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29 May 2002 09:00

Morton chairman warns against Airdrie bid

DOUGLAS Rae has sounded a warning to other SFL clubs as the battle to fill the vacant spot in next season's Third Division hots up, writes Kevin Clelland. Huntly, Grenta and Edinburgh United are just three of the six clubs that are hoping to beat the Lanarkshire side in the election vote which is due to take place next month. However, the Morton chairman told the Telegraph yesterday that allowing Airdrie to enter the league would be a mistake. "I know that Airdrie are a very tempting option to other clubs," he said. "They're the biggest team of the ones that want to gain entry into the league. "If all things were equal then Airdrie would be everyone's first choice for next season," continued the chairman. "If they were going to honour the football debts then I would support them, but they're trying to start with no debts. "We had to pay our debts and that's money that could have been spent on the ground or new players." The Morton chairman went on to point out that allowing the Diamonds to come back into the league set-up, albeit with a different ground and slight name change, could have massive repercussions for the game north of the border. "Who's to say then that other clubs wouldn't try the same thing," he added. "At the end of the season a club could get rid of all their players and staff, get rid of their debts and re-enter the league in the bottom division with new players and no debts. "To allow Airdrie back into the league now would set a terrible precedent. I think it would be an irresponsible decision." Meanwhile, the chairman also revealed that his side will play St Mirren in a pre-season friendly following the decision to cancel the proposed clash with Millwall on 22 July at Cappielow. Both sides decided against playing the English First Division club, who are managed by former Morton striker Mark McGhee, due to fears of crowd trouble. Ayr United have also postponed their clash with the notorious Londoners. "After consultation between ourselves, St Mirren, Ayr United and the relevant authorities we have decided to cancel the Millwall game," Rae said. "The publicity surrounding the club has been good recently and we decided at a board meeting that this game could jeopardise that. "Cardiff have also asked if we were interested in a friendly, but we would be faced with the same problem." As a result Morton will now take on the Buddies at Love Street on Saturday 27 July, the date originally set aside for the Paisley men's meeting with Millwall." The Morton chairman broke the news when interviewed about next season and the election of a new club to the Scottish Football League in particular. Seven clubs met last week's deadline for the application to fill the space in the league set-up vacated by Airdrie who went into liquidation at the beginning of this month. Huntly, Preston, Edinburgh United, Rae was keen to sound a warning Morton manager Dave McPherson greed with his chairman. "I think it's a wise move," he said. "The club is looking for good publicity at the moment and trouble in a game against Millwall is the last thing we want."

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28 May 2002 09:00

Greenock Otters third in gala

GREENOCK Otters Swimming Club for the Disabled took part in the Clyde Valley Beavers anniversary gala held at the Wishaw Sports Centre. The team of 13 swimmers did very well winning seven gold, six silver and six bronze and coming third, only five points behind the winners this year - Port Glasgow Otters. Ten clubs competed and each event was keenly contested throughout. Janice Smith took the silver in the 25 backstroke Class 10, Ann Taylor won gold in the 25m freestyle Class 9 and a bronze in the 25m backstroke Class 9. Lynne O"Neill won gold in the 25m backstroke Class 7, Jethro Dougan got gold in the 50m backstroke Class 3 and did it again in the 50m freestyle Class 1 and also a bronze in the 50m breaststroke. William Heron took the silver in the 50m freestyle Class 2. Robert McDonald got two silvers, one in the 25m backstroke and the other in the 25m freestyle, both Class 7. Allan Watkins took bronze in the 25m breaststroke Class 6, James Buchanan won gold in the 25m breaststroke Class 8 and a bronze in the 25m freestyle Class 7. Frazer Warwick took the gold in the 25m freestyle Class 7 and a bronze in the 25m breaststroke also Class 7. Alistair Griffen took a gold in the 50m freestyle Class 2, a silver in the 25m backstroke Class 5 and a bronze in the 25m breaststroke Class 7. Callum Dale, in his first gala for the club, did very well to win a silver in the 25m breaststroke Class 9. Liz McDiarmid and David McInnes, although not 'in the medals', swam well and gained valuable points for the club. In the breaststroke events several swimmers were disqualified for failing to touch with both hands at the turn and also the finish. It is very important to remember in breaststroke events to always touch with both hands. One swimmer had a clear win but, by failing to touch with both hands, lost the medal and the points. Thanks go to driver Joe and escort Brian for a safe journey there and back and to Evelyn, Bob, Alastair, Iain and George who accompanied the swimmers and ensured everything went smoothly. Greenock Otters would like to thank Jean Jenkinson and the committee members of the Scottish Co-operative Community Dividend Programme for the generous donation to the club"s funds made recently. Like all voluntary groups, financial assistance is vital to the day to day running and other activities which they take part in, and the Co-operative donation will be put to good use by the Otters in making and keeping the club the success that it is in the local community.

