Dispatching Rangers out of a cup guarantees you a memory for life.
But dispatching Rangers out of a cup doesn’t guarantee you a medal to rest in the palm of your hand when you’re doing some reminiscing.
Simon Lappin scored a stunning goal in St Johnstone’s 2015 League Cup victory at Ibrox, the last knock-out tournament triumph against the Glasgow giants before this season’s dramatic Scottish Cup quarter-final win.
Callum Davidson’s team are now tasked with making sure a remarkable achievement gets wrapped up in a gilded narrative as opposed to what turned out to only be a stand-alone 90-minute masterpiece.
Lappin, who has no trouble recalling the finer details of the 3-1 defeat of Mark Warburton’s unbeaten Championship side six years ago, believes this Saints team have one important factor in their favour as they prepare to face another of his old clubs, St Mirren, on Sunday.
A stretched-out League Cup campaign hindered the class of 2015/16’s chances of glory but the rapid-fire nature of the Scottish Cup in this unprecedented season will enhance those of Davidson’s double-chasers.
“The first few rounds came in quick succession but after we beat Morton in the quarter-final I’m sure there was a gap of about three months until the end of January for the semi-final,” Lappin recalled.
“Every team has dips in form and we probably weren’t at our best by the time we played Hibs.
“Having said that, I remember to this day the penalty they got. It was never a penalty. I think I’d have missed the final anyway because I picked up a booking.
“The short turnaround this time should definitely help Saints.
“They’ve got momentum and they’ll just want to try and not change anything and keep that going.
“It feels like there’s game after game and that’s what players enjoy when they’re winning.”
There was nothing ‘off the training ground’ about Zander Clark’s contribution to Saints’ equaliser last month. Lappin’s goal all those years ago, in contrast, was born of some astute Perth preparation.
“They were a Championship team but we were still going there as underdogs,” he said. “It’s still Ibrox and they hadn’t lost a game.
“The things we worked on in training with Tommy (Wright), Callum and Alex (Cleland) all came to fruition.
“The coaches had picked up on the fact that Rangers didn’t leave anybody at the edge of the box when they were defending corners.
I was praying it would be on his side.
“They had everybody inside.
“Depending on what side it was, it was either going to be myself of David Wotherspoon trying to do it first.
“I’m not going to lie, with the way it had gone for me in training the day before I was praying it would be on his side and David would have to shoot!
“On the night it came perfectly to me and I managed to make a good connection.
“I played at Ibrox and Celtic Park a number of times but I can’t ever remember feeling as comfortable in a game. I’m not saying it was easy but we played so well.
“The plan was that Michael (O’Halloran), who had pace to burn, would stretch Rangers and Murray (Davidson) scored our first goal after a ball played over the top for Michael.
“Then Michael scored the third, which came after an unbelievable pass from Macca. It was a brilliant night.”
Saints have now been a cup team of weight for a generation and witnessing a passing of the torch has given Lappin great pleasure.
“It was brilliant to see the result the other night and the circumstances in which they got it, with big Zander getting his head to the corner,” he said.
Now see this. This is football.
The hunger, the desire, the fight, the passion, that never say die attitude.
Don't let anyone ever try and tell or show you different!
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) April 26, 2021
“Guys who were kids when I was there are now mainstays of the team. You’re only going back five or six years.
“Zander had been on loan at Queen of the South and you could see he was a ready-made replacement for Alan Mannus.
“You knew when he’d get an opportunity he’d take it. Like Alan before him, he’s been incredible for St Johnstone.
“And Chris Kane obviously as well. He’s another one who was coming through in my time and is now established.
“The players have gone there with belief that has been built up over the course of a season under Callum and have shown that they can mix it with the best in the country on their own pitch.
“Yeah, they left it late but it was an unbelievable result to knock Rangers out after the year they’ve had and get into the semis.
“They’re having an incredible season and have a great chance of making it a cup double.”
Achieving success with a young core to his team is Davidson’s calling card, according to Lappin.
“Tommy is a hard man to follow but I knew Callum would be his own person,” said the former Scotland under-21 international.
“He was never going to be a like for like replacement but he certainly brought with him a knowledge of how the club operates.
“He’s had the opportunity to put his own stamp on the team and he’s definitely done that.
“Under Tommy, there was so much experience in the dressing room. The players knew what it took to get a job done in the Premiership.
“I know you’ve got a few experienced boys there like Liam, Murray, David, Craig Conway and Craig Bryson. But what’s so impressive is that Callum has achieved what he’s achieved with a much younger squad.”
In Lappin’s time at McDiarmid, European football was the rule rather than the exception. But Saints never got close to surviving into autumn.
That could be different this year, however, with Conference League group stage entry the bare minimum for the Scottish Cup victors, who will have a win/win play-off to make the Europa League.
“There’s never been a bigger carrot to go and do it,” said Lappin.
“What an incentive – to not just have a qualifier but to be guaranteed European football until Christmas.
“The Alashkert games were the only European tie I ever played in. I’m glad I got to experience it – even though I don’t want to talk about the game! But I’d loved to have played more.
“This group of lads has the opportunity to get a proper go at it.”
It’s a tough one for obvious reasons.
Lappin doesn’t see enough Scottish football to make an informed prediction on Sunday’s game, which is maybe for the best given his strong St Mirren connections.
“It’s a tough one for obvious reasons,” he said. “I was at St Mirren for a long time.
“I started out there and have great memories coming through. It shaped my career. I loved every minute of it.
“Just getting one game in the first team felt like you’d achieved something special.
“I was lucky enough to win a league and the Bell’s cup and play with some brilliant characters.
“At the other end of my career I loved my time at St Johnstone. It was a great group of lads and we finished fourth both seasons. And, like I said, we qualified for Europe.
“Tommy, Callum and Alex were great with me, as were the fans.
“I’m sure it will be a close contest and may the best team win!”
Lappin ended his two-year spell with Saints to return to Norwich for family rather than football reasons.
Now 38, he isn’t involved in the professional game, but the boots haven’t been hung up and a coaching career that previously didn’t appeal might yet open up.
“Even when I was at St Johnstone we knew we’d be moving back down here,” he said.
“We didn’t have any plans for football or work but we just wanted to come back here for the kids.
“I was asked if I fancied doing a bit of work with Norwich’s community foundation, coaching college lads. I’ll be honest with you, as a player, coaching was not something I ever wanted to do.
“But I thought I’d just give it a bash and I’ve been doing that for about three years – training three times a week and playing matches on a Wednesday. They do college courses as well.
“It’s let me get my coaching badges and it’s very much been a case of don’t knock it until you try it. I can’t believe how much I enjoy it. I don’t know why I thought I wouldn’t.
“There are only so many jobs going around in professional football but I’ll see where it takes me. I’m quite happy doing what I’m doing just now. We’ll see what happens.
“Adam Drury, who I played with at Norwich, is my boss there and he’s also my assistant manager on a Saturday (with Wroxham). Grant Holt plays for us as well.
“Don’t get me wrong, you tear your hair out with some of the things you see but it’s nice to still play.”