As someone who was brought up in Scotland for most of my early childhood years, with a Partick Thistle supporting Grandad and Rangers supporting Dad, the SPL has always interested me. To celebrate our neighbours north of the border national holiday, I have taken a look at how some recent Town players have got on playing in the SPFL.
The club we have the most in common with may surprise you. Although we have had the likes of Hay, Hutchinson, Caddis, Ferry and Misun (well at least I think we had Misun anyway) Aberdeen can all but be classed as our squad of outcasts. Rory Fallon and Jerel Ifil played for them previously whereas attackers Miles Storey and Adam Rooney are currently on the books at the Dons.
Jerel Ifil previously spoke briefly of his time at Aberdeen during the Q+A with fanzine, The Washbag https://thewashbag.com/2016/04/20/qa-with-jerel-ifil/
One Dons fan when asked about Rooney said “After a successful spell at Inverness, Aberdeen is Adams second club in Scotland after a few years down south. He is a penalty box striker with an impressive goal return. He scored the winning penalty to give us our first piece of silverware for 19 years in the League Cup Final a couple of years back and followed that up by being top scorer in the division 2 years running. Always likely to score goals and a reliable penalty taker, Adam is definitely one of the best players currently in Scotland”.
Storey had similar success and seemed to score goals for fun when he joined Inverness on loan last season. Some down here even suggested he should be recalled and given another chance to prove himself. He was named on the bench for this seasons league cup final defeat to Celtic at Hampden, a game Rooney started.
St Johnstone are another side to have housed a number of ex-players. Rory Fallon, Danny Invincible and ‘Super’ Sam(my) Parkin have all been on the books in recent years.
Parkin also spent time at Queen of the South and St Mirren. Legend is a term branded about too easily these days but in the hearts and minds of Swindon fans, Sam is a legend for our club. Having spoken to a couple of QOS fans, it seems he is fondly remembered there too. Paul Fraser took a few moments to remember him “remember big parkin playing 2nd half of the season at Palmerston good strong player scored 2 goals on debut disappointed we didn’t sign him following year and he went to St mirren. “He was a very strong, physical player who brought lots of players into the game. Held the ball up well and had a good eye for goal scoring 6 from 17.”
The fans who were most open to discussion regarding their thought and memories were Kilmarnock fans about Aussie star Danny Invincible. The attacker played there between 2003-2010. Members of the Kilmarnock FC Facebook fan page said the following:
“Injured on his debut vs Partick, David Lilley smashed him”
“One of my all-time favourite Killie players. Reminds me of the good old days. Most frustrating out there but you had to love his hair, name and how amazing he was at running aimlessly into the corner”
“In and out type of player. Great one week, awful the next”.
“You could tell inside about a minute if he was going to have a good game. If his first touch of the ball was bad, he’d have a stinker. If it was good, he’d be a threat. I remember him having a great game in a 4-2 win away to Hibs, when I think we were down to 10-men. Also remember a brilliant solo goal in a midweek cup tie (?) but I couldn’t tell you who it was against! Met him a couple of times, and he always seemed intelligent and well-spoken. I liked him, but he was frustrating and a lot of the East Stand boo-boys couldn’t stand him!”
“Always worked hard but had limited ability, felt he was probably unfairly treated by most as he could be frustrating to watch at times”
“Big Danny was a whole hearted player, sometimes brilliant other times not so, but always gave his all. Kilmarnock has had a lot worse. Some killie fans saw him as Mr Marmite I saw him as an asset to our team. Good luck Danny and thanks for the memories”
“If it was sun splitting the skies +10 degrees outside and not a bit of rain inside he’d be unplayable the slight bit of Scottish weather and he couldn’t be arsed. That’s what I always thought anyway”
“I remember watching killie train at their training camp in Italy called Il ciocco in Tuscany. They were doing sprinting drills and surprisingly enough Danny invincible was the fastest player in the team by a long country mile!! From what I can remember of Danny, he was a player that tried his best for killie and scored a lot of goals for a midfielder.”
“I remember a Euro tie with Kaiserslautern at Rugby park. Danny was great up until the last twenty yards, then his nerve would break and he would drag the ball wide. To explain the performance, we were all over them and still got beaten I think 4-0. We just couldn’t score. Invincible was a decent player but like most Killie players liked a glaring miss or three”
It was rumored Invincible was on his way back to Scotland last season with a trial at Dundee. In the second half of last season former Town youth prospect Alex Henshall was also playing for the East Ayrshire outfit.
Two more recent examples of players moving north are Raffaele De Vita and Wes Foderingham. Wes, who without doubt is the best ‘keeper I have seen in a Town shirt, left us after our humiliation at Wembley against Preston and signed for the Glasgow outfit. He has won promotion with Mark Warburton and also played as the then Championship side beat fierce rivals Celtic. Now targeting a place in Europe next season the stopper is thought highly of at Ibrox.
