Name: Paul Archdeacon
Date of Birth: 11th October 1976
Place of Birth: Greenock, Scotland
Signed: April 1993 from St Mirren BC
Departed: July 1998 to Stranraer
Debut: 26th March 1994 v Airdrie (2-0)
Final Match: 21st March 1998 v Falkirk (1-2)
Paul Archdeacon joined St Mirren in 1993 as a sixteen year old rookie, following in the footsteps of his father, Owen, who had played for the club some forty years beforehand and also keeping the strong footballing tradition in his family going as brother Owen Junior was currently still a professional at the time with Barnsley, having made almost 100 appearances for Celtic the previous decade.
This was a period of great uncertainty at the club, with massive financial restrictions put on the manager Jimmy Bone as debt close to £2million was being serviced, forcing the former Saints forward to develop younger players and Archdeacon was one of many dozen who made their debut for the club during this period.
The youngster was a tidy left sided player, who was used predominantly as a central midfield player, adding some much needed energy and balance to a floundering Saints side once he became a first team regular in the 1995/96 season, although it was as a 17 year old at Broadwood on the 26th March 1994 that Archdeacon made his first debut, coming off the bench to replace Alex Bone after 79 minutes during a 2-0 win in the First Division. (second tier)
A few months later on the opening day of the 1994/95 season, the midfielder made his full debut for the club against recently relegated Dundee at Dens Park in front of 4,125 fans, but the injury hit Saints fell to a 2-0 defeat. This was one of only two appearances the now 18 year old would make that whole campaign, but regular first team football was not far away.
Three days after the Greenock youngster turn 19 in October 1995, Archdeacon made his second start for the club as a run of six matches without a win finally came to an end with a 3-2 win over Dumbarton on the 14th October 1995, with Archdeacon popping up with a goal after 23 minutes to give Saints a 2-1 lead after falling behind to an early penalty. The youngster was actually playing left back that day as Bone desperately tried to halt the issues at the club which were far worse than just poor form and included a season ending injury to captain Norrie McWhirter on the opening day; top scorer for the past three seasons Barry Lavety in drug rehabilitation; and ageing players in the squad simply not good enough anymore to play at this level.
Archdeacon would use this match as a springboard to almost immediately become a first team regular along with fellow youth team-mates Brian Hetherston and Brian Smith; but in addition to this trio; Ricky Gillies, Barry McLaughlin, Stuart Taylor, Martin Baker and Jamie Fullarton were all still young enough to make the Scotland under 21 side and already all important first team players, therefore Bone bought Mark Yardley from Cowdenbeath for £25k and Paul Fenwick from Dunfermline for £10k to bolster the squad. All these players including Archdeacon made a significant impact as Saints eventually finished mid-table after this dreadful start had them bottom of the table as late as November 1995, but the season finished with the foundations much healthier for the seasons ahead.
At the end of that season, Archdeacon won several young player of the year awards from various Supporters Clubs after making 22 appearances for the side, however further turmoil wasn’t far away when Jimmy Bone quit the day after Saints had thrashed Berwick Rangers 4-0 in a League Cup 2nd round match at Love Street on the 13th August 1996 in which Archdeacon came off the bench, with the manager citing the sacking of his assistant Kenny McDowall by the Saints board as a ploy to force his resignation.
With the league season only days away, Tony Fitzpatrick took over on an interim basis, only to be snubbed for the permanent post by Iain Munro a few weeks later, who sensationally quit after just 24 hours in charge to take over at Raith Rovers, and Fitzpatrick then finally appointed on a full time basis. All of this meant Archdeacon and his young team-mates had three different managers in as many weeks!
A mixture of injuries and additional players being added to the squad such as Tommy Turner (who would be a first choice pick in central midfield for Fitzpatrick), meant opportunities for Archdeacon were becoming surprisingly rare (particularly as he had impressed so much the previous season) after Jimmy Bone departed, and the midfielder made just 22 appearances in the following two full seasons, paving his way for a move to Stranraer with former Saints team-mate Campbell Money now manager, in the summer of 1998 after 49 appearances for Saints.