Callum Davidson saluted St Johnstone’s saviour Geoff Brown after their Scottish Cup final win secured an extraordinary cup double.
Wing-back Shaun Rooney, who scored the only goal in the League Cup final against Livingston at Hampden Park in February, was the hero again with a towering header in the 31st minute at the national stadium.
The victory confirmed the greatest season in St Johnstone’s history and came after the club had recently faced Covid-19 issues.
Saints, whose Scottish Cup final victory in 2014 was their first major trophy, became the first team outside the Old Firm to land the two major cups in Scotland since Aberdeen in 1989-90 and have earned a place in Europe.
Davidson, at the end of his first season as a manager, praised Brown, a local businessman, who rescued the club in the 1980s with a share issue before handing the reins to his son Steve, who is the current chairman.
He said: “I don’t think it has sunk in yet that we have won the double and the achievement that is for a club like St Johnstone. Only Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen have managed to do it.
“You have to credit the Browns. Back in the late 1980s the club were roughly bottom of the Second Division, Geoff built the club brick by brick back up and for them to achieve that this season is a massive credit to them.
“They are big St Johnstone supporters, they have put all their efforts into the club and the people of Perth should be really proud of them.”
Davidson also praised his players and staff whose preparations for the final were severely disrupted. He said: “All the emotions in the last couple of weeks have been about the Covid-19 issues and trying to prepare the best we can.
“We hardly talked to them [the players], they just turned up for training and went home again. We missed that bond, talking about things.
“We had eight or nine players missing for the Celtic game [on 12 May]. We got them back together on Wednesday and changed the training week and they all put in a great shift today.”
Both sides had chances to take the lead before Rooney rose highest at the far post to head home a delightful cross from the impressive David Wotherspoon.
Saints had opportunities to extend their advantage and should have put the game to bed with 15 minutes to go when Paul McGinn brought down Chris Kane in the area only for the Hibs goalkeeper, Matt Macey, to save Glenn Middleton’s penalty and Kane’s follow-up attempt.
It was Hibs’ third cup defeat at Hampden this season, two cup semi-finals and a final, but they finished third in the Premiership for the first time since 2005.
Asked how he assessed the season, their manager, Jack Ross, said: “It has been outstanding for the club.
“It shouldn’t be forgotten what this group of players have delivered. They brought the club into a position it hasn’t been in for a long time and went to two semi-finals and a cup final. The disappointment and soreness in not winning them is acute but I can’t be more proud of that group.
“I am devastated for my players. I couldn’t have asked for much more in terms of their desire to win the cup but we fell just short, which naturally hurts.”