Hibs had their ‘golden generation’ when a young, vibrant team got fans dreaming big.
But keeping it intact was an impossible aspiration, with harsh football realities proving to be the bucket of cold water in the face of supporters’ hopes of shaking up the established order of the Scottish game.
Callum Booth, who came through the youth ranks at Easter Road after the star names departed one by one, is well aware there could soon be a parallel to be drawn with a present day St Johnstone side brimming with fast-improving players sure to be attracting covetous attention.
Experience tells the full-back that teams like this one don’t stay together for too long. Talent makes noise and money talks even louder.
Losing one or two of the McDiarmid Park stars in the close-season would be a good deal more palatable if there are a couple of trophies in the boardroom and group-stage European competition to look forward to, mind you.
There are probably four or five players who are big assets for the club.
“It’s going to be really hard keeping this squad together,” said Booth.
“First of all, we just have to really enjoy having all these players here for the next three or four weeks and see where this run we are on takes us.
“Hopefully we can make even more memories in these last few weeks.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead but it is going to be tough in the summer.
“At the end of the day it is a business and some of the boys are at a really good age and they’ve played more than 100 games.
“They have had a great season and played well in the big games.
“There are probably four or five players who are big assets for the club.
“You want to see your team-mates doing well but as a player you want them to stay because it helps on the pitch.
“But it always happens in Scottish football that there is interest from bigger clubs when a team is doing well.
“When I was younger you looked at the Hibs team and fans were talking about winning the league the next season if they could keep the squad together.
“It was such a good team but players like Scott Brown, Kevin Thomson and others moved on.
“When the high bids come in it can be the only option for the club.
“It would be great to keep everyone together here and it might still happen. We just have to wait and see.”
The inevitable transfer speculation coming Saints’ way won’t involve Booth. He signed a new one-year deal earlier in the week.
“I’m delighted to get the contract sorted,” said the former Dundee United and Partick Thistle defender.
“I’ve had short-term contracts ever since I’ve been here so a one-year deal feels quite long!
“It’s good to get a bit of security before the summer. I’ve really enjoyed myself so far and obviously it’s been an incredible season.”
Booth, who was brought to the club by Tommy Wright after Bury’s demise left him out of work, added: “I think it was four short-term deals I had here. Obviously, Covid didn’t help matters.
“I’ve managed to deal with it, though. It hasn’t weighed on my mind but there’s no doubt it is better to get a year than six months or whatever it’s been.
“As a team, it’s been crazy what’s happened – the semi-final win against Hibs, then the final, getting top six football with nearly the last kick of the ball and now the Rangers game.
“This run has been so enjoyable. I’ve not played every game but I feel as if I’ve played my part and been involved in the big moments of the season.”
He was involved in one of the biggest just a few days ago.
By tucking away his penalty kick, Booth helped Saints into the semi-final of the Scottish Cup at the expense of overwhelming tournament favourites and Premiership champions, Rangers.
The Perth side haven’t had any problems pressing the reset button after earlier peaks in their season and he doesn’t believe it will become an issue now as they prepare for a league clash with Hibs and then a trip to Hampden the following weekend.
“The changing room was obviously bouncing after the game but we’ve had a couple of days off since then and everybody is level-headed about what we have to do now,” said Booth.
“The gaffer will be drumming into us that the Rangers win will count for nothing if we don’t go and beat St Mirren.
“Look at what happened to them after they put Rangers out of the Betfred Cup semi-final – they lost their semi-final.
“We’ll calm ourselves down, focus on Hibs and take it from there.
🔵⚪️ | It's @HibernianFC away on Saturday!
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) April 29, 2021
“Obviously we know the semi-final is coming up but the manager and coaching staff will keep us focused on the next game.
“It’s a good one for us.
“We aren’t fighting relegation down the bottom and there’s no real pressure. We can go out and enjoy it.
“But at the same time, it is a match we want to win because we are looking to finish fifth.
“We have done well against Hibs this season and we want to keep that going.
“We have experienced boys here so we will refocus after Rangers and put in a good performance.”
Saints have cover in every position as the season reaches its conclusion. Apart from at left-back. Scott Tanser’s ankle injury leaves Booth as the last one standing.
“There’s not really anyone who can naturally play in my position with Scott being out,” he said. “But I’m sure the manager will have something up his sleeve.
“We haven’t had a conversation about it.
“After the weekend game we have more than a week to prepare for the semi-final. I’m only 29 and that’s plenty of time.”