|2006/07 Season Review
||A serialised account of our season by our man who has been at every match home and away - Ewan Lithgow
I recall writing last season that it might be nice to have a mundane season to review once in a while. Well I didn't get it this year either. A season that began with such optimism turned into a remarkable mirror image of the one before, finished with "The Great Escape Mark 2" and perhaps more surprisingly with a managerial change thrown in for good measure.
|Part 1 - Summer||5th May 2007|
Having finished last season with such a fine late run to pip Stranraer to safety, manager Ian McCall took his squad away for a break in Barcelona as a reward and during that time away persuaded Sean O'Connor to sign a new one year deal with the club. One player not travelling though was Richie Barnard despite telling everyone he was coming, the latest in a long line of issues the manager was having with the big keeper. On the return to Scotland though McCall announced that he had decided to let Tommy English and Steve Bowey leave the club, as they no longer featured in his plans. It was not an entirely unexpected decision but for the latter it meant the departure of one of our best modern day players and many fans were disappointed about it. The news was followed a few days later with Shaun Dillon's release also.
It wasn't long until new signings were appearing for next season too. Murray Henderson and John Henry joined up from Stranraer and St Johnstone respectively whilst Graham Weir made his previously loan move from Hearts permanent. McCall took time out to pick B&B Body Repairers name out of the hat to be the new shirt sponsors before also clinching the services of Stephen Swift from Stranraer and confirming that he would be talking to his former goalkeeper Allan Ferguson, recently released by Falkirk, about joining up too.
Tom Beattie celebrates his win in the shirt sponsorship draw.
The next news was about players going out though with confirmation that Stuart Lovell, who had been simply magnificent at the back end of the previous year, was retiring from football to take a job with Setanta Sports, whilst Gary Wood had asked to be released and had his request granted. Wood would in due course re-sign for his previous club Berwick Rangers and go on to win the third division with them this season. The manager also took the time to deny rumours that he had any interest in Kilmarnock's David Lilley or Stranraer's David Hamilton but confirmed he might be interested in signing ex-Queens favourite Alex Burke provided he could get one of his existing strikers away, which appeared to be a pointed hint that Derek Lyle was surplus to requirements.
Neil Scally was next to join up, the man who would go on to lift all the Player of the Year trophies signing a two year deal after being released by Falkirk but going the other way after failing to turn up at the start of pre-season training was Richie Barnard, shown the door after one too many run-ins with McCall. That generated a goalkeeping problem with Colin Scott released at the end of the previous season. That was quickly solved first by the signing of Barry John Corr from Stranraer despite interest from several full time clubs and then, in a surprise development, by the re-signing of Scott on his return from holiday. Scott McKenzie who had been on trial through pre-season also joined up on the same day.
Best business of the year!
In the midst of all the player movement Eric Moffat took over as club secretary on the retirement of the long-serving Margaret Bell, though she would return a couple of times during the forthcoming season as holiday cover.
David Rae says thanks to Margaret..
The pre-season fixtures meantime had kicked off with a double header on the same night, as the squad was split in two and sent half to St Cuthbert's Wanderers and half to Dalbeattie Star. It was an inauspicious start really as the slightly more senior side struggled to beat Star 2-1 thanks to goals from Weir and Henderson whilst the younger side were held 1-1 at Kirkcudbright with Stuart McColm scoring the goal.
A week later a full strength Kilmarnock side were held 2-2 at Palmerston with John O'Neill giving Queens an early lead from the penalty spot after Andy Thomson was tripped in the box only for Invincible's free kick to deflect in off Paton for a leveller before half time. Michael Mullen restored the lead for Queens but bright young star Steven Naismith, who would be named Scotland's PFA Young Player of the Year at the end of the season, equalised again late on.
The Annan Tournament is always an enjoyable pre-season tourney and this year was no exception, although again Queens were a little underwhelming in their performances along the way to winning it, though win it we eventually did. The semi-final saw us ultimately require penalties to see off the hosts after a 1-1 draw. Derek Lyle scored our goal but a late equaliser from Chris Norval took it to spot kicks where Gibson, Mullen, McKenzie and Paton were all successful for a 4-1 margin with trialist goalkeeper Jamie Green having saved Annan's first two kicks. Green was not the only trialist in the Queens line up though with Keiran McAnespie, Lewis Sloan, Kyle Bryson and Stuart McColm all included also. Sloan and McColm were the only ones to eventually earn contracts though neither of them actually ever
Trialist Green gets down to save a penalty.
played for the first team all season. The following day a more senior side beat Stranraer 1-0 in the final thanks to Graham Weir deflecting O'Connor's shot into the net. The margin should have been much more with Stranraer playing most of the game with only nine men after Will Snowden was sent off for kicking out at O'Connor and goalkeeper John Wight followed him for handball outside his penalty area.
Next up was a trip to Coleraine, arranged at short notice after a friendly with Bamber Bridge fell through. It was an excellent trip all round and a comfortable 3-0 win to boot courtesy of goals from O'Neill, O'Connor and Andy Thomson but sadly the game ended up being more notable for the serious knee injury Andy Aitken suffered after getting his studs caught in turf. It would eventually be diagnosed as a cruciate injury and Aitken would miss almost the whole season as a result, making his only start of the campaign in the final game.
A closed door 8-0 win over Stranraer Athletic followed with goals from Henderson, J Thomson, Scally, Robertson, Baty (2), Mullen and Sloan before the shock development of Kenny Crichton's departure from the club. KC had joined the club as part of the Connolly revolution and, groundsman Kevin McCormick apart, was the longest serving employee at the club. Having expanded his original job as physio to a full time role with a development remit and moved to the town from the North East of England, it had been felt by many Queens fans that he was "in with the bricks" at Palmerston but it proved not. Having been allowed to help Gretna out for a couple of weeks when they had no physio they made him an offer of a permanent position and he departed for Raydale. He would return several times during the season as a fan for midweek games though. Ian McCall moved quickly to use his connections and recruit John Kerr, formerly with Ayr United and Falkirk, as his replacement.
John Kerr brought his wealth of experience to Palmerston.
The pre-season was completed with two 4-0 wins at Penrith and Queens Park. Weir. O'Connor, Thomson and Mullen all found the net at Penrith whilst in what was ostensibly a closed door game at Lesser Hampden but ended up being watched by an entire busful of Travel Club fans, O'Neill, Andy Thomson (2) and Michael Mullen did the business. McCall, not for the first time all season, was abroad on media work with the BBC when the final game took place so Stevie Morrison was in charge.