Craig thanks lucky stars he made return to Perth
LIAM CRAIG has come a long way in two years. From being cut loose by Hibernian – who were at that time languishing in the Championship after Terry Butcher’s side were relegated via the play-offs – to returning to Perth where St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright offered him a lifeline.
But having endured a summer of uncertainty back in 2015, Craig has now firmed-up his future until 2019 after signing an extended deal at McDiarmid Park this week.
Recalling how the show of faith by Wright salvaged his career, Craig said: “I played in a game against Real Sociedad at Methil and, while it wasn’t billed as a trial, I knew I hadn’t signed. That was probably the most nervous I have ever been in the lead-up to a game.
“If I hadn’t made an impression I probably wouldn’t have been offered a contract here. It was good that the manager and Callum Davidson knew me well. I needed someone to give me an opportunity to play again.
“I was still only 28 and had been captain of Hibs, but I found myself without a club and even finding somewhere to train was tough.
“Peter Houston at Falkirk and James Fowler at Queen of the South did offer me facilities and I am forever grateful to them. I had a really good offer from Guiseley in the Conference and I was impressed with them. But it was part-time and if I had taken the deal there would have been no way back to full-time football. It was close to happening. I remember being on a trip to Disneyland with Laura and the kids. I was standing there in a queue for Dumbo and told Laura this was serious, because I knew St Johnstone and others were back in pre-season.
“I knew I should have been in somewhere. But the phone stops ringing and it is tough. So it is great having the security of a new two year deal here.
“After that experience, I appreciate how lucky I am to be playing full-time football at a good level with a good club.”
Craig bagged an extended contract on the back of a double in the recent 2-1 win over Motherwell. He added: “On the bus to the game the chairman said he’d meet me about a new deal so it was a good time to get two goals.
“I’m delighted to get it done. It’s nice the club have shown this commitment to me. I had a good time here before I left for Hibs and I’ve enjoyed being back. It has worked out well for me and I’m glad I still have something to offer. I will be 32 when this contract ends but I will be looking to stay even longer. I believe I have got stronger and stronger as the season has gone on and hopefully we can go from strength to strength again.
“I think I’ve played every game I have been available for, whether it’s starting or coming off the bench. Top six is pretty much secure and hopefully we will have a European trip or two to look forward to at the end of the season.
“The core of the squad has stayed together here. We have a few players who are racking up the years with the club and that has been crucial to our success. It’s not easy to be in the top six and challenging for Europe every year. This club has done it for the last six years now and I think the only other club to do that has been Celtic.”
WHAT A FEELING: Liam Craig is delighted with his new deal at St Johnstone