At the end of a week during which two young central midfielders with aspirations to become St Johnstone regulars have left on loan, the 34-year-old who continues to hold down a place in Callum Davidson’s first team will set a new standard for longevity.
But Liam Craig’s attitude towards getting a game for the Perth club will be the same for his 442nd as it was for his first.
A blue and white starting jersey is hard-earned and putting it over your head is to be cherished.
“I came here for an opportunity and that is all you are given as a player,” said Craig, set to take Steven Anderson’s all-time appearance record against Dundee.
“First and foremost it comes down to hard work. It doesn’t matter if you are 16 or 36 – you have to work hard every day.
“Performance levels and form go up and down but as an individual you attitude and work ethic is on you.
“If you don’t want to work hard then you will be found out, especially in a St Johnstone dressing room that I have been a part of for many years now.
“That is what supporters expect. I would like to think that through the bad performances I have had over that period they have appreciated that.”
442 not taken for granted
That Craig will claim the record is a given. That it will be against Dundee isn’t, though. At least not in his eyes.
“I have never been one to think that I am going to play every week,” he said.
“I actually thought I was going to play at Aberdeen a couple of weeks ago but I never even got on the park!
“My family will be there and they missed out on a lot last year.
“So if it is tomorrow it will be great for them to see – and a proud moment for them as well as me.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs in football, probably more downs, and they have been through a lot of them with me.
“It will be a great day for everyone but more importantly it’s about making sure that we win the game.”
One of the lucky ones
The former Falkirk man, whose Saints service was only interrupted by a two-year spell with Hibs, added: “I go back to the start of last season when players were getting released because of what was going on around the world.
“I was one of the fortunate ones to sign a six-month contract.
“To get to this number of games in such a successful period for the club is incredible and something I am very proud of.
“I spoke to Steven Anderson after the Hibs game last week. It is a recurring joke with us – 882 games between us and two good ones!
“I think the two of them are his to be fair!
Delighted to join @stevenando85 on 441 appearances for this club. I was fortunate enough to play along side him for a lot of those games and to do it over such a successful period for the club makes it even more special ⚽️💙 https://t.co/RgoFrBD3TB
— Liam Craig (@lc10media) September 26, 2021
“The fact that the top four now – myself, Ando, Murray Davidson and Alan Main all played together at some point, just shows how good a dressing room it is.”
Another of those former team-mates is Dundee assistant manager Dave Mackay, who will be the main voice in the away dugout, with boss James McPake serving a one match touchline ban.
There’s a bit of Saints career symmetry for Craig as Mackay was in the Livingston team when he got his first win in December 2007 and scored his first goal – and then at a later date when he picked up his first red card!
Dressing room ‘carnage’
“The goal was a cross from the right,” he recalled. “Peaso (Peter MacDonald) set it up for me for a right foot volley at the back post. We won 5-2.
“That was a long time ago now.
“Cuptie and Ando have been huge influences on my career.
“The core of the team over the past 10 years or so has all played more than 200 or 300 games, competing for the top six, in the latter stages of cup competitions and the European trips.
“Although I am 34 now and one of the older ones I still enjoy coming in and messing about with the younger players.
“It is carnage, like a circus at times if I am being honest. But that’s what keeps you young I suppose.”
He may not have to contemplate it for a while yet but life after playing?
“I’m open to any opportunity that arises at the club,” said Craig.
“I have never been scared of finishing playing. If the right opportunity came up I would seriously think about it if it was right for me and my family.
“When the manager came in 18 months ago he told me he would tell me when the legs have gone.
“He hasn’t told me that yet so I keep running about daft on a Saturday.”