Introducing the Kit Room

We’ve always been massive kit obsessives here at BH Towers, and we’ve wanted for a long time to pull together some sort of record of the weird, wonderful and not-so-wonderful gear that our beloved Saints have worn over the years.

After lots of looking through bags of old shirts, and lots more scrolling through old photos on the internet, we’ve finally done something about it and are pleased to present: the Kit Room.

We want this to be a complete (well, as complete as possible) photographic history of everything worn on the pitch by St Johnstone F.C. This isn’t just about the shirts. We’ve done everything we can to piece together a record of shorts, socks, goalie kits and a few previously unseen gems, too. Basically, if Saints have worn it, we want it to be included here.

In putting this together, we’ve found a few surprises and rarities that we hope other Saints kit lovers will enjoy as much as we do. For example, did you know that in the last 40 or so years there’s been just one outfield shirt design, worn on league duty, that was never released for fans to buy? Or that there were three different versions of the club’s first Bukta shirts? And have you seen the rejected prototype shirts that Saints could have worn, but didn’t?

The Kit Room will remain forever a work in progress but we think it’s finally at a stage where we’re ready to share it with the world. We hope you like it.

Can you help?

You’ll probably notice quite quickly that some of the photos in the Kit Room are of better quality than others. While some are originals that we’ve taken especially for this project, others have had to be pilfered from the far reaches of the internet. That’s where you come in.

If you have any old Saints kits at home, and think you can send us better quality images than the ones we already have, we’d gladly accept them. Likewise, if you can help with pics of any of the kits we’re still missing, then please do share them with us. We’d also love to see more of those rarities that some of you might have tucked away in the back of a drawer somewhere: the rejected prototypes, the ancient tracksuits, the one-offs. And we’d absolutely love to be able to show more colour photos of any Saints strips pre-dating the early ’80s. The more contributions we can get, the better an historical resource we’ll have created.

If you think you can help, you can get in touch with us by using or contact form, or sending us a message over on Twitter.

If you’re sending us a photo of one of your shirts, please try to lay the shirt as flat as possible on a plain, unpatterned background or floor, and please try to get the whole shirt into the picture without bits of other things (e.g. your feet!) creeping into the shot.

Time for a change

When St Johnstone completed their historic cup double in May 2021, the world seemed to be the club’s oyster. There was money in the bank from those two cup runs and a fifth-place Premiership finish; a genuine chance of European group stage football for the first time in the club’s history; a playing squad packed with potentially saleable assets; an unprecedented opportunity to attract exciting new signings; and – in Callum Davidson – a young manager who seemed a dead cert to be head-hunted by a bigger club sooner rather than later.

Fast-forward little over a year, and all of that feels like a very, very long time ago. The club slumbered through the summer 2021 transfer window and failed to bring in the extra one or two players of genuine quality who might just have made the difference in Europe. Fans were enraged when two key members of the double-winning squad – Jason Kerr and Ali McCann – were sold just as the window slammed shut, leaving no time for adequate replacements to be signed. And, after the highs of those wonderful but ultimately fruitless European nights, performances rapidly nose-dived. Come mid-January, we were rock-bottom of the league, seven points from the safety of 10th place and out of the Scottish Cup thanks to a humiliating defeat from Kelty Hearts, a club from four divisions down.

On Saturday, after kicking off season 2022/23 with a predictable 1-0 defeat from Hibs, Callum Davidson pointed out to BBC Radio Scotland that our slide of last season had been successfully halted. In a sense, he was right. A raft of (largely short-term) signings were recruited in January, a rejuvenated Callum Hendry returned from loan to score the vital goals we’d been missing, and (perhaps crucially) our main relegation rivals sacked their own manager only to replace him with someone worse. The up-shot of it all was that we stayed up. By the skin of our teeth, via the play-offs, granted. But we did stay up.

That play-off win against Inverness Caley should have been used as an opportunity for Davidson to depart on a relative high. Sure, it had been a tough season hallmarked by football that was awful and results that were even worse, but after walloping ICT at a packed McDiarmid there was a brief but almost tangible feeling of forgive-and-forget. Departing heroes lapped up one final ovation from the crowd and waved goodbye, heading off to new adventures with the best wishes of the Saints support. And Callum Davidson should have waved goodbye on that night too.

But, as we know, that’s not what happened. Davidson was given pre-season to put things right. It was an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and come up with a blueprint for taking the club forward into a new era. A chance to find a new system, build for the future, add some quality (rather than quantity) to the squad, and fix our goalscoring issues.

