My Team & I: Ross County

By John Maxwell

Twitter: @johnamaxwell



Why Ross County?

I was 9 years old when County were admitted to the Scottish Football League (SFL), which was perfect timing for a young boy getting into football post-World Cup ’94. The World Cup, as it is for many young people around the globe, was the catalyst for my fascination in the sport.

Ross County, being the local team when I moved to Dingwall in ’93, caught the imagination with the feeling of adventure around the club. This was at a time when their ambitions to progress through the leagues were apparent and there was a lot of money, for the Third Division at least, being spent at the club.

Favourite Player

Ross County have had a number of cult heroes in their short history in professional football.

These include Karim Boukraa, the enigmatic playmaker who controlled the midfield in a cup tie against Rangers; Mark McCulloch, the epitome of professionalism; and current Scotland international player and local lad Don Cowie, among others.

My favourite player is Michael Gardyne, who is in the current squad.

‘Midge’ is a classic Scottish inside-forward, who would not look out of place in a Scotland team from the late Victorian/Edwardian period. Scotland had a tradition of players with low centre of gravity, short passing and slaloming runs.  This tradition was arguably the country’s most proud sporting export at the time. Midge is probably the only forward currently in the SFL who can still be described in this manner

I never used to be so keen on Gardyne, who in his loan spell from Celtic in 2006-07 looked an immature, selfish player who invariably made the wrong decision, amongst scoring the odd twenty-yarder.

Now, he is a marvel to watch when he is at his best. He runs with the ball directly towards and beyond defenders; makes reverse passes inside full-backs; drags centre-backs out of position and he shoots at goal with little back-lift.

Tactically, it is always interesting to watch his movement. He is one of a few players in the First Division who plays ‘between the lines’, that is he is neither a midfielder nor a centre-forward. There are not many teams that prepare their formations to account for a classic number 10, so he often finds plenty space to run in key areas of the pitch.

Favourite Kit

Without doubt, it has to be the late 90s home strip; the first that I owned. It reminded me of a butcher’s uniform!

I remember going to the ground the day after Boxing day 1997 with my father to purchase that shirt, after being gifted some money over Christmas. The person who greeted us at the stadium’s reception was delighted to help us, but required the keys to the club shop.

An impromptu tour of the stadium followed, with my father and I following the chap to the manager’s office; to the players’ changing rooms; through the tunnel and then along the pitch to find the caretaker who was holding on to the keys. That, more than anything, made me feel part of the community affiliated with the club.

Worst Thing about Being a Ross County Fan?

I think it has to be the geography in travelling to away games. Most opposing clubs range from 120 miles to over 200 miles away. Due to the soaring costs in travel and over-priced tickets for SFL football, it is difficult to get to more than a couple of away games per season.

Favourite Game

Ross County won 2-0 against Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final on 10 April ’10.

To quote then Ross County manager Derek Adams:

“We were listening to people discussing this game on radio this morning and we were told not to come, that Celtic had already won the Cup,” said Derek Adams, Ross County’s manager. “That kind of thing riles you. We went out and played Celtic off the park.

“You have to show the utmost respect to anybody who plays in a semi-final – I think we have earned that now and shut a few people up.”

Favourite Moment

Ross County then went on to lose to Dundee United in the final, but my favourite moment as a County fan comes from the build-up to the game.

The centre of Glasgow was buzzing on the morning of the final. It was a rare experience, not only for supporters of Ross County, but for the city: fans coming together, enjoying the day and making the most of the event for what it was.

Having strangers approach me in town and wishing me well for the day is not something I am accustomed to. Seeing a multitude of Ross County supporters in the footballing capital of Scotland was even more surreal. It was a day and an atmosphere that I will long remember!

Leave a Reply