“It’s my club,” Callum Davidson says of St Johnstone, the team he will proudly lead out at Hampden in the Betfred Cup final on Sunday.
Starting his career at McDiarmid Park in 1994, the former defender enjoyed two spells with the club either side of playing for Leicester, Blackburn and Preston down south and was appointed manager last summer.
“I started here as a young boy and then I got kicked out the door down to Blackburn, the chairman said you’re signing to Blackburn because I want the money,” he jokes. “Then I had the opportunity to come back. I only lived down the road, my grandfather lived in Perth so I used to stay with him when I was younger. Sadly he’s not here but it means a lot to me. This is the third time I’ve come back and it’s a club I’m very fond of. I’ve had success and I’d like to carry that on.”
Assistant manager when the club lifted the Scottish Cup in 2014, Davidson wants to add the elusive Betfred Cup to the collection.
“I know what it means to the people of Perth, it’s a great achievement, the first time they won it and hopefully we can replicate that. It’s another major tournament we haven’t won so it would be a massive achievement. It will be tough but we can use the experience; we’ve still got a few players from that team in 2014, they’ll help the younger players on the day.”
Davidson, who believes Sunday’s opponents Livingston are ‘slight favourites’, having lost two of this season’s three matches to the Lions, has been impressed with his side’s recent results after inflicting Martindale’s first defeat before winning 3-0 at Motherwell a week ago..
“Our form’s been good for two months now,” Davidson says. “Celtic and Rangers have beaten us by the odd goal, so we’ve given them both a tough game. We’re competing in every match and managed to win more than we did at the start of the season. I’m really pleased with the form and it makes my decision picking the team a little bit harder. A lot of players have been playing well.”
Trained by Andy Murray’s mother Judy in tennis as a youngster, Davidson is also a keen golfer and revealed he looks at other sports to help him in management.
“I use other sports like golf, where you have to practice under pressure, things like that. I’m across all sports, I like to look at other things and how we can adapt and get better, not just through football but other things. Tennis, golf, squash, whatever you want, I’ll have a look at it.”
Sadly, for this year’s Betfred Cup, the 75th edition of the competition, the final will be played without fans due to the Covid pandemic but Davidson and his team have still been buoyed by the backing they’ve received virtually.
“It’s incredible, three times we’ve got to the final before and not won it; the fourth time and nobody can be there. When you think of percentages and when the club was formed, not getting to the final, I’m really disappointed for the fans more than anybody else. Clubs like St Johnstone and Livingston, we don’t get to the finals very often and so if supporters can’t be there, it’s really difficult for them.
“They’ve given us a lot of backing through social media, and things going on in Perth. It shows support is there and the players realise how much it means to people. Hopefully we can give them something to smile about.”
So often, it is Celtic, Rangers, or both, competing for silverware in Scotland but on Sunday it is the turn of Livingston and St Johnstone in the Betfred Cup.