Caley Thistle fans reserve a special place in their hearts for David Raven, thanks in no small part to his Highland derby heroics.
Raven had more enjoyable derby experiences than not, losing just four of his 17 games against Ross County. His “two-yard screamer” in Dingwall four years ago was his first goal for the club, the opener in a 3-0 triumph over the bridge.
He was part of an impressive run under John Hughes and Terry Butcher when it came to these rivalry games, with the former defender hoping the Caley Jags can chalk up another victory on Saturday.
Raven said: “Aaron Doran always seems to score up there. It’s really enjoyable playing at Ross County – you’re closer to the fans and the atmosphere is good. I scored with a tackle on the line there and the 3-3 game was a highlight. I got a bit of stick from the boys after that goal, saying it could be goal of the season.
“The big games bring the best out of people; it requires your full commitment and focus. The lads would have looked for that game when the fixtures came out because it’s exciting to be part of. We did spoil their League Cup party but they did the same to us when we could have
qualified for Europe. It’s the kind of thing that does get mentioned in the changing rooms before the game – ‘let’s spoil their party’ – but it’s just part of the drama surrounding a derby.
“Inverness are in such good form, so it could go either way. I’ve got good mates at County but I would like to see Inverness win, of course I would.”
The context around the game sees the two Highland clubs at the top of the Championship table, with just a point separating the two sides as John Robertson’s men cling on to first place. Given how well they have started the season, it is not inconceivable for Raven that both could make a push for a return to the top flight.
He said: “It looks like Partick Thistle have a bit of a hangover from relegation and Dundee United could do with getting their house in order. Falkirk are not where they should be either, so it’s a massive opportunity to go back up again.
“Ross County should definitely be up there and as long as they keep everyone fit, so should Inverness. If they can both keep it up and be the top two at the end of the season, it would be fantastic for the Highlands as they’d be excited about joining the Premiership again.
“If either of them end up in the play-offs against the Premiership team, I would definitely back them. It’s great to see them just now and hopefully they get back to where they belong.”
Raven left the Caley Jags in January this year, moving to National League side Wrexham. He was released at the end of the season and now delivers one-to-one coaching sessions on Merseyside, as well as playing part-time for Warrington Town.
The Staggies won three of the four derbies during the 2016-17 campaign, including a 4-0 demolition in Dingwall. Ross Draper, Billy Mckay and Iain Vigurs were on the wrong end of the result that day in Caley Thistle shirts, however they will be swapping those for County blue on Saturday.
Raven added: “I imagine Ross, Iain and Billy will get pelters but they’ll expect it. It’s water off a ducks back to them. Iain will thrive on it because that’s his mentality – he will try prove people wrong.
“These guys are strong characters and it takes more than a bit of abuse to rattle them. I imagine the home support will be stronger, so they can drown out any abuse.”