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25 May 2002 09:00

Naked bobby-dazzler

MORTON defender Jock McIntyre rallied the troops in his own unique way before the Scottish Cup Final 80 years ago. The right back paraded up and down the dressing room at Hampden on that famous day dressed in only a policeman's helmet. It was an act he performed at most games according to his son Billy. "Morton used to always carry a policeman's helmet in their hamper back then and it used to be a ritual that he would walk around naked with it on before every game," explained Billy. "He said that he used to do it to rally the players before the game. It seemed to work that day." Billy, who now lives in Largs, was born shortly after the final in 1922, but remembers his father telling him endless stories about the day Morton upset the odds and beat the mighty Rangers. "He used to say that nobody gave them a chance, even he admitted that he didn't expect to win," Billy added. "Back in those days though people in the provincial towns didn't support Rangers or Celtic like they do now, they supported their local team. Everyone in Greenock wanted Morton to win and my father said that their support inspired them - he said it was tremendous." In the final Jock found himself up against Rangers legend, outside left Alan Morton. Morton, who was regarded as one of the best forwards in the world at the time, once described McIntyre as the hardest man he ever came up against during his illustrious career. Jock put the cup winner's medal on a charm bracelet for his wife Kitty along with four other medals which he won during his career as a footballer. The medal is now owned by Jock's grandson John, Billy's son. John, who lives in Burntisland, Fife, remembers another story about his grandfather. A year after the cup final Jock was involved in another unforgettable encounter with Rangers, this time at Cappielow. The Morton man had to leave the field with concussion after clashing with Nicholson, a no-nonsense Rangers player. "It turned out after the game that Jock had fractured his skull but he refused to go to hospital," John said. "Instead he went back on with revenge in mind and the next time Nicholson got the ball Jock took him out and was sent off himself. "He's probably the only footballer to have fractured his skull and then been sent off in the same match." Just three years after the final Jock left the club along with team-mate Alex McNab and the pair moved to America to play for Boston in the American Soccer League. "My father was only getting paid £2 a week at Morton and America was in the middle of a soccer boom so it was an offer he couldn't refuse," explained Billy. Jock won the League with Boston before taking up a player-coach position at Coleraine in Northern Ireland after spending four seasons state-side. Soon after that he moved back to Greenock, became a publican and was a director at Cappielow from the mid-1950s until he died in 1963, aged 72.

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25 May 2002 09:00

Morton's finest hour

IT is 80 years since Morton won the most prestigious honour in their history, the Scottish Cup, triumphing over the might and wealth of Glasgow Rangers at Hampden Park before a crowd of 75,000 on 15 April, 1922. That, ironically, is 80 years ago to the very date when the Telegraph announced Morton"s official relegation to the Third Division of the Scottish Leagues - from the highest peak to the lowest trough. At least now there is only one way for the club to go. There are legitimate arguments as to whether or not the players who took the famous old trophy to Greenock for the first and, so far, only time were the best in the club"s history. Some would put forward a very strong case for the Morton sides of the 40s which at various times included such wonderful and diverse internationally capped talents as goalkeeper Jimmy Cowan, wing half Billy Campbell, inside forwards Billy Steel, Johnny Divers and Tommy Orr, and wingers Johnny Kelly and Johnny Crum. Cowan even had an international named after him at Wembley. What is not in dispute is the unique position in the club"s history occupied by the 1922 team. While Morton were a good side, Rangers predictably went into the match as strong favourites. The odds against the Cappielow men lengthened too when their top goalscorer, George French, who had scored twice in the 3-1 defeat of Aberdeen in the semi-final, was ruled out on the day of the final by an injury sustained in a league draw at Tynecastle the preceding Saturday. Rangers had the bulk of the international players on display, including giants such as Alan Morton and Davie Meiklejohn, though the Ton"s right winger, Alex McNab, held down a Scotland spot, his main rival being Rangers" Archibald. It was Morton who took the lead in 11 minutes. McNab was racing through on goal when Ibrox goalkeeper Robb came out of his area to clear with his hands. From the free kick, former Everton man Jimmy Gourlay delivered the perfect shot. Thereafter Rangers had the bulk of the play despite losing skipper Andy Cunningham with a broken jaw in 20 minutes. In these days there were no substitutes and Morton also finished with Buchanan and McMinn limping severely. The Greenock men were to hold out, Jock McIntyre manfully competing with Alan Morton, the "Wee Blue Devil". They also put in dangerous counter attacks of their own, McNab and left winger McMinn causing the Ibrox full backs all sorts of problems. When the final whistle blew it heralded a famous victory for the underdog. Although Morton had to journey south straight after the game to play a friendly against Hartlepool United, Greenock was a town in mild hysteria that night.

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25 May 2002 09:00

Games chance depends on medal

JOHN Simpson travels to Tenerife on Sunday as his quest to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Manchester nears the final bell, writes Kevin Clelland. The 19-year-old boxer from Port Glasgow takes part in a Box-Am on the Spanish island knowing that a medal is a must if he is to secure his spot in the Scotland squad which will be announced in the third week in June. John, who is a featherweight and is a member of Port Glasgow Victoria Boxing Club, has only just returned from across the Atlantic where he was representing Scotland in an international double-header against Canada. He fought French-Canadian Benoit Gaudet twice but lost both times on points. However, the youngster was still in an upbeat mood when he took time off from his preparations for Tenerife to speak to the Telegraph. "I can't complain about the results in Canada really because he was just a better boxer and deserved to win both times," he said. "I'm not too disappointed, though. The guy's had over 140 fights as an amateur which is 100 more than me. I managed to go the full four rounds against him twice which I think is an achievement. In the first fight I was up after the first round but I was feeling tired after all the travelling. 'I thought I had a better chance in the second fight but he just boxed better than me." The double defeat for Simpson was by no means a disgrace. Gaudet won bronze at the World Championships in Houston, Texas, in 1999 and is one of the pre-tournament favourites for Manchester. "I'm sure the selectors will take into account the quality of my opponent," added Simpson.

