Upon their return, Cunningham learned he had been selected to represent Ireland against England.
It was a whirlwind start to the 1952/53 campaign for a player who was affectionately known as ‘Irish’ at Love Street.
Although St Mirren were on the crest of a wave in the early 1950s and enthusiasm was high amongst the Paisley faithful, a recently-formed Shareholders’ Association had started to take a keen interest in the administrative side of the club’s activities.
A meeting was held at the Co-operative Hall, in Causeyside Street, and a full attendance from members was requested by organisers.
There was some very important domestic business on the agenda but members were also set to pay tribute to the players for their tremendous form.
One of the items on the agenda was the news that permission had been granted for the Supporters’ Association to broadcast home games to local hospitals.
Meanwhile, in those days, it was normal for a manager to select his team for a game ... only to then be overruled by the board of directors.
And one such occasion arose in November, when manager Bobby Rankin selected Peter Rice for the game against Celtic.
Unfortunately, the directors preferred Tommy Anderson .. and Rice was left kicking his heels in frustration in the stand.
It looked like the board may have made a blunder as Saints lost 2-1 against the Hoops but the team bounced straight back with two wins and two draws from their next four games – six points that helped them to the top of the Scottish First Division.
As the squad entered December, disappointment wasn’t far away.
Defeat at Airdrie brought an abrupt halt to a stunning 14-game unbeaten run and proved to be a catalyst for a negative change in fortunes.
An injury to Cunningham restricted his appearances to just a dozen, while further injuries and suspensions to key players put paid to any hopes Saints had of bagging the league title.
In the final analysis, they finished in sixth place – still a credible finish but disappointing when you consider where they had been at the turn of the year.
One footnote to a rather interesting campaign was the departure of St Mirren’s exciting Polish import Alfie Lesz.
Transfer-listed for £3,000, he complained about what he believed to be an over-inflated fee being sought for his services – but St Mirren refused to budge.
Lesz subsequently joined Worcester City, whose non-league status meant they didn’t have to pay any transfer fee at all!