Saints boss Tommy Wright hails ‘fairytale’ final

HIS Scottish Cup medal hung proudly from Tommy Wright’s neck as he described the historic Scottish Cup win as a fairytale and insisted it was the pinnacle of his career.

St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright takes a tight grip of the Scottish Cup.  Picture: Craig Williamson
St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright takes a tight grip of the Scottish Cup. Picture: Craig Williamson

But, while the jubilation had been evident as he celebrated with his players and bounced up and down on the podium as the confetti rained down on them, he knew there were others who would cherish the occasion even more than he would.

“This is my first in professional football so I will sit and have a think. I think it will be on my neck for the rest of the night, you can be sure of that. It means everything in terms of my career. But it means a lot more to a lot more people. To the supporters, the players, the staff and [owners] Geoff and Steve Brown who put a lot into this club.

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“To get the Scottish Cup, our first major trophy, words can’t describe how I feel. I know it is so special for so many people.”

Several times the Perth side had almost reached the final of this famous trophy, but this was the first time they had managed it in their 130-year history. No wonder Wright charged off down the touchline, when the second and decisive goal went in with minutes remaining.

“Yeah. It was just a spur of the moment thing,” he said. “I started running and realised all the Dundee United fans were that side and thought ‘oh god’. It took me a couple of strides to stop. It is a passionate game and I thought the atmosphere of the whole day was good. Managers get wrapped up in that as well. But I was never going to slide on my knees because I wouldn’t have been able to get up!

“It is a football fairytale, yes. That is the beauty of the cup and the Scottish Cup. Watching the English cup, I think it has lost its magic. There will still be a full house at Wembley but I think it has lost its magic. I don’t think the Scottish Cup has lost its magic. That is why when everybody was wanting an Aberdeen and United final I didn’t want it. I thought the real story was us and that has proved to be the point.

“We moan when people say we are under the radar but we quite like it. It means we can get on with our job. We did say after the European games that we would be a difficult side to beat. In one-off games we would be a tough side. I thought we had the potential to be a good cup side and that has proved to be the case this season. There was a belief that this could be our year. You have to play well and have a wee bit of Lady Luck on your side, but put that in with belief and you have a good recipe for success.”

They didn’t get the slice of luck they wanted when Stevie May bundled the ball into the net using an arm. Although the referee had awarded it, his assistant behind the goal had spotted the infringement.

“Apparently it was the right decision, I haven’t seen it. But it was at the stage of the game where the second goal would have killed it off. Fortunately for us we got it off Steve MacLean later on.

“They all turned up and that has been the case all season. For us to get the two European away wins, top six, semi-final of the League Cup and then win this, you need more than 11 for that.

“Steve [MacLean] is one of the leaders in the dressing room. He’s tremendous on and off the field for me. We have quite a few leaders. Dave Mackay is quiet for a captain but leads by example. I could point to maybe five or six captains but MacLean is a big influence on Stevie May.”

Wright is the man who has guided them all through the campaign, after Steve Lomas left and he was elevated to the manager’s role. He has rewarded that faith in him.

“I like to think I work hard for the chairman and he knew what he was getting when he appointed me. I am really pleased for him and I know he will feel in some way that I have repaid his decision. It’s well-documented I have a really good relationship with him. He’s joking now that he’s done everything and he’s going to step down I think. He said he had a 25-year plan and after three he’s got Europe three times and a Scottish Cup. No doubt we’ll now reset our targets and move on.

“We’ll still work within our means, we are fully aware of that. The chairman won’t say there’s X, go and spend it. St Johnstone’s more important than Tommy Wright, it has to be here for another 130 years. We’ll sit down and I’ll see if I can squeeze a little bit of money out of him to see if we can freshen the squad up.”