The memories of St Johnstone’s one and only national cup win are, let’s just say, a bit hazy for Zander Clark.
That’s what an end of season trip to Ibiza does for you.
But the goalkeeper who had been loaned out to Queen of the South for the 2013/14 campaign doesn’t have any problem recalling the thrill of Saints’ Scottish Cup triumph that year.
Knee-marks left from San Antonio celebrations have faded. Inspiration born of Celtic Park celebrations still burns bright.
“We made the play-offs at Queens that season and the chairman there had promised us that if we did that we would get an all-expenses paid trip to Ibiza,” said Clark. “My name was down for that.
“The (Saints) boys got to the final so it was a bit of a surreal moment, me ending up in Ibiza.
“The full squad were in Ocean Beach Club that day and I found myself sitting in a boozer with Jimmy Mac (Queens manager Jim McIntyre) watching the final. He was flying home that day, I think.
“It was a busy pub. I found a corner and didn’t move. It was a good atmosphere and it was a great game to watch. For me personally, it was special to see the boys winning it.
“I remember going mental at the barman because the FA Cup final was after it and they changed the channel before the boys lifted the cup.
“It was a great day, one that I would have wanted to be part of, but it would have felt strange, having been on loan for the full season.
“We had done so well at Queens that I felt it was a good one to go and enjoy. I managed to watch the full game and gave myself a couple of burns from a knee slide. I had had one too many when Macca put the second goal in!
“It was one of those where you think: ‘Am I ever going to get a chance like this to be involved in a cup final squad?’ They don’t come around too often.
“There have been some top players at the club who haven’t made it to finals. I’m just grateful that we have put ourselves in a position this year to do that.”
I sort of zig-zagged my way through the streets of San Antonio.
Delaying the delights of one of the party town’s famous/infamous beach clubs proved to be a sacrifice worth making.
“I took a bit of a stick but I still managed to make it there in the end,” said Clark. “I don’t know how, mind you.
“To this day, I couldn’t tell you how I managed to make it along there afterwards. I sort of zig-zagged my way through the streets of San Antonio.
“The boys knew how long I’d been at the club so they were buzzing. We had a good time after that.”
The calming influence of Alan Mannus in the St Johnstone goal against Dundee United was one of the pillars May 17 was built on.
And there is no better role model for Clark to speak to this week – and then try and emulate on Sunday.
“Big Al had a soothing, settling effect on the back four,” said the 28-year-old. “When you think about the boys in front of him like big Fraz and Ando, he calmed them down. Especially big Fraz who could kick off at any moment.
“I remember in the game when Ryan Dow hit the post and it just went by the back of Alan. And I’ve never seen someone so calm after that (Nadir Ciftci) free-kick hit the bar and came down.
“He landed on it and decided to roll round and pick it up in a calm way. That summed big Al up. Nothing fazed him.
“He got a clean sheet in the final. That’s the building blocks you need. You can’t lose the game that way.”
Clark added: “Al was one of the first to drop me a message when we got to the final. He sent me messages in the days leading up to the semi-final as well.
“I’m sure I’ll be in contact with the big man this week for a catch-up and a good chat and find out how he’s getting on because I’d imagine he will be back in pre-season now.”
Another important voice for Clark in the week of a game is his dad’s. And Alex has his own special League Cup final tale to tell.
“I called him after the semi-final and he said he was at the 1971 Partick Thistle against Celtic final,” said Clark.
— Zander_Clark (@Zanderr1) January 23, 2021
“He went along with his uncle, I think. He was only nine or 10 at the time and followed Partick as a kid. They won 4-1.
“He remembers the buzz and the excitement of going to a final. They weren’t expecting a victory against Celtic so it ended up being a great day. He said it was a buzz for the whole family.
“I’m gutted that with everything going on he won’t be there to watch one of his own in the cup final. But he’ll be watching from the house.
“We’ve dealt with no family and friends being at our games so far and we just need to get our heads round it and make sure we put in a performance again.”
Clark was a penalty shoot-out hero in the quarter-final against Dunfermline and a first half hero when his saves kept Hibs at bay while others around him were struggling to get a foothold in what was shaping up to be a one-sided contest for all the wrong reasons.
“I can’t remember being involved in a penalty shoot-out before,” he said. “It’s always a lottery.
“Thankfully I managed to save the first one and then gave Liam Craig the chance to put us through.
“Against Hibs the saves all came from the one phase of play. I made the one from (Jamie) Murphy and then he hit the bar on the follow-up.
“That was the bit of luck we needed. Most of the season these things had been going against us.
“The boys went on and put in a great performance after that. We knew it was never going to be plain sailing and that we would need to weather a storm at some point. Thankfully for us we weathered it early doors and then got the goals at crucial times.”