Ross County F.C. announced two departures from the club today. Assistant coach Stuart Balmer has left the club with immediate effect as part of a “planned restructuring” (or words to that effect) of the club. Balmer had a two decade long career as a defender in England and Scotland and has served Derek Adams and Ross County in several capacities at the senior and U20 level. Perhaps his greatest influence at the club was in making Ross County one of the most fit clubs in the SFL or SPL. One hopes that he will be replaced with some one who is just as committed to conditioning.
The second departure, and one generally known to be coming for the past few weeks, is that of midfielder Paul Lawson (who wore the #8 shirt while at County) to Motherwell F.C. where he has signed a two year deal. Lawson was the longest serving member of the team, having joined the club after being released by Celtic in 2007. During his time in Dingwall Lawson played in over 200 matches for the club, and while he may not have been the “best” player at Ross County at any given time, he was the most influential. Simply put, when he was playing in front of the back line and zipping pinpoint passes around the park Ross County were a better team. Put another way, without him on the pitch County were just another Scottish club that hoofed the ball upfield and hoped for the best. With him, however, County played proper football, the kind of football that gave County the ability to play with any club in the country- as teams like Hibernian and Celtic found out to their detriment on several occasions.
Much has been made in the last few years (and especially in the last 18 months or so) about Lawson’s sometimes strained relationship with manager Derek Adams, which resulted in Lawson often finding himself “on the naughty step” rather than on the field. There’s probably something to that, but it must be said that wherever the blame lies in this relationship, both men eventually got past it and when it was time for Ross County to make their mark in the SPL, Lawson was on the pitch and he delivered. Still, the tension with Adams might have made leaving Dingwall just that little bit easier…
At Motherwell Lawson will likely receive an healthy raise (perhaps as much as double what he made at County, he will get a longer contract than he was likely to at Ross County, and he will at least get the chance to play in Europe next year. All in all, it’s probably just too much to say “no” to for a player still very much in the prime of his career. I personally wish him the best of luck, and I will continue to wear my #8 RCFC shorts at every opportunity.
Here is the updated roster: