They never shared a pitch but they will always share a bond.
Dave Mackay and Jason Kerr – St Johnstone’s two cup-winning captains.
Sunday’s Betfred Cup skipper has revealed that the man who wore the armband and raised the Scottish Cup trophy in 2014 reached out to him before and after Saints’ weekend Hampden Park clash with Livingston.
The gestures meant a lot to Kerr, who is steeped in the culture of the Perth side after arriving from a boys’ club in Edinburgh when Mackay’s team were making their mark at the pinnacle of Scottish football.
Though a career-ending injury for the now Dundee assistant manager prevented Kerr from playing alongside the McDiarmid Park great, he is now honoured to be in a distinguished two-man club with him.
“A few people have mentioned that to me,” he said. “It feels like it’s not sunk in yet but I know what a real honour it was for me to lift that trophy.
“A couple of seconds before I did it, I was thinking: ‘Wow, I’m actually lifting a cup for St Johnstone’. It was a massive moment for me, and a massive moment for the club as well.
“I’m chuffed to bits.
“I think Dave had retired by the time I got into the team. I never really played with him.
“But I joined the club when he was there and I trained with him a few times as well. He actually gave me a good luck message before the game and said ‘well done’ after it as well.
“That was really good of him.”
Liam Craig is Kerr’s vice-captain and the pair split organisational and motivational duties in the heat of battle. Never has that workload been more relevant and effective than it was during Sunday’s attritional final.
Saints were a disciplined and cohesive unit, offering up no encouragement to their opponents of cracks appearing.
“For Liam and the more experienced ones, it was a really special day,” said Kerr. “You could see how emotional they got at the end. I’m just really happy for him, I must say that.
“He’s the vice-captain but he acts like a captain around the place. Not just on the pitch, but off it. He’s a real leader, a great guy to have around the changing room. I’m just so chuffed that we could go and win this trophy for him.”
You can imagine that Craig’s will be one of the voices ramming home the point that Wednesday night’s return to action against Hamilton must not turn into an ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ occasion.
“This game was in the back of our minds on Sunday night,” said Kerr. “We’re still young in our careers but the boys were saying: ‘You might not get a chance like this ever again, so you just need to enjoy it’. And I think all the boys did enjoy it. We had a couple of beers on the night but we have had to recover as much as we can because we want to push for the top six.
“We think we’ve got a good chance of doing it if we play well in these next three games, starting at Hamilton.
“It will be a tough game. It always is there. They’re scrapping to stay up and we certainly won’t be underestimating them.
“We have our own ambitions and we need to get three points. We need to keep it going – that was what the gaffer said to us right after the game.”
The tag of being the most successful club in Scotland outside Celtic over the last decade is one supporters are quite rightly milking. It’s an unofficial badge of honour the current players will wear with pride as well.
“I kind of put it down to consistency,” said Kerr. “We are always doing well in the league and we give ourselves a chance to win cups.
“It’s really good that those stats are there. To back it up with a trophy win is outstanding for the club.
“It just shows you how good St Johnstone are and how consistent we have been over the last 10 years. To be the second most successful club in Scotland in that time is magnificent.
“The supporters have had a lot of good years now. They would obviously have wanted to be there on Sunday and then celebrate with us back in Perth but I’m sure they still enjoyed their day and be proud of what we’ve all achieved.”
What dreams are made of🏆💙 https://t.co/R3k1X2laHn
— Jason Kerr (@JasonKerr08) February 28, 2021
Kerr has still to properly catch-up with his nearest and dearest but, as he predicted, mum Tracy didn’t find Sunday an easy watch.
“I’ve not seen my family yet,” said the 24-year-old, who has a twin brother once on the books with him at Perth. “They watched it back at my mum’s.
“She would have been in the kitchen at some points in the game, especially the last 20 minutes when it was a bit cagey. It would have been good if we had got a couple more goals to ease the pressure. She would have been very nervy.”
No doubt there would have been a few tears shed by Tracy to smudge her carefully prepared blue and white match-day face paint.
“She loves it,” said Kerr. “She used to do that when I was at the boys club as well. She would pull out all the stops and always go that one step further.
“I’m glad she had a really good day and I’m glad we could win it for her as well because she loves getting involved in all that stuff.
“It would have been magnificent if family and fans had been there. It would have been a great day for everyone. It was still unbelievable, though.”
Manager Callum Davidson did his bit by coming up with the Hampden game-plan and the Saints players expertly put it into practice, none better than the three young centre-backs.
“He was my coach when I first joined the club and then he was the assistant manager under Tommy Wright,” said Kerr.
“It’s a magnificent achievement to win the Scottish Cup as an assistant and then the League Cup in your first season as a manager.
“It shows you how good he is. He’s changed the team since he’s taken over and he’s a really good tactician.
“As defenders always want a clean-sheet, whatever the game, and to get one in a cup final was amazing.
“That started from the front. I thought Kano was really important. He eased the pressure for us at big moments in the game.
“The clean-sheet doesn’t just go to the back three. Everyone defended so well. It shows how good a team we are.”
A team that will get recognised with Scotland call-ups in the near future, Kerr included?
“When you win a cup final there will be attention on you,” he said.
“But I feel that we need to keep our feet on the ground and make sure we keep playing well. There will be a lot of people watching but we have to concentrate on our own performances.
Shaun Rooney is the man of the moment after the wing-back followed up his semi-final goal with the match winner in the final.
“I think he’s a massive candidate for Scotland,” said Kerr. “Just look at how well he’s done this season.
“He always pops up with an important goal for us and he’s definitely been the man of the tournament, I would say.
“He’s a top, top player and you’d like to think there’s a good chance he can get a call-up. On his day he’s unstoppable.”