2002/03 Back in the First
A serialised account of our season by our man who has been at almost every match home and away - Ewan Lithgow
Part One - Summer
It falls to me to review the season for the website for the second successive year. And another fine season it was too. Okay, it didn't finish with another championship, that would be asking just a bit much maybe, but by anyone's standards it was certainly successful. If you'd asked any hardened Queens fan of the last couple of decades what they were looking for from this season you'd surely have gotten the same answer from all of them…….survival. As a part-time side tasting life in the First Division for the first time since 1989 (when we were relegated with a record low number of points), eighth place was a legitimate end of season target and anything else was a bonus. To end up fifth and with another trophy in the cabinet for good measure, meaning for a time we held two national trophies at once, something not many non-Old Firm sides can claim to have done over the years, was more than we could have hoped for.
I suppose the best place to start the review is where the last one finished off. Within a week of the Second Division Championship being collected, the planning started for the First Division campaign. That meant hard decisions for John Connolly and co to make about players and it meant an immediate departure from the club for George O'Boyle, Allan Moore and Stuart Davidson. Those three were the most high profile of the eight players freed. The others were Stuart Dawson, Gordon Burns, Lenny Walker, Paul Brownlee and Graeme Armstrong. The remainder of the squad were all offered terms and all bar Graham Connell would accept them quickly. "Carwash" though, presumably feeling he was unlikely to feature that much, decided to move on to Berwick Rangers with the club's best wishes.

The next five or six weeks saw a few more player movements. Brian McColligan became the club's first signing of the summer when he joined up from Clydebank and he was soon joined by his team-mate Eric Paton too. Moving away from the club on the other hand was Gordon Connelly. Despite having a further year on his existing contract, Connelly realised he was unlikely to feature much in the First Division and was released and allowed to join Connell at Berwick. Finally, in a major shock on the eve of pre-season training starting, Derek Lyle was signed up from Partick Thistle for a fee of £20,000. Lyle had been a major success in a three month loan spell the previous season but, with Thistle reluctant to let him leave and the player preferring to remain full-time, it seemed a long shot that we would manage to get his signature. The possibility seemed to have evaporated when Lyle actually signed a new contract at Thistle less than a week earlier, but the two clubs came to an agreement and a deal was sorted out to give the club a major boost coming into the season.




Meanwhile, in off the field activities, an astonishing 142 entries were received for the shirt sponsorship draw. On the night, assistant manager Ian Scott's wife Lisa drew out director David Rae's entry as the winner. David opted to auction the rights to raise more money for the club and, after a short bidding war, Positive Response Communications Limited won the rights to have their logo on the shirts for the next year. In another interesting development, Gretna FC won admission to the Scottish Football League, replacing Airdrie. In so doing they brought a number of familiar ex-Queens faces back into the League as well as technically becoming our most local rivals, displacing Stranraer by some forty miles or so in one fell swoop!

Ewan Lithgow
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

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