Each Scottish Premiership Team's First League Game 10 Years Ago
The fixtures have finally been released for the scheduled return of the Scottish Premiership and excitement can begin for the return come August 1st. With the current on-goings with the Coronavirus, it is still uncertain as to how this will go ahead, with the expectancy to be that games will be played behind closed doors. It's been weird seeing football played with no fans but is just something that we'll have to get used to. It's an odd way to kick off the first full season in a new decade, with teams looking to start both the 20's and new season in strong fashion. But how did each of the current 12 Premiership teams fare in their first league games ten years ago? Ten years is a long time in football, with a lot of teams being completely different due to the fast nature business. Managers, players, owners and even leagues can change every season, never mind over the course of the decade, with teams becoming unrecognisable from years prior. With this in mind, here's a look back at each Premiership side's opening fixture from the 2010/11 season.
Aberdeen 4-0 Hamilton Academical
Aberdeen have the fortune of beginning each season top of the league due to alphabetical order but remained there after the first match-day with a thumping win over Hamilton Accies. Both teams remain in the league to this day but back in 2010, Hamilton would get off to the worst of starts and the season would see them sit bottom on both the first and the last match days. A bizarre affair at Pittodrie saw Aberdeen run out 4-0 winners, with a hat-trick of penalties from new captain Paul Hartley delivering the three points. A goal from Zander Diamond added to Accies misery as Sone Aluko shone winning two penalties, where Simon Mensing had a day to forget, giving away two penalties.
12,005 people turned out for the opening day in the Granite City, with Aberdeen offering debuts to the aforementioned Hartley, as well as to Rory McCardle, Yoann Folly, Josh Magennis and Mark Howard. It was a dream debut for Hartley, picking up the match ball albeit all efforts from the penalty spot. Appearing on that day and likely to do so again come August 1st against Rangers was club legend Andrew Considine who continues to ply his trade in the North East, remaining to be a regular in Derek McInnes' squad both at centre and left back. Mark McGhee's side had got off to a brilliant start but this wouldn't be something to get used to, as Aberdeen would lose 12 games before 2011, including 7 in a row which would cost McGhee his job. As for young players waiting to break through, the Aberdeen bench featured their future captain, an 18-year-old Ryan Jack who doesn't seem to be quite as popular up there anymore. As well as Jack, Peter Pawlett and Fraser Fyvie featured for Aberdeen, with both beginning to break through and stake their claim on the first team.
It would be a day and a season to forget for Accies, a season which would see them only pick up one home win the entire season. Accies gave debuts to Gavin Skelton, David Buchanan, current Hibs manager Jack Ross and former Don Gary McDonald whilst familair faces Dougie Imrie, Martin Canning and the Paixao twins featured. The Accies manager at the time was Billy Reid, who can now be found at English Premier League club Brighton as an assistant manager, having joined up with Graham Potter after spells with the manager at Ostersund and Swansea City, building an impressive CV as a coach.
Inverness 0-1 Celtic
Celtic started off the 2010/11 season with a visit up north to newly promoted Inverness, with a tougher game than many perhaps expected. The hosts threatened early on, squandering a couple of key chances before a moment of genius would turn the game in Celtic's favour. Paddy McCourt was quite an enigma in Scottish football, he seemed to struggle for fitness very frequently but when he played, he showed insane quality on the ball as he weaved through defences with ease. This game would showcase McCourt's ability, with a tremendous mazy goal being all the Hoops needed to escape the Caledonian Stadium with all three points.
Going into this game, the Celtic squad had quite the overhaul, with star player Aiden McGeady, fans favourite Artur Boruc and club captain Stephen McManus all being shown the door. With this, Lukasz Zaluska, new signing Charlie Mulgrew and the aforementioned McCourt would replace them, alongside debuts for Joe Ledley, Gary Hooper and Efrain Juarez. Neil Lennon was well underway a rebuild of a Celtic team that had failed dreadfully the season prior with an abundance of signings that would signal great progress for the club. James Forrest would come on as a sub and would see a daring late chance be brilliantly saved by Thistle keeper Ryan Esson. Of course, alongside Lennon then and still to this day is one of Scottish football's greatest pantomime villains, Scott Brown. The 2010/11 season would be Brown's first season as club captain at Celtic, a great decision as he has led the club to a whopping 19 trophies in his tenure.
Cowdenbeath 0-2 Ross County
The next game is first of two that take place outwith the top flight, as in 2010/11 Ross County were currently in the Scottish First Division, now known as the Championship. County's last game of the previous season was a loss in the Scottish Cup Final, a great run that saw them defeat Celtic on route to the final. After finishing runners up and a 5th place finish, County would be looking to build upon that in the new season, with their first league being a trip to Fife to face Cowdenbeath. A sublime effort from the pictured Michael Gardyne saw County take the lead after half-time before Paul Di Giacamo would get on the end of a Steven Craig cross to take three points away from Central Park.
