The latest in the series sees us turn to the recently manager-less Morton to find out if the current players are particularly inept or if the supporters are continually reassuring each other with “you think this is bad, do you remember…?”. Andrew Ward provides the answer with his selections from his days attending Cappielow.
Being a young Morton supporter, my Worst Greenock Morton XI are all players from the last seven or eight years. I put the question to my followers on Twitter, and the response was truly excellent, and worrying and the same time. How it is even possible to fit so many poor players into a team in such a short period of time is just beyond me.
With time, I concluded my research and developed my Worst Greenock Morton XI who will play a 4-1-3-2 formation. This lot would seriously struggle to beat Greenock Juniors, although I think most currently are playing for Greenock Juniors. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my Worst Greenock Morton XI:
Goalkeeper – Colin Stewart
When the name Colin Stewart is mentioned at Cappielow Park nowadays, a cold shudder runs down the spine of the Morton faithful. Colin’s Morton career was a bizarre one to say the least. He made his move to Greenock in the summer of 08’ after two years with fellow First Division outfits, Livingston. The deal, at the time, was greeted with satisfaction.
Things didn’t start promisingly for the ex-Thistle, Ross County and Kilmarnock keeper. His debut against Clyde at Broadwood would be a sign of things to come as his shaky, unprofessional performance would see him sent to the stand for the majority of the 08-09 season. However, after battling his way back into the first team, and earning Morton’s Player of the Season during the 2010-11 season, Colin found himself in between the sticks for the 2011-12 season; a season that will be only remembered for his pathetic attempt at being a ‘goalkeeper’.
The most memorable of mistakes came in a home encounter against Ross County. Like most games that season, Morton were heading for another defeat, with Stewart being unimpressive throughout. With seconds remaining, a dangerous ball was delivered into the ‘Ton box before the Ross County striker headed goal wards. Stewart somehow clawed the ball off the line and onto the bar, much to the delight of the home support. However, Colin’s Morton career was epitomised completely by what would follow.
The ball which was clawed onto the bar fell harmlessly down onto his chest, but instead of clutching it easily, he let it fall helplessly onto his body and into the empty net. Thanks for the memories, Colin. Sadly, we won’t forget them.
Left Back – Ross Forsyth
The left back position has been a big problem for Morton over the past few years. It’s been a position we’ve struggled to find a player who is consistently solid in. Allan Moore thought the signing of Ross Forsyth would change all that. He was wrong. So very, very wrong.
Manager at the time, Allan Moore, had spent many seasons with the thirty-one year-old, as they achieved promotion to the Second Division and then onwards to the First Division. With that in mind, I suppose you could understand why Allan felt he could rely on Ross for the 2011/12 season.
The season itself started brightly for Morton, with Forsyth not really being tested in the opening few games. However, a match that most Morton fans will struggle to forget, and Forsyth too for that matter, really showed the Morton support what type of full-back Ross was. We were completely and utterly thumped my Partick Thistle 5-1, with Forsyth never being within 10 yards of his man throughout. Every attack was directed towards him, and at no point could he deal with any of them.
His Morton career quickly went downhill after that, and being told to find himself a new club at the end of his first season with the club was almost inevitable. Ross will always be remembered at Cappielow, but for all the wrong reasons.
Centre Half – Ryan Harding
Mr Harding spent four seasons with Morton, and I genuinely struggle to remember a game where he actually played well. He made just short of one hundred and twenty-five appearances for the blue and white hoops, but defined the word ‘bomb scare’ fantastically well throughout.
I remember attending hospitality during the 07-08 season at Cappielow. Being a young, eager ‘Ton support, I spent my time watching my hero’s warm up instead of enjoying the fine bar located within the lounge. Centre half pairing at the time, Harding and Stewart Greacen, where warming up by competing 50/50 with kit man, Andy Bryan. Harding was so bad he actually lost the 50/50 challenge with 5’5’ Andy Bryan. That pretty much summed poor auld’ Ryan.
If you were to ask most, if not all, Morton fans how they will remember Harding, it won’t be for the horrific performances each week alongside Greacen, but for scoring the winning goal away to Premier League side Hibernian in the CIS Cup. However, even in that game – which will live long in the memory of all Greenock Morton supporters – he still remained horribly inconsistent throughout.
Ryan Harding: The only player in this Worst Morton XI that will, in years to come, still bring a genuine smile to all Morton supporters.
