FOOTBALL can be a cruel game at times and Murray Davidson knows all about it. 

The midfielder was absent from St Johnstone’s Scottish Cup triumph in 2014 following knee surgery and this year he missed out on the Perth outfit’s League Cup heroics due to a calf knock. 

Trophies do not come round all that often for St Johnstone and it would have been easy for Davidson to admit defeat and give up hope of playing in a national final. 

But despite his obvious disappointment, the combative McDiarmid Park player has been determined to regain his fitness before the current season reached an end. 

While Davidson has been working hard behind the scenes his teammates have miraculously guided themselves into a second semi-final of the season. 

And once again, the 33-year-old is just two games away from righting the wrongs of the past.

Davidson made a cameo appearance against Hibs at Easter Road at the weekend and it was an important first step with a last four tie against St Mirren to come this Sunday. 

“It felt really good to get back out there. It’s been a long time coming,” he explained. “We’ve taken our time because obviously there was the set-back the last time which ruled me out of the cup final. 

“We didn’t want that to happen again. It’s been day by day, monitoring my workload and it was great to finally have something to look forward to waking up on a Saturday morning. 

 “I hate missing football games. There’s nothing worse than knowing you’re going to be sat in the stand. 

“I’ve been itching to get back but for once I’ve been pretty sensible and saying to myself at times: ‘Just relax a wee bit’. Last week it was one day on, one day off. Then we upped it to two and one. 

“The technology monitors everything these days, which has been a big benefit. Myself and the sports scientist Bod (Alex Headrick) have been looking at it every day and upping the sprints and distances.  

“We’ve been checking my heart-rate percentages – everything basically. It’s been brilliant for me. Maybe as I get older I’m getting a wee bit more sensible!” 

On the heartache of missing two finals in the past, Davidson continued: “I’ve been asked so many times about the Scottish Cup final I missed. That wasn’t too hard. Yes, it was sad to miss it but I’d been out for six months.  

“Round by round I knew I wasn’t going to be part of it. I had myself mentally prepared that I wouldn’t be playing that final. But to play the semi-final against Hibs [this year], beat them so convincingly and then be ruled out of the final not long after was very hard. 

“You can’t understand what it is like for a player to miss a final until it’s happened to you. Watching the game is so difficult and it’s the same after it.  

“You’re happy for so many people – the players, the manager, the chairman, the fans – but there’s a part of you that says: ‘I missed that’. It’s the human side to it all. 

“It was really difficult and there were a few days I struggled. I switched my phone off and told my mum and dad and the rest of my family not to speak to me. They left me alone. 

“But I got over it and, looking back, I know there are far more important things going on in the world than me missing a cup final. 

“I was more disappointed for my family. They were buzzing to see me win the semi-final. My wee girl (Summer), all of my friends, they were all so happy because I was going to get the chance to play in a cup final. I’m being 100% truthful here – I was more disappointed for them than myself.” 

St Johnstone fans are dreaming of a historic cup double this season but Davidson insists the players are under no illusion of the task at hand. 

He added: “There’s nothing better for a player than to have a semi-final to look forward to. We’ve already seen this season how special they are if you win one. 

“In the week before cup final week I thought I was going to make it. The match was probably two or three days too soon but because I was so close we had to go for it. 

“It was the last minute of what I was doing in training on the Wednesday that I knew it wasn’t going to happen and I remember the manager saying to me that we’ll just need to make sure we get to the Scottish Cup final. 

“There’s only four teams left, the Scottish Cup is up for grabs and we’re one of the four who has a chance of winning the trophy. We know it’s going to be a tough game on Sunday but we’ve shown already this season that if we play well we’re a match for anyone. 

“Now we’re one game away from it. That Betfred Cup final is gone and we’re all focused on getting to this one now. The whole place has got a buzz about it.”