Average White Band star Alan Gorrie backs St Johnstone to win the Scottish Cup

He was a key ingredient of the Scottish group which enjoyed a worldwide hit with Pick Up the Pieces in 1970s.

And now, Alan Gorrie, one of the founder members of the Average White Band, and a lifelong St Johnstone supporter, has given Callum Davidson’s team the message ‘Let’s Go Round Again’ when they tackle Hibs in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park on May 22.

The group were massive in the 1970s

Gorrie, who performed on all the group’s biggest hits, including Queen of my Soul, When Will You Be Mine, Cut the Cake and Atlantic Avenue, knows there is still work to do before his favourites can pick up their second trophy of the season – and only their second Scottish Cup in 130 years.

But he was encouraged by the fashion in which they defeated St Mirren in a dramatic semi-final on Sunday which he watched from his home in America, and is feeling no fret as another grand occasion looms.

He said: “It was all fine until the last five minutes of ‘squeaky-bum time’ after St Mirren put one in our net, but the overall performance was authoritative and the win was well deserved.

“We could do with some extra shooting boots for the final, because there were a lot of missed chances, but yes, ‘St Callum’ has done a sterling job in his first season in charge and I would say that, if our luck holds and we can finish out the season in this manner, another cup would be justified.

“He must surely be a contender for the manager of the season [Davidson is on the four-man shortlist], given what he has achieved already, with minimal investment at the financial end, but boosted by judicious signings and loans and his tactics at the sharp end, on the park and in the dressing room.

Alan Gorrie was among the Average White Band line-up which took the US by storm.

“I was able to watch the semi-final on ESPN+ here on the east coast [in Connecticut] and will be able to watch the final on the same channel.

“It is just such a shame that there will be no crowd at the final. I doubt there would be any trouble between the Saints and the Hibees at such a game and there certainly wasn’t a hint of aggro at our last one in 2014 against Dundee United [on an afternoon when the Perth side won 2-0 with goals in both halves from Steven Anderson and Steven MacLean].

“I was lucky enough to attend that match and I dearly wish we could be at this one as well. Fingers crossed for another Fair City trophy and a new, shiny page in our long and chequered history of ups and downs – plus a shot at some European games again to kick off next season, if all goes well.”

Alan’s grandfather used to play for Saints

Gorrie, who has family connections to Saints, and recalls the days when the club used to play at Muirton Park, prior to relocating to McDiarmid Park, is convinced that the team’s success in the current campaign – they previously secured the League Cup after beating Livingston 1-0 in the final – highlights the merits of sports organisations staying true to their roots.

© PETER SANDGROUNDHEMEDIA
St Johnstone boss Callum Davidson instructs his team from the touchline.

He added: “This is the very soul of what it means to have a football ‘pyramid’ structure and meritocracy, whereby anything is possible for any club that has grit, determination, team spirit and, obviously, a canny coach with the full support of a backroom directorship and a strong community following!

“So I will just say COYS –  Come On You Saints – and hope that we can achieve the unimaginable [a cup double] for a club that had my granddad as a player [Willie Wilson, who played before the First World War] and me and my pals as supporters for life, and for a wee town with a well-run football team to represent it on the biggest of stages in recent years.”

This is about the closest Saints fans can get to seeing their team play right now but there are hopes they will be able to get to Hampden.

It was a massive deal for Gorrie and his compatriots, Roger Ball, Molly Duncan, Onnie McIntyre, Hamish Stuart and Robbie McIntosh – two from Dundee, two from Glasgow and the other from Montrose – when they landed a contract with Atlantic Records in 1974, as the prelude to venturing Stateside and working with the likes of Ben E King and Aretha Franklin.

But Gorrie was a proud Perth positivist from his schooldays in the 1950s and nothing has changed in the intervening period.

Wilson played in the Saints’ first league match

St Johnstone joined the Scottish Football League in the 1911-12 season and Willie Wilson was among the scorers in their 4-1 victory over Arthurlie.

The Courier covered the game and praised an impressive showing from the Perth club who played at the Recreation Grounds, adjacent to the South Inch, until the construction of Muirton Park in 1924.

St Johnstone have proved themselves worthy of inclusion in the Second Division and were in splendid form during a runaway victory against Arthurlie.

The large crowd which filled the Recreation Grounds kept up a continuous cheer as goal after goal fell to the victorious Saints.

At one period in the game, just after Arthurlie equalised, the persistent attacks of the visitors caused some anxiety to the home supporters who exhorted their team to ‘Waken up’.

But the Saints have got together a very capable side and disported themselves well. The three new half-backs are likely to prove a stiff hurdle for opposing forwards and Page hit it off nicely with Willie Wilson, the Dunning youth who opened the season in terrific style with a goal.”

Alan Gorrie recalled: “There was a picture of him from the 1911 team photograph at Station Park – he was in the front row, in the No 7 position, sitting behind a giant Quaich.

“They wore blue and white hoops back then.”

It was another time, another era. But Gorrie has never forgotten his family association to his blessed Saints.

How the Average White Band took America by storm with ‘Pick Up the Pieces’

Perth & Kinross – The Courier