Buddie Banter: St Mirren sealing top six spot this season would be perfect retirement gift for Tony Fitzpatrick

When Tony Fitzpatrick wakes up this morning, it will no doubt be a strange feeling to no longer be the chief executive of his boyhood club.

After more than six years at the helm, and nearly 50 years since he first signed for the Saints, the club legend will deservedly step away from the coalface as he enters retirement in his 66th year.

Today marks the great man’s official switch from St Mirren CEO to club ambassador, a role that will be much less of a stressful, 24/7 operation than his previous job.

And there isn’t a more fitting way for the club’s current crop to mark the end of his tenure as chief executive than to seal the top six spot Fitzpatrick so greatly craves this season.

He has bravely fought St Mirren’s corner on numerous occasions over the last six years, in print, on the radio and on the television, consistently driving home the message that the Buddies should be aiming to return to the top half of the Premiership – and stay there.

With two games left before the split, the Buddies have a brilliant chance to make that happen at an incredibly timely moment in Fitzpatrick’s St Mirren journey.

Recently Saints boss Stephen Robinson described the club’s final two pre-split Premiership games as cup finals.

But if they lose the first of them, against his former club Motherwell tomorrow afternoon, then their top six hopes may well have already faltered by the time they welcome Rangers to Paisley next weekend.

The middle section of the Premiership table is currently still incredibly tight, with just five points separating Dundee United in fourth and Jim Goodwin’s Aberdeen in tenth.

While the Buddies have managed to keep up with the chasing pack, despite winning just one of their last six league fixtures, tomorrow there is very little – if any – room for error.

If Hibernian and Livingston both win their games tomorrow, against Dundee United and St Johnstone respectively, then only a St Mirren win will give the Buddies a realistic chance of catching either of the pair the following Sunday when they take on title-chasing Rangers.

Recent losses to Ross County and the Terrors have seriously put the pressure on Robinson’s men, who were unsurprisingly affected by the departure of former manager Jim Goodwin just last month.

A managerial shift at this late stage of the season was always likely to have an adverse effect, and unfortunately that has been the way things have panned out.

But the Buddies still have an opportunity to finally finish off the good work that Fitzpatrick started when he took over as CEO in January, 2016.

Of course not making the top six this season wouldn’t make Fitzpatrick’s reign unsuccessful.

The former midfielder has consistently driven standards on and off the park, despite facing a global pandemic in the last two years of his term in office.

The club’s academy has now reached elite status for the first time in St Mirren’s history.

There’s a new training ground that will hopefully attract even better players to join the club.

And of course, his crowning glory and most important mark is that the club has now successfully moved to fan-ownership – well ahead of schedule.

But even so, finishing in the top six this season would book end the Fitzpatrick era very nicely indeed.

Hopefully the Saints hero will see his dream become a reality as he begins the next step on his journey into retirement.

We at the Paisley Daily Express wish him all the very best and thank him for his support during the last six years.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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