Ian Ferguson is probably most well-known for his time playing for Glasgow Rangers, but supporters of St Mirren Football Club will remember him more fondly for his heroics during the 1987 Scottish Cup Final.
Following an impressive 2 years in Clyde Football Clubs’ youth system, the then St Mirren manager Alex Smith offered Ferguson his first professional contract for the Paisley side. It would turn out to be one Smith’s most important signings.
Under Smiths leadership, St Mirren fought their way to the Scottish Cup final of 1987 dispatching Heart of Midlothian and rivals Morton in the process. Ian Ferguson was vital in the team’s success during the cup run scoring a crucial goal against Hearts in the penultimate game of the competition, a foreshadowing of things to come.
St Mirren faced the might of Dundee United in the cup final. In 1987 Dundee United were going through a phase of unprecedented success. Alongside Aberdeen, Dundee United had forced their way to the top of the Scottish game and were considered one of the strongest sides of their era. United had won their first league title in 1983, and even beat Spanish giants Barcelona in the UEFA Cup Semi Final. The Arabs however, had never won the Scottish Cup and this was seen as their best opportunity yet. Understandably, St Mirren came into the match as underdogs.
However, the Paisley side fought hard in the final, and in extra time Ian Ferguson scored a goal which would inevitably win the game for The Buddies. This would be only the clubs’, third major honour and the first in Ian Ferguson’s trophy laden career.
Speaking to the Daily Record 30 years on from the historic cup final win, Alex Smith talked fondly of Ferguson’s winning strike; “The quality of that finish is unbelievable but the funny thing is he very rarely scored with his left foot. He is a right-footed player but in actual fact, every goal he scored in that cup run was with his left, and he scored in every round.
“It wasn’t like it was an open goal, he was up against a top quality goalkeeper in Billy Thomson. It was special.”
Ferguson’s form for St. Mirren attracted the eyes of Rangers manager Graeme Souness, who was then revolutionising the Govan side. In the summer of 1988, Ferguson won his move to the Glasgow giants where he would spend 12 years, playing a pivotal role in the Rangers side which won 9 League titles in a row from 1988 to 1997.
In 2000, Ferguson ended his time at Ibrox having won an impressive; 10 League titles, 3 Scottish Cups and 5 Scottish League cups. After 2 years at Dunfermline Athletic, Ferguson signed for Australian side Northern Spirit before finishing his playing career at Central Coast Mariners.
In retrospect, it would seem that Ian Ferguson’s time at St Mirren played an important part in the growth of one of Scottish Football’s most decorated players. Ferguson’s cup winning goal will be remembered by Buddies fans for years to come.