Five For Friday: Before They Were Blues


FFF BeforeFOR MANY football fans, nothing beats the excitement of a new signing.

In simpler times, signing news spread from supporter to supporter, through the local newspaper, or simply by the appearance of a new face on the bench.

Nowadays, the dawn of the internet and social media has allowed for acquisitions to be heralded with much fanfare, but it could also be argued that this has removed a bit of the mystique. It's now easy to find plenty of opinions on a player before they even step foot on the park, usually ranging from "spectacular" to "useless".

Nonetheless, a sense of anticipation still surrounds any new player's debut.

What will they bring to the team? How do you pronounce their name? And, are they really as good as their highlights video on YouTube suggests?

The following 5 men needed little or no introduction to longtime Blues supporters when they signed on the dotted line.

In this week's Five for Friday, we list five players who scored against, then joined, Stranraer.
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Paul Cairney (1 goal for Stranraer, 2 against)

Paul Cairney is the only man in this list to score more goals against the club than in our favour (sorry Paul!).

In his 3 and a half seasons at Queen's Park, he was the architect of a lot of the Spiders' attacking play, but also chipped in with plenty of goals from midfield.

Stranraer travelled to Hampden on the first day of the 2008/09 season, and the campaign got underway with a bang as Gregory Tadé's flick and a curling Martin McBride free kick put the Blues into an early 2-0 lead. However, the game was turned on its head when Alex White was dismissed just over half an hour in, with Stranraer boss Derek Ferguson sent to the stand for protesting.

In the second half, Robert Dunn was there at the back post to claw one back for the Spiders and set up a gripping finale. A soft penalty award was just what the doctor ordered for Queen's Park, and Cairney duly tucked it away to the delight of the home supporters.

The last meeting between the sides that season came on 14 March 2009 at Stair Park. Goals from Danny Mitchell for Stranraer, either side of one each from Cairney and Douglas Barry for Queen's Park, meant the spoils were shared.

High-profile spells with Partick Thistle, Hibernian and Kilmarnock followed, so it was considered quite a coup when Brian Reid brought Cairney to Stranraer in summer 2015.

Despite a shaky start, he went on to become a key figure in the Blues' march to the playoffs, and no-one who witnessed it will ever forget his first - and only - goal for Stranraer: a crucial, worldie of a lob in the semi final second leg against Livingston.
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Jamie Longworth (43 goals for Stranraer, 4 against)

Another Queen's Park and Stranraer alumnus who found the net in that dramatic semi final is Jamie Longworth.

Jammer and his Spiders teammates terrorised the Blues throughout 2011/12, completing a whitewash over the Wigtownshire side of 4 wins.

Longworth opened the scoring in a 2-0 win at Hampden on the second weekend of the season, and netted again 2 months later as Queen's triumphed 3-2 in the reverse fixture at Stair Park.

His team repeated this scoreline at Hampden in February 2012, with Frank McKeown dismissed for Stranraer.

Longworth rounded off an excellent league season by notching up a brace in another 3-2 away win for the Spiders over the Blues in April.

The teams would meet again in the promotion playoffs, but this time Stranraer were victorious, with Longworth kept relatively quiet by the Blues defence.

Stevie Aitken moved quickly to secure Jammer's signing in 2013, and he quickly repaid the manager's faith with a white-hot scoring streak, chipping in with several crucial goals - including that monumental equaliser at Ibrox. The rest, as they say, is history.

caitken1314smallChris Aitken (33 goals for Stranraer, 5 against)

Despite being a midfielder, current assistant boss Chris Aitken managed to score over 100 goals in his career - and 5 of those would come against current club Stranraer.

Aitken would first come to the attention of Blues supporters at Forthbank on 2 April 2005, cancelling out a first half Lee Sharp strike to earn Stirling Albion a 1-1 draw against a Stranraer team which would go on to win promotion that year.

Two divisions separated the sides two years later when they met in the Scottish Cup 3rd Round at Stair Park, and that divide was clear throughout.

The Binos named future Blues Steven Bell and David McKenna in their starting lineup - we'll have more on McKenna later - but it would be Aitken who made the biggest impact. The midfielder had opened the scoring after only quarter of an hour, firing home from the spot, and completed the rout by adding the 6th for the visitors in the 81st minute.

It was a miserable afternoon for the Blues, who had James McKinstry dismissed on the hour mark. And the misery was compounded yet further when the 4th round draw pairings were announced, bringing Stirling a lucrative 4th round tie at Celtic.

