About to leave sunny Ayrshire to pick up a mate in Johnstone then on to The Last Post for breakfast.
Tony in the Daily Ranger ...
The now chief executive lives and breathes the Saints and he's hoping his side can lift the Irn-Bru Cup and defeat Dundee United today.
Tony Fitzpatrick can't wait for the big match
St Mirin might be the patron saint of Paisley but when it comes to the town’s football club the title should belong to Tony Fitzpatrick.
He lives and breathes St Mirren . Always has done, even in the years that bridged the gap between playing and managing them and his current role as chief executive.
And this living Saint already has a miracle under his belt – 30 years ago he recovered from having his jaw broken in two places and a smashed knee to play in and win a Scottish Cup Final against Dundee United.
The same Dundee United that St Mirren will face in today’s Irn-Bru Cup Final.
Tony Fitzpatrick hopes St Mirren can land another trophy
It was the only major honour Fitzpatrick won as a player in two spells with the Buddies spanning 13 years.
He remembers badgering cup final ref Kenny Hope for the last five minutes, imploring him to blow the final whistle, because he felt the whistler was going to deny him a winner’s medal.
He also revealed he blanked then Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson in the aftermath and ran out the dressing room in his full
St Mirren kit to share his crowning moment with his family members in the Hampden car park.
Fitzpatrick said: “Making my debut for St Mirren was a career highlight but winning the Cup is the ultimate.
Tony Fitzpatrick was a legend for the Buddies (Photo: SNS Group)
“Every kid who sets out to be a footballer wants to win the Scottish Cup. In England it is the FA Cup.
“It was a horrendous year for me, 1987, as I was out injured the whole season and was told I had no chance of playing in the Final.
“It was a miracle I even came on. I had broken my jaw in two places and the way I fell I had done my knee too.
“A couple of weeks before the showpiece the manager Alex Smith noticed I was back doing running in training. He spoke to me and told me to get fit for an upcoming game against Rangers.
St Mirren manager Jack Ross is up for the Cup
“I played 40 minutes of that match and he included me in the Scottish Cup Final squad.
“I had been captain for 10 years and was skipper at the beginning of that season.
“I was 31 at the time and just felt our name was on the Scottish Cup.
“This was my one and only chance to win a medal and it looked as if I was going to miss out through injury.
“The Final against Dundee United was a fantastic occasion.
“It was an incredible feeling to win the Scottish Cup with St Mirren.
St Mirren beat Dundee United earlier this month (Photo: SNS Group)
“I remember man-marking the referee Kenny Hope for the last five minutes. I kept saying to him, ‘Blow the whistle Kenny, I have never won anything in my life’.
“At one point Kenny turned to me and said, ‘Fitzpatrick, f*** off!’ Alex Ferguson also came into the dressing room to congratulate us.
“I blanked him and ran out in my full St Mirren kit and boots into the car park to greet my mum Mary, my dad James and my brother Paul who have all since sadly passed away.
“My wife Elizabeth and my kids Lorraine and Paul were also there.
St Mirren manager Jack Ross has side bang on form (Photo: SNS Group)
“That was a special moment just to see how happy they all were we had won the Scottish Cup.
“My son Paul has the medal – I gave it to him. I never kept jerseys or any memorabilia like that.
“I have the memories all in my head which is good enough for me.
“Not a lot of people know that myself and Billy Abercromby – who lifted the trophy that day – went to the same school, St Columba’s in Maryhill, together.
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“Who would have thought two guys who went to school together would have won the Cup at Saints?
“Aber even told me to go up and collect the Cup at one point because I was club captain. I’ve always loved Aber for that but it was his moment as he had earned it.
St Mirren assistant manager James Fowler can't wait for the Irn-Bru Cup Final (Photo: SNS)
“I totally respected him for that because I don’t know if I would have done the same thing had the roles been reversed.
“We did take one handle of the Cup each and ran towards the St Mirren end which was just a sea of black and white. That memory will live with me always.”
While that final handed Fitzpatrick his proudest day in black and white he was also manager when the club almost slipped into the old Second Division back in 1998.
A 1-0 win away to Stirling Albion on the penultimate day of the season courtesy of a Shuggie Murray goal reduced an emotionally-drained Fitzpatrick to a sobbing wreck.
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He said: “I gave the team talk of my life that afternoon both before and at half-time. I just basically told the players how St Mirren meant so much to many people.
“I was making them aware they were playing for their jobs, their futures, their families. I had to stay calm throughout it all. I had to put the managerial mask on to deliver my team talks but inside I was shaking like a jelly.
“Shuggie Murray scored a cracking goal to win us the game and all the emotions just spilled out.
“I just collapsed on my knees as I was just sobbing and crying so hard at the end of that game.
“I couldn’t stop crying. The feeling was one of sheer relief but it was all just so overwhelming.
“I can’t put this any other way but had we lost that day and gone down to the old Second Division St Mirren were facing oblivion.
St Mirren players are desperate for success (Photo: SNS Group)
“We would have gone part-time for a start but whether we would have survived that is anybody’s guess.
“The club was in a desperate way at the time and there were takeover talks and everything going on in the background. It is not an exaggeration to say the club’s very existence was threatened.
“If we had been relegated to the old Second Division it could have spelled the end of St Mirren.”
Dundee United and St Mirren set for Irn-Bru Cup final and here's the numbers behind the big clash
Fast forward to the present and Saints are in another survival fight to stay in the Championship. Recent form has been good but that battle is on hold this afternoon as the
Irn-Bru Cup takes centre stage.
Fitzpatrick said: “We have completely sold out our allocation of 5500 for the Final.
St Mirren chief Tony Fitzpatrick (Photo: Daily Record)
“If St Mirren are involved in a final or semi we usually sell all our tickets. The team is now playing an attractive brand of football.
“They have been great to watch and I love coming along now.
“It does not matter that this is the Irn-Bru Cup Final. This is major and it is a big deal to St Mirren.
“If you asked any player playing in Scotland this weekend if they wanted to play in a final on Saturday then I’m sure they would say yes.
“Our players have earned that right this season.
“Hopefully Jack Ross and the current crop of players can lift the trophy and experience that winning feeling just as we did by winning the Scottish Cup back in 1987.”