Motherwell fans celebrated their first league win at Fir Park for six months on Wednesday but the taste of victory was bittersweet for defender Paul McGinn.
The 2-1 triumph over St Mirren was a first cinch Premiership victory in 12 matches and took Well up to ninth in the table.
But the long-awaited victory came five days too late for Steven Hammell and McGinn’s thoughts were with his former manager after the final whistle.
McGinn felt for Hammell after the club’s post-war record appearance holder departed after Saturday’s Scottish Cup defeat by Raith Rovers and he bemoaned the fact they had not been able to see out a victory in time to save his job.
After early goals from Kevin van Veen and Max Johnston earned Motherwell victory, McGinn said: “It’s been really tough. You will struggle to meet a more likeable guy than the manager. It’s just really tough for him.
“We should have been winning games, we were battering teams and we weren’t getting there. Just that rub of the green wasn’t there.
“It shows, it was a great run from Max, but I think it’s a bit of luck for his goal. I don’t remember getting any of that under the old manager. Football can be like that at times, it’s cruel. I definitely feel for him.”
McGinn was inadvertently doing his team-mate Johnston a disservice, given the wing-back later declared he meant to lob Trevor Carson after realising there were no team-mates in the box to cross to.
Van Veen also finished expertly but Motherwell’s victory owed a lot to resilience as they held out under pressure for much of the second half.
Motherwell have played better and lost this season but the defensive stubbornness was a major step forward after letting slip leads against Kilmarnock and Ross County in recent games at Fir Park.
McGinn played in a back three alongside home debutants Dan Casey and Calum Butcher and felt the new signings made a difference.
The former Dundee, St Mirren and Hibernian player has played at right-back, left-back and in central defence in recent weeks as Motherwell have been struck by injuries to centre-backs and he hopes they can get some stability in the coming months.
“It was probably just a bit more experienced team than what we have been able to put out, and that makes a difference,” he said.
“We have been chopping and changing, we lost our left-back in January and stuff like that, we have not had a settled defence.
“Once we get that settled defence, I think you will find that results will be a lot better.”