After a long break, we shall once again be starting up our “Worst XI” series for each team in the lower leagues. There is only two entries left from the second tier and first up is Queen of the South. The Doonhamers have been pretty successful over the last 15 years, but as we’ve seen from the other editions of this blog series, just because the team is good doesn’t mean that a few duffers won’t bewilderingly managed to convince a coach that they are worthy of a place in the starting XI. Adam Lawrie has certainly saw more than enough in his time.
I’ve been watching Queens for about 14 years, which on the whole have been infinitely more successful than the previous 81 years of existence as they have been a regular fixture in the second tier as well as enjoying some magical cup runs. But that it’s not to say that it has seen it’s share of dross, my first game that I can remember was getting mauled 7-0 by Livingston at home in the 1999/2000 season, a low point in the worst season of Queen of the South’s existence as they managed to dodge relegation to the Third Division thanks only to Hamilton Accies rather harsh 15 point deduction for going on strike. The only thing that has come close to this nadir was allowing “A Shot of Glory” to be filmed at Palmerston.
The job of picking a Worst XI was pretty difficult. I tried set some criteria up for my list. In general I ‘favoured’ players that played more games. This was because there was more evidence that they actually were terrible rather than being product of the system.
Goalkeeper – Calum Antell
Apart from having to replace a 41 goal scorer in Nicky Clark this summer, and a manager, we also had to find a new goalkeeper after ginger penalty shoot out hero, Lee Robinson, left for Sweden. But when Jim Mcintyre, not known for having a great record in signing good goalkeepers, signed an ex Hibs youth goalkeeper it didn’t look promising. Especially seeing as he had looked pretty poor for East Fife last year when failing to deal with a cross, giving Nicky Clark goal number 40, as well an utterly dreadful mistake against Stenhousemuir. My hopes weren’t particularly sky high when not even Colin Calderwood, Yogi Hughes or Pat Fenlon rated him.
In the first game I saw him in, a friendly vs St Mirren, he was lobbed by Gary Harkins and after navigating himself through two clean sheets against the potent strike forces of Spartans and Annan, the opening day against Dundee was probably the official start of the madness. After conceding an early Peter MacDonald goal, Queens were running riot and were surprisingly 4-1 up, Antell showed how suspect he was at crosses, Dundee got a goal back where Antell was beaten a bit easily at a corner (to give him the benefit here it probably was a foul) however in the 89th minute he had another clanger, dropping an innocuous ball under little pressure. Safe to say it was a preview of things to come.
Antell is pretty small, he doesn’t come off his line and he doesn’t shout so defenders are utterly clueless if he’s there or not, and looked like he had no idea where to stand. However, he still received support and he briefly managed to be a hero in the League Cup win over St Mirren by saving a penalty in extra time. However, his overall shiteness prevailed when he let in a daisy cutter late on against Falkirk when we were pressing for the winner.
The general phrase used to defend a terrible goalkeeper is “but he’s a good shot stopper”, Antell hasn’t even got that to back him, as seen the next week against Cowdenbeath as immortalized in The Terrace’s Chris Millar Lounge.
That was the end of Antell as McIntyre finally decided to sign a replacement on loan in Zander Clark who so far has been excellent, Antell however has been punted out to Brechin where he has conceded 11 goals in four games so I don’t think he’s done enough to get another place in the team. Terrible doesn’t do him enough justice and how he’s made it this far in professional football I really don’t know. The same goes for what possible reason McIntyre could have had to sign him seeing as he was poor for the second division’s second worst team. We were probably better off with one of the outfield players in goals. The only positive I can think to give him is that he does have excellent hair.
Full Back – Tom Parratt
Following up a man who scored an 84 yard goal in Ryan McCann as well as the excellent Eric Paton was a pretty thankless task but Tom Parratt seemed like a good option, he was an ex-Scotland under 19s player and was a big part of the title winning Hamilton team the year before with their miserly defence. It seemed that Gordon Chisholm was using the money from the cup run very well. After a solid start he then had some utterly dreadful displays, particularly the 4-1 defeat to Morton. He disappeared going forward and was error prone in defence. He also strutted another with a cockiness that indicated he had delusions of grandeur far beyond his actual abilities. He left Queen of the South at the end of January 2009 after only playing nine games, stating that he wished to pursue “options elsewhere”. By “options elsewhere” he apparently meant Airdrie. Now playing for the Wilmington Hammerheads of the USL along with such superstars as Tam McManus.
