Hot Goal Time Machine: Motherwell

April 30, 2014

Dear Terraceist

Last year I attended a gig in Glasgow where I made the mistake of going sober while everyone else was drinking, thanks to an early shift the following morning. As I stood there trying to zone out the prattling chatter from my drunken friends my mind started to wander, specifically to the upcoming ‘Hot Dub Time Machine’ I would be attending a couple of weeks after. The theme of said night was that they would play a song from every year starting in 1955 and stretch to present day. As is normally the case when I’m bored, my mind suddenly made the shift to Scottish football and the two thoughts somehow became intertwined. The most memorable goal from every single season watching your team! Hot GOAL Time Machine.

Unfortunately, for more than one reason, most of our contributors are younger than I am, and even then my knowledge only stretches back as far as 1992/93. So going all the way back to 1955 was out of the question. We decided, instead, to limit it to 1998 onwards, which was quite fitting. Wouldn’t we all, as Scottish football fans, like to go back to the invent of the SPL and prevent some of the mismanagement that has plagued the number one sport in this great country over the past 15 years? In spite of all those problems, there have been memorable moments and joyous times for every team, and no supporter is happier than when their team scores a goal. So for every team in the Premiership – and for any lower league fans wishing to contribute then please get in touch – we have invited a supporter of the team to recount their tales.

The strikes chosen didn’t have to be rakers; they didn’t even have to be important. They just had to be the favourite of our writers. If you disagree be sure to make a note in the comments and suggest any alternatives.

We hope you enjoy this series.

Thank you

Craig Fowler

Firstly, this is by no means a definitive list of the best goals that Motherwell scored in the SPL era. Compiling this list has made me realise that the best goals can be the least spectacular and the most spectacular, the meaningless and the most meaningful. Others can be highlights of low times or can be things of sheer beauty. One on the list isn’t even a goal. However, these have been my top picks of Motherwell’s net bursting action (bar one) from 1998 to the present. By Kris Jack

98-99: Ged Brannan v Celtic, 1-7, 21/02/1999

The 1998-99 season was the year that John Boyle’s cash injection threatened to reap it’s rewards and put Motherwell as the “third force” in Scottish football. Amongst those high earners tipped to push the Old Firm was Ged Brannan. Scarily, he seems to be the most recent free kick specialist (if you discount Tom Hateley) that The Well have had the luxury of.

Brannan’s free kick in the 7-1 mauling from Celtic was one of the bright spots of a disappointing season, in which the Well finished 7th. Trailing 1-0 to a Henrik Larsson penalty (the first of four the Swede would help himself to on the night), the Scouser blasted a 25 yarder past the wall, off a goalmouth divot or two, and over the flailing Jonathan Gould. It was the only enjoyable part of that Sunday, as I’d broken my wrist at Hamilton Pitz five-a-sides earlier in the day, meaning I had to give up my ticket and watch it in my Rangers supporting uncles’ house. Needless to say, he quite enjoyed it too. Far more than he and I enjoyed John Spencer’s sending off and Lubo Moravcik’s free kick which was maybe a little better than Brannan’s…


99-00: Kevin Twaddle v Celtic, 0-1, 27/10/1999

Fast forward eight months and Motherwell would gain revenge of sorts for the aforementioned scudding, with a famous victory at Parkhead. Two things stand out the most about the victory; The Well played for over half of the match with 10 men, thanks to a shonky refereeing decision to send Shaun Teale for a very early bath, and Kevin Twaddle being the man to give Billy Davies’ side the win. The former Morton man had struggled for form in his second season, but his contribution in this match secured the first of two wins over Celtic in the millennium season.

Latching on to a great pass from Stephen McMillan, Twaddle outpaced Stilian Petrov, before poking past Gould. To make a modern comparison, that would be like John Sutton outpacing…well, anyone really. Deployed as a wide man, he could never use his pace, and unlike Sutty, when put up front, could never use his head. Meningitis and gambling would soon take it’s toll, but he’ll always be able to take a rare winner for MFC at Parkhead with him for company.

00-01: John Spencer v St Johnstone, 2-3, 23/12/2000

The arrival of John Spencer at Fir Park had heralded the beginning of John Boyle’s new era at the club, with the former Scotland striker netting on his debut in a 1-0 win over Rangers after coming in on loan from Everton. Like many before and since, once the move was made permanent, the lustre began to wear off. By the time the 2000/01 season came about, injuries and dips in form had taken their toll, as the ‘Well’s talisman striker began to fade. Netting just three times before being sent on to Colorado Rapids in the MLS, Spencer did manage to net one of that terms most memorable goals at McDiarmid Park.

