|2007/08 Season Review
||A serialised account of our season by our man who has been at almost every match home and away - Ewan Lithgow
|Part 1 - Summer||31st May 2008|
"Oh well, maybe next year I'll get that mundane season to write about…………."
That was the sentence I ended last season's review with. When I wrote it I had hope that we'd have a season of at least mid-table first division football with no great relegation troubles. I hadn't dismissed the prospects of a challenge at the top end but thought it was a little unlikely. No way did I imagine the season we ended up having! Who could have? It was frankly unbelievable stuff and the sort of thing the movie producers come up with and have dismissed as too far-fetched. This little club of ours ended up on a sunny day at the end of May taking on the UEFA Cup Finalists at Hampden in the Scottish Cup Final! How surreal is that? Still, it was no overnight success and it took a season of effort to get there. This is how it happened:
Ready for the new season. - Photograph courtesy of Angus McDougal Photography, Dumfries. Tel: 07850 790 251
Part One - Summer 2007
Gordon Chisholm had taken over from Ian McCall as manager and his first action, after re-signing Messrs Paton and O'Neill from the current squad, was to sign Neil MacFarlane on a two year deal from Gretna. MacFarlane had played under Chisholm and McCall at Airdrie in the past and the manager felt he was a building block he could rely on to base his midfield around. He was right.
He didn't however get the services of Billy Dodds as assistant. "Doddsy" opted to keep his media career rather than get back into football full time. However, he did join up as a striker's coach and his work would also prove invaluable through the season ahead. Instead, Kenny Brannigan, once the scourge of Queens forwards in his days as a centre half with Stranraer, took up the assistant manager's post. About the same time a deal was clinched to bring young Jamie Adams back in from Kilmarnock on a half season loan with an option to extend for the full season. At the time this was seen as quite a coup for the club. Unfortunately Adams' season would be ruined by injury and his contribution limited to 20 minutes or so.
Neilly signs on - Photograph by Robin Bryden - Dumfries & Galloway Standard
Over the course of the next few weeks Chisholm also signed goalkeeper Stephen Grindlay from Dumbarton, brought Jamie MacDonald back from Hearts for another season's loan and added David Bingham from Gretna on a half season loan. However there was bad news as both Jamie Adams and Jim Thomson required hernia surgery before kicking a ball, which would rule them out for at least six weeks. With Tosh, O'Neill and Lauchlan also out suspended for the start of the season there were clear problems ahead, particularly at centre back.
The pre-season action kicked off with victory yet again in the Annan Tournament. The Saturday game was a thing to behold as Stephen Dobbie started where he left off last season with SIX goals in a 7-1 demolition of Ayr United. Jim Lauchlan backheeled the other goal whilst Ryan Stevenson grabbed a consolation for Ayr. The final on Sunday on the other hand was poor fare. Queens were fortunate to grab a 1-1 draw with Stranraer, O'Connor volleying a scarcely deserved equaliser to Andy Gibson's early goal. The big striker was also the hero of the penalty shoot out, scoring the winner in a 5-4 victory after Grindlay had blocked Gibson's effort for Stranraer. Trialists involved for us were Neil McGowan, the former Airdrie skipper, Carl Jones, a centre half from Hartlepool United and Graham Eaglesham, a young striker from Ayrshire amateur football who would go on to sign for Partick Thistle.
In the following week McGowan signed a one year deal, as did Brian Gilmour, a much sought after winger from Clyde, whilst his former team-mate Bob Harris signed a two year deal to challenge Jamie McQuilken for the left back slot. All of that was overshadowed somewhat though by the sudden and tragic death of former player Garry Telfer whilst attending to a fire in his subsequent career as a fireman. Garry's brother Tony still helps out in the Palmerston laundry through the week too so it was news that hit the club hard.
Back on the park, a trip to Paddy Atkinson's Newcastle Benfield resulted in a 3-1 win for Queens courtesy of goals from Aitken, Bingham and Dobbie after Shandran had given the home side a lead well against the run of play.
That win was followed by another over our new SPL neighbours Gretna. They visited Palmerston with a shadow side and were sent home with a 2-1 defeat that was probably more comfortable than the scoreline would suggest. O'Connor and Bingham had Queens cruising before Fraser McLaren's last minute consolation. A trialist in this game was former Newcastle and Carlisle centre half Liam Atkin and he kept his place in a much changed Queens side that achieved a creditable 0-0 draw with Carlisle United on the Saturday. Both teams missed penalties though as Grindlay saved one from Aranalde first half whilst John O'Neill stuck one over the crossbar in the second period.
Part Two - August
Before the opening competitive game against St Johnstone Chisholm signed Jamie Mole from Hearts on a half season loan to add to his striking options but was forced to confirm that between suspension and injury Lauchlan, Thomson, Harris, McGowan, Tosh, Adams and O'Neill would all miss the opening fortnight.
It was with some trepidation then that most Queens fans approached the opening game against a St Johnstone side much fancied to be challenging for the title. Against all the odds though Queens turned in a tremendous performance that should have brought three points. Dobbie scored early and MacFarlane clipped one in from 40 yards to double the lead before Sheerin's penalty pulled a goal back. Dobbie missed a penalty at the other end before scoring a third anyway moments later but a late collapse saw another Sheerin penalty and then Martin Hardie equalised with the last kick for a creditable draw that felt like a defeat.
Dobbie curls home his second against the Saints.
Midweek brought with it a disastrous and financially damaging 1-0 defeat at East Fife in the CIS Cup. At the time it looked a much worse result than it probably was with the Fifers going on to win their division by an absolute mile and winning away at SPL St Mirren in the following round and I still believe we probably wouldn't have lost had Bob Harris not contrived to get himself sent off for a two footed tackle on his debut. At the time we were 0-0 and in the ascendancy. Instead Greig McDonald scored the only goal.
Before the weekend though David Rae made a formal announcement confirming what most fans had known for a while. The club would now be officially a full time one, training four times a week on new facilities at Glasgow Green. In truth only John O'Neill amongst the squad was still a part-timer anyway and, Murray Henderson apart, that had been the case for about half a season.
Back to league business though and a 2-1 defeat at Dens Park followed. Dundee scored through a Davidson penalty after Aitken was harshly adjudged to have shoved Zemlik in the box but O'Connor headed Queens level before Davidson's late winner. Just before the winner Dobbie passed up a golden opportunity to win it for Queens when he chipped over the crossbar when clean through.
A second cup exit in a week followed at Broadwood in midweek thanks to Steven Masterton's free kick and Chisholm decided not to offer Liam Atkin a permanent contract at the end of his trial before the trip to Hamilton Accies. This wasn't a popular decision with many of the support and the manager was less popular pretty soon after Andy Aitken's short back-pass had let Richard Offiong in for the only goal at New Douglas Park. In a short statement midweek it was announced that the popular Aitken, about to enter a testimonial year, was free to find a new club before the transfer window, as was young Mark Whorlow.
Before the month end Queens finally recorded their first league win with a 1-0 home success over Livingston that was much more comfortable than the margin would suggest. Polish keeper Liberda kept the visitors in the game with a string of saves before Neil Scally pressured Patrick Noubissie into knocking past his own keeper. The goal was officially credited to Scally though.
Scalls celebrates his 'goal' against Livvie.
The month ended with Queens actually in 5th in the table despite only a win and a draw from four games. Two cup exits combined with the unpopular release of Atkin and the decision to make Aitken available meant all was far from well with the core support though. The transfer deadline though did pass with neither Aitken nor Whorlow actually departing.