Michael Gardyne remains at Ross County to this day, albeit with some time spent at Dundee United and Kilmarnock in between, becoming a club legend with his goal in the 2016 League Cup final against Hibs. Noticeably for me, the County side that day featured four ex-Livi youth players who would have great times in the highlands, with Scottish Cup semi-final scorer Martin Scott, full back Gary Miller, 'Ginger Pele' and former sporting director Scott Boyd and of course, captain Richard Brittain. Brittain would prove to be a great servant for County, captaining them through many triumphs and become an underrated player within Scottish football. The County team that day would also feature journeymen Michael McGovern, Andrew Barrowman and Mark Corcoran, with Derek Adams in charge before taking up a role at Hibs.
St Mirren 1-1 Dundee United
Two of the last three winners of the Scottish Championship, St Mirren (2018) and Dundee United (2020*) faced off at Love Street in the opening game of the 2010 season, sharing the spoils. The game was Danny Lennon's first competitive match in charge as Dundee United had one eye on a midweek Europa League tie against AEK Athens. Nonetheless, United would have the better of the chances, with Gary Kenneth and David Goodwillie both going close with Buddies keeper Paul Gallagher denying his former club. St Mirren would take the lead in the 76th minute as new signing Sean Lynch fired a volley into the top corner from the edge of the box putting the Buddies on their way to an upset on the first day of the season. Unfortunately, a last-minute Jon Daly equaliser would spoil the party in Paisley as both teams left with a point apiece.
Prior to this game, Danny Lennon had a busy summer, acquiring nine new players including a quartet from Cowdenbeath. Making their debuts were David van Zanten (from Hamilton), Darren McGregor, Gareth Wardlaw (both from Cowdenbeath) and goalscorer Sean Lynch (from Falkirk) in a refreshed St Mirren side dealing with losses of their own. Two loan signings also started with Watford's Jure Travner and a 21-year-old Paul McGowan coming in from Celtic, with Lennon showing faith to the duo who both played 90 minutes. Amongst that St Mirren team featured John Potter - now assistant to Jack Ross at Hibs -, record appearance holder Hugh Murray and also, a place on the bench for an 18-year-old future Scotland International Kenny McLean.
As for Dundee United, there was a lot more familiarity within their squad as there were only 3 changes from the side that won the Scottish Cup in May. A suspended Danny Swanson, injured Mihael Kovacevic and departing Andy Webster would be replaced by Darren Dods, Paul Dixon and recent Scotlan callup Scott Robertson. The United side would feature a host of familiar names within the Scottish game such as Prince Buaben, Morgaro Gomis and Sean Dillon. On the bench, United boasted Johnny Russell and Barry Douglas who along with starter Craig Conway would go onto feature for Scotland and have good careers in the English Championship.
Hearts 1-1 St Johnstone
The opening day of the 2010/11 season wasn't the best for St Johnstone but still managed to leave the capital with a decent point against Hearts. Manager at the time Derek McInnes saw problems caused to his defence straightaway as a freak incident saw Danny Grainger stretchered off early into the game. Things would get worse as Steve Anderson would be sent off for a scathing challenge on Hearts' Suso Santanna. Nonetheless, the Saints came away with a point, equalising seconds after Hearts took the lead in injury time of the first half. A debut goal from Sean Parkin made sure his Saints career got off to a good start in a spell that would be blighted by injury.
Making debuts along the goalscorer would be goalkeeper Peter Enckleman and Marcus Haber in a match that was really lacking clear cut chances. St Johnstone's team had a lot of familiarity throughout the 2010s, with the likes of Dave MacKay, Steve Anderson, Chris Millar, Murray Davidson and Liam Craig all featuring, with the latter two still remaining at the club right now. Trinidad and Tobago World Cup player Collin Samuel made an appearance off the bench as a 17-year-old Stevie May watched on from the sidelines. Veteran midfielder and captain at the time Jody Morris has gone on to great success in coaching, working as Frank Lampard's assistant manager at Derby County and now at Chelsea.
Motherwell 2-3 Hibs
The previous meeting between these two sides was the memorable 6-6 draw, the highest scoring match in the league's history. Although not quite a 12 goal thriller, the opening fixture between the two clubs was not shy of action and drama as Hibs came out victorious in a tough affair. Motherwell were coming off the back of a 3-0 win in the Europa League against Aalesund and named an unchanged side as John Sutton fired them into an early lead. Hibs would respond very resiliently with Derek Riordan shining above all others. A free-kick effort of Riordan's was followed up by Anthony Stokes as Riordan notched two assists, setting up Paul Hanlon and the late Liam Miller. Motherwell responded quickly after Hibs' third, Jamie Murphy slotting home a penalty after a Colin Nish foul but it wouldn't be enough for the home side to avoid defeat.
