Mor­ton great can’t make game be­cause he’s work­ing at Stonelaw

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Back Page - Mur­ray Spooner

Greenock Mor­ton leg­end Jim Holmes has fond mem­o­ries of play­ing at Ham­p­den Park but is set to miss their first semi­fi­nal since 1981 due to work com­mit­ments at Stonelaw High.

The for­mer Ton man has been the jan­i­tor at the Ruther­glen school for more than 10 years and will be work­ing on the day Jim Duffy’s men walk out at the na­tional sta­dium against Aberdeen in the Bet­fred Cup.

Jim, 61, who played a stag­ger­ing 531 times for the blue and white hoops, will be open­ing the doors to clubs who lease fa­cil­i­ties at the Calder­wood Road build­ing on week­ends.

But even though he will not be on the ter­races to cheer Mor­ton on, the care­taker, who is the fa­ther of Al­loa Ath­letic cap­tain Graeme Holmes, is pray­ing for a Ton win.

“I won’t be there be­cause I’m in the school,” he told the Re­former. “It will be a big oc­ca­sion for Mor­ton.

“They’ve been do­ing well this sea­son and Jim Duffy is do­ing a good job. I am good friends with him and they have got a cou­ple of good re­sults re­cently.

“Aberdeen don’t have the names in the team they once did but they also have a good side. I hope Mor­ton do well.

“My son played for them [Mor­ton] years ago and I watched him when he played against them, but I al­ways look out for how they are do­ing.”

The for­mer Partick This­tle, Ar­broath, Al­loa and Falkirk man was a key fig­ure for Mor­ton dur­ing 1976 to 1988. He was part of a team that beat the fu­ture Euro­pean Cup Win­ners Cup and Euro­pean Su­per Cup cham­pi­ons, Aberdeen, 10 times be­tween 1979 to 1982,

But one of Jim’s big­gest re­grets is miss­ing out on play­ing in a

Ham­p­den fi­nal after Mor­ton lost in the League Cup semis to Sir Alex Fer­gu­son’s Dons in 1979. And he was later sent off when Rangers beat them in the last four of the Scot­tish Cup two years later at Celtic Park.

“I played for Mor­ton for 12 sea­sons and I loved it there,” he said.

“We had a spell where we had a bet­ter record against Aberdeen than Celtic and Rangers.

But we played them in a semi­fi­nal in 1979 and we lost 2-1 at Ham­p­den.

“Aberdeen had a great team and they went on to win the Cup Win­ners Cup. They very rarely beat Mor­ton but they had some great play­ers like Gordon Strachan, Wil­lie Miller and Steve Archibald.”

Com­ment i n g o n h i s mem­o­ries at Cappielow, Jim added: “We played against Ar­se­nal and I re­mem­ber play­ing against the likes of Charlie Ni­cholas and Paul Davis. I think Ge­orge Gra­ham was the man­ager back then and we lost 1-0 to them at Cappielow in pre­sea­son friendly.”

Mor­ton go into Satur­day’s match on the back of a 5- 0 ham­mer­ing of Queen of the South.

And de­spite the talk of the teams play­ing in a half- full sta­dium, partly due to an early kick off, Jim be­lieves the play­ers will still rise to the oc­ca­sion.

He com­mented: “I’m sure Aberdeen will bring a big sup­port down as they al­ways do and Mor­ton will have all their loy­als there.

“When we played them in 1979, there was only 11,000 there and that was at the old Ham­p­den which could take up to over 100,000, so you can imag­ine the at­mos­phere then.

“We lost 2- 1 and they scored a goal that prob­a­bly wouldn’t have stood in today’s game be­cause some­one was stand­ing in an off­side po­si­tion.”

Mor­ton leg­end De­fender Jim Holmes plays for The Ton against Kil­marnock Ar­se­nal friendly Charlie Ni­cholas chal­lenges Jim Holmes in July 1987 Work com­mit­ments Jim is now the jan­i­tor at Stonelaw High School in Ruther­glen

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