Lee Robinson, Queens centurion

The 1st new player to hit the 100 appearances mark for QoS in season 2012/13 was Lee Robinson.

The Sunderland lad was involved with his senior home town club as a boy before being released aged 12. Robinson played in the Northern League for Esh Winning before being given what proved to be a successful trial with Rangers. Robinson spent most of his time at Ibrox as cover. His solitary league appearance was as a late sub for Roland Wattereus at home to Hearts on 7th May 2006 when Kris Boyd scored Rangers both in a 2-0 win.

Early in 2007/08 Robinson was loaned out to Morton where Ryan McGuffie was among his team mates as was another player to come from England’s North East, ex QoS Peter Weatherson. It was there (1st Sep 2007), Robinson first encountered Queen of the South building a string of excellent results when playing away at Morton. Queens’ Sean O’Connor scored the only goal of the game in the 47th minute.

Robinson lost his starting place in October (David McGurn was Ton goallie when Queens won 2-0 en route to the 2008 Scottish Cup Final). Morton were a struggling side and manager Jim McInally resigned on 11 February 2008 with Morton in the relegation 9th place in the league. Davie Irons took over the reigns with the task of keeping his side up. After having only played four games since New Year, Robinson was given a run for the last eight games of the season. The sequence of 5 defeats out of 6 was immediately halted with a ship steadying run of four draws. Robinson played at Palmerston keeping a clean sheet in a 0-0 in that run of draws. Two defeats followed leaving Morton in a precarious position before ending the season with 3-0 wins against Dunfermline and Partick to keep them in the 2nd tier by a point.

Robinson returned to Ibrox but again went out on loan, this time in October to St Johnstone. Robinson understudied Alan Main and didn’t cross the white line for the Saints first team. He again returned to Ibrox.

His third loan out from Rangers was to Queen of the South in January 2009. His debut (Jan 2nd), with some irony was at Cappielow, 2-2 against McGuffie and Weatherson and his former Morton team mates (Weatherson`s 2nd goal of the game was a 90th minute equaliser). Robinson played 18 games before the end of the season, the highlight of which was the 7-1 demolishing of Clyde when Stephen Dobbie hit 4 goals. Playing for Clyde were Chris Higgins as was the enigmatic Willie McLaren who scored the Clyde goal. Another player who was to figure in Robinson’s career was the Clyde keeper, David Hutton.

Robinson then left the Ibrox playing staff joining Kilmarnock in summer 2009. Like at Rangers, Robinson was a fringe player at Rugby Park. Ex QoS Cammy Bell started the 1st two games of the season in place of injured 1st choice, Alan Combe. Mark Brown was loaned in from Celtic to cover Combe’s lengthy injury. After Brown’s return to Celtic, Bell was given and took the opportunity to establish himself as 1st pick goal tender. Robinson played once for the Killie 1st team, a 1-0 league defeat away to Hibs when Bell was subbed after 11 minutes. This was 6 March 2010. At the season’s end Robinson moved on again.

18 July 2010, Palmerston Park, Dumfries. Queens great, Jim Thomson, is receiving a testimonial game against Rangers. Approaching half time QoS Keeper Roddy McKenzie comes out to face the on coming Saša Papac. The 2 collide and after some treatment, McKenzie is subbed. Neil Scally steps back from midfield to don the keeper’s jersey to see out the remainder of the half. At half time sense prevails and Rangers sub goalkeeper, Neil Alexander steps out for the second half to allow the game to continue with a regular keeper playing for both sides. McKenzie’s injury is serious and turns out to mean that he doesn’t play 1st team football again until 19th March. To provide cover and competition for David Hutton, signed from Clyde the year before, Kenny Brannigan turns to Robinson.