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25 May 2002 09:00

Weather is the worry

GREENOCK, for the third time in their opening four Premier League matches, are away from home tomorrow when they make the trip to meet old Western Union rivals Uddingston at Bothwell Policies determined to maintain their 100% record. Some of their momentum was interrupted by last week"s abandoned match at Grange, though at least they did manage to get in 34 overs before rain finaly called a halt. It allowed professional Dene Hills to maintain his good form, adding an unbeaten 76 to the 49 he scored the previous Saturday against Carlton. At 136 for three Greenock had confirmed their batting strength this season and were well set for a formidable total. The removal of the draw from the game makes the winning of the toss, while not irrelevant, at least far less important in the scheme of things than before. On each occasion in the league so far Greenock have batted first. While prevailing wisdom inveriably favours chasing, the fact is that the Glenpark men have applied pressure having been forced to take first strike. Unless the wicket is one which is going to dry out as the day goes on there is no reason that I can see why they shouldn"t continue to do so through choice. If your batsmen are in form then it can make sense to let the opposition spend a tiring afternoon in the field and apply your pressure in the second innings. One of skipper Ian Stanger"s problems as the season progresses may be trying to keep all his players happy such is the side"s strength in depth. A fortnight ago he did not bowl Dene Hills, who had taken four for 11 off 10 overs the previous Saturday, presumably as he felt he had enough runs on the board and wished to give others a chance. Newcomer Dougie Wylie, a more than decent slow bowler, wasn"t one of those. He is also a good enough bat to operate at five in most sides but has to make do with seven at Glenpark. Stuart McDonald too looks likely to be spending most of his time as a fielder. That, of course, is often the price of success. The hope must be that those who don"t often get their turn in the middle or with the ball can find compensation in being in a winning side. Uddingston may not be among the most likely contenders for the title, but they are no mugs either. South African Louis Wilkinson is their pro and opens the batting, while they welcome back overseas amateur Steve Nottle from Queensland. Former professional Paul Hoffman from South Africa - now a "naturalised Scot" and who took four Notts wickets in Scotland"s midweek win - is their main strike bowler while another to join up this season is ex-West of Scotland player Mark Townson, a more than useful medium pacer. On paper, though, Greenock go in as favourites. The main variable, as always, is likely to be the weather which has been gruesome during the week. Hopefully there will be no rain tomorrow and the pitch will not favour one side rather than the other. Hopefully I shall also win the lotto on Saturday. No side has yet fully tested the Glenpark men"s batting. The relative failure to contribute of top quality batters such as Neil MacRae and Ian Stanger has not been a problem, and therein lies the difficulty for those seeking to topple Greenock. To do so they will need to bowl tightly and apply real pressure in the field on a consistent level. There is a whole heap of cricket to be played, but Greenock"s early form is quietly satisfying.

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24 May 2002 09:00

Scotland rugby star joins in festival of fun

HUNDREDS of Inverclyde children turned out at Fort Matilda on Tuesday for the Ford Foundation Rugby Primary School New Image Rugby Festival. And they were thrilled when Scotland star Glen Metcalfe turned up to lend a hand with the coaching. The event was organised by local SRU development officer Stephen Gemmell, in conjunction with Inverclyde Educational Services and Greenock Wanderers RFC, and assisted by local primary schools. Ford supplied rugby balls for all participating schools.

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23 May 2002 09:00

New Morton signing wins young player award

NEW Morton signing Alex Williams was named Bell"s Young Player of the Year yesterday at the Scottish Football League awards. The 19-year-old striker, who joined the Cappielow club from Stirling Albion on Friday in a £50,000 deal, scored 22 goals last season to top the scoring charts in the Third Division. Morton boss Dave McPherson said this morning that he was delighted for the youngster. "It's a great boost for Alex," he added. "It shows the type of player that we are bringing to the club as we prepare for next season." Falkirk striker Owen Coyle, meanwhile, scooped the Bell"s Player of the Year prize after ending last season's campaign as the top scorer in the SFL with 27 goals for Airdrie who folded this month. Partick Thistle manager John Lambie picked up the Bell"s First Division prize after taking the Jags to their second successive promotion to add to his Second Division gong for last season. John Connolly won the Second Division award after leading Queen of the South to the championship, while Brechin City manager Dick Campbell collected the Third Division award. The Glebe Park side became the first British club to be promoted last season. Morton manager McPherson spoke to Campbell on more than one occasion last week while he was at Largs, working towards his SFA A badge along with Morton's youth team boss Stephen Frail. "I've spoken to Dick at length and he's filled me in on a few things," said McPherson. "He's let me know about a few things that we should look out for next season which, hopefully, will help us do well. "I've found the trip to Largs very useful but just that [speaking to Campbell] alone has made this exercise a worthwhile one." A host of other star names were also at the camp including Ally McCoist, Ian Durrant and John Collins plus many top Scottish coaches. "It was a great place to be," added McPherson. "Alex Smith, Archie Knox and Walter Smith were just some of the coaches there so there was a wealth of knowledge about the place."

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21 May 2002 09:00

Fans-tastic

Morton Select 2, St Mirren Select 1 IF only Rowan Alexander, Alan Mahood and the rest of the 1995/96 brigade could play at Cappielow every week. After two years of doom, gloom and glum faces, Morton witnessed the welcome return of thrills, spills and smiles on Saturday. The home legion drooled at the sight of their former heroes in hoops once again while also getting a glimpse of Andy Goram in a Morton ’keeper’s jersey at Cappielow, albeit briefly. In fact, the only sour point of an entertaining day was a broken promise. Buddies’ boss Tom Hendrie assured everyone midweek that at least five of his squad would be making the trip to Greenock. In the end not a single one turned up. It was their loss, though, on a great day for Derek Collins. Nothing was going to spoil his celebrations - not even the weather. The Morton skipper was the man of the moment, the centre of attention, and rightly so. "What can I say?" gasped an exultant Collins afterwards. "I am absolutely thrilled, delighted. The fans were absolutely fantastic, they were brilliant." The game was staged to commemorate the full back's 12 years of diligent and unswerving duty to the Morton cause, and he was blessed by a good crowd to provide a financial fillip. Arguably the biggest wish that was realised for Collins, however, was that the teams produced a competitive game. He would have dreaded a stroll in the park. A cake-walk commemoration would have made him blanch. It was fitting, therefore, that the two rivals should strive to thrive without resorting to exhibition stuff. It was far from high-octane content, but there was endeavour and enterprise and a professional pride. No one exemplified this better than Rowan Alexander. His 90-minute Cappielow return was a master class. Every touch of the ball was sure, every pass measured, every surge well-timed, and as for his two goals, they were simply sublime. Phil Cannie, Craig McPherson and Mahood all missed the target for Morton before the legendary poacher finally headed them into the lead in 30 minutes. Garry Tweedie delivered a deep cross to the back post which Alexander guided expertly back across Saints' ’keeper John Hillcoat and inside the far post. Morton continued to enjoy the upper hand up to the interval. The St Mirren defence was pulled this way and that by sharp passing and movement off the ball and the margin should have been extended just five minutes before the break. A fine move involving John Anderson and Tweedie ended with Mahood's pile-driver heading for the top corner before cannoning off Cannie's back and spinning to safety. Two minutes into the second half it was two-nil. Tweedie fed Cannie down the right and the striker picked out Alexander brilliantly in the box leaving the Gretna boss to ram home. The expected substitutions, which included the introduction of Goram in place of new Ton ’keeper coach David Wylie, affected the tempo somewhat but both sides still created further chances before James Tierney gave the former men from Paisley a life-line with less than half an hour remaining. Collins departed the action with five minutes left to receive his own standing ovation but his team-mates held on. Thanks to Super Row's brace, both players and supporters could consider their mission accomplished. "I always said that this wasn't a day about just me," said Collins after the game. "It was a day for everyone, especially the fans. I hope we sent them home happy and I can't thank them enough. "Rowan [Alexander] scoring was a nice touch and it was great that Andy could play too. He's a legend and there's not many like him." Collins also thanked the St Mirren players for the part they played in the afternoon's entertainment. "It was always going to be hard to get players in general with the time of the year but thanks to David Winnie and Tommy Turner we managed to get a team together at the last minute. Without them there would have been no game." Before the game, Morton Under-13s beat Gourock YAC while the club's under-15 team drew with Cherry BC. Half-time action was also provided by the West of Scotland Football Club for the Physically Disabled. Morton: Wylie (Goram 51), Collins (Hawke 85), McArthur (Pickering 53), Anderson, McGregor, Matheson, Mahood (Hunter 54), McPherson, Alexander, Cannie, Tweedie.

