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Morris praises 'shrewd' Brown for setting up Saints day

HAD things worked out slightly different for Jody Morris, it could have been him rather than Tommy Wright leading St Johnstone out on Saturday for their first Scottish Cup final.

Jody Morris will be rooting for St Johnstone on Saturday
Jody Morris will be rooting for St Johnstone on Saturday

Morris was a surprising but intriguing signing for the Perth club in February 2008, what was initially meant to be a short-term move evolving into a successful four-year stint. When towards the end of that stay manager Derek McInnes was lured away to Bristol City, an opportunity to succeed his former Millwall team-mate seemed to present itself to Morris.

He and Alex Cleland took temporary charge of running the team before the St Johnstone board plumped for Steve Lomas instead.

When Lomas then moved on to Millwall last summer, the baton was passed on to his assistant, Wright. And now a place in St Johnstone folklore beckons.

Morris, though, has no regrets about how things turned out. Now working as a coach in the Chelsea set-up, he is honest enough to admit that the chance probably came too soon for him. "When Del left, Steve Brown [the St Johnstone chairman] asked me if it was something I wanted to do," he said. "I was training and still captain of the club. I took the team with Eck [Cleland] for three weeks but I was still only 33 and it was too early for me.

"I didn't want to sacrifice the playing side and not give my all to the managerial side. It was the wrong time. Steve asked me if I wanted to go for it, but it was in the interests of myself and the club that I didn't. Steve Lomas came in and did a good job and Tommy Wright has gone to another level entirely by getting to a cup final. Steve and his dad [Geoff] have a record in appointing very good managers."

It was the Browns that Morris first thought of when he heard St Johnstone had reached the final. "When you think of the hard work and dough the Brown family has put in and the way Geoff had run the club for years when others struggled financially, he's proved to be a shrewd businessman. Steve has carried on where his dad left off. I was buzzing for the family when they got to the final."

Morris, who made more than 120 first-team appearances as a Chelsea player, is honest enough to admit that he was not convinced when McInnes first suggested joining him in the Scottish first division, especially after having turned down Rangers in the past.

"Of course I was sceptical. I'd had a couple of opportunities before in my career to come to Scotland.

"In my early days at Chelsea there was talk of a swap deal with Barry Ferguson - then it was Rangers, that would be great. Or if it was Celtic then fine. But I didn't know much about St Johnstone. I got to know Derek McInnes at Millwall and when he asked me to come up it wasn't something that I fancied doing.

"But I'd been out the game so long with injury and never had a club, I thought I'd come up for a few games. I enjoyed it so much, though. I enjoyed playing in the league, I enjoyed the competition and I ended up staying for four and a half years and thoroughly enjoyed my time.

"I now keep up with the league, as once you are affiliated to a league you get a feeling for it. I'd like it to improve and a bit of funding would help the players."

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