Worst XI: Stenhousemuir

March 11, 2014

The second League One club to get the “Worst XI” treatment are one currently suffering through a disappointing campaign that’s included a slide down the table, a sacking of a manager and a Scottish Cup exit to the hands of Albion Rovers. This certainly brings out the disgruntled side in Barry Nimmo, our Stenhousemuir supporting contributor.

When asked to write a ‘best of’ or ‘worst of’ anything, it is worth remembering that it is only an opinion, so the following players and manager that contribute to my Stenhousemuir Worst XI will probably provoke debate, disagreement, arguments and questions. 

That’s excellent. If it doesn’t, I have failed. Shall we begin.

Goalkeeper – John Hillcoat

Hilly (as far as nicknames go this wasn’t the the toughest to create) was a decent guy. He played for Stenny in the 2007-08 season, and was generally regarded as a good, solid goalkeeper. However, when you look at his record for The Warriors, it’s clear he was better with a pen writing his newspaper column than being in a pen – alty box. In a 13 game run, we won only four, conceding 30 goals in the process,  and although he wasn’t responsible for them all, a better quality of keeper may have reduced the goals against. He also had a running style like no other, a kind of slow hop and skip that got him nowhere fast, and he struggled badly to kick from the ground, so there was always a noted intake of breath from the fans every time he received a passback.

Right Back – David Murie

When he signed for Stenny in 2006, on the face of it, it wasn’t a bad signing. He was a competent full back and should’ve been our answer to our problem right back slot. However, as his games mounted up, his performances became more and more erratic, with poor distribution and defensive errors happening on too many occasions. Gradually his relationship with the fans deteriorated, and in a game against Albion Rovers at Ochilview, when receiving stick from the fans, the red mist descended and he reacted by gesturing back. Then, minutes later, he charged into a tackle earning a straight red card and effectively ended his Stenny career. I wrote a piece about this incident in a daily newspaper’s pullout, and this resulted in a meeting with then manager Campbell Money to discuss what I’d written. Now, I never heard the stick Murie was getting, and if it was over the line then it was unacceptable, but I believe that there was no reason for Murie’s conduct that day.

Left Back – Shaun Dillon

Left back has never been a big problem for Stenny over the years, generally we’ve had really good left backs. But in the 2006-07 season we signed Dillon, and he bucked the trend. Now, if there was a 50/50 challenge to be made, he could certainly make them. In fact, if there was a 40/60 challenge needed he could make them too. But as a full back, scampering up the wing in support of the wide men is important,  and try as he might he wasn’t as effective as a full back should be. Nor was his delivery into the box. Then of course he had to get back to defend again and well, it became a struggle and frequently left gaps that caused us problems. I have to admit though, Dillon may be a little unfortunate to be in my Worst XI, but due to the quality of our left backs over the years, he is here. 

Centre back – Scott McCulloch

Big Boab was certainly that. A big man with a big reputation. He was notorious for the power in his left foot when hitting free kicks from 30 yards, and I had remembered seeing a lot of goals from exactly this on television before he signed for us in 07-08. The possibility of a goalscoring centre back definitely was intriguing for the fans as we had never had that, so we all thought it was a great signing. Once again though, a player on his way down the divisions failed to deliver. Whilst having many, many attempts from 30 yards, none found the net, so his ‘trademark’ deserted him. Unfortunately for him, his build was more double decker bus than tank, and when chasing nippy strikers, it did look as if he was towing a caravan. The abiding memory for me is freezing my backside off at an away midweek game, although I can’t remember where exactly, and seeing Boab dive to try and intercept a cross ball. When I say dive, I really mean fall in slow motion, needless to say the ball hit him and went in the net. Summed up in one incident. 

