The last time St Mirren competed in European football was during the 1987/1988 season when the club participated in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.

An untimely second-round exit would await the Buddies at the hands of Belgian outfit Mechelen and while the disappointment of crashing out was acute, there was a still sense of optimism in Paisley.

The reason for the buoyancy around St Mirren Park was down to the club no longer feeling like imposters on the continent having achieved European qualification on three separate occasions in the 1980s. In short, these were heady days in the west central Lowlands.

Going forward, the general feeling was that St Mirren’s chance in Europe would come again soon enough. For this reason, the club’s fans made sure to renew their passports for the upcoming season.

Unsurprisingly, few would have predicted that St Mirren were about to embark on a 36-year hiatus from European football.

It has undoubtedly been a harsh lesson in how nothing is ever guaranteed in the beautiful game. What’s more, the intervening years would have had even the most ardent fans questioning whether the sun would shine again on Paisley.

Chasing rainbows

Those who do not follow a football club might question the wisdom of putting so much time and energy into a pastime that ultimately doesn’t reward them. Perhaps Sheryl Crow said it best during her 1996 hit song when she remarked: ‘If it makes you happy, then why the hell are you so sad?’

At least, there are other ways of spending your free time that don’t involve traipsing across Scotland only to see your football team get beaten. Admittedly, it is a phenomenon that must seem outlandish to others.

Understandably, most of the population finds enjoyment in playing golf on iconic coastal links’, hiking in the Highlands, or even playing roulette as this Casino Alpha page points out is the number one casino game in Scotland with punters taking a particular interest in the European variant of the game.

Whatever it may be, the wider takeaway is that there are other ways of passing the time than witnessing years of underwhelming football.

While that may be correct, it is also true that there is little else in life that can eclipse the euphoria of being patient enough to see the good times return. In St Mirren’s case, they might be just around the corner again.

Every storm passes

Indeed, fast forward to 2024, and St Mirren’s ship might be about to come in once more as the Saints eye a rare Europa League Conference berth.

As of matchday 32, St Mirren trail fourth-placed Kilmarnock by just five points with six games left. The top four teams in the league standings after matchday 38 qualify for European competition.

While it may or may not happen for the Buddies, there is no disputing the fact that this season has allowed the club’s supporters to indulge in the most priceless of pastimes once again; dreaming.

Sail away

St Mirren is a club that doesn’t need reminding of how fickle football can be but 2024 has brought with it renewed optimism for the future. Finally, there is tangible evidence about why everyone puts themselves through trying times.

Whether it’s this season or next, the truth is that sooner or later, St Mirren’s ship will come in again and take their patient fans away to European shores.