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Friendship forged in the army sees St Johnstone fans adopt English club

A friendship forged in the army has resulted in an unlikely footballing affiliation for a Perth father and son.

As well as being die-hard St Johnstone supporters, Craig Donald and son Jayden now follow the fortunes of English League Two side Colchester United.

The Eagles have been taken under the Fair City pair’s wings as a result of Craig’s friendship with old military pal Ian Murphy, who hails from Colchester originally but now lives in Southend.

Craig (47) explained he lost touch with Ian (53) years ago after mistakenly being told he had died while serving in the Bosnian War, but the friends have since reconnected after contacting each other through social media.

Craig explained to the Perthshire Advertiser : “The pair of us joined basic training in 1991 – Ian was in A Troop and I was in B Troop in the Royal Corps of Transport.

“When I eventually got sent to my first unit, 47 Air Dispatch, Ian was already there as a clerk and I recognised him from doing the basic training and we got on from there.

“We wrote to each other a few times over the years. Ian then flew out to Bosnia during the war over there and I was told contact had been made and that he’d died.”

Craig continued: “It was different back in those days. There wasn’t the same ways of keeping in touch with folk as there is now – you just got on with things.

“About 14 or 15 years ago, I saw Ian’s name come up on social media so I wrote to him and we got back in touch through the power of Facebook.

“Ian’s a Colchester fan. I’ve sent him St Johnstone stuff at Christmas – he’s got more Saints tops than me now.”

Craig and 13-year-old Jayden – a talented Newburgh Juniors 07 player and kickboxer with Perth’s Style Combat Fitness – met up with Ian recently during a family holiday in London and travelled to take in Colchester’s match against Northampton Town at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Lorry driver Craig was full of praise for both Ian and The Us’ team of staff behind the scenes, particularly communications manager David Gregory, as Jayden was given a mention over the tannoy at half-time and included in the matchday programme during what was their first time seeing the Essex side.

Social media has also been used to form a connection with Colchester forward Frank Nouble after Craig contacted him to offer support in the wake of the former West Ham man being subjected to vile racist abuse online.

Nouble has since said he wants to meet the Perth pair the next time they are watching his team in action to express his gratitude for their show of solidarity.

On the game itself, Craig added: “Jayden was buzzing. It was brilliant – really, really, good.

“Colchester got beat 1-0 but they were pushing right to the end and throwing everyone forward so the buzz was there. Jayden and I were up singing and they had the drum going. The atmosphere was great.

“Without a doubt I’ve adopted them as my English team. It’s St Johnstone and Col U for me from now on.”

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