Hot Goal Time Machine: Ross County

April 30, 2014

For a description of exactly what this series is about and how the idea was formed then be sure to read the open letter at the top of our opening blog. For the rest we’ll summarise: we’ve asked a blogger from every team in the Scottish top flight to recall their favourite goal from every season since 1998. On this occasion it is the turn of Aiden Wylie who looked back over Ross County’s rise up the divisions.

98/99: Mark Haro; Brechin 0 Ross County 1; April 3, 1999

I mainly remember this season for promotion from the third division, when Neale Cooper’s side
steamrollered the opposition. I seem to recall a few five, six and even an eight goal thrashings over hapless part timers. The scorer of the goal which ultimately took us up was Mark Haro, and his goal in the dying minutes of a dreadful game to Brechin stands long in the memory. A corner from the much-travelled Paul Kinnaird, a header, and Jim Butter was beaten. It was, perhaps, merely completing the inevitable, but the travelling support went nuts. Mark Haro, as I recall, was a solidly built centre half who did little in his time at the club, other than take long throws, but his
name is fondly remembered.

99/00: George Shaw; Hamiton Academical 0 Ross County 3; April 22, 2000

Another year, another promotion for moneybags Ross County. As we had been warned, the
second division was horrendous. A bunch of mediocre teams too incompetent for the first and slightly too competent for the third. With league reconstruction, County attained promotion despite finishing third. Most of the side would quickly be jettisoned, but the goal the most stands out had more to do with off the field action than on it. Hamilton Accies had been playing at Partick Thistle and had also been deducted points due to the players, quite rightly, refusing to play. On the day Ross County could clinch promotion, we happened to be able to seal their relegation. A day of protest by the Hamilton fans finished with relegation, but the atmosphere at the game was mutually respectful and good natured – to the point that at the final whistle, the Ross County players went immediately to the “home” support, whilst Hamilton players enthusiastically applauded the County fans. The game, a 3-0 procession, was all but secured the moment George Shaw opened the scoring with a header after about ten minutes. I’ve always had a soft-spot for Accies after that day.

00/01: Alex Bone; Ross County 2 Rangers 3; Feb 18, 2001

A Sunday evening cup game, moved for the TV cameras and as a result boycotted on religious
grounds by County’s chairman saw Ross County take on Dick Advocaat’s Rangers side. The Rangers defence – Bob Malcom, Scott Wilson, Bert Konterman and Ferrnando Ricksen during one of his down seasons – gave County fans hope, but the Glasgow side also had Claudio Reyna, Tore Andre Flo and Tugay among their side. Rangers stormed to a two goal lead inside twenty minutes, but an Alex Bone double brought County right back into things. Only Stefan Klos prevented County winning this game, and although Barry Ferguson eventually sealed victory, Alex Bone’s equaliser lives long in the memory for the atmosphere it created.

01/02: Karim Boukraa; Falkirk 1 Ross County 4; Feb 2, 2002

Karim Boukraa arrived from Morton with a reputation for being sulky and lazy. As it turned out, he was neither. The shaven-headed Frenchman was one of the standouts of the season, and his goal against Falkirk may be one of the best goals I’ve ever seen in person. A struggling Falkirk side had been swept aside long before Boukraa latched on to a through ball and from 25 yards
delicately lobbed the keeper. The only time I’ve ever seen both sets of supporters applaud a goal.

02/03: Hugh Robertson; Inverness CT 1 Ross County; 5 Feb, 2003

Bloody Alex Smith. Damn him. Damn him to hell. Our overpaid, under performing squad made
very heavy weather of this season, eventually stumbling to eighth place. Half the squad was made up of Dundee United rejects like Tasos Venetis, who also scored in the midweek thumping of John Robertson’s side. Technically, this was a Stevie Hislop own goal, as Hugh Robertson smashed an indirect free kick directly at goal, taking a minimal glance off the striker who had dared to cross the bridge. Some might say karma, but Hissy’s a good guy and Robertson was credited with one of the odder goals I have ever seen.

