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Motherwell road show should lead to Europe

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Jim Spence | 18:28 UK time, Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Motherwell's last venture into European football came to an end against Odense in August of 2010.

I reckon they will be digging out the passports again next season.

I was with them in Nancy back in 2008 when they lost 1-0, with terrific support from around 2000 travelling fans.

Despite the narrow defeat and subsequent home defeat in the second leg, it was a great occasion.

The way Stuart McCall has his Fir Park side playing, it would be a brave soul who would bet against their return to the European stage.

McCall has produced a side which is mentally very tough, particularly away from home.

Seven wins from nine makes them the most successful travellers in the Scottish Premier League behind leaders Rangers.

Motherwell are riding high in the Scottish Premier League

Motherwell are riding high in the Scottish Premier League (pic: SNS)

Recently, I covered the Steelmen's win at Inverness.

Terry Butcher's side should have taken the points, but instead I watched Motherwell storm back from 2-1 down to score twice in the last thirteen minutes.

Last weekend's 3-0 win against a St Johnstone side in fine form was further evidence of the strength of side that McCall has assembled.

They play good football but there is a real mental edge in evidence, which will stand them in good stead for the rest of the campaign.

Omar Daley may not be quite as fast as his fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt but he can fly by most full-backs in the SPL.

Michael Higdon and Jamie Murphy both carry serious goal threat and Keith Lasley, who has looked indomitable when I have seen him this season, has found time to rustle the opposing net four times from his midfield berth.

Well sit eight points behind second-placed Celtic with a game in hand, so can they split the Old Firm?

That is probably asking too much given the enormous gulf in resources between the Glasgow pair and the Fir Park side.

Holding on to third place though, looks like an increasingly good bet.

Both Mark McGhee and then Craig Brown did fine work at the Lanarkshire club.

And Motherwell continue to flourish and prosper under the tutelage of McCall.

Just one defeat in their last ten games tells its own story.

This is a Motherwell side going places.

Europe next stop?


  • Comment number 1.

    Hi Jim thats near 4 half hrs and naebody has blogged yi yet,talk aboot the season o goodwill?

  • Comment number 2.

    Maybe the lack of bloggs jim is because folks are fed up talking about the obvious (OOR GEMME PERIOD).Having just watched St Johnstone v Aberdeen tnite,where the heck is our game going ? Doncaster & Reagan were you watching this ? It,s staring them in the eyes SUMMER FITBAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Less than 5,000 at Saints last 2 home games.Over the years Geoff Brown must have been a magician to keep this club in the black.Clubs who are already in debt losing thousands on late call-off,s etc. If motherwell (FAIR PLAY TO THEM) keep on picking up points the way they have, then that will be the top 3 done & dusted before april zzzzzz.Who cares who wins the league unless your an OF fan.

  • Comment number 3.

    Journalism 101: if you're going to start with a punchy first sentence, at least make sure it's factually correct. Hardly inspires me to read the rest of the article.

  • Comment number 4.

    Jim what have Llanelli, Vlore, Bucharest, Briedablik, Aalesunds and Odense got in common? Motherwell have visited these places to play European football AFTER Nancy and LESS than 3 years ago. Please get your facts right in future Mr Spence. Well seen it's not an argument about either side of the Old Firm.

  • Comment number 5.

    Despite the aparent lack of accuracy in this blog as described at #4, Motherwell are doing well ( please excuse) and may indeed end up third.
    So what, they still have terrible crowds and will sell their best players as soon as an offer comes in.

    If we don't get any comment from Jim in answer to our requests over the last few blogs it'll be time to complain to BBC, perhaps we'll get an explanation then.

  • Comment number 6.

    This blog is closed for comments.

    I'm surprised the blog is still open. It's been almost 24 hours!

  • Comment number 7.