Taking a pass from around the halfway line from Derek Townsley, Spenny dummies Paul Kane before rifling a 30 yarder high past Alan Main to give his side the opener of a thrilling 3-2 win. The goal does exist somewhere online. It may or may not be as spectacular as this Air Alaska advert that he is in.

01-02: James McFadden v Dundee, 4-2, 09/01/2002

It was in the 2001/02 season that a certain James McFadden caught the imagination of a beleaguered and soon to be administrated Motherwell. With financial Armageddon on the cards, the players tasked with making MFC the “Third Force” had to be let go, as the money men tried to save the Steelmen. With the youth given the wheel to steer the club through the rest of the season, McFadden, all rat’s tails and red streaks, was the great claret and amber hope, and on a miserable Lanarkshire night against Dundee, he became a shining beacon for the future of the club.

Taking a Martyn Corrigan throw in on his thigh, he swivelled and jinked his way past the Dundee rear-guard and in to the box, before curling in a pearler from an acute angle in to the far top corner to send the home fans daft with his second of the night.


02-03: James McFadden v Livingston, 6-2, 24/05/2003

At the height of his Motherwell career, James McFadden was every bit the unplayable, charismatic, dynamic, direct,  Scottish youngster that a nation expected him to be. With the 2002/03 season coming to a close, it hadn’t been a vintage term for the Well but the emergence of Faddy, Pearson, Lasley, and Hammell showed signs that the future would be bright. Out of the embers of administration, these youngsters ploughed a furrow in to the Well first team and the hearts of a generation of Motherwell supporters. McFadden’s end of season hat trick in a six goal romp over Livi started off with a simple tap in, before a lovely Panenka penalty earned him his double. A sign of the confidence and exuberance in the young McFadden, he then went one better, scoring an incredible third. It does teeter either side of the incredibility scale though.

Offensively, McFadden goes from midway inside his own half, evading challenges from two or three Livi players, before cracking a shot from 20 yards past Alan Main. From a Livi standpoint, it’s incredibly bad, allowing young James to drive a good 40 yards without a challenge, before lunging in to FIFA style slide tackles that get nowhere near him. The shot is pretty much right at Main and somehow it ends up behind him in the net. Regardless, it heralded the inevitable departure of McFadden from Fir Park, as this treble proved that he was destined for bigger and better things.


03-04: David Clarkson Hat Trick v Dundee United, 3-1, 03/01/2004

I’m perhaps cheating here, putting in a treble for Clarkson instead of just the one, but it was an important set of goals that would shape the future for the Bristol Rovers man. With his Uncle Phil O’Donnell recently re-signed to the club, he had the chance to show impress his uncle, who was watching from the bench. A raw youngster became an invaluable member of the squad under O’Donnell’s tutelage, although he wouldn’t reach his full potential for a couple of seasons yet.

A goal down at half time, Clarkson inspired a comeback win, rounding the United goalie for his first, heading in a Stevie Hammell cross for his second, and after missing a sitter for his third, he eventually came up trumps, riding a challenge to complete his first senior hat trick. He netted 14 times that season, 49 in all in his time at Fir Park. His most memorable strike for the Well is arguably his second in the win over Dundee United in which Phil O’Donnell passed away, which has never been shown due to the tragedy.

04-05: Marc Fitzpatrick, 3-2 v Hearts, League Cup Semi Final, 01/02/2005

While later in the season  Jim Hamilton would score an audacious 40 yarder against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, and Scott McDonald would net the goal to break Martin O’Neill’s heart on Skippy Sunday, the Motherwell purists’ goal of the season would need to be given to Marc Fitzpatrick. It was dramatic, it took forever for it to be scored and it came unexpectedly from a peripheral youngster in Terry Butcher’s regime at the time. With a League Cup Final place at stake, Butcher’s boys travelled to Easter Road to take on Hearts on a cold Wednesday night.

The Well looked to be sailing to victory as Stephen Craigan’s first half strike was added to with a 78th minute penalty. However, in true Steelmen style, a late collapse saw the Jambos pull one back then pull level to send the game to extra time. With Foran subbed and penalties looming, it didn’t bode well for MFC, until the wiry youngster was picked out with a ball from the halfway line, and ran, seemingly in slow motion, bearing down on goal with no one near him before firing in to the goal in front of a strong travelling contingent of fans. Cue scenes and a lap of honour, where Terry Butcher walked off the pitch with my scarf.


