Cammy Kerr has dedicated Dundee’s promotion to the backroom staff made redundant when the brutal realities of the COVID-19 crisis hit home, declaring: “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
The boyhood Dee was visibly moved after helping the Dark Blues return to the Premiership promised land on Monday evening, repeatedly clearing the lump from his throat as he sought to fight back the tears.
Kerr was imperious during Dundee’s playoff campaign and coped admirably with the attacking threats posed by Kilmarnock, including Chris Burke, Rory McKenzie and Kyle Lafferty.
And the 25-year-old could have been forgiven for luxuriating in the triumph and looking to the future but, instead, he turned his attention to those who were victims of cost-cutting measures last year.
Like most other clubs, Dundee were forced to make tough choices when it was confirmed that the vast majority of the campaign would be played behind closed doors and, amid gloomy financial forecasts, colleagues were released.
“I want to give special credit to the people at the start of the year who lost their jobs,” said Kerr. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.
The story of the play-off final 2nd leg #thedee
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) May 25, 2021
“There were people who had been here for years: wee Lorraine Anderson, Jimmy Nicholl, Cammy McDermott and other backroom staff like Jim Burgess. There was wee Laura [Fairbairn] who did the cleaning.
“They all lost their jobs and we would not have this opportunity without them.
“We can’t lose sight of the bigger picture and I’m thinking of them.”
Another cruel byproduct from the pandemic was that Kerr could not celebrate the moment with his family, with only 500 permitted Kilmarnock supporters in attendance in Ayrshire.
Instead, he strolled around the pitch calling his loved ones over FaceTime, laughing and shaking his head in disbelief.
Kerr has won promotion before, back in 2014, but was a bit-part member of the senior squad — and he certainly did not have the ghosts of 2018/19 to exorcise back then.
This was something else, entirely.
“Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been all pretty — there have been tough moments — but I’m delighted for this group of lads,” continued Kerr.
“We’ve been through so much this year, in terms of not even being able to travel to games together, no showers in stadiums and real family sacrifices for everyone.
“But we had a belief and this is the best group of boys we’ve ever had in terms of closeness. And I’m talking about going back to when I turned full-time at 16 and being here since I was eight.
“It’s amazing to have that. Sometimes, you have dressing rooms that aren’t that close and it can be hard to get boys on your side come Saturday. This lot? No way.”
He added: “I was only a young lad when we went up in 2014. You don’t appreciate it and you don’t take it all in. This is a surreal feeling.”