03/04: Steven McGarry; Inverness CT 3 Ross County 3; Nov 14, 2003

Bloody Alex Smith. Curse him. Curse him to high heavens. Our overpaid bunch of former SPL
players should have had the league on toast, but draw after draw after draw meant a mediocre fourth placed finish. One of those draws came in Inverness, and from 3-0 down. Into injury time, and with County pushing for the leveller, McGarry found himself on the end of a cross and volleyed into the top corner. An absolute stunner, which turned a horrible, horrible night into a beautiful one, and secured McGarry a place in County folklore.

04/05: David Winters; Falkirk 2 Ross County 1; Nov 7, 2004

This trip down memory lane is really beginning to drag me down. The Alex Smith years really were a complete waste of everyone’s time. During season 2004-05 nothing good happened and nobody scored any goals. The Smith malaise had struck, and I spent the year in hibernation. Somehow, we made it to the Challenge Cup Final. Somehow, David Winters scored. Somehow, I managed to remember it. A horrible, scrappy, messy goal. David Winters was always a nearly man for County. Good player, never quite clicked.

05/06: John Rankin; Ross County 3 Dundee 0; Nov 19, 2005

I must admit that I had to acquire some help for the 2005/6 season – our management merry-go round saw John Robertson take the helm, briefly, then leave to be replaced by Gardner Spiers. On the pitch things were pretty nondescript and my memories of this season are vague at best. John Rankin was the divisional player of the year, as I recall, and the performance that sticks in my mind is a perfect hat-trick against Dundee.The third, a rare headed goal, was fairly unremarkable, other than it served to complete the set.

06/07: Jason Crooks; Ross County 1 Clyde 1; Nov 12, 2006

Right. A whole season and the only goal I can recall is a penalty. Well, that’s Scott Leitch’s legacy
for you. Under Leitch Ross County became the first team to lose 37 games in a 36 game season. Or at least that is how it felt at the time. I was at University in Glasgow, so thankfully I didn’t have to put up with much of that rubbish in the flesh. But young Jason Crooks scoring the winning penalty brought some relief from a turgid league campaign. Crooks and Craig Gunn were the two big youth products of that year, forced into the team by Alex Smith’s gross overspending.   I’m sure this is one of Crooks’ best memories from his brief professional career.

07/08: Stewart Petrie; Ayr 1 Ross County 4; Aug 20, 2007

Ah, now this is more like it. Derek Adams began his rise to prominence shortly into a season which had started under the guidance of The Bunnet “Dick” Campbell. Oddly, as the team waltzed through the division, very few goals spring to mind. Once upon a time, this scoreline would have been an upset to end all upsets, but Stewart Petrie’s goal – a spinning, dipping volley from the edge of the box, on the half-turn, stays in the memory, despite the routine 4-1 away win. I may be mixing my games up, but I’m pretty sure the Ayr keeper was hooked at half time after throwing in goals to Barrowman and Adams in the same game. Either way, Petrie’s left-footed volley was a stunner.

08/09: Craig Brewster; Ross County 2 Dunfermline 1; March 24, 2009

Oh boy. Brewster didn’t score too many goals for us, but for a guy about forty years old he was a magnificent professional. Like the aforementioned Stewart Petrie, he was past his prime, but the 35 yard, postage stamp thunderbolt against Dunfermline was a thing of genuine quality. One of those, “screw this, I’ll put the ball there” kind of moments. A little chip to set himself up, and… WOOOOOOOSH! as Archie McPherson might say. The Brewmeister was never much of a
manager, but his skill on the pitch was undeniable.

