Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Ross County legend Michael Gardyne relives special times with the Staggies

Michael Gardyne poses for a selfie with the Championship trophy in 2019.
Michael Gardyne poses for a selfie with the Championship trophy in 2019.

Ross County double record breaker Michael Gardyne was a huge part of the highs of the Dingwall club for 15 years.

The Dundonian, who was a youth player at Celtic, became a firm favourite with supporters for his energetic, skillful running and weaving around opponents.

No other player racked up more appearances or scored more goals for the club. Despite being a wide player, he bagged 73 goals for the team in 444 games. Overall, he earned seven medals.

That’s quite something from a club such as Ross County.

Michael Gardyne had a great relationship with the Staggies’ fans.

Just last week, he was one of 10 players not handed a new deal. He, along with captain Iain Vigurs, Billy Mckay, Jason Naismith Ross Draper and Carl Tremarco were the highest profile casualties of the fallen axe.

Although he plans to reflect on a range of title triumphs and cup wins further down the line, the 35-year-old was happy to relive some of those special times with the Press and Journal.

The perfect match

Gardyne sums up why Ross County was the perfect place for him to enjoy the bulk of his career so far.

He said: “It was a case of the player and the club match perfectly.

“I had some amazing times at the club.

“My first experience of County was me coming on loan from Celtic in 2006/07.

“Even although that season didn’t end well with our relegation (into Division Two), personally just getting into a first-team environment and dressing room was great for me.

“I learned a lot from the coaches and players at that time. We won the Challenge Cup, but the relegation was a sore one.

“George Adams was the director of football and he was helping to get the club in a better place financially.

“Derek Adams got the job and I went on loan to Morton for six months and then came back in the January and Derek signed me.

“We managed to win the Second Division and bounce back straight away at the first time of asking.”

Road to Hampden in 2010

The Staggies really raised the bar in 2009/10 under Adams when they surged all the way to Hampden and the Scottish Cup final, which ended in a 3-0 defeat by Dundee United.

Gardyne said: “That run to the 2010 Scottish Cup final was amazing. We signed some really good players who had points to prove. They had maybe been released from clubs and we had an excellent team spirit and bond.

“We actually had a really good league campaign that season, but that got overshadowed by the Scottish Cup run.

“I think because of the run to the cup final, we needed to play eight games in a month and that affected our league chances.

VIDEO: Eight years ago today, Ross County stunned Celtic in the Hampden sun to reach their first major final

“Beating Hibs and Celtic on the way to the final was brilliant. It was a great team performance in that semi-final against Celtic.

“They had been going through a transition period and people said it was a good time to play them. There’s never really a good time to play Celtic.

“They still had guys like Aiden McGeady and Robbie Keane, so for us to win that tie was really special.”

Unbeatable Staggies roared into the SPL

County’s rise within Scottish football continued and, in 2011/12, they secured their place in the Premiership, then called the SPL.

The Staggies went on a stunning 40-match unbeaten run, which took them to the Division One title and into the top-flight.

Gardyne explained: “When we won promotion to the Premiership, it was certainly one of my best seasons.

“I had an unreal partnership up front with Colin McMenamin. I scored 18 that season and Colin got 21. It just worked really well.

“I signed a pre-contract with Dundee United in the January, but it didn’t prevent me from doing everything I could to help the club.

“I wanted to make sure that my team-mates at County would be in the Premiership as well. We won the league comfortably in the end.

“That team was packed with good guys and quality players. You had Paul Lawson, Stuart Kettlewell, Richie Brittain, Iain Vigurs, Colin McMenamin to name just a few. It was just one of those seasons where everything seemed to click all over the pitch.

“Even in the games where we didn’t play well, we found a way to grind our results to make sure we put points on the board.

“The chairman had spoken for some time about wanting the club to reach that level.

“The run to the Scottish Cup final put Dingwall on the map and people were taking notice of Ross County. To get to the Premiership a couple of years later was brilliant.”

Ross County’s Michael Gardyne celebrates scoring in Division One in 2012.

