Motherwell to name the main stand after Phil O’Donnell and wear special kit
Motherwell announced yesterday that their main stand at Fir Park is to be renamed the Phil O’Donnell Stand, in honour of their late captain. Mark McGhee, the club’s manager, also said that Paul Quinn would take over as club captain following O’Donnell’s death.
Motherwell today face Heart of Midlothian in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup but the Lanarkshire club is still regrouping following its recent tragedy. From today until the end of the season, Motherwell will play in a special strip which bears O’Donnell’s name on the shirt. The team will also perform their own moment of remembrance before their supporters in honour of O’Donnell at Tynecastle this afternoon.
The new stand will be officially renamed at the end of the season, when a special plaque will be unveiled. Yesterday, O’Donnell’s father, Bernard, commented on the gesture and said: “Our family have been really touched by the reaction to Phil’s death, and Eileen [O’Donnell’s widow] and the rest of the family will always be grateful for the kindness shown to us. The naming of the stand after Phil is a great honour which we will appreciate for years to come.”
McGhee has spent the past week preparing his players for their first match since the fateful moments at Fir Park two weeks ago. In particular, the Motherwell manager wants his players to learn to celebrate the game again.
“My job was to take away any guilt, any embarrassment, any inhibition in the players,” he said. “We all respect Phil but what I’ve told them is, ‘If you score, enjoy scoring.’ It is no disrespect at all to Phil for us to smile and enjoy football again.”
Announcing his new captain, McGhee said: “I believe Paul Quinn is the right man for the job. We think he has a really big future in the game, and he also has that strength of character that you need to be a captain.”
Tynecastle will be packed to its near 18,000 capacity today for a game that will be charged with emotion. McGhee, however, paid a rich compliment to Hearts, who have produced a commemorative match programme for the occasion.
“I was at Tynecastle last week watching Hearts play Kilmrnock and the Hearts fans were magnificent to us as a club,” McGhee said. “They held a minute’s applause for Phil, which was fantastic, and for me that drew a line under it. So tomorrow I want this to be a really great game. I want the Hearts fans to cheer and get right behind their team and I know the Motherwell fans will do likewise. I want to see two teams getting right in about each other. That would be the proper way to honour Phil’s memory.”
Asked if, in the season that O’Donnell died, McGhee could lead Motherwell to a Scottish Cup final, he replied: “I love the Scottish Cup. I have five winners’ medals and they are among my most meaningful possessions in football. So I’d love to take Motherwell to the cup final, because it’s a competition that means a lot to me. But we have drawn maybe the third most difficult tie we could have got tomorrow.”
McGhee reserved special mention for David Clarkson, a nephew of Phil O’Donnell, who will take his usual place in the Motherwell side this afternoon. “David will play,” McGhee said. “The only danger I see for him is him being overemotional, and maybe trying too hard to have a really great game. The irony is, during the Dundee United match he was outstanding, and scored a goal which would have been a contender for goal of the season in different circumstances. So I hope he takes that form into the Hearts game.”
McGhee also confirmed yesterday what he had told The Times earlier this week: that if he is approached for the Scotland job, he would only consider leaving Motherwell if he had the whole-hearted support of the club’s officials.
“If Scotland were ever to contact me about the job, I could only do it with the support and absolute consensus of people here at the club,” he said. “I could only leave if people said, ‘Look, this is important, go and do it.’ Otherwise, I won’t be leaving Motherwell in any way that might cause some resentment.”
Taken from timesonline.co.uk