, an 8,000 capacity identikit stadium, not far from their old home, opened by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond on 31 January. The first match, against Kilmarnock, finished in a 1-1 draw, the first goal scored by the Killies' Kevin Kyle.
East Stirlingshire, he took the club from being a lower second division outfit with meagre crowds upon his appointment in 1974, to first division champs in 1977. And starting a theme that would stick with him to his Manchester United days, he won it with kids - the average age of his winning squad being a baby-faced 19 years. Little is known of the exact reason for his dismissal, but stories abound of his unreasonable behaviour to club staff and his being tapped up by Aberdeen for their managerial job.
But I'm sure The Buddies, as they are quaintly known, would much prefer to be remembered for their football and their long, proud history than some grumpy old bloke who briefly passed through their gates - and long may they honor their colours!
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