Iain Russell: It’s not life and death, but football can hurt . .

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“Someone said to me ‘To you football is a matter of life or death!’ and I said ‘Listen, it’s more important than that’” – Bill Shankly.

Now contrary to this statement every footballer will tell you that this is not true.

There are so many occasions in each of our lives when football is put into perspective and shows us all it’s only a game.

I do understand though that it is important in regards to paying mortgages, and supporting players’ families, not to mention the joy and pain it gives fans.

This funny old game can play with your emotions and there is never really a time when you are not either feeling on top of the world, or really low.

It is such a passionate sport and especially in Scotland where it runs in everyone’s blood. Players and fans are so committed and are in love with the beautiful game that it becomes a part of their persona.

Since joining Livingston back in June 2010 I have almost been on a constant high. I fell in love with the club on the way to winning the Second Division last season where I became Livingston’s all-time record scorer in a single league campaign.

We have started this season in similar fashion and have enjoyed relative success back in the First Division.

But Sunday’s 1-0 Ramsden’s Cup semi-final defeat at Hamilton saw me hit a low that I have not felt at Livi before. The match meant so much to me and all the players, and it was a devastating blow to come so close to reaching a final. I felt even worse considering I had a wonderful opportunity to score in the last minute to take the match to extra time. A couple of inches lower and the ball sneaks under the bar and we go into extra time on a major high. Instead it goes over, the final whistle blows and my heart sinks.

Sheer agony, and I have never felt so hurt after a match.

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many more important issues in the world than football but when that final whistle went on Sunday it didn’t feel like it.

It is easy to feel sorry for yourself, but football is unforgiving. There are so many knocks in this industry and it is hard to get back up. It can take away all your confidence in a minute and there is no hiding place when you are out on that pitch.

Yes it is a privileged job but in Scottish football nothing is handed to you on a plate, anything you get is down to desire and hard graft.