Robinson ended up staying until January. Generalising to a degree, Robinson played in cup games and Hutton in league games. Robinson had a fine game at Dunfermline that went to penalty kicks. 1st taker for the Pars was Andy Kirk. Kirk scored and Robinson for his trouble picked up a yellow card for delaying Kirk’s kick. At 5-5, the Pars have a penalty to win the contest. Robinson saves the spot kick taken by a certain Chris Higgins. Ryan McGuffie makes is 6-5 to Queens before Andy Dowie hits the bar. Robinson thus follows in the footsteps of the likes of Barney Davidson and Barry John Corr by making it a victory for Queens in penalty shoot outs in senior competitive football. 8 pens faced, 2 saves and 1 off the bar mean only 5 of the 8 beat Robinson.

Robinson played in the Challenge Cup semi final at Peterhead. Craig Reid and Derek Holmes scored to put Queens through 2-1. The final was attracting news headlines with foreign officials brought in as the SFL response to a strike by match officials in Scotland. This though was the winter with temperatures like Ice Station Zebra. The game was called off and rescheduled for what turned out to be an uncharacteristically warm April afternoon. Robinson missed the rescheduled and utterly abject QoS cup final display. The game will be best remembered for David Hutton’s uncharacteristic moment of madness in the eighth minute to gift Ross County’s Andy Barrowman the opener. Hutton though should feel no more culpable than any of his team mates who combined to deliver an invertebrate and lobotomised display to shame any cup final team, clearly missing the cup tied Colin McMenamin. Robinson had left the club in January with his final game a rival to the Ross County Cup Final for the insipidity of the QoS display. Queens applied only limited pressure against Brechin City in the Scottish Cup. McMenamin scored but disappointing Queens were deservedly eliminated by Brechin from a division below.

Robinson spent the six months out of the game and taking a look at himself and gave himself some honest answers to some honest questions. Looking himself in the mirror, Robinson knew he had been given chances in football and not been hungry enough to take all of them. David Hutton left Queens to join Hamilton. It was thus as his replacement in July 2011 that Queens signed all new, Robbo II.

Queens made no secret that the club finances weren’t in good shape. Costs had to be cut, books had to be balanced, budgets had to be met. Austerity was the anti word now on the lips of the nation, on the lips of the continent. The name of the game for Queens was to survive in the division while the cut backs were made to live and fight again another year. The objective wasn’t met. Queens conceded late goal after late goal to squander points after points. For Robinson at least this meant plenty of action and he emerged from the relegation season as one of the few players at Queens with his reputation enhanced. Robinson was deservedly given Player of the Year recognition in that season’s campaign that is mostly best forgotten other than for lessons learned.

2012/13. Fresh in the memories and the antithesis of the misery of the season before. Two players started all 46 games; the now club equal record scorer in one season and divisional Player of the Year, Nicky Clark, and goalkeeper Lee Robinson. Robinson played every moment until the last 8 minutes of the last game of the season when subbed to give young Jim Atkinson the reward of a debut for under studying all season from the bench. While not facing the pressure like he did the year before, Robinson still had his opportunities to shine. And how did he take them.

14th August and Queens are away to Morton from a division above in the Challenge Cup. Morton have a late chance to win the tie with a penalty kick. Peter Weatherson hit the Morton kick firmly but Robinson came up with the goods. David Graham got to the rebound which Robinson pushed over for good measure. Nicky Clark scores in extra time to add to the earlier goal by Mark Durnan and Queens are through 2-1.

Robinson played in the 2-0 league cup win against Hibs that augured so well for the season ahead. Robinson though had a pretty quiet game as Queens turned in what was arguably their most impressive display of an outstanding season. Different story for the Ramsden Cup visit to Ibrox to play Rangers. Action at both ends and 2-2 after 90 minutes to take the game into extra time and then penalties. Robinson saved from Dean Shiels. Anestis Argyriou hit Rangers 5th with the scores at 3-3. The Greek’s resilience under pressure matched sadly that of his homeland’s economy and he was only able to hit the woodwork. Ryan McGuffie stepped forward to make no mistake for Robinson’s save to separate the two sides. Two shoot out goalkeeping credits to Robinson.

Robinson saves from Shiels at Ibrox.

Robinson`s 100th Queen of the South 1st team appearance was in the 5-0 drubbing of Stranraer, 16 February 2013. Largely spectating at even an heavier thumping, Robinson was in goals for the 6-0 win away to Brechin to clinch the title before the end of March.