09/10: Steven Craig; Celtic 0 Ross County 2; May 15, 2010

A relatively quiet season for County…. who am I kidding? This might have been the halcyon days
of my County following life. I saw this game in the middle of the Saharan desert, in the oil fields of pre-revolution Libya. I had commandeered the television on the compound – the English semi finals were also on the same day. I can remember every moment of that goal; a loose header forward, good work from Andy Barrowman; the ball controlled and chipped on by Steven Craig. Craig out paced the bumbling Josh Thompson, got one on one with the keeper, and thumped it home from twelve yards. The celebrations came after Jimmy Scott’s second goal confirmed
victory, but the truth is Craig’s goal broke Celtic. The way County had played, there was no way back for them. And as Scottish football celebrated alongside journeyman Craig, I went absolutely mental in a way I never have before or since. Without question my favourite goal ever scored by Ross County.

10/11: Andy Barrowman; Queen of the South 0 Ross County 2; April 10, 2011

Oh yuck. Yet another season of hell. At first, Derek Adams was our manager, who left to become
assistant manager to Colin Calderwood at Hibs. Then it was John McStay, for nine games, and then it was Tangoman Jimmy Calderwood. Those were not good times, and we only just about avoided the drop. Calderwood will tell you know it was all to do with his nous, but in truth, Derek Adams would never have got us in that predicament. Jimmy Calderwood actually won us a trophy though; and the Challenge Cup final featured a comedy goal of the highest calibre. A pass back from the QOS defender to the keeper, who felt the need to try a Cruyff turn. He fell on his arse, leaving Barrowman a tap in. Inspired a short lived youtube clip which was the most popular video in Albania for three days before the SFL took it down on copyright grounds.


11/12: Kurtis Byrne; Queen of the South 3 Ross County 5; May 5, 2012

Hell. Where to start? This was the season of the invincibles – the most dominant side ever to play in Scotland’s second tier. Or at least, it certainly seemed that way at times. In fact, the team lost
at home to Elgin in the cup and got thumped 5-1 by a Hamilton side managed by the spiteful Billy Reid. By the time County travelled to Queen of the South on the final game of the season, the league had been sewn up. Queen of the South had, I think, been relegated, but either way this game was one of all attack and no defence, hence the ludicrous 3-5 scoreline. The final few minutes were, as I recall, insane, with both teams going hell for leather. The County fans were mid conga when Irish striker Kurtis Byrne picked up the ball inside his own half. It may have been from a sclaffed clearance or the opposition keeper may have been on a venture up front chasing a last gap equaliser, but either way Byrne’s skelp towards goal was pure and true and spectacular. Famously, Byrne celebrated his piece of nonsense with several County fans dressed in sheep costumes.

12/13: Steffen Wohlfarth; Ross County 3 Celtic 2; March 9, 2013

There were far better goals scored in the 2012/13 season than Steffen Wohlfarth’s header against the league champions, but very few, if any, were more enjoyable. A long ball from silky left back Vaggelis Oikonomou bounced in the Celtic box. Fraser Forster came and stopped and started to come again. Wolfy had no such qualms, and literally ran through the Celtic keeper – and another defender – in order to head the ball into the net. That County had come from 2-0 down to win was one thing, but the timing – well into stoppage time – sent the County fans, and me, into meltdown. These kinds of goals were the bane of fans who were watching on Teletext. And so long as they go for you, there are few better feelings on a footballing Saturday. I really want to mention Andre Hainault’s winner at home to ICT as well, a glorious moment in County’s season, but for the sheer impact, the big German’s goal takes some beating.


13/14: Filip Kiss; Ross County 3 Dundee United 0; Jan 18, 2014

It has been a hard season, no doubt. The regression to the mean is occasionally brutal, however
inevitable it might be. The best goal I have seen all season may be by the Slovakian midfielder, who has given a goalscoring threat from midfield. Picking the ball up on the left, he drove forwards a few yards before curling the ball from 30 yards past a helpless Dundee United goalkeeper. That it topped off arguably County’s best performance of the year was one thing, but it was a faintly sublime piece of skill that very few other County players would even have attempted.


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