AS ST MIRREN embark on a new era at their new stadium today, there has, in the past two weeks, been much reminiscing about Love Street's greatest games. But what about the match that never was?
Love Street was to host Coventry City in the second leg of the Anglo-Scottish Challenge Cup but, due to lack of interest and a congested fixture list the tie, which was poised at 1-1 following the first leg at Highfield Road, was never completed. This 'non-event' was, in some ways, a rather fitting end to cross-border tournaments which dated back to the inception of the Texaco Cup in 1970/71 – a competition involving British Isles clubs. The Irish pulled out in 1973 at the height of the 'Troubles' and, when Texaco withdrew their sponsorship in 1975, the competition continued as the Anglo-Scottish Cup. Initially, the teams involved were the highest placed that did not qualify for Europe. It was never televised and, despite some flashes of excitement, lacked glamour. In the main, the Anglo half dominated and the plethora of all-English ties, with weakened teams and an increasing number of lower-league entrants, became unattractive to fans.
It was also fitting St Mirren were the last Scottish side involved as they, more than any other, had held up national pride in the event. They were the only Scottish club to win the competition, beating Bristol City 5-1 over two legs in 1980, two years after they had lost in the final to the same side. Hearts made the first Texaco Cup final, dumping out Everton before losing 3-2 on aggregate to Wolves. A year later Airdrie, who enjoyed a memorable first-round win over Malcolm Allison's Manchester City, made the 1972 final only to lose to Derby.
Arguably the competition's most famous scoreline came in 1980 when Chesterfield, then in the English Third Division, beat Rangers 3-0 at home. The Spireites went on to beat Notts County in the 1981 final and, with the subsequent withdrawal of the Scottish clubs, the trophy still resides at Saltergate.
In 1987 the concept was resurrected as a 'two-legged' tie between the holders of the FA Cup and Scottish Cup. The crowd at Highfield Road was pitiful as Dave Phillips put Coventry ahead before Kenny McDowall equalised in the second half. The return was slated for 22 March 1988 at Love Street, but was not to be.