05-06: Jim Hamilton v Celtic 1-3, 22/01/2006

Voted the SPL’s Goal of the Decade, Jim Hamilton’s magnificent volley in a 3-1 loss to Celtic, was likely the most spectacular hit of the journeyman striker’s career. The technique, precision and control of the hit brought comparisons to Zinedine Zidane’s strike in the Hampden Champion’s League Final for Real Madrid.

It wouldn’t have been often in Hamilton’s career that he was compared with Zizou, but in this instance, the likeness is well deserved. It wasn’t just the fact it was an expertly hit volley from the edge of the box, but the fact that he’s managed to get any sort of composed touch on the fizzed ball in from “superstar” Brian Kerr. As spectacular as it was, it couldn’t inspire a win for The Well, but by notching up the GOTD gong, it will forever be remembered as one of the truly great Motherwell goals.

06-07: Scott McDonald v Falkirk, 4-2, 02/12/2006

This one may not rank highly amongst Motherwell fans as being a goal of the season contender, or even that much of a good goal, but a combination of working in retail every Saturday and Maurice Malpas being in charge contributed to me not getting to many games this season. Having trawled YouTube for goals from what was an annus horribilus at Fir Park, the best I could find was McDonald’s blast from inside the box in a 4-2 win over Falkirk.

Being the 5000th SPL goal also helps to elevate it a little more. It’s likely that McDonald scored better goals that year, but both myself and the popular video sharing website are drawing a blank.


07-08: Steven McGarry, 0-1 v St Mirren, 04/08/2007

It’s very rare that a goal of the season contender is scored in the very first game of the season, and even rarer that it happens within the opening minutes of the inaugural match. McGarry’s third minute winner against his boyhood club epitomised the team ethic that would run through Mark McGhee’s side that season.

A flowing team move, almost every Well player got a touch, before David Clarkson picked out McGarry with the final pass of the attack, the Perth Glory man applying the cool finish against his ex team-mates. While Clarkson, Ross McCormack and Chris Porter would be the regular names on the scoresheet, with more spectacular strikes in that season, the term would be remembered for the team’s unity in the aftermath of Phil O’Donnell’s tragic death. However, McGarry’s goal showed that the team spirit and work rate was already in place, and was the catalyst for a season that would culminate in European qualification.

 In light of Youtube not having the goal, here’s the man himself to describe it (via the wonders of Twitter @stevenmcgarry):

“I think it set the tone for the season ahead, and was an early example of the football that we played that season. I can remember I think Las, Clarky and Chris Porter all were involved in a great fast flowing move down the right hand, finished off with Clarky flashing the ball across the goal. I knew all I needed was to get a touch on it, and just managed to out stretch my foot ahead of David van Zanten and luckily enough I did.”

“I know it’s the trend these days not to celebrate goals against former sides, but I disagree with that. You work so hard during the season to win games and to scores goals that it’s not in my nature to not celebrate even if it was against my former team or team I supported.”

08-09: Graeme Smith penalty save v AS Nancy, 18/09/2008

Another cheat (mainly down to YouTube not having much on this season) but they do say that a save is as good as a goal…

With Motherwell’s first foray in to Europe since 1994/95, they were drawn away to Nancy for the first leg, seeing seemingly the whole of Lanarkshire crossing the channel for a glamorous away day. Having fallen behind in the first half and having a penalty claim turned down at the start of the second, it wasn’t looking good for The ‘Well when Mark Reynolds was penalised in his own box for a foul on Julien Feret. However, having thwarted the French side’s forward lines on all but one attack, Graeme Smith flung himself low to his right to keep out Issiar Dia’s spot kick and keep The Well’s euro hopes alive, until the opening minutes of the return leg, where the arse fell out the team…


09-10: Lukasz Jutkiewicz v Hibs 6-6, 05/05/2010

The best goal in this list, from the best game of the SPL area. A bona fide, genuine, lose your shit moment. Years earlier, I’d seen Motherwell and Aberdeen share 11 goals in a 6-5 win for the Dons that swung from end to end, but that thriller pales in comparison to what happened in May 2010. A Colin Nish first half hat trick and goals from Derek Riordan and Anthony Stokes, all thanks to horrific defending, had Hibs 6-2 up, and had many a ‘Well fan heading home. However, Giles Coke notched his second, Tom Hateley bamboozled Graeme Smith, John Sutton grabbed his brace and Ross Forbes missed a penalty before this happened:

The circumstances, the drama, the hopefulness and the finish all combine to make this one of the best goals ever seen at Fir Park. Van Basten-esque in it’s execution, I defy anyone with a tinge of claret and amber in them not to get a semi, or at the very least, goosebumps, when they watch that back. Get’s the blood pumping every single time.

