CONOR RAMSAY could have been forgiven for feeling jealous.

After all, it could have been him frolicking across the Hampden turf on Sunday; him enjoying the acclaim of the Paisley punters later that evening; or him being heralded as the second coming in the town's pubs on Monday afternoon. Instead, the 20-year-old watched from the periphery, part of the celebrations as a St Mirren employee and supporter but distinct from those he once considered colleagues.

For some, regrets would ruin the revelry. Not Ramsay. His ambitions were sated simply by playing for his hometown club, however fleetingly, and nothing could dilute his delight at their Scottish Communities Cup final victory. "Sunday was probably the best night out I've ever had," he says. "I don't remember much about it but I know I enjoyed it at the time because I was gubbed on Monday."

That was one thing he did retain in common with his former team-mates, players such as Kenny McLean and John McGinn, with whom he came through the youth ranks at St Mirren, and others, such as David Barron, David Van Zanten, Lee Mair and Mark McAusland, with whom he shared a dressing room after making his debut at the age of 16. It would be easy to be envious, to bemoan the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that hindered his development and deprived him of a stake in their success, but Ramsay refuses to be rueful. "I would be lying if I said I didn't wish it was me, but seeing them do so well inspires me to keep on playing and try to get back to a higher level," says the Johnstone Burgh forward.

Ramsay could also reference Kevin McHattie and Jamie Walker, both members of the defeated Hearts team and team-mates of his in the Scotland under-17 side, along with Fraser Fyvie, Dylan McGeouch and Islam Feruz. The stocky striker was a standout in that age-group squad, having already played in the Premier League, but his star burned brightly and briefly. Five appearances for St Mirren – one in Paisley – were all that he managed during a three-month stint under Gus MacPherson, his final outing coming before his 17th birthday. "Just coming on the park was what I had built my whole life up to do," he says, wistfully.

Eventually, he was released at the age of 18. "I kept on getting injuries and I wasn't fit when Danny Lennon came in," he explains. "He had his own ideas and I never fitted in with what he was trying to do and his style of play. The likes of Kenny and John were really good technical players but I was more of a worker, someone who would run for 90 minutes. I always knew they were miles ahead. It's not that I thought I didn't deserve to be involved but just never really saw myself as a first-team player."

It was perhaps that realisation which fuelled Ramsay's enthusiasm for the Modern Apprenticeship qualification he undertook while on the club's staff. Emerging with an SVQ, he earned a living with two or three companies and spent a short spell with Morton – playing once, last April – before discovering St Mirren were seeking a community development officer. His background and qualifications made him ideal.

Several months down the line, Ramsay now helps deliver Street Stuff, a youth diversionary programme run in partnership between St Mirren, Renfrewshire Council, Strathclyde Police, McGill's Buses, Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, Engage Renfrewshire and Reid Kerr College. Attracting more than 20,000 youngsters a year, the concept is simple: the club's coaches take a bus, boasting computers, musical equipment and fitness machines, around local schemes at night and either invite kids in or kick a ball around with them. Consequently, disorder has dropped by between 18% and 40% .

"A lot of them maybe would be out doing daft things because they're bored, not because they're bad kids," says Ramsay. "They all want to be your best pal and get involved and I know where they're coming from and what they're all about because it was me not that long ago, the wee guy growing up in Dykebar who wanted someone to play football with or to talk to for a wee bit of advice.

"I see really good players in the schemes who haven't been noticed or aren't with a team for some reason and I can maybe pass on that wee bit of knowledge or just give them a bit of encouragement to give it a go. There are a lot of great players out there but they get involved in mischief with their pals. I just tell them not to do anything daft and to always have a ball at their feet. You get a good feeling from that, almost as good as I get from playing, and I'd love nothing more than to see one of those boys being picked up by St Mirren."

Nothing except perhaps the same thing happening to himself. Ramsay still harbours ambitions of a return to the senior game, his goalscoring form for Johnstone Burgh having already caught the attention of Super League clubs, and he sees no reason why he cannot strive for a return to a higher level. Hampden finals might be out of reach, but the experience has proved inspirational.