Centre Half – Jonathan Page
Only six months ago, the name Jonathan Page wouldn’t have been known by Morton supporters. A summer signing from Premier League side, Motherwell, Page arrived at Cappielow with a respected reputation as a no-nonsense defender.
The twenty-three year old the season previous to this had featured in a testy encounter against Norwegian side Aalesunds in which he looked composed and assured throughout. This is NOT the Jonathan Page Morton fans have been ‘privileged’ of seeing at Scappa’.
He’s only appeared twelve times in a Morton jersey, but the centre half easily makes this worst XI. His inability to read the game, control the back line, compete for an aerial challenge, play the most basic pass have all contributed to Morton’s dismal start to the season. Will he improve as the season progresses, along with a new management staff? He could … awk, who am I kidding? He’s not going to improve. He’s awful.
Right Back – Alex Walker
Alex Walker is a defender I’ll always remember and, of course, it’s all for the wrong reasons. Every time I think of poor Alex, I laugh … a lot. To be brutally honest, the guy was abysmal. Truly, truly abysmal. His failure to run with the ball baffled me, he was overweight ergo his pace was a major issue, and he wasn’t the nicest on the eye for the ladies. All in all, Alex had it tough.
When I asked my friends what they remembered about Alex, they mentioned something quite bizarre: they always remember him getting knocked out during matches. He would just run about, occasionally challenge a header, and would then proceed to collapse after blocking a shot! I sometimes wonder how we actually won football matches with Alex in our defence, although I’m currently under the same illusions with Jonathan Page.
Let’s hope Alex’s is doing well now – after all, he did have it tough at Cappielow.
So, Alex moved on to play for East Stirlingshire for a year after leaving Scappa’, and is now unemployed. That just about sums it up. Alex Walker, ladies and gentlemen.
Left Midfielder – Joel Kasubandi
If football was based purely on confidence, Joel would have been the next Lionel Messi. It’s based on footballing ability though, which Joel did not have. If memory serves me right, he only managed two appearances for Morton, but his home debut at Cappielow is one that always stood out for me.
His debut for the blue and white hoops came at New Douglas Park, home of Hamilton Academical. Allan Moore introduced Joel to the field of play as we conceded our fourth goal of the game. Being 4-0 down and with the game out of reach, the manager obviously felt it would be good to give the young boy a chance.
The twenty-year-old, who currently plays for Vale of Clyde, strutted his way onto the park. Within minutes, he received the ball out on the left hand side of the field before attacking the Hamilton full-back, doing a step-over and delivering a high ball onto the head of the Morton attackers in the process.
That solidarity step over would be Joel’s only ever contribution to Greenock Morton FC. For the rest of the match, not once did he track back, nor did he even look interested in what was happening on the field of play. However, with injuries piling up and Joel managing to complete one step over, he was rewarded with a starting place the following Saturday.
He continued with the ‘I’m better than everyone’ attitude and delivered one of the most embarrassing performances I’ve ever seen out on the left hand side of midfield, and I’ve seen Tony Wallace play out there, which is saying something. His touch, vision, pace, crossing ability and sheer attitude to the game was disgusting. A player I was delighted to see the back of, and worthy addition to the Worst Greenock Morton XI.
Right Midfield – Sean Fitzharris
Sorry Sean, but I was really struggling to find a right-sided midfielder. It’s been a long day and you were the easy option.
Sean probably shouldn’t be in the Worst Greenock Morton XI to be fair. If it wasn’t for his inability to remain injury free, I firmly believe he could have developed into one of the most dangerous wingers in the SPFL.
Unfortunately though, remaining injury free was just impossible for the youngster. When he first joined the club; his pace, crossing and attacking intent looked like it could prove to be a huge asset to the team, but an injury early on into his ‘Ton career saw him sidelined for many months.
After battling his way back to full fitness, it was clear to see that his confidence had been well and truly shocked, with his fitness plummeting too. The pace and confidence he showed when he attacked full-backs had disappeared, with every potential attack being halted when the ball was given to Fitzharris.
The management staff stuck by the twenty-two-year-old for a number of months, before coming to the conclusion that it just wasn’t meant to be for the ex-Celtic youngster. He was later released and now finds himself on loan at East Kilbride, which says it all, really.
Centre Midfield – Darren McGeough
What makes Darren’s Morton career all the more frustrating was that, it was clear to see through his brother, that footballing talent was in the family genes. It’s just a shame Darren missed out on said genes.