    Crowds are down because football in Scotland is overpriced. It is not just Motherwell's attendances but also that of Celtic and Rangers who win everything. We do sell our players as soon as an offer comes in because that is how we survive as a club. We will always be a selling club and always have been. The old firm are starting to realise that they too are selling clubs.

    Entry in to an SPL match should be no more than £15. Instead my club will Charge St Mirren £20+ on Saturday. Hibs will charge Hearts £28 with a £5 booking fee for the next derby. Celtic will charge £40+ for the next OF (and it will be reversed in the next fixture at Ibrox). The pricing structure needs to be reviewed in the SPL.

  • Comment number 8.

    Only fev bloggers in 24 hoors!
    The auld no-smoking advert springs tae mind.
    C,MON JIMMIE, YI KIN DO BETTER THAN THAT!!!!! (as the young athlete coughs n splutters his wi roond the track)
    #7 Bang on aboot the prices,but we,ve ah done they surveys in oor local rag aboot almost everything fitba.Total wiste o time,cos they muppets in the suites ken better.Said it till i,m blue(no dark blue,lol) in the face,untill fans fae ah clubs boycott(lookin at the crowds we,re nearly there) a weeks fitba to get thru to the suites that the product is crap,they will be quite happy to soldier along untill doomesday.

  • Comment number 9.


    The blogs close after three days for replies, so with shift patterns and the like, depending when I write the blog, I am simply not in a position to reply on occasions.

    However, here I am now. No doubt the Well will have to sell their best players if suitable offers are made. But saying they have poor crowds only emphasise the great job that various managers have done at Fir Park in recent times.

  • Comment number 10.

    #9 AAAARRRGH !!!!!!!!
    That was my scissors
    They thought the ginger hedge had left the planet!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    #7 I'm not knocking Motherwell who have had a good season and I hope they finish
    third at least, as long as they're behind Celtic !!

    I agree that attendances are down everywhere due to a combination of factors
    ticket prices,the economy and the standard of football being the main ones in
    my opinion.
    Every club will be a selling club if the price is right, every player has his price no
    matter who.
    The OF game on 28th December is a sell out despite non season ticket holders
    being charged £40 and the game on tv but wait until the league cup semi final
    comes round, the place will be empty because of the price, TV and the

  • Comment number 12.

    #9 Jim Spence

    Thanks for the response Jim, I was beginning to wonder if you'd been replaced by a computer churning out blogs every week.

    I know there were complaints that some of the old blogs ran for too long but, in the main, there was scope for a fair bit of discussion amongst the posters and a wide variety of topics were debated.
    It also allowed for the fans' opinions to be heard when the debate was about re-organisation or other vital matters.
    Personally I don't prefer the "new" style of blog with a shelf life of 3 days and the possibility, as has been demonstrated by the number of complaints, of no response from you.
    I think this format places too much emphasis on just blogging about anything to get one out and the quality suffers as a result.
    Glad to see that you're ok though.

    As regards Motherwell I find it sad that despite the efforts of John Boyle and his attempted innovations plus various managers from Roberto Martinez to Stuart McCall providing attractive football in the main they still can't attract decent crowds.

    It becomes self defeating when fans don't go because they know that no matter how well their club does it will usually fall at the last hurdle and the better players will be sold so progress isn't actually made.
    It's easy to say that patience on all sides is required but I'm not sure that's possible.

    I salute the 1600 who braved the elements at Perth last night but playing in conditions like that plus the fact that it was on TV doesn't really help the game overall.
    By refusing to introduce a winter break and crazy scheduling of games for Christmas Eve and the OF match on a December night in the middle of winter you do have to wonder if those in charge actually care about the future of the Scottish game.

    I have a 300 mile round trip for home games and I have certainly started to question the wisdom of travelling on several occasions this season where in the past I wouldn't have given it a second thought.

    This is possibly maturity or a late infusion of sense but if I a, season ticket holder and I'm not alone, feel like this something's wrong with the game.

  • Comment number 13.

