SCOTT Boyd was this week anointed as a true Ross County legend after setting a new modern-era club appearances record.
Boyd’s 288th bow in the team that beat Ayr United on Tuesday night broke the previous best set by Mark McCulloch, another stalwart defender.
As his own manager reflected on Tuesday night, Boyd is “one of a dying breed” in football — a player loyal and settled at one club for a significant number of years.
Others in the Highland League tallied up more appearances than Boyd, but he now stands alone at County as a stalwart of the Scottish league era.
It was a weird coincidence, but thoroughly fitting, that the man in the opposition dug-out, Ian McCall, is the one Staggies’ supporters can be eternally grateful to for Boyd’s arrival in Dingwall.
Eight years ago, McCall told Boyd he wasn’t good enough for Partick Thistle and packed him off to the old Second Division as part of the deal that brought Kevin McKinlay south to Firhill.
It is not in the big affable defender’s nature to harbour grudges but there could certainly be quiet satisfaction drawn from this latest crossing of paths with McCall.
Boyd’s recent absence from the first team had been a pain in the neck — a strain in that region forcing him out of the games against St Johnstone, Hearts and Kilmarnock.
But the appearances record was only delayed and the 29-year-old greeted it with delight.
“It’s a great achievement,” Boyd admitted. “Funnily enough, it was the guy that released me that I was playing against to get the milestone.
“I don’t know if that was meant to be, but it’s great to reach 288 matches. Buffer (Mark McCulloch) was my old team-mate and such a great pro. I’m delighted to overtake him, but the most important thing is we’re in the next round of the cup.”
Boyd still blinks in disbelief when he considers the journey County have taken during his years at the club. His focus, though, is firmly on the future, rather than past reminiscences.
“I’ve come here as quite a young lad, probably never expected for a minute what was in store,” Boyd said.
“What a journey we’ve been on since I’ve been here, since the days in the Second Division.
“We were playing against the likes of Ayr every week and now we’re an established top-flight side looking to kick on this season.
“I’m delighted to be part of it and I want to be part of the future too. I’m only 29 and still have a few years left.
“I don’t think I could imagine being here this long and no-one could imagine where this club is now, apart from maybe the people that have been on that journey.
“Over such a short period of time, we went from being a Second Division side to an SPL side. It’s been amazing and a great time to play at Ross County. I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of great players.
“I’ve always been one of the fittest and that’s what I’ve prided myself on. Hopefully there’s still a long time ahead so I can put a real marker down on this record.”
With a purging of personnel in the summer, with even club captain Richie Brittain departing, there was natural concern for Boyd over his future.
He needn’t have worried. Manager Jim McIntyre values him highly.
“It’s always a worrying time when you don’t know what’s happening,” Boyd said. “I was fortunate enough to be offered a new contract after playing a big part in the end of last season.
“The manager had faith in me to give me a two-year contract and it’s something I want to repay him and the club for. I think I’ve done that over the years.
“I’ve not thought as far ahead as a testimonial — I’ve got Dundee United to worry about first. I don’t know what will happen but I imagine we’ll sit down with the club and talk about it.
“It’s not something I’ve thought about just now. I’ve got another couple of years before that yet.”
As for the neck injury, Boyd hopes it has healed as he vies for selection against Andrew Davies and Chris Robertson.
“I just woke up and it was a freak thing,” Boyd explained. “I had a spasm in my neck and obviously couldn’t play.
“The boys have been doing great since then, so you just have to accept that and work hard. When you get your opportunity, you try and take it.
“I remember people were making a big deal about it on the Tuesday and it was just bad luck for it to happen on that day.
“There’s so much competition at the club and that’s what happens. Your misfortune can lead to others taking your position.
“I’ve been delighted with the good start to the season and we had another clean sheet on Tuesday night.
“We’ve been really happy with results, but could even have another few points. But it gives us a good solid base to build on for the rest of the season.”
Tomorrow’s opponents Dundee United have had a difficult start as the impact of lost star performers like Nadir Ciftci, Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong hits home.
Boyd, though, is taking nothing for granted.
“It’s another chance to get points on the board and we’re under no illusions. They’re a big club.
“They’ve had a tough start to the season but they’ve got quality players throughout the side. We’ll need to be at our best when they come up here.”Inside this week's Ross-shire Journal: Match reports from a memorable week and Jim McIntyre interview