The signing of McGeough in the summer of 2011 was seen as a rather bizarre acquisition by Moore. A midfielder was needed at the time but most supporters were expecting an experienced First Division play-maker; not a centre mid who featured for Falkirk Amateurs the season previous. I suppose we should have seen the signs.
What can I say about Darren’s Morton career? Dreadful? Shocking? Embarrassing? Abysmal? When you look up these words in the dictionary, there will be a picture of Darren McGeough. Everything a central midfielder should required, Darren lacked. And in there lied the problem.
To this day, I think the signing of McGeough was a genuine mistake. Moore perhaps was told he was signing a Falkirk FC midfielder; not a Falkirk Amateur midfielder. Thankfully for footballing fans up and down the country, Darren re-discovered his level as he currently plays for Irvine Meadow. Want to laugh till your heart’s content one random Saturday afternoon? Attend a football match with Darren McGeough starting in it. You’re sure to have a good chuckle.
Defensive Midfield – Jay Shields
It took Jay Shields only a handful of games for the Cowshed faithful to realise how poor a player he was. After spending three seasons at Easter Road, which saw him shipped out on loan to teams such as Berwick and Dundee, David Irons brought Jay to the club for Morton’s second full season in the First Division.
In his six months with the ‘Ton, Shields featured just short of twenty times. Throughout that time though, his shaky performances and his lack of basic positional sense – which is a necessity for any defensive midfielder – saw his reputation around the country decrease rather quickly. His positional sense might have been poor, but if you work hard and put in the effort, maybe the supporters would be a little more forgiven? Jay didn’t manage that either, and was rightfully punted in January of 2008 – only half way through his first season with the ‘Ton.
Amazingly though, his footballing skills weren’t his worst feature; the idiotic highlights he had in his hair – which resembled a packet of Suger Puffs – definitely took first prize.
Striker – Kevin Kelbie
I remember when the Greenock Telegraph broke the exclusive news that Kevin Kelbie would be joining our squad for the 2010/11 season. Being unaware of his footballing career, I did what any fan would do and typed his name into Google.
The first thing I remember noticing was his appearance. I don’t like to be rude but it was fair to say that Kevin looked a little on the chubby side. Before I made my final decision on the signing though, I felt I should look him up on Wikipedia. His youth career looked rather promising, with stints at both Old Firms side, before earning a scholarship in America. His most impressive stat though was netting over fifty goals in the Northern Ireland Premier Division for Ballymena United.
Reading this made me forget about Kevin’s appearance and filled me with confidence. Maybe we’ve finally secured a striker which would comfortably net us 20+ goals a season, and fire us up towards the top end of the title? I was wrong. So very wrong.
As I first expected, his fitness would prove to be a serious problem. His debut came in a Challenge Cup win over Dumbarton, but that and seven other embarrassingly poor performances would be enough to see Kevin punted. To this day, I don’t actually remember Kevin shooting, or scoring. You know that thing strikers are paid do you? Yeah, he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t physically do that.
Striker – Jonathan Toto
As a long suffering Morton supporter, I like to see players run about the pitch, being extremely unsuccessful in doing so and proceeding to kick the ball as far away from their feet as possible. Well, that must have been what Jonathan Toto thought. I mean, why else would he spend his entire Morton career doing it?
Young Jonathan had a problem – a major, major problem. Not a mental one, like most ‘Ton supporters may think, but a problem nevertheless. I don’t know what the current manager at the time saw in Toto which made him think “You know what; I think this lad has something.”
The name Toto is a standing joke amongst the Morton supporters now; we’ve had many, many poor strikers before and after the, but Toto will forever be regarded as the worst. When life is tough, and you feel things can’t get much worse, just remember; at least you’re not Jonathan Toto.
Manager – John McCormack
John ‘Cowboy’ McCormack did earn us promotion from the Third Division, but was quickly sacked the following season after bottling a huge lead at the top of the Second Division. The collapse brought questions about deliberately throwing matches from National Newspapers which still haunt the club to this day. John had the money to spend, and did so, but bottling the league during the 2003/04 season rightfully earns John my managerial spot.
If you’d like to hear more from Andy then be sure to follow him on twitter.
If you’ve enjoyed the blogs then make sure to listen to the podcast. The latest episode was entitled I Wanna Be Morton Manager With Flowers In My Hair