One of Scotland’s most enduring clubs, St Mirren represent the mill town of Paisley, since swallowed up into Greater Glasgow, close to the airport.
Moved to a new-build stadium in 2009 out by the M8 motorway that connects Glasgow and Edinburgh, ‘The Buddies’ were previously based at Love Street, giving rise to the idiosyncratic fanzine ‘There’s a Store Where the Creatures Meet’.
Since then, Saints’ fans had had little to sing about until Celtic old boy Paul McGowan converted a penalty to put St Mirren ahead against his former employees in the League Cup semi-final in 2013. The Buddies held out for a famous 3-2 victory, returning to Hampden two months later to beat Hearts by the same scoreline.
St Mirren had previously won three Scottish Cups, the most recent in 1987 featuring Paul Lambert and Frank McGarvey – but the club’s biggest claim to fame came a decade earlier when Sir Alex Ferguson managed them for four seasons in the mid-1970s. Ferguson then took two stars of the young promotion-winning side, Billy Stark and Peter Weir, with him to Aberdeen. St Mirren remain the only club to have sacked Ferguson.
Established in 1877 and founding members of the Scottish League shortly afterwards, St Mirren have been playing in black-and-white stripes for most of their near 140-year-old history. A shock Scottish Cup win came in 1926, the winning goal scored by Jimmy Howieson, an early pioneer of soccer in America. Howieson played alongside several members of the USA side that made the semi-final of the inaugural World Cup of 1930.
It was an American-Scot who scored the decisive goal in St Mirren’s next cup victory, the 3-1 win over Aberdeen in 1959. Gerry Baker, brother of England international Joe, played for USA in their 1970 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Regular winners of the Renfrewshire Cup along with Greenock Morton, St Mirren had recently been a permanent fixture just above the relegation spot of the Scottish Premiership before the inevitable happened in 2015 and the Buddies dropped down to the Championship.
A new-build set between the M8 motorway and a bleak zone of warehouses and recycle plants, St Mirren Stadium looks little better than its surroundings – though once inside, it’s a reasonably intimate place to watch a football match.
Love Street, last used in January 2009, was St Mirren’s home from 1894. The indebted club was forced to sell the land to a supermarket chain, later refused planning permission to build – the plot has lain fallow ever since.
Many still drink in the pubs near Paisley Gilmour Street and walk past the original site to reach St Mirren Park. Home fans gather in the Main Stand and South Stand behind the goal. Visitors are allocated the North Stand and West if demand requires.
The nearest train station is Paisley St James, the other side of Greenhill Road from the stadium that you’ll see in full view from the platform. It’s only 17min direct from Glasgow Central, with trains every 30min. There are fewer services at weekends. Services are far more frequent to Paisley Gilmour Street (10-15min) – you can either change there or walk up Old Sneddon/St James’ Street, across the roundabout to Caledonia Street (parallel to Love Street), then left down Murray Street. It’s a 15min walk but past no few St Mirren pubs.
The ticket office (Mon-Thur 10am-2pm, Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, match-day Sat/Sun 9am-kick-off) is by the club shop behind the Main Stand the other side of Greenhill Road. The club also runs an online service.
Seats are £20 everywhere, an extra £2 for padded ones in the Main Stand. Under-18s are charged £10-£12, under-12s £5. There’s also a dedicated family area in the West College Scotland (West) Stand, tickets at £20, £5/£2 for under 18s/12s.
The club shop behind the Main Stand keeps the same hours as the adjoining ticket office. You can also buy those stripy black-and-white shirts online through JD Sports.
Bars cluster around Paisley Gilmour Street, starting with The Last Post, a huge Wetherspoons pub in the station building itself.
Further up on Old Sneddon Street, The Argyll Bar (No.16) flies the flag of St Mirren, signed player photos on display inside. A 2013 revamp won’t go unnoticed – especially when compared to the handful of nearby old men’s boozers used as pre-match pubs when the club played at Love Street. On Love Street itself, these include The Wee Barrel (No.24), age-old, peeling and lined with fading photos of pre-war Paisley.
At the stadium, a match-day bar is set up, access gained with a £5 supplement to the match ticket.