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18 May 2002 09:00

Old stars gather for Collins' testimonial

A LARGE crowd is expected at Cappielow tomorrow when local rivals St Mirren and a host of familiar faces from the past turn out for Derek Collins' testimonial. The 33-year-old, who returned to the club last August, has been rewarded for his 12 years’ service to the club with a benefit game. Members of the Morton side of 1995/96, who came so close to clinching a spot in the top flight, will line up alongside other Morton stars of the past and present. Derek Lilley, John Anderson, Alan Mahood and Brian Reid are just some of the players from that side who have agreed to turn up for the game against the old enemy, together with others such as Rowan Alexander and David Hopkin. Tommy Turner, Barry Lavety, Steve McGarry and Brian Hamilton, meanwhile, are just some of the players who will feature for St Mirren side after some frantic last minute work behind the scenes. “I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the old players, both the guys in the Morton side and some of the St Mirren players,” said Collins as he took time off from final preparations. “Maybe not every supporter likes me but they might want to come along and see some players that they might not get the chance to see in a Morton shirt again. “I’m sure a lot of people will be looking forward to seeing Rowan [Alexander] again. He’s still a big name here and he’s one of my favourites.” Garry Tweedie is a surprise addition to the squad for tomorrow. Collins has included the midfielder, who was freed by Dave McPherson last month along with Scott Miller, Paul Wright, John Gibson, Chris Aitken and Gavin Redmond. “Garry was really upset when he found out that he’d been released,” Collins explained. “He got the injury in the Queen of the South game on the last day of the season and had to come off which meant that he didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to the fans. I thought it would be nice if we gave him that chance to say a proper goodbye.” Three of the biggest stars from that era, however, won't be there. Derek McInnes, Janne Lindberg and Marko Rajamaki are all unavailable. “It’s a shame that they won’t be there because they all played a major part in that spell for the club,” admitted Collins. Nonetheless, the Morton skipper is still looking forward to the derby match. The last time the two sides met was back in January of last year in a fundraiser for a then financially stricken Morton. Goals from Ross Matheson, who also plays tomorrow, and Stephen Whalen earned Morton a 2-1 win on that occasion in front of 2,558 spectators. That victory also saw Morton lift the Phoenix Mitsubishi Challenge Cup. The Derek Collins Testimonial Trophy is up for grabs this time, and although it is an end of season game contested between two select squads rather than a first team encounter, Collins is sure that players and supporters will still be up for it. “The last game against them was a year ago,” he said. “That’s a long time to go without a derby and I’m sure the fans can’t wait.”  Gates will open at 1.45pm for pre-match entertainment with the game kicking-off at 3pm.

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18 May 2002 09:00

Greenock aim for a capital hat-trick

GREENOCK, with two wins out of two in the Premier League so far this season, make the trip to Edinburgh tomorrow hoping for a hat-trick of victories over capital clubs. This time out their task will be appreciably harder, at least on paper, for they meet champions Grange in what ought to be a true test of their abilities. Victories over Watsonians and Carlton, Greenock batting first on both occasions, have provided the perfect precursor for a clash which is a repeat of last September’s Scottish Cup Final at Hamilton Crescent. On that occasion Greenock came out comfortably on top after applying considerable pressure in the field to which Grange ultimately had no answer. No two games are the same, of course, and the teams will also contain different personnel, but that win will have left Grange in little doubt about the task confronting them. This season Grange are minus last year’s professional, Damien Wright, and replace him with fellow Aussie Trent Woodhill, a middle order bat who arrives with a reputation as a top class coach rather than performer. After an opening knock of 45 by Robin Smith, it was a middle order partnership of 92 by Sanjay Patel and Simon Smith which built the winning platform in a total of 224 for seven for Grange last week against Heriot’s. Their city rivals fell 32 runs short, the wickets being shared among Davidson (2), Wilson (2), Holmes (2), Cox and Gray, two run-outs completing the tally. Greenock, meanwhile, were scoring 251 against Carlton at Glenpark, Dene Hills (49), Jason Borgas (45), Darryl Anderson (50), Shannon Bakes (44) and Tom Black (25) supplying the main input. It was a second consecutive excellent middle order partnership by Borgas and Anderson which capitalised upon Hills’ steady opening innings, Bakes supplying some late fireworks with 44 runs off just 20 deliveries. Carlton fell 34 runs short, their innings held together by a fine century from Cedric English after they had lost Scotland opener Bryn Lockie to an injury in the field. Greenock will, however, need to apply more pressure with the ball against Grange on Saturday. It wasn’t their most impressive bowling display and it would be a major surprise were Dene Hills not to bowl tomorrow after missing out on the action last Saturday. Having taken four for 11 off 10 overs against Watsonians he unaccountably was not called upon. There was a stage, after all, in the innings when a successful chase, if unlikely, was certainly not impossible. Normally Greenock would probably opt to chase the Grange total upon winning the toss, but two wins batting first, allied to that Scottish Cup success - again batting first - ought to at least provide food for thought, especially if the track looks good. Whatever the outcome of the toss, Greenock have batting to a depth in which Nessie would revel. The outcome is more likely to be determined by the bowling and fielding. The other unbeaten sides - West of Scotland and Ayr - have less arduous tasks on paper at Aberdeenshire and Carlton respectively. If Greenock win tomorrow they will, even this early, have set the benchmark for those with title ambitions. Having opted for a top flight coach, Grange will, similarly to Greenock, be expected to give more attention to working the singles while batting, and shutting them off while fielding. It should be an absorbing contest. There, that’s the kiss of death.

