Sir Alex Ferguson has pinned his colours to the cup final mast and backed his old club St Johnstone against one-time New Firm rivals Dundee United.

"Sir Alex wrote us a lovely letter saying he's got a close affinity to the club and that he hopes we win the cup," said the St Johnstone chairman Steve Brown. "He was here as our guest earlier in the season and really enjoyed his day. He was very humble and down-to-earth when he was here.

"It was a lovely touch from him to send us his best wishes and we're really grateful Sir Alex took the time to do it."

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Although Dundee United have only won two of their nine Scottish Cup finals, this is St Johnstone's first appearance in the seasonal climax and a nervous Brown admitted: "I don't think I'll enjoy Saturday at all because I didn't enjoy the semi much. When Stevie May scored his second I couldn't take my eyes off the clock and the time seemed to stop.

"I'm just aware of how much it means to everyone, it's massive. I know how close we are but the job isn't nearly done yet. It's weird but as the chairman you feel responsible. Even though you're not on the park you still feel it's down to you. After getting through the semi it was a case of relaxing because the monkey was off our back, but quickly it turns into wanting to win the thing."