St Johnstone’s Murray Davidson won’t let ban threat stop him

Murray Davidson is aiming to help St Johnstone reach the League Cup final afer missing their 2014 Scottish Cup win through injury. Picture: Graeme Hart

Murray Davidson is aiming to help St Johnstone reach the League Cup final afer missing their 2014 Scottish Cup win through injury. Picture: Graeme Hart

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The gusto with which Murray Davidson gallops around the pitch is evidence that the St Johnstone midfielder attacks life. Unfortunately, life seems to have a nasty habit of hitting back at the 27-year-old.

Davidson has put his body on the line for the Perth club for almost seven years now. At times, it has left him unable to cross the line when the club’s most momentous encounters have come along.

It is typical of Davidson’s lot that he finds himself in something of a double-bind ahead of Saturday’s League Cup semi-final against Hibernian. A hip problem that forced him off during the defeat by Celtic last weekend has left him struggling to be fit for the Tynecastle encounter. Yet, should he make it, the fact he sits on a booking in the competition will leave the combative performer vulnerable to second-booking jeopardy that would rule him out of any final if Alan Stubbs’ men are beaten.

Murray has been bedevilled when it comes to the biggest games St Johnstone have played during the sterling service he has given his team. The 2013-14 season for him was ended by serious injury in January of that year – weeks before a League Cup semi-final that Tommy Wright’s men lost to Aberdeen, but more significantly before a glorious Scottish Cup run that allowed St Johnstone to annexe the first trophy in their 130-year history. Murray’s time in Perth has coincided with an unprecedented run of European qualification but, as a consequence of injury and contract issues, of the club’s 12 games in four campaigns he had involvement in only three and in one of those he was removed on a stretcher before the interval.

Murray would refuse to believe he is jinxed if he added suspension to injury for reasons he has missed national finals.

“Suspensions are part of the game if you’re a player who makes tackles. You have to win the game first so at the moment it’s pretty irrelevant,” he said. “There is no regret over what happened two years ago because I couldn’t help the fact that I go up for a header and I rupture my patellar tendon.

“I wasn’t sure how I’d be at the Scottish Cup final. I was OK leading up to the game but as soon as it kicked off it was horrible. I’m sure Tam Scobbie will say the same. It wasn’t nice. It’s quite funny that me and Scobs are on a booking now and we were the two players who missed the final through injury.

“When you miss games like that it just makes you even more determined. The boys who played in that game are desperate to savour it again and I’m desperate to savour it for the first time. As soon as the Scottish Cup final was over, getting to another final becomes something you really want because you weren’t a part of it.”

Simply getting to the semi-final is his preoccupation, not being inhibited with challenges should he get there. “I felt my hip flexor tighten up on Saturday so we just need to wait and see,” he said.

“The good thing is that I didn’t feel a pull. We’re hoping that I came off in time. Time will tell. You want to play in every game but obviously having missed semi-finals and finals over recent years it’s a game I’m desperate to play in. That goes without saying.

“But if I make the game I can’t go into it worrying about picking up a yellow card. I don’t think it’s a great rule but it’s there. Like I said though, you can’t let it get into your head. I have to tackle. It would be madness to think differently.

“During games, especially a semi-final, it can be hard to keep your emotions in check sometimes. It wouldn’t make a difference to me whether I knew that a yellow card would keep me out of the final or if I didn’t. If we win and I get booked that’s life. I’d just have to accept it.”

Accepting a rough fate is something that Murray is, alas, all too used to doing. Maybe his luck is about to change.

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