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Old Firm may face that empty feeling says Ross County midfielder


By Alasdair Fraser

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JORDAN Tillson found himself playing in front of more than 100,000 Old Firm fans in the space of just four days after joining Ross County in January.

Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness.
See story.
Ross County's Jordan Tillson pictured in action as first-team players and staff returned to training yesterday (Thurs) confined to a closed-off area within the club's training ground.
Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell was joined by his new assistant manager Richie Brittain and new club coach Don Cowie, as well as sports scientist Liam Dukes. They were under strict orders to maintain a two-metre distance at all times.
Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. See story. Ross County's Jordan Tillson pictured in action as first-team players and staff returned to training yesterday (Thurs) confined to a closed-off area within the club's training ground. Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell was joined by his new assistant manager Richie Brittain and new club coach Don Cowie, as well as sports scientist Liam Dukes. They were under strict orders to maintain a two-metre distance at all times.

But the former Exeter City midfielder will be fascinated to see how closed doors or reduced attendance matches at cavernous grounds affect Celtic and Rangers next season.

The prospect of playing the big two in Glasgow or Dingwall without supporters isn’t one the 27-year-old midfielder wants or relishes.

A huge motivation in swapping crowds of three or four thousand at St James Park in Devon and uprooting his family for life in the Highlands was the chance to savour the big Ibrox and Parkhead atmospheres.

The opportunity came just a fortnight after signing, with Tillson playing the full 180 minutes in a double-header at the two Glasgow grounds on January 25 and 29.

Celtic packed in 58,785 and Rangers 47,583 as the title-chasers triumphed 3-0 and 2-0 respectively. Defeats aside, Tillson admits he revelled in the challenge of squaring up to some of the best players in the country before huge crowds.

“It was quite a surreal feeling, as these were the two biggest games you can play in up here in Scotland,” the Englishman stressed. “It was just funny how it worked that week when we had quickfire games against them both.

“I loved every minute of playing in front of those big crowds, and it was nice to be part of that. They are experiences I’m looking to build upon for next season, and hopefully, if we can get the fans back into the stadiums, it will make it a great occasion again.”

It remains unclear how much of the Premiership fixture list will be played in front of empty stands or smaller, socially distanced attendances.

“It’s going to be a negative because fans bring so much to games,” Tillson admitted.

“We see the adrenaline it forces through people’s bodies, the effect supporters can have on a player. We have to get back playing however that is achieved, and if it means no fans to begin with it’s just a real shame, but it will be interesting to see if it is a leveller for the Old Firm.

“For them, it’s arguably going to be even stranger than it is for us, but they have got such good players. They will just have to get their head around it.”

Lockdown came just after Tillson moved his family to Inverness and he added: “It was obviously a strange situation to be in, but we’ve got a young daughter who kept us busy. I just tried to keep myself fit, but it’s great to be back working with the lads.”

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