Sunday, July 13, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 2: Montrose v St Johnstone

As a Montrose season ticket holder, I spend most of my football spectating being "entertained" by shite like Forfar and Dumbarton (apologies to Rab and The Tomahawk Kid).

But pre-season tends to bring more illustrious opposition looking for an easy warm-up match against lesser opponents, as has been the case in the past week, when both Dundee and St Johnstone have rolled onto Links Park's plastic pitch.

Dundee's squad was notable for including Rab Douglas, a former Celtic goalkeeper and Scotland international. And St Johnstone's side also included a couple of big names, former Dundee United striker Collin Samuel and erstwhile Chelsea midfielder Jody Morris.

Samuel was hopeless. He looked like he could barely stand up for most the of the match, spending most of it tripping over his own feet and shanking the ball out of play. If St Johnstone are pinning their hopes on him rattling in the goals that will take them back to the Premier League, they're in trouble.

Meanwhile, Morris is one of those players it's easy to dislike. Along with his besht mate John Terry, he was infamously spotted abusing American tourists at Heathrow Airport within hours of the collapse of the Twin Towers; he was previously arrested for sexual assault, though the charges were later dropped; and he received a two-year suspended jail sentence for drunk-driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

Curiously, Morris' off-field profile has grown as his career has floundered - he's moved from Chelsea and the fringes of the England squad to Leeds, Rotherham and Millwall, and now finds himself slumming it in the second tier of Scottish football.

It's very rare that players with European Cup Winners Cup and FA Cup winners medals turn up at Links Park. Did Morris look exceptional against a team containing part-time players who spend more time sawing wood than playing football?

Nope. Once again, it was Montrose's John Baird who caught the eye, the young striker opening the scoring with an audacious 35-yard lob quarter of an hour into the match.

St Johnstone were undeniably the better side for 70-odd minutes, but that is to be expected, given that they're a full-time side. Less expected was the final score of 1-1, a testament to a solid backline that Montrose will hope can push them to promotion in the coming season.

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