Sadly, early indications (provided by our woeful League Cup group stage performances and Saturday’s Hibs game) are that yet another pre-season has been wasted. Of the eight first team players recruited this summer, four are 32 or older and three are here only on loan. That hardly smacks of planning for the long-term. Meanwhile, key positions such as centre-forward and centre midfield remain unstrengthened, with Davidson bizarrely stating last week that “we have got a really good attacking threat now”. That statement came despite the questionable decision to start the season with just two fit strikers, both of whom were largely left on the bench last season and neither of whom have any recent scoring record to speak of. A third forward, who appears to be permanently banished to Davidson’s bad books, has been sent out on loan to Linfield at a time when he surely could have been utilised and developed. And, perhaps worst of all, the manager seemingly remains wedded to a ponderous, predictable and inflexible system that barely produces any attacking play at all, let alone goals.

Watching Saints last season, there appeared to be no plan for actually getting the ball into the back of the opposition net. Our 24 goals were by far the lowest scored in any of the SPFL’s four divisions. Even Dundee, who finished bottom, scored ten goals more than us. Ten. For that to be the case last season was bad enough, but to carry that same issue into the new season, with little or no apparent effort to make a significant change to the way the team plays, is borderline unforgivable.

Saints’ current issues are not entirely Callum Davidson’s fault. It’s not his fault that key players have gone, or picked up serious injuries, and it’s not his fault that his team have been on the wrong end of some appalling refereeing decisions (but don’t all football teams face those same obstacles?). What Davidson has had, though, is time, and the sort of budget that his predecessor was barely allowed a fraction of. But that time has been spent reinforcing a system that does not work, and the budget has been squandered on players at the ends of their careers who can be neither developed nor sold on for a profit. This is Davidson’s team now, set up to play Davidson’s style of football, and it has become very, very clear that that style of football is not going to change.

Free-flowing, all-out-attack has rarely been Saints’ way, and if it takes a stuffy, backs-to-the-wall approach to keep us where we need to be then so be it. But that style needs to be accompanied by some way of actually grinding out results. Under Tommy Wright, we often struggled to find the net, but were still able to adapt our system and make the right changes at the right times to pick up more good results than bad. Where Tommy seemed able to outfox opposition managers and get the best out of his own signings, Davidson’s one-note approach has been found out by our rivals and his signings often seem to make bright starts only to quickly go backwards.

Over recent years, the Saints board has rightly earned plaudits for giving managers time. Steve Lomas and Tommy Wright both went through sticky spells where some may have pushed the button, but Saints held their nerve and showed faith in them to turn things around. However, there comes a time when a football club board must recognise that things don’t always turn around without intervention. 

We all wanted Callum Davidson to do well here. He’s probably as close as we’ll ever get to having an actual Saints fan in the dugout. His success in his first season as a manager will probably never be matched by any other St Johnstone boss, and for that he will always, rightly, be considered a Saints legend. But now, while the season is still new and there remains a month left of the transfer window, is the time to make a change. 

At last, a fairy tale I can believe in

Regular followers of Scottish football will be familiar with the media’s hankering for a true “fairy tale story”. Once upon a time, in the early 2000s, it was Livingston’s rise through the leagues that had pundits reaching for the Hans Christian Andersen references. A few years later, it was Gretna’s turn to “live the dream”. As it turned out, both clubs were spending money they didn’t have, and both clubs saw their success turn back into a pumpkin as swiftly as Cinderella’s carriage.

In the middle of it all, plugging quietly away, often unnoticed, was my team, St Johnstone. The Perth club has turned flying under the radar into an art form, regularly punching above its weight but seldom taking the plaudits. Chairman Steve Brown, following in the footsteps of his father and club owner Geoff, has often frustrated fans with his single-minded refusal to break the bank by chasing success. While other clubs (including even Rangers) have staked their very existence on the quest for silverware, the Browns have sat sagely by, trusting in their own model, never buckling under pressure to spend that little bit more than their tight ship allows. But there’s no excitement in that, is there? Try telling that to the Saints fans who have experienced this incredible last decade-or-so.

Since our club’s promotion back into the top flight under Derek McInnes in 2009, the McDiarmid Park faithful have been treated to eight top six finishes, five European campaigns and the club’s first ever major trophy win. And this season, the first under the stewardship of rookie boss Callum Davidson, has been the one to top it all. 2020/21 has seen St Johnstone achieve the unthinkable: it’s the year we did The Double. A League Cup victory in February, followed by a trip back to Hampden yesterday to win the Scottish Cup. The most decorated football club in Scotland this year is not Rangers or Celtic: it’s St Johnstone. Just think about that for a second. The sheer magnitude of that statement. At the start of the season, bookies were offering odds of 10,000/1 for the Perth Saints to win both of those trophies. By way of comparison, Leicester City’s odds of winning the English Premier League in 2015/16 – an achievement often considered one of football’s greatest ever shocks – were 5,000/1.

