QUEEN of the South defender Andy Dowie has claimed the Dumfries club are not wanted in the Scottish Premiership and insists that will act as motivation for them in their play-off campaign.
Ahead of the first leg of their quarter-final against Rangers at Palmerston tomorrow night, Dowie has expressed his belief that current Premiership chairmen and owners are fervently hoping he and his team-mates fail.
“Rangers will be under big pressure going into the game on Saturday”Andy Dowie
Queen of the South have not been in the top flight of Scottish football since 1964 and are rated as long-odds outsiders to make it through the play-off battle with Rangers, Hibs and the second-bottom placed Premiership side.
“I can sense we are not wanted in the Premiership and I can understand why,” said Dowie, who began his career at Rangers.
“The chairmen up there want Hibs or Rangers’ away supports to be joining Hearts in filling their grounds next season. They don’t want Queen of the South coming up but we are not interested in what they want or what they think is best for Scottish football.
“At the end of the day, the best team in the play-offs will go up. It would be amazing for the town and the people of Dumfries if it was us.
“If we went up, I wouldn’t say our home attendances would be any less than Hamilton Accies’. The two clubs are probably similar in size.
“We can’t really talk about the Premiership too much yet, because it’s a long way away just now, but we will wait and see what happens. We maybe don’t get the credit we deserve, but it was always going to be like that this season because Hibs, Hearts and Rangers shouldn’t really be in the Championship. They’re going to get all the media coverage. But we understand that and it doesn’t bother us in the slightest. We just work away quietly and we’ve had a great season again.
“It has suited us perfectly to be under the radar. That’s the second season in a row that we have finished fourth in the Championship, so whatever happens now it’s been a successful season for us.”
Dowie is upbeat about Queens’ prospects of further progress but is keen to play down the significance of Rangers’ two previous visits to Palmerston Park this season which have seen them suffer 2-0 and 3-0 defeats on the artificial playing surface.
“We’re confident going into the game on Saturday but we won’t think too much about the previous two games against them,” added Dowie.
“I don’t think that will have much bearing on the game. We will just concentrate on putting in a good performance and hopefully that will be enough. We’ve had good results against both Rangers and Hibs this season. That’s the reason some people are saying we are favourites at home against them. But we’re not really thinking about what people are saying. We’re just trying to perform well on Saturday and hopefully that gives us a chance going into the second leg at Ibrox the following weekend.
“I’m surprised a lot has been made of the surface at Palmerston. Rangers have played loads of games over the last three seasons on astroturf so I don’t really know why that’s been an issue. We should just look at both teams’ performances over the two games and then you will see why the results were what they were.
“Rangers are used to being in big games, Queens not so much. But Rangers will be under big pressure going into the game on Saturday. We’ll be under pressure to perform as well, but not at the same level as Rangers. You don’t really know what kind of Rangers is going to turn up.
“The pressure is possibly getting to them but I wouldn’t really like to comment on that. I don’t really know what the Rangers players are thinking or what their mindset is.
“I’m surprised they’ve ended up in the play-offs. At the start of the season, everybody expected them to be much closer to Hearts, possibly beating them to the title, but for whatever reason, that’s not been the case. They will probably be disappointed with their season so far. But if they get promoted through the play-offs, all that will probably be forgotten about.”
Now 32, Dowie yesterday signed a new one-year contract with Queen of the South which he hopes will give him another taste of top-flight football which he last experienced while with Dunfermline in 2011-12.
Dowie’s career has mostly been spent in the lower divisions since he was released by Rangers in 2004 after making just one first-team appearance for the Ibrox club.
“It was difficult for me at Rangers because they had big, big players back then,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I just wasn’t good enough. I’m not bitter about it at all. I’m not going to say I never got a chance, because I did and just never took it. I know fine well I wasn’t good enough. Rangers had top players like Lorenzo Amoruso and Craig Moore in my position at the time.
“I’d say I’m a better player now and I’ve enjoyed it at Queens. I’ve received a few Player of the Year awards from the supporters this season, so it shows I must have been doing OK. It was an easy decision for me to sign the new deal because I’ve had two good years here now and I’m pleased to stay with the club.
“You always hope to get back to the top division, that’s what every player wants. We are a long way from that at the moment but if we can get past Rangers, maybe we can start to dream about it.”