Third time lucky for Borderer Murray Davidson after Covid scare ahead of St Johnstone winning Scottish Cup
As the veteran midfielder savoured the Perth club’s Scottish Cup victory over Hibernian, his joy was accompanied by relief that the fates hadn’t conspired against him once again.
That was what the former Peebles High School pupil had been fearing after team-mates of his returned positive coronavirus tests in build-up to the final and he was identified as a close contact.
Happily for the 33-year-old, though, he was cleared last week and also recovered from a calf injury to be able to make a contribution to Saints’ success after being sent on by boss Callum Davidson as a second-half substitute.
“The manager named the team on Friday, so I knew I was on the bench, but I had a good idea I wasn’t going to start anyway because, one, the boys had been brilliant and, two, I’d not done a lot of training because I had to self-isolate,” said Davidson, brought up in Innerleithen but now living in his club of the last 12 years’ home-town.
“Even though I was negative, I missed ten days through self-isolation.
“I was gutted to have to miss the semi-final against St Mirren because I’d done three tests in four days and every one of them was negative, but for some reason the government decided I was the one who had to self-isolate.
“A lot of people were saying I’m the unluckiest person ever, but everything I’ve been through personally, trust me, winning the Scottish Cup makes up for it.
“I was gutted to miss the League Cup final earlier in the season, especially after the same thing happened when we won the Scottish Cup back in 2014.
“I am so, so happy and not just for myself.
“I feel like at times I’ve been jinxed. The last ten days, honestly, I’ve not left my house. I’ve said to everybody ‘I’m not leaving my house. I don’t want to see anyone’.
“I’ve done everything. I‘ve been washing my hands 20 times a day. Everything you can name, I was doing it because I thought, knowing my luck, I’ll get Covid.
“Probably the most nervous I’ve ever been was the last Covid test we did because I knew it was the last test before the final.
“When the manager put on the group-chat ‘all tests negative’, what a relief. That was Wednesday or Thursday. I just remember looking at my phone because I knew if I’d seen the manager or physio phoning, like she did the week before saying I had to self-isolate, I knew it wouldn’t be good news. I kept looking at my phone, and no news is good news.
“At times, I was taking my phone, putting it away and going back an hour later and being scared to look at it, so when we got that text, I think everyone was the same. Everyone was relieved. It was more so for others because I didn’t want anyone to miss a big game because I know how it feels.
“I’m so happy we had a full squad for the final, and if there ever is a good time to get Covid, we probably got it at the best time.”
It was an emotional finale to Davidson’s 12th season as a St Johnstone player and it sparked celebrations in Innerleithen by his parents Ronnie and Liz and their pals as well as in Perth.
“I’ve been so desperate to get back to a final ever since 2014 and as years went by, I thought it wasn’t going to happen,” said Davidson, once a member of the same Leithen Vale youth team as Hibs and Dumbarton’s Ross Campbell before moving on to Livingston in 2003 and St Johnstone in 2009, picking up one Scotland cap along the way in 2012.
“When the League Cup came along this year and I missed that, I thought that was my last chance, but the manager was the first person to say after winning the League Cup that we just had to get to the Scottish Cup final. I laughed it off, but here we are.
“I’m just more happy for my friends, and especially my family, because they’ve been my biggest supporters. They’ve travelled with me all over the country since I was ten years old, sometimes three times a week, and I am so happy for them.
“They were all in my local pub, the Toll Bar in Innerleithen, enjoying themselves on Saturday. It’s all decked out with flags. I am delighted for myself and my team-mates, but I’m so, so happy for my mum and dad especially. It means a lot to them.
“They made a day of it and I Facetimed them from Hampden – the pub was in good spirits, let’s just say that. In time, I’ll get down to celebrate with them and hopefully get to take the cup with me.
“It’s such a big thing. I stay in Perth now, and it was buzzing on Saturday morning.
“What a season we’ve had. Nobody in our wildest dreams could have said we’d have done this. Every game that went by, you’re thinking ‘can this really happen?’
“Ibrox in the quarter-final, what a night that was. It was just meant to be. Even on the bus to Hampden for the final, I’m usually quite pessimistic, but I was confident for some reason. I was just thinking ‘I’m going to play in a final – please don’t let it be the one that we lose.’
“I’m just so happy for everyone – the chairman, the board, the supporters, my team-mates, the manager, everyone. The club is run in the right way and that’s why we’re successful. People keep asking why we are successful and it’s just hard work. There’s no magic secret.
“We work hard every day and the manager trusts us. He has been brilliant since he came in and we are getting the rewards now.”