On the day Tommy Wright left St Johnstone after seven glorious years in charge, we take a look back at his greatest games in charge of our club.
5 – Rosenborg 0-1 St Johnstone – Europa League Second Qualifying Round, First Leg – July 18 2013
Just five weeks after taking charge following the departure of Steve Lomas, Tommy Wright’s hopes of getting off to a flying start as Saints boss looked slim at best. Rosenborg, the Norwegian giants, were one of – if not THE – toughest names available in the Europa League Second Qualifying Round draw. Saints had earned their place though – finishing third under Lomas in 2012/13, and went in high on confidence. Frazer Wright’s close range finish was enough to set Saints off on a season we will never forget.
4- Rangers 1-3 St Johnstone – League Cup – September 22 2015
Rangers were in the Championship, but had won 11 in a row and were already coasting towards the title. Saints went in to this off the back of a patchy start to the season, and had lost to Kilmarnock three days earlier.
The narrative was that this was a resurgent Rangers – one who could blow Premiership sides away. And indeed they did just that on their way to making the Scottish Cup final – ultimately losing in hilarious circumstances to perennial cup bottlers and fellow lower leaguers Hibs.
It was all set up for Rangers to make a statement, to beat a top six team and restore their shattered pride after years away from the big time.
Did they manage? No. Did they reckon on Tommy Wright setting up his side to absolutely expose their weaknesses from back to front? Of course not.
Michael O’Halloran simply ripped Rangers to shreds, not only helping us to a resounding victory but also putting himself in the shop window, netting us a cool half million pound transfer fee and ultimately getting him back in the right blue jersey just a couple of years later. An almost perfect night’s football for Saints fans.
3 – St Johnstone 2-1 Dundee United – Scottish Premiership – September 26 2015
“It’s easier to stop than it is to create.” Those were the words of Jackie McNamara just 16 months earlier, when Saints won a resounding Scottish Cup final victory. Bitter words from a bitter man.
The insinuation – that Saints couldn’t match up to his free-flowing side of youngsters including Gary Mackay-Steven, Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Gauld and had to kick them off the park – was clearly miles from the truth. McNamara had started that final with GAVIN FUCKING GUNNING at centre back, lest we forget. And now just over a year later, McNamara was under the cosh – United were struggling, heading for relegation and several years in the Championship, and it was all his fault.
Did Saints provide him with some solace? A welcome three points on the way to turning things round? Well, despite losing Alan Mannus to a first-half red card and going a goal behind from the resultant penalty, a Graham Cummins header and a delicious Simon Lappin lob were enough to see Tommy Wright sipping his post-match drink with a smile on his face. McNamara, meanwhile, was sacked on the spot in the McDiarmid Park stand.
2 – St Johnstone 2-1 Aberdeen – Scottish Cup Semi Final – April 13 2014
We had been over this course before. Semi final heartache. A fighting performance, maybe even a goal to celebrate and give us hope, but ultimately so near yet so far.
Not this time.
Tommy Wright was the man to take us where we had never been before. Niall McGinn put the Dons ahead, but Saints had something up their sleeve. The desire, the heart, the tactics, the players. A formational tweak put Stevie May off the left. He scored the leveller before combining in sensational fashion with strike partner Steven Maclean to put us on track for our first ever major trophy
1 – St Johnstone 2-0 Dundee United – Scottish Cup Final – May 17 2014
Could there be anything else? The greatest day in St Johnstone’s history, presided over by the greatest manager in St Johnstone’s history. Wright just exuded confidence going in to this. And why not? He’d already done things in his first season in charge no-one thought possible.
Steven Maclean and Steven Anderson wrote their names in the history books – but this was Tommy Wright’s trophy above anyone else. When we talk about this game, these moments, with our children and grandchildren it will be his name we associate with it above all else. What a man.