The Scotsman is reporting that Ross County F.C. are speaking with 29 year old forward Derek Riordan about coming to Dingwall to join the club on a short term deal. The deal would have to be short term as Riordan’s salary demands will preclude any other kind of deal. Now, you may ask yourself, why would the third all-time scorer in the Scottish Premier League consider coming to a newly promoted club on a short term contract? Well, that’s where things get interesting…
Let’s first look at his record as a player-
Riordan made his debut for Hibernian during the 2001-2002 season as an 18 year old, but his first full season for the club came in the 2003-2004 season. Through the 2005-2006 season he scored 15, 20, 16 goals, plus another 10 in cup competitions. This was enough to cause a big move to Celtic where- for whatever reason one chooses to believe (he wasn’t good enough, Gordon Strachan didn’t like him, etc.)- he only played 24 matches over two seasons and scored only 5 goals. Following the 2007-2008 season he returned to Hibernian and went right back to scoring, netting 12, 13, 11 goals over the next three seasons (plus four more cup goals). When Riordan’s contract ended after the 2010-2011 season he chose to leave the club- he was purportedly offered a new contract but at reduced wages. Why might that be?
In July 2011 Riordan signed a two-year contract with Shaanxi Chan-Ba of the Chinese Super League. Riordan played well, but the club didn’t and he was often the target of the manager’s criticism- perhaps because it was easy to blame the foreign player- who know? Whatever the case, he was gone by November 2011 by “mutual consent.” Riordan returned to the United Kingdom and after trials with Blackpool and Kilmarnock before signing with St. Johnstone F.C. for the remainder of the 2011-2012 season. At present Riordan is without a club, having had unsuccessful trials with MK Dons and, according to some sources, a club in La Liga.
So, a quality player and a proven goal scorer, but with maybe just a a red flag or two waving in the periphery. Now let’s take a look at Derek Riordan off the field. Well, sort of, you’ll see. I’m going to do this in list form for reasons that will become clear.
Those, my friends, were only the highlights.
Oh, and for good measure, Riordan’s best friend since childhood is Gary O’Connor. Mr. O’Connor was most recently in the news in June when he was convicted of possessing cocaine and obstructing a peace officer. The incident that led to his trial and conviction is actually quite entertaining- treat yourself.
Ah, but let me bring this topic back to the beginning- why would Derek Riordan be interested in coming to Ross County F.C.? It’s simple, he needs to. Right now, mainly due to his off field antics, his career is dead in the water. If he comes to Dingwall, regularly scores goals, and stays out of trouble, he might get one more big contract before his career comes to its natural end. And, truth be told, if any club can set Riordan back on track it’s probably County. There’s not much trouble to get into in Dingwall, the community is very supportive, and the manager, Derek Adams, is a Christian and a teetotaler who- allegedly- doesn’t even swear. But he’s also, however, a manager who once punched forward Sean Higgins during a post-match dressing room disagreement. Talk softly and carry a big fist, or something like that.
Still, why? Yes, if his form is good he could help the club score a few goals and win a few matches and both would certainly be helpful in keeping the club in the SPL. That being said, if Ross County has a strength beyond all others it is team chemistry. This is a club where everyone pulls their weight and every pulls it in the same direction- it is truly a “team.” The last thing the club needs is a prima donna with a penchant for alcohol and fisticuffs. I wish Riordan the best both personally and professionally, but I hope his redemption comes at somewhere other than Ross County F.C..