Former Caley Thistle defender Ross Tokely feels sustaining a lengthy winning run holds the key to the Highlanders’ Championship title hopes this season.
Having reached the promotion play-offs last season, Inverness are hungry to secure a return to the top-flight having suffered relegation in 2017.
Tokely twice helped Inverness secure promotion to the top-flight during his 16-year stint at Caledonian Stadium. The first, in 2004, came during current manager John Robertson’s first stint in charge, before Tokely helped to overturn a 15-point deficit to pip Dundee to the title under Terry Butcher six years later.
The 40-year-old regards both triumphs as the highlights of his long Caley Thistle tenure, and he feels Robertson’s class of 2019 must develop a similar winning habit.
Tokely said: “People talk about the cup runs which were great nights, but both league championship runs were standout memories for me.
“You have to be a good team, get the right results and have the right team spirit.
“In the first year, when we pipped Clyde, we had a really solid foundation which helped us to go on a great run.
“It’s all about getting on a run in the Championship. You don’t want to be picking up draws or losing by the odd goal.
“You need to pick up points and that’s what we did.
“The second time we won the league – if you had asked me that at Christmas time I would have laughed in your face, but the second half of that season was so enjoyable.
“I have got a lot of good memories from my time at the club, but those title wins were exceptional.”
Tokely feels the pressure is off Robertson’s side as they contend with title favourites Dundee and Dundee United, and he added: “It’s good to see John back at the club, he’s a manager I rate highly.
“He has done very well on a limited budget and has got a great eye for a player.
“I wish them well this year. The pressure is on Dundee and Dundee United to go up but you never know, it could be the year of the underdog.
“If they can get on a run we will see what happens, but it’s a competitive league.”
Caley Thistle are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year and Tokely, who is the club’s record appearance holder with 589 outings, says a number of unsung heroes made his stint at Caledonian Stadium all the more enjoyable following his move from Huntly in 1996.
Tokely, who is back at the club in a youth coaching role, added: “I’m glad I spent so long at the club.
“I remember sitting in the old Caledonian Hotel when I was 17 and the chairman Dougie McGilvray told me of his vision for the club to be in the Scottish Premier League. That’s where he wanted to be.
“He’s a man I have a lot of respect for. Ken Thomson, who passed away recently, was also there that day and he was another tremendous man.
“There have been a lot of good people, the likes of the former secretary Jim Falconer, the groundsman Tommy Cumming and youth coach Ronnie Duncan.
“Players can take all the credit, along with managers and supporters, but it’s the people behind the scenes for me that don’t get enough credit.”