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14 May 2002 09:00

Greenock's cup

Greenock 3, Watsonians 2 ONE2ONE Greenock gained revenge for their two league defeats to Watsonians this season by coming out on top in a five-goal Scottish Cup Final at Peffermill in Edinburgh. The men from Glenpark became only the second side, Grange being the other, to hold both Scottish cricket and Scottish hockey's premier knock-out trophies at the same time after this thrilling encounter. The First Division big-guns may have been missing this season because of last year's Under-21 World Cup, but anyone with doubts over the lure of the Scottish Cup only had to watch this game. These two Second Division sides provided a fitting testament to the competition - an enthralling game, packed full of incidents and accidents, grit and determination, a passionate crowd, quality goals and, just for good measure, a fairy-tale return. Watsonians arrived with glowing references but for the most part they were unconvincing as 15 heroes in blue and white turned the tables on the cocky, capital club. For Mark Robertson in particular, this was unforgettable. He only returned from Sydney on Wednesday. However, there was no sign of jet-lag as the Aussie ace hammered a hat-trick to ensure it was a very happy return. Robertson replaced Danny Giles in the only change to the side that had started so well in the semi-final against Bon Accord MBC a week earlier. It was their opponents, though, who made the perfect start after Ashley Cochrane won a short corner in five minutes. From the re-start Magnus Ferrier got the all-important touch to Douglas Campbell's shot to guide the ball past Allan Gemmell in the Greenock goal, putting the Edinburgh outfit in front. Greenock's disappointment was almost doubled four minutes later when the tricky David Hogarth evaded David Fortune's challenge before sending the zipping ball into the D. There were no takers, however, and from the free-hit Greenock mounted their first real attack of the game. In so doing they won their first short corner and up stepped Robertson to crash home the equaliser. Buoyed by the leveller, the Greenock defence began to warm to the task after their shaky start. In midfield too, One2One had the edge. Skipper David Brown and Robertson harried, chased and tackled for every lost cause while William Marshall and Ross Slater provided permanent width. Suddenly it was all Greenock. Ian Phillips was beaten to a deft Slater pass by Richard Davies in the Watsonians goal and the ’keeper came to the rescue again when he palmed away another Robertson drive from a short corner. Brown finally found a way past Davies in 25 minutes but his shot from a tight angle struck the post and rolled to safety. With half-time approaching, Watsonians eventually offered a riposte when Ferrier brought out the best in Gemmell with a low drive that the ’keeper did well to get a stick to. Fortune and Robertson then combined to thwart Chris Miller in the D. If Greenock's first-half opening had been sloppy at the start of the second period they were simply sensational. Just three minutes in and One2One were ahead for the first time. The same trio, Fortune, Marshall and Robertson, combined again for the latter to rifle past the hapless Davies. It was certainly value for money and, as the tension mounted, chances became more frequent at both ends. Veteran Willie Laing broke from defence to feed Marshall wide on the right and the youngster sent a sumptuous pass into the D for Brown. The captain, though, was denied by Davies. For Watsonians, meanwhile, Hogarth continued to pose the greatest threat and in 46 minutes it was from one of his mazy runs that his team won a short corner. Gemmell did well to save Campbell's first attempt after Broadbent's delivery but Miller was there to force the rebound over the line. Greenock's response was instant. The tireless David Whiteford won a short corner and Robertson completed his hat-trick. The thrills and spills weren't over yet. There was still enough time for Gemmell to make two remarkable saves, denying first Hogarth and then Miller in quick succession. Watsonians also wasted four consecutive short corners as the clock ticked down meaning Whiteford could afford to miss a one-on-one late on as Greenock held on to the finish. For Scottish Cup winners 2002, read Greenock Hockey Club.

