When Alex Totten, the St Johnstone Manager, signed Roddy Grant from Cowdenbeath on 6th October 1988 ( paying a £12,000 fee ) little will he have realised that the 22 year old would eventually turn into a Saints legend.
Roddy made his debut two days later in a 2 – 1 defeat by Falkirk at Brockville in front of 3,779 fans.
Saints team that day was: – John Balavage, Kenny Thomson, Don McVicar, Doug Barron, Paul Cherry, Gary Thompson, Sammy Johnston, Tommy Coyle, Steve Maskrey, Roddy Grant, Ian Heddle. Subs: – Stuart Sorbie and Billy Spence. Goalscorer was Sammy Johnston.
First Division Saints reached the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup that season and were held to a 0 – 0 draw by Rangers at Celtic Park in a match that saw Roddy give Richard Gough and Terry Butcher an extremely uncomfortable afternoon. Rangers had a multi million pounds team and won the replay 4 – 0 the following Tuesday.
The 1989/90 season would see Saints move to McDiarmid Park and the brand new surroundings gave everyone a tremendous boost. Roddy had an exceptional season scoring 19 goals in 39 appearances as Saints stormed to promotion, ending the season as Division 1 Champions.
One of the finest Saints games ever seen was against Airdrie at McDiarmid Park on 31 March 1990. Both teams were vying for the one automatic promotion place and this game was virtually a title decider. Airdrie had stunned the Saints fans in the 10,170 crowd when they took the lead with a brilliant individual goal by Gray on 70 minutes. However, Mark Treanor equalised from the penalty spot 6 minutes later after Steve Maskrey had been brought down in the box. The stadium erupted when Roddy put Saints 2 – 1 ahead on 86 minutes with a bullet header and Kenny Ward made certain with a third goal in injury time. An unforgettable match.
His undoubted abilities were recognised when he was awarded the April 1990 B & Q First Division Super Skills Award.
The 1990/91 Premier League season would throw up another classic match. This time it was Aberdeen at McDiarmid Park. Going into the game Saints record against the Dons was nothing short of abysmal. In the previous ten matches in both League and Cup going back to 1976 Saints had lost all 10 failing to score a single goal and conceding 24 in the process. So the elation when Saints trounced their opponents 5 – 0 was incredible. Roddy started the rout with the first goal in 17 minutes and scored again in the second half.
In the summer of 1992 he was transferred to Dunfermline Athletic alongwith goalkeeper Lindsay Hamilton as part of the deal that brought Andy Rhodes to Perth.
In that first stage of his St Johnstone career he had made 119 starts plus 20 subs and scored 35 goals.
After a period of 3 years awaywhen he played for both the Pars and Partick Thistle he came back “home” when Manager Paul Sturrock did an exchange with Harry Curran moving to Firhill.
Saints team had changed significantly during the intervening period and when he made his first start on 12 August 1995 against Dundee in a 2 – 0 home defeat the team lined up as: – Alan Main, John McQuillan, Euan Donaldson, Paul Cherry, Davie Irons, Kevin McGowne, Philip Scott, Danny Griffin, Kevin Twaddle, Roddy Grant, Alan Preston. Subs Stephen Robertson, Gary Farquhar, Ian Ferguson. Attendance 5,236.
Season 1996/97 would be another memorable Season for both the club and Roddy personally. Sturrock had created a special team with a lovely blend of experience and youth which would be the foundation of greater things in years to come.
Following a surprise 1 – 0 defeat from Stranraer in the Challenge Cup Final the team went on a run of 15 consecutive League matches without loss. This included 7 successive games without conceding a goal and yet another unforgettable match.
McDiarmid Park was again the venue, this time for the visit of Dundee on New Year’s Day 1997. A fantastic second half performance would see Saints ultimately thrash their Tayside neighbours 7 – 2 with Roddy notching 2 of the goals. Strangely, it was only 1 – 1 at half time and there had been no real indication in that first 45 minutes of what would unfold in the second period. Roddy’s second goal in the 51st minute very much opened the flood gates as Saints swept their opponents away.
The team that remarkable day was: – Alan Main, John McQuillan, Allan Preston, John O’Neil, Jim Weir, Danny Griffin, Nick Dasovic, Steve Tosh, Roddy Grant, Philip Scott, Leigh Jenkinson. Subs: Euan Donaldson, George O’Boyle, Attila Sekerlioglu. Goalscorers were Roddy ( 2 ), Jenkinson (2), Tosh, Scott and O’Boyle. Attendance 7,087.
Roddy would end the Season as Saints top scorer with 26 goals in all competitions as they ran away with the First Division, finishing Champions, some 20 points ahead of second placed Airdrie.
In recognition of his performances his peers in the Scottish Professional Footballers Association voted him as the First Division Player of the Year.
A most prestigious award.
The next two Seasons would see both Sturrock and subsequently Sandy Clark using him more sparingly as he came off the bench nearly as often as he started matches.
One such occasion was the Final of the 1998 League Cup which Saints lost 2 – 1 to Rangers at Celtic Park. Nevertheless he still managed to finish top scorer in that 1998/99 campaign as Saints finished 3rd in the Premier League to qualify for the following season’s UEFA Cup.
He would make substitute appearances against VPS Vaasa away ( 1 – 1 ) and home ( 2 – 0 ) and against AS Monaco home ( 3 – 3 ).
His final appearance came on 27 October 1999 when he replaced George O’Boyle in a 1 – 0 home defeat by Dundee United.
In total Roddy Grant made 291 ( 222 + 69 subs ) appearances which puts him 8th in the all time appearance records.
The 79 goals that he scored places him 7th in the all time goalscoring records.
During his Saints career he registered 2 hat tricks.
Firstly, in 1990 in a 4 – 0 home win over Ayr United and again in 1996 in the 4 – 2 Challenge Cup semi final victory over Montrose. He also played in the Challenge Cup Final against Stranraer that year.
As a reward for his loyal service, in 1999/2000, he was awarded a Testimonial year including a match in which Coventry City provided the opposition.
In 2012 “The Legend” was appointed an Associate Director forging a close link between the club and the fans.
The ever popular, Roddy Grant, was inducted into the St Johnstone Hall of Fame on Saturday night, an award that he very richly deserves.