FOR the local boy, Stevie May, St Johnstone’s first trophy was a success with the potential to be a place-changer, never mind game changer.
As he savoured the 2-0 Scottish final victory over Dundee United that surprised only for the fact that the talismanic striker did not add to his 27-goal haul, May was asked what his home city of Perth might be like as the partying kicked in. “Better than usual,” he smiled. “Well I hope so, because the celebrations are part of it.
“It’s hard to describe how it feels, but the boys have deserved this from the start of the season until today. We started the season with a great result against Rosenborg and managed to finish it with an even better one. I think we rode our luck at times with them hitting the post and bar, but it was just our year.”
And for May, that was not unexpected. In January, while with the under-21s, he was asked about the possibility of moving in the January transfer window. His response now sounds prophetic. “I said I wanted to stay and get the chance to win a cup, and fancied it to be our year, and maybe that was a prediction or something. It is better than I could have imagined. We scored at the right times.”
May thought he had added to Steven Anderson’s 45th-minute goal, when he knocked the ball in early in the second period. He was sheepish about what was a handling incident that led to him being cautioned and the “goal2 disallowed.
“To be honest I did think it had crossed the line and it was more a reaction thing but thought it hit my nose, the goalie hit it back and it went and touched my hand, it’s irrelevant now. We got the result no matter how it was won or who scored. Winning it in front of 15,000 fans is something I have never experienced before. To win the Scottish Cup, realistically the biggest trophy we could win, is beyond words.”
May had the highest praise for his manager Tommy Wright, who has put himself top of the list of those who have led the Perth club inside a year in charge.
“What he has done in his first season has been incredible, as good as any manager has done, any season, ever for St Johnstone. It is as memorable season for him.”
The success was sealed when Steven MacLean added a second late on before thundering into the support. May was desperate to follow him, but there was a yellow peril. “I was thinking about it but I thought I better keep back. I just stood before it and thought if I wasn’t on a booking I’d be straight in there, even though I think it is just the first one off the pitch that gets booked.”
As May spoke with medal glinting draped around his shoulders, he admitted he might have a problem in the close season, which the youngster wouldn’t contemplate in terms of what could happen over his own future. “I don’t think it’s ever coming off, I think it is coming on holiday with me to Magaluf,” he said.
The victory was especially sweet for mainstays and long and faithful servants Dave Mackay, Frazer Wright and goalscorer Anderson, though the scoring centre-back, in his testimonial year, didn’t quite fancy the notion of himself as an old soak.
“I am only 28,” he said, laughing that the victory could be good for his testimonial returns.
“I hope so. I hope we can get a team to come and gives us a good game and they come and support me. It just shows you what the club can produce, and with fans coming out for a big game what we can do. But it’s about time.
“Every year we look for a cup run and this year we did it. I have to be fair and dedicate it to Steve and Geoff Brown who have run the club well and it’s about time they got their day.”
Anderson said that his stroke-of-half-time headed opening goal was no slice of luck, even if it required a pretty ill-judged moment from United goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak, who raced from his line but failed to collect David Wotherspoon’s corner.
“The gaffer studies set plays, and they are massive for us because we can nick a few goals from them,” said Anderson.
“He studies them well, and he proved today that he did that well. He just pinpointed where they were weak. And we were able to capitalise on that.”