Supporting St Mirren can be like an encapsulation of life itself in as much as you have to take the ups with the downs and the rough with the smooth; or, as Rocky Balboa said, it ain’t all sunshine and roses and it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
Wise words, although I would question whether even Sylvester Stallone could have dreamt up as far-fetched a sporting resurrection tale as Saints have treated us to over the last 18 months in which they have gone from losing to cruising in a remarkable transformation culminating in Saturday’s title success, courtesy of a goalless draw with Livingston.
In order to get your head around the full extent of the metamorphosis, you must first understand where Saints were in October 2016 under the horror show that was the reign of Alex Rae, who had us rock bottom of the Championship, losing as routine and absolute certainties for the drop to a level we have never played at in our history. The facts don’t lie, so for all Rae can claim he was treated harshly, or deserves as much as a crumb of credit, the table, results and common sense fail to back him up.
Jack Ross and James Fowler stepped into a club with its soul ripped out, a playing squad consisting of way too many players who were plainly never good enough, and a fan base as dispirited as I can ever recall.
They deserve the plaudits they will receive for the job they have performed. They jump-started this club from the roots up and handed back some pride to the supporters with whom they reconnected – the importance of which can’t be overlooked.
Last January, they took an axe to the dressing-room deadwood, with most of Rae’s captures shown the door whilst freeing up space for key new faces such as Stephen McGinn, Cammy Smith and Adam Eckersley. The new guys hit the ground running and, allied with now thriving youngsters Steven Mallan, Lewis Morgan, pictured, and Kyle Magennis, we somehow dragged ourselves to safety.
This great escape galvanised the club with a snowballing momentum building up at the same time and meant we went into this season ready to deliver one of the most comprehensive, and if I am pushing it, easy wins at this level.
Don’t believe the bitter detractors, you cannot be the first team in England or Scotland to win their league – before Celtic and Manchester City remember – without being a country mile better than all your rivals.
It has been a glorious campaign, up there with the 1999-2000 season, and although it is one thing being wise after the event, I can remember sitting in Barcelona last May, not long after we confirmed our survival, telling my daughter St Mirren would win the Championship with something to spare, such was my belief.
Wisely she believed me, but everyone else scoffed and mocked such a crazy notion. Well, I guess we’re all crazy now, as Saints have sauntered to victory.