FOR Motherwell fans of a certain vintage, there is a legendary partnership that trips off the tongue as easily as Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, or Morecambe and Wise. Unlike those duos though, there was nothing amusing about the prospect of seeing Pettigrew and Graham taking top billing on the teamsheet for opposition defences.

It will warm the hearts of Motherwell fans who watched the two light up Fir Park in the 1970s to know that the double-act remains intact, with Willie and Bobby still traipsing along religiously to watch the men in claret and amber.

One half of the pairing, Pettigrew, was the first inductee in the Motherwell Hall of Fame, with a gala night held in honour of him and fellow inductees George Stevenson, Ally Maxwell and James McFadden tomorrow night.

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He is humbled by the honour, and expects that a certain someone may join him among that illustrious company before too long.

“I still go to the games with Bobby, I pick him up and take him to Fir Park,” Pettigrew said. “He’s 74 now.

“So, the partnership is still there. The only thing that’s changed is that I don’t have the mullet anymore.”

Despite their telepathic understanding, the partnership came about through accident rather than design. Pettigrew might never have been a first team player at Motherwell at all in fact, if it hadn’t been for the departure of the man who brought him to Fir Park in the first place.

Bobby Howitt picked Pettigrew up after an ill-fated spell at Hibernian, which ended with him back in the amateur ranks at Bonkle and then onto the juniors with East Kilbride Thistle, but it wasn’t until Ian St John arrived as manager that Pettigrew rose to prominence.

“Fortunately for me, Bobby was let go and Ian St John took over,” Pettigrew said. “He had been one of my favourite players. I watched him at Fir Park, and for me, he deserves this award more than I do.

“A friend of mine, Willie Leishman, who stayed two doors up from me, we were both part-time at the club. Ian St John offered him full-time terms, and Willie came back down the road and told me.

“I went back up the next day and chapped Ian’s door. I said, ‘you’ve given Willie Leishman a full-time contract, why no me?’ He said, ‘are you wanting a full-time contract?’ I said ‘aye, course I do.’

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“He told me to come back in the morning and we would sort it out. I went back down the road, turned on the telly, and the newsflash was that Ian St John had been appointed manager of Portsmouth.

“I went back up the next day and he was there, and said ‘it’s alright, there’s your contract’, so I signed it and the next day he was away.

“He had a belief in what I could do. He had given me games in the League Cup against Celtic and I scored a couple of goals, and it really looked at that point as if things were on the way up.

“When he left to take over at Portsmouth, Willie McLean came in, and he had me sitting on the bench from the start of the season until the end of December.

“I was never backwards about coming forwards. I said to him in a meeting, ‘either play me, or sell me’. I wasn’t going to sit on the bench any longer.

“The next game was Airdrie away at the old Broomfield and I was absolutely horrendous. I couldn’t hit a barn door. I thought ‘my big mouth has got me into trouble here’.

“The next game was Ayr United at home, and he partnered Bobby and me together. I scored four goals. We played Celtic in midweek and Bobby scored one, and I scored two. The rest is history.

“We never really worked at it, it was just a matter of us knitting together perfectly. Bobby knew where I was, I knew where he was, he knew the runs I would make.

“A lot of people just look at my side of the partnership, but Bobby scored a lot of goals too.”

What Motherwell, or more pertinently, Scotland, would give for a striker of Pettigrew’s talents now. He isn’t bitter that he won just the five caps (although he adds, pointedly, that Scotland won all five of those games, with him scoring twice), putting it down to the glittering array of attacking talent available at the time.

In any case, he had enough to be concerning himself with, going on to enjoy a hugely successful spell at Dundee United before coming back to his spiritual home as a youth coach later in life.

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It gives him almost as much satisfaction now to see the fruits of that labour on a weekly basis, sitting beside his old pal at Fir Park, as banging in the goals in claret and amber did in his own heyday.

“I know these kids,” he said. “I used to coach them along with Chris Cadden’s dad, Stevie.

“David Turnbull, Alan Campbell, Jake Hastie, James Scott. These were guys who were all under our purview.

“We didn’t make them players though, they made themselves. We just helped them along.

“I’m glad they’ve gone from academy football into the first-team. I’m really pleased for them.

“Motherwell have done really well. They got money for Hastie, they will get a lot of money for Turnbull when he’s fit again.

“There’s a pathway into the first-team that started with Chris McCart. When I went in there, Chris was the head of youth and 60 percent of the first-team was through the youth system with the Faddys, the Clarksons and players like that.

“They are now repeating that. They will have a good season. There will be blips along the way, that’s what you get with kids. They are still learning and still growing.

“It looks like Stephen Robinson has definitely got them on the right track though.”

With a track record like that, on and off the pitch, it is little wonder Motherwell have chosen to honour Pettigrew in such a way.

“I wasn’t shocked, but I was surprised,” he said. “It’s a big club with a lot of players that have come through it.

“It’s a big honour because first and foremost I am a Motherwell fan. I was born and bred in Motherwell, I used to go and watch them when St John, Andy Weir and people like that were there. I’d watch big Tam Forsyth playing in the middle of the park, which was a revelation. I followed them back before I was ever a player with them.

“There are so many that you could have in there, but for me, it’s fitting that it’s the fans’ choice. I was picked by the supporters, and that’s fine by me.

“Being a Motherwell fan, I was living the dream.”