Rangers fan Chris Rawlinson said of the stopper ”Wes Foderingham – not shy in confidence, always looks to try and build the play from the back. Rarely punts the ball up field. Has gone from strength to strength and usually dependable. Has been criticised in some quarters but his defence in front of him sometimes don’t help his cause. Good penalty shot stopper too, and still time on his side so can develop further. Stepped up to the premiership this season and has continued to impress. Some vital and impressive saves already this term. Also keeping the experienced Matt Gilks out the side. Keeps on commanding his area too.”
Daniel Price said “Signing Wes from Swindon is one of the best decisions Mark Warburton has made since taking over the reins at Rangers in my opinion. When he signed there was a video doing the rounds on Facebook of his greatest saves at Swindon and I remember thinking he has the potential to be the best ‘keeper in Scotland. He made some cracking saves in his first competitive game against Hibs but then looked a little shaky in the next few games and was to blame for a few dodgy goals. In our Championship season he made a ridiculous save against Falkirk, it was destined for the postage stamp. I still have no idea how he managed to tip it over. Fod did well in his first Old Firm Derby, making an absolutely crucial save from a Leigh Griffiths free kick.”
“Now back in the Premiership it has been difficult. He does not have the safety net of our strikers scoring for fun. Top that off with having five put past him (mostly not his fault) in his second Old Firm game and now (reserve keeper) Matt Gilks putting in a terrific performance in the third Old Firm game this year. However, he continues to be our no. 1 as he bails our defence out from their juvenile mistakes.”
After leaving Bradford Rafa joined Ross County where he won the Scottish League up. He is now back at Livingston (where Paolo signed him from) and fans have taken to him like a duck to water.
Fan Ryan said “De Vita is getting on good. His first game back he played good even though he lacked game time. He seems to already have the fans behind him. His overall play is pretty amazing. He seems to be able to make something out of a mistake which is good for us this season. He has got experience which will be good for helping the young lads.”
Fellow fan Dave Black said “In fairness, he hasn’t played too much yet! Certainly the hype surrounding his return has created a buzz amongst the livi fans as he was a bit of a fan favourite when he was here first time round. He did have an excellent assist in his first game and grabbed a goal in a cup match over in Ireland but has been out injured the last few weeks. Still early days but he definitely adds an extra bit of quality to the squad as a whole and a tremendous option to have.”
The reason there are no Scottish players in this list is, I also decided to name my best Scottish 11 since I started supporting Town (2003-04). I am aware many of the people reading this will have supported Town a lot longer than me so who should make the all-time Scottish 11? Let us know in the comments or via Facebook or Twitter.
DR – Paul Caddis – Town apps (92), goals (6) – Arguably the best right back during my time supporting Town. Only Nath Thompson has really challenges that. Solid engine, great work rate, decent delivery and a leader.
DC – Scott Cuthbert – Town Apps (96), goals (5) – Was very hit and miss but was very good with an experienced partner next to him and had the tools to be a solid centre back.
DC – Gordon Greer – Town apps (72), goals (3) – Not many come close to offering us what he did during his time at SN1 and I would have him right up the top of best centre backs I have seen.
DL – Jay McEveley – Town apps (79), goals (0) – Won me round. Very much a player I was happy to admit I was wrong about. I never got the fuss, but Jay was solid and dependable and what more could you want in a defender.
RW – Jon-Paul McGovern – Town apps (177), goals (12) – Every team needs characters and JP was definitely one of them. Always offered a decent delivery too.
CM – Simon Ferry – Town apps (175), goals (9) – In terms of work rate and determination I do not think I have seen someone play in a Town shirt who offered so much. He seemed to be the player managers did not want but ended up relying on.
CM – Craig Easton – Town apps (87). Goals (8) – Another solid, dependable player and for me second best holding midfielder during my time supporting Town behind Douglas. How we could do with a player like him now.
LW – Matt Ritchie – Town apps (129), goals (27) – I am aware this is a cop out as he is as English as most of us, but any excuse to remember just how good the Scotland International is, is worth taking.
St – Lee Peacock – Town apps (128), goals (21) – Loves Swindon and another player I could not leave out of this side. Versatile too which helps. One of the biggest fan favourites over the last decade in my opinion.
ST – Blair Sturrock – Town apps (57), goals (9) – Possibly the biggest surprise to have made this team. Despite many fans views on him he was a trier and I respected that.
The Eagle eyed among you will have noticed I do not have a keeper, that is because I cannot think of us having one in my time. Unless Will Henry pops us with a Scottish grandparent, I will entrust Cuthbert and Greer to allow no shots on goal.
Happy St Andrew’s day to Town players and fans, past and present and thank you to all the fans who took part.
Now to celebrate with a Tunnocks tea cake, caramel wafer and 2L bottle of Irn Bru.