Aitken would move on to Brian Reid's Ayr United, and got on the end of a Ryan Stevenson flick to fire his new side ahead against Stranraer on 13 September 2008, at the scene of the previous season's six-goal triumph. Again, the Blues would be reduced to 10 men - Gregory Tadé dismissed for dissent just 3 minutes later.

When Tiff's attempt crashed off the bar on the hour mark, Ryan Borris was there to add a seond. And despite Stephen McConalogue's volleyed reply, Bryan Prunty would seal the 3 points and a 3-1 away win for the Honest Men.

As they marched towards promotion, Ayr would seal the biggest home win for any team that season on 7 March 2009 at Somerset Park with a 5-0 thumping of Stranraer. Aitken was in amongst the goals again, first providing an assist for Neil McGowan's header, before netting from a Prunty cutback.

Fast forward 2 years, and Chris would join brother Stevie at Stranraer. With a remarkable tally of 33 goals in 151 appearances across 5 seasons for the Blues, and now contributing from the dugout, it's fair to say he's made up for the goals he scored against us.

dmckenna1314smallDavid McKenna (5 goals for Stranraer, 3 against)

David McKenna was reacquainted with former teammate Aitken at Stranraer in summer 2013, adding a touch of extra firepower to a new-look Blues strikeforce which already included Martin Grehan and Longworth.

The striker tucked away one of Stirling Albion's 6 goals in the aforementioned Scottish Cup tie at Stair Park, but was part of an even bigger win in Wigtownshire on 24 January 2009, alongside future Blues Grehan, Paul Murphy and Mark Docherty.

Although McKenna didn't score on this occasion, teammates Grehan and Chris Hamilton netted a hat-trick each - despite the sides going into half-time level at 1-1.

Following a desperate 8-2 defeat, Stranraer manager Derek Ferguson bemoaned the limitations he was under, commenting "We don't have a natural defender in the team and it showed".

However, it would be Ferguson's final game in charge.

McKenna would again find the net against already-relegated Stranraer at Forthbank on 11 April 2009, converting an assist from Grehan. But the Blues gained revenge for their humiliation earlier in the season, Stuart McColm and Michael Moore sealing a 2-1 away win to end Stirling's hopes of promotion.

Signing for Brechin in 2010, McKenna would return to bother the Blues once more at Glebe Park on 20 October 2012, as Ray McKinnon marked his first game in charge with a 3-0 win. After a first half Andy Jackson double, the striker made it 3 in the 65th minute with a fine strike from the edge of the box.

McKenna proved a capable deputy for Grehan and Longworth in his sole season at Stair Park, highlighted by a fine brace in a 3-1 win over Dunfermline in March 2014.

Now playing at League 2 level, David lined up for Annan against the Blues in the Betfred Cup at the start of the season.
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Ryan Thomson (6 goals for Stranraer, 1 against)

Prior to helping Stranraer to the playoffs in 2015/16, Ryan Thomson actually played a key role in halting the Blues' momentum in 2013/14 and 2014/15.

One of 6 goals Thomson scored in the 2013/14 campaign came against Stranraer at East End Park on 11 January 2014.

Steven Bell pounced on his first outing against his former club to nod the Blues ahead, but it would be Thomson who headed home the equaliser for Dunfermline.

Frank McKeown made it 2-1 to the visitors in the 51st minute, but again, it wasn't to last. Shaun Byrne found the top corner for the Pars, before Laurence Shankland made it 3-2.

Faissal El-Bakhtaoui saw red for the home side, but they hung on for the win, and would finish 2nd in the table, one place above Stranraer.

The Pars would be victorious as the sides met again in the playoff semi final, with Thomson playing 162 minutes across the two legs.

After a less than fruitful 2014/15 for all concerned at East End Park, Ryan made Stair Park his home for 2015/16, and has already chalked up over a half century of appearances for the Blues.


34 Peterhead W

betfred1

 Pos  Team  Pld   Pts 
1 Livingston 4 11
2 Partick Thistle
3 7
3 Airdrieonians 3 3
4 St Mirren 3 3
5 STRANRAER 3 0

Fixtures


00 Stranraer FC 2015 Logo
3 Number Lotto
Sunday 23 July 2017

Numbers: 5, 6, 17

1 winner taking home £1000:

MW, Stranraer