Ross Draper believes Ross County’s class of 2019 bears all the hallmarks of Caley Thistle’s Scottish Cup winning side as the club prepares for its return to the Premiership.
Draper was a member of the Inverness side which was built by Terry Butcher before winning the cup and qualifying for Europe for the first time in the club’s history under John Hughes in 2015 and he insists the qualities which made Caley Jags so successful in the Premiership can be found at Championship winners County.
He said: “This is probably one of the best dressing rooms I’ve been involved in. The Caley Thistle one a few years ago was good and this one is just as good. We all went away together to celebrate what was a good campaign at the end of the season and we all stick together.
“It helps when results are going your way in a promotion campaign as confidence breeds from that but we’re a tight group. Everyone has played their part in a positive campaign.
“I’ve always said when you live in the Highlands it is not just about the quality on the pitch. Players knock about with each other on and off the pitch and your personality takes over. Look at Joe Chalmers. He is a good player but he is a good lad off the pitch too and that’s why he is such a good signing for us.
“When you are a tight group it is easy to go out and run through brick walls for each other. I don’t say that lightly, we are a genuine tight-knit group.”
Draper, who joined team-mate Iain Vigurs in launching County’s new home and away kit for next season at the club yesterday, is delighted to have put the pain of relegation a year ago behind him by helping the Staggies bounce back to the Premiership at the first attempt and is eager to build on a league and cup double winning season by re-establishing County as a top-flight team next season.
He said: “It’s back to business as far as I’m concerned. We were devastated at being relegated last season but the players and management wanted to stick together and bounce back at the first opportunity and we have done that.
“This is our reward, now we want to right the wrongs of our last campaign in the top flight.
“We were all determined to come back and you saw that in the number of players who signed deals to stay here. It wasn’t as if this squad wasn’t good enough. It happened because there are only 12 teams in the league and five of them are big teams which leaves the rest in and around the bottom six.
“We were in a losing habit and it was hard to turn that around but we did it from day one. Now we are returning with a habit of winning games and hopefully we can continue that.”