BARRY Robson’s final game of a long and successful career was certainly memorable as Aberdeen’s late season implosion ended in an embarrassing sixth defeat from their last eight matches.
The veteran midfielder feels he has been underused this season, making just three starts, but finally had to bow to the inevitable and hang up his boots six months shy of his 38th birthday.
It’s not the way someone who won 17 caps for Scotland, a league title with Celtic and League Cup winners medals with the Glasgow club and Aberdeen would have wanted to bow out after more than 650 appearances in total.
He was handed the captaincy, given a guard of honour by both sets of players and received warm applause every time he touched the ball during an hour on the pitch but Ross County’s performance must have made him feel every minute of those 37-plus years.
Now his thoughts turn to coaching and management using the experience picked up playing for Inverness Caledonian Thistle, Dundee United, Celtic, Middlesbrough, Vancouver Whitecaps, Sheffield United and Aberdeen.
“I am definitely retiring. The boots are nailed to the wall now after that performance,” Robson admitted afterwards. “I have had a good innings. I am 38 this year and somebody said I had played over 650 games so I have had a good run at it and now is the right time.
“I didn’t want to drop down levels. I have memories of playing with some right good players and for me it is the right time. You can’t beat Father Time.
“I think it is the right time for me to stop playing. It would have been better if we had bowed out with a better result but we’ve still had a good campaign, although it is disappointing to have lost this game.”
That result was never in doubt once Ross County hit the front in 23 minutes when the latest goalkeeper to get the chance to prove an able replacement for Danny Ward conceded a penalty.
Like Robson, Scott Brown and Adam Collin are leaving after failing to bring the stability the on-loan Liverpool man did in the first half of the season and Australian Aaron Lennox didn’t inspire much faith either.
He hauled down Alex Schalk as the Dutchman cut across the danger area and Brian Graham stepped up to convert the spot kick for his 11th goal of the season.
Graham then set up Schalk to score with a spectacular overhead scissors kick on the stroke of half time with the Highland side playing some delightful and effective counter-attacking football.
That could have brought more goals than just the four as Michael Gardyne and Liam Boyce squandered great opportunities before the latter headed in his 20th of the season in 67 minutes.
Martin Woods was heavily involved in creating that as he had been with the second and rounded off a terrific display with the fourth, a thumping drive from 30 yards with just a few minutes left.
No one was more pleased than Jim McIntyre as the Ross County manager was waiting for the chance to tell the club’s supporters just what he thought of the unfair treatment the midfielder has suffered at their hands lately. “Martin Woods takes some stick from a small element of our support and I think he is under-appreciated at this club,” claimed an angry McIntyre.
“He is certainly not under-appreciated by his team-mates at this club.
“That is why he is one of the first names on our teamsheet and I’m delighted to have him at this club.
“Some of our supporters need to get a grip, especially at home, as, quite frankly, some of the stick which was dished out to him was unmerited.”
You can get away with such blunt speaking when you are the Scottish Football Writers Manager of the Year having steered the Staggies to their League Cup win and highest league finish.