Craig Brown's Motherwell side would be the first to have competed in Europe in three consecutive seasons in the club's history, with a very balanced squad at the time. With Darren Randolph in goals, Motherwell boasted a consistent backline of Steven's, with Saunders, Hammel and Craigan featuring heavily throughout the season with Mark Reynolds accompanying them in this fixture. Going forward, John Sutton was a constant nuisance throughout the season with Jamie Murphy, Chris Humphrey and Nick Blackman providing key pace and creativity down the flanks to support the target man. In midfield, there was Tom Hateley, Steve Jennings and current 'Well assistant manager Keith Lasley.
Looking back at the Hibs side on this matchday, it's a very interesting group of players with some possessing true quality but didn't quite reach their full potential. None more so is Derek Riordan, of course, who showed in this game what he was capable of and is one many will look at as someone who could've achieved much more. The side also boasted Sol Bamba who would go on to have a successful career in England and for his native Ivory Coast. Paul Hanlon remains at the club to this day, being lined up with experienced defenders such as Bamba, Chris Hogg and Michael Hart. Hanlon isn't the only member of the team still there, with Lewis Stevenson biding his time waiting to break through into the first team.
Livingston 3-3 Alloa Athletic
Following another administration, Livingston were on the climb back to the First Division after being demoted the year prior. Their Second Division campaign would welcome Alloa Athletic to Almondvale with a 6 goal draw providing entertainment but disappointment for the West Lothian side. Kyle Jacobs opened the scoring after 2 minutes before new signing Iain Russell doubled the Lions lead who were firmly in control. The Wasps would not back down though, replying twice shortly after half time with goals from Darren Smith and lower league legend Bryan Prunty. An own goal from Declan McAvoy looked to give Livi the win before a late penalty from Andrew Scott welcomed Livi to life in the Second Division with a frustrating draw.
Goalscorer Kyle Jacobs' brother Keaghan also featured on this day, as the South African is still at the club, receiving a well earned testimonial last season. Alongside Keaghan at the club is Raffaelle De Vita who is also at the club but had a long spell away from West Lothian between 2011 and 2016. The Lions side would be made up of an abundance of well-known players in the lower leagues, with Bobby Barr, Craig Barr, Liam Fox and Robbie Winters featuring for the side. On the bench, future Scotland international Marc McNulty would watch on waiting for his chance in what would be a season plagued by injury. It's been a wild journey for Livi as they started the decade far from where they ended it, with an underdog story that isn't credited enough.
Rangers 2-1 Kilmarnock
Rangers were crowned Champions in 2009/10 with a fairly comfortable season where they were hardly challenged at the top of the league. They welcomed Kilmarnock who avoided relegation on the last day of the season, a 0-0 draw relegating Falkirk instead. With this, the expectancy would be an easy victory for the Gers and seemed so as an effort struck Kenny Miller on the back and strayed past Killie keeper Cammy Bell. The lead was doubled in the second half as Steven Naismith scored against his former side. The game was tightly contested as Rangers took their foot off the gas, allowing Kilmarnock to come back into it. Sasa Papac fouled James Dayton as Jamie Hamill slotted home a penalty to set up a nervy ending. Rangers held out and showed great character to get a result over the line despite not the greatest of performances, as good title-winning squads do.
This Rangers squad would end up being the last to win a title, with only Allan McGregor still remaining at the club, returning after spells in England and Turkey. Steven Naismith, Kirk Broadfoot and Steven Whittaker all remain playing in Scotland to this day, with David Weir and James Beattie's turnouts adding great experience to their squad. Fan favourites Sasa Papac and Madjid Bougherra tightened up the defence with Kenny Miller into his second spell at the club and Kyle Lafferty in his first. This Rangers side had a lot of industry within it but capable enough talent going forward too. With Walter Smith in charge, he would continue to get the best out of many of these players in what would be another successful season for the legendary manager.
For Kilmarnock, there were bright signs to take especially considering their form the season prior. Manager Mixu Paataleinen seemed to already be making a difference, with new signings David Da Silva, Ben Gordon and James Dayton all making their league debuts for the clubs. Kilmarnock had memorable names in their side such as Danny Invincible and Manuel Pascali along with Craig Bryson, Garry Hay, Frazer Wright, Jamie Hamill and Connor Sammon amongst the ranks at the time. The only member still at the club comes in the form of James Fowler, now the head of football operations following his long spell at the club.
As with every season, each team wants to make the best possible start and stake their claim for what will hopefully be a successful campaign. For some, you can tell instantly it will be great, as for others, quite the opposite. With every season there's great speculation as to how teams will shape up but with the Virus postponing the game for so long, there's more uncertainty as to how teams will return and what form they'll be in. One thing is for sure, though, and that is come August 1st, we'll be glad to see our leagues long waited for return.