Mackay: Cup win worth the wait
Dave Mackay's quest for a Scottish Cup final victory was nowhere near as long as St Johnstone's, but the Saints skipper admits his winners' medal was "well worth waiting for".
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Goals by defender Steven Anderson and striker Steven MacLean in a pulsating game against Tayside rivals Dundee United at Celtic Park on Saturday took the famous old trophy back to Perth for the first time in the club's 130-year existence.
Mackay, 34, played in the Dundee team which lost 1-0 to Rangers in the 2003 final at Hampden Park, and after an 11-year wait was delighted to at last win his first major medal and lift the trophy in front of 15,000 ecstatic Saints fans.
"I have had many defeats in my career, many lows, injuries, and many pre-season runs but it has been worth it to finally get my hands on the trophy," said the Saints' full-back, who joined in the victory parade in Perth on Sunday.
"You go up last as the captain and to finally get your hands on the trophy was an incredible feeling, and to see the joy on the faces of the players and fans and family was a great feeling.
"Maybe we rode our luck a little but I think we deserved that bit of luck."
Mackay was referring in particular to a couple of escapes, the first of which came in the first half when United midfielder Ryan Dow hit the post with a flick from an Andy Robertson cross.
Anderson's header from a David Wotherspoon corner just before the break suggested to Mackay it was going to be the McDiarmid Park club's day.
That feeling was compounded when Tannadice striker Nadir Ciftci struck the bar with a free-kick early in the second half, with the ball somehow staying out despite hitting Saints keeper Alan Mannus on the back on the way down.
When MacLean grabbed the second with seven minutes remaining after a fortuitous deflection took him clear on goal, there was no way back for Jackie McNamara's side.
Mackay said: "Sometimes you just feel things are going for you, especially with them hitting the woodwork a couple of times.
"After the Ciftci one, where it has hit Alan Mannus and just sat behind when easily that could have gone in off his back, you think it was meant to be and when Steven MacLean's goal goes in there is not much time for them to come back into it."
The former Livingston player's immediate feeling when Craig Thomson blew his whistle for the last time was one of sympathy for the United players.
"It was a great feeling but I didn't celebrate too much to begin with," he said.
"I shook Dundee United players' hands, I have been in that situation before when I have lost the cup and it's not a great feeling.
" I think it is only right that you see them first and then go and celebrate with your fans and families."
An added bonus for the jubilant Perth club for their cup success is a place in the Europa League next season.
"That's three years in a row that we have qualified for Europe," said Mackay.
"It is incredible for a club like ourselves to manage that. There is not many who do.
"Motherwell have done it as well in recent seasons but for a club as small as St Johnstone to do that, and for us to get our first major trophy in 130 years, is absolutely amazing."