Andrew Smith: Pandemic locks out Papa Mac and the Doorknobs

Out of habit, Stewart McIntosh got up at early o’clock a week past Sunday, and thought about embarking on his standard pre-match ritual.
St Mirren’s team of “doorknobs”, from left, Anton McIver, Norrie McIntosh and Stewart McIntosh.St Mirren’s team of “doorknobs”, from left, Anton McIver, Norrie McIntosh and Stewart McIntosh.
St Mirren’s team of “doorknobs”, from left, Anton McIver, Norrie McIntosh and Stewart McIntosh.

The St Mirren doorman believes presentation is everything following his 30-odd years at the Clydesdale Bank. That is why the retired 69-year-old has a set of personal grooming routines to which he has always adhered before his shift welcoming visitors to the Paisley club on game days; duties he has undertaken for more than quarter of a century.

There is the shower. Then there is the almost ceremonial shaving of the head, before he clips his nails. “My bank training,” he offered of that quirk. The only slight issue eight days ago was that none of this sprucing up was required, St Mirren’s live Sky hosting of Rangers going the way of all football as the world puts itself on hold to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I just kept thinking of what I would have been doing at every point of that morning, ahead of a 
12 o’clock kick-off,” said the garulous McIntosh, known as Papa Mac in club circles.

“I’d have been at the stadium at half nine. I like to be in before the hospitality gets going. Then I do the photographers’ list, then the list for the boardroom and then make sure I’m there to give any directions, answer any questions and sort out any hiccups. I welcome the away team bus and then all the other guests coming in. I love my volunteer role, I love my club and I just want people to go away thinking well of St Mirren.”

People within the club certainly think well of McIntosh and his doorman team formed by his wee brother Norrie McIntosh and his son-in-law Anton McIver. They enjoy plenty of badinage among them and with those who cross their paths. A fact that might be best reflected by their nickname The Doorknobs, which tickles them no end. As does meeting the great and the good. Rod Stewart and Colin Montgomerie have been meet-and-greet celebs of the past and McIntosh won’t forget his encounter with the wrinkly rocker. “Rod is the best guy there has ever been,” he said. “He lived up to his billing – and then some. Not all do, it has to be said. In truth, some folk look down on you. I don’t feel the need to tell them I was a banker in a previous life. It’s their look-out.”

McIntosh and his team’s commitment to roles that are entirely voluntary is quite something. It isn’t simply that they aren’t paid a penny; it costs them.

“We pay for our own blazers, jackets, shirts, trousers, that’s just how it is,” he said. “We were on the open-top bus when we won the league a couple of years ago and that was payment enough for us to be willing to do this for the next 25 years. “

McIntosh’s length of service means he has been saying hellos and goodbyes as the face of the St Mirren frontage since that was in the dilapidated, but characterful, Love Street – the club’s ground until their move in 2009 to the smart new-build in Greenhill Road.

“I did miss Love Street for a long time,” he said. “I missed the smell of urine, and all those other smells you just couldn’t quite work out. It took a while to get accustomed to the new stadium, and for it to feel home. I think it only started to do so after we won the league [the Championship] two years ago and they set up the singing section with the young folk in W7. That really changed the mood around the place and, as I get to go in the tunnel area, I know what a good crackle there is now. I’m getting the buzz for the club just thinking about it.”

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.