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St Johnstone cup double would surpass Aberdeen’s 1989/90 achievement, insists former Dons and Dundee boss Jocky Scott

The Aberdeen team which won the cup double.
The Aberdeen team which won the cup double.

Comparing footballing eras is fraught with peril.

Providing perspective for the double St Johnstone are one game away from completing is as safe as you can get in that minefield, however.

When the names of the Aberdeen players who became the last non-Old Firm team to win both domestic cup competitions get reeled off, the magnitude of what Saints are trying to emulate or, more accurately, surpass is laid bare.

Jocky Scott was Alex Smith’s co-manager when the Dons followed up their Skol Cup triumph against Rangers by beating Celtic on penalty kicks in the Scottish Cup.

That was a 1989/90 side with a thread to the great Sir Alex Ferguson one still intact, augmented by established internationals from home and abroad.

Night and day by any yardstick when you bring the current Saints squad into the conversation, as Scott admits.

Should they beat Hibs at Hampden Park on Saturday, the Perth club would be elevated into stand-alone territory.

“To get to one cup final is hard enough, to get to two is even harder and the icing on the cake,” said the former Dundee boss.

“But for any team outside the Old Firm to get to two finals in a season is very, very unusual.

“So winning both of them would be a magnificent achievement and for a club of St Johnstone’s side it would be unbelievable if it happened.

“It’s amazed me to read that it has been so long since we did it and that we were the last team part from Rangers and Celtic to do it.

“That shows how difficult a thing it is to do and would underline the magnitude if Callum Davidson’s team manages it.

“It’s only been done by Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen in the past – so what a huge achievement it would be.

“When we did it, we had a very good team with some excellent players.

Aberdeen’s Theo Snelders, Alex McLeish and Hans Gillhaus.

“We had Theo Snelders, Alex McLeish, Davie Robertson, Stewart McKimmie, Jim Bett, Brain Irvine, Brian Grant, Hans Gillhaus and Charlie Nicholas, who had come back from Arsenal to sign for us.

“Willie Miller was still playing that season, Paul Mason played and Eoin Jess was in the team too.

“That was a fantastic squad, loads of Scotland internationals and a couple of Dutch ones too.

“St Johnstone don’t have any Scotland internationals in their team – so what an achievement it would be.

Rangers and Celtic were the financial powerhouses of Scottish football back in Scott’s time at Pittodrie but the disparity between the Glasgow duo and the rest has mushroomed over the subsequent three decades.

“When you look at the budgets between them and the Old Firm – and probably Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts and some of the others, St Johnstone’s will be tiny in comparison,” he said.

“Back when we won the double with Aberdeen, Celtic and Rangers would have paid much more money – no doubt about that – but there wasn’t the massive gap like there is today.

“You are probably talking about Callum being on a shoestring compared to them, 30 or 40 times less or something like that.

“So you can’t praise the job he’s done enough, they’ve been doing well in the league, into the top six and into two cup finals.

“It’s amazing for a manager in his first season to be on the brink of doing something like this.

“And you can’t forget they knocked Rangers out.

“They have won the league at a canter this season but they put them out – so they’ve had to do the hard work of getting there past one of the Old Firm themselves.”

Callum Davidson.

Success has come to Davidson the rookie manager in double quick time but it was patience from Davidson the coach that has set him up for making his mark, according to Scott.

“Callum has served his apprenticeship for a long time,” he said. “He’s worked with Tommy Wright for years and then went down to England to try something different.

“He had a great playing career with St Johnstone, Blackburn and then at places like Leicester and Preston.

“So he’s got loads of experience – but even being an assistant doesn’t prepare you totally for becoming your own man.

“It’s a completely different experience when you are the one out there front and centre, making all the decisions and the buck stops with you.

“As an assistant you are there to help, give your opinion when it’s required but at the end of the day it’s not you in the firing line.

“It’s a big step up from being an assistant and Callum has clearly watched and learned from the managers he’s worked with.

“But he’s been out there this season, handling the players his way and he’s done a great job.”

Jocky Scott.

Scott believes there are several factors working in Saints’ favour ahead of a hard to predict final.

“The fact they already have a trophy in the cabinet will help them,” he said.

“There will always be nerves going into a cup final but they have been to Hampden a few times now and have been successful.

“They know what it took to win the Betfred Cup final, so they know what the occasion will be like and how to deal with it.

“Having that experience will be a good thing for them – as will the fact Hibs will be the favourites.

“They are the bigger club and their fans will expect them to always beat St Johnstone in a final.

“The fact St Johnstone have been without players because of Covid in the last few weeks probably adds to that as well.

“They’ve had a tough time and they’ve not been able to train properly, so that will increase the amount of people expecting Hibs to beat them.

“But when they go on the pitch – assuming they have everyone available – the St Johnstone players have done enough already this season to fancy themselves.

“The way both teams are going, it should be a good final.”

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