Motherwell fans across the country were treated to a repeat of the famous 1991 Scottish Cup final on national television last night.
A day of hope, emotion and joy for those who lived it, the exploits of Fir Park’s most famous team in the modern era was perhaps brought to a new generation for the first time. Fans new and old or somewhere in-between were able to digest this historic game together.
There’s a reason why some nearly 30 years later, Well fans still gush over this game, the events cemented into the walls at Fir Park.
There won’t be many teams who will or can say they’ve gone into a Scottish Cup final with as much expectation as that Motherwell side. Carrying the dreams of supporters is one thing, what about a whole town?
Motherwell needed a ray of light. The mood was dark as the forthcoming redundancies from the closure of the Ravenscraig steelworks loomed large. A worried town had Tommy McLean’s side for hope.
They were unfancied but of course they had special qualities. It was a team of proper hardworking pros alongside some individual magic in the form of Davie Cooper and a young Phil O’Donnell.
McLean’s heroes had knocked out holders Aberdeen on their own turf and eliminated Celtic in the semi-final. It set the stage for the battle of the McLean brothers, with opposing team Dundee United managed by Tommy’s brother Jim.
What occurred in the final can only be described as one of the single greatest moments of Motherwell history. The men in claret and amber ran out 4-3 winners after an enthralling final that had gone to extra time.
There was a disallowed goal, Well goalkeeper Ally Maxwell playing on with a ruptured spleen, a late United equaliser before Stevie Kirk’s big moment. There were cups of tea on the park and O’Donnell’s heroic header, brave as a lion some might say.
The images of the team bus passing by the Ravenscraig steelworks that would be abolished a year later are iconic photos not just in the football club’s history, but the town’s. It captured a poignant moment in a pretty dark period.
It’s why countless Well fans tuned in to relive this epic day when it made its way to national television once again. A cup classic, you’ll struggle to find a final with as much entertainment value as the 91 showpiece had.
Well fans of a certain generation will be able to round off the team that played that day like clockwork. The spirit of 91 is embodied in the club walls, with two Fir Park stands named after two legends of that team. There are other tributes to that day of course around the club, with Motherwell still waiting for their first trophy since that glorious afternoon.
McLean’s Motherwell team immortalised themselves into the town’s folklore with that win. Who knows when the next trophy will arrive in North Lanarkshire, but whatever happens, the spirit of 91 will live on for generations.