‘One man’s loss is another man’s gain’ fits the circumstances.
‘It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good’ would be another worthy proverb.
Or a simple ‘that’s football’ does the job equally well.
The player who was in with the bricks at McDiarmid Park missed out on the drought-ending trophy triumph. And the man who was passing through left with the medal and the memories. Two halves of a St Johnstone Scottish Cup story of opportunity lost and opportunity grasped.
The absence of correlation between long service and reward in professional sport needs no explaining to James Dunne. He knows the numbers.
That’s why he felt Murray Davidson’s pain in 2014 and why he felt it again a few months ago when injury again cruelly robbed the 33-year-old of a cup final appearance.
The former Scotland international getting to play in one and win it is the fairytale ending Saints fans would love to see written at Hampden Park on May 22. And the same is true for the man who took his place seven years ago.
“I came in to replace Murray when he got injured, so I didn’t get to know him that well because he was away getting treatment most of the time,” said the Englishman.
“But you obviously feel for someone when they’re in that situation and it was made even worse when he missed the Betfred Cup win earlier this season.
“That was terrible luck and I’d love them to get to the final so he’s got a chance of playing.
“It shows how crazy football can be at times. I played with St Johnstone for four months and left with a Scottish Cup medal.
“Murray has been there for over 10 years and has missed both of the cup wins.
“It’s been a brutal run of luck for him. He’s a good player and if anyone deserves a bit of luck it’s him.
“Hopefully they can get to the final this season, he can play and they win another trophy.”
Dunne may have been an Arsenal academy product but there was more self-doubt than self-confidence when he arrived in Perth following Davidson’s season-ending injury in the January of the 2013/14 campaign.
“I still look at the team’s scores and feel an affiliation with the club because it was the happiest time of my career,” said the 31-year-old.
“It was some of the best I played football-wise and the dressing-room was one of the best I’ve been in.
“I went up not knowing much about it but spoke to Filipe Morais because I knew he’d been there a few years earlier and he told me to go for it.
“When you join a new club it’s usually a bit daunting on the first day but I was made to feel welcome straight away.
“Big Chris Iwelumo took me under his wing straight away and I stayed next door to Lee Croft, so they both looked after me.
“It was good times, although I did wonder what I’d done after the first couple of games.
“The team played Aberdeen at Tynecastle just after I signed and they lost 4-0, we then beat Forfar in the Scottish Cup where I made my debut.
“The next two games we lost 3-0 to Celtic and then to Inverness, so I remember thinking: ‘have I made a mistake coming here’.
“When you go through a time like I had, not playing at my club, you start thinking ‘is it me’ and ‘am I up to this’.
“I remember speaking to my mum and dad and saying to them that I didn’t think I was up to this level.
“But Tommy (Wright) took me aside and told me he’d brought me here for a reason and that I would play.”
Dunne, now in the National League with Barnet, added: “Looking back, it was just fitness in those first few games because I hadn’t been playing and once I got up to speed I loved it.
“As a team we went from strength to strength, got better as it went on and it ended with winning the cup.
“It was a massive achievement for us and the celebrations after it were mad.
“The club hadn’t done it before so everyone was packed into the city centre and were partying for days.
“I am quite superstitious and the whole May 17 thing with Stevie May’s shirt had me convinced beforehand that we’d win it.”
Given Dunne’s contribution to Saints’ cup run, the performance he produced in the final against Dundee United and the fact there would be European football the following season, career logic would have suggested McDiarmid was the best place for him to progress as a player with best years in front of him.
“I probably would have signed again but it was just the wrong time,” said Dunne, who joined Portsmouth instead.
“My wife and I had just lost a baby so we wanted to go back south to be closer to our family.
“The team spirit there was fantastic and it seems to carry on regardless of who is there.
“The banter was incredible. Every day the dressing-room was buzzing with people winding each other up.
“We’d be out for lunch most days, socialising together and with me being away from home that was huge because it helped me settle in straight away.
“But there was a serious side to it as well when it came to the football and you saw that in the results we had.
“I keep in touch with a few of the lads from our team. We have a chat now and again – especially on social media.
“I got on well with everyone up there. They were all great with me and my family so it’s a time I look back fondly on.
“Maybe when it’s 10 years since we won the Scottish Cup we’ll all get together and do something.”
In 2014, Saints got past Raith Rovers at the quarter-final stage with a minimum of drama. The last-eight events of Ibrox were somewhat different.
“I saw bits of the Rangers game and was buzzing for the St Johnstone players, it was a fantastic way to win it,” said Dunne, who scored in his first game for Saints in the cup against Forfar.
“I was especially pleased for Zander (Clark) because you don’t see keepers do that very often and it’s a goal people will talk about for years to come.
“And then for him to save a couple of penalties was fantastic.
“A few of the lads I played with are still there, David Wotherspoon, Stevie May, Michael O’Halloran – and some of the younger ones like Zander and Chris Kane were signed by that time.
“Obviously Callum was Tommy’s number two so I’m delighted to see him do well.
“He’s a very good coach and when he was working with Tommy they bounced off each other.
“Tommy would fly off the rails at us if we were not playing well but Callum would calm it all down.
“They worked well together and I’m not surprised he brought Steven MacLean in with him because he’s someone who knows the club inside out.
“He was brilliant in the dressing-room, he has great craic and that appointment makes a lot of sense.”