By Niall McGilp
Morton have met Motherwell nine times in the Scottish Cup over the years; the earliest tie was in the first round in 1898, when the Cappielow men triumphed 7-1 at home, with 3,000 fans watching a great performance, which featured a Richard Hannigan hat trick. He was to score another hat-trick against the Lanarkshire side in the League the following Saturday!
The most recent Scottish Cup tie was at Fir Park on April 16th last season, in round 4. With spectators excluded due to the Covid pandemic, each side scored in the dying seconds of extra time with Marcus Fjortoft’s 123rd minute header taking the match to penalties, where Morton lost 5-4.
But undoubtedly, the most important Morton Scottish Cup victory against the Fir Park men came almost a century ago, on 11th March 1922, when the two clubs met in Motherwell in the Fourth Round (quarter final) following the Greenock side’s earlier victories over Vale of Leithen, Clydebank (after a replay) and Clyde.
In front of a crowd of over 15,000 (generating receipts of £615), the match was keenly fought. Motherwell’s intricate close tactics contrasting with Morton’s long swinging passes and quick shooting. Morton won the toss and chose to play with the low sun at their backs, a significant decision for reasons that will become clear. The home side set the pace early on and Hart hit the post in one raid, but keeper David Edwards stood firm, and Morton gradually grew into the match, their backs and half backs taking control of the contest.
The Greenock men took the lead in 31 minutes, when inside-left Alf Brown, fully 30 yards out, launched a long, high shot towards the home goal. Keeper Rundell lost it in the sun and in the act of catching the ball high to his left, fumbled the ball over the line before clearing. The referee immediately awarded the goal.
The second half was intensely exciting; Morton’s full backs Jock McIntyre and Robert Brown were outstanding, giving nothing away. Morton’s international winger Alex McNab almost increased Morton’s lead, and centre George French missed a great chance.
But with 15 minutes to go, Motherwell equalised; following a corner, Brown hit the bar and inside-left Hart was on hand to drive home through a crowd of players. The great climax to the game came in the 86th minute. A free kick from Jacky Wright was headed into the path of French by Alf Brown, and the Morton marksman, quickly transferred the ball from his right foot to his left, before driving a hard, rising shot into the net. It was his 34th goal of the season and he was engulfed by his team-mates.
The Morton line-up was: Edwards; McIntyre, R Brown; Gourlay, Wright, McGregor; McNab, McKay, French, A Brown, McMinn. The same line up would go on to beat Aberdeen in the semi-final and only top scorer French, absent through injury, was to miss the subsequent Final against Rangers.
100 years on, Morton are again set to face a trip to Motherwell in the Scottish Cup Fourth Round this Saturday in what is sure to be an exciting cup tie. The Ton will go in as underdogs but will be encouraged by recent results in the league.
That famous cup run in 1922 has been commemorated by our centenary home kit this season. There’s still time to pick up your own version of the home kit for Saturday’s game online here or in store at Smiths.
Ticket information for Saturday’s game can be found here.