He's only been there a week but Callum Booth is loving life as a Spartan

Callum Booth admits joining high-flying Spartans ticked all the boxes as he begins to turn his attention to life after the beautiful game.
Callum Booth was thrust straight into the Spartans line-up at Peterhead last weekend. Picture: Mark Brown.Callum Booth was thrust straight into the Spartans line-up at Peterhead last weekend. Picture: Mark Brown.
Callum Booth was thrust straight into the Spartans line-up at Peterhead last weekend. Picture: Mark Brown.

The 32-year-old has left a full-time relegation battle with Premiership outfit St Johnstone for the upper echelons of League Two, signing on loan at Ainslie Park until the end of the season.

And Booth, a 2021 League and Scottish Cup winner with Saints, made an immediate impact, playing 90 minutes in the Capital outfit's 1-0 victory at Peterhead last weekend, the club's fifth consecutive win in all competitions.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The left-sided full-back's game-time had been limited over the course of the last 18 months due to injury, but Booth is determined to make the most of an opportunity at a club that continues to excel in its maiden season in the SPFL.

"I've not had my luck with injuries over the last while and when I had another little setback in pre-season it started to prey on my mind that maybe part-time would be something that suits me," Booth said in an exclusive interview with the Evening News. "I've been full-time since I left school at 16 so I think, in a way, it was my body telling me something.

"Spartans ticked all the boxes. I've also got my own business as well so that takes up a lot of time. Trying to juggle that, as well as being a dad, it takes it toll when you're injured and not playing, not to mention the travelling up to Perth every day. But I still love playing football and want to play for as long as I can and if I can stay injury-free and with less travelling, things can hopefully work in my favour.

"I met the manager (Dougie Samuel) and the chairman (Craig Graham) and it all fell into place. Looking from the outside in, I always thought Spartans was a club on the way up and with it being local, it really suits all parties.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"I can understand why a lot of footballers that are of a similar age might struggle with the thought of winding down but I've always been told by my dad that I need something when the time does come to hang up the boots. I've always been prepared that this day will come so I've tried to plan for it the best I can. I've only been in a week but it seems the part-time side of things is really going to suit me so I'm loving it."

Booth, who started his career at boyhood heroes Hibs, before moving onto Partick Thistle and Dundee United, admits he still gets goosebumps reflecting on the McDiarmid Park outfit's heroic Scottish and League Cup double in in 2021. And although Hampden was empty with the country still grappling with the Covid pandemic, both against Livingston in February and Hibs three months later, the former Scotland Under-21 internationalist still finds the club's achievement difficult to comprehend.

"That season will never be replicated at St Johnstone so it was an amazing time," he said. "The two or three years around that period was so enjoyable as we had such a great team, and I'm still friends with a lot of them, some of the boys who ended up getting moves down south.

"It was strange having no crowd there but it was something we got used to. By the time the finals came about it had become the norm. I remember standing in the shower after the Scottish semi-final and I got the shivers just thinking that I was about to play in a Scottish Cup final.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"And being a Hibs fan myself growing up and that it was going to be against them was just crazy. It was strange facing Hibs as me and my dad used to follow them home and away when I was younger.

"I was a proper fan and loved the club. But once you're in the moment in the week up to the match, it could have been anyone as you're so focused that it didn't matter what team was in front of you.

"When the final whistle goes it's a bit different because I'm still good friends with the likes of (Paul) Hanlon and (Lewis) Stevenson but we'd had the upper hand on Hibs that whole season. Even in the final itself they didn't really play well. I still pinch myself sometimes when out in the car and you think back to that game."

With Spartans currently occupying third in Scottish football's fourth tier, not to mention a mouthwatering Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against city rivals Hearts at Ainslie Park to come next weekend, Booth has signed on the dotted line just at the right time.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said: "I'm sure the plan would have just been to consolidate this season and that probably is still the case, but the team are doing so well. To be up in the play-off positions is great and into the fourth round of the Scottish Cup is a real bonus too. It probably couldn't have gone much better so it's great to have joined a club who are doing so well. The boys have been absolutely brilliant. There's just such a good feel about the place.

"It's amazing for the club with the Hearts game being live on TV next weekend. It's a sell-out so to have one of the big Edinburgh teams come to Ainslie Park, we can't wait. The guys have done great to get here as you can't forget about them beating Arbroath in the last round.

"We're on a good run, Hearts will be coming back from the winter break but they'll obviously be strong favourites. Lawrence Shankland is a fantastic striker, whether he plays in our game or not I'm not sure, but if he does it's great for us as a team to come up against a player of that magnitude and a Scotland international.

"But we've got a big test on Saturday against the league leaders Stenhousemuir to focus on first. I was speaking to the manger on Tuesday night and he was saying the two previous matches have been fairly close. They're so far ahead and on a great run but it's probably the ideal match heading into the Hearts game in terms of preparation. But we're on a good run ourselves so we'll be confident too."