    Jim keep the blog going there are more teams than the OF

    #5 Cheer up , I hope Motherwell run the OF close this season in the SPL.Chip and your shoulder come to mind re blog moaning

    Motherwell stand as much chance in Europe as the other SPL teams ..... not much chance ... due to the poor standard in Scotland

  • Comment number 14.

    This blog might as well be closed for all the responses it gets. The Darren Fletcher one has 3 pages worth so at least someone related to Scottish football gets discussion. I just watched the Aberdeen goal from Ryan Jack against St Johnstone, was anyone actually at the game?! Sorry, I know this is off topic...

  • Comment number 15.

    morbhoy, 3 days seems a bit harsh to me. I'll make enquiries of the high heid yins and see what can be done to extend it.

  • Comment number 16.


    In actual fact, our attendances are up. A concerted effort was made during the summer (2011) to introduce a number of attractive schemes for Season Tickets holders which yielded an impressive 10% increase in uptake. That followed on from an equally impressive 13% increase the previous season.

    These long-term polices have seen the club increase season ticket holders from 2650 in 2009-10 to over 3,500 this year.

    That has been reflected in attendances at Fir Park; of the first seven home SPL matches so far this season, six have shown a significant increase in numbers – as many as 2361 in the case of the Hearts match – when compared to the corresponding fixture from 2010/11.

    Over 6,000 more fans have watched football at Fir Park this year than at the same stage last season.

    In addition, the club are in the final stages of launching the Well Society, the vehicle to allow the fans to effectively own the club. With the intent of raising 1.5million in additional revenue over and above the year-on-year modest profit we are positing at the minute (6 of the last 7 seasons have returned profit - the only fall was the year Setanta crashed) should ensure the club DO NOT have to sell players when the first offer comes along.

    Motherwell are going great guns under Stuart McCall and Kenny Black at the minute and what a brilliant job they are doing. Equally so, Leeann Dempster, Derek Weir, Andrew Wilson and Jim McMahon have been brilliant for the club off the field and deserve just as much credit for the excellent work they have produced.

  • Comment number 17.

    AlanBatMFC....not to mention the best Public Relations in the SPL

  • Comment number 18.

    I see this article still contains it's innacurate first sentence.

    #16 Spot on.

  • Comment number 19.

    yep jim the ex steelmen are WELL (sorry) worth watching and should get third at a canter. still painful tho that this fine stuff can only scrape over 4k regulars. we are down to five over five (clubs with 5k home support) now in the spl poss 6 if we include your terrors. The standard is at an all time low and the players fitness levels appear to get worse by the week. It is an apalling product and repeated four times a season. As appealing as motherwell are can you really see the rump of terracing tams still going spend £100 just to get in to see their chosen ones play motherwell four times in the one season. still as long as the OF scrape their 40k at home nothing will be done I expect.

  • Comment number 20.

    #15 Jim Spence

    Cheers Jim, perhaps then we can get back to the levels we used to have on here.

  • Comment number 21.


    Thanks for the info and I'm glad numbers are up.

    I didn't intend to belittle Motherwells eforts or their ability to hang on to players I was using them as an example of just how dire the situation in Scottish football is when no matter how well a team is playing the crowds are not large and the likelihood exists that they will have to sell their better players.

    As has been pointed out at #19 the number of clubs with regualr attendances below 6000 is growing and that means that the game isn't sustainable in its present state.

    Now is the time to introduce a scheduled winter break, alter the start/end of the season in order to try and play in conditions that will attract spectators in numbers, revitalise the League Cup and perhaps the Scottish Cup also.

    There is no doubt that the game is living well beyond its means at present.

  • Comment number 22.

    @morbhoy it is the problem with Scottish football and why other teams have poor crowds.
    It kills me reading OF fans moan and belittle other crowds when you yourself live 150 miles away.
    It is the social problems in Scotland that hold it's football back fans turning their back on good local teams gloryhunting that and the press being obsessed with the ugly sisters.


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