APRIL 28 2007 was the nadir.
Saints fans stood on the sidelines at New Douglas Park awaiting news of the final whistle in Dingwall, where free-spending title rivals Gretna were being held to a draw that would see Saints win the league and gain promotion to the top-flight.
James Grady scored, Saints fans were left stunned and wondering if it was all worth it.
Gretna was a “fairytale”, we were told. That’s certainly not how we saw it.
We were still a couple of years away from the collapse of the SPL’s Setanta deal and the hammer blow that dealt financially to many clubs had not yet been struck.
The speculate to accumulate era was still in full swing. Dundee, Dunfermline, Rangers and Hearts were among the teams who would suffer calamity.
But what did all that speculation accumulate?
Hearts got the most famous day in their history – a 5-1 Scottish Cup final thrashing of Hibs a year before they fell into administration. Dundee got Cannigia and Ravanelli – but prolonged spells in the lower division was the price.
Saints on the other hand spent within their means, squared away cash for a rainy day. Geoff Brown frequently spoke out against those pouring money down a black hole.
How that has been vindicated now.
For seven years we sat in the then First Division watching these other sides throw around cash, paying players we couldn’t dream of signing. We were cruelly denied promotion on that fateful day in Lanarkshire at the hands of Gretna.
Then the golden era began.
Eleven consecutive seasons in the top flight would be a good run for St Johnstone – but the achievements contained within have been absolutely astounding.
A Scottish Cup. A third place finish. Three consecutive fourth place finishes. No league finish below eighth place. Five European campaigns. Three League Cup semi-finals. And now the League Cup trophy brought to Perth for the first time.
Make no mistake – that would be a stunning decade for your bigger clubs – Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibs.
For St Johnstone it is out of this world.
And what makes Sunday’s victory all the sweeter is that this is a St Johnstone team absolutely every supporter can get right on board with.
Led by Callum Davidson in his first season as a manager – a St Johnstone youth product who went on to an excellent career down south, finished his playing time in Perth then served as Tommy Wright’s assistant for the 2014 triumph.
The spine of Sunday’s team came through our youth system – Clark, Kerr, McCann, Kane.
The only substitute used on the day – Stevie May – is another academy product whose part in the 2014 Scottish Cup win doesn’t need repeating.
Then you have Liam Gordon – the boyhood Saints fan who signed for the club as a teenager a tower of strength at the back.
And another boyhood Saints supporter – David Wotherspoon – the first player ever to start in two separate cup finals for the club. And he won them both.
Liam Craig – probably one of the most popular players of the past decade among the fans and a man who embodies everything about the spirit and desire of this squad.
Shaun Rooney – a new found cult hero. Jamie McCart – a tremendous signing who is getting better every week. Callum Booth – in and out of the team but stood up to the test. Craig Conway – the veteran who has shown every ounce of his experience across the semi-final and final.
The only disappointment for the team is that Murray Davidson once again couldn’t play a part. It was brilliant to see him being brought along for the celebrations by his team mates and shows just how high a regard he is held in.
Saints have not started the last couple of seasons well. This term and last we’ve found ourselves at the wrong end of the table and the fears have started to rise that the golden era of St Johnstone Football Club could be coming to an end.
They’ve certainly rolled on for at least this season. Long may it continue.