|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 Nine - March||28th June 2008|
Gordon Chisholm and Chairman, David Rae, considered appealing Jim Thomson's red card against Partick for some time but in the end opted not to so the big man picked up a three-match league suspension that did at least leave him free to play in the Scottish Cup. Craig Reid was his replacement for the home match against leaders Hamilton. Again they grabbed an early Palmerston lead, this time courtesy of James Grady, before Queens stormed back at them and Dobbie's double before half time looked enough to clinch the points. The match ended in controversy though when James McCarthy was allowed to equalise in the last minute despite having clearly fouled Steve Tosh in the build up. Referee Chris Boyle allowed the goal though and sent off Tosh for his protests.
Dobbs nets against the eventual Champions - Photo from Sandy Robertson.
Gordon Chisholm picked up his second successive Manager of the Month award ahead of the Scottish Cup quarter final against Dundee, though this time he shared the title with his rival Alex Rae.
Saturday 8th March brought with it a date with destiny. Queen of the South hadn't played at Hampden Park in the Scottish Cup since 1950 but we were 90 minutes away and facing a Dundee side we'd already beaten twice in a row and who were without six first choice players due to injury and suspension. What a chance this was. Previous Queens teams would have thrown an opportunity like that away. Not this one. We never looked in any real trouble in front of over 6,000 fans. When Stephen Dobbie controlled a MacDonald clearance in an instant and despatched it beyond Samson for the opener early in the second half Dundee had no answer. Instead in desperation, as time ticked down, they sent goalkeeper Craig Samson up for a late free kick and watched in horror as the ball was half cleared to Ryan McCann who coolly picked his spot from the massive distance of 84 yards out! Bill Leckie's radio commentary was soon to be found on mobile phones throughout the support. "It's a goal from his own HALF by Ryan McCann and Queen of the South are going to Hampden for the Scottish Cup Semi Final". Brilliant!
Dobbs scored a great opener.
Celebration and realisation - a Hampden trip awaits
The draw for the semi finals offered a tie with either Celtic or Aberdeen but at this point no-one cared who it was. The following day the two famous names drew at Pittodrie with Celtic snatching a last minute draw and with Aberdeen's chance now widely perceived to have gone Sky were quick to select the game as their live coverage match. They might not have been so quick to choose it if they'd known a week down the line that Aberdeen would win at Parkhead but I bet come April 12th they didn't regret it!
It was back down to earth midweek for Queens anyway as the unbeaten run finally came to an end with a 2-1 reverse at Perth. Dobbie curled in a brilliant effort against the run of play to give us a shock second half lead but a double from Peter MacDonald turned things around and in truth a flat performance deserved no better though it was understandable. The weekend brought a little improvement but only a draw with Dunfermline at Palmerston. Robert Harris beat the offside trap to turn in his first goal for Queens early on but Scott Morrison equalised with a free kick and the additional two points were lost when a blatant foul on O'Connor in the box by former Palmerston favourite Alex Burke was missed by the referee.
The winning habit returned with a consummate performance at Broadwood. Queens ran out 4-1 victors thanks to a Dobbie double, Tosh penalty and a Bestvina own goal. Masterton had netted a penalty for Clyde.
Morton visited the following weekend to finish the month's action. On a soaking wet day a goal-less draw was no great surprise and the game was more notable for a bad neck injury suffered by Sean O'Connor that raised doubts over his participation in the Scottish Cup Semi Final.
With relegation worries a long since distant memory and 3rd place the best we could realistically achieve, the month finished with the club focused almost entirely on the forthcoming semi final against Aberdeen.
Part Ten - April
April Fool's Day saw an unfortunate single goal defeat at Livingston, a result that meant much more to the home side than it did to us. The game could easily have gone either way but was won by Leigh Griffiths' controversial late goal awarded by the referee despite an offside flag by his assistant. Gordon Chisholm was sent to the stand for arguing about it and Paul Burns saw red in the last minute for a red mist challenge on Snodgrass. Not a good night and one that left Burns sweating on decent weather for the weekend's trip to Stirling otherwise he would miss the semi final.
Fortunately for young Mr Burns there were no problems with the pitch at Forthbank on the Saturday. The game was another non-event and another scoreless draw though Queens had much the better of it. It represented three games without a goal, perhaps not the best way to go into such a massive game but we needn't have worried on that score. We were saving them up! More importantly, no-one got injured, no-one got sent off and everyone came through unscathed.
Saturday April 12th was the day Queen of the South announced themselves to the British football viewing public. The "minnows" featured in their first ever live TV match and played Aberdeen off the park for long spells of a quite wonderful match. They called it the greatest semi final ever seen and probably weren't far wrong. If anybody thought Queens were there to congratulate themselves on reaching that stage and disappear again they were badly wrong. Aberdeen may have beaten Celtic and held Bayern Munich to a draw but they hadn't met Sean O'Connor and co before and they had absolutely no idea how to deal with us.
Stevie Tosh smashed Queens into a lead midway through the first half but Andrew Considine equalised shortly afterward. When Dobbie limped off before the interval you wondered if we had enough invention in us to win it. Did we ever? Paul Burns and Sean O'Connor twice put us back in the lead early in the second half. Nicholson and Considine again pegged us back. Surely we would run out of steam? Not a chance. The bit part player John Stewart was the hero of the hour when he smashed home a winner from six yards out after being inexplicably left unmarked at a throw in routine. There was time for Zander Diamond to hit both bar and post in the same attack but Jamie MacDonald and his back four were equal to anything the big boys threw at them and at full time almost 10,000 Doonhamers partied like there was no tomorrow. Football has never before or since moved me to tears but it did that day. Uncontrollable tears of joy fell from many both on and off the pitch as soon as that whistle sounded. Queen of the South in the Scottish Cup Final. Quite unbelievable.
Game set and match Queens
There was still league action to be completed though and Thistle were put to the sword on Wednesday at Palmerston albeit there was controversy about both goals in our 2-0 win. Stewart clearly turned the opener in with his hand whilst Thistle felt Dobbie had won the ball with a foul before setting up Robert Harris for the second.
At the weekend, a much changed Queens side still ended Dundee's title challenge with a 1-0 Palmerston win meaning that we completed the home programme without a loss in 2008. Brian Gilmour on a rare start was the matchwinner this time, turning home in a scramble following a corner kick.
The real big news came the following day though when Rangers defeated St Johnstone on penalty kicks in the other semi final and in so doing confirmed that incredibly we would be playing in the UEFA Cup next season. It just kept getting stranger and stranger this wondrous season! Disappointingly though Stephen Dobbie missed out on being Division One's Player of the Season despite making the final four nominees. Livingston's Graham Dorrans was the surprise winner.
The league campaign ended with our heaviest defeat of the season as what basically amounted to a reserve team with ultimately only Tosh and Thomson playing in their established positions crashed 4-0 at Dunfermline. We'd actually been the better side to half time but collapsed in the second period. Scott Thomson, Ian Williamson and Mark Burchill, twice, scored the goals.
The league campaign saw a highly creditable 4th spot achieved and a second half of the season as good as anybody's. There is much to build on with optimism for next year.