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Malky Mackay says Victoria Park backing has made Ross County relaxed at home

Ross County manager Malky Mackay.
Ross County manager Malky Mackay.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay believes the Staggies’ increasing connection with their supporters is making Victoria Park a formidable venue.

The Staggies face St Johnstone in a crucial Premiership fixture on Saturday, with the 11th placed Perth outfit trailing them by only four points.

Despite losing 2-0 at Hibernian last weekend, County go into the game with a strong home record which has seen them lose just one of their last eight games in Dingwall.

Mackay feels giving the home crowd plenty to celebrate will result in an even stronger backing from the Staggies faithful.

He said: “It’s pleasing, because at the start of the season with the Covid situation fans weren’t allowed in and it was a bit of a stumbling start because of the two games we couldn’t play in the League Cup.

“You don’t get the chance to get things going, and we were straight into the league season.

“Thankfully fans started coming back in. It was a new manager and a new team, so you get reservations with everyone, and people not wanting to come back to football with Covid. There was hesitancy to come and do that.

“We now have the situation where this is a tough place to come this season under myself.

“We’ve got entertaining football here and a couple of memorable experiences so far – for example the last minute equaliser against Rangers, and even despite the heartache taking Celtic to seven minutes of injury time, and a couple of last minute wins.

Ross County fans in the Jail End at Victoria Park.

“The Jail End is starting to have a real noise to it. There’s a group of young Ross County fans starting to come through, and that’s important for the club, those experiences are important.

“We’re a team who are relaxed at home and that really want to do well for our fans here, so that’s an important thing for us.”

Fan engagement a key focus throughout Mackay’s career

Mackay began his playing career in Scotland with Queen’s Park and Celtic, before spending a number of years in England with the likes of Norwich City, West Ham and Watford.

Having gone into management with the Hornets, before taking charge of Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic, Mackay says interaction with supporters has been a key focus throughout his career.

He added: “Graham Taylor at Watford really encapsulated everything about the community of that football club.

“They were a small club, about 70,000 people live in Watford on the outskirts of London, and Graham took that job on and changed that football club.

“He used to take players out on a Thursday night around the local pubs – nowadays that would obviously be frowned upon.

“Him and the players would go to five or six pubs in Watford, be there for half an hour and have chats.

“It was so innovative, to the point where that club became an incredible community club. There were a lot of spin-offs because of Graham Taylor and his approach.

“I’ve been at Celtic who are a worldwide club, and part of our job as players was to go out to supporters’ association’s evening, their yearly dance, and every one of us had at least five or six a year to do.

“It’s something that has been ingrained in me, being involved with the supporters.

“Down at Cardiff at first, the chief executive, myself and the captain went up into the valleys behind Cardiff to three 250-people venues to have a pint and a Q&A.

Malky Mackay during his spell at Cardiff City.

“I’m used to this, it’s something that goes back to Jock Stein’s saying that without fans, football is nothing. Everyone is now seeing that.

“In Covid, having empty stadiums with two teams playing, it was dire.”

Mackay says he is keen to engage with the Staggies’ fanbase in the months ahead, adding: “I want to go out the way. I’m keen to forage for our fan base far and wide so that our fans do get to see and speak to players, staff and me.

“That’s important as well that they get to hear what we’ve got to say.”

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