Moore to come from Mr. Stranraer

Friday 24th February 2012

The man they call Mr. Stranraer has just passed a significant milestone for the Stair Park club and he cannot wait to pass another one for the club where he feels at home. Striker Michael Moore has played for The Blues on three separate occasions in a career that started at Hamilton Academical back in 1998 and has also had stops at St. Johnstone, Ayr United and Dumbarton however, home is where the heart is and Moore’s heart belongs in Wigtownshire.

Michael MooreMoore said: “I played in my 250th game for Stranraer last weekend against Clyde.  It is a lot of appearances and it is something I am very proud to achieve at a club that means a lot to me.

“I have won League Championships with them, won promotions and scored lots of goals and I still want to score more.”

The next milestone is on the goal front as the 30-year-old explained: “I have 87 goals so far and I would love to get to 100.  In fact, I am desperate to do that but realistically, that will not happen now until next season.”

Moore’s first spell as a Stranraer player began in July 2002 and he said: “I went there when I left my first club Hamilton Accies and Billy McLaren signed me.  Since then, I have had three spells at the club and the fans as well as the Committee members have made me feel part of the Stranraer family.”

That family feeling was welcome after a disappointing time at Hamilton with Moore saying: “Hamilton at that time were not the well run club that they are now.  We had times when wages were not paid and had points deducted that saw us relegated.  It is great to see how much they have improved since then but I had to get away as it was all very unsettling.

“I was full-time at Hamilton but I moved to be part-time at Stranraer and I have never regretted it.  It felt right at the club almost straight away and there were some good players there like Kevin Gaughan and Stevie Aitken who, of course, is now our Assistant Manager.”

Michael Moore in action for St. JohnstoneMoore’s first spell lasted two seasons and his 39 goals saw him transferred to St. Johnstone in the summer of 2004 but within a year, he was back as a loan player.  That spell was converted to a permanent basis that lasted for two seasons.

He said: “I went back to full-time football with St. Johnstone but came back and was delighted to do so as Stranraer made it to the First Division and we made a really good job of almost staying there which was fantastic for a club of this size.”

After a second relegation and a disagreement with the management team of Gerry Britton and Derek Ferguson, Moore left again in the summer of 2007 and he joined Ayr United for a year before moving to Dumbarton who were then in the Third Division.

Stranraer were back in the Second Division by this stage after promotion via the Play-Offs and needless to say, Moore was not away for too long.

He said: “I have seen several managerial changes at Stranraer and have had different relationships with them all.  Neil Watt was great to me and looked after me well as a Stranraer player but I never ever really saw eye to eye with Gerry and Derek.  Mind you, I was a bit more opinionated then than I am now!

“I left when they were in charge and was playing at Ayr and Dumbarton when Stranraer came close to closing due to their financial difficulties in 2008 and 2009.”

Mr. Stranraer felt for his club as he said: “It was difficult for me to hear and read what was going on to people I knew well at the club.  Since then, the Committee have done a fantastic job and whilst we do not have the biggest number of fans, they are very loyal.  We are doing things like corporate hospitality well nowadays and the club is vibrant again.

“I have played for a couple of other teams and whilst you never like getting beat anywhere, it always felt worse when I was with Stranraer and they lost.  There is no family connection or anything like that.  I was born and brought up in Paisley and watched St. Mirren when I was younger so I am not sure where it came from.”

Stranraer Manager, Keith KnoxNeedless to say, Moore returned to help out at the tail end of that disappointing time as Keith Knox took over and he explained: “I had gone through a knee operation at Dumbarton and I was struggling to get match fit.  Dumbarton went on to win the Third Division Championship and Stranraer were having a really poor season in the Second Division where they had earned only 10 points when I joined but I thought I would be better off going there and playing.”

That loan spell ended in another permanent stay and things have improved year on year as Moore advised: “The Manager and Stevie have rebuilt the playing side of things well.  We have improved every year and hopefully, we can keep showing that improvement by being involved in the promotion race until the very end of the season.”

That promotion chase sees the second placed Blues visit third placed Queen’s Park this weekend and Moore relishes playing at the National Stadium as he said: “It has always been a lucky ground for me and I scored there as a 20-year-old for Hamilton back in a cup game in 2001.  It was a strange game as it took place the day after the 9/11 attacks and everyone was still a bit stunned at what had happened the day previously.

Michael Moore in action for Hamilton Academical“I have a good record there and look forward to building on it.”

Moore reckons it will take a top performance from his side to pick up all three points as he explained: “It will not be easy as Queen’s Park are one of the best teams we have played this season.  After a long unbeaten run against them, they have won the last two games.  They have pace, strength and height in their team and use the big park at Hampden well.

“We are second and they are third and I am sure that like us, they will want to keep the pressure on Alloa in the hunt for the title.  This game is very simple because if we play like we can, we can win but if we do not play well, we will get beat.”

There should be goals at Hampden as the two top goalscoring teams in the Third Division clash with Moore saying: “We are an attacking side and are the top goalscorers in the entire SFL but are also fairly sensible and have good experience in David McGregor at the back and Chris Aitken in midfield.”

Moore summed up his time stating: “I have seen measures of success by reaching the Quarter Finals of the Scottish Cup against Motherwell under Billy and I have played and scored in the First, Second and Third Divisions. I am only 30 and have a good few goals left in me but I cannot really see myself playing anywhere else.

“I have had some great team-mates during my stints there and I was recently asked to put together my best ever Stranraer XI.  It included guys that went on to play in the SPL like Fraser Wright, who moved to Kilmarnock and St. Johnstone, David Graham, who is at Dunfermline now and Allan Jenkins, who starred for Gretna.  I also picked Stephen Swift, who as well as being a great right back, is a good pal.”

Michael McGovern in action for StranraerThis week brought good news for another former team-mate as Moore said: “I was delighted to see that Michael McGovern was brought back into things with Northern Ireland as he played with us on loan when we were promoted out of the Second Division back in season 2004/05.

“Another fantastic guy and a great goalkeeper.”

Moore was asked to talk through some of his favourite goals from his career haul that stands at 125 and he said: “I have a few of them including scoring a hat-trick against Hamilton Accies which was a great feeling especially as it was a 5-4 win on Boxing Day.  I also scored at Love Street against St. Mirren and to do that at the ground where I visited regularly as a boy was fairly special.”

It was also lucrative for Moore’s friends as he added: “I was 20/1 at the bookmakers to score the first goal that day.  I also scored against St. Johnstone the first time I played against them after leaving which was nice as it was not the happiest of times there for me.

Michael McGovern in action for Stranraer v Annan Athletic“I hit home a lob once against Elgin that was a bit special and I have scored goals that have helped win League Championships and promotions so I have plenty of fantastic memories.”

Moore combines playing part-time with a full-time career as a Manager with the Bank of Scotland in Helensburgh and looking after people has given him a whole new insight into his own playing career.

He said: “I have given some Managers in football a hard time and I did not realise how much of a problem I must have been until I became a Manager in my job outside of football.  I wish I had not done some of the things I have done but I have matured.  I used to have an over the top win at all costs mentality and whilst I still have the passion, I am a tad calmer these days.

“Hopefully, that approach will get me to my century for Stranraer.”

IRN-BRU SFL

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