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Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 18:15 UK

Abercromby's greatest battle

By BBC Scotland reporter John Barnes

Billy Abercromby holds the Scottish Cup
Abercromby holds the Scottish Cup aloft at the launch of his autobiography

The last St Mirren captain to lift the Scottish Cup launched his autobiography on Wednesday and hopes it could save others from suffering the way he has.

Billy Abercromby's warts-and-all story reveals how he has been to hell and back.

In the book "Aber's Gonnae Get Ye" he tells of his journey from being a Scottish Cup winner in 1987 to alcoholic, then battling back to sobriety and a new life.

Abercromby told BBC Scotland: "In doing the book it was a big step for me coming back into reality, telling people how things can go wrong in your life.

"From the highest point of my career, winning the Scottish Cup, to the depths of despair, you think there's no light at the end of the tunnel.

"I've put my cards on the table, I've been honest. There is a message out there for a lot of people, not just those in the football world, that if you've got a strong character you can beat the demons."

Abercromby, now 50, admits he was on the cusp of death after drifting out of the game and turning to drink following spells at Partick Thistle and Dunfermline.

He said: "There were a few reasons I got into that situation. Firstly dealing with life after football, even though I got my coaching badges while at Partick Thistle.

"Sir Alex Ferguson signed me straight from school when I was 16 and that was my life for 14 years and St Mirren was like a second home.

"I got a bad injury at Dunfermline under Jim Leishman and Iain Munro and after that I took to the drink.

"I had nothing to do. I just went from one big buzz to another at a much lower level.

"Although it was boredom I lived near the country and close to where I lived there was a bird sanctuary.

The doctor told me it was my decision, did I want to live or die? I chose to live

Billy Abercromby

"Every day was Groundhog day. I took to going there every day with my favourite bottle of sherry. And that was my life for nearly 10 years."

It was Abercromby's younger brother Mark, seeing the state he was in, who forced the former Buddies skipper to seek medical help.

That was on Sunday 5 August 2007, the day the SPL season kicked off.

"Mark had had enough. He told me I was dying and I said 'I know that - I'm doing my best!'"

"I got admitted to hospital," said Abercromby.

"The doctor put a camera down and showed me my liver and pointed out this wee pink spot at the end.

"He said, 'that's what you've got to live with, Mr Abercromby, that's what's keeping you alive. One more binge and it could be the end.'"

The penny finally dropped hearing the words of the doctor and prompted Abercromby to act.

He admitted: "The doctor told me it was my decision, did I want to live or die? I chose to live. It's the biggest fight I've ever had in my life and the hardest comeback and I believe I'm winning it. "

Abercromby knows he's one of the lucky ones, unlike others he met in Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow.

"The ward I was in, there were three other people. After my treatment I came out but within three months of me coming out of that ward those three people died."

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see also
Rangers to meet St Mirren in Cup
08 Mar 09 |  Scottish Cups
St Mirren 1-0 Celtic
07 Mar 09 |  Scottish Cups

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