10-11: Jamie Murphy v St Johnstone, Scottish Cup Semi Final, 16/04/2011

I’d initially thought about putting in John Sutton’s 30 yard volley from this game, and then for sentimental value, I thought about putting in Craigan’s opener, for the pure emotion of it, but having watched the goals over and over again, it’s Murphy’s that stands out as being the best of the three. Peter Enckelman was caught out for Craigan’s and Sutton’s in the fashion you would expect of the blunder-iffic goalie, but when six of the men in front of him couldn’t deal with Murphy’s pace and control, you’d not bank on the former Premiership keeper standing a chance either.

Collecting the ball just inside the Saints half, Hampden just seemed to open up for Murph, as he cut in from the left, taking out half a dozen men in blue, moving the ball on to his right foot and slamming the ball back across the keeper form the edge of the box. It gave Motherwell a firm foot in their first Scottish Cup Final in 20 years, only to have the other one kicked away in lacklustre fashion on the day of the Final itself.


11-12: Michael Higdon v Hibs, 4-3, 22/02/2012

Some players find it hard to silence their detractors. For some, they’ll moan about it in the press, or take to social media to vent their frustrations. For Michael Higdon, all he had to do was score a hat trick against Hibs. Having been an unpopular signing amongst a certain section of Motherwell fans, Higgy was always going to come good, but it did take him a little longer than had been hoped. His first Well goal came in a League Cup game against Clyde, and a good run of goals, coupled with Higgy-gate at Tannadice, pulled him a little further on side.

However, when Pat Fenlon’s side came calling, Higdon warmed himself fully to the Fir Park faithful, netting a treble in a 4-3 win. Two penalties sandwiched a remarkable and unthinkable over-head kick, when Henrik Ojamma’s cross-cum-shot clipped the bar, Jamie Murphy knocked the ball back across the six yard box and Higdon, in slow motion, got both feet off the ground to hook the ball over his head and in to the net from about eight yards. It cemented Higdon’s cult status and set him up for a record breaking goal scoring season the following year.


12-13: James McFadden v Hibs, 4-1, 15/03/2013

While Kallum Higginbotham’s scissor kick in this match gained all the plaudits, I have more of a fondness for Faddy’s first since his return to Fir Park. Trailing 1-0 at half time, a Higdon header had the ‘Well level, before McFadden’s moment of magic swung the game in MFC’s favour. Controlling a headed clearance about 35 yards out, Faddy slalomed past three Hibs defenders, his snake hips, shaking them off, before belting the ball round a defender and past Ben Williams from the edge of the box.

For anyone listening to MFCTV that night, they may have had their ears blown off by my reaction to it, which left me hoarse for the remainder of the match. I’d waited 10 years to see a McFadden goal at Fir Park, missing his departing hat trick against Livingston in 2003, due to having to clean blood off the walls of a Lanark butchers instead of saying farewell to my hero. Higginbotham’s was perhaps a more spectacular goal, but McFadden’s for me, was just sublime and a true time travelling goal, taking me back to being 17 and being in awe of one of Scotland’s greats.

13-14: Craig Moore v Hearts, 2-1, 19/10/2013

As has been the case for the early McFadden and Clarkson goals in this list, the best of this season’s bunch has come from the next young hopeful to ascend to first team glory. Craig Moore, who had been a regular in Jonatan Johansson’s U20s side last season, made the step up to first team bench warmer this term, and within seconds of his first team debut he made the greatest of first impressions.

A long ball, flicked on by John Sutton was only partially cleared to Moore, who had only just stepped on the field. With his first touch as a professional footballer, he boomed a half volley from 22 yards in to the roof of Jamie McDonald’s net. It was the kind of strike that wouldn’t be amiss from the repertoire of other ‘Well wee men like Dougie Arnott and Scott McDonald, and has helped to pin him as one to watch for next season.



If you’d like to hear more from Kris Jack then definitely follow him on twitter.

And if you’ve enjoyed the blogs then be sure to check out the latest podcast. It was entitled “Webcams and Bumholes” so you know it’s gotta be good.