DEREK Adams grew up an Aberdeen fan and understands the pain endured by their long-suffering faithful through 19 years in the wilderness.
He watched in awe as 40,000 Dons packed into Celtic Park and twice as many thronged the city centre for Sunday’s League Cup celebrations.
Adams, who signed for Aberdeen as a trainee from Deeside Boys Club in 1994 before a second spell a decade later when he scored five goals in 24 appearances after leaving Motherwell, believes Derek McInnes and his resurgent side deserve every bit of hype and lavish praise they have had for bringing the silverware buzz back to the Granite City.
But nothing in the Ross County manager’s background or nature could dim his determination to rain on the Red parade tonight at Victoria Park.
The former Aberdeen midfielder has his own agenda, with the Dingwall team still grappling to escape the Premiership relegation play-off spot.
Adams said: “I was brought up in Aberdeen and I know the cup finals they’ve been to over the years and what success they had.
“Some of my friends were at Celtic Park supporting them in the cup final against Inverness and enjoyed the occasion. They don’t go to see Aberdeen much but, when they get to a cup final, they turn out in force.
“When you see big clubs with the kind of supporter-base Aberdeen do carry, then you want to see them do well.
“They took 40,000 to Celtic Park for the cup final and they take good followings to away grounds all the time – and the fans deserve some success. They have got that. When you do well, you deserve all the credit you get.
“We just want to win the game and, hopefully, push ourselves further up the league.
“Aberdeen are always a big scalp, regardless of where they are in the league. It’s Aberdeen Football Club, one of the biggest clubs in Scottish football. They’ve done fantastically well this season and are riding high at the top of the SPFL.
“They have obviously come off a great win in the League Cup final and it is always a difficult game against them. They have been tight games between the two of us and we want to continue the good form we’ve shown against them this season.
“They won at Pittodrie and we won here in Dingwall and they were both good games.”
Adams would love to repeat the 1-0 triumph County enjoyed in Dingwall back on 5 October, when Rocco Quinn hit the winner.
He said: “Kilmarnock tried and failed to knock them off the run they were on and now we’re the ones who have to try to do it. But we play them tonight and we are going to try and stop them.
“I would expect them to bring a big crowd through here, but when you get that kind of away support it does help us. It generates a good atmosphere, particularly in evening matches, and it definitely helps get our own fans going. From our point of view, we want to take the good aspects we saw against Motherwell, coming off a good win against St Johnstone, and try to move a few places up the league.
“We have talented players, just as Aberdeen do, players who have come in from other clubs and want to show the viewing public from all over the world what they can do.”
Adams remains without midfielder Stuart Kettlewell and goalkeeper Michael Fraser through injury, but Alex Cooper returns from suspension and the manager is insistent that opportunity knocks for his players.
County are in the midst of a five-game run against top-six teams, which started with victory over St Johnstone and continued with defeat at Motherwell on Saturday.
“We have a tough schedule but we enjoy playing in the high-profile games, because Aberdeen have come off a magnificent result, winning the cup final,” said Adams, whose side are two points above St Mirren and the relegation play-off spot.
“Then we go to Celtic on Saturday. It’s an eventful week for us but something we look forward to. When the TV cameras are here and we’re playing against one of the top sides in the country, you do lift your game.
“Everybody has the opportunity to show how good a player they are. I keep on saying that – there’s a lot of eyes watching you so it’s always good to play well when the TV cameras are there.”
For Aberdeen, Peter Pawlett remains out of the squad having missed the League Cup final win over Inverness. But the attacking midfielder could return from a hip problem in Saturday’s New Firm derby against Dundee United.
Jonny Hayes (collarbone) is still out but Barry Robson could come back into the starting line-up after being rested for the first hour of Saturday’s victory over Kilmarnock.