Full Back – Chris Scott
One of the most notable traits of the John Connelly era was his fondness for signing players from the North East of England including lower league mainstays such as Peter Weatherson and Steve Bowey among others. When Connelly left for St Johnstone it was a surprise to see that he didn’t take his assistant Iain Scott who then replaced him as manager. In his first season with largely the same core as the year before he went to the North East again to sign Chris Scott (no relation) from Sunderland. A lot was expected of him and he failed to impress. My notable memory of him was that he was absolutely atrocious at tackling, some of which would make Bruce Lee blush. It was a shock that he didn’t get sent off and only got two yellows. In the end he played six games and quietly disappeared to Spennymoor Town. Iain Scott was unable to build on the 4th place of his first season before being replaced by Ian McCall midway through the 2006/07 season.
Centre Back – Steven Swift
Aside from the quality name I was pretty disappointed with Swift. He had looked very impressive for recently relegated Stranraer and was a major part of their rise up the leagues having played 93 games and scoring 13 goals. He looked to be appropriately pacey and skillful full back, and apparently declined joining full time teams to sign for Queens as part of Iain McCall’s raid of Stranraer – joining keeper Barry John Corr and centre back Murray Henderson in making the switch. Swift was part of a pretty dreadful defence, which was partially his fault, and did nothing going forward with the football. The reason he makes it into this time as a centre back is thanks to a couple of atrocious performances he posted in the middle. Most notably the disastrous 4-0 defeat by Clyde as Dougie Imrie and Gary Arbuckle tore us apart at Broadwood. McCall had decided to try Swift as part of a back three and this was the worst example of the former United manager’s tactical idiocy. This wasn’t really Swift’s fault, but it was a memorable occasion for all the wrong reasons and the truth is he never got going while he was here. He soon left to join Ayr but vacated after a season for spell in the Juniors before becoming the co-manager of Kilbirnie Ladeside
Centre Back – Marvin Andrews
After God was referred to a medical tribunal following a malpractice on his knees at Rangers, Trinidadian Lesbian Curer Marvin Andrews joined Queens after an unsuccessful spell at Hamilton. He was still towering above the defence like a mountain but his age and dodgy knees meant his speed rarely got out of first gear. On his full debut he gave away a penalty for handball in a 2-1 defeat to Morton, he then got his next start against title chasing Inverness where he was tormented by Adam Rooney in a 3-1 defeat before putting an utterly hapless display against a pretty poor Ayr United where he completely misjudged a header before sandwiching the forward between him and David Hutton to give away another penalty. In addition his positioning was dreadful and he looked completely finished and never played another game for Queens after that. By some sort of miracle he is still playing today for Forfar in probably the slowest and oldest centre back pairing ever of him and Darren Dods.
Centre Midfield – John Henry
In Ian McCall’s first summer in charge after the great escape of the previous season, he seemed to exclusively sign players from either Stranraer (Henderson, Swift, John Corr) or those that he knew very well from his previous clubs. Henry fell into the latter as he played for McCall at Airdrie and Falkirk where he had great success as a composed central midfielder to provide some quality in the middle. All of which sounded very promising as this was something we lacked as we tended to have more industrial players.
Overall that transfer window, with the exception of Sandwich Tycoon, Jim Lauchlan, and Neil Scally, was a complete failure. Henry was finished, he didn’t have the legs anymore and his reading of the game wasn’t what it used to be. He played eight games and was anonymous in every single one. Henry, mercifully, recognised this himself. He briefly played for Dumbarton and then retired and was part of the coaching staff at Bolton and Wigan under Owen Coyle. Meanwhile McCall, needing a good January, managed to bring in Jamie Adams (pre Injuries), Jamie McQuilken, Stevie Murray, Steve Tosh, Jamie McDonald and a wee fat bloke called Stephen Dobbie on a free transfer. So it’s safe to say he did recover somewhat from the damage inflicted in the summer.
