St Mirren legend Tony Fitzpatrick has revealed he used a bogus scouting report to get players fired up for one of the most important matches in the club’s history.
Tony was Saints manager when the team needed to win away from home against Stirling Albion to avoid relegation. It was the penultimate game of the 1998 season and if Saints dropped into the Second Division, it would have meant a financial meltdown for the club.
In his newly-released autobiography, Fitzy – The Story of My Life, Tony says the future of St Mirren was at stake and describes how he used a cunning plan to trick his players into putting in the performance of their lives to win 1-0.
In his book Tony reveals: “I came up with a ploy to get the players wound up for the game. When we arrived at Forthbank and while the players were out on the park before getting changed, I sneaked into the away dressing room and left sheets of paper lying on a table before I headed back out to join them.
“It was a spoof scouting report for the Stirling Albion manager, Kevin Drinkell, whose name was on the top of the first page. It was an assessment of each St Mirren player and how they performed in our last game.
“But it didn’t come from any of the Stirling Albion coaching or scouting staff accidentally leaving it in the dressing room – I had written it and deliberately left it there. Since I wanted to get our boys fired up, I slaughtered every player in this ‘performance report’.
“I told our coach, Matt Kerr where in the dressing room I had put the sheets of paper and he was to make a big deal in front of the players when he ‘found’ the report.
“The players are getting changed when suddenly Matt shouts: ‘Gaffer! You need to see this.’
“He hands me the sheets of paper and I act like I’m intently studying what’s written on them. After a minute or so, I turn to the face the players, hold the sheets of paper above my head and say: ‘Bastards! I can’t believe this. It’s a report on how you guys have been playing and you should see what they’re saying about you. You’re getting slagged off something rotten.’
“I go through the fake report reading it out to them. ‘Murray – you’re too slow, you run like Bambi and you’ve only got one star out of five. McGarry – says here you’re a clever player, but if you get hit hard that’s you lost interest and you won’t want to know from then on. You only get one star as well.’
“I go through all the players and every comment is criticising them. I could feel the players bristling with indignation. I go in for the kill: ‘You going to let them away with that? They think you lot are hopeless and are there for the taking.’
“By this time the boys are raging and we’re having to hold them back as they’re desperate to get out on to the park and start a war.”
Tony says that after his team talk with the bogus scouting report the players made sure Saints were never in any danger of losing the game and a Hugh Murray goal in the second half sealed the win.
Fitzy – The Story of My Life is published by Macdonald Media Publishing and is available to buy fromwww.fitzybook.co.uk for only £11.99.