My Team & I: St Johnstone


By Steve McGillivray

Twitter: @theSteve71

Why St Johnstone?

One reason really. My Mum. I was taken to my first game in the inaugural season of the Scottish Premier League. My Dad and Grandad were both St Johnstone fans, but my Mum lays claim to introducing me to my hometown team………… I don’t really remember the first game as I was only about 5 years old. My earliest memories of St Johnstone are from a few years later and included seeing a young midfielder/striker called Ally McCoist. Over the next few years my Grandad and I travelled all over the country to see St Johnstone, mainly in the lower reaches of the Scottish Leagues but we did see the team win the First Division Championship in 1982/83 season meaning our Centenary Season of 83/84 would be played in the top flight. We were subsequently relegated two seasons running, but my Grandad and I continued to go. By the time I was a teenager in the Championship season, the club was in my blood, where it will remain forever. It’s a shame that my Grandad doesn’t go anymore, but I have a season ticket with my Mum now as well as Step-dad and best friend. We all love our club.

Favourite Player?

Current squad has to be Michael Duberry and Murray Davidson in a tie. Duberry is simply different class at centre half and his signing was worth two players, with the rise of Steven Anderson alongside him. He is a leader and a winner in every sense and we as fans are still pinching ourselves that he’s there wearing our beloved blue jersey and giving his all for the team. Murray Davidson is in his second season with the club, having been part of a double signing from Livingston alongside Dave MacKay. He is a big streak of a lad but quite possibly the most combative player in the team. He never shirks a tackle, is a great box to box midfielder and times his arrivals into the box like a seasoned pro. He deservedly got a call up to the Scotland squad for the friendly with the Faeroe Islands. Some cynics may say this was due to the high volume of call offs, but we Saints fans know it’s because he’s quite simply a very talented midfielder.

From previous years, the standard answer from Saints fans will be Roddy Grant. Don’t get me wrong, he’s called The Legend for a reason. My choices though would be Sergei Baltacha and Sammy Johnston. Sergei was like Michael Duberry in many ways. Vastly experienced and a real battler for the cause, but Sergei was one of the best footballers I’ve ever seen play at St Johnstone and I include the opposition players in that. Sergei won 47 caps for the USSR national team and played over 240 times for Dynamo Kiev. He was quite simply class. Sammy Johnston was a very neat and tidy midfielder that played for Saints when we moved from Muirton Park and into our current home McDiarmid Park. His brother Alan played for a few clubs including Hearts and Rangers as well as featuring for Scotland. Sammy was better though.


Favourite Game?

Been a few. Monaco in the UEFA Cup in Perth was pretty special, finishing 3-3. Beating Dundee 1-0 on the final day of the previous season to secure the UEFA Cup slot was also great. For me though, I’d go back to a Scottish League Cup game back on 12th August 1981. Saints were in the First Division at the time and were just beginning to put together the team that would go on to win the League the following season. Celtic would go on to win the Premier League in the 81/82 season, so this was a good team we were up against. We’d finish 5th, 19 points behind winners Motherwell. None of that mattered on this fateful evening though. My older cousin took me to the game and wound me up all the way to the ground about what his team, Celtic were going to do to us. Ally McCoist scored with a pretty sweet drive from the edge of the box and Jim Morton scored a penalty with his trusty left foot to secure a famous 2-0 win for us. This was in the days of sections in the League Cup, with home and away ties so Celtic had their revenge with a 4-1 in Glasgow a week later but that night was the best feeling ever. Never saw my cousin for ages after that.

Favourite Kit?

Has to be the kit we wore around 1982. Made by Umbro it featured the classic diamonds down the sleeves. Brings back memories of McCoist, Rutherford, Brogan and Brannigan. Good times.


Worst thing about being a St Johnstone fan?

Probably the lack of major honours. We’ve never won the Scottish Cup (or even made it to the Final), never won the League Cup (two losing Finals) and we’ve never won the top division. These things are tough but not unique to St Johnstone so I feel a little bit petty for airing them here but I’m sure every fan dreams the impossible dream. Must be nice to see second in the League and winning one Cup as a failure but there you go.

Funniest moment?

Been a few funny moments. A particular favourite was when Alan Main was playing for us. He came out for the second half of a game and took up his place in the goal right in front of the away fans (I think it was Aberdeen but not 100% sure). The press had been awash with stories ion the days before the game about Alan’s father and his problems with alcohol. Not quite sure how that made national newspapers but it did. Anyway, Main placed his water and towel into the net and stood on the penalty spot stretching only for the away fans to launch into a chorus of “Alan Main, alky Dad”. Main’s response – to stagger comically around the box on wobbly legs. The away fans soon shut up.

Favourite Moment?

Quite a hard one this, due to the lack of major silverware. I’d probably pick the 2-0 win at Ayr United in 1990. We’d moved into our new stadium at McDiarmid Park at the beginning of the 89/90 season and the dream return to the top flight was completed when we won at Ayr. A good Saints support made the long trek to Ayr and there was a great atmosphere with Saints doing the job and sending me home happy for a very long night of celebration.

3 Responses to “My Team & I: St Johnstone”

  1. well written,were a few things i didn,t remember,it was nice to recall them nice to see the,well kent faces from years gone bye, i love going to see st johnstone and i enjoy my son, his best friend and my partner being with me!this is my team and it is like a family even though we do not command a big turnout most weeks,saints are the team for me!

  2. I used to go see St Johnstone with my grandad Sandy McGillivray, in the days of Henry Hall, Jimmy Donaldson etc. Then when he wasn’t able to go, I went with my best friend Judy. Always returning to my grandad with the scores and a run down of how the game had gone. Years later Judy was getting married and as the bridesmaid I was introduced to the best man, Drew Brannigan who played for Saints. I always thought how proud my grandad would have been to know that I married a St Johnstone football player. Don’t go to the games now though.

  3. Oh and I should have mentioned that my grandad Sandy McGillivray is Steve’s great grandad. Steve’s grandad is my uncle. His dad is my cousin and his mum was my neighbour for almost 30 years. We’re all family here!

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