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Cowie singing off same hymn sheet as Kettlewell and Brittain in new role as Ross County first team coach


By Andrew Henderson

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Don Cowie believes his shared philosophy with Stuart Kettlewell and Richie Brittain will help him hit the ground running in his new role as Ross County's first team coach.

The 37-year-old has hung up his boots to join the coaching staff full time as part of the managerial restructure that saw Steven Ferguson become the club's new chief executive officer, leaving Kettlewell in sole charge of the first team.

Cowie, Brittain and Kettlewell all share similar histories – all three men played in the middle of the park for Ross County, wrote themselves in Staggies folklore, and all had other coaching roles at the club before taking on their current positions.

Don Cowie was a tenacious part of Ross County's midfield for nine years across two spells at the club. Pictures: Ken Macpherson
Don Cowie was a tenacious part of Ross County's midfield for nine years across two spells at the club. Pictures: Ken Macpherson

The trio shared similar styles of play on the pitch too, which Cowie believes will define the way County play going forward.

"One thing is for sure, if we can't coach a midfielder between the three of us we're struggling!" Cowie laughed.

"We've all got a great affiliation with the club, which is massive. We all know what it's about here – hard work and teamwork. I'm not just talking about the players on the pitch, I'm talking about the people off it too.

"We all know what goes on behind the scenes, the work that people put in is incredible. We want to be part of that and help each other along the way.

"All three of us seem to be singing off the same page, we've got very similar beliefs.

"We've all got similar traits as players, we were all pretty hard working, dedicated to the game, and I like to think that will be reflected on the way we play going forward.

"It's really exciting to be part of the new team, I feel honoured and lucky that Stuart asked me to be part of it."

Cowie's move into coaching has been a long time coming. He received his B License while still playing for Wigan Athletic in 2015, and pushed on to his A License after he returned to Scotland with Hearts.

He has worked under some of the highest-profile managers the UK currently has to offer, being brought to Watford by former Celtic and now Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers, coached by Burnley manager Sean Dyche in his time at Vicarage Road and also turning out for Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer while at Cardiff City.

Leicester City boss and former Celtic and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers brought Cowie to Watford from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in early-2009.
Leicester City boss and former Celtic and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers brought Cowie to Watford from Inverness Caledonian Thistle in early-2009.

But the Strathpeffer native insists he will be taking something from all of his former coaches and managers – from youth level to his final playing days – to mould his own style.

"I wouldn't like to miss anyone out, because I'm grateful for any coach that has done stuff for me right back from when I was a toddler," Cowie explained.

"I could go from them right through to Stuart and Steven at Ross County, they've all been great in different ways.

"There are people who are managing at the real top elite in world football between Brendan Rodgers, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Malky Mackay and Sean Dyche, properly big names in the game who are achieving great things.

"Everyone is different, every coach and every manager, and I wouldn't say 'I want to be like him', but you can definitely learn from their experiences.

"There are things that they give you in terms of what they put on the grass for you to work on, and the manner in which they develop relationships with players, which I think is massive."

The transition from playing to coaching has been eased slightly by Cowie's involvement with the club's under-18s side, where he partnered Liam Fontaine for the last 18 months.

Even that could not have prepared him to step into his first full time coaching role under pandemic conditions though.

The Staggies returned to the training pitch on Thursday, making use of their new Covid-19 testing machine and implementing social distancing procedures that make bigger group exercises impossible.

Ross County returned to training on Thursday with their new-look coaching team of Kettlewell, Brittain and Cowie.
Ross County returned to training on Thursday with their new-look coaching team of Kettlewell, Brittain and Cowie.

Cowie says there was a good feeling around the group though, with most just happy to be out on the pitch in any way possible.

"I got that sense off the boys that they were just delighted to be back," he added.

"It was 13 weeks yesterday since we were last at the training ground together, so that's a long time.

"It's not the timescale that you would normally spend away, you would normally get four to six weeks if you're lucky in the summer, so to have over three months away, it was difficult.

"You could sense a real relief in the boys, they were so excited to be back out there again.

"It's not your normal situation. Usually you would be in a dressing room and the banter is flying about, but we're all spread out in the great facilities that we have round the back of the stadium.

"They were still loud, bubbly, shouting across to each other. It was good timing to be back, it was a nice day, so over the piece it was a great day."

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