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Thousands line streets for St Johnstone cup heroes

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  • by JAMIE BEATSON
 

THOUSANDS of St Johnstone fans lined the streets of Perth yesterday to cheer their sporting heroes.

In what was their first major trophy, the Saints clinched the Scottish Cup with a 2-0 victory over Tayside rivals Dundee United at Glasgow’s Celtic Park on Saturday.

Thousands of fans of the Perth-based club partied late into the night on Saturday – with players including midfield lynchpin Chris Millar and star striker Stevie May posing for hundreds of photos in a city nightclub.

The winning squad took part in an open-top bus parade yesterday to show off the trophy. The club won the trophy in its first appearance at the final in its 130-year history.

The bus worked its way through various areas of the city – which had become a sea of blue and white, the club’s colours – before arriving in the city centre where thousands of fans had congregated to share in the celebrations of the club’s victory.

The open-topped bus was later piped along the High Street by the Perth Pipe Band before parking up outside the Perth Concert Hall.

Fans who had gathered on the High Street burst into a rendition of Oh When the Saints as the bus drove by – with players Lee Croft and James Dunne conducting the singing from the front of the bus.

Players took pictures of the massive crowd – estimated at up to 15,000 people.

And at one point Saints legend Roddy Grant, now an associate director at the club, was seen weeping with joy on the bus after the historic victory.

Club owner Geoff Brown waved to fans and held a scarf aloft as they moved through the throngs of fans.

Manager Tommy Wright, speaking on the bus during the parade, said the victory capped one of the biggest seasons in the club’s history.

He said: “We will try to build and get some more quality into the side – but we have good young players coming through as well. The future is bright for St Johnstone.”

Wright, who underwent surgery during the season, said: “I could have been in serious trouble – that put things into perspective.

“But I was looked after really well – the surgeons and anaesthetists were at the game there with me. I didn’t think it was going to get any better,” added Wright. “There are thousands and thousands here, they’re jam packed in.

“Credit to them. It is just unbelievable.”

Fan Kenneth McFarlane, 28, said it was a dream come true to attend the victory parade.

He added: “It has been massively emotional – I’ve seen people in tears and I’ve been close to it myself!

“The game was incredible and it was just such a surreal feeling when the final whistle went. It’s all brand new to us, it is just amazing.”

Another Saints supporter Claire Smyth, 29, said: “I hope this win cements our place as one of the bigger teams in Scotland

“We’ve never won anything before but we’ve done it now”, added the delighted supporter.

“I think we deserved it over the course of the season and definitely during the game on Saturday.

“It means so much to the fans but you could see how much it meant to our players and staff as well.”

Following the parade the players were welcomed by Perth and Kinross Council dignitaries at a civic reception at the town’s Royal George Hotel.

The party started all over again at McDiarmid Park last night as the Saints players and management team gathered with around 300 fans for the club’s annual player of the year awards dinner.

The Scottish Football Writers’ Association Young Player of the Year, Stevie May, swept the board at the ceremony, picking up awards from every supporters’ club represented at the event.

It is estimated 15,000 Saints fans travelled to Celtic park to watch the game – the club’s biggest ever crowd at any match in their history.

 

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