He featured in a Uefa Cup run with his hometown club. But Ross County skipper Andrew Davies admits he has been forced to travel farther than he ever expected to secure what he hopes will be a first cup winner’s medal.
Davies played in Middlesbrough’s Uefa Cup campaign back in happier times for Steve McClaren, their then manager.
The centre-half endured a setback when he was injured ahead of the final, meaning he had to watch as Middlesbrough, the club he supported as a boy, slumped 4-0 to Sevilla in Eindhoven.
Davies later moved to Bradford City, where he again played in an unlikely run to another final. The Yorkshire club earned plaudits by eliminating Arsenal and Aston Villa from the League Cup, but were heavily beaten by Swansea in the final three years ago. When Davies came on at half-time Bradford trailed by three goals, going on to lose 5-0.
He claims he always wanted to taste football in Scotland. But even Davies knows he would be hard pressed to convince anyone County were the club where he expected to fetch up.
“I always wanted to come and play football in Scotland,” he said. “I have come as far as I could possibly come, but why not? A lot of players say I am not going there because England is the place to be but when you come here all is good and I am thoroughly enjoying it.
“Some of my friends, Simon Ramsden, Stephen McManus and Scott McDonald, who were all at Middlesbrough, all had really nice things to say about Scottish football. So it was always of interest to me.”
Davies is one of two County players to be blessed by the birth of a child during their cup final preparations. The 31 year-old and his wife Lucy welcomed Hugo, a brother for Jensen, into their family earlier this week.
“It has been a stressful week if I am being honest,” he said. “The result on Saturday was disappointing and then the baby came early on Monday morning so I haven’t had much sleep. My wife will be watching on the television because we have two kids and it will be madness in our house.”
But some of those friends who questioned his decision to join Ross County last summer will be at the game. Davies is relishing showing them why he made the move north.
He is also looking forward to proving those at Bradford who scoffed at his decision to try Scotland after turning down a new contract offer from the club. One blog written by a Bradford fan described his decision as “bordering on retirement”. But this wasn’t a lone voice, particularly when it emerged which club he was joining. Davies, who also played for Southampton and Stoke City, knew it was bound to cause surprise – and even some amusement.
“My friends were saying stuff like: ‘Who are they?’” admitted Davies.
“I have played at big clubs but I saw this as an opportunity to test myself against good players again. People go on about League One in England being a really good league but I don’t think it is, if I am being honest.
“I have come here and actually I think it is a step up in level.”