It may not seem like it for many Morton supporters who have just seen the team lose 1-0 at home to Dunfermline. But it has been quite an amazing season and one that every Morton fan should be proud of.
OK, it isn’t quite all over yet but it’s looking almost certain that the Ton will finish in second place, and therefore not achieve the promotion to the Premier League that for so long this season seemed a distinct possibility.
It’s been 25 years since Morton were last relegated from the top flight and it’s been a long – and sometimes very painful struggle – to get back. It didn’t quite happen this time around, but it’s the nearest we’ve come in all that time and, if we can keep the team together, we should have a great chance next time.
It’s easy to point to some key games we played poorly in, such as the defeats to Dumbarton and Hamilton, or the recent visit to Firhill. All in all, it’s been a cracking season though and to finish second to a team playing as well as the current Partick Thistle team – having pushed them hard – is an achievement in itself. Sure, in the final analysis we failed to secure promotion but, at the beginning of the season, did anyone genuinely think we would?
Not me. I just wanted an improvement on last season – and I think it’s safe to say we achieved that!
The way we’ve played this season has been good for the club, the fans, the Scottish Football League and the town. It’s been terrific to see people in Greenock getting excited about the team again, even if not enough turn up to Cappielow. The team has given people in Greenock the chance to feel good about the place again, and that’s priceless.
My better half is not a Morton fan, in fact she quite likes Partick Thistle which makes life interesting. I think though is fair to say that anyone – even the “the only good thing to come out of Greenock is a Paisley bus” kind of St Mirren fan – must admit there’s something very special about this Morton team. Allan Moore deserves real credit for what he’s done so far.
The best thing is that the club is still a work in progress, at all levels. It’s come a long way from the dark days of the early 2000s under Hugh Scott. Chairman Douglas Rae has brought not only some much needed stability in the last decade but has overseen Morton rise from the pits of Hell itself (well, the Third Division, which is the same thing) to second in the First Division –and of course has contributed to the vastly improved financial position. On the playing front, season 2012-13 showed what Morton are capable of – I think we can be optimistic that there is much more to come.
So, while the last week has been a disappointing one for the Ton, it’s been far from a season of failure. It’s been our best season for over a decade– arguably even better than 1995-6 when Morton (including Finnish ace Marko Rajamaki) missed out on promotion by goal difference to Dundee United. We should be proud of that, and look forward optimistically.
What might be useful is, with talk of league reconstruction in the air, is for the powers that be to reconsider the ridiculous set-up than allows only for one team to be promoted to the SPL. It was a flawed measure in almost every respect, and if the top tier of Scottish league football is genuinely to be a meritocracy then the very least that should be done is introduce play-offs, as is the case for promotion/relegation from the other divisions.
After a season like this, I’d say that both Thistle and Morton deserve promotion. But I’m bound to say that being a Morton fan. There is of course a better case for introducing a second promotion spot – to make end of season games more meaningful for players and spectators alike.
I should add that I used to live in Panmure Street behind Thistle's ground and went to quite a few games. (Well, I've always had a sense of humour.) If Morton were going to lose out to anyone, I'd rather it be Thistle than anyone else.
And so, congratulations to Thistle – I hope you do well next season in the SPL and I look forward to hostilities being renewed in 2014-15, when of course Renfrewshire derbies (but not Old Firm clashes) will hopefully again feature in the SPL! In the meantime, Morton fans should reflect with sober judgement on this season and look positively towards a brighter future.