• Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Before Saturday’s final match of the season against Hamilton, Paul Sheerin was presented with the Star Saint of the Decade award, voted for by the fans on the We Are Perth Forum. Here we take a look back at the veteran midfielder’s Saints career that won him that award and the deeply held affection of the Saints support.

Paul Sheerin

Paul Sheerin

Just 24 hours before the start of the 2004/05 season, John Connolly brought Paul Sheerin to McDiarmid Park on a two-year deal from Aberdeen on a free transfer.

A total of 204 appearances and 37 goals later, it could be argued that the man known variously as Peanut, Sheerinho and The Wizard is the one thing Saints legend Connolly got right during his brief managerial term.

However, it didn’t really look that way to start. Sheerin played his first game in a Saints strip in the 2-0 win over Hamilton in what was then known as the Bell’s Cup on July 31 2004.

He was virtually an ever-present in that season’s team – but managed only two goals as Saints finished eighth in the league, just seven points above the relegation slots filled by Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers.

I remember that season as one filled with frustration – and to be honest, I often felt that at Sheerin. There just didn’t seem to be an end product.

But when you look back at the rest of that team, it is easy to see why.

Let us not forget that the team Connolly assembled included such footballing luminaries as Jordan Tait, Lee Hardy, Stephen Fraser, Chris Hay, Michael Moore and Stephen McConalogue.

It is frankly a miracle that any of that team survived to the future – but believe it or not, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Steven Anderson, Peter MacDonald and Paul Sheerin all featured that year.

Roll on next season – and Owen Coyle’s tenure. Once again, Sheerin is involved virtually every week. And we start to see the skills that earned him his nickname, The Wizard.

At this point he is put on the penalties too – and finds the net 10 times over the course of the campaign.

That record from the spot just got better, and in 2007/08 scored 10 from the spot in all competitions, and had one disallowed after a bizarre refereeing cock up at Livingston, where the ref gave Livingston an indirect free-kick for encroachment as Sheerin’s spot kick rattled the rigging.

However, it wasn’t just the penalties – and vital they were – that won over the Saints fans. It was his skill and determination on the ball. He was never the paciest player in the world. Far from it.

But he had quick feet, presence of mind and skill that belied his position in a team that was developing a habit as also-rans in the struggle to get back to the Scottish Premier League.

All that was summed up in five seconds of, frankly, sexy football against Dundee at McDiarmid Park in September 2008 – early in the season that would see Saints return to the SPL.

Sheerin received the ball from Martin Hardie, turning back on himself to take the ball in with his back to goal, around 20 yards out near the angle of the box.

He twisted and turned past two Dundee defenders – beating one of them twice with a series of deft touches and turns – before hitting a beautiful curling, dipping shot into the top corner of Rab Douglas’s goal.

Watch it for yourself in the video below (1:36 onwards):

He ran off to celebrate in front of the East Stand – really cementing his cult status among the supporters.

So when he left the field for the final time after a brief substitutes appearance against Hamilton on Saturday May 8 2010, it tugged at the hearts of many Saints fans. And of Paul Sheerin himself – he looked gutted as he went off.

He was voted player of the decade by the fans on the We Are Perth Forum – a richly deserved accolade. He has worked with our under-19s this season, and I seriously hope he returns to do so in the future, although I think he probably still has some time to go in the Irn Bru Scottish Football League.

Farewell to The Wizard, Paul Sheerin – you will be fondly remembered for years to come.

Category: All About Saints
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2 Responses

  1. 1
    soulful saint 
    Friday, 14. January 2011

    great servant to the club and a player of exquisite skill

  2. braw