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14 May 2002 09:00

Greenock joint top

Greenock 251 for 7wkts; Carlton 217. (Greenock 25 pts, Carlton 9pts) GREENOCK consolidated upon their winning start last week to the Premier League with a second victory at Glenpark on Saturday, Carlton being the second Edinburgh club to succumb to their collective wiles. They now share top spot with West of Scotland and Ayr. The 34-run margin of victory, Carlton losing their final wicket in the 98th over, was deserved if not entirely assured. Having amassed a highly creditable 251 on a slowish wicket on which they were inserted, they then proceeded to make rather heavy weather of the defence. Six bowlers were utilised, yet professional Dene Hills, having taken four wickets for 11 runs from 10 overs the previous Saturday at Watsonians, found himself surplus to requirements. The feeling may have been that it was a seamer’s wicket - supported perhaps by the non-use also of slow bowler Dougie Wylie - or that Greenock were sufficiently in charge not to need his frugal economy (a dangerous assumption if the case), but Greenock never got the same advantage from the Fox Street End that visiting professional Cedric English enjoyed. Scrapping the draw has its pros and cons. The principal advantage is that sides batting second can no longer simply block for a draw from an early stage in what they feel to be a futile chase. The main disadvantage is that the bowling is negative and the fielding defensive. On Saturday, after a night of heavy rainfall on Thursday, the side winning the toss was always going to insert the opposition on a slow wicket. It certainly wasn’t a badly affected track, but the ball did lift more off a length at one end in particular. A combination of wind and sunshine meant it was only going to get better as the day progressed. The hosts nevertheless began at a very respectable rate of between four and five per over, despite the early loss of Neil MacRae, third over, and Ian Stanger, ninth, each playing across the line to full length English deliveries. Neither could blame the pitch. When the latter departed it was 35 for two. Dene Hills and Jason Borgas began the recovery and when Hills, who had batted steadily for 49, was out to a low catch at midwicket in the 27th over, it was a healthy 87 for three. Darryl Anderson joined the productive Borgas at the wicket and these two, who had provided the platform for victory the previous week, once again performed with a flourish. Lowrey eventually removed Borgas in the 43rd by which time the pair had put on 83 runs. Twelve runs later Anderson was run out going for a risky second, having notched up 50. He had produced some lovely shots, two fine consecutive fours to leg springing to mind, the first clipped effortlessly off his feet. Shannon Bakes joined Tom Black at the crease and the Tasmanian hit a sparkling 44 off only 20 deliveries in a prolific denouement to the home innings. Thirty runs came off one over by the unfortunate Lowrey in which Bakes struck him for two consecutive sixes. Bakes, supported by Black, wreaked havoc, but worse was to follow for the visitors when their Scotland opening bat Bryn Lockie let a Black mid-off drive struck fiercely in the air slip through his hands. He fell to the ground as the ball smacked him on the cheek and was eventually taken to Inverclyde Royal where, fortunately, no break was revealed. Four stitches were inserted in the wound, however, and the swelling to his face was such that he took no further part in play, a considerable blow in more ways than one. It was substitute fielder Jason Borgas who took an outfield catch to remove Black off the final delivery, Bakes having departed one run earlier to a slower Thornton delivery. The partnership for the sixth wicket had put on 68 in just over four overs. The chase centred round Carlton professional English. As long as he remained at the crease there was an outside chance of a shock win, but only Coutts provided real back-up. There were flurries by Thornton and Burns but, when the latter was bowled by Anderson shortly after having struck him over his head for six, the game was effectively over. Lowrey was run out then Hussain was superbly caught by Stuart McDonald, running across from long-on to hold the ball in front of the sight screen. English racked up a thoroughly deserved century with a four round the corner off Bakes, only to hole out to the same shot off the next ball, Borgas securing the catch with over two overs left for play. How the match would have panned out had Lockie been fit to play his part in the second innings can only be a matter of conjecture, but Greenock will face stiffer challenges from stronger batting line-ups this season. Their response will need to be a touch more convincing.

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11 May 2002 09:00

Ready for action

TOMORROW One2One Greenock Hockey Club will take their place in the Scottish Cup Final for the first time in their history. Watsonian’s will provide the opposition at Peffermill in Edinburgh in what promises to be a highly charged and emotional game. The Edinburgh side have already played the locals twice this season in the Spektra Systems National League Division Two. Greenock ended up on the losing side on both occassions, suffering 5-0 and 4-3 reversals. However, coach Ian Henderson insists his men have nothing to fear and sees no reason why the sorcery of the cup cannot rear its head and inspire the Glenpark men to victory. "We have started each game this season with a distinct game plan," he said. "When we have kept to it, we have been successful. "I can’t stress enough to the team how we must compose ourselves and concentrate on the task in hand." Greenock went into last weekend's semi-final with a plan and it worked. Against Bon Accord MBC last Saturday One2One simply out-fought and out-though their opponents. They were first to every ball and played some of their best hockey of a memorable season. One player who will walk out for Greenock tomorrow and who already has a Scottish Cup winners medal is Iain Phillips. “Winning the cup the first time was an incredible experience," he said, "but winning with my current team would be even sweeter in the twilight of my career." If Glenpark do win tomorrow they will become only the second team to ever hold both the Scottish Cup at hockey and cricket. Ian Stanger led the cricket men to victory against Grange last August and he took time out from his preparations for his side's clash with Carlton tomorrow to speak to the Telegraph, "It's fantastic that they've made it to the final," he said. "One or two of the cricketers play for the team so that's great and all I've told them is to go out and enjoy it because it's an achievement in itself just reaching the final." Henderson is able to welcome back former coach Mark Robertson. Robertson has kept his promise that he would return from Australia if the side made it through to the final. His return is likely to buoy the squad ahead of the final, and supplies the short corner team with the sort of firepower that has been lacking in recent weeks. With 16 players allowed in the squad for the weekend, Henderson has opted to name the squad as last week plus Robertson. Graeme Quigley, Danny Giles and Ross Slater, however, all still face late fitness tests. Quite simply this is Greenock Hockey Club’s first chance of winning a national honour. Hopefully it will prove to be so, and hopefully it will not be their last. Only the right mentality and perseverance throughout the game will deliver the desired result, but all players are aware of how great an opportunity this is.

