Return of the Saint as Weir brings Brechin back to Perth

The image of Brechin City facing St Johnstone on a muddy pitch, and in an ultimately drawn game, was one of the iconic images of last season’s Scottish Cup.

That the pair have been drawn together again this season is coincidence enough, without added intrigue being placed in the fixture by the identity of Brechin’s manager. Jim Weir, who enjoyed 13 years at St Johnstone, remains Perth-based and someone who quickly became one of the club’s most well-known figures.

When Steve Lomas succeeded Derek McInnes at McDiarmid Park recently, there was a legitimate case for Weir being handed that opportunity. Weir is cautious about such a move occurring in the future, if honest about his ambitions. “I would be lying if I said that, at some point in the future, I don’t want to manage St Johnstone,” says Weir.

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“But circumstances mean that’s not going to happen in the short-term and I’m comfortable in the job I’ve got. I’ve also got a full-time job with an excellent company outside of football so the balance is better than many people could expect. If the opportunity arises and circumstances are different then we’ll see.”

Although unwilling to admit it, there is no question the creation of a Brechin cup shock would retrospectively endorse Weir’s claims to have followed on from the Bristol-bound McInnes. Weir’s modesty also dictates he has avoided any introductions to Lomas as yet. “I am sure I played against him in a pre-season game once,” Brechin’s manager adds. “He was actually in front of me in a Tesco queue last week but we didn’t speak. I’m not sure he would know who I am. But he was up watching our game last weekend so that was his first chance to have a look at what we are about. It will be good to get a chat on Saturday.”

Brechin were denied a place in the semi-final last season only after a replay defeat to today’s opponents. “It was a strange feeling, being in the opposition dugout,” Weir recalls.

“It will probably still be a bit strange this season; I had 13 excellent years at St Johnstone and still have so many close friends who work for or support the club. But I was really proud to be the manager of Brechin in that replay last season, with 1,000 fans of ours there and the game live on television. There may not be as many fans travel this time, but that pride will still be there. This year’s game hasn’t probably got as much publicity or attracted as much interest, just because it’s earlier in the tournament. But there’s an element of irony that we’ve drawn each other again.”

Weir’s ambition, then, is to ensure a second successive replay with Saints, and a reproduction of what he labels “a cup classic” at Glebe Park.

“There was a big push even to get that game on,” Weir says of the 2-2 draw. “An hour before kick-off, there was no way the game was happening but even [then St Johnstone chairman] Geoff Brown and his backroom staff made a huge effort to help us. To be fair to the referee, he also gave the match every chance and I think everyone was rewarded.”

Brechin’s 2012 ambitions of cup giantkilling and promotion from the Second Division have been blunted by the loss of Rory McAllister. Their former striker, prolific throughout his time in Angus, now plies his trade at Peterhead. But for a willingness to complete an apprenticeship outside football, McAllister would be in the full-time game by now. “Rory was massive for the football club,” Weir says. “If you lose a forward like that, one who scores 30 goals in a season, it’s only going to affect you. We’ve tried to bring in more strikers, spread the goals around a bit, and there are signs that confidence is rising there now.

“I always thought our squad depth in terms of quality was better this season than last but we didn’t get the flying start we had a year ago. But over the festive period, our confidence has seemed to come back and we have found form.”

Lomas may not know all about Weir yet. The Saints manager will hope not to find out in the sorest way possible.