Feature: Six of the best Morton home debuts

New loan signing Lawrence Shankland made a memorable Morton debut by scoring in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Raith Rovers.

The 21-year-old Aberdeen ace became the latest in a line of former Ton players to start their Cappielow careers in style.

His brilliant home bow presented us with the perfect chance to revisit past successes by reproducing a feature that first appeared in our matchday programme earlier this season …


Six Of The Best … Morton Home Debuts

By David Grant


1. Jim Tolmie v Motherwell (14 March 1979)

Starting his first game for Morton aged just 17, Jim Tolmie could not have hoped for a better debut. Facing Ally MacLeod’s Motherwell team in this midweek match, Morton ran out easy winners with young Tolmie wearing the No.10 shirt and playing a key role throughout.

Talisman Andy Ritchie opened the scoring on 12 minutes, taking a Tolmie pass and hammering a powerful strike into the net.

Tolmie was the provider again shortly thereafter when he played Bobby Thomson in on goal to make it 2-0 – and the two combined again just before half time for Thomson to hit the third.

He then scored the goal of the game lobbing Motherwell goalkeeper Rennie from 25 yards to put the home side 4-0 up at half-time.

Tolmie added a fifth early in the second half before limping off to a standing ovation having had a hand in every goal. His replacement Bobby Russell wrapped up the win when he scored the sixth.


2. Dom Sullivan v Motherwell (9 November 1983)

Experienced midfielder Dom Sullivan signed for Morton after a brief stint at Manchester City at the age of 31, having enjoyed a successful career with Clyde, Aberdeen and Celtic.

He enjoyed his debut in the centre of midfield in a League Cup match at home to Motherwell, having signed his contract earlier that day.

Sullivan offered a touch of class in the centre of the park, and with Morton 2-0 up, rifled home a 25-yard strike to mark his debut in style.

He would add a second goal to his tally before half time as the Ton went in 4-1 up at the interval and had an opportunity to wrap up a debut hat-trick with a penalty but midfielder missed from the spot.


3. Alex Mathie v Partick Thistle (10 August 1991)

Signed from Celtic during the summer of 1991 for a then club record fee of £100,000, Alex Mathie would enjoy two excellent seasons with Morton prior to moving to Newcastle United for £250,000 in 1993.

The striker made his debut in the opening game of the 1991-92 season against much-fancied Partick Thistle.

Fans were treated to a glimpse of his quality within 66 seconds of kick-off as he broke beyond the Thistle defence and, with his first touch in Ton colours, slotted a low shot past keeper Andy Murdoch.

In what was a fine team display, Morton went on to win the match 2-1 while Mathie would go on to score 44 goals in his two seasons at Cappielow.


4. Peter Duffield v St Mirren (8 November 1997)

After spells with Hamilton Accies, Airdrieonians and Raith Rovers, English striker Peter Duffield arrived at Cappielow in November 1997 with Morton sat towards the bottom of the First Division.

Duffield signed his contract with Billy Stark’s struggling side just two hours before kick-off in a Renfrewshire derby and was pitched  straight into the action.

He took just three minutes to make an impact, volleying home the opening goal of the game in typical poacher’s style after St Mirren goalkeeper Alan Combe had failed to deal with a cross.

With Morton 2-0 up early in the second half and in control of the game, debutant Duffield put the icing on the cake in spectacular style.

Craig McPherson’s corner was headed on by Brian Reid and Duffield produced an eye-catching over-head kick from the corner of the six-yard box to find the net.

Duffield was later named man of the match as Morton ran out comfortable 3-0 winners against their arch rivals.


5. Peter Weatherson v Arbroath (2 August 2003)

Signed from Queen of the South for a reported fee of £30,000, Peter Weatherson could have been forgiven for feeling the weight of pressure on his debut as the goalscoring burden fell on his shoulders with the previous season’s top scorer Alex Williams suspended. However, he certainly did not display any nerves in this Challenge Cup match with a powerhouse display in a 4-3 win.

Weatherson took just four minutes to open the scoring, converting a penalty via the inside of the post. By half time he had his second, outmuscling the Arbroath defence and sending a volley from sixteen yards low into the net.

Whilst Weatherson’s display suggested that he would prove to be an excellent addition to the squad, the Morton defence were experiencing something of an off day and contrived to throw away a 3-1 lead in the second half with Arbroath equalising in the 89th minute. However Weatherson had the final say, restoring Morton’s lead in the final minute. Receiving a Chris Millar pass at the edge of the box the striker controlled the ball with his first touch before lashing a vicious shot into the roof of the net to complete a debut hat-trick.


6. Andy McLaren v Stranraer (26 February 2004)

Former Dundee United man Andy McLaren arrived at Cappielow on a short-term loan deal instigated by the player due to a lack of first team opportunities at Tannadice.

He signed on Friday 25 February 2004 and made his debut against Stranraer the following day at Cappielow in what was a crucial game.

With the Ton 11 points behind their opponents, a win was of paramount importance – and new recruit McLaren, playing as a striker, took just seven minutes to open the scoring, sweeping a Paul Walker through ball past goalkeeper Michael McGovern.

The Scotland cap added a second just before the hour mark when he held off two defenders and hooked a low shot into the net.

McLaren thought he had hit a hat-trick when he broke through and netted again only to see the goal ruled out by a questionable offside decision and the match ended 2-0.


Remember to pick up an official match programme before home fixtures at Cappielow to read similar features in our ‘six of the best …’ series.