Centre Midfield – Stephen Simmons
Simmons isn’t here because he is a technically bad player, his inclusion is for being the centre-piece of the Gus McPherson era. After an acrimonious split with Dunfermline, he briefly played for Queens and was a pretty forgettable footnote in the club’s history with eight games before signing for Raith where he was a solid player. However, Gus McPherson, having to rebuild his entire squad after the financial meltdown of the previous season, saw something in Simmons (god knows what that was) and brought him back. He stated that Simmons was “SPL Class” and saw fit to build his entire team around him, handing the player the captain’s armband much to the bewilderment of just about everyone . Gus deployed him as the team’s “Quarterback” (hoping to make him the Queen’s equivalent to Michael Tidser at Morton) in a five-man midfield with Scott McLaughlin, Allan Johnston, Stephen McKenna and Dan Carmichael. Simmons is a very tall player but is easily bullied off the ball, he is also very slow, barely ever breaking into a sprint, and seemed a rather lackadaisical character especially compared to the very vocal Stephen Mckenna and future manager Johnston. Simmons when the team was winning (which wasn’t often), had some good displays, particularly the 4-1 win over Morton but vanished in matches where we struggled. He specialised in difficult cross field balls to five foot seven inch Danny Carmichael and was certainly not the maestro that McPherson had claimed he was. Useless.
Centre Midfield – Scott McLaughlin
How this guy managed to play in almost every game under McPherson was unbelievable, seeing as most of the time he played like a fan had strayed on to the pitch. He arrived from spells at Morton, Airdrie and Ayr where the general consensus was that he was a good player in the Second Division but couldn’t cut it at a higher level. In his time at Palmerston, he managed to avoid the brunt of the criticism given to Simmons because he scored goals and was in fact the top goalscorer of 2011/12 season with seven (not that is remotely an achievement considering that Tam Brighton was joint second). But his overall contribution to the team was minimal beyond that. Not particularly fast or strong, he lacked technical ability and his passing was woeful. If he wasn’t in a team with Tam Brighton he would seem even more out of his depth. After Leaving, he scored a thunderbolt for Peterhead against Rangers, he then got a move back to Ayr where he is now the captain.
Forward – Tam Brighton
Just a soul destroyingly crap player to watch. It was hard to believe that this guy had played in England and the SPL for as long as he did. He arrived at Palmerston as part of the Gus McPherson revolution after looking dreadful for Stirling Albion in their historically bad year in the First Division. He was a bit of a beanpole, very skinny and injuries had taken its toll. His speed was glacial and it looked like we were playing a reanimated corpse upfront. He somehow managed to score six goals in 26 games – two of which were against lower league teams early on in the season – all of them tap ins and if it wasn’t for McPherson signing injury prone players like Kevin Smith and Marc McCusker he wouldn’t have been anywhere near the team. Brighton has since went to Irvine Meadow in the juniors, hopefully never to be seen at a senior ground ever again.
Forward – Emilio Jaconelli
John Connolly in his 4 years in charge played a total of 88 players. His signing policy was ‘trial and error’ as back in the pre transfer window days short term contracts were an option. It did mean he could get rid of those who were especially bad without much fuss, and he did manage to build a decent squad over time. Emilio Jaconelli was Connelly player number 84 and thankfully for Emilio, he was signed after the introduction of the transfer window after leaving Killie in July 2003. He was built like a shed and the Irvine born forward had a lot of hopes pinned on him as he looked to have all the physical attributes to succeed. I even insisted on playing him in “This is Football 2003” presumably because he had a cool sounding name to a nine year old. Unfortunately real life did not mirror virtual reality and he seemed to lack most of the technical attributes required at his position, particularly finishing – Jaconelli scored three goals in 31 appearances, he didn’t score his first goal until the 24th of April against Brechin. Even Tam Brighton had a better record as part of an atrocious team. Jaconelli looked like he didn’t know what the goal was. He went to Raith where he barely got picked in Division Two (following the Claude Anelka season) before becoming a goal machine the Juniors before injury forced him to retire at 29.
Forward – Marc McCusker
I tried to avoid picking as many McPherson players as I have, but McCusker was just a terrible signing and a complete waste of a shirt. He was signed from Clyde after scoring 11 goals in their forgettable first year back in the Third Division. Signing the 11th top scorer in the bottom tier behind players like Ian Harty, Armand One and Paul Tosh was certainly an unexpected signing and maybe McPherson had found a diamond in the rough. However, supporters didn’t have much opportunity to see his gamble in action as he was injured for most of the season, with various different problems. He did make seven substitute appearance, looking in all of them as if he’d never seen a football pitch in his life. It seemed like he was in a completely different timezone to everyone else. Maybe the injuries are to blame but seeing as he’s since flopped for Dumbarton and then briefly appeared for Clyde, I’d like to think it was just because he was useless.