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9 May 2002 09:00

Mighty Marshall

KAREENA Marshall capped a fantastic weekend for the Marshall family at the weekend when she starred for Scotland at the badminton Under-15 Home International at the weekend. While her brother William was playing a leading role in One2One Greenock Hockey Club's Scottish Cup semi-final win in Dundee against Bon Accord MBC, Kareena was in Cardiff leading Scotland to victory. The 15-year-old, winning her fourth cap for her country, skippered the side to the overall title. Scotland started off on Friday with a tough match against England. It was a memorable match for Kareena and the rest of the team as they beat the Auld Enemy 7-3. That left Scotland only needing to beat Ireland and Wales in their remaining two matches to win the tournament for the first time. They did, 7-3 and 9-1 respectively, and it was left to Kareena to lift the trophy. Kareena and doubles partner Julie Boyd of Fauldhouse, who are now ranked in the top eight in Europe, were unbeaten in all three matches. Following the team event, which ran from Friday to Saturday, the players from all four countries then battled it out for individual and doubles honours and Kareena picked up a hat-trick of medals. The Greenock Academy pupil won gold in the doubles with Boyd but had to settle for silver and bronze in the mixed doubles and girls' singles respectively. Next up for Kareena is a switch of sports. In June she will line-up for the Scotland Under-16 hockey team when they take on Belgium, Ireland and Wales. Kareena will then join William at the School of Sport in Glasgow.

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7 May 2002 09:00

Watsonians bowled over

Greenock 186 for 7wkts; Watsonians 103. GREENOCK got their Premier League season off to a flying start in Edinburgh on Saturday, defeating the home side by 83 runs and confirming their status as many people’s favourites for the title. It may be a little presumptious on the strength of one victory over one of the lesser lights in the division to talk of championship success, but this display merely confirmed that the Glenpark men are a side with something many others lack, genuine strength in depth. Their front three batsmen effectively ‘failed’, but overseas amateur Jason Borgas, in partnership with Darryl Anderson, laid the middle order foundation for a revival upon which the ultimate victory was based. Shannon Bakes, Dougie Wylie and Tony Judd all chipped in and the final total on the wide expanses of Myrefield looked eminently defendable. Watsonians had bowled tightly and generally fielded exceptionally well, but they must have felt that, given their start, they had let the opposition off the hook. Stronach’s four for 32 off 14 overs, supported by Gonal’s two for 36 off 15 overs, provided the backbone to the hosts’ bowling effort, but 35 extras is a statistic which must concern the home team. Hills was first wicket down, caught at third man driving, MacRae fell to a fine cover catch low down and when Stanger was out to a half shot to the slower ball home hopes must have soared. Then began the revival, and Borgas and Anderson put on 56 before Anderson, caught between two minds, holed out at mid-off. Borgas was out hitting across the line, Black was bowled and Wylie fell leg before in the final chase before a respectable total of 186 was established at the interval. In reply Watsonians began steadily. At 61 without loss in 23 overs there were was a contemplative, if not concerned, air to the visiting support as they ambled round the environs. That was when a defining moment arrived to shape the game’s outcome, Ian Stanger taking an excellent outfield catch to swallow up professional James Henderson off Hills’ slow bowling. His opening partner, David McLean was cleaned up by Tony Judd and, when McCallum and Spiers followed to Judd and Hills respectively, both trapped leg before, it was 76 for four. Watsonians faced a long haul back but, led by Johannes Mans, they scraped and scrabbled to 99 before Mans was run out. It then became a rout, the last five wickets falling for an addition of four runs with just over 10 overs remaining of play. With excellent figures of four for 11 off 10 overs, professional Dene Hills provided the top bowling display of the afternoon. Greenock’s gauntlet has been thrown down. It will take a stronger side than Watsonians to pick it up with any sense of purpose.

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7 May 2002 09:00

Pacers are the champions

Greenock Pacers 102, Dumbarton Suns 43 GREENOCK Pacers secured their second league championship in successive seasons with this comprehensive defeat of Dumbarton Suns in their final game of the season. A much improved display to that in last week’s semi-final defeat to Oatlands saw Pacers outplay the Suns in every department. It was the visitors, though, who took an early lead which they maintained until three minutes before the end of the first quarter. With the Suns leading 14-13 Tim Burges added a field goal to previous scores by Scott Bradley and Morrison to give the local side their first lead of the game at 15-14. Dumbarton couldn’t find the basket again in the quarter and Pacers finished with a seven point advantage. Pacers opened the second period with a Bryan Howell lay up before Scott Bradley and Mitch McFarlane added further points. The home side steadily increased their lead as the period progressed and the visitors were finding it tough to break down the Pacers pressure offence. The Suns had no answer to Pacers’ fast break play and, as half time approached, Bradley fired home two free shots to give the Greenock men a healthy lead at 43-24. With he game virtually over, Pacers set out to secure the victory during the third period. They ran their fast break with Howell and Stephen Brown benefiting from the outlet passes which allowed them to run the floor with ease. The visiting defence was destroyed time and again by a series of fine passing and good shot selection. Again the men from across the water had no answer to the Pacers relentless pressure and were outscored by 34 points to 10 as Pacers powered into a 77-34 lead going into the fourth. Dumbarton tried manfully to keep the score respectable as play entered the final period, but again they struggled to keep pace as the local side dominated at both ends of the court. Grant Morrison capped a fine display to score what proved to be Pacers' final basket of the season with a simple lay in after passing the ball around his waist as he strode past the last defender. The score also took Greenock's total past the 100 mark. With the Suns eclipsed, Pacers celebrated another fine season in which they lifted the Second Division title and reached the semi-final of the Strathclyde Cup. This has been a fine achievement for a club which is only five years old and has only been competing in league competition for four seasons. Pacers now look forward to competing in Division One next year. This will be a tough although exciting prospect as most clubs in the top flight also have teams competing in the National League set-up.  All at Greenock Pacers thank game and refreshment sponsors, T-Mobile and Eddie McAnerney respectively, the staff at Notre Dame High School and staff at both Greenock and Ravenscraig Sports Centres for their support during the year.

