County set's success should come as no surprise
There are two ways of looking at Ross County's 2-0 victory over Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final. On the one hand, this result is a testimony to the decreasing standards in the SPL, where the Old Firm have slipped back dramatically into a pond of mediocrity. Or, on a more positive note, the win for Derek Adams' young side proves that football is alive and kicking outwith the traditional areas of Ibrox and Parkhead superiority.
Some sceptics initially suggested that Derek's elevation was only down to the fact that his father, George, was the director of football at the club which will now contest its first Scottish Cup final next month: a lip-smacking prospect for the 10,000 fans who are expected to travel from the Highlands to Hampden.
But the reality is that Adams jnr's success is down to the fact that he is a genuine soccer visionary, who has built up a tremendous grassroots structure in the north of Scotland. The County set play slick, fluid, expansive football: they demonstrated their capabilities while knocking Hibernian out of the tournament, during the course of two matches; and they approached the Celtic tie with the attitude that Neil Lennon's part-time (in terms of professionalism) personnel seem more interested in negotiating new contracts than winning trophies.
While the likes of Robbie Keane - on £65,000 a week - and Georgios Samaras - whatever he's being paid, it is too much - faffed around as if they thought the script indicated an inevitable success for the Glasgow club, Adams' troops demonstrated that it is surely only a matter of time before they advance to the SPL and, once they get there, they will flourish.
On Friday night, I spoke to several members of the Ross County set and they were united in their approbation for Derek Adams. One told me: "He makes everybody who comes to the club feel welcome and he has the attitude that the players are representing their community. He wants them to wear suits and ties and get used to shaking hands and signing autographs with the supporters. If they don't like that, well tough, they will do it anyway.
Sometimes, these Local Hero-style Cup stories gloss over the reality, but not when it comes to Ross County. Backed by the influential Roy McGregor, who has invested serious amounts of money into the one-time Highland League organisation, this is a club with serious youth development programmes in place and the notion that there is no logical reason why they cannot move into the SPL's highest echelon. The wonder isn't that they have reached Hampden, but that they have taken so long to do so.