Manager – Gus McPherson
While recent managers have had their faults: John Connolly signed a lot of dross but replaced them with quality and got us promoted and won a cup; Iain Scott failed to replace the players that left but he at least had one good season; Iain McCall made a lot of mistakes but got us out of relegation trouble twice, not to mention signing Stephen Dobbie and a good chunk of the 2008 cup final squad; Gordon Chisholm may have got us to a cup final but wasn’t a great manager and should have done more considering how much he spent with the cup final money (he also played Stewart Kean ahead of Stephen Dobbie in the UEFA Cup which I’ll never forgive him for); Kenny Brannigan was a barely articulate neanderthal and oversaw some dreadful performances after the post Chisholm financial meltdown – as well as falling out with the board in a frankly embarrassing period for the club – but he still reached a cup final and had to work in difficult circumstances.
Gus McPherson, on the other hand, had zero redeeming features in his time in charge and made me hate going to the football that year. He arrived among a series of cost cutting measures following the previous season’s financial calamities and had his playing budget significantly reduced from Brannigans’. Most supporters understood that McPherson’s football wouldn’t be pretty but at least we’d be well drilled. After all, he’d been successful at St Mirren and apparently had good contacts in the game to bring in a squad strong enough to keep us afloat and a platform to build on. Instead he was the worst of everything. He brought in nothing but dross, we threw away games late on at a ridiculous rate, losing or drawing 10 games in the last ten minutes, we couldn’t defend and we certainly couldn’t score. We deserved to go down. The board, for some inexplicable reason, initially offered him an extra year before coming to their senses and sacking him. Looking back, it’s horrifying to think what being in the Second Division with him in charge would have been like. It sure as hell wouldn’t have been as easy on the eye as last season. An utter clown and well earned position in charge of this team. Queen’s Park fans you have my sympathy.
Barry John Corr – If it wasn’t for the arrival of Antell he would have this locked down among stiff competition from John Burridge and Kris Robertson. But BJC ‘lost’ out due to being on a worse team. Corr came from Stranraer where he impressed despite their relegation. His debut against Clyde was a horror show, he spilled a shot which Dougie Imrie scored from and then had a mix up with Murray Henderson in which the latter gave away a penalty. He was dropped soon after but got a reprieve for a match with St Johnstone, where he conceded five goals, spilled two crosses and conceded a penalty. Due to Colin Scott’s injury problems he got one more chance against Gretna. We were beaten 5-0. His time seemed over when McCall brought in Craig Hinchcliffe who steadied the position for a month while Scott recuperated his knee. Fate soon intervened when Hinchcliffe refused to extend his loan and Scott was injured in the warm up before a Scottish Cup replay with Dundee at Palmerston. After a thrilling 3-3 draw (including two debut goals for Stephen Dobbie) BJC saved two penalties in the shoot-out to leave on a high note. Or, he would have done, were it not for the fact that he soon shouted abuse at the fans and suggested there was a sectarian element to his treatment at the club. Presumably after he was then run of Ayr United, who he joined next, he faced up to the fact that it wasn’t prejudice, he was just pish.
John Potter – One of Gus’s pals who he brought in January and was immediately shoehorned into the team that had actually won the week before; too old and too slow.
Jamie Mole – There isn’t really much you can say about him other than he was awful.
Alan Reid – Was never a first division player, he looked like a malnourished child. In fairness he was exposed badly by having Allan Johnston on the wing.
Andy Barrowman – He worked hard but he couldn’t hit a barn door and what’s more frustrating is that he went to Ross County and soon became a goal machine. Almost guaranteed to score everytime he plays us.
Scott Robertson – He ran about a lot and that’s about all he brought to the team. He somehow got a move to Partick Thistle before returning to the seaside leagues.
Tope Arojogun – A Nigerian Trialist (born and raised in London) who played against Ross County, in which he came on as a sub, pulled his hamstring after five minutes and came off without touching the ball and was never seen again.
The Entire 1999-00 Squad – I can’t remember many of the names but you know who you are.
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To listen to a debate about the top five January transfer window signings along with discussion about the rest of the weekend’s action then check out the latest podcast. The link can be found here.