Livingston captain Jason Talbot has been through it all since his arrival from Port Vale in the summer of 2008.
From the despair of the club plunging into administration a year into his move north, to the sheer jubilation of leading his team to Petrofac Training Cup glory against Alloa almost four weeks ago.
That said, Livi have left it rather late in their bid to avoid relegation this term, a five-point deduction imposed by the SPFL in November for tax irregularities having threatened to end the club’s stay in Scottish football’s second tier for much of this season.
Nevertheless, last weekend’s terrific 4-0 win away at Raith Rovers lifted the Lions off the foot of the table for the first time in six months at the expense of Danny Lennon’s Alloa Athletic and has now given real hope that Livi can pull off what would be a miraculous escape.
With Queen of the South, who have already secured their spot in the Premiership play-offs, the visitors to the Energy Assets Arena tomorrow and the Wasps hosting Cowdenbeath, who are just a point better off than Livi in eighth, this weekend promises to be an exciting finale to the domestic season.
However, tomorrow’s clash could also signify Talbot’s final appearance in a yellow jersey as the 29-year-old, similarly to many of his team-mates, is out of contract at the end of the month. “My contract is up this month and there hasn’t been any discussions yet to extending that,” Talbot told the Evening News. “But that goes for everyone else at the club purely on the fact that we don’t know yet what division we will be playing in at this moment in time.
“Everyone’s focus is solely on surviving and making sure we’re in this league next season and that’s always been the case.
“It seems to have been a tough season ever since I’ve been with Livingston. But being captain this season has been an honour for me so it’s been about experience. There have been a lot of changes from when I first came up here at 22.
“I think it would be such an achievement for everyone at the club if we were to stay up. It’s been a real tough season so it will be down to all the hard work the boys have put in and the hours the management team have gone through as well.”
Despite having already secured fourth place and a crack at winning promotion to the top flight, the Doonhamers will be keen to take some momentum into next weekend’s first-leg clash against either Hibs or Rangers.
But, having beaten the Dumfries outfit twice already this season in both the Petrofac and League Cups, Talbot isn’t fazed by the threat James Fowler’s side poses.
“Whatever team Queens put out we know we can beat them so it doesn’t really matter what XI is out in front of us,” Talbot stressed. “Of course the results haven’t gone our way too often this season, but we’ve generally been in the position to give teams a good game.
“We’ve been showing some good form since the turn of the year but, as I said, results just haven’t gone our way. The cup win last month has certainly helped us.
“Every game has been like a cup final for the past six or seven weeks so the build up this week hasn’t really been any different to any other week we’ve experienced.
“I’ve certainly not seen any extra nerves throughout training this week where it was more obvious before the cup final if I’m being honest. Everyone knows how a big a game tomorrow is and what we need to do. We’re hoping there is going to be a good turnout from our fans.”
A Livingston victory tomorrow wouldn’t be enough to avoid a relegation play-off semi-final with League 1’s Brechin City should the Blue Brazil grind out a win of their own at the Indodrill Stadium. But Talbot says the club is just grateful to still be in with a chance given the adversity this year.
He said: “We’ve been at the bottom for so long so it’s been great this week to see ourselves finally off that spot. But we just need to focus on tomorrow and do what we need to do as results elsewhere will take care of themselves.
“We haven’t even looked beyond tomorrow. You can’t look too far ahead so none of us have even really thought about the play-offs. But we’ll take it if it comes if that’s where we end up.”
Contrary to rumours about Talbot being on the brink of quitting the game in wake of his much-publicised tackle on Hearts’ Sam Nicholson earlier in the season, he said: “I never ever thought about hanging up my boots or anything like that. I basically distanced myself from what was going around on social media and said what I needed to say at the time on it, so that’s it as far as I am concerned.”