Don Cowie: Ross County midfielder on family & football

Don Cowie
Don Cowie has made 20 appearances this season since signing from Hearts

Ross County were Don Cowie's boyhood team. His father played for the club. His three brothers, too. He even met his wife, Shelley, at Victoria Park.

"It's all I know; it's the reason I'm a footballer," he says.

Now the 35-year-old wants to complete his own football career by guiding the Dingwall team back to the Scottish Premiership.

So far it is going well. County sit top of the Scottish Championship, having lost just twice in the league this season as they try to bounce back to the top flight on their first attempt.

Here, Cowie tells BBC Scotland why County are a special club, his ambitions for the season, and the club's unconventional management structure.

'It's special up here - we're unique'

Cowie recalls watching his team from the "one little stand" on Jubilee Park Road in the royal Ross-shire burgh before rising through the youth ranks and spending the first seven years of his career at County.

He went on to play for local rivals Inverness Caledonian Thistle, then Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic in England, before returning north to Hearts. He also made 10 appearances for Scotland.

But many "ties and pulls to County" made a move home a fitting way to conclude his career.

"Once you're up here you realise how special it is," said Cowie of his home town, which thrives on agriculture, seafood production, construction and manufacturing.

"We're unique. Geographically it's tough but players need to get up here to see what we're all about, see the facilities, the DNA of the club and see how together everyone is.

"There's people here who were working here when I was a little boy, I think that's the story of the club. It's a great story but I want the club to be in the [Premiership]."

2006 Challenge Cup win
Cowie (third right, front row) was part of the County team who won the 2006 Challenge Cup

'We've got the squad to get promoted'

County are currently nursing a three-point lead in the Championship, albeit they have played a game more than nearest challengers Ayr, with Dundee United a further three points back.

They have won just two of their last five matches, losing at Morton last Friday, and are on the road again this weekend to face Queen of the South.

After slipping out of the Premiership for the first time in six seasons last term, Cowie is determined to help return the club to the top flight.

"The goal is to get promoted. It's not going to be easy but I feel we've a squad who achieve that," says Cowie, who has scored twice in 20 appearances since signing from Hearts in the summer.

"Over the piece we're fairly happy, but it's going to be about who can be the most consistent from now until the end of the season and keep the momentum going."

'It's a great collective group'

While Cowie is the squad's veteran, there are no shortage of other leaders in the dressing room.

Attacker Michael Gardyne was at County during Cowie's first spell, while midfielder Ross Draper's role is "policing the dressing room".

Above them, there are co-managers Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell, who took charge last April following the departure of Owen Coyle.

"You can tell there is a real friendship and a real bond," Cowie said of the duo's unusual roles.

"I played with Steven, he was always a bubbly character, and Stuart is very meticulous when it comes to looking into the opposition, he's a great speaker in front of the boys.

"It's a great collective group and it helps when we're winning games, but when we lose we don't get too down and get each other through it."

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