Liam Gordon declares St Johnstone survival tastes even sweeter than cup double as he pays Geoff Brown tribute

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of St Johnstone pulling off the unthinkable by winning the Scottish Cup and securing a sensational double.

But Liam Gordon insists just keeping Saints in the Premiership on Sunday tops anything that’s gone before. The defender is gearing up for his 10th year at McDiarmid Park and says success in 2021 was EASY compared the depths he and his team mates have had to dig to this season.

A threadbare squad to start the campaign, manager Steven MacLean sacked in October after just 19 games in charge and with Saints five points adrift at the bottom of the table and question marks over the future of the club with owner Geoff Brown preparing to step down were just some of the obstacles thrown in their path. Heading into injury time against Ross County last Wednesday night Craig Levein’s side were staring at the relegation play-off - before Adama Sidibeh threw them a lifeline with a 91st minute equaliser.

That goal laid the foundations for Sunday’s sensational escape that saw Saints dump Motherwell in Lanarkshire to leapfrog County on goal difference. And Gordon insists the secret to their survival is a never-say-die culture that pulses through McDiarmid Park. He said: “This season has been challenging, the last few years have been tough. I would say staying up this season has been the best achievement as a St Johnstone player.

“The success we’ve had in the past, being in the top six and winning cups - you don’t learn anything from that. When success comes it’s easy, but when there’s so much thrown at you all the time you have to dig deep.

“It has been testing but to share that moment with the fans at the end made it worth it. It’s been a long, tough season. It’s been draining and we have had so many things to overcome.

“On the first day of pre-season we had 12 players training and half of those were under-18s. We had 10 boys out injured for the first couple of months of the season.

“It was difficult, we brought players in late and in the League Cup games we had a really depleted squad. So things were tough but credit to the boys, we got people back one by one and everyone stuck together. Nobody ever gave up.

“It’s been tough but the one thing we have is we never give up. People can say what they like about us but the one thing about St Johnstone is we always have a never-say-die attitude. It’s the culture of the club.”

Chairman Brown will stand down in the summer 38 years after buying Saints. American businessman Adam Webb has bought his majority shareholding as Saints head into a new era.

Gordon admits it would have been horrendous to mark Brown’s departure with relegation. He said: “I’m delighted for Geoff because I can imagine he was going through every emotion. It has been tough for us as players and fans, but it must have been 10 times worse for him the last few weeks.

“He’s been an incredible owner, an incredible leader of this club and a great man for Perth. It would have been horrendous if we’d went down on his watch.

“We wanted to do it for us as players and the fans, but also for the club and the people who run it. The club is about to undergo a major change with the ownership and I look forward to seeing what that entails for everyone. It’s a change that has needed to happen for a while now because it’s been in the background.

“It’s something that everyone should be excited about. For us to stay in the Premiership when that’s happening, that will allow the new owners to come into a better situation.

“I don’t know their plans, whether they’ll invest in the playing group or what they’re going to do. But it’s going to be much easier for them doing it in the Premiership. For the fans too, you don’t want to be missing out on the big teams coming to Perth.”

Levein and his players faced an agonising wait on the Fir Park pitch for confirmation that Ross County had failed to beat Aberdeen. Gordon admits those few minutes felt like a lifetime - especially when a group of Well fans pretended to celebrate an imaginary goal in Dingwall.

He said: “The Motherwell fans had us on toast at full-time when they started celebrating - they totally got us. I had a tear going down my cheek at that point! It was a great wind-up from them, to be fair, it was the best one for a long time. Standing on the pitch waiting to hear was horrible, it’s totally out of your control so it’s not nice. Hopefully I don’t have to experience that ever again.”