St Johnstone’s ability to deal with whatever on and off-pitch challenges get put in their path has taken them to the brink of an incredible cup double.
Perth boss Callum Davidson admitted that the Covid-19 crisis in the build-up to their Scottish Cup semi-final, which deprived him of four players at Hampden Park, presented him with the biggest test of his short but colourful managerial career.
While opponents St Mirren were fine-tuning their big-game preparations on the training pitch, Davidson was telling his players to stay at home.
And even when it came to managing their 2-1 lead in a knife-edge last-four contest at the national stadium, the loss of key men was still having an impact.
Not for the first time in this glorious season, Davidson, who admitted his wine intake rose sharply as his squad numbers decreased, was a proud man reflecting on Hampden heroics.
Get this on repeat ♻️#SJFCLive
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) May 9, 2021
“This Covid-19 season has been really tough,” he said. “What happened hits home that it’s still there.
“We need to be really vigilant and careful. It’s easy to pass it on and we are very vigilant and strict at the club. We just need to make sure we get everybody safe and healthy for the cup final. That for me is the most important thing.
“All the clubs have had to deal with at some point but it is very difficult. Nobody can prepare you for it.
“It hindered our preparation for the game a lot.
“We had to shut the training ground down. We probably could have trained but we shut it down as I didn’t want the virus to spread.
“We will now get the players tested again and hopefully move forward with an all-clear for the big games we have coming up.
“The really difficult one was the bus travel (two of the four who missed out had negative test results but were deemed to be close contacts).
“We know it’s about keeping everybody safe and I think that between now and the end of the season all the boys will go to games in cars so if anything does come back positive it will just be one player we miss.
“It’s really tough for our squad if we’ve got four or five out like today.
Liam Craig and Murray Davidson aren’t here and they are two I’d have put on.
“We were able to make attacking changes but didn’t have many defensive ones.
“Liam Craig and Murray Davidson aren’t here and they are the two I’d have put on to try and see the game out.
“I thought the lads were brilliant, how they defended and how they worked. They were magnificent for me.
“When we went two goals up I felt we were controlling it and then they scored in the last five minutes which made it quite exciting.”
Bringing Glenn Middleton on when the score was 0-0 proved to be Davidson’s most important touchline contribution once the game was up and running.
An assist and a goal from his supersub swiftly followed.
“Zander (Clark) pulled off a fantastic save which kept us in the game in the first half,” he said. “Then at half-time I asked for more of the same and the game swung both ways at times but then Glenn came on and produced the magic for us.
“People will quite rightly talk about Glenn but Kano has scored again to put us 1-0 up. He was in the right place at the right time and that’s the sign of a good striker.
“Glenn then strikes a magnificent free-kick into the top corner. It was always going to be difficult as we knew St Mirren would throw everything at us. They have five or six big lads and a long throw so we didn’t have any real height on the bench with which to change it.”
Only Hibs now stand between Saints and a cup double that, apart from the Aberdeen side of 1989/90, has been the preserve of the Old Firm in modern Scottish football.
Has Davidson found the time to contemplate the magnitude of what is developing?
“Not this week I’ve not!” he said. “I think I’ve drunk about six bottles of wine!
“For a club like St Johnstone just to get to two cup finals is incredible. It hasn’t been done before.
“We’ll now try and prepare and get everybody right for the final. Up until now, I hadn’t even thought about what it would mean.
“You won’t see me for six weeks if we do it!
“Joking aside, I never look too far forward. Hibs are a fantastic side and it’s going to be a very tough game.
“Hopefully it will be another entertaining one – the Scottish Cup has certainly delivered these last few weeks.”
Nobody more so than St Johnstone.