Scott Ross’ decision to drop down a division and swap Peterhead for Cove Rangers may have raised some eyebrows.
But with two Highland League titles in the bag and promotion to the SPFL for the first time, he feels his decision has been more than vindicated.
A former Aberdeen trainee, Ross turned a loan move to Peterhead into a permanent switch in 2010. He experienced highs and lows at Balmoor under Jim McInally, winning League 2 in 2014 and playing at Hampden Park against Rangers two years later.
However, his seven-year stay with the Blue Toon ended with back-to-back red cards, which led McInally to say he would not play for the club again after “letting them down once too often.”
This afternoon will be his first game back at Peterhead since leaving nearly two years ago and it is a chance he is relishing.
Ross said: “It ended how it did there but I’ve absolutely loved every minute of being at Cove. I’ve won the Highland League, won countless trophies and got promoted. That promotion is the best thing I’ve achieved in football, so I can’t hold any grudges against Peterhead.
“You could say dropping down a level but the level of Cove players, we could have been League 2 a while ago. We believe we are where we should be now. Keith (Moorhouse) and the John Sheran have been working towards this, taking in myself, Mitch Megginson, Jordon Brown, Ryan Strachan, guys that have played at this level before. Even this season, we’ve taken in Jamie Redman who’s been in League 1 with Montrose, so it’s worked out well.
“I’m looking forward to going back up. Peterhead is a lovely pitch, nice and flat – Stan the groundsman always has it unbelievable. It will be the first time I’ve been back and it’s a game I’ve been looking forward to for a while.”
It has been a case of learning on the job for Ross and the Cove Rangers squad, given their paucity of training sessions since Paul Hartley took charge earlier this month. Pre-season victories over Montrose and Inverurie Locos were followed by defeat to Forfar in midweek, their final game before starting competitive action at Balmoor.
Ross said: “The manager and coaches are implementing their own philosophy. We’ve not really had a training session yet, so it’s just been about taking what they’ve said before games and implementing it. They want to play football and that’s what we want to do.
“It is a small squad. We might need to take one or two in but that’s up to the manager to decide. The squad we have got is strong enough to compete.
“Montrose and Forfar are both League 1 teams and you’ve seen the quality they have. Hopefully we can bring that experience into the Betfred Cup and the league games as well. We go into every game wanting to win and we know it’s going to be tough. We’ve got quality up front and we’re solid at the back, so we’ll see what happens.”