So, I find myself asking a question that may sound ridiculous, but go with me on this for a second. Is St Johnstone’s 2020/21 Double win the greatest, unlikeliest, most eye-popping accomplishment in the history of football? Think about it. Sure, shocks happen in football all the time. The little guys do sometimes win. That’s a big part of why many of us love football in the first place. But in the modern era, as the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows ever larger, and the wads of money being thrown around grow ever more obscene, it’s becoming harder and harder for the underdogs to upset the odds.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that a small club has had its day. But often, when you look beneath the surface of a footballing “fairy tale”, money has been the overriding factor propelling the little fish briefly to the top of the food chain. Leicester City’s title-winning squad cost an estimated £54 million. That may be a modest sum in comparison to the transfer budgets of the teams around them, but still evidence of a club with serious spending power. Some may point to the rapid rise of Hoffenheim in Germany, but it took the investment of a billionaire to get them there.

By comparison, the St Johnstone side that has just won two cups (and also finished fifth in the SPFL Premiership) is almost entirely comprised of youth products and free transfers. Of the 20 players listed in the Saints squad for yesterday’s cup final, only two (Jamie McCart and Murray Davidson) were signed for transfer fees (and small, nominal ones at that). Five of the players (Zander Clark, Jason Kerr, Ali McCann, Chris Kane and Stevie May) came through the club’s own youth system. Three of the players (Liam Gordon, David Wotherspoon and Stevie May) grew up locally as Saints fans. And every single player named in the starting XI was born in Scotland. It’s this group that has become the second-most successful team in the country over the last 10 years, and it’s all been done with no sugar-daddy investor, no quick fixes and no fuss.

Callum Davidson is rightly taking the acclaim for guiding his team to such unparalleled glory, but this hasn’t all been achieved in one year. Davidson is the latest in a string of managers who have found McDiarmid Park to be a breeding ground for success. Managers here might not be given a blank cheque book, but what they are given is time, and an environment where they can develop and grow. It’s over 15 years since St Johnstone last sacked a manager. Since then, four managers (Owen Coyle, Derek McInnes, Steve Lomas and Tommy Wright) have come and gone, and each one has steadily built on the work of the last, gradually adding their own pieces to the jigsaw. While other clubs (and quite a few Saints fans, in all honesty) would have been dishing out P45s at various points along the road, Geoff and Steve Brown have stood by their men. They’ve shown that you don’t need to have a revolving door to achieve your goals.

On the pitch, too, there’s been a level of stability virtually unheard of in the modern game. Recent seasons have seen club legends like Steven Anderson, Dave Mackay, Chris Millar and Murray Davidson all granted testimonials for long service. Several players have passed the 300-appearance mark for the club during this spell of success, and numerous others have returned to Perth for second and even third spells after discovering that the grass was definitely not greener elsewhere. This might not be a club where players earn their fortunes, but all evidence points towards it being a club where players are happy, and that has translated into results. Big results.

Inevitably, questions are already being asked about what Davidson will do next. How can he possibly take a club of St Johnstone’s size any further? Surely he’ll need to jump ship while the going is good? But those questions miss the point entirely. What makes Saints’ success so impressive isn’t one good season. It’s that the club has been having good seasons year after year after year for over a decade now. It’s a success that transcends different managers, has made legends of multiple generations of players, and even continues when the one factor that should be a constant – the fans – is removed for a year.

It’s St Johnstone who have given Scottish football its real fairy tale story. Perhaps 2021 is the year that the ugly duckling is finally recognised for the swan that it is.

Thank you, Tommy Wright

It feels like an odd thing to say about a man I’ve never met, but Tommy Wright has given me many of the best moments of my life. There was the time his St Johnstone team sent the Norwegian giants of Rosenborg crashing out of the Europa League. And that night in Luzern where Saints secured a 1-1 draw in scorching mid-July heat, before completing the job with a riveting penalty shoot-out under the McDiarmid Park floodlights. And, topping them all, the date that is permanently etched into the memories of all Saints fans: 17th May 2014, when Wright’s side became the first St Johnstone team in history to lift the Scottish Cup.

Yesterday, Wright’s era of unprecedented success as Saints manager came to a surprise end, when it was announced that he and the club had decided to go their separate ways. For the last few years, we Saints fans have lived in fear of the day when a bigger club would come calling and tempt our greatest ever manager away from us. As it happened, that day never came. Instead, we were given the conscious uncoupling to end all conscious uncouplings. And, with the club deep in the midst of Covid-19 lockdown, it meant we didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye. One day he was there, and the next he simply wasn’t.

For a lot of fans outside the Scottish football bubble, Wright’s successes have probably gone under the radar. He’s not a publicity seeker, nor a touchline character, nor a skinny-trousered smoothie from the Guardiola mould. As the boss of a perennially under-supported underdog, he hasn’t had the chance to win trophy after trophy or make big statements in the transfer market. But I would confidently challenge anyone to name me a current manager who has done a better job at a British club than Tommy Wright has in Perth.

