James Bolton on why St Mirren's history-making season could have been even better

-Credit:SNS Group
-Credit:SNS Group

James Bolton insists super St Mirren’s history-making season could have been even better.

And the Buddies defender says that will provide extra motivation next term when his side look to maintain and better their Premiership performance.

Saints made it back-to-back top-six finishes and went on to finish in fifth place which secured a spot in the UEFA Conference League. It will mean European football brought back to Paisley for the first time since 1987.

However, Bolton reckons there were opportunities to go even higher and pip Derek McInnes’ Kilmarnock for fourth and clinch a place in the Europa League.

The 29-year-old hopes this knowledge will inspire the class of 2024-25 when they return to pre-season training at Ralston next month.

Bolton said: “It has been a very good season but it could have been so much better as well. We’ve dropped quite a few points. You never know, we could have been in the Europa League.

“We’ve got to strive every year to get better. We’ve worked hard to get here and if we don’t match that and more, we’re not going to get what we want; and that’s playing in Europe every year.

“That’s a big ask when you have big teams like Hibs and Aberdeen who haven’t done it this season but it’s up to us to take advantage of that.”

Playing in Europe will guarantee Saints around £450,000 at least in prize money with ticket sales and merchandise on top ensuring it will be a lucrative adventure.

But it is the prestige which will prove particularly attractive to the playing staff who are already excited by the prospect of starring on the European stage.

“I know the gaffer is pushing for more all the time and finishing in the top six last season meant we wanted to finish higher,” Bolton reflected. “If that was fifth, we knew there was a chance of Europe.

“It was something we knew we could strive for and to get it is a great feeling. I’m looking forward to experiencing it.”

Saints’ success was inspired by a talented, tight-knit group which will see some changes this summer. As well as departures, the club have signed defender Shaun Rooney.

Bolton added: “It’s always a good thing to improve the squad and we’re going to need it next season with the amount of games we’re going to have, especially if we go far in Europe.

“I think the togetherness of the squad and the mood around the camp is always high energy have been important. It’s a joy to come to work.

“We’ve got good characters here and that makes a difference. If you come in and everyone’s down, it’s going to bring everything down and show on a Saturday.”

Meanwhile, Australian international midfielder Keanu Baccus has today signed a two-year deal with English League One side Mansfield Town after leaving Saints.

Stags boss Nigel Clough beamed: "We're absolutely thrilled that Keanu has agreed to join us. He has much potential, is at a good age and we think he plays in the manner which we like; on the front foot and he’s good at winning the ball back.”

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