Fitbit, limbs, bittersweet and bedlam - What St Johnstone's 'impossible dream' was like for supporters

In the season finale of The Office (US), Ed Helms’ character Andy Bernard delivers one of the show’s great lines.

St Johnstone fans celbrate their Scottish Cup win. Picture: SNS

“I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

Twenty words which resonate with anyone who has ever heard them.

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We can all be guilty of not appreciating what we have, not savouring those moments which, if given the chance, you would return to, time and time again. In time, left with memories and a longing.

For St Johnstone supporters, they, unlike Bernard, don’t need to be reminded that they are living the good old days. They know.

Over the course of 83 days, the Saints achieved something even the most exuberantly positive, confident and hopeful fan would not have imagined.

Seven years on from winning their first major title, two and three have followed.

"Supporters of all provincial clubs are hot wired to hope and not expect and this period in our club’s history is beyond our wildest dreams,” St Johnstone fan Kyle Brown told The Scotsman.

"It’s just unreal.

"Most clubs in Scotland who have had their time in the sun have done so before this generation’s time. Being able to live and experience peak St Johnstone – because it surely can’t get better than this – is just incredible.”

‘Thank god Callum is manager’

It is such a fascinating story. You have the stability and consistency across 12 top-flight seasons, never finishing below eighth and qualifying for Europe on six occasions.

Then there is this season’s arc. Supporters have had to suffer along the way, the team just two points off bottom in January.

"If you'd told me then that we'd finish fifth, win both cups and qualify for Europe I quite honestly would have laughed in your face," Jamie Beatson, editor of We Are Perth fansite, told The Scotsman.

Brown even admitted to questioning Callum Davidson.

"It would be disingenuous of me to say I’ve been fully behind Davidson all season – as recently as January I tweeted ‘feel like pure sh**e just want him back’ with a picture of Tommy Wright at half-time of our game at Rugby Park when we were 2-0 down. He stuck to his guns though, and we came back and won the game 3-2, probably the point I thought things would start to turn.

"Davidson has a philosophy and wants his team to have an identity, which was a tough transition for me when Wright and McInnes – Scottish football’s greatest pragmatists – had brought us so much success.

"Performances were good but results were not and I wasn’t seeing an effort on the manager’s part to change our fortunes through tactical tweaks or changes of shape/personnel. Thank god Callum is the manager and not me!”

Fitbit and limbs

If there can be a bittersweet moment when the club you adore reaches its zenith, achieves its nirvana moment, it is fans not being able to witness it in person.

Those rituals which can define you as a supporter have had to be adapted, new ones adopted, but some still remain, especially when your team is leading with minutes remaining.

“Torturous," is how Brown described the closing moments. “I pace about when I’m nervous and my Fitbit recorded about 10,000 steps between 1pm and 4pm on Saturday!”

Beatson added: “At the 2014 Scottish Cup final I didn't have a drink before the game so I'd be able to savour every moment without the possibility of alcohol blurring the memory. On Saturday I stuck to that tradition – but you can bet that within five seconds of the final whistle blowing I had a beer open!

"It was the first time I've been able to see friends that I go to the games with for months as well so it was great to actually be with people for the game.

"I keep thinking about the goal – the roar of the crowd at each of Booth's tackles, a gasp as Wotherspoon sends Gogic jumping into the air and then that little moment of silence before the bedlam as Rooney knocked the ball into the net. We didn't get that. But don't for a second think it blunted the limbs that were on the go while we watched!”

Personalities

Fans are still missing that connection with the players. Yet, for Saints supporters, the actions of the players and manager have brought them closer, whether it was Jason Kerr’s mum joining fans to watch in Perth, Liam Gordon and David Wotherspoon's emotion or Davidson's Klinsmann antics.

“I think relateable is the right word for this team," Beatson said. “Everyone wants their young players to succeed. Of the starters Clark, Kerr, Gordon, McCann and Kane all came through the youth system. Gordon and Wotherspoon are boyhood Saints fans who have gone on to win trophies with the club.”

Brown added: “I worried at the start of the season that we didn’t have enough character in the team but the last few months have totally proven me wrong on that front too. Shaun Rooney, the shining example of a cult hero, but the likes of Zander Clark have also shown their personalities in the very best of ways.”

It’s a squad who have helped fans live the ‘impossible dream’ to coin a phrase used by the club.

"Pound for pound this has to be right up there with the greatest achievement ever,” Beatson said. “Celtic's quadruple treble may never be beaten in terms of a clean sweep – and both Old Firm sides having unbeaten seasons is also a massive achievement – but equally they spend a fortune and only really have each other as direct competitors.

"Saints' biggest transfer fee among the cup final squad was the £50,000 spent on a BOGOF deal for Murray Davidson and Dave Mackay.

"Ultimately it is a feat never achieved by a team that wasn't the dominant force in Scotland at the time. That really is unbelievable.”

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