Saints v Saints preview

Last updated : 11 September 2009 By Stuart Gillespie
The trouble can all be traced back to May 12, 2001 when we were battling relegation and our rivals, Dundee United, were in Perth. Saintees keeper Alan Main had been telling anyone who'd listen before the game that it would break his heart if United - his former club - went down. So you can imagine what the feelings in Paisley were like when United turned around a 2-0 half time deficit to win 3-2 and send us down, with Main almost throwing the ball in the net at times.

Foolishly, the two clubs decided it would be good to have a pre-season friendly a few months later. Main got the predictable reaction from the home fans and each side managed to get two players sent off. In a friendly! St. Johnstone almost managed to repeat this trick themselves a few years later when they finished with eight men, and even a meaningless end of season game in 2006 had a bit of a nasty edge to it due to what had gone on before. It really can be blood and thunder stuff at times.

With St. Johnstone being the SPL newboys this season, this is the sort of home game we have to win if we want to avoid a repeat of last season, along with games in Paisley against the likes of Falkirk and Hamilton. This may sound disrespectful, but I'd imagine many fans of the other three clubs will have the same view on their home games against us. To progress, we have to start taking wins at home against the other bottom half clubs.

It hasn't been the normal boring international break thanks to the excitement on Monday when the club was put up for sale. In theory, it shouldn't make much difference but you can never be too sure of these things until a game has been played. Hugh Murray is the only player still around from the last time the club was sold and the different between the two situations is night and day. We have fantastic facilities, no debt and are in the SPL. Now we just need to put some results together to tempt a rich Arab to part with some cash.

The fortnight off has helped clear up the injury situation, with Chris Smith the only one still out - although Chris Innes and Mo Camara aren't fit enough to play yet. The good news is that Lee Mair is, meaning the back five (I'm including the keeper) will just about pick themselves. Murray, Dorman and Stephen McGinn should occupy three of the midfield slots, with the other going to Steven Thomson or Garry Brady - unless we decide to play a winger. Up front it'll probably be Billy Mehmet and Michael Higdon, with Craig Dargo the only other genuine option incase we go for a forward line offering strength and pace.

That's almost certainly what our own defence will be up against. Kenny Deuchar and Collin Samuel are a good combination for the Saintees and their different attributes should cause problems for most defences at this level. Murray Davidson, who arrived in the summer from crisis club Livingston, seems to have adapted well to the SPL, while Jody Morris may be a bit old but he's also still got bags of skill from his time at Stamford Bridge. Martin Hardie and Paul Sheerin are also handy in midfield, while the defence is reasonably solid.

Then there's Mr Main. He will, as usual, receive a lot of abuse tomorrow and it's about time we stopped it. Not that I doubt the reasons for the booing, it's just that - like Paul Hartley - he always seems to have a blinder against us when he gets jeered. Perhaps we should start cheering and clapping him at every opportunity in the hope it would have the opposite effect.