He didn’t get the game time he wanted at Dundee United and after a spell at Kilmarnock, a call from Dingwall led to him returning to Victoria Park in January 2015.

The tricky creator is no doubt that was to be a pivotal point in his career.

He said: “Derek Adams had just left and Steven Ferguson was in temporary charge. It was the last day of the transfer window and Fergie said the club would love me to come back up.

“He said the club needed a character back, so myself, Jackson Irvine and Darren Barr signed on deadline day. It was probably the best decision I made, to come back to County at that stage of my career.

“The way things were going for me at Dundee United, Fergie was great on the phone. He made me feel wanted. I knew the area, the club and it was a case of coming back to do the business.”

Michael Gardyne returned to Ross County from Dundee United.

League Cup glory at Hampden

More history beckoned for Gardyne and County after Jim McIntyre and Billy Dodds firstly saved the club from dropping out of the Premiership then led them to their first major national trophy in 2016.

Gardyne was outstanding that season, but none more so than a starring show in the final against Hibs where he scored a cracking opener and lined up Alex Schalk for a dramatic late winner.

Ross County’s Michael Gardyne (left) and Alex Schalk with the League Cup.

He recalled: “When I first came back to the club, there were a number of overseas players and I’m not too sure that was working. Jim McIntyre and Billy Dodds came in and we went on an incredible run when we won nine or 10 games in a row to stay up.

“The following season we won the League Cup. To win that final was my best moment. I scored in the final and set up the winner. To bring a national trophy back to Ross County was amazing.

“We went 3-5-2 in the final and I had a wing-back role. When we had the ball, you had a freedom to roam about. That sums up my goal when I popped up and Jackson Irvine slid the ball through to me and I scored.

“We got the game plan spot-on that day and, personally, it was great. To score and then put the cross in for Alex Schalk to score the winner – it was the perfect day for the team, the club and for me.”

Swift Championship win was special, says Gardyne

Just a few years ago, after novice joint bosses Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson almost kept County up, they regrouped and won the Championship.

That was despite main rivals Dundee United recruiting specialist boss at that level, Robbie Neilson, a few months into that season.

Ross County’s Michael Gardyne scored 73 goals in 444 games for the Dingwall club.

Gardyne felt doing the double in such a terrific year was up there with all he’s achieved.

He admits: “My two big moments in my career were winning that League Cup final and winning the Championship at the first time of asking.

“There have been big clubs in the Championship who don’t get up first time around. Dundee United, Hearts and Hibs have all been down there, we won not only won the league, but also the double by winning the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup.

Michael Gardyne with the IRN-BRU Cup after winning the double in 2018/19.

“It was great to get back to the Premiership after just one season out. Ross County and Dundee United were two strong teams going head-to head. It was a really good title race to be involved in. Thankfully we came out on top.”

Bosses brought best out of Gardyne

The midfielder says every boss he’s played under has helped shape him into the player he’s become.

He said: “Every manager has their own way.

“To be fair, Yogi, Richie Brittain and Don Cowie managed to get the best out of me in the last three months of the season.

“Don mentioned just the other day that my training levels were really high. It had reached a different level and that showed in my performances in the run-in.

“I have worked under really good managers like Derek Adams and Jim McIntyre and Yogi in the final part of my time here. It has all been special.

Ross County’s Michael Gardyne celebrates putting his side 2-1 ahead against Motherwell in the final game of the campaign – a goal which secured County’s Premiership status.

“With Ketts (Stuart Kettlewell), I had a lot of playing time with him and then he became my manager. That was really good.”

Pride at setting Staggies’ records

Bagging 73 goals in 444 matches will “take some beating”, according to Gardyne.

He’s not planning hanging up the boots any time soon, but when he does he will still be beaming with making such an impact.

He explained: “You don’t really bother too much about personal accolades until you finish football and look back. Having now left County, it’s nice to have those records. The records will be hard to beat. It is special.

“When I look back at the end of my career in a few years’ time, it will be good to look back and hopefully those records will still be intact along with the seven medals that I won at the club.

“My job has always been to chip in with a couple of goals, so to have scored so many, having played out wide so often is a nice one to have.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]