Centre back – Crawford Baptie

This guy was a legend, but for all the wrong reasons. If you’d given him a few lamps to hold at the side of the park he’d have blended in with the floodlights he was that tall, but he also fitted the term ‘lanky’ to a tee. With every club he was at, he was well known more for his mistakes rather than his defending. And it was no different with us. Sure, he could win a ball in the air, but the ball would’ve had to be in the air for 90 minutes for Baptie to be effective. He was as honest a professional as there has been, but with the ball at his feet or tricky opponents against him, it was a disaster. As a supporter, some of the angles the ball took after deflecting off him were hard to believe. Calamity Crawford indeed, another of whom when he received the ball it was a worry.

Centre Midfield – Jose Quitongo

Surprising choice maybe. The Angolan was, and probably still is, a popular figure in Scottish football and is an extremely likeable guy. Before he joined Stenny, he was renowned for his direct style and mazy, weaving runs that left defenders baffled. But when he signed for us at Stenny, he brought something else to the club…personality. You see, the press loved him, so to have someone like Quitongo in our squad meant more column inches in the national newspapers. However, the fans notion of silky football was far off the mark. The times he took the field, usually from the subs bench, yes, the expectation among the fans raised considerably. But the truth of the matter is I probably had more mazy runs through the crowd to get my half time Bovril than Quitongo did on the park. He scored points off the park for us, but earned none for us on it.

Midfield – David Graham

I hate to criticise someone who went to the same school as I did, but I will. The problem with Graham was you always felt he could give a little bit more. Five goals in 53 appearances backs that up, as a striker/winger should have had a higher goals ratio than he did. He was certainly talented, and perhaps if he had given that bit more, he could’ve been an even bigger success than he was in his career. 

Midfield – Graham Gibson

Another from the ‘beanpole’ category. Again, another of the honest, hardworking description. He raced around the park chasing the ball like a dog, and his energy levels were exceptional. Trouble is, he was better running about chasing the ball than running with the ball at his feet. Perhaps he was played out of position on the wing, he was no winger, but even elsewhere on the park, the play regularly broke down when he received the ball. And you’d think being over six foot he’d be dominant in the air and be a threat. Nope. Wrong again.

Striker – Steven Hampshire

Who? Yeah, 37 appearances in fact. An experienced striker who you would think could deliver a good goals return and help propel Stenny up the table. So what was his goals tally over 37 games. Five. Yes, five. Here come the clichés of ‘did all of his good work outside the box’ and ‘he was the link up player’. But facts speak louder than words. You want your strikers to score goals, like Isaac English for example. No one remembers strikers that score five goals in 37 games, and sadly, very few will remember Hampshire. 

Striker – Kenny Deuchar

Aah, Dr Goals. Dr No more like. Only with us for a short period of time, but undoubtedly deserves this position. Did absolutely nothing for us in EVERY game he played. The goals could’ve been 10 feet wide and he still wouldn’t have scored. I remember one chance in particular he had in a crucial game that was level at the time, he went through one-on-one, and blew it! He had a clumsy first touch and made no good impressions on the fans at all. Thankfully it was only a loan move to us. The good doctor was not the good footballer for us unfortunately. 

Striker – Craig O’Reilly

When Stenny signed O’Reilly in the 09-10 season, big things were expected of him. He had been prolific for East Fife and his build was perfect for a striker. But… nothing. He worked hard, but as a striker, again, we wanted goals and desperately needed him to get back to his East Fife form. But he never did. 

Manager – John McVeigh

A guy with a reputation for being a hard taskmaster and was generally regarded as a good coach. We as fans felt it was a good appointment at the time. But then he started signing players from Albion Rovers and the doubts set in. Stenny struggled under his leadership, and McVeigh lasted 6 months!

 

So, there it is, my 1-11 and manager. My opinion may not be agreeable to everyone, and I’m sure other names will surface after this. All of the above were good, honest professionals and when they wore the Stenny strip, we supported them (mostly). It’s hard to name people, but every club has a Worst XI.

To get more from Barry then be sure to follow him on twitter.

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