BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
SCOTT PITTMAN is not a player prone to superstition. However, he confesses to a sense of trepidation when his father, former Partick Thistle star Steve, declared it was ‘written in the stars’ that his lad would net the winning goal against the Jags.
A sure-fire way to jinx the biggest game his career, the Livi midfielder feared.
He need not have worried. As has been the case all season, Pittman Jr turned in a splendid display against the men from Maryhill; hustling, harrying and setting the tone for another performance of physicality, intensity and the occasional dash of quality in the final third from the Lions.
The 26-year-old converted a superb delivery from Josh Mullin to give Livi a precious 2-1 lead going into Sunday’s Premiership play-off second leg at Firhill, affording Thistle supporters a blast from the past as they were faced with an uncertain future.
Pittman Sr, a tough-tackling left-back in his time, remains highly thought of at Partick following two years at the club, during which he played under the late, great John Lambie and even represented them in the Intertoto Cup.
He also turned out for sides as varied as Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Pumpherston, and won three caps for the United States in a career that could be understatedly described as varied.
“My mum told me before the match that my dad had said that it was written in the stars for me to score the winner,” smiled Pittman. “I actually didn’t think it would happen.
“I’m not superstitious but I feared that he had jinxed me!
“I will need to ask him his prediction before the second leg – hopefully he tips me to score again.
“My dad was watching the game on Thursday night. He’s not been telling me too much about his Thistle days before the match, he just wished me all the best before the game. But I remember being at a few when I was maybe five or six.
“He’s been a big influence on me. He was my manager when I was playing junior football for three years [at Broxburn] and has helped me along the way. I’m so grateful.”
There are no shortage of astonishing tales amid this overachieving Livingston side, which started the campaign with one of the lowest budgets in the Championship, simply seeking to avoid the drop in their first season following promotion from League 1.
Few are more remarkable than Pittman, however. Just three-and-a-half years ago, he was playing in the Junior ranks with Broxburn Athletic before joining Bo’ness. In that period he was juggling his football commitments with a day job in groundworks on Lothian roads.
The former Alloa youngster readily admits he thought his chances of carving a career in full-time football had gone.
“It feels quite surreal,” he continued. I was playing there [at Juniors level] so long that you begin to think you are not going to get a move.
“I was only 18 when I went to the Juniors and it definitely toughened me up.
“Then my time came and I got my move and it was great. I’ve been working hard and it’s been some journey from Juniors, to League One, and now the brink of the Premiership.
“It’s been a crazy journey. I never dreamed of being in this position.”
However, if Pittman’s unique career path has taught him anything, it is not to take anything for granted – and he is acutely aware that it is still only half-time against Partick as Livi seek to complete their ‘miracle’ rise.
“We have given ourselves an opportunity but it’s not done yet,” he added. “It’s a massive game on Sunday but the boys will be ready for it.
“We just need to give it everything on Sunday and hopefully that’s good enough to take this club into the Premiership.
“Our aim was just to finish eighth but we started the season quite well and we kicked on. We’ve stayed around the play-off positions all season and I think it would be a minor miracle if we got there.”
Pittman’s extraordinary work ethic, tough tackling and fitness have made him indispensable to this Livingston outfit and, perhaps more than any other player, he exemplifies a squad who are considerably more than the sum of their parts.
“It was a fantastic cross from Josh Mullin and a great goal from Scott Pittman on Thursday,” lauded Livi boss David Hopkin. “Scott could’ve scored another great goal soon after that, when he ran past three or four players. His fitness levels are just incredible.”