Then to the game from which he will do well to surpass his contribution any time in his career. Almondvale Stadium, Livingston, 7 April 2013. The Scottish Challenge Cup Final between Queen of the South, emphatic runaway winners of SFL 2, and Partick Thistle, enjoying a fine season themselves pace setting in the division above Queens. Most of the 90 minutes has defences on top, play in the final third generally quite poor from both teams but Queens enjoying the better of things. Last minute of the regulation 90 and Kris Doolan is clean through for Thistle with a miscarriage of justice on the cards and just Robinson to beat. Doolan elects to shoot low into the bottom corner. Robinson though has the reflexes and agility to reach low to his left to deflect the shot wide of the post to take the game to extra time.

100 mins on the clock and the rest of the game is about to hit drama superdrive. Danny Carmichael’s rebound off the bar leaves Nicky Clark with a simple nod in to give Queens what was a deserved lead. Thistle came back fighting though. It`s easy to be right with the benefit of replays but no such luxuries for referees at present. Marc Fitzpatrick’s foul on Christie Elliott is incorrectly awarded as inside the box. Penalty to Thistle. Up steps Aaron Muirhead, Dumfries boy and nephew of ex Queens’ Davie Irons. Gut wrenching tension with young Muirhead looking to salvage his team’s 1st Cup Final in 42 years with a spot kick against his home town club. Muirhead hits it to Robinson’s right but the keeper pushes the ball away. Pandemonium breaks out on the pitch. Things get unpleasant and Muirhead gets a red card for violent conduct. Thistle show why though they are to win SFL1 by 11 points and come back at Queens again. A cross to the back post is met by Doolan and this time he has the ball in the back of the net. Play restarts, the ref blows the whistle a couple of seconds later and next it`s Robinson’s second shoot out of the season and third of his QoS career.

Queens have practiced for penalties and everyone knows their position in the order before the game. Queens have three players ineligible, Kevin Holt and also Paul Burns and Ryan McGuffie both of whom have scored for Queens in shoot outs before. Thus at number six on the Queens penalty takers list should it go to sudden death, is the one and only Lee Robinson. However Clark, Derek Lyle and Michael Paton are already subbed. In the re-juggled list, Robinson is now up to number four.

Derek Young steps up 1st and like against Rangers at Ibrox, scores with confidence. Next it’s Robinson and shades of the Dunfermline shoot out. While not in the Bruce Grobbelaar league of out and out mind games, Robinson endures the scorn of the referee and is threatened with a yellow card, his 2nd of the game and missing the rest of the fun and frolics. Having seen Robinson penalty save diving to the right, Stephen O’Donnell strikes it to Robinson’s left. It doesn’t matter with Robinson again equal to it and it`s advantage Queens. Scott Fox, yet another ex Queens keeper, then saves for Partick to restore parity. It stays that way as Robinson steps up on cue for the fourth Queens penalty. The Thistle fans, boisterous and enjoying the novelty of the cup final in a similar manner to Queens at Fir Park in ’97, try to put Robinson off. That is pointless and Robinson puts his kick away. After the first kick each in sudden death it`s 5 each. Chris Higgins scores for Queens and Conrad Balatoni steps forward for Partick. Balatoni’s kick is similar to Muirhead’s earlier in open play to Robinson’s right. Robinson saves again. Courtesy of the shoot out win, Queens have won their 2nd Challenge Cup Final out of four and their first ever same season trophy double at senior level.

Robinson still has his eyes on the ball as he has pushed it away to to clinch the cup for Queens. Fox has to watch hopelessly.

Robinson takes man of the match. It`s three out of three for him in shoots out for Queens.

In open play in 2012/13 Lee Robinson faced 13 penalties. Only six of those have crossed the goal line. Add to this the two shoot out wins including in one of which he scored with one of the kicks. No surprise that Lee Robinson is the goalkeeper in the PFA Scotland Division 2 Team of the Season. His QoS 1st team apearance tally stands at 113.