Derek McInnes joins the Hall of Fame Class of 2024

Greenock Morton are delighted to announce that Derek McInnes is the third member of the Hall of Fame class of 2024!

Derek McInnes bio by Niall McGilp.

Aged just 16, Derek signed for Morton in 1987; although from Paisley, he credits Head Coach John McMaster with influencing his decision to come at Cappielow. It was Morton’s last season in the Premier Division, and Derek played in the final two games, against Dundee United and Hibernian, manager Allan McGraw reflected – “He’s a good passer, he controls the ball well and takes up good positions. I’ve no doubt he’ll make it as a professional footballer.”

Into 1988/89 Derek quickly became a regular, making 36 appearances; he more than held his own competing with seasoned pros. The club started the season strongly, leading the League in November, but there was a dip in performances and a disappointing defeat to St Johnstone in the Cup quarter-finals.

Moving into the 1990s, new talent, like Alan Mahood, Brian Reid, Mark McGraw and David Hopkin was breaking through alongside Derek, but frustratingly for fans, Morton was very much a “selling club”, and between 1991 & 1993, all four were sold, along with record signing Alex Mathie, for around £1.4million. As a result, Morton’s youth policy brought income, not promotion or cup success, with Morton finishing mid-table in successive seasons, and going out of the Scottish Cup at the quarter-final stage in 1991, to Motherwell, and in 1992 to Celtic. There was also a Challenge Cup Final defeat to Hamilton in 1992, in which Mahood, who had re-signed, was seriously injured.

Manager McGraw made Derek, now 21, his captain, praising his attitude, and leadership qualities. His game went from strength to strength. However, whilst delighted to see some of his team-mates move on to bigger things, there was an element of frustration about the Club’s apparent lack of ambition. Worse was to come though, Derek dislocating his kneecap in a match at Brechin in 1993, an injury that sidelined him for a year. Two operations failed to correct the problem, and it took a make-or-break third procedure, and rehabilitation at Lilleshall, to restore Derek to fitness. By this time, Morton had dropped into the Second Division, victim of a horrendous injury list.

Derek’s remaining time with Morton was fantastic. Restored to a side which included a fit again Mahood, and new Finnish signings Janne Lindberg and Marko Rajamaki, Morton won the Second Division title, with McInnes being voted Second Division Player of the Year. He signed for another year at Cappielow, but following several bids, he moved to Rangers in November 1995 for a fee of £260,000. The team had been flying high in the First Division, but McInnes’ departure and injuries to Mahood and Lindberg eventually took their toll, Morton just missing out on the promotion play-offs.

Injury limited Derek’s opportunities at Ibrox, and after a spell at Toulouse, he joined West Bromwich in 2000, (winning 2 Scotland caps), Dundee United and St Johnstone, where he made the transition to management. Following subsequent spells at Bristol City and Aberdeen, he has just led Kilmarnock to a Top-6 finish in the Premiership.

But in Greenock he is remembered as a highly professional and talented midfielder, making his debut as a 16-year-old, playing 258 times for Morton, scoring 19 goals, and captaining the club from the age of 21 until his transfer aged 24.

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