2022/23 – St Johnstone 2 v 3 Hearts

McDiarmid Park, SPFL Premier League, 28/12/22

Me still 261, Wee Man 134

St Johnstone Football Club

Founded – 1884 (or was it?)

Nickname – The Saints

Honours Scottish Cup – 2013/14 and 2020/21. Scottish League Cup – 2020/21. Scottish Challenge Cup – 2007/08. Scottish Second Tier – 1923/24, 1959/60, 1962/63, 1982/83, 1989/90, 1996/97 and 2008/09

Random Fact – Although the club say their foundation came in 1884, this comes from when the cricket club were looking to fill in the winter months, there is evidence to say that the meeting held to suggest the founding of the football club came on the 24th of February 1885. The first match was then played a couple of weeks later on the 7th of March 1885.

Some may find it strange that we found ourselves at a ground watching two teams from the league of the team we support with neither being our team. Well its not the first time (Livingston v Hearts has been done in the past). We were here for two reasons. One being , what we thought would be happening today didn’t happen. Then two, there is a Christmas present that Wee Man received from a mate of mine. A poster which effectively a scratch card of all grounds from the Premier to the HFL and LL. Obviously this triggered a new challenge to complete the list(barring rangers and celtic)and MacDiarmid Park was the 39th panel to be scratched off (out of 77). This at his request as our original non-fitba plans never came to fruition.

A combination of the weather being a bit on the chilly and wet side and the lateness of the decision to head the 104 miles down the road, pre match shenanigans were just tea at the Broxburn Farm where the portions could feed a bloody army. Fine but I was fit to burst after my Smothered Chicken. Due to being pretty early we parked across the road from McDiarmid and got some Mario Karting done on Wee Man’s Switch for half an hour listening to Sportsound as there not much else you can do in that neck of Perth in the pissing rain. Then the short hop skip and a jump across the road and to the game.

It didn’t start too well as we were standing in a queue to enter the East Stand which didnt seem to be moving, then the bright spark heading the queue finally after a few minutes turned round and announced, “there’s no attendant here”, why it took so long for him to notice I don’t know, but it led to us joining another even bigger queue to stand outside getting wet. Not to worry though as what we were away to witness was a quality game for a neutral. I genuinely came away from it glad I was in attendance. It had a lot going on. Penalties galore, decent goals, Stevie May being ace, diving, a good atmosphere and Willie Collum being…..well Willie Collum.

The game started fast under the drizzle and Hearts were screaming for a penalty when Ginnelly hit the deck in the first minute. I think it would have been soft if given by Collum. Hearts then immediately hit the post through Jorge Grant who really should have had the Edinburgh side in front as Saints keeper Matthews was already down as Grant hit it . Hearts were clearly the better team and St Johnstone couldn’t get a foot in the game at all. Ginnelly was causing problems in between dives and the Saints back line couldn’t get to grips with him. On Ginnelly he was part of a ludicrous decision by Willie Collum when he was tackled brilliantly by Graham Carey. As clean as you like. Not in the script for the Willie Collum show though, as the whistler could not wait to get his card out and book the Saints man. It was a sign of things to come. Then came the opener and Collum had his part to play in it too. A ball was swung in to Grant who tried to flick the ball further into the box but Saints defender McGowan stuck up an arm and blocked it. It was as obvious as they come from our angle, from where Collum was standing it was obvious, from the camera angles I have now seen it was obvious yet VAR could not make the decision in two minutes then Collum took another minute to give it. It was fucking stonewall. There was absolutely no doubt about it. Yet there minutes were wasted on it. Lawrence Shankland who was make shift captain now that Craig Gordon is missing for the foreseeable after his attempted and failed Patrick Battiston on Steven Fletcher at the weekend stepped up. The hot streak striker put the visitors ahead. Hearts were in the ascendancy and looked like they would score again. Ginnelly saw a lot of the ball and looked to make things happen. He also saw a lot of the ground as he is a diving, lightweight, fairy, fud . Snodgrass was also involved on the ball a lot too. The second did come and the ex-Scotland man played a key role when he played in Devlin who then fed Forest who did well to finish under pressure. But it looked far too easy as the Saints seemed to open up and allow this to happen. Hearts were looking good for the win but the Saints were unlucky not to get one back when from out of nowhere Stevie May had a snap shot just off target and going by the reaction of ex-St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark who is now occupying the Hearts net, he was well beaten. There was to be an even bigger opportunity for the home side when VAR awarded them a penalty not without calling the referee over, and under the watchful eye of Hearts boss, Robbie Neilson (now with a shorn head rather than the combed by a mock chop look) Collum awarded the kick . I could not see from our vantage point and didn’t have a clue what it was given for at the time but it turns out it was handball and the correct decision now seeing a replay. Graham Carey stepped up and the ball landed closer to Luncarty than it did the goal. A shocking attempt. But the Saints weren’t finished for the half and May was again unlucky when he found himself in behind but with his angle narrowing he let fly only to see it fly past the far post. Then in an almost identical move May was in again but elected to cross. From where we were it looked like a tap in for Ali Crawford but somehow it didn’t go in, it may even have hit the frame of the goal. I really don’t know what happened neither did the punters around us going by the mumblings.

