King of Cappielow impressed by current Morton squad

Morton icon Andy Ritchie says he has been ‘suitably impressed’ by the current crop of players and their style of play so far this season.

The King of Cappielow Park has attended matches against the likes of Aberdeen and St Mirren, and was on the Sinclair Street terracing for Saturday’s Scottish Cup win over Falkirk.

And the 60-year-old former forward liked what he has seen from a youthful squad he describes as industrious, creative and energetic.

Speaking exclusively to, Ritchie said: “Reading between the lines and talking to other people, there has been progression down here at Morton.

“It’s looked like that on the field and I’ve been suitably impressed by what I’ve seen on the pitch in the games I’ve been to this season.

“It’s a good team. There’s youth, there’s energy, there’s a willingness to play the game and play the game in the proper manner, and that’s all important in the modern-day game.

“There’s some good young players round about that and that’s something I noticed at Hampden [against Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup semi-final].

“I was at the St Mirren game [on 1 November at Cappielow] and the scoreline [3-1] flattered St Mirren. I was there with my son and five or six wouldn’t have been a problem.

“But it’s the style and manner that they play the game that I’m impressed with. They were well-organised and strong and capable at the back.

“In the middle of the park they are industrious and creative; they use the ball well and like to pass the ball well. We’re not launching it all over the place; they like to play through the areas. Up front they are bright and lively as well.

“And one or two of the players have changed positions. [Jamie] McDonagh has moved back the park, and that has allowed him to use his pace to get up the park and support people rather being in the forward areas.

“All in all in general, it’s an hour drive for me back up the road from Cappielow and all the way back, the conversation with my son has been positive about what we’ve seen.

“That’s always good for me. I like entertaining football and good players, but at the same time I understand the responsibilities of everybody in the team.”

Back home … Andy Ritchie poses beside a framed photo on a recent visit to Cappielow                 © Jonathan Mitchell

Rather than take a seat in the stand, Ritchie prefers to watch his former team from his regular spot on the terraces, and he explained: “We’ve always done that.

“I’ve been coming down for the past five or six years with my son like that. He likes to stand out there because he’s got mates he’s made out there on the terracing that he can go and talk to.

“It’s the same people who stand behind that goal since I was playing. I go behind the goal and it’s a quick acknowledgement from the boys and then we watch the game.”

In terms of his current employment, the man who came out on top in a BBC poll to find Morton’s all-time cult hero is presently working with the Scottish national team.

He said: “What am I doing? At this moment in time, I’m working with Scotland with Gordon [Strachan], Mark [McGhee] and Andy Watson. I’m the international scout and have been for a number of months.

“I’d been doing some work with Mark at Motherwell anyway and I knew him from here. We both lived in Cumbernauld when we played for Morton, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to call him a friend for all that time.

“Our paths have crossed on numerous occasions and when I came back up the road I did some work on the scouting side in pre-season and he mentioned if I’d be prepared to travel and do a bit of work for the international squad.

“And I’ve known Gordon all my football life. He knew what I’d done, he’d heard about my time at Celtic Park when I’d been there because he’d been there and I’d met him many times down in England.

“So the mixture was all there. It’s not a word I use often is ‘proud’ but I was proud to be asked. Not only for myself but for my family, that’s vitally important to me.”

Image (main): Gary Bradley

Image (inset): Jonathan Mitchell