Scott Boyd has never known a Dingwall atmosphere to top Ross County’s Scottish Cup quarter-final victory over Hibernian 10 years ago today.
Former defender Boyd has played more games at Victoria Park than most, having clocked up 306 appearances during a nine-year playing career with the Staggies.
The 33-year-old’s appearance record is only topped by winger Michael Gardyne, who still plays for the club and earlier this season racked up his 400th outing.
Ranking prominently among Boyd’s highlights was his last-minute winner in the 2-1 victory over top-flight club Hibs during the Staggies’ First Division days.
The goal sparked euphoric scenes among the 5,607 crowd, and paved the way for the club’s famous semi-final victory against Celtic at Hampden Park the following month.
The victory over Hibs will always take pride of place for Boyd, who returned to the Staggies as sporting director last summer.
Boyd said: “It’s probably my favourite-ever game – it was either that or the Celtic game in the following round. It’s not just because I scored, but in terms of the atmosphere in Dingwall that night.
“Remembering the noise in the stadium, I’ve not known many better atmospheres at a match. Right from kick-off, we could tell everybody was behind us.
“With us being the underdogs, we really used that to our advantage.
“We always liked shooting towards the Jail End in the second half. Richie Brittain, our captain, always made sure we tried to win the toss to make sure we shot that way in the second half.
“It was an amazing feeling to get that last-minute winner.
“The fans invaded the pitch, it was almost as if people thought that was our cup final but we still had the semi-final and final to go.
“It was just such a big achievement.
“I think we all appreciated as soon as we had done it, just what had actually happened – even though it might have taken us a moment to pinch ourselves that we were going to Hampden.”
County had fallen behind to John Hughes’s side, who took an early second-half lead through an Anthony Stokes close-range header.
However, the Staggies restored parity on 70 minutes when Garry Wood bundled home a rebound after Graeme Smith had parried an Andy Barrowman shot.
Boyd’s winner came after Hibs goalkeeper Graeme Smith had spilled a Richie Brittain corner into his path, and the defender felt Derek Adams’s side got the result they deserved.
Boyd added: “We had a bit of pressure late on, which goes back to why I think we deserved the result.
“We were getting a few corners and set-pieces. I think we just had one cleared, and then we got another corner which came in. There was a stramash at the back post and I managed to get up ahead of Sol Bamba.
“It was just carnage after that. I didn’t know what to do to celebrate – I didn’t score many goals in my career.
“It was certainly one of the most memorable in my career – in one of the most memorable matches.”
Boyd, who joined the Dingwall side from Partick Thistle in 2007, noticed a marked difference in the way he and his team-mates were greeted following the triumph.
He added: “For me, between that game and the Celtic game was when things really changed for Ross County.
“Everybody was so proud of us. There was a real community feel about the place.
“You would be walking up the High Street and people would be saying good luck to you for the next game.
“These things didn’t happen before these games, so that’s why I think in Ross County’s journey that was a big, defining moment.”
Hibernian arrived in Dingwall for the quarter-final replay buoyant with the prospect of getting to Hampden.
It had been 108 years since Hibs won the Scottish Cup and they thought that this was their big chance – with only Celtic left among the biggest hitters in the competition.
Hibs fans travelled in huge numbers to Victoria Park for the midweek replay, expecting another trip to Hampden.
The away fans’ confidence was obvious from the start, despite Ross County having outplayed them at Easter Road in the 2-2 draw 10 days before.
It had been an exciting season for County fans. Derek Adams’s side had shown enormous potential and competed strongly at the top of the First Division until the cup run diverted attention away from that.
The core of the squad would go on to win the division two years later and hold their own in the SPL.
Hibernian’s opener just a minute into the second half only made the Staggies more determined.
County, shooting into a rocking Jail End, dominated their opponents. Garry Wood was still high on confidence from his hat-trick in the 9-0 thrashing of Stirling Albion and was a nuisance against the Hibs defenders.
Wood’s equaliser was well-deserved, but the best was left for a last-minute winner by Scott Boyd, bundled over the line to get County to the semi-final at the national stadium.
It was a watershed moment for a squad full of talent and paved the way for success to follow.