It’s the 16th hole – the sun is beating down on the green and the ball is eight feet from the pin. Sink this put and we’ve won. The pressure is on and the stakes are high. He softly moves the putter like a pendulum and makes contact with the ball – it rolls towards the cup and it drops. Game over.
To be a high level sports person, you need to be a winner. You need to have that mentality to be an elite and that’s exactly what Stevie May has in abundance. Whether it’s playing in front of 47,000 people in a Scottish Cup Final or a four ball at Gleneagles – he wants to win. Thankfully, I had him as my partner on the course and we secured a 3&2 victory over our opponents, and the bragging rights back in the clubhouse.
Stevie came through the St. Johnstone youth ranks and is arguably the biggest success story from Saints’ set-up. He is now a Scottish international and has made close to 50 English Championship appearances.
He was part of the Scottish Cup-winning side, scoring twice against Aberdeen in the semi-finals before starting up front in the final – and he still fondly remembers the occasion.
“What we achieved in 2014 was incredible – not just for the team but for Perth as a whole. I’m just delighted to have played a part in it all and it’s nice that people still talk to me about it so passionately. It’s the biggest achievement in the club’s history and one that when my career is over, I can look back on with a lot of pride.”
The Scottish Cup win capped what was a fantastic season for Stevie. He scored 20 league goals and also scored in Europe against Norwegian giants, Rosenborg. It earned him his big move down south to the English Championship, first to Sheffield Wednesday and then onto Preston North End, where he still plays today.
Everything was going right for him until disaster struck against Fulham in November 2015. He suffered a knee ligament injury which ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign. A difficult set back having just joined his new club, but one he has managed to overcome.
“I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been! I know that’s what most footballers say when they are coming back from injury but it’s the truth. The medical team here have been brilliant with me and I’ve been working hard to get back to my best. The boys are playing really well just now so it’s up to me to keep working hard in training and be ready to take my chance when it comes.”
Being on the sidelines is not something that Stevie has been used to in recent seasons. However, he has had to make do with just two substitute appearances in the Championship since returning from his injury. In January it looked like he could have been on the move back up north to Scotland, but nothing materialised and he remains a Preston player
“I’m enjoying it down here. There’s a lot of quality in the league and I think I’ve improved as a player since coming down from Scotland. It’s been a great experience – my time at Sheffield Wednesday too – and I’m determined to force myself back into the first-team and start scoring goals for Preston.”
On the 18th tee, Stevie boomed his drive 250 yards down the fairway to join my ball and we looked like the perfect Ryder Cup pairing. He doesn’t often get the chance to come back home but was enjoying a day out in the Perthshire sunshine.
“It’s nice to be back – my mum and dad still live locally in Newburgh so it’s good to get the chance to come up and see them and all of my friends. We don’t get many breaks throughout the season to get away from the football!”
This break was due to the international fixtures which allowed him a few days off to come home. However, he’d rather have been pulling on the dark blue jersey of his country than spending the weekend on the golf course.
“Hopefully I can add to my cap. If I can break back into the starting line-up here and start scoring, then I’m confident I will be considered again at international level. It was an incredible experience to play for my country and to do it against England at Hampden was unforgettable. I’m proud of my cap and hopefully I can get more under my belt.”
Heading down the 18th fairway, he had a spring in his step as we had already beaten our opponents – my brother and his dad. There was no hint of injury and he looked as sharp as ever. The twenty-four-year-old is raring to go and we can expect to see his name among the goalscorers again soon and for many more years to come.