Don Cowie explained that the prospect of helping first club Ross County back up to the Premiership was too good to turn down once it became apparent that his game time at Hearts was likely to be reduced this season.
The 35-year-old had a year remaining on his deal at Tynecastle but knew he faced stiff competition for a midfield place after a significant summer overhaul by manager Craig Levein. The offer of a three-year-contract, with the chance to play regularly and the prospect of a coaching role further down the line, ultimately tempted him to call time on his two and a half years at Hearts and return to Dingwall 11 years after he left to join Inverness.
“It wasn’t a case of being told I had to leave or anything - it was always in my court,” said Cowie. “I loved the club and I was settled where I lived with my family, so it was a big decision to leave Hearts. Had it not been Ross County, I’d probably stll be at Hearts. Craig said I could stay and be part of it and, although I wouldn’t have played as much, I’d have still enjoyed that because it’s such a special club. If I’d stayed, I’d have still played here and there but I’m at a stage of my career where I don’t have that long left so I want to play as much as I can. I had offers to stay in the Premiership but I felt if I went to Ross County I’d have the opportunity to achieve something special. I want to win the Championship and get back to the Premiership. I know time is running out, but after all the years I’ve been away from Ross County, it would be something special if I could play for them in the Premiership. That’s something I’d always wanted to do which I wasn’t able to do first time around.”
County sit second in an ultra-competitive Championship, a point behind Inverness. “The club had a difficult season last year but we’ve assembled a really strong squad with good camaraderie,” said County. “We know it’s going to be difficult because it’s a competitive league, with Inverness, Dundee United, Partick, Dunfermline... whoever puts together the most consistent run will win the league, and hopefully that’s us.”