THE best person in the history of Motherwell Football club was a fantastic woman called Betty Pryde.

Betty’s official title was secretary to the manager but she was so much more than that.

Terry Butcher said with some justification that when the club was placed into administration, it was Betty who kept things going. She was the soul of Fir Park.

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Read more: Motherwell winger Chris Cadden undeterred at squaring up to old Celtic pal Kieran Tierney in Betfred Cup final

If you wanted to talk to a player or the manager, you phoned Betty and she would always be friendly, helpful and make you feel as if you were the only journalist she knew when, in fact, she made it her job to get to know all of us.

And if you were hanging around waiting for an interview, a cup of tea and biscuit would always be on offer. She was an absolute diamond, loved by all who knew her.

Betty passed away in 2013 and her popularity was such that former players travelled great distances to be at her funeral. As Alan Burrows, now the club’s chief operating officer, said at the time: “All of the players loved her to bits and that was the same with the managers. It’s safe to say that everybody involved with Betty is devastated.”

I hadn’t thought of Betty for a wee while until here at Herald Towers we began to look towards this Sunday’s Betfred League Cup Final between Motherwell and Celtic.

The Steelmen, sadly a largely-defunct nickname these days, were last in the League Cup Final in 2005 when they faced and were rather taken apart by a Rangers side that ran out 5-1 winners at Hampden.

A couple of days before the game, Betty made a speech to the players which by all accounts was so emotional and heartfelt that even the hardest characters in the dressing room had tears in their eyes.

Read more: Motherwell winger Chris Cadden undeterred at squaring up to old Celtic pal Kieran Tierney in Betfred Cup final

I've always liked Motherwell. I should really support them. I was born in what was the maternity hospital, a John Philliben clearance from Fir Park, half my family are from and still live in the town and a few of my best mates go to almost every game.

I’m not a fan as such, but this is a club I have enormous fondness for. I enjoy going to Fir Park, and as a newspaper man you are treated extremely well.

Lanarkshire’s finest, as they claim to be, have been a top tier team for over 30 years, which is some achievement, and while there have been bumps in the road, they only avoided relegated when in administration because Falkirk’s ground was deemed not up to scratch, they’ve punched well above their weight.

The 1991 Scottish Cup Final, I was there with my Motherwell-supporting pals, remains the best game of football I’ve ever seen live. When Dougie Arnott scored twice at Ibrox to beat a superb Rangers team in 1993, I was right behind the goal getting a kiss and cuddle off my big mate Dave who was utterly delirious.

In fact, in that 1993/94 season, Motherwell were a superb team. Under the guidance of Tommy McLean, a superb manager, they finished third, just four points behind winners Rangers.

Read more: Motherwell winger Chris Cadden undeterred at squaring up to old Celtic pal Kieran Tierney in Betfred Cup final

Tommy Coyne played so well that he made it to the World Cup with Ireland. Paul Lambert excelled in midfield and two years later joined Borussia Dortmund. Big Brian Martin, a no-nonsense centre-half, came close to a Scotland call-up and, of course, goalkeeper Sieb Dijkstra went onto enjoy a long career in adult movies.

And then there was Phil O’Donnell.

Had he not been plagued by injuries, a result of playing far too many games as a kid, the midfielder could have played for anyone. There were few better sights at that time than O’Donnell sprinting past opponents as if they weren’t there. He won a £1.5m move to Celtic after that season.

It’s still difficult to comprehend that December 29 marks the 10th anniversary of his shocking death.

O’Donnell was one of the good guys. The idea to pay tribute to him on Sunday is a lovely. His son Luc will bring out the trophy, which is a really nice touch.

Both Phil and Betty, I am sure, will be in the minds of those wearing claret and amber on Sunday and I have a sneaky feeling Motherwell could cause one mighty upset.

Remind me of this when Moussa Dembele scores his hat-trick and Celtic coast to victory.


REMEMBER when David Cameron got all confused about which team he supported when pretending to be a football fan?

I supposed its easy to confuse Aston Villa with West Ham United if you haven't actually been to any of their games.

Newly-elected Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who is English, admited that he would support England over Scotland.

Good on him.

I can almost put up with the usual lies politician spout but it really sticks in the craw to hear one of them pretend to be down with the lads because they are are a game every other week.

Leonard was at least being honest when I'm sure some PR person in the background was wondering whether to buy him a half and half scarf. I bet he even won a few votes.