Ipswich Town's Ryan Fraser: Dogs, Corsas and the Coffee Club

Mick McCarthy and Ryan Fraser
Ipswich Town winger Ryan Fraser is presented with the Football League Young Player of the Month award for August by manager Mick McCarthy

What would a teenager who has moved nearly 600 miles away from his home in the far north of Scotland do to help him settle in? Buy a dog, obviously.

That is exactly what Ryan Fraser did when he left hometown club Aberdeen for Eddie Howe's then-League One Bournemouth side in 2013.

What has happened to the Cherries since then has been sensational - but Fraser was on the edges of their rise to the Premier League, only making six league starts last season.

To aid his development, the 21-year-old winger moved back down to the Championship on a season-long loan to Ipswich, where he has just won the Football League Young Player of the Month award for August, even with his dog back on the south coast.

"My dog, Maisie, just gave me something to do after training," he told BBC Sport. "I can come home, take her out and just be a normal person.

"I haven't been able to bring her to Ipswich, which has maybe kind of helped me, in a way, to focus on my football. But I've got people down in Bournemouth looking after her, and she's fine."

In Maisie's absence, the Scotland Under-21 international scored three goals in seven matches in August, somewhat justifying his move down a division.

Ryan Fraser
Fraser scored on his Ipswich debut against Brentford in August

Flip back a few years, an even fresher-faced Fraser was impressing in the Scottish Premiership, but decided to make the move to Dorset - a decision made possibly too quickly for his parents.

"I think I had one day down in Bournemouth," he explained. "I was supposed to come down and look at the training ground and stadium. I signed on that day and I wasn't allowed home.

"So my mum and dad had to drive the 13 hours down in the Vauxhall Corsa to help me settle in. But all the lads at Bournemouth were good to me, made me feel right at home and it was quite easy for me to get down and work hard."

To help him settle in the area, Cherries manager Eddie Howe took him out for lunch and dinner a few times, and he joined Bournemouth's very own 'Coffee Club', involving a few of his new team-mates.

"A couple of us went to Costa every day after training, some of us went to Starbucks in little groups and sometimes you'd all come together and just speak about things happening away from football, like how your families are doing.

"It's just nice to get away from football sometimes, just to speak."

Ryan Fraser
Fraser celebrating Bournemouth's promotion to the Premier League last season

Over the next few weeks, young people across the UK will be travelling miles away to their chosen university and leaving home for the first time, a sentiment Fraser can empathise with.

"I didn't know how to cook, I didn't know how to wash clothes and stuff," admitted Fraser. "I had to learn quickly.

"I got a flat by myself - I was offered digs by the club but I wanted to be independent so I gradually learned and now I'd say I'm a pro at cooking. I've cooked for some of the boys and they said I was good."

With Bournemouth growing faster than anyone could have imagined, Fraser had a call from Howe saying that he could not promise first-team football, but Mick McCarthy was interested in taking him to Portman Road.

Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy:
"I was delighted to see Ryan pick up the Football League Young Player of the Month award for August and he fully deserves it. He's an infectious character on and off the pitch, he loves taking defenders on, he can go either way and he's already shown that he has a goal in him. He's just a really talented footballer and we are delighted to have him."

And Fraser, who, according to Ipswich's Twitter account, warped into Barcelona forward Lionel Messi during the game at Leeds on Tuesday, says his move has seen him begin some of the best form of his career.

"Scoring goals and assist-wise, definitely," he said when asked if this was his best run of form.

"Back at Bournemouth I was doing well performance-wise but I wasn't getting the goals or assists I should have been getting. At Ipswich obviously I'm getting a run in the team, which has made it easier, and my confidence has been good. I just want to keep it going now."

Leaving Scotland's top flight for the third tier of English football was always going to raise eyebrows, but with his form and new award, Fraser feels like he made the right decision as he hopes to push for full international honours.

"I don't really mind what they think," said Fraser. "Everyone's got their own opinions, so if they think it's a bad move, they think it's a bad move.

"For me, I'm still confident in the move and hopefully I've proved that I've benefitted and improved as a player and I just want to get better."

Top Stories