HT 0 v 2

The second half started with another Collum howler when Dre Wright was clearly elbowed in the face by Sibbick. It was clear and the Saints man was left holding his face on the turf. Obviously Willie Collum missed this and nothing was done. However he did not miss the clear foul from Snodgrass leading to St Johnstone’s second penalty of the night. Snodgrass was booked(very important piece of info) and best player on the park in my eyes Stevie May stepped up and made no mistake. Game on. Nicky Clark was soon unlucky not to have equalised after when a good team move culminated in the striker being played in by May and with back to goal, he turned well getting a shot away which went inches wide. St Johnstone looked far stronger in the second half compared to the first and always seemed like they could nick something. Especially with May being a constant pain in the ass. Then up stepped Willie Collum again. The ball was in the St Johnstone half on the by line and a coming together saw the ball ricochet up Carey went in for it but Snodgrass went in at almost head height with his feet clattering Carey. Surely a second yellow for the Hearts man and chief architect of play on the night. Snodgrass stayed down cleverly and Collum incredibly decided not book him and let him away scot free. His officiating on the night was extremely poor, many daft little things or being sucked in by Ginnelly and his theatrics but nothing too detrimental prior to this, more just mot getting simple decisions correct. However this was costly. This meant, instead of the whole dynamic of the game changing in St Johnstone’s favour Hearts were unpunished and in typical fashion, scored a third within seconds when substitute Barrie McKay scored a cracking effort from range after a wee mazy run. This should have knocked the stuffing out of the Saints but they kept going for it and were rewarded when after being caught dreaming on the ball Shankland was smashed by Gordon (I think) fairly and firmly which led to Jamie Murphy running through and grabbing a Saints second. Game on again and it really was with the home side pressing for an equaliser and they just about did get it when Mitchell hit the bar in stoppage time with a header. Clark was well beaten but the ball kissed the bar and landed in the Hearts fans behind the goal. This leaving the three points to head back to Tynecastle and to be honest, deservedly so.

In the car on the way home Wee Man said he was glad he was there as it was “exciting and had heaps of pens”. I think that justifies what I was saying at the top. We may have had no dog in this fight, we may also support a team from the same division, but at the end of the day, were are fitba fans. If we get entertained at a game whether at St Johnstone v Hearts or Banks o Dee v Fraserburgh or Ellon Thistle v Ellon Amateurs, it is mission accomplished and if that fitba daft wee boy praises the game it makes it even more important no matter who is playing.

Entrance – Me £24, Wee Man £0(take note Aberdeen)


Pie – £9.30, Pie, coffee, Fanta, Galaxy and crisps

Pint – £5.30 Birra Moretti, Broxburn Farm

Score Prediction – Me 1 v 1, Wee Man 1 v 2

Season Score Prediction Total – Me 1 v 1 Wee Man

A late but very worth while plan
Under the lights in Perth
Pre match niceties
Pyro remnants floats above McDiarmid after the Hearts second
Stevie May stepped up to make it 1 v 2
Another one scratched

Published by pacman1903

Once a football fan. Now a football nerd

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