Nicky Low’s Scottish Cup odyssey this season is taking him on an emotional tour to his past.
The Queen of the South player returns to first club Aberdeen tomorrow for a fifth round tie, having already helped eliminate Dundee from the competition. It felt cathartic to contribute to that win since Low considers his time at Dens Park to be the only time in his career to date when he has failed.
“When I went to Dundee it was such a frustrating time for me,” he explained. “Dundee fans gave me a bit of stick [in the last round] and that’s fine, but that is the move that hurt me.”
He means literally as well as emotionally. An injury sustained shortly into his ill- fated spell at Dens all but ruined his Dundee career – and had him questioning whether he was better off just quitting the game.
The midfielder simply could not get going. It’s the first and so far only time when he feared he was short-changing the fans. A loan move to Derry, where he was adored by supporters, convinced him to carry on.
“I had been to Alloa on loan and Forfar as a kid and I got on well,” he recalled. “When I went to Derry I managed to perform there too, and touch wood I am doing quite well here at Queens. But Dundee is the only club I feel I didn’t do well enough. A lot of that was due to injuries but it still frustrates me.
“I managed to prove myself in Ireland but no one really sees you over there,” he continued. “So I came to Queens and I am doing well but I have to make sure I keep that going.”
That had been the plan at Dundee. He was not forced out of Pittodrie. He left because he simply wanted to play regular football. Manager Derek McInnes had been happy to retain him as a squad player. He had after all contributed to the club’s first major trophy win since 1995 when coming on as substitute in the League Cup final against Inverness Caledonian Thistle five years ago. He scored one of the penalties in Aberdeen’s shootout win following a 0-0 draw.
“I was getting to the age where I wanted to play every week,” explained Low, pictured.
“Aberdeen were happy to keep me, but I wanted to be a regular. I was doing well to get into the team there and get offered a new deal. But at the time, I spoke to my family and I wanted more football.
“I got injured in a game against Raith after a 50-50 challenge,” he added. “My Achilles grew five times larger than it really should have. I could barely walk after that but we didn’t know what the problem was for ages. I had surgery but I ended up getting a few wee niggles after it.
“When I finally got fit I spoke to Paul Hartley about playing regularly by going on loan. I went to Derry and did well under Kenny Shiels but I felt the time was right to come back home and prove myself back home. Hopefully I can get a wee run now and show people I am still a good player.”