Hero Kirk recounts ’Well cup win

Stevie Kirk at Fir Park (Pic by Alan Watson)
Stevie Kirk at Fir Park (Pic by Alan Watson)

Motherwell cup hero Stevie Kirk is hopeful that the modern day Fir Park squad can emulate the class of 1991 with another cup triumph soon.

Twenty-five years have passed since Kirk scored the Hampden winner against Dundee United to earn ’Well the Scottish Cup in a sensational 4-3 triumph.

The Kirkcaldy-born ace reckons that team from a quarter of a century ago had guts, self belief and mental strength in abundance and those qualities – allied to their skill and ability – were key in them landing the club’s first major trophy in 39 years.

“It takes a special type of player to win a cup,” said Stevie, who currently works as a sales executive at Arnold Clark and is also chairman of Albion Rovers.

“You need a mentality that is second to none.

“I’m not saying that the current Motherwell team doesn’t have that edge, but who knows?”

Kirk, who scored 63 goals in 301 appearances for Motherwell between 1986 and ’95, scored in every round of the 1991 tournament and earned the nickname ‘Super Sub’ for his uncanny propensity for scoring after coming off the bench.

He was a hero among Motherwell supporters, who also christened him ‘The White Pele’.

So it was a great shock to ’Well followers when then manager Alex McLeish traded Kirk and fellow striker Paul McGrillen – plus cash – in a swap deal to land right back Eddie May from Falkirk in 1995.

“The move surprised me at the time,” Stevie said.

“But at the end up it was my choice to leave.

“I just didn’t see myself getting any real match time.

“I felt I had come to the end of a relationship.

“Alex was going to bring in Eddie May anyway, regardless of whether I went to Falkirk or not. That for me spelled it out.

“I decided it was time to go.

“It was very tough for me to leave the club.

“It is all bravado but I was very emotional when I left.

“I felt I let down the board of directors by leaving, Bill Dickie – who was a really good friend – in particular.

“He was there from the start and was a really nice man.”

Kirk said it was “a sad day” when he left Motherwell as he’d built up great relationships with backroom staff and players.

Stevie added: “No disrespect to the Falkirk club, players and management, but as soon as I left Motherwell I regretted the decision.

“But at that time I just wanted to get out.

“In my first game back at Fir Park with Falkirk I scored in a 1-1 draw. Ironically, Eddie May scored for Motherwell in that match.

“Then in the next game between the clubs I scored twice at Falkirk in a Falkirk win.

“It was pleasing to score against an old club but I didn’t really celebrate.

“The Motherwell fans saw the respect I had for them.

“I feel honoured to be held in such high esteem by Motherwell supporters.

“It was great that I played in a team that was able to bring joy to people who were struggling for jobs because of what was happening with the Ravenscraig steelworks.”

Motherwell’s 25-year Scottish Cup win celebrations also have a large tinge of sadness, as four squad men from 1991 – Davie Cooper, Phil O’Donnell, Paul McGrillen and Jamie Dolan – are all no longer with us after dying in tragic circumstances in their 30s.

And Stevie himself survived a major scare in October 2010 when he collapsed during a family holiday in Tampa and only survived after receiving emergency heart surgery in a Florida hospital.

“It is hard losing people who you’ve worked so closely with for so long on a day to day basis,” Stevie said. “Especially players who’ve been part of such a successful team.

“I was surprised when the health scare happened to me because you think you are invincible.

“It was a big shock to my system – I thought that was it.

“But they fixed me. Two stents have been put in and I’m OK. Hopefully I have a few years ahead of me.”