Drey Wright and Sam Walker suffered a relegation together at Colchester United.
And the St Johnstone player of the year hopes that it’s only his summer golfing buddy who has a second survival battle to fret about after the pair go head to head at Rugby Park this weekend.
Wright scored a stunning long-range goal past the Kilmarnock goalkeeper the last time the teams met.
Nut Saturday’s clash will have even bigger ramifications now that the relegation fight is nearing its conclusion.
“There’s quite an active group chat between four of us from Colchester,” said Wright. “We were speaking last week.
“We met up last summer to play a round of golf together.
“We talk about all sorts. I’ve not mentioned anything this week, though!
“We can go weeks without saying anything but the relationship doesn’t change.
“I’ve been on a couple of holidays with Sam and things like that.
“We had conversations about him maybe coming here last summer too.
“He knows Elliott Parish as well as he was involved in that Colchester team.
“I’ve got a lot of time for Sam but I hope I can beat him. There’s no love lost on the pitch, that’s for sure.”
Making it 6️⃣ for the season!
— St. Johnstone FC (@StJohnstone) March 20, 2023
“He was asking if there was a deflection! Five minutes after I scored, we caught eyes across the pitch and he was shaking his head at me.
“We then played Ross County not long after that and got beat.
“And he was right in my ear after that saying: ‘Cheers for that’. That wasn’t a great result for them then.”
Dropping into League Two with Colchester, as happened in 2016, wouldn’t carry the same significance as Saints finding themselves in the Scottish second tier – particularly with the McDiarmid Park outfit up for sale and the chairman due to step down.
“The year we got relegated I spent a lot of the year out injured,” Wright recalled.
“I wasn’t really established as a first team player. Sammy was the same.
“It’s a lot different up here.
“The clubs have similar fan bases and type of stadium. But up here you are obviously in the Premiership, the top league.
“I was speaking to (Motherwell striker) Mikael Mandron last weekend. I played with him for a couple of years at Colchester.
“I asked him how different he felt it was up here, how he’d adapted. Down there, you’re just one of a number, no one really knows you.
“In Scotland it’s a lot different, the football is a lot more magnified.
“The year we went down, no disrespect because for the people of Colchester it was massive.
“But it wasn’t so much of a big deal in terms of how we then went and attacked the next season. Things didn’t change too much.
“But here, it would be huge.
“As players we’re not involved in the talks of what goes on upstairs but you don’t want a relegation on your CV whether you are in or out of contract.
“It’s a lot easier to look forwards with that Premiership safety.
“I’m no board member but I would imagine it could have massive implications to the club.
“Just taking a guess there, but a logical one. No one wants that and we will be doing everything we can to prevent it.”
One out of three would do
Wright believes one win out of their next three games should be enough for Saints.
“Yes, I think so,” he said. “Other teams still have to play each other.
“We looked at the split fixtures and thought if we can win those first two then we are safe.
“But it wasn’t to be, we weren’t good enough. We’ve got another game quickly to put that right.”
Wright would be quite happy if Kilmarnock secure their Premiership status but only after Saints get the job done.
Then talk can turn to the Colchester old boys’ golf trip.
“That would be good,” said the former Hibs man. “We’ll cross that bridge in the summer.
“With family, it might be hard to go down south this summer.
“But there are some nice courses in Ayrshire so maybe we can do it there.”