While his younger brother has played in Scotland’s top flight and the English Championship, Ruaridh Donaldson has had his head buried in books.
The Bonnyrigg Rose defender, brother of Dundee United centre-back Coll, completed a Business and Economics degree at the University of Abertay whilst his sibling was serving his footballing apprenticeship with Livingston and Queens Park Rangers before arriving on a three-year deal at Tannadice Park last July.
Now 23-year-old Ruaridh, who had spells with Forfar West End and Tayport on top of his studies in Dundee, has his sights set on going head-to-head with Coll in the William Hill Scottish Cup.
Rose are aiming to replicate Linlithgow’s sensational run last season which saw them make history as they went all the way to the fifth round before losing out to Ross County. Donaldson would love for the New Dundas Park men to meet the Tangerines when they enter at the fourth round. “Coll and I have had a little bit of banter about that already,” revealed Donaldson, who is preparing for tomorrow’s preliminary round two tie at home to Burntisland Shipyard.
“Surprisingly we’ve never played against each other before. It would be a laugh, but I’m sure our parents wouldn’t enjoy watching it.
“It’s all depending on the draw, that’s a massive factor. It would be huge for the club to get to that level. If we could get a good draw then when the big teams come into it get another good draw at that stage – anything is possible with East Kilbride and Lothian Thistle getting paired with Celtic last season.”
Coll, who is two years younger than Ruaridh, played just one season with Livingston before he earned a £150,000 move and a two-and-a-half year deal with QPR in January 2014 after impressing manager Harry Redknapp on trial. He made just one appearance for the Loftus Road club, ending his contract by mutual consent before Jackie McNamara took him north.
All that time Ruaridh was working hard to complete his degree on Tayside, where he got back to playing football with the university team and got his first taste of the Juniors with Forfar West End.
Playing in the Scottish Cup provides Donaldson with a platform to get noticed by Senior clubs, but he’s just focussed on his career outside of football and is happy continuing to enjoy playing with Bonnyrigg for the moment. He said: “The key for me is just to keep enjoying it. I’ve been to university and got my degree, so my career is something that I want to improve – that’s my focus. Football is a release from that so all I really want to do is just continue to enjoy it and get better.
“I do have ambition [to go Senior] but at the moment I’m very career focussed. If Coll can do it then anyone can do it. He’s shown that hard work has got him to where he is. As long as I put in that hard work and just enjoy it then anything is possible I suppose.
“He got an opportunity at Livingston, worked exceptionally hard there and broke into the first team. There was a few clubs looking at him then he eventually signed at QPR. I’m full of admiration for how hard he works, he’s fully committed and he loves playing football.
“He comes down every so often with the hood up in case he gets recognised, but I’m not sure many people at Bonnyrigg know who he is. Sometimes he has a Sunday game so he’ll get himself down. Whenever we are both free we watch each other which is brilliant.”
A boyhood Hearts supporter, Donaldson has his fair share of Scottish Cup memories – the Jam Tarts lifting the old trophy three times so far in his lifetime.
Combined with seeing Linlithgow earn all the plaudits as they did the unimaginable last season, Donaldson is desperate for a cup run with Bonnyrigg.
Rose are big favourites for the match against East of Scotland Burntisland, with the winners going through to the first round proper. Donaldson continued: “I’m a Hearts fan so I’ve got a good relationship with the Scottish Cup. I’ve been to Hampden on a few successful visits.
“It’s certainly a competition that we want to do well in and it’s massive for the club. We are hopeful we can get a good run in it. We saw what happened with Linlithgow last year and that’s really lit the fire in our belly to go and replicate that. The boys were in admiration of them, they did exceptional to get to that stage last year.”