In Wright’s six complete seasons as manager, Saints never finished below eighth in the country. In four of those seasons, Saints finished in the top six, and for three years in a row we finished fourth. Within those six seasons we played in Europe four times, racking up the afore-mentioned triumphs over the vastly wealthier Rosenborg and Luzern. In the Scottish Cup, we reached at least the quarter-final stage in five attempts out of six, twice making it to the semi-finals and once going all the way to the final, where we recorded that historic 2-0 win over Dundee United.

The world’s oldest football trophy, the Scottish Cup, looking bloody beautiful in SJFC colours.

It took a pandemic to prevent Wright from completing what would have been his seventh season in charge, and in some ways 2019/20 was looking like it was about to become his most impressive yet. After rebuilding an ageing squad and putting his faith in a younger, more dynamic line-up, it looked initially like the wheels were well and truly coming off the wagon. Saints crashed out of the League Cup at the group stage and didn’t win a single Premiership match until October. At the start of December, a 4-0 hammering from Motherwell left us bottom of the league and facing a relegation battle for the first time in eleven consecutive top flight seasons. Under pressure for the first time in his reign, Tommy Wright refused to panic – and what happened next was little short of miraculous. In the 15 league games that followed, Saints lost just two matches in a run that saw us surge up the table to seventh place. By the time coronavirus had brought the season grinding to a premature halt, Saints were sitting just three points behind fifth-place Livingston, with a game in hand. On top of that, there was yet another Scottish Cup run, stopped only by a narrow 1-0 defeat from Celtic in the quarter-finals. It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever get to find out how the rest of 2019/20 might have panned out, but who would have bet against yet another top-half finish for the Perth Saints?

Crucially, Wright has done it all under the very tightest of financial restraints. Of all the players he brought to the club, two were signed for small, nominal sums and the rest were all freebies. At times, the transfer window seemed like a recurring struggle, with Wright often left scrabbling for the cast-offs of richer clubs. In 2014, after selling prolific goalscorer Stevie May to Sheffield Wednesday for a six-figure fee, Wright was given none of that money to sign a replacement. In the season that followed it showed, with Saints managing just 34 league goals all season (that’s four goals fewer than the team who finished second from bottom). And yet, Saints somehow managed to finish fourth in the league that season, and qualify for Europe (again) in the process. That ability to adapt to the circumstances was a hallmark of Tommy Wright’s management of Saints. When one way of grinding out points was taken away, he simply got his head down and found another.

For some context, St Johnstone have rarely been a successful club over bygone years. Much of Saints’ history has been spent bouncing around the lower leagues, and on at least one occasion we almost vanished from existence completely. Tommy Wright wasn’t the manager who brought us back into the Premier League, but he was the one who turned us into a club that had not just the ability, but the self-belief, to challenge for trophies and compete in Europe. In Wright’s eight years at McDiarmid Park (including his first year as assistant manager to Steve Lomas), Saints played in Europe five times. In the 127 years before that, Saints had only made it into Europe twice. Yep. That’s twice. In 127 years.

The Saints team of 2014 applaud the fans in Luzern.

While those magical European nights brought so much joy to the Saints faithful, they were perhaps also a rare source of frustration. The win over Rosenborg was followed by defeat from Minsk, and after dispatching of Luzern we were knocked out by Spartak Trnava. The campaigns that followed were similarly anticlimactic, with Saints falling first to Alashkert and then to Trakai. Among these opponents were surely teams that Saints could have defeated, but instead we were left to forever ponder what might have been. While winning the Scottish Cup was Tommy Wright’s crowning glory, a run towards the Europa League play-off round is arguably the one achievement that remains locked.

In a world where football managers often seem quickly disposable, it felt like Tommy Wright was the rare example of one who conceivably had a job for life, if he wanted it. I’d said in the past that he was potentially St Johnstone’s Dario Gradi or Alex Ferguson. It truly had reached that point where it was becoming impossible to imagine our club being lead by anyone else. Yet, here we are, in the scenario where Saints chairman Steve Brown must somehow find the person capable of filling a legend’s shoes.

It’s important to remember that Tommy Wright’s achievements didn’t happen in a vacuum. He wasn’t the sole factor in the club’s recent glories. Before he took the job, Owen Coyle, Derek McInnes and Steve Lomas had all done well and played their part in laying the foundations that Wright’s successes were built on. That’s something I believe all Saints fans should be able to take a lot of comfort from. Whoever takes the job on next will be arriving at a club where we know it is very possible to thrive.

In the meantime, all I want to say to Tommy Wright is thank you. It’s been a helluva ride.