A pre-Scottish Cup trip to a health spa or hotel in the countryside wasn’t on the cards for these St Mirren players.
Saints were due to face Stranraer in the second round of the competition at Love Street on the last Saturday of January, 1964, and the players no doubt fancied some shooting practice.
But there wasn’t a goal net or a cardboard cut-out of a defensive wall to help with their practice – instead the players just nipped down to the South Ayrshire moors with their double-barrelled shotguns!
The players in question were Red Campbell, Dick Beattie and Bobby Dempster, and they were joined by team manager Jackie Cox and their guest, Bobby Craig of St Johnstone.
And therein lies a tale in itself. Earlier in the season, Beattie had suffered a double break of the ankle in a win over Motherwell, which was a real blow to the team as he had been performing admirably between the sticks.
The highly-rated Beattie would be missing for weeks, and his place was taken by Dempster, initially signed on an emergency one-month deal from Airdrie.
Back-to-back league wins gave the Love Street faithful renewed optimism and 40 supporters’ buses and many private cars made the short journey to Falkirk for a match against newly-promoted East Stirling – most people’s favourites to be relegated.
But the Buddies made the fatal error of underestimating their ‘lowly’ opponents and succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. Rangers then thumped Saints 3-0 and Dempster was blamed for leaking all three goals. What a difference a week or two makes.
Dempster was soon axed in favour of former Celtic keeper Frank Connor, but he too was disappointing in goal and Saints fans breathed a sigh of relief when Beattie was able to return almost four months later.
By the time the Stranraer cup tie came around, Saints had hit something of a purple patch, and they brushed past the Stair Park side with a 2-0 win, courtesy of goals from Queen and Robertson.
Dreams of a cup run were foremost on everyone’s mind down Paisley way but a hotly-disputed goal by Falkirk’s Sammy Wilson proved the difference between the sides in the third round at Love Street.
It was a disappointing and damp-squib manner in which to exit the cup.
But a fortnight after the cup game, Saints’ worst result of the 20th century arrived in the shape of a 9-2 loss at Dens Park, Dundee.
And this time it was the turn of Dick Beattie to take the lion’s share of the blame, something of a recurring theme for St Mirren goalkeepers in season 1963/64.
In fact, only a slender 2-1 home win over St Johnstone helped the Buddies escape relegation to the old second division.
It was crystal clear that something had to be done to arrest what had truly become an alarming slide to the depths of despair.