Ali Crawford’s St Johnstone experience has helped him fall “back in love” with football.
And he hopes to stay at McDiarmid Park for years.
Bolton bleakness has been replaced by Perth pleasure for the former Hamilton Accies star and long may it continue.
“Hopefully we can get that (his loan extension) sorted soon and I’ll be here until the end of the season at least,” said Crawford.
“The last six months before the summer was probably the toughest time I’ve had in my career.
“I wasn’t playing much and, confidence wise, I wasn’t rock bottom but I was low.
“Come the summer I knew I wasn’t going to get much of a chance at Bolton.
“Thankfully the gaffer (Callum Davidson) came in and gave me that chance.
“I’ve been relishing being back out on the park and enjoying my football again.
“That’s credit to the boys because they made me feel so welcome. Hopefully I can stay here for another couple of years.
“I’ve grown back in love with the game. It can be quite easy to become complacent and go through year after year.
“But maybe the last six months has given me the kick up the backside that I needed. Hopefully I can improve as the weeks go on.”
Ali Crawford scored his first goal for Saints the last time we faced @DundeeFC ⚽️
Crunching Callum Booth tackle for the assist too ✅#SJFC
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) September 28, 2021
Tough to take
Crawford would have been a Saints Hampden hero if his 40-plus yard lob found the back of Joe Hart’s net rather than drift wide of it.
Celtic scored a couple of minutes later and it ended up being a narrow defeat that was “tough to take”.
“The boys put great work-rate into the game,” he said.
“We probably could have done a bit better in the final third but I don’t think Celtic created too many clear-cut chances.
“The boys here just don’t want to concede, especially those at the back.
“They pride themselves on clean sheets and do everything for it.
“It was unfortunate that the ball ricocheted into their path for the goal. On the other side, nothing seemed to fall for us.
“I thought we nullified Celtic and worked extremely hard.
“We need to maintain that and keep the consistency because that is what has been missing.
“It was my first time playing in a semi-final and it was a good experience, obviously just not the result I wanted.