A record maker – that’s our Barry
Barry Wilson has seen it all at ICT. He played 353 games during two spells with the club – only Ross Tokely, Grant Munro and Richard Hastings played more games. He scored 83 goals – only Dennis Wyness (101) scored more.
And did you know he commands a place in the SPL history books? Not only did he score the last goal of the 20th century – he scored the first of the 21stcentury. Barry also has the distinction of scoring our 800th goal – a penalty against Celtic on 22 August 2004 and if that was not enough he scored our first Premier League goal at the Caledonian Stadium, the 35th minute opener against Dunfermline on 29 January 2005.
Barry is now first team coach and, with Ryan Esson, manages our top performing Under 18 squad. Below, Barry reflects on his time with the club.
“When I played my last game for Ross County in the first SFL Highland derby 25 years ago, I would never have believed the history this club has made in that short period of time. To be a part of that story for so many of those years has been a massive privilege and honour.
In my first season here in 1996-7 under Manager Steve “Pele” Paterson, we dominated the then Division 3, winning the title with 4 games left to play. Going full-time was a huge incentive for us that season and a steady season in Division 2 was followed by promotion the following season, culminating in one of the most memorable games (albeit we lost 4-3) in a title showdown against our long-time rivals Livingston. After a decent effort in the First Division, season 1999/2000 was a very memorable one. ‘Pele” started to play me as a striker and I began to grab some goals.
I scored the last senior goal of 1999 at home to Clydebank (it was a 3.30pm kick off on 27 December and the goal was scored in the 87th minute) and the first goal of 2000 (a 1 pm kick off at Livingston on 3 January with the goal coming on 72 minutes) to complete a unique double.
Then came the night – 8 February 2000 – when we went “ballistic” at Parkhead against a star-studded Celtic side. I scored another header in our remarkable 3-1 win. It was an amazing team performance followed by two days of celebration. I feel that was the night that really put the club on the map and provided the springboard for us to go from strength to strength, albeit with the odd blip along the way.
A 3-year spell at Livingston followed for me but when Robbo (Manager John Robertson) ‘phoned to bring me back home I jumped at the chance. That season – 2003/04 – saw us play the best football I have been involved in with players like Bobby Mann, Russell Duncan, David Bingham and Paul Ritchie providing the style. It was a joy to play with these guys.
My proudest day playing for the club though was the last day of that season – a home game to St Johnstone – with a win sealing the title. It was 1-1 with 20 minutes to go when we were awarded a penalty, My legs were shaking but luckily enough the Saints’ keeper dived early and I slotted the kick home to put us 2-1 up. Paul Ritchie scored a third to put the icing on the cake and when the Board of Directors announced we would be going up through a ground share with Aberdeen we had at last made it all the way to the SPL.
After five months of non-stop travelling, we were allowed ‘home’ to play our home games at the stadium after the North and South Stands were completed in record time. Our first SPL game at the stadium was against Dunfermline in front of a packed house. It proved to be an unforgettable day. Again I was fortunate enough to cut in from the left and curl a shot into the top corner for our first SPL goal here at the stadium although I remember getting the wrath of Groundsman Tommy Cummings for my sliding celebration that left a skidding trail of 15 yards!!!
Towards the end of my 10 years playing I was granted a testimonial. Not many people know this but it was ‘The Gaffer’ (John Robertson) – who arranged for the Liverpool X1 to come up and be my opponents. Over 7,000 people came to the game in one of the most amazing nights of my career. To now be part of his coaching staff means I get to hear about my debt to him more often than I would like!!
So with so many highs as a player and obviously the club have had many more than the ones I have mentioned (another First Division title, 2 Challenge cup wins, and that unbelievable day at Hampden winning the Scottish Cup to name just a few), it would be absolutely amazing if we could now finish this season off with success in these play offs and promotion for a third time to the top flight of Scottish football. Who knows what the next quarter century will bring but if the first 25 years is anything to go by, it won’t be dull.”
Top man, top player and always time for those who want to talk football, a great career and I hope Caley win promotion they proved at Tannadice they have the football the Guile and style to beat either Dundee United or St. Mirren..
Great legend for the club and welcome return to develop our young talent and assist Robbo! What a read… Really nice guy as well.