When I joined St Johnstone’s team of matchday media volunteers as a budding student journalist in 2015, I didn’t know what to expect.
My first match, an agonising 2-1 win over Armenians Alashkert in the Europa League which saw Saints eliminated on away goals, didn’t paint a picture of what was to follow.
Previously an East Stand season ticket holder for over a decade, I answered a club call for volunteers hoping to get a couple of bylines in match programmes to embellish my CV.
Ultimately, the experience Ross Cunningham’s media team has been presented with in recent years has helped a band of young reporters sharpen skills we now use everyday and burgeon careers in journalism.
I thought the apex of my time with the club came when I was able to sit in on the manager’s pre-match conference at the Lithuanian national stadium. This season, I’ve been blessed with something more precious.
With live crowds forbidden for the foreseeable future, football clubs’ matchday coverage has been watched with a beadier eye than ever before. I’ve had the unparalleled privilege of being a part of that coverage and been granted access to McDiarmid Park on matchdays this season. It doesn’t feel like “volunteering” at all and sometimes I feel a bit sheepish being there.
It certainly didn’t feel like volunteering when my experience peaked again in January when I had the opportunity to co-commentate on Saints TV at Hampden Park as the Perth men trampled Hibernian. Even if we had missed out on a place in Sunday’s box office showdown, that would have been an experience I’d treasure forever. Thankfully, it was a day for history-making.
It could have been easy to let cup fever wither and wilt. Coming together is part of what makes these days so special. That hasn’t happened.
Across Perthshire and beyond, thousands of fans are every bit as behind Callum Davidson’s side as they were when Tommy Wright led his Saints side out that fateful day in 2014, if not more.
That’s down to the sterling work done by the club and the wider community.
On Sunday, I walked back into Hampden tasked with tweeting a now-famed 90 minutes wishing it hadn’t been like this. St Johnstone fans deserved to see this generation of heroes perform on the big stage in the flesh and these storied Perth players deserve, at the very, very least, that roar as they emerge onto the pitch.
One certainty is that they will get a heroes welcome as soon as the turnstiles reopen in Perth.