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4 May 2002 09:00

Six are axed

NEW Morton manager Dave McPherson has fired the first shots in his swift revolution at Cappielow. To kick-off his new regime McPherson has confirmed the axing of six first team squad members. Chris Aitken, Gavin Redmond, Paul Wright, John Gibson, Scott Miller and Garry Tweedie have all been shown the door by the new Morton boss. The news comes less than 24 hours after McPherson was revealed to the press as the new boss yesterday morning. The sudden release of the unfortunate six is part of a radical pruning programme which McPherson hopes will enable him to bring in several new faces. "I want to make changes," confirmed the new manager. "We need to make changes which is why I've decided to let some players go." McPherson also revealed that Stewart Greacen, on loan at Cappielow all this season, would be returning to Livingston. The defender missed Morton's last 14 games of the season after picking up a knee injury that required an operation and faces a fight over the summer to be fit in time for the start of next season. One man who isn't on his way, however, is Mel Bottiglieri. The Canadian, a target for the boo-boys for much of this season, has done enough since reverting to left back to impress McPherson and the pair will discuss a new deal when Bottiglieri returns from his homeland later this month. Three-year deals, meanwhile, have been signed by Craig Coyle, Scott Bannerman, David McGregor, Sean Curran and Marco Maisano. Although former Scotland and Rangers defender McPherson has already identified the areas where his squad needs strengthening, he has yet to pinpoint particular players that he would like to bring in. "I'm waiting now for the free list to come out which should be over the next week," he revealed. "There's going to be a lot of players available." McPherson realises that midfield is an area that needs some attention, but he is also on the lookout for an experienced centre half, a winger and at least one more striker. "First and foremost I want players who have the right attitude, are fit, and are prepared to work hard," he continued. "Then if we can get someone in who is creative we can do well. Fitness is a problem though, I don't think we were fit enough last season." At yesterday's press conference the new Morton manager had highlighted the need for any potential signings to live in, or be prepared to re-locate to, the Glasgow area. "It's important that all the players are able to train together and learn to work as a unit," he said. McPherson also revealed yesterday that he, along with new youth team boss Stephen Frail, will register as player next season although it is highly unlikely that either man will feature in the first team. Former Morton ’keeper David Wylie returns to the club as the new goalkeeper coach. The new assistant-manager, meanwhile, will be named next week. It is believed that he will add experience to the relatively raw management team. Morton chairman Douglas Rae was keen to point out at yesterday's press conference that, contrary to speculation in the national media, the club are in no danger. "Morton are here and they are here to stay," he said.

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3 May 2002 09:00

Dave's the man

DAVE McPherson was named as the new Morton manager at a press conference at Cappielow this morning. The 38-year-old former Scotland and Rangers defender has been handed the task of leading the club on a full-time basis by Morton chairman Douglas Rae even though he was unable to halt the slide into the Third Division after taking over from Peter Cormack in mid-March. Speaking to the Telegraph this morning, McPherson admitted that he couldn't wait to get started, adding that it had always been his ambition to go into management. "It's something I feel I am cut out to do and I'm relishing the challenge," he said. "I've been lucky enough to be successful as a player but now I want to be successful as a manager." One of the first tasks facing the new boss is deciding which of the several out of contract Morton players to keep. That decision, McPherson said, would be made in the next 24 hours. There will not, however, be a mass clear-out as the manager believes there are men at Cappielow around whom he can build a squad capable of winning promotion next season. "I'm not going to make changes for the sake of it, they will be ones that will improve the team. "We're not going to underestimate anyone in the Third Division, but I have always said that we have the nucleus of a good squad here," said the manager. "We will add to that in the summer so that we're able to mount a realistic challenge next season." Meanwhile, McPherson admitted that it was a blow that the team had missed out on a Second Division life-line yesterday when First Division Airdrie were put into liquidation. The move means Stenhousemuir, who finished just one point above Morton, stay in the Second Division despite ending the season in the relegation-zone. "It would have been great if we could have stayed up," he said, "but that's in the past now, we've got to start concentrating on the future."

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1 May 2002 09:00

Bronze for John

LOCAL boxer John Simpson faces an anxious wait to discover whether he has made it into the Scottish Commonwealth Games squad after only managing a bronze medal at the Four Nations Tournament in Killarney. Simpson, who fights for Port Glasgow Victoria and is the Scottish Amateur featherweight champion, lost to Ireland's Steven Ormond in the semi-finals before beating Welshman Peter Ashton in the third place box-off. After being laid low by a heavy cold during the week leading up to the Four Nations, Simpson admitted that his preparations for his opening bout could have been better. "I wasn't right at all for the first fight," he confessed. "I had a head cold and I was so tired by the end of the third round that I could hardly lift my gloves. "I wouldn't like to say that I could have beaten him had I been 100 per cent, because he beat me fair and square on the day, but I could have done better." Simpson lost the fight 12-3 after four two minute rounds. The gap between the two had been only three points up to the third round at which point John began to tire. The local lad confessed that he then considered pulling out of the box-off for the bronze medal the following day. "After the defeat I was thinking 'what's the point' but in the morning I felt a lot better and decided to fight," he added. It was a gamble and when John found himself 4-1 down at the end of the first round it began to look as though he had made the wrong decision. However, the Scottish champion dominated the next three rounds to take the bout 15-11 and secure the bronze medal. Ormond lost the final to Englishman David Mulholland who stopped his opponent in the first round with a body shot. Simpson now knows that he will have to impress the selectors on his next Scotland outing against Canada. He flies across the Atlantic a week today for that one. After that he will have one more opportunity in a Box-Am tournament in Tenerife on 26 May. "I've still got a good chance of making the squad," said Simpson. "Obviously if I had got gold or silver in Ireland it would have helped, but I can still do it. "The Scotland team manager Donald Campbell thinks we'll be taking eight or nine boxers to Manchester and I've heard that I'm number seven on his list so I need to make sure I stay there." Simpson faces a battle out of the ring also as he bids to make it to Manchester. As is the case with any amateur sportsman, finance, or lack of it, is a regular problem for John. The 19-year-old is currently studying for an HNC in Sport and Fitness at James Watt College and as a result struggles to fund his boxing. "Everything costs in this game," he said. "I've been lucky that my club have paid half of the £240 that it's costing me to go to Tenerife but everything adds up and on top of all the trips I still need to buy my own gear. "If I was in England then I would picked up about £30,000 worth